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Americanized Chinese food just like in the 1970s?

Inspired by the ongoing thread trashing Wo Hop...

With all the discussion about Americanized Chinese food on that thread, I figured I might as well ask something I've been wondering about for a while...

Which places serve the best, authentically unauthentic, dumbed-down-but-good Chinese-American food? I'm not being sarcastic here. And I realize many of you believe a "good" version of this much-maligned subcuisine doesn't exist. But hear me out. Normally I avoid Chinese-American places like the plague and go for the authentic + regional food in Queens and elsewhere, but every once in a while I get a craving for the old-school dishes from the bad old days.

You know, stuff like moo shoo pork (my favorite dish as a kid), moo goo gai pan, General Tso's chicken, and chow fun. I realize that a place like NY Noodletown most likely serves chow fun but as far as I know they don't serve a dish like moo shoo pork.

So my question is, is there a place that actually does a good job at these bastardized dishes? Someplace other than Wo Hop, which I agree is terrible. I realize the snobbery factor might come into play with some of your responses, but no matter, fire away; I'm not ashamed to admit I crave this food every once in a (long) while, even if it's mainly due to nostalgia.

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  1. There's a wonderful place called "Golden Gate". The NY Times wrote a terrific article about it:

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Mickey Blue

      I live in Riverdale, and am a fan of Golden Gate for the 50's part of their menu (spare ribs, egg rolls, wor shu op, egg foo yung, sweet & sour whatever, etc.) which they do very well. However, I don't think that they're the 70's kind of place that the OP is looking for - I wouldn't go there for moo shu or chow fun or General Tso's (moo goo gai pan is the only item on the list that fits). AFAIK, he can get all those at restaurants like Ollie's or the Empire Szech franchises or any one of a number of places.

      Incidentally, I don't think of Moo Shu or Chow Fun as "Americanized" per se since they weren't part of the 50's Chinese-American restaurant menus.

      1. re: Striver

        Yeah you're right...I'm looking for more than just egg rolls and egg foo young. I always looked at General Tso's, moo shoo pork, and chow fun as really Americanized stuff, but maybe they represent a more "recent" form of Americanization that actually has an authentic Chinese forerunner going way back...and has been bastardized beyond recognition since the 1970s or so. So yeah, I guess that's what I'm seeking...a better version of Wo Hop. The type of Cantonese-American restaurant that was really common 25-30 years ago in Chinatown and has dishes like moo shoo that aren't available even at places like NY Noodletown or Big Wong (at least I think not; correct me if I'm wrong).

        Thanks again.

        1. re: Striver

          I guess it depends how old you are. Classic Americanized Chinese food from the 1950s would only include Cantonese origin dishes (if only because the cooks were Cantonese) like chow mein, fried rice, chop suey, egg rolls, egg foo young and sweet and sour pork. Your early 1970s invasion of pseudo "Northern" Chinese food added mushu pork, General Tso's chicken, orange chicken, kung pao chicken and a few others. Chow fun is also Cantonese in origin and I've always put it on the authentic side of the ledger, though I guess it has crossed over into tourist food more recently. Then there's green onion pancakes, which is a neighborhood Americanized Chinese restaurant item in New York, but which shows up only at authentic Taiwanese, Shanghainese etc. restaurants in California.

          1. re: Striver

            I've never been a fan of Ollie's but I'll give the Empire Szechuan places a try, thanks.

        2. It's kind of a dump, but Jade Mountain on 2nd ave in the EV has been there, in the same storefront since 1932, and they do the whole chow mein/chop suey thing---at ridiculously low prices.

          1. here are some good pictures of the food from Golden Gate! Yum!

            http://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/20...

            1 Reply
            1. re: NYCnowLA

              Great pictures!

              Lebron, you should really take a look at their menu, they have many of the things your looking for....and they do them really well.

            2. There's been a really long interesting thread on the General board about this very topic!

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356192

              I think you'd have better luck in the suburbs. Or in the center of the country. Reading that long thread I got a craving for it.

              1. Amazing 66 does a great rendition of the honey-garlic spareribs of my suburban youth. I've been back twice for them in the past month. You might check out their very extensive Cantonese menu for other nostalgia-inducing dishes.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Oliverstreet

                  A lot of older, really good Cantonese restaurants have stuff like egg foo young on the menu along with more authentic Toisan stuff. 9 Chatham Sq would be a good bet.

                  1. re: Brian S

                    Is 9 Chatham Square the old, divey place across from Confucius Plaza? I'm a little confused because I seem to recall a spiffy + newish place having opened up in the past year called Chatham Square...but maybe that's a completely different, separate establishment?

                    1. re: lebron

                      That's right; the place at 9 Chatham Square is Chatham Restaurant, the diner-like place that used to be Hop Shing.

                      Chatham Square Restaurant is the newer, more upscale Cantonese place at 6 Chatham Square.

                    2. re: Brian S

                      Also, Brian: did you notice any of the Cantonese-American dishes I described (moo shoo pork, General Tso's, etc.) on the menu at Amazing 66? Because that's a place I've been wanting to try anyway for the authentic stuff (based on your great review, by the way) and if it happens that they also have the Americanized stuff (and do it well), then that would kill two birds with one stone...

                      Thanks again dude.

                      1. re: lebron

                        General Tso's and Mushu are not Cantonese dishes so you won't find them on most Cantonese restaurant menus. Chow fun is Cantonese and you would expect to see it at any authentic Cantonese restaurant that serves noodles.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Whoops, my bad. I guess I mixed up the fact that moo shoo dishes and General Tso's were/are on the menu at places that otherwise served mostly Cantonese food...like at Wo Hop, for instance.

                          So General Tso's is actaully Sichuan, perhaps? What about moo shu dishes? Sichuan? Shanghainese? Reason I ask is because if there's a Sichuan/Shanghainese restaurant out there that has a reasonable amount of non-Chinese clientele, that might be a place to target for those particular dishes.

                        2. re: lebron

                          Sorry I didn't answer sooner. I believe that Amazing 66 does have the Americanized stuff, including Americanized Sichuan, in an attempt to draw tourists. But I don't know if they do it well. They might think, oh, that's for tourists, we won't put much effort into it.

                    3. your neighborhood chinese take out should have those moo shu , moo goo gai pan stuff. I enjoy wo hop though.

                      1. China Brasserie (in Noho, not Chinatown) seems to try for the nostalgic feel you yearn for. I haven't been, but you might check it out.

                        1. Mea Culpa to the mods for not staying specifically in the right borough, but my favorite old-school Chinese place is in Marine Park, Brooklyn on Flatbush avenue down by Kings Plaza, called China New Star. (I grew up in the neighborhood, my folks still live there). The list the OP gave was nearly identical to our order on Christmas Eve 2005, along with ribs (which are either sublime or serviceable, depending when you order them), and other assorted appetizers.

                          Otherwise, you might have some luck at Excellent Dumpling House on Lafayette, but only for some of the items, not all. And there's another place, across the street from the Vegetarian Dim Sum House (Moon something or other, sorry I don't remember more of the name, I discovered it during Feast of Chinatown last year) that looks like it's been there since the dawn of time that might also be able to get you what you need.

                          When you do find something, please report back! As much as I love properly done, Authentic Chinese food, nothing will ever replace NY-Style American Chinese in this Brooklyn girl's heart.