I probably shouldn’t have to tell you this, given the focus of my blog has “budget food” in the title, but I’m all about quick and cheap. I do not cook, so on nights when my wife is out at the gym, or hanging out with friends, I need something that I can just toss in the oven and be done with. Thankfully, Aldi has an entire line of frozen Asian cuisine (under the brand name “Fusia”) that is generally pretty good. These range from single serve meals (like Sweet and Sour Chicken), to egg rolls, crab Rangoon, wontons, and just about everything in between.
So on my latest trip to Aldi, I decided to try something I’ve never had before…orange chicken. And when I say I’ve never had it before, I mean it quite literally–not only have I never tried Aldi’s version, but I’ve never even tried the dish at an actual Chinese restaurant, so just this whole idea is rather new to me.
Unlike some of Aldi’s other Asian-style offerings, all that comes in the bag is the chicken (and quite a bit of it) and two large packets of sauce–rice is not included. While it should be relatively obvious from looking at the package, I mention it because other similar entrees in the Fusia line come complete with rice, so you’ll need to pick some up or make sure you have some on hand for this one. Cooking it is so simple even I can do it…simply thaw out the sauce in hot water, put the chicken in the oven, microwave a little instant rice, and you’re set.
The first thing I noticed is that the chicken is surprisingly crunchy, courtesy of its tasty outer breading. I definitely was not expecting that from a frozen dinner. As for the chicken…well, let’s just say that it looks and tastes like chicken, something I can’t even say for some Chinese restaurants I’ve eaten at. All joking aside, it’s actually pretty good. Again, it’s definitely nothing premium, but it’s comparable to, and in my opinion even a little better than, mall food court Chinese, or places like Panda Express. And considering the good amount of chicken you get in the package (I believe the packaging says that it serves four, but if you eat like I do, you’re not going to get more than two lunch-size portions out of it), it’s definitely cheaper than eating out.
But my favorite part is the sauce. I was a little nervous to see the role that orange would play in it, expecting it to possibly be even bitter. Instead, think sweet and sour with a light, but noticeable, undercurrent of orange, and you’re on the right track. Making it even better is the fact it has a nice kick of spice that wakes up the taste buds, but that’s light enough that even those that aren’t tolerant to a lot of heat in their foods, shouldn’t have a problem with it.
Overall: 7/10. While it’s not going to be confused for anything above carryout or “express” Chinese, it will definitely satisfy your craving, and is very quick and easy to prepare. The chicken is surprisingly crispy with good flavor, while the sauce, which tastes like a mix of sweet and sour with a dash of orange, steals the show. You really get a good amount of food for the price (which is currently $4.99 here in Ohio)…I was able to get two satisfying, lunch-size portions out of it that were filling, but not overly so. Just be sure to get some rice to go along with it, as it does not come with any. But even with the added rice, it comes out to less than $3 a serving, which isn’t bad. Recommended.