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Chun Liu Chicken? What is it?

whs Dec 20, 2006 07:37 PM

What is Chun Liu Chicken? If you do a google search it appears on countless Chinese restaurant takeout menus throughout the greater Boston area. It doesn't seem to exist anywhere else in the country.

  1. BobB Dec 20, 2006 08:03 PM

    It's not terribly detailed, but one of those menus gives the following description:

    "This is one of the most popular dishes of classic banquet cooking. It contains meat sauteed in chef's special sauce, bedded on fresh crispy broccoli (choice of spicy or mild)."

    1. Bob Dobalina Dec 20, 2006 08:05 PM

      The easy foodie answer is: Ask when you call.

      The easy chowhound answer is: Order it blind and post what you discover.

      1. BobB Dec 20, 2006 08:48 PM

        It is interesting though that the term only appears on Boston-area menus. My search also pulled up a similar query from the General Chowhounding board last June - with no replies at all.


        10 Replies
        1. re: BobB
          whs Dec 21, 2006 01:12 AM

          It got me thinking--there is Chinese food specific to India--is there Chinese food specific to Boston? I never had a crab rangoon til I moved up here... Also, dinner rolls are included with Chinese takeout--another local custom?

          1. re: whs
            passing thru Dec 21, 2006 05:30 PM

            well, there's always the chop suey sandwich at salem willows...

            1. re: passing thru
              ScubaSteve Dec 22, 2006 03:33 PM

              ooooooh! and don't 4get the popcorn bars @ Hobs'!!! and if U go during the summer U can do a pretty spin art design on the base of the tilt-a-whirl.

            2. re: whs
              Dax Dec 26, 2006 03:46 PM

              Crab rangoons are served in NYC, Georgia, and a few other places I have visited, in addition to Boston. I think they pop up wherever you have Americanized "Chinese" dishes. I think there was a thread on the general topics board indicating that they originated in CA.

              1. re: whs
                BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jul 20, 2008 11:15 PM

                Crab rangoon is not a local invention, but the custom of including bread rolls with takeout is a very old-school Boston thing that I have never seen anywhere else in the country.

                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                  Cork Jul 21, 2008 10:52 AM

                  Yeah - the rolls are really wierd. Never edible. I just leave 'em in the bag with the 14 packets of soy, mustard and duck sauce (what the hell is duck sauce anyway??)

                  1. re: Cork
                    ScubaSteve Jul 22, 2008 05:42 AM

                    it's also called Plum Sauce, cuz it's sometimes made from pureed plums.

                    1. re: ScubaSteve
                      hargau Feb 22, 2010 04:36 AM

                      I always thought it was made with pureed apricots or peaches

                      1. re: hargau
                        ScubaSteve Feb 22, 2010 05:56 AM

                        this is what i've seen used:


                    2. re: Cork
                      Chocomom Oct 15, 2011 05:00 AM

                      I was told that it was plum sauce mixed w/applesauce & some restaurants that do make their own will toss in vinegar for balance. But I'd tried to recreate this a few times but couldn't get it just right.

              2. h
                hargau Dec 21, 2006 03:35 PM

                Its just like chun Liu beef, only with chicken :) LOL

                1. kobuta Dec 21, 2006 08:36 PM

                  "This is one of the most popular dishes of classic banquet cooking. It contains meat sauteed in chef's special sauce, bedded on fresh crispy broccoli (choice of spicy or mild)."

                  Maybe the banquets I've been to aren't 'classic' enough, but I've never seen this at a Chinese banquet. It also sounds rather ordinary, which is atypical for the all-out nature of Chinese banquets. Never even heard of this dish. *shrugs*

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kobuta
                    hargau Dec 21, 2006 08:50 PM

                    hmmm maybe its the real name for what is commonly called "chicken and broccoli"?

                    1. re: kobuta
                      Dr.Jimbob Dec 25, 2006 06:39 PM

                      I am an American-born Chinese, have grown up eating in more Chinese restaurants than I want to think of, have lived for a year in Changsha, Hunan province, and I've never heard of this dish. Doesn't mean it isn't necessarily a real Chinese dish, but I think the claim of "most popular dish of classic banquet cooking" might be a bit overstated. I can't even parse what the actual Chinese name would be (and the google search is turning up menus without Chinese characters) -- maybe spring flow, or something?

                      I do have to say I'm impressed by the use of the words, "chef's special sauce" -- after all, we Chinese only have one special sauce in our cooking ...


                    2. whs Dec 21, 2006 10:39 PM

                      :) heehee

                      1. i
                        Imby Dec 22, 2006 03:25 PM

                        At Mai Place on 138 in Canton, it's the meat (chicken or beef) with green and red peppers in a brown sauce that's mildly spicy. Maybe onions, too. I like it there, for what it's worth.

                        1. x
                          Xianthe Jul 20, 2008 09:54 PM

                          Here in Watertown, MA it is also meat (I had Shrimp Chun Liu) with red/green bell peppers and broccoli in a slightly spicy thin brown sauce. Pretty tasty. I would put it under the category of "spicy stir fry" but not as spicy as say Kung Pao.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Xianthe
                            pasuga Feb 21, 2010 10:47 PM

                            I'd agree. Chicken with green and red peppers and onions in a mildly spicy sauce. My favorite Chinese main course. I live in Boston and used to get it all the time when I worked on the North Shore - unfortunately haven't been able to find it since I moved 5 years ago.

                          2. a
                            Andrea_ Oct 13, 2011 06:35 AM

                            I asked a waitress at Great Wall in Bedford, MA (a suburb of Boston). She said Chun Liu means "Cantonese Wok" in Chinese. We ordered it (with chicken) and it was like a spicy chicken and broccoli dish, except the broccoli was arranged around the outside of the dish, with no sauce on it--only the meat had sauce. (It was your average "brown" Chinese food sauce, but a bit spicy.)

                            It's definitely true that ethnic foods within the U.S. have regional varieties. For example, in the midwest where I'm from, you don't often see Scallion Pancake on the menu, but here in the Boston area, it's extremely common not only to Chinese but to other Asian restaurants.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Andrea_
                              Andrea_ May 20, 2012 04:25 PM

                              I went back to Great Wall. On the menu, the Chun Lu dishes all had the character for chuan as in Sichuan in the Chinese name. According to Wikipedia, Sichuan Province is short for "Si chuan Lu". Not sure how that squares with"Cantonese Wok".

                            2. EATTV Oct 15, 2011 07:14 AM

                              I still want to know where I can get the sesame chewy dessert gimmes that Cantonese Restaurants of New England used to make in house. Bakeries of Chinatown had them 15 years back or so. I want them.

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