Americanized Chinese food need not be shameful. Sure, greasy fried rice served though bullet-proof glass serves its purpose when you've got some midnight munchies. And many a hangover has been relieved by an eggroll and an oversized helping of lo mein. But how about some Chinese just like Mom used to order? How about some sweet and sour chicken and moo goo gai pan that you could spoon into non-disposable dinnerware, like a civilized human being? Is it possible to get guilt-free Chinese without breaking the bank?
Enter Michael and Ping's. Located next door to the much-buzzed-about pie joint, 4 & 20 Blackbirds, on Third Avenue in Gowanus, this mod, industrial space seems to take hints from the popular Thai restaurants Joya in Cobble Hill and Song in Park Slope. Although there's plenty of in-house seating, there's no table service—but the takeout window offers a nice view of the bright and immaculate kitchen. They're cooking with free-range FreeBird chicken so there's no mystery about the tender meat in your tasty General Tso's ($9.25). The house special lo mein ($9.75) is tangled with well-seasoned pork, shrimp, chicken, and crisp-tender vegetables—and it's neither too greasy nor too salty. Round out your meal with some steamed bao buns (2 for $5), juicy roast pork and pickled cucumbers wrapped in soft, puffy rolls.
There's no shame in the greaseless sesame chicken ($9.25) with steamed rice (your choice of white, brown or Himalayan red for $2.50), either, but what's honorable about M and P's is their commitment to the environment. As Brooklyn's first green-certified restaurant, they use energy-efficient kitchen appliances, recycled bricks in their walls, and recycled concrete in their floors. Food is delivered in biodegradable packaging—which isn't necessarily as cute as your standard Chinese take-out cartons—but when your beef with broccoli is sadly smeared across the bottom of a too-big eco-friendly box, you'll be reminded to scoop it onto your finest china. Even if all you've got is a chipped dinner plate that your old roommate left behind, you can rest assured that somewhere in the suburbs a busy mom is smiling.