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(Some Guy)   A guide to Chinese takeout menus   (abclocal.go.com) divider line 149
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30292 clicks; posted to Main » on 01 Aug 2004 at 7:50 PM (10 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2004-08-01 11:07:06 PM  
No see, Crappetite, Americans DO bastardize other cultures.

No more so than the people of any other affluent country with too much time on their hands do. Take a look at Japanese treatment of pizza, with the splendid addition of mayonnaise as a topping. There are too many examples to name. There's nothing wrong with it; just be glad there are some people here who DO appreciate the authentic, and are willing to provide it for us.

Enough preaching from me.
 
2004-08-01 11:14:01 PM  
If you ever get a chance to try rendang, it is an amazing dish.

I agree, and I heartily endorse Charmaine Solomon's "The Complete Asian Cookbook" for budding chefs looking for authentic Asian recipes from nearly every East Asian country (Ms. Solomon is Sri Lankan). Check out her site.

And I don't know about onions in rendang -- the book's recipe calls for onions, and I made a batch for an Indonesian girl I was seeing, and she was pretty impressed, although maybe she was just being nice to me.
 
2004-08-01 11:19:38 PM  
And I don't know about onions in rendang -- the book's recipe calls for onions, and I made a batch for an Indonesian girl I was seeing, and she was pretty impressed, although maybe she was just being nice to me.

You never see onions in rendang in Indonesia. They add a tanginess to the dish that doesn't sit well with the sweetness of the coconut milk and spices and the spiciness of the peppers. I also think you have to be careful with the garlic. My tendency is to add a lot to anything I make, but with rendang it's all about getting the right balance.

Still, every American recipe I see for rendang lists onions as an ingredient. I don't know why. It's like General Tso's chicken. Ask an Indonesian and they'll probably look at you like "WTF?"
 
2004-08-01 11:22:20 PM  
err, and a correction, the wild boar was in North Sulawesi. North Sumatrans are mostly Muslims and would never eat pork.
 
2004-08-01 11:36:04 PM  
"You been here 4 hour! You go now!"





/obscure?
 
2004-08-01 11:36:47 PM  
kcm

Thank you much.

A bit late getting to this, but I've been to Seva. Special occassion sort of thing. Never have enough cash for Le Dog, and when I do, it's closed. Great Lakes I've heard about, but there's a place in the Detroit Suburbs (12 between Mound and Van Dyke, can't remember the name) that's damn authenticness, and I'm dragging my Chinese friend there with me soon to show me the ropes. Whose family owns a totally Americanized Chinese place, coincidentally enough. They cook their own stuff after it closes (so family dinners at 11 or something).

Indian - I'm slowly slowly training myself to eat spicy food (I'm totally the odd one out of the family). I can still taste spice in salsa others think is just tomato, but I can hold my own for mild stuff. Only took 21 years or so.

You missed Middle Eastern, though - I'd say La Shish, just because it's so widely available and fresh-out-of-the-oven pita bread is to die for with good hummous. Or Beriut Palace (Sterling Heights and Royal Oak) for the fattoush and hummous. It's hell trying to find good fresh hummous in Ithaca. Or Ann Arbor, for that matter. Jerusalem Garden is good, but not great.
 
2004-08-01 11:39:54 PM  
Cuisine is, quite obviously, a variation on religion. And why not? I'd like to thank Lily Durona for defending me from Yesquite in my absence.

As for
Yesquite

I am so glad to hear all this exciting information from, as it were, the horse's mouth. Thank you for your enlightened contribution. Here in America we have people who actually drive around with food wrapped in tinfoil on the engine blocks of their cars until it is cooked, and BTW that meat-under-the-saddle trick is a real deal, and I have actually seen it attributed to the Mongols, among others. As I understand it, cheese was invented by milk being kept in a sewed-up stomach hung from the saddle of a horse, and ridden about for some time. But I digress.

We do actually have some decent Chinese restaurants here, and do not all chow down on Chop Suey and Chow Mein. Just as, I am sure, the inhabitants of Oz do not burn down their neighbors' homes to roast whole sheep, as was portrayed in a commercial here not so long ago.

I am, I concede, a puzzy when it comes to ultra-hot food. I have a jar of pickled habaneros that I have yet to open, but you'll have to pry my chipotles from my cold, dead fingers.
 
2004-08-01 11:40:09 PM  
And then there's the most un-Chinese food ever... Crab Rangoon. Cream Cheese, imitation Krab, all rolled into some fried dough. Only available in the midwest. The first one=tasty. Second one=really tasty. Any more than two... you don't feel so good.
 
2004-08-01 11:45:12 PM  
aaannnnd....THEN?!?!
 
2004-08-01 11:45:34 PM  
Umm, in almost every Indonesian dish, there are onions, but not the same as American onions. They are quite small and are not as potent in flavor or smell.

Also, women generally do not prepare this mixture either. Men do most of the preparations, they (women) finish it off. The frying of the peppers, onions (depending on the dish), and other preparation procedures (as slaughtering animals, getting the cuts together, etc) are done solely by the men, especially during ceremony procedures.

Women at this point generally serve drinks, cigarettes, and snacks during the preparation. It is a chance for men to get together, have fun and talk. You all might see it as sexist, but this is life :p

Most of the popular foods from Indonesia/Malaysia are ceremonial foods, not day to day life for the average person. Generally you are looking at rice, enough eggs to give you a corinary, tofu/tempe and lots of cheap fish. Beef, chicken, and good shellfish is a treat.

Just thought you might like the info from an actual Indonesian :p
 
2004-08-01 11:49:26 PM  
Oh, and i'd like to add, the food you tourist get on the road in Indonesia is a general idea of what is instore for you. Unsanitary little stalls they are, but are good for a late night drunken run for food. You might get a quick rundown of what you have heard of before, but it is hardly the actual cherished food.

Ask those who have eaten Satay Ayam/Ikan on the road compared to those who have had it done in the village during ceremony. A lot of love goes into the food, unlike the food made on the road where you get a lot of fat, egg, and other stuff as filler.
 
2004-08-01 11:53:08 PM  
endosymbiont, ha!! Had to be said.
 
2004-08-02 12:16:13 AM  
last post
 
2004-08-02 12:22:22 AM  
hdhale

Having spoken with some people the Thai community around Lexington, KY (Drew probably knows the restaurant I'm talking about),

You thinkin of that bangkok palace place right off campus? Next to blimpies and the arcade and coliseum liquor? Jus wonderin
 
2004-08-02 12:34:05 AM  
When I was in China, most of the food was this horrible shiat dumplings made with beans that tasted midway between chocolate and poo. Then at one place, they served a bird (like a robin or something) cooked with all parts still attached minus feathers. was very freaky.
 
2004-08-02 12:47:16 AM  
Do you want fries with that?
 
2004-08-02 12:58:20 AM  
shampoohorn

I hope to get to Indonesia one day. Have only had "Indonesian" food in Amsterdam a couple of times, and liked it a lot. Except for that innocent-looking clear liquid on those innocent-looking vegetables that turned my mouth to fire and made me gulp a whole beer in about three seconds. And I wanted more, almost right away.
 
2004-08-02 01:13:13 AM  
Madskillz

Sorry you had such a terrible experience w/ food in China. I had some of the best food I've ever had in my life there, and it, once and for all, turned me against just about any Chinese buffet I find here in the States; I was already heading this way after being introduced to fantastic, real Chinese cooking by my old housemate and later by my current fiance. It usually takes quite a bit of coaxing to get me to go to one of these, anymore.

Is it food snobbery? No, not at all. Homemade jiaozi and shaomai are fantastic. Sichuan stringbeans, real honest-to-god ma po doufu, both terrific. The wide varieties of glass noodle dishes are astounding, and billions upon billions of times better than some lukewarm, soggy noodle dish at Golden Panda Delight or whatever the local buffet joint might be called at any moment.

I never particularly enjoy seafood here in the US, but I had baked grass carp covered in scallions and pork while in Beijing, and couldn't get enough. Barbecued pork knuckles, spicy seaweed, and authentic Beijing duck -- amazing.

Yeah, I had some weird things, too. Alongside the aforementioned duck itself, I had duck hearts (grilled), livers (chopped), stomach (marinated) and feet (covered in a hot mustard sauce). I ate -- or at least tried to eat -- goose heads, although I couldn't quite figure out how to consume them. Unfortunately, I didn't get to eat any of the crawdads, and am now kicking myself for not doing so.

Chinese hotpot -- although it was Beijing style, and not Sichuan -- was one of the most tasty meals I have ever had, and though I have had hotpot in other places across north america, including my own kitchen, nothing has compared with it.

I go to Chinese restaurants around here, and everything is coated, fried, marinated or otherwise bastardised in some sugary sweet sauce. The Sichuan food is rarely spicy, and when it is, it is only done so via peppers -- rarely do I find good, wild pepper-laden soups or other dishes. Basically, most Americanised Chinese food, to me, is sweet and/or bland. It is like eating McDonalds, pretty much -- but even the "fast food" versions thereof (yes, that looks like a KFC rip-off) in Beijing made anything I've had here taste like mud, with a few exceptions. This sad fact is why I generally cook these things myself, anymore.
 
2004-08-02 01:14:53 AM  
Ask those who have eaten Satay Ayam/Ikan on the road compared to those who have had it done in the village during ceremony.

Saya bukan turis. Bukan orang Indonesia, tapi paling sedikit bukan turis.

I know what you're saying about masakan at the kaki lima vs. the food you get at your average pesta pernikahan, but the fact is that the average Farker is NOT going to be chillin in the desa. They're gonna eat tourist food if they venture to eat Indonesian at all. And while I agree that onions are fairly ubiquitous in Indonesia, I still have never seen them in rendang (at least not in any recognizable form).

At the last ceremonial dinner I was at, they were serving sea tortoise soup. I mentioned to someone that it's a bintang terancam and they said "yeah, but it tastes so good..."

So maybe I should bump Indonesian cuisine a notch or two down on the list.
 
2004-08-02 01:20:52 AM  
Oops, this should be the correct URL for the jiaozi link above.
 
2004-08-02 01:30:39 AM  
Hahaha,

Nice to see the yanks get all fired up from my prodding...

Just joshing with you oldbayer, You said something that was contrary to what I know... so just calling it as I see it.

By all means come down to Oz sometime and have a laugh at what we think is a hamburger and delight in our puzzlement of what the hell biscuits and gravy really is?

Food differs around the world, I guess I was a bit taken a back to what is considered "Chinese" food in America after having lived in both Australia and Southern mainland China for chunks of my life. But eh... you live, you eat and you die...

And argue on Fark somewhere in between.

Cheers ;)
 
2004-08-02 01:31:29 AM  
Chinese reastaraunts adapt every where to local tastes.

In France I've had Peking style frog and in Sweeden I age sweet&sour meatballs.
 
2004-08-02 01:32:59 AM  
I cannot find good Chinese food here near LA, besides in Chinatown, and when you just want some Buddha's delight or some other tofu-n-sauce dish that won't leave you feeling weird, it shouldn't call for a 20 minute drive.

Matrix Flavored Wasabi I freakin' love octopus. Its my favorite sushi. Make sure the sushi chef serves it to you thinly sliced with lemon slices; the lemon juice makes it a bit more tender and really brings out a good, meaty flavor. I once ate this entire little bowl of steamed baby octopi...they were so cute and little with their little octopi heads, and chewy and good. I'd eat that tomorrow. Aw heck I'll pretty much eat anything, at least once. Fish head soup, as someone mentioned, IS tasty. And if you are served the head, enjoy the eyeballs and the meat on the "forehead" right between the eyes - its the best.
 
2004-08-02 01:35:35 AM  
 
2004-08-02 01:51:24 AM  
MadSkillz

It was a pigeon. And it was delicious.
 
2004-08-02 02:00:24 AM  
I heard this story several years ago. I'm uncertain if there's any truth to it. For all I know this could be the equivalent of a Chinese urban legend.

Anyway, the story goes, a nouveau riche businessman walks into an upscale Chinese restaurant and asks that tomorrow he be served the most expensive dish the restaurant can produce. After hearing the news, the cooks start agonizing over just what they should make for this man. On the one hand, they can serve him some high priced traditional delicacy like lobster or shark fins. Although price aside, it won't be anything special. After all, any chef who knows what he's doing can serve lobsters and anyone with some money to spare can order it. On the other hand, they could make him a plate full of intricately hand carved fruits and vegetables. Yet this wouldn't do either. A radish carved into a flower with a hundred petals is still just a radish. They mull this over for a while and finally come up with an idea.

The next day they serve this man a dish made entirely of catfish whiskers and charges him a fortune. The cooks, of course, don't let anything go to waste and make off with the 'leftover' fish.

I guess the moral is when dining at a Chinese restaurant, watch out what you order. This applies to the other end of the extreme too. Sometimes the crappiest dishes can have the most fanciful names. Order green dragon crosses the sea soup and you may end up with a watered down bowl of soy sauce with a few drops of vegetable oil and a single floating strand of green onion.
 
2004-08-02 02:14:16 AM  
In Philadelphia, there is a healthy little Chinatown section and a now-booming Vietnamese section. The viet section of town is pretty close to the Italian Market... so I see some "italization" of the foods. Most of the chinese food places are rather americanized, however that doesn't stop me from going to certain places. The ones that do it best add little personal touches to standardized fare and it makes it quite nice. There are, however, too many "cookie cutter" chinese food places... they all essentially use the exact same menu (with the same misspellings and red ink!) but just have different names/logos on them. They all get their stuff from the same distributer. Those places I tend to avoid whenever I can when looking for chinese food in general.

Two places in Philly immediately stick out in mind:
The Rangoon (Burmese/Thai Combo) is probably, hands down, the best (general asian area) style food in town. Awesome coconut chicken curry... the soup of the sauce is so good I just want to drink it straight from the bowl.

The other is called Kingdom of Vegetarians. The place is actually vegan, no animal products used at all. Not even butter. The food somehow tastes more fresh and simple there... great when you're getting tired of the overly-greasy crud that tends to be called Chinese food. The biggest mistake these kinds of places make is trying too hard to compare whatever variation of tofu as a specific kind of meat. If they didn't call this a chicken dish, but just a lightly flavored tofu dish, it'd be much easier to get over the comparisons and just eat it.

The big thing to consider about Americanization of foods is that in this country... we eat our meats in a way that they resemble nothing of the actual animal that we're eating. In asian countries, they often eat the meats whole. Calamari in Japan is a whole little squid. Here? It's rings. Fish head soup is another example, as mentioned earlier.

The other reason I can give for the general Americanization of foods is that they used what was available here and worked with that. This is often why dishes called by the same name are different in parts of the world.

Personally, I'd much rather see a prepared version of chicken, not really being able to identify it as a chicken by other than taste, than having too much of the original carcas left on my plate.
 
2004-08-02 02:26:32 AM  
And then there's the most un-Chinese food ever... Crab Rangoon. Cream Cheese, imitation Krab, all rolled into some fried dough. Only available in the midwest. The first one=tasty. Second one=really tasty. Any more than two... you don't feel so good.

Only in the midwest? Umm...I live in Boston and I eat that stuff all the time (Yes, I know I ranted previously about the bastardization of culture, but crab Rangoon is just farking delicious and splendidly fattening). And I can eat a whole farking container of them too.
 
2004-08-02 02:29:13 AM  
Matrix Flavored Wasabi I freakin' love octopus. Its my favorite sushi. Make sure the sushi chef serves it to you thinly sliced with lemon slices; the lemon juice makes it a bit more tender and really brings out a good, meaty flavor. I once ate this entire little bowl of steamed baby octopi...they were so cute and little with their little octopi heads, and chewy and good. I'd eat that tomorrow. Aw heck I'll pretty much eat anything, at least once. Fish head soup, as someone mentioned, IS tasty. And if you are served the head, enjoy the eyeballs and the meat on the "forehead" right between the eyes - its the best.

Octopus in vinegar my friend. Octopus in vinegar.
 
2004-08-02 02:50:00 AM  
I've noticed that many Chinese restaurant menus are long because they tend to list every possible combination as a separate item.
Sort of like listing steak/baked-potato/butter and steak/baked-potato/sourcream as two completely different choices.
 
2004-08-02 02:54:56 AM  
ornithopter: 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?

That's actually a direct translation from Chinese...it's supposed to be kind of like mulligan stew; people would just dump whatever they had together and stir fry. Though I'm sure they've got some sort of standard recipe by now...I've had it a few times, and it's fairly consistent across Boston.
 
2004-08-02 02:57:29 AM  
Gan meiguo ren.
 
2004-08-02 03:05:15 AM  
If you understood the Guangdong(Hong Kong) concept behind "chop suey" for the "gwei lo" you'd never eat at another "chinese food" buffet; again, period.
 
2004-08-02 03:09:00 AM  
The worst Chinese food in Hawaii is still better than anything you can find on the mainland.
 
2004-08-02 05:53:37 AM  
george psalmananzar wrote:
"gan meiguo ren"

Yeah, dried-out Americans are the shiat....

OH! you meant FARK Americans...

Vely crever.
 
2004-08-02 05:56:23 AM  
Generally speaking, the words 'chop suey' to the average Chinese person over here means about as much as "leftovers" or "doggie bag" does to people in the West. Nothing especially grotty about that, but then I suppose it depends on from where you are bringing them home.
 
2004-08-02 06:25:17 AM  
slidillon

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

And let me say, if what we did to Chinese food here in the USA is in any way similar to what "American Style"restaurants in Korea and Japan have done to THEIR "New York Pizza", we owe world civilization a HUGE apology.

/NYC pizza elitist
 
2004-08-02 08:04:34 AM  
Actually Mainland-China doesn't have very good Chinese food.

Hong Kong and San Fran has the best.
 
2004-08-02 09:13:25 AM  
Italian pizza sucks too. Whoever heard of eating your pizza w/ a knife and fork?
 
2004-08-02 10:29:57 AM  
I find it rather odd that some of you are expecting to find good-tasting food at buffets.

I've never had anything I would consider delicious at a buffet, regardless of whether it was American or Chinese.

Buffets are for people who've confused gorging yourself on bad food for value.
 
2004-08-02 10:34:49 AM  
GuinessDrinker
There is NO such thing as "American culture", and I laugh at anybody who refers to such a thing.

Ah, but that's the beauty of it. Like the Borg out of Star Trek, we end up assimilating any strange foreign thing we come across and adding to our matrix. That's how we ended up the most powerful nation on Earth, after all.
 
2004-08-02 11:31:30 AM  
At least Korean food is genuine, and not "dumbed down" for an American audience.
 
2004-08-02 01:01:41 PM  
I'm always worried when I belly up to a chinese buffet and it's got garlic bread, french fries, and chicken nuggets on the table. There's one in my town that even serves pigs in a blanket. Ugh.
 
2004-08-02 01:31:16 PM  
I just got back from living in China for 2 months. Hot damn is their food good.
 
2004-08-02 01:42:30 PM  
simiansecurities: don't mock the Jollibee! It's good stuff.

Sad to hear that the SF location closed. (It was in the convention center, right?) But there are more around the Bay area!
 
2004-08-02 01:56:04 PM  
No buffets--ever.

Actually my favorite Thai place is in a strip mall in Milpitas CA and it does offer a buffet, and karaoke, too but their Panang curry tofu (and catfish, I understand from my friend) is so far unequalled.

My favorite Chinese place is Hangen on Castro in Mountain View--get the Ma-Po Tofu, it's the best.
 
2004-08-02 02:27:18 PM  
"Chinese Food" + "Buffet" = "Yawning in Technicolor"
 
2004-08-02 02:39:08 PM  
TrogdorForPresident, try a place in Cary, NC called Mama Wok's. It's in the Raleigh area, and the food is wonderful.
 
2004-08-02 02:57:11 PM  
I live in Indianapolis, where if it's not a chain, don't bother building it because it'll go under in a month.

I'm not kidding. Very rarely does anything unique (read: not a chain or a buffet) make it here.
 
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