Canton Express epitomizes "take-out Chinese." You'll immediately know, after walking in to this Lakeview joint and ordering your favorite Chinese dish, that you're not exactly suppose to dine in there. A look of surprise registered on the cashier’s face when I said "for here" and not "to go."
The look of surprise wouldn't be that, well, surprising if you knew what you were walking into. The small dining area is about a third the size of the whole kitchen — viewable through a large glass window just behind the cashier — and would probably fit no more than 15 people. There are no tables. Instead, a counter along the walls and six stools exist overlooking the busy intersection of Belmont and Halsted. As for the decor, there is none. There are only the baby blue walls and a singular wall clock. A splash of color is added from posted pictures of some of the Chinese dishes they serve.
The food at Canton is what you'd expect — Mongolian beef, orange chicken, beef and broccoli, kung pao, etc. — and all very cheap. Except for the crispy half duck and two shrimp dishes, nothing is more than $10. Order during lunch time for their special and get chicken fried rice, egg roll and a fortune cookie along with your order.
So if a fancy, candle-lit dining experience is what you're looking for, then look elsewhere. Instead, Canton Express is perfect for one thing — inexpensive take-out Chinese food when you feel like staying in. Canton also delivers if you don’t live within walking distance.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kimber Solana