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(Some Guy)   A guide to Chinese takeout menus   ( divider line
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30304 clicks; posted to Main » on 01 Aug 2004 at 7:50 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2004-08-01 08:55:27 PM  
My landlord is Chinese. He and his wife invite me up for "soup" occasionally. One day they prepared "Fish Head" soup. Eventhough I wanted none of it, I smiled and pretended to be enthusiastic. It was tasty, but looking at the exploded head of a fish, with fish brains, scales, and two eyes bobbing in the broth made me wanna gag! Its suprising what you can tolerate in the name of being sociable.
2004-08-01 08:56:07 PM  
the honored guest gets the head, so feel.. honored.
2004-08-01 08:56:29 PM  
The 4 guys from mainland China in my office offered to take me to the best and most authentic Chinese restuatant in the area (Raleigh). After half a week of lead-up we pull up at one of those over-100-dishes buffets with chicken wings and doughnuts in the steam tray.

More pandering to the dumb American or proof that the difference between adaptations of Chinese food is overstated, or something much more or less sinister? I'm still trying to decipher it.
2004-08-01 08:59:33 PM  
As has been stated several times in this thread, the less a menu looks like every other Chinese menu you have ever seen, the better off you will be. MMmmm... Saigon Resturant... Real vietnamese food...drool
2004-08-01 09:03:06 PM  
Just ate some take-out for dinner. I'd love to try some real Chinese cuisine, though I have a feeling that the spices would have me crying like a baby.
2004-08-01 09:03:50 PM  
the honored guest gets the head, so feel.. honored.

Indeed... I remember an episode of Iron Chef where they were using a word that must have been a poor translation for fish heads...

Still, I couldn't quite get my head around the idea of eating them...
2004-08-01 09:05:23 PM  

which restaurant in Raleigh? I remember fondly a few years going to a Chinese buffet where they had chicken feet and fish heads. mmm

/or not.

I'm trying to remember what street now - it's been a few years.
2004-08-01 09:05:35 PM  
There is a horrid Chinese chain in Houston called Timmy Cahn's Chicken & Rice. A few years ago their takeout menu offered "Human Chicken." Yummmm....
2004-08-01 09:06:24 PM  
err.. that is "Chan," not "Cahn." Not a Chinese/Jewish place.
2004-08-01 09:07:16 PM  
skunkmasher is correct, Oakland Chinatown is much more authentic than SF's. I like to go to one real greasy-spoon Hong-Kong style diner, and you can get any type of soup or porridge that you could possibly want. I stick to basic noodle soup, but the regulars love the pork tripe porridge. They also make a great type of french toast--fold the bread in half and fill it with peanut butter before battering and frying, then eat it with syrup!
2004-08-01 09:07:36 PM  
I lived in Australia for six years before moving to North America. Strangely enough, not only do the overseas Chinese resturant food bear little resemblance to mainland Chinese cuisine, but they're pretty different from each other as well.

I thought Tibetan Cuisine was the Original Chinease takeout....

Nothing says takeout like lamb on a stick.
2004-08-01 09:09:01 PM  
Calvin Hobbes, fish-heads are brainfood you know.

I have had some great Chinese food. There's this nice little restaurant in Tianjin where they serve a bunch of cow femurs cut in half. You get to drink the marrow out with a little red straw. That was a great meal.

Also, if you ever find a good restaurant that serves real Beijing Duck, definitely get that. You can tell it's authentic when they give you a plate of scallions with a dish of thin pancakes for you to wrap the duck slickes with. Though, in the US, the duck tastes a little different due to the fact that it's not usually properly inflated.

And I'll recommend you ask for stinky tofu to the Restaurants. You'll be glad you did.
2004-08-01 09:10:26 PM  

here's what I tell the patrons in Thai cuisine, even though I'm sure Chinese is a little different - the spicy can be flavorful. make sure that you have a lot of extra rice on hand, and let the rice soak up the spicy juices. (especially in curries).

also lots of water and/or beer :)

after some practice I can eat Laab (a Thai dish, and one of the spiciest) without wincing.

this being said, i'm off for some chinese take-away.
2004-08-01 09:11:16 PM  
Goddamit why do Americans have such difficulty with Oriental Cuisine? Especially REAL Oriental Cuisine...


Mongolian Beef you speak of is not made into saddle jerky... it is thinly sliced pieces of beef cook on a hot plate of metal... in the Kahn days it was usually their shields. They used two long thin branches like oversized chopsticks to cook and season the meat, as well as any vegetables they had on hand.

They still use this method in Mongolian restuarants they have here in Oz. The Shields have been replaced with giant iron hot plates, imagine an round flat iron dinner table used as a fry pan... you choose your vegies, meat etc from the trays, dump whatever seasoning you like, then give it to these blokes with giant chopsticks who then fry the buggery out of it... it looks and tastes amazing.

I think you're confusing the beef with the horse that the mongols also ate. They perhaps, did store the meet under their saddles, but they didn't just ride it and eat it.

As for this stupid guide? Goddam the Chinese have already made their food as bland as possible for your guys... Chop Suey, Kung Pao.... bland city, cause you can't scoff down the decent stuff... you need a freakin guide now?

Too hot? Eat it pussy.
Too spicy? Eat it pussy.
Too icky? Eat it pussy.
Pussy? Yeah it that too...

/flame on... preferably over a Mongolian grill ;)
2004-08-01 09:18:10 PM  
Yesquite, you live in Australia. What do you care what kind of Chinese food is served in America? Just because you can't find the really good places while you're here on vacation doesn't mean the rest of us can't.

And oldebayer was joking. Jesus, man, get a side order of humor to go with your authentic Chinese food.
2004-08-01 09:18:41 PM  
Do they pee in the Cokes in China as well?
2004-08-01 09:18:52 PM  
slidillon writes:

.....and Pizza was invented N.Y.

Technically it was invented in Italy, but the Italian verison was basically just a flat piece of bread with maybe some olive oil on it.

When Italian Americans got to Italy looking for "real" pizza and got disappointed, the locals figured out pretty quick what the tourists with the out-of-date, somewhat bastardized Italian dialect were looking for and gave it to them.

I have discovered that if you want Chinese food here in Ohio made the "real" way, you can find it, as there is a significant Chinese-Taiwanese community here. *But* you have to know where the local Chinese people go out for food, and then request it special. The tendency is to make things for American taste first for us "round eyes" and the "real" way for their "people".

Also note...

Just because you like a particular Asian dish **HOT** (aka **SPICY**) doesn't mean that's necessarily the way it suppose to be served. Having spoken with some people the Thai community around Lexington, KY (Drew probably knows the restaurant I'm talking about), I had my prejudices challenged in that regard, also in another way: not every uses chop sticks either.

2004-08-01 09:31:51 PM  

That was just kind of a generalization to show that food origins are not always what we think they are. I guess I could have said, Pizza as we know it, or something like that.

As far as the Asian food goes, I am blessed. Here in the Seattle area, we have a huge Asian/Oriental population and I work with many Asian/Oriental people. So I don't evenm have to go out for a good dish. We have pot-luck lunches at work ALL the time and I get to sample quite a few authentic dishes.

/I like food, food is good.....
2004-08-01 09:33:57 PM  
That was just kind of a generalization to show that food origins are not always what we think they are.

Anyone know where Chicken Shwarma came from? I love that too...
2004-08-01 09:35:59 PM  
"Don't even ask about fortune cookies. Though some Chinese vaguely remember a grandparent putting a secret message in a holiday cake, the notion of finding an aphorism like "Yesterday's enemy is tomorrow's ally" tucked inside one's dessert is utterly alien here."

They don't know about fortune cookies? I guess we shouldn't tell then about taking those "Confucian saying" and adding " bed" at the end of it.

"Yesterday's enemy is tomorrow's ally ... IN BED!"
2004-08-01 09:42:06 PM  
Now what I'd like to hear is an explanation of "Strange Flavor Sauce". I kid you not; I've seen Strange Flavor [some meat here] in several different Chinese restaurants. Why would anyone name a food that and then expect people to eat it?

I also once ate at a place that had a dish named "Delight of Three". Actually meant chicken, pork, and beef. I think we ordered it just because it cracked us up, though.
2004-08-01 09:42:28 PM  
Ahh, Vancouver, Canada.

Where they offered Hong Kong and Chinese chefs better money and a better lifestyle. One of the only place in world where you can get better Chinese food than in China.
2004-08-01 09:44:33 PM  

Sorry, meant Safeway' chinese food ever! If you can find the means, I highly reccomend it, nothing better for $5.
2004-08-01 09:45:42 PM  

What's the name of the place they took you to? I'm going to Raleigh in a few weeks to look at apartments, and i'd love to try it out.
2004-08-01 09:45:54 PM  
I also once ate at a place that had a dish named "Delight of Three". Actually meant chicken, pork, and beef. I think we ordered it just because it cracked us up, though.

Ah yes... the Schewhan Four Delight made here at The Pagoda in Hamilton is fantastic too...
2004-08-01 09:48:29 PM  
Chicken Shwarma is Arabic, isn't it?

Yes, it is very good.
2004-08-01 09:49:51 PM  
If you ever watch the employees at a chinese resturaunt, you'll notice that they don't eat the food. They might get a bowl of the rice, but they won't come near any of the shiat they serve to the customers. They bring their food from home...

That said, I really like the teriyaki'd rat-on-a-stick, and the stuffed wontons. Yummy.
2004-08-01 09:50:25 PM  
Chili peppers (hua jiao), garlic (suan) and an unusual sauce, called "strange-flavour" sauce (guai wei jiang) on some menus, enliven many dishes, with a somewhat drier intensity than that of their Sichuan counterparts.
2004-08-01 09:51:27 PM  
woobie, don't worry, I've heard from Korean people that some people do eat dog in Korea, but it is mainly old people and not a lot of people like it. I've always wanted to try it...

Chop suey? Describe it to anyone across the land and you get blank looks. Lake Tungting shrimp? There is a Lake Tungting - or Dongting, as they spell it - here in Hunan, and it does have big shrimp, but locals say it's not a recipe per se.
Chop Suey: Chinese food but not made in China, as said before, made in the west by Chinese immigrants.

Tungting/Dongting: You haven't heard of different dialects, have you?

tho to be honest i still think that sushi/hand rolls are the same as tacos/wraps, because workers didn't have access to bread. you just scooped the stuff up in whatever medium was around be it seaweed/totillas/etc.

tho i do have tons of different kinds of rice noodles. swear you can live off of true chinese recipes for a dollar a day per person.

You do know sushi is not Chinese, right? RIGHT?!

I just had squid a few weeks ago at a local chinese restaurant.

I've never had it with the suction cups on, but squid is damn good as nigirizushi (sushi where the meat is placed over a block of rice usually with some wasabi, but in America a lot of people are pussies so they don't put the wasabi on; I saturate my soy sauce with it)! I had octopus prepared the same way before, but it had the suction cups. I didn't like it much, it was really tough and I couldn't really taste the suction cup things. I'm still not used to steamers...feeling the necks slide to your stomach gets me close to puking :(

They don't know about fortune cookies? I guess we shouldn't tell then about taking those "Confucian saying" and adding " bed" at the end of it.

Best. Thing. EVAR.
I've had one that didn't need an " bed" on it, it went something like (actually I've seen them a few times):
"Constant grinding turns steel rod into small stick" or something like that.
2004-08-01 09:54:39 PM  
KCM and Streetlight: Since you both seem to be local, may I suggest Osushi on Ford road in Canton.A very small and intimate place. They have a nice assortment of sushi, but they also have a Korean menu which is somewhat of a secret to non-Koreans. Ask for the hot BeBimBap. It is exquisitely tasty.
2004-08-01 09:57:30 PM  
I've been trying to perfect General Tso's chicken for quite some time now. To get it right, you have to fry the chicken three times!
2004-08-01 09:57:38 PM  
MMMmmm Chinese food... *drools* I can make yummy americanized things like crab-puffs and sweet and sour chicken (my own sauce too). I still haven't gotten around to learning to make lo mein or general tsao's chicken... I will next time I am in a cooking mood. :) Oh, I can make fortune cookies, too.
2004-08-01 09:59:33 PM  
I would like the recipe when you perfect it, i-likes-maple-syrup ;)
2004-08-01 10:00:26 PM  

I thought fortune cookies were invented at the Japanese Tea Garden in SF's golden gate park. Ref:

As for bastardized American food (filtered through foreign eyes), look no further than the Philippine's Jolibee fast food joint. (One opened in SF a few years ago and recently closed - I swear I had spaghetti in ketchup with fried chicken on top)

Check this out for their "core products":
2004-08-01 10:03:09 PM  
do you have chicka da china, the chinese chicken?

You have a drumstick and you're brain starts ticking.
2004-08-01 10:04:33 PM  

it was in durham near I-40 and all the car dealerships, a generic neon "No. 1 Chinese Buffet" kind of deal. hidden in plain sight I guess.
2004-08-01 10:05:53 PM  

I think you mean congee. great stuff once you get used to it.


I used to be (UM grad), but I'm temporarily in Pittsburgh.. you can guess how the ethnic cuisene stacks up here (and NO, Italian is not ethnic you backwoods kentucky refugees).
2004-08-01 10:07:42 PM  
2004-08-01 09:51:27 PM Matrix Flavored Wasabi

You do know sushi is not Chinese, right? RIGHT?!

Actually, sushi was originally Chinese. It was a 2 AD dish that consisted of fermented fish on rolled rice.
2004-08-01 10:11:04 PM  
should mention it tasted pretty syrupy & generic to me (after living in China for a few months and not seeing what all the debate is about); not worth driving out for.

Trogdorforpresident, if you really need to fill up temporarily on chinese while apt. hunting, Paul Fleming presents P.F. Chang's terra cotta statue bistro in the crabtree mall on 70 is just as good and plenty cheap.
2004-08-01 10:11:33 PM  
hmm, forgot my other SF favorite: osha thai noodle house (great late-night hangout unless you're over 35)..
2004-08-01 10:14:08 PM  
Jolibee is indeed nasty.
2004-08-01 10:19:15 PM  
If the menu has anything "american" on it (burgers, fries, steaks, buffalo wings, etc) then the "chinese" food will suck.

Its 100% true. Words to live by.
2004-08-01 10:37:04 PM  
General Tso? In Boston it's General Gau's chicken. Or maybe that's another recipe entirely? Who knows?
2004-08-01 10:39:44 PM  
I can cook almost anything except chinese food. It always comes out tasting horrible. Chinese cuisine is an art. I love to make Indian, Thai, Salvadoran, Mexican,...and more.
I go to Chinatown in Houston for my peppersteak. The place is very small and the owner says "Hello" at least a hundred times. I love Chinese food.

Chicken Shwarma- It's fantastic. I think it's middleastern.
2004-08-01 10:41:41 PM  
So Americans have americanized certain chinese dishes or just faked it and make up chinese dishes.

This isn't bad, it does not show cultural ignorance. It's just the way different cultures mimic other cultures. Look at the 'bastardizations' of American foods by other cultures (i'm looking at you, poutine).

It's very funny how the respect of cultural diversity ends when referring to American culture. Of course, if this article was referring to a loincloth wearing culture in the heart of the jungle that had local adaptations of chinese dishes, most would be loath to call them ignorant of other cultures' foodstuffs.

No see, Crappetite, Americans DO bastardize other cultures. That's what we DO. Italian sauce in a can? Check. Taco Bell? Check. Fake Irish pubs? Check. The Cleveland Indians? Check.

There is NO such thing as "American culture", and I laugh at anybody who refers to such a thing.
2004-08-01 10:45:26 PM  
A preacher in SE Asia recieved some visitors, and took them to a local restaurant for lunch. He noticed the menu said "cobra" so, just to be a smartaleck, he asked the waiter if the cobra was fresh. ("Doncha just hate that canned cobra?" he asks.) The waiter did not answer. Instead, he went to the kitchen and came back with a live cobra, which he threw under the table.

This caused a slight delay in taking the orders of the rest of the group.
2004-08-01 10:51:14 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
2004-08-01 10:57:57 PM  
Phillipsburg New Jersey, Dragon Express in the Phillipsburg Mall. Man, they have some awesome General Tso's chicken. Best I've ever had. Good prices too.
2004-08-01 11:01:38 PM  
Hey, you guys who eat spicy food are SO MACHO. I mean, you're so MANLY because you can tolerate capsaicin. Wow.

Look, I love spicy food, too, but people disliking it doesn't make them "wusses" or whatever you are implying. My understanding is that chili pepers and the like were used to cover up the taste of food that was going bad, which was necessary in regions of the world where refrigeration was difficult and meat had to last a long time (India, SE Asia, Central America). In the West, we've been lucky enough to not need that stuff for decades or even centuries, and consequently, it hasn't been integrated into our cuisine quite as much. It's just a cultural difference.

Furthermore, it's clear to me now that you can build up a tolerance for spiciness. I cooked every week for 2 or 3 years and tended to make my food very spicy -- it was fine for me, but guests and family sometimes couldn't eat what I prepared. After I stopped cooking and didn't eat as much spicy food for several months, I was much more senstitive to the stuff. I've also watched a family member who at one time considered black pepper spicy progressively work her way up to Thai curries.

Anyway, seriously, eating hot food does not make you macho, tough, cultured, or anything else. It just means you enjoy enduring mild pain while you eat. You want some real pain to brag about, go squat 2 or 3 times your own weight. Otherwise, shut the fark up.
2004-08-01 11:06:35 PM  
Koreans eat dog but only in a few special dishes and it's only supposed to be eaten by men because it supposedly makes you more virile. In Vietnam they eat dogs but it's mainly a rural thing and it's sort of their equivalent of trailer trash culture. Indonesian Christians eat dogs. I've seen the hindquarters of what was unmistakably a dog in a supermarket meat counter in Manado, North Sulawesi.

The Chinese food in Hong Kong (pre-handover) and the food was amazing. Never had anything like it in the USA, although I've had Chinese food in Vancouver that came damn close.

Having been all over East and Southeast Asia, I will say that the best countries to visit for food are:

1. Korea (no contest here - pretty much blows away the competition on all counts)
2. Indonesia
3. Thailand
4. China
5. Japan
6. Vietnam

Korean food is awesome because it's healthy and incorporates an enormous variety of foods and flavors. Lots of fermented dishes, but just as many fresh ones. One of the best dishes I had there was pan-fried carp. Really. Carp. It was bony as hell, but one the best meals I've ever had period. When you're done with the fish you roll your rice around in the sauce and eat it to top things off (they eat their rice there more as an after-dinner dish a lot of the time). I still buy imported kim chi here in the USA and cook with it all the time - that stuff you see in the jars in the regular supermarkets is total garbage.

I know, Vietnamese restaurants in the States are all teh hotness, but really most of the items on the menus are just Vietnamized Chinese dishes with some lemon grass thrown in. The food in Vietnam is decent, but most of it is very simple and reflects the overall poverty of the envrionment. Of course, most of my experience is in the north. It was a little better around Saigon, but still pretty blech.

I did eat cobra in Vietnam. Spitting cobra to be precise. There's a whole village outside of Hanoi that specializes in it. It was actually quite good. I feel guilty in retrospect because I did see that the restaurants in that area were selling a lot of forest wildlife, much of it now endangered. Sorry I ever gave them my $8 (most expensive meal I had in Vietnam by far).

Indonesian food is a trip. It varies a lot depending on where you are. In Jakarta, the best stuff is at grungy roadside stalls. A piece of chicken, some hot sauce, and some rice. You eat almost everything with your hands. In Sumatra there are a lot of curry type dishes, some of it a lot like Thai food. If you ever get a chance to try rendang, it is an amazing dish. I cook a batch of it every month or so. Always a hit when you're entertaining or cooking for a large group, but you gotta use fresh red chilis and DO NOT ADD ONIONS because they will totally destroy the flavor. Sulawesi has awesome fish. It's usually just grilled fresh and smothered in fresh peppers. Damn spicy too. Had some wild boar in North Sumatra that was incredible, and if you're really lucky you can find ayam kampung -- "neighborhood chickens" that are basically free range and are far meatier and tastier than the garbage we get here.
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