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Does a Chinese restaurant exist in Manhattan that doesn't drown its dishes with brown sauce, black bean sauce or other jarred glop?

I've tried so many Chinese restaurants in Manhattan and other boroughs but most seem to insist on drowning the food in soupy sauce. Basic dishes with pork, beef and vegies seem to swim in sauce even though I ask for very little. The same goes for canned vegetables that are included as "fresh" - canned corn, water chestnuts and slimy mushrooms. Again, if I don't ask for these ingredients to be eliminated, they're thrown in as fillers.

Can you recommend any restaurants in Manhattan that serve tasty Chinese food? Thanks.

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  1. Yes. In fact if someone asked me to recommend a restaurant that DID drown its dishes with glop, I couldnt think of one. One good place: Amazing 66.


    13 Replies
    1. re: Brian S

      I think the gloppy stuff is what expat New Yorkers in California refer to as New York style Chinese food. I think gloppy and canned stuff is typical of neighborhood Americanized Chinese food, which you don't get at the authentic Chinese places in Chinatown, but can easily run into in most other parts of town.

      1. re: Chandavkl

        Thanks Brian S. & Chandavkl for getting this topic rolling. Yes, I've been to many Chinatown restaurants as well and with Chowhound friends from Hong Kong. I've never been impressed with any that much except for some noodle dishes which, as you know, is not the extent of good Chinese cuisine.

        By the way, I've had what you refer to as "New York style Chinese food" in London, San Francisco & LA. Same ole glop. This ratio just can't be because I pick losers if that's how they cook the stuff with shortcuts - jarred sauce & canned ingredients

        Looking forward to some great suggestions from other Hounds.

        1. re: Beau711

          maybe if you give some color as to where you are going to get this generic american chinese food, we could come up with better. At a minimum, the places I go to that dont serve that kind of food is Wu Liang Ye, Grand Sichuan, Szechuan Gourmet, NY Noodletown.

          1. re: ESNY

            Actually, if you order from the "American" menu at Grand Sichuan (General Tso's, etc.) you get pretty much what the OP has described.

            1. re: ESNY

              Ny noodletown serves glop as well!

            2. re: Beau711

              I'll second Brian S's recommendation of Amazing 66, pretty authentic food.

            3. re: Chandavkl

              i agree with chandavkl , real chinese food isnt gloppy, maybe some of the noodle places in chinatown will glop you if you order those kind of dishes. But the gloppy stuff is more in those old neighborhood and take out places. Try 30 Pell St. they are authentic , they also have dim sum in the day time

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                This is an interesting suggestion. There is no 30 Pell St, but at 28 is a spiffy new expensive restaurant that, when I passed by last night, was hosting a huge, elaborate banquet. That restaurant is called Delight 28; it's in the space where the always-empty Hay Wun Loy used to be. At 34 is a restaurant where Danny Ng's used to be. I always assumed the place went downhill when Danny Ng left... but maybe it didn't. So which of these two do you like?

            4. re: Brian S

              Hi Brian, Egads, I'm shocked! Did you actually write this in another post:

              Wo Hop - Worst meal...I ordered squid in black bean sauce, which I love. And out it came, squid floating in lake of brown glop, like flotsam on the muddy banks of a fetid bayouI ordered squid in black bean sauce, which I love. And out it came, squid floating in lake of brown glop, like flotsam on the muddy banks of a fetid bayou."

              Written beautifullly and humorously but I still can't believe Mr. Brian S, the man who never encountered a gloppy sloppy dish finally was introduced to 'brown glop.' Welcome to the club.

              1. re: Beau711

                In the context of Brian's many other posts on New York Chinese food, his Wo Hop ordeal sounds like the exception that proves the rule - the rule being that if one chooses the right restaurants and orders the right dishes, it's quite easy to avoid being served "brown glop."

                1. re: squid kun

                  Yes. In part because of this very post, I decided to go to a restaurant where I knew I would be served brown glop, just to try it. I sympathize with you a lot more because of this.

                  1. re: squid kun

                    Hi squid kun, "if one chooses the right restaurants and orders the right dishes, it's quite easy to avoid being served "brown glop."

                    Thanks for your response but I've said it before and I'll say it again: the onus should not always be on the individual diner. If a restaurant is good, the majority of dishes it cooks will be good.

                    The huge menus in the majority of Chinese restaurants in Manhattan remind me of the menu tomes given to customers in Greek-style diners. Pages and pages of dishes with hardly any description; chicken prepared 20 ways, Italian dishes all served in gloppy tomato sauce. I wish the trend would reverse itself. At least in the various Grand Szechuan restaurants they are starting to print a separate list of customers' favorites. This is a big help.

                    Gone should be the days when all Chinese food we knew was Moo Goo Gai Pan, Beef & broccoli, egg foo yung, egg rolls and yaka mein soup. There are some great Chinese chefs out there and some have arrived in the States after the demise of the Chinese Exclusion Act so the choices are now more varied. Yet, unfortunately, somehow we're stuck in a time warp and still being offered dishes our grandparents loved. These restaurants can do better - let's stop putting the onus on the so-called ignorance of diners.

                    1. re: Beau711

                      But the beauty of Chowhound is that we can find places that just have a few good dishes, or maybe only one, and let others know about them.

              2. Can someone defile glop/gloopy? I have always been under the impression that the hallmark of really good chinese are flash fried/stir fried ingredients, stir fried again, with the addition of a good quality broth/stock that is either reduced with thickeners or thickened with a starch slurry. Which turns out a nice (gloopy) saucy texture. Maybe you've been eating good chinese food all this time and not realized it? Or maybe you've just been to all the bad places. I can't tell from your post. The canned ingredients seems to be an entirely different problem.

                7 Replies
                1. re: E Eto

                  Dear E Eto - gee, I thought I had already defined glop/gloppy in my original post. Basically, too much sauce from a jar or can - white sauce, brown sauce, hoisin and black bean sauce.

                  I've eaten in some of the best and also some of the worst restaurants in Manhattan, but nowhere else do I find such a profusion of jarred sauces like in Chinese restaurants. Many professional interviews that I've read over the years seem to always refer to gloppy sauces when writing about Manhattan Chinese restaurants.

                  In my view, Chinese food is good when it contains wonderful fresh ingredients and fresh vegies - like those sold at Chinatown markets - not the canned stuff. Another is respect for natural flavors and for texture. I don't want to spoon out the sauces which drown the flavors and make the food mushy. Is it so time-consuming for good chefs to make their own sauces and not to take shortcuts with canned Oriental vegies as those found in Asian markets?

                  I'm sure you meant the comment 'maybe you've been eating good Chinese food all this time and not realized it.' as a joke. Duh. No, I know when something is good. That's why I consider myself a true chowhound.

                  It's ironic, the same people who decry Little Italy restaurants just love Chinatown, the neighborhood right next to it, where Chinatown offers its own form of mediocre food. I'll probably be flamed for such a comment but then again, where are all the CH recommendations for good Chinese restaurants??? I challenge Hounds to offer a few and list their favorite dishes without the usual standard recommendation to take the subway to Queens.

                  1. re: Beau711

                    Can you name specific restaurants/dishes that you have tried, just to get a context of how extensive your disappointment is?

                    1. re: jdream

                      I used to like 20 Mott and really like their salt-baked shrimp and sweet & sour porkchops (which to me tasted like what good ribs should taste like.

                      I've tried Pings, Joe's Shanghai (only like those famous soup dumplings) Sweet & Sour Tart or something like that name, Wo Hop, Oriental Garden, Peking Duck, Goody's and many more in Chinatown too numerous to remember. I'm also not talking dim sum - only about regular lunch/dinner entrees and not soups or noodles.

                      Outside of Chinatown, I've tried most of the Grand Szechuan restaurants but I don't care for spicy food with hot peppers, Wu Liang on 2nd Ave (too much 'tude) David K's, and many generic neighborhood spots that aren't worth talking about.I don't know how many times I've asked for a plate of steamed Choi Sum with a little oyster sauce and garlic and have been met with incredulous stares from the server. "We don't serve that here," they say outside Chinatown. Then there's the tradition of handing out two menus - one to Caucasians and one to Asians. Ridiculous. They don't do that in other ethnic restaurants. Hey, I can eat unusual dishes with the best of them so don't assume anything by my face or complexion, thank you very much.

                      1. re: Beau711

                        Try Grand Sichuan again. They also have non-spicy staff on the authentic part of the menu. On the second avenue location you can get stir fried fish (the exact description of the item escapes me right now) or Lotus roots, for example. No glop, and very tasty.

                    2. re: Beau711

                      Can you be a little more specific about these jarred sauces? I don't know what you're talking about.

                      1. re: E Eto

                        If you visit a large Chinese supermarket like the one on Canal Street, Kam something or other, you'll know what I'm talking about. They sell large industrial-size bottles/cans of soy sauce, plum, hoisin, black bean, sesame, peanut, chili, and oyster sauces that I remember off the top of my head.

                        Amoy is a brand I've seen that is also sold commercially as well.

                        Once I walked into a neighborhood Chinese kitchen by mistake. Guess what I saw? Large bottles of some of the ingredients listed above. Shortcuts like this are what I'm complaining about. And then to add insult to my palate, half the bottle seems to be poured on various dishes.

                        Ha ha - it's like this quaint Bed & Breakfast I stayed at in New England. They stated the yogurt was 'homemade'. Yeah, right - I walked into their small kitchen to ask for more sugar and guess what I saw? Huge containers of Dannon lemon and vanilla yogurt. Homemade - yeah right from the container...

                        1. re: Beau711

                          A recipe for Oyster Sauce has been split to the Home Cooking board:


                  2. I think it's based on which dishes you order. For instance, many Hounds enjoy Grand Sichuan, and I'm in love with their Aui Zhou chicken, which is a dry stir-fry of spicy chicken and bamboo. But I've also ordered non-Sichuan dishes there (crispy tofu) that have turned up in swimming in glop (and wasn't crispy).

                    The stir fry dishes that E Eto describes are generally Cantonese style dishes, which tend to have thicker and sweeter sauces. Since many restaurants in Chinatown are Cantonese, maybe the trick is to seek out other regional styles?

                    Also, many restaurants have an English menu of Westernized stuff and a Chinese menu for the authentic fare.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Gluttonous Prime

                      I will have to respectfully disagree with the comments on Cantonese dishes:
                      - stir fry is a cooking techniques used in almost all kinds of Chinese cuisines, and it is not specific to Cantonese cuisines. Peking, Shanghaiese, and Szechuan cuisines all have plenty of stir fry dishes. Each cuisine may have different sauces (in terms of flavoring and ingredients), but the stir fry that E Eto mentioned isn't specific to Cantonese cuisine, it is simply how most stir fry sauces / dishes are done.

                      - While some Cantonese dishes are heavy in sauces, most of the authentic Cantonese dishes are not. What you usually get in Manhattan Chinatown is the neigborhood style Cantonese food which tend to be quick (hence a lot of stir fry), and heavy in sauce. In real Cantonese cusines (the more refined style) usually utilize a lot of fresh ingredients (esp. seafood which is alive right before cooking), and hence a lot of the dishes use very light sauce to accentuate the real flavors of the ingredients instead of masking it. More high end restaurants like Oriental Garden offers more of this type of dishes (e.g. steam fresh fish with scallion and ginger, steam fresh shrimps, giants scallops with garlic and vercimille, etc.) but the offerings are still limited due to lack of ingredients and highly skilled chefs. Think of having Cantonese or Chinese food in Manhattan to having American food at say Westville. It is authentic food but it isn't EMP or The Modern. There are definitely more choices in the West Coast (in my experience), but in the Chinatown in NYC there is no EMP of Chinese food yet.

                      A lot of the suggestions are actually the better Chinese or Cantonese restaurants exist in NYC, but while they are authentic, they are certainly not the refined style of Cantonese cuisine.

                      1. re: kobetobiko

                        I must agree that you're right. I have had great Cantonese dishes, including steamed cod with ginger, steamed clam soups, scallion lobster, etc. Just never in New York Cantonese style restaurants. Much apologies about the blanket statement.

                    2. if you're looking to order standard take-out staples general tso's/orange/hunan/szechuan meat dishes and noodle dishes-- the best places i've tried are SHUN LEE and JOE'S SHANGHAI. they take it easy on the sauces and both deliver uptown.

                      otherwise try these places in chinatown for some more authentic dishes XO (Taiwanese), SUPER TASTE (Noodles) and CONGEE VILLAGE (Cantonese)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: khy201

                        I just dropped into Super Taste today ... It hit the spot and, of course, not a glop in sight.

                      2. Beau, I know exactly what you're talking about and feel your pain. When people in LA ask for "NY style Chinese," I send them to Americanized places where the dishes swim in sauce. Unfortunately, most of the drier offerings I found in NYC tended to be the spicier szechuan dishes, which it sounds like you don't want.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: a_and_w

                          a and w - you're right on-target about what I don't care for. Thanks for understanding and not being condescending.

                        2. The sauces from a jar ie . hoisin, oyster sauce , soy sauce are what makes chinese food chinese. Personally, I like the glop as it makes the food less dry. If you're looking for less gloppiness I suggest avoiding the stir fried dishes and go for something like steamed fish with ginger and scallion or salt baked stuff or even roast duck. Straw mushrooms, water chestnuts baby corn are usually from a can. If you order something like bok choy or spinach or broccoli or string beans those are usually fresh. Sometimes the soupy sauce is liquid released from the vegetables being cooked. You can always try oriental garden. Their service is top notch, I'm pretty sure they will attempt to cater to your needs too. They speak english well too.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: randumbposter

                            Exactly -- when I first cooked dinner with my ex-boyfriend, who is Chinese and grew up in Hong Kong, at his apartment, the first thing I saw in his fridge was a big bottle of something with no English on it. I asked him what it was, and he said "brown sauce" and said that every Chinese kitchen he ever knew of has a big bottle of it. He used it, his parents, who only recently came here, use it, and all his siblings use it. So just because something's swimming in brown sauce doesn't mean it's "Americanized," I think.

                            But they eat plenty of stuff without it. If you go to Big Wong on Mott Street, you can order plates of barbecued meat and fresh veggies that don't have sauce (maybe some sesame oil though) -- they are delicious. Unfortunately, whenever we went my ex would order in Cantonese so I have no idea how these appear on the menu or even if they're on the menu. You might have to ask specifically?

                            1. re: randumbposter

                              Wow, you had top-notch service at Oriental Garden? What did you do to achieve that honor?

                              1. re: Pan

                                Oriental Garden must be the biggest enigma around (or maybe they're just wildly inconsistent). Went there once, didn't think it was special, so I never returned given the hundreds of places in Chinatown (well maybe 200) I've yet to try.. But there have been a good number of highly complimentary posts about the place as well as a good number of negative ones.

                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  Agreed that the food is inconsistent; sometimes good, sometimes bad. But the service was consistently bad and rush. No exception in my experience at least.

                                2. re: Pan

                                  Hmm. Oriental garden was my go to place for chinese new year in the past couple of years. They always took the time to explain the dishes. They spoke to me in english. always cleared my plate when it was dirty etc.... I thought they were fantastic. Despite the amount of traffic during chinese new year. I don't think i felt rushed. Maybe I just ignored it.

                                  Apparently from reading citysearch they've changed management or something. Maybe that explains why. I guess I should apologize to the board for recommending it based on years old experiences.

                              2. I'm reminded of my brother's complaint last week when he was here from China, doing a trade show: "If I'm in New York, I'm NOT going to eat Chinese food everyday!". He was frustrated because some people in his group has to eat rice everyday no matter where. As a solution, I brought them as lunch Japanese rice balls from OMS/B - delicious, varied, and certainly lots of good quality rice. Then for dinner they wouldn't feel like they have to have Chinese food again.

                                If I go to a Chinese restaurant, I order what I can't or don't make easily at home: Tea Smoked Duck, for example. Tofu skin/veggie chicken that's made in-house at the restaurant. Slow-cooked Old Hen soup, Slow-stew beef noodle soup. Baby shrimp/oyster omlets, crisp fried or dry pan fried tofu, or fish. Slow-cooked pork belly with preserved Mei Cai....etc. The list goes on. None of these dishes come with glop.

                                What sorts of dishes do you like to order in a Chinese restaurant? If you are always getting the glop, you might have to expand and try new dishes. There are many Chinese restaurants in Manhattan that serve tasty Chinese food, but 80% of the diners don't order those tasty dishes.

                                16 Replies
                                1. re: HLing

                                  Amazing 66 and Cantoon Gardens are two restaurants where everything - vegetables included - have appeared and tasted very fresh to me. At the latter, I had a peashoot dish with two different kinds of eggs that is glop-free, unique and delicious.

                                  Do tell: where can I get a good bowl of Old Hen soup and baby shrimp/oyster omelettes?

                                  1. re: Polecat

                                    Thanks, Polecat, I'm going to try both restaurants. Amazing 66 has gotten lots of good recommendations on CH so I'm anxious to try it. There is hope for glop-free food.

                                    1. re: Beau711

                                      I hope you succeed. This whole thread is just so weird to me because I have had hundreds of meals in Chinatown and NEVER have I seen glop such as you describe. Perhaps you are ordering the wrong things. I'd never order a stir-fried dish in a Cantonese restaurant. Casseroles, steamed, braised is the way to go. Even if I did order a stir-fry, it wouldnt have a gloppy sauce. I've had people ask me where to find a gloppy sauce and I didnt know what to tell them.

                                      1. re: Brian S

                                        Well, I've had many meals in Chinatown myself (used to work right nearby) and can assure you, there's plenty of glop, bottled kung pao sauce, etc. I think you're unusually knowledgeable about Chinese cuisine and adept at finding the good stuff. The experience is a lot more frustrating for regular folks, who want to order a simple dish like "garlic chicken" without it being drowned in nasty brown sauce.

                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                          Thanks. I certainly wasnt knowledgeable about Cantonese cuisine when I first blundered into Cantoon Garden (which had a different name) shortly after it opened in 1992 or so. (Even though I'd lived in China) And I knew a lot about Americanized Chinese menus (General Tso's, Kung pao etc) So what I did in Cantoon Garden was to order something I'd never heard of. If I liked it,the next time I went I would order something prepared similarly, if I didnt I would order something dissimilar. I got to like the casseroles. Which is a good recommendation, they don't have any glop.

                                        2. re: Brian S

                                          I agree with Brian S, I think the problem (if one can really call it that) is that you are simply not ordering the right dishes.

                                          In my experience, and I'm sure you know this, the more American the dish sounds, the higher the probability of it being gloppy. Even in Hong Kong, I've seen restaurants use the bottled oyster sauce. If you don't like the sauces, stay away from dishes that mention them!

                                            1. re: eatfood

                                              I concurr, it's a matter of ordering the right dishes. I grew up in HK and they still add too much sauce to the bok choi - you have to specify them to go light on the sauce. But I do agree with the poster who said that cantonese cuisine in HK uses fresher ingridients. Some of the best places I've found are the little no name holes in the wall around the city - but again, ordering the right dish is essential.

                                              1. re: Boss77

                                                Hi Boss77-I found it interesting that you find in Hong Kong that too much sauce is added to a simple dish like bok choy. Guess it's just not a pattern in NYC.

                                                Could you kindly list some of the places that you like in Manhattan and the "right" dishes to order. I'm the original poster of this topic so I'm still searching for deliciousness without the gloppy sauces. Thanks.

                                                1. re: Beau711

                                                  So have you tried any of our suggestions? How did it go?

                                                  1. re: Brian S

                                                    Not yet, Brian. I don't often go to Chinatown but I was dragged the other afternoon to Wo Hop, of all places, by two friends who love that restaurant for its ribs. I knew what I was getting into: gloppy sauce land. I made a mental note, however, and looked at the outside and menu of Amazing 66 on Mott. That's my next stop based on your recommendation. Will report back.

                                                  2. re: Beau711

                                                    I have recently been on a Shun Lee kick (although I have to admit it's a little saucy), but boy can they blow your socks off with the heat. I find that the little corner chinese place, if you order hunan chicken isn't bad as the hunan sauce isn't the heavyest. Never order General Tsos or Sesame. Still can't find good food like home.

                                          1. re: Polecat

                                            Where's Cantoon Gardens? On Eliz.?

                                            1. re: pinkylechat

                                              Yes. Between Bayard and Canal, east side of the street.

                                        3. i grew up in la and have traveled to bejing, shanghai, and hong kong. i understand the problem. the best it's ever gotten for me in nyc is pings in chinatown with careful ordering. crispy ducks tongues is a winner, as are their steamed equivalent. abalone season is usually great there too. have had some good dishes at 20 mott too -- especially like their jellyfish and their ribs. still, i rarely eat chinese food in nyc b/c it usually is a great disspointment. look forward to any suggestions!

                                          1. Try Shanghai Cuisine, New Green Bo, or NY Noodletown (Chinatown. all on Bayard St.), or Plump Dumpling (E. 11th St.) And that's just for starters.. Good Chinese is to be found, you just got to dig a bit.

                                            1. I definitely know what you're talking about. I grew up in the Bay Area in California, and the Chinese we ate there was not as gloppy. When I moved here, I started to wonder if maybe that was just a very West Coast-style of Chinese, rather than anything authentic. But, anyway, the closest thing I've found to it is in Williamsburg, M Shangai Bistro, run by former West Coasters. It can be a little inconsistent, but when it's good, it's really fresh and tasty.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: CobblerNYC

                                                I agree, some of the best Chinese I had was in San Fran and it wasnt gloppy or greasy at all but not watered down either. The other place that had the best of this style was a small family joint in Nice France of all places.

                                              2. Yes, Chinatown. Let me repeat, Chinatown. New Green Bo or NY Noodletown Wonton Garden or a bunch other places that serve very tasty and glop free fare.

                                                1. shanghai cafe at 100 mott street is far and away my favorite chinese restaurant in the city. it's cheap, delicious, not too greasy and as far as i can tell, run by only women! waitresses can be surly, but have noticed a gradual warming in the year and a half i've been going there. must order soup buns with crab and pork (i say they're better than joe's across the street), pork fried rice, vegetable soup and whatever kind of noodles you're in the mood for. we also get shredded pork with hot green peppers (not on the menu, but just ask) which is AMAZING if you like spicy food. also, they always have delicious snow pea sleeves/bok choy/chinese broccoli sauteed in light oil and garlic. for five people with no beers, it'll be about $60.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: haydawg

                                                    I like Shanghai Cafe for (surprise, surprise) Shanghainese food. You should try the braised yellowfish and the Dong Po pork.

                                                  2. YES!! SHUN LEE....In the 50's...east side...Unbelievable!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: kcijones001

                                                      Shun Lee is totally unremarkable and while not overtly gloppy, isn't all that. Chinatown recs are likely much better.

                                                    2. Sichuan food uses a much drier form of preparation than Cantonese. I used to work in a Chinese restaurant in California. The owners were from Hong Kong; the mother's grandmother was Sichuan. The restaurant cooked mostly American style dishes, but the Sichuan dishes were authentic. The food they cooked for themselves was stir fried but otherwise a great deal like ordinary American food my (Irish Catholic) mother used to cook. Just a tiny bit of oil and maybe a pinch of cornstarch if any. No spices. They frequently had strips of beef stir fried together with cut-up potatoes. They would give non-family shredded chicken with onion and peanuts. My favorite was during the summer months when the grandfather had too many zucchinis from the garden on hand, and we would get chicken, onion, and zucchini cut up and stir fried together. It was cooked perfectly to the point of tenderness, like Alice Waters might do. And of course it didn't sit around on the steam table.

                                                      In New York City, I highly recommend chicken with bok choy at Grand Sichuan on 2nd Ave. However, it does contain Sichuan peppercorn, so you might consider it spicy. It does not have any sauce. It is more like au jus. Superb. I'm sorry I can't recommend any Cantonese restaurants -- I don't go to them because I don't like saucy either. I have heard a lot about authentic restaurants in Flushing, Queens -- especially the food courts -- you might check the outer borough boards. The poster Ling has a lot of knowledge.

                                                      Let us know if you find anything good. I would love a non-saucy Chinese meal myself.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: KateC.

                                                        Oh, you can get excellent Cantonese in Chinatown, but if you want to check the outer borough board for Cantonese in Flushing, have a look at this:


                                                        1. re: KateC.

                                                          Well, I was just at Grand Sichuan tonight and the dish is spicy chicken with chinese broccoli. The waitress did ask me if I wanted it spicy or not. It doesn't seem very spicy, except for the peppercorn. I also ordered sliced pumpkin with ginger and scallion (not a spicy dish). It was so good, I couldn't stop eating. I ate enough for two. I almost died of deliciousness.

                                                          Based on my experience, almost anything on the first or last pages of the menu is fantastic. And the Sichuan specialities. Some is spicy, some not. Tonight they had razor clams, grilled fish, spareribs -- those are three non-spicy dishes I recall.

                                                          1. re: KateC.

                                                            Sichuan peppercorns aren't spicy. They are more 'tingly' because they actually contain a mild neurotoxin, as opposed to chili pepper heat.

                                                            1. re: jeanki

                                                              Exactly, it's what the Chinese (Mandarin speaking) refer to as "Ma La" (numbing spiciness).

                                                          2. I'll say it again, Chin Chin. Pricey, but fresh and delicious. The fried rice is actually white! 49th and 3rd.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: MellieMac

                                                              We went with visiting in-laws last night. The Peking Duck was fabulous - incredibly crispy skin. We also had an assortment of dumplings, which were quite good, and cold sesame noodles, as well as a Prawn Sichuan dish - not particularly spicey though.

                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                Oooooh, you missed out on sesame chicken, szechuan wontons, cripy orange beef and grand marnier shrimp!

                                                            2. Back from my fourth tasty Chinese meal this week, I decided to think up rules for avoiding that dreaded glop (which, as I said, I've never seen, even when I was a little kid eating sweet and sour pork, but I am taking your word it exists somewhere)

                                                              1) Avoid Cantonese. This is a shame, since in my opinion, Cantonese, thanks to HK, is the most sophisticated cuisine around. Go for Sichuan or Shanghai or something else.

                                                              2) If you do go for Cantonese, don't order stir-fried. Go for steamed, braised, or casseroles.

                                                              3) If you must order stir-fried, avoid touristy dishes. Get the takeout menu from the worst offender for serving gloppy food, and when you go to a good restaurant, never order any of the dishes listed on this takeout menu. If you do, you are sending a signal, I am a tourist and I want gloppy food.

                                                              4) Go to a restaurant in Chinatown recommended on this board.

                                                              5) For background, read the Beginner's Guide linked to at this link:

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Brian S

                                                                Actually I think that in New York the gloppy stuff is present at non-Cantonese places too. I believe the "Hunan" and "Szechwan" craze (in quotes because these were faux versions of those cuisines) started in New York in the 1970s has its own share of glop, e.g. General Tso's Chicken. Actually I would have thought that Chinese food in Tulsa would have its share of glop--is that not the case?

                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                  I absolutely agree with you, Chandavkl. I think the "gloppiness" is present because while the Chinese cuisines in Asia, Toronto, or West Coast has continue to evoke to the better / cleaner tasting style, the Chinatown in NYC is still at the 80's genre with all the thick gloppy sauses and heavy MSG. While there are a few (and very few) restaurants that are providing more contemporary versions of Cantonese dishes (I think less attempts have been done in other Chinese cuisine such as Shanghainese), some NYers then complain about the "lack of taste" (um, lack of MSG?) in the food. One good example is the dim sum at Dim Sum Go Go. I have heard the comments about people think Golden Unicorn has better dim sum than Dim Sum Go Go because they find the latter "bland" in taste.

                                                                  Anyway, I agree with Brian S. that steamed dishes in Cantonese restaurants are usually light and refreshing. Some examples are steamed live shrimps / steamed scallops with vermicilli and garlic, etc., in Oriental Gardens or Pings or such. For stir-fry, seafood tends to have less gloppy sauce than meat, and simple ginger and scallion or just garlic is much safer than black bean, brown sauce, or sauces that you can find in chop suey stores.

                                                                  Actually in more better restaurants they should be able to provide FRIED food (such as salt and pepper shrimps or seafood) without being oily. If you find this dish to be oily and greasy, that's because the chef is not skillful enough to cook this dish well.

                                                                  In addition, do not forget that congee (Cantonese style) and wonton is also part of Cantonese food and is not greasy or gloppy at all. Chinese BBQ such as BBQ Pork, Soy Sauce Chicken, etc. avaiable at say Big Wong or NY Noodletown are safe bet from the gloppy sauces.

                                                                2. re: Brian S

                                                                  “I decided to think up rules for avoiding that dreaded glop (which, as I said, I've never seen”

                                                                  Hey Brian - thanks for your suggestions for ‘Beginners Guide to Chinese food’ and not appearing as a tourist and your Rules for getting a decent meal. While it’s generally acknowledged on these boards that you’re good at picking Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, methinks you may need to get over yourself just a wee bit and be less complacent.

                                                                  The last I saw under Chowhound’s Manhattan sub-heading, it says “Tips for Dining, Eating and Food Shopping in Manhattan.” But now we have Rules from you. “Avoid Cantonese; Don’t order stir-fried”, etc. What you don’t seem to get with this topic is that I’m not the only one who has complained about gloppy, sloppy saucy food. I know there are many Chowhounds here who know really good food and restaurants but I’ve never read one thread where someone posts rules. I don’t believe that’s the nature of the CH website or philosophy. It’s where to find good food with ‘Tips’ from people not rules.

                                                                  I write this with all good intentions and will make a note to try some of the restaurants in your earlier thread on Chowhound (which is not a New York Magazine article but one linked to an earlier thread on this board.

                                                                  1. re: Beau711

                                                                    Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "rules" I didnt mean rule in the sense of a ukase from Ivan the Terrible or Papal bull or Imperial command. I just meant strategies which might help you get a better meal.

                                                                3. For great, non gloppy Cantonese, try Phoenix Garden - now on 40th or 41st Street between 1st and 2nd...they have fallen off the radar a bit since leaving Chinatown 15 years ago, but we were fans then and every once in a while go to the East Side to get a fix of pepper and salty shrimp etc....

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: aimeezing1

                                                                    Thanks for the tip, aimeezing1. I'm going to add Phoenix Garden to my list of places to try. What's nice is that I am in the East 40s for business so this works for me.

                                                                    1. re: aimeezing1

                                                                      Agreed! Have been going to Phoenix since I was a kid (when it was in Chinatown). Makes simple Cantonese dishes really well. Its Pepper Salty Shrimp is excellent as is their apricot chicken, sizzling casseroles, crispy sweet/sour sea bass, ginger scallion seafood (lobster, crab, etc), and a nice simple young chow fried rice.. Service is a bit gruff, but food is great and its BYOB.

                                                                    2. When talking about 'gloppy' Chinese food it's important to understand that almost any reasonably decent restaurant in chinatown (eg Amazing 66, NY Noodetown, Cantoon Garden, etc.) is capable of serving pretty authentic, non-oversauced chines food. The one's you list as examples of places you eat in your post above (Ping's, Peking Duck House, Joe's Shanghai) are not very authentic in my opinion, especially if you stray away from the signature dishes they are know for.

                                                                      One thing that I think is very important to do though is to put yourself in the shoes of the waiters/proprietors of the better restaurants in chinatown. A large number of the non-chinese customers who walk in their doors are tourists who ultimately expect traditional US style chinese food in a slightly more authentic feeling surrounding, these guys are often unhappy when served something more authentic ('hey, where's the sauce?').

                                                                      I lived in Thailand for a long time and the proprietors of excellent restaurants and street stalls over there often told me that they automatically serverd farangs (foreigners) over-sweetened, under-spiced, over-sauced versions of Thai dishes as not doing so frequently resulted in trouble.

                                                                      You can certainly get gloppy food at places like NYC Noodletown, Cantoon Garden, etc, however, if you order the 'correct' dishes from their menus, they will serve you some pretty good stuff. It sure helps to go to one of these places with a chinese speaker, failing that tricks such as ordering a steamed fish from their tanks or ordering the better dishes on the menu will generally generate respect and send a message to the kitchen that you are probably able to deal with properly cooked chinese food.

                                                                      Ordering patterns are how the waiter gauges what kind of customer you are, so subsequent dishes often come out better. It also helps to just ask them what's good, telling them you don't want "american style" but want the "real stuff, same like you eat". I don't want to be condescending but these guys often don't have the best English so it helps to speak using the simplest language possible.

                                                                      Having said all of that I have to admit that now and then I love a nice and gooey General Tso's Chicken. My credibility is ruined.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: lankyFool

                                                                        Thanks, lankyFool, for your tips. I agree with you that in Chinatown there are a large ratio of out-of-towners or tourists who expect 'traditional' dishes. However, where I take exception here is that any good restaurant that wants to stay in business, Chinese, Italian, Thai, should present their best dishes with a description on the menu of the ingredients. This starts with training the waiter to possibly steer diners away from the same ole. In many cases, the wait staff in Chinatown is so rushed and harried, they become just order takers.

                                                                        Nobody wants to appear as a gringo and no kitchen should take it as a 'message' to send out sloppy food. Sometimes the 'real stuff'' doesn't appeal to diners such as organ parts or seeing a whole fish or animal's eyes staring back at ya. So the wait staff or the chef could point out what delicious vegetables and dishes are available to steer dinners to the good stuff. Personally, when in Chinatown, I look at what's coming out that looks good and order that. However, my original post did not just cover Chinatown. Manhattan is a big place yet thousands of Chinese restaurants seem to churn out many of the same mediocre dishes. The onus should not be on the individual customer but on the people cooking this stuff.

                                                                        1. re: Beau711

                                                                          What if your neighborhood Chinese place took all this post to heart, and told you,"as of tomorrow, we are hiring waiters fluent in English and trained to advise on cuisine. Moreover, all of our sauces, such as oyster sauce, will be made fresh in house from the finest ingredients. Unfortunately, entrees will start at $25."

                                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                                            I would gladly pay $25+ for a delicious entree with fresh ingredients and no gloppy sauce. But it doesn't have to be an either/or situation the way you're setting it up. The way non-Chinese diners were introduced to dishes like orange chicken, General Tso's chicken, dim sum and soup dumplings, they can be exposed to tasty healthy ingredients not drowning in sodium-based sauces and MSG, Even if the kitchen doesn't use MSG, it's found in the bottled sauces.

                                                                            1. re: Beau711

                                                                              Brian's point above about prices is well made Beau. I eat at Noodletown once a week, generally having a great meal and getting out the door for less than $15 pp. Chinatown is the deal that it is because of cheap staffing and high customer turnover (I generally order, eat and pay in about 45 mins in noodletown). The kind of service and attention you require would massively increase prices. Plus, since people are now paying so much more for the food itself the surroundings will now have to match the price point - shifting costs and prices higher still. If you are looking for this kind of restaurant it does exist in the form of Chinatown Brasserie (average meal $40+). It's not my cup of tea but it does have some fans here on chowhound.

                                                                              PS - I know what you mean about CHEAP bottled sauces, however in my experience every restaurant (barrring perhaps celebrity chef gourmant style joints such as Voneghrichten's 66) use bottled sauces. I've watched cooks preparing food in some of the best kitchens in bangkok and believe me they reach for (good quality) bottles of oyster, sweet chilli sauce, etc all the time. It's also completely standard for some MSG to be added to many authentic asian dishes.

                                                                            2. re: Brian S

                                                                              I disagree. As several people have said, neighborhood Chinese places in the Bay Area and LA manage to do even Americanized Chinese dishes (e.g., orange beef) that isn't gloppy and oversauced. Why can't Manhattan establishments, even those outside of Chinatown, do the same?

                                                                        2. Good idea, Brian. Years ago a Chinese friend of mine wrote a note that said "No menus" and that worked in my building. Less clutter under the door!

                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Beau711

                                                                            Have you ever tried the Shun Lee across from Lincoln Center?
                                                                            I am curious to know what you think of it.
                                                                            As Asian restaurants go, they seem to have no gloppy sauces and (thankfully) a menu that doesn't have a line-up of pages a mile long of chicken done a million ways, shrimp done a million ways, pasta dishes done ... (you know) ad nauseam.
                                                                            The briefer the menu, the more I trust that they are not topping their same gloppy sauce with whatever choice you make in the same category.
                                                                            Less to me, is more. So I think I get your drift.
                                                                            However, on the other hand, like Tevye, I feel compelled to add that I do not find Shun Lee the be-all/end-all of Asian cuisine. Far from it. It's pricey and tends to cater to the moneyed crowd. But I DO find it to be a cut above the "glop group."

                                                                            1. re: idia

                                                                              Hi idia, I've never tried Shun Lee although I remember the critic Mimi Sheraton of NY Magazine used to love it. When I'm up near Lincoln Center, I usually go to Fiorello's for the antipasto seafood and vegetable platter. However, I'll make a mental note to check out Shun Lee next time I'm in that area. Thanks. Beau.

                                                                              1. re: Beau711

                                                                                Shun Lee is highly Americanized, bland and/or over-sweet food served very decoratively in a pleasant enough ambience and priced for the expense account crowd. Try it, by all means, but bring a fat wallet and rein in your expectations.

                                                                                1. re: Striver

                                                                                  Agree. Shun Lee to me is a dressed up upscale American Chinese restaurant. Food may be slightly better than the neighborhood "gloppy" take out, but what you pay for is mainly the decor, cleanliness (virtually), and service (which they do have sometimes...), not better quality or better tasting food.

                                                                                  1. re: kobetobiko

                                                                                    I actually think it is more than "slightly better" than neighborhood gloppy take out ... I really like their shrimp in XO sauce. Somehow, to me, Shun Lee West's food tastes "cleaner" than a lot of cheap Chinese take out, with better quality ingredients, especially in terms of the proteins. But, as kobetobiko says, you are also paying for the more "upscale" environment. Service can be mixed - sometime very attentive, some times a bit slap dash.

                                                                                    1. re: kobetobiko

                                                                                      I agree with kobetobiko. Shun Lee is something of a ripoff and caters to upper Westsiders who don't realize Chinatown is ten times better at half the price.

                                                                                2. re: idia

                                                                                  It sounds a lot like P F Chang's.. which never serves gloppy sauces.


                                                                                  1. re: Brian S

                                                                                    he he - you may be right - it's been awhile since I've been to PFC, but we do go to Shun Lee West pretty often since it's close to the Lincoln Plaza movie theater. I'd say it's slightly more upscale than PFC - and somewhat more adventuresome - they do offer jelly fish, which I'd be surprised if PFC does. Also looking forward to trying your Queens recs!

                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                      PF Chang's to me, is nothing more than another chain.
                                                                                      Shun Lee is decidely a cut above IMHO.
                                                                                      So far, I haven't heard of anything better on the UWS -- I'm still waiting...

                                                                              2. Just got back from Chinatown and I'm posting just to show the fun of it. (And yes I got a non-gloppy meal.) There's a place I've written about before that looks like a rundown soup shop with six tables.. except the menu has over two hundred items and there are several more elegant dining rooms concealed in back. So I went there and sat on a rickety stool in the soup shop and tried to find one of the entrees that I recognized. But not one had any Chinese characters I knew. So I had a long and unproductive conversation with the friendly lady who runs the shop, along the likes of, that looks like fish, no it's not fish. Usually the patrons join in just for the fun of it, and sometimes thats a help, but this time they didn't. Finally in desperation, I saw something I knew... a casserole with seafood in it. So I ordered that, and sat back to watch the restaurant life. A bunch of people shelling vegetables, people coming in and out with orders, groups of guys drinking beer and eating noodles, all the people from Fujian. Then my order came, a huge clay pot twice the size of the ones most restaurants use, just full to the brim with eggplant and squid and various unidentifiable maritime things, all afloat in a thin delicious broth that tasted of five spice and of the sea. It was delicious! And only $9. What a bargain. I would have paid $9 for the entertainment alone. It's cheaper than a planen ticket to China.

                                                                                see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/334386

                                                                                1. For sichuan, I prefer Wu Liang Ye on 48th. There's also a hole in the wall and cheap cantonese place that's between Wu Liang Ye and Sixth Avenue - can't remember the name. Don't order from their buffet. There's a second line where you order from their list of items for non-caucasians. My recommendations are the soy sauce chicken over rice, dan dan noodle soup, and the chinese style beef stew noodle soup.

                                                                                  1. I totally agree... I am from CA, and I love Chinese food there. It is full of fresh vegetables, and very little sauce/MSG-laced oil. I feel ill when I eat Chinese food in NY, and as a result eat it only once or twice a year.

                                                                                    I have eaten at several of the restaurants listed (NY Noodletown, Grand Sichuan, Congee Garden), and still can't find a decent Chinese meal. I'd love some suggestions.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: tatiana_nyc

                                                                                      Having grown up in Los Angeles and then lived in Manhattan for 10 years, I don't think I ever found anyplace I found comparable to in the SGV. However, the places that I frequented in Manhattan that I found were pretty decent were Our Place on the Upper East Side, and Dim Sum a Go Go and Big Wong in Chinatown. Joe Shanghai in Chinatown is pretty good as well, although it can get heavy sometimes. I found Ping's fairly gloppy at times.

                                                                                      And personally, I think Shun Lee West is pretty good, although expensive. I find it does help to ask the waiter to recommend the non-Americanized dishes on the menu, and for some things, it may require a bit of ordering ahead.

                                                                                      1. re: sidwich

                                                                                        As good as Shun Lee is for a NY restaurant outside of Chinatown, it pales next to a place like Chinois in LA.
                                                                                        I think California has got the secret of lighter and fresher is much more appealing.
                                                                                        Sometimes less is more.

                                                                                        1. re: idia

                                                                                          I hate to disagree Idia, but Shun Lee is abysmal! Have you seen their Sunday dim sum cart? A whopping assortment of 5 deep fried items trolleyed around as if it were on wholesale...appalling!

                                                                                          I like to eats.

                                                                                          1. re: druz99

                                                                                            Are you talking about Shun Lee Cafe - as opposed to Shun Lee West? I agree about the dim sum at the Cafe - lousy. I quite like the food at Shun Lee West, though I make no claims about its authenticity and it is expensive.

                                                                                    2. Ping and Sweet and Tart, both in Chinatown, are both delicious with some great less saucy options.

                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                                                            I'm a babe in the woods when distinguishing Cantonese from other varieties, but I share your pain about oversaucing.

                                                                                            One restaurant you might want to try is Congee Restaurant on Bowery north of Hester. Now, I am a vegetarian which limits my food choices a lot, but the greens with garlic are not at all saucy, just some broth and garlic. Some other dishes have sauces but they generally seem fresher, crisper, and offer a lighter hand with the sauce than so many other places. Better "wok presence," if you will. Can't speak for the meat/fish.

                                                                                            Please don't confuse with Congee Village on Allen St., which I find not nearly as good.

                                                                                            1. re: comestible

                                                                                              Interesting. I've never been to Congee because Congee Village was the original and Congee a copycat... so I assumed it would be inferior. Also it occupied the space of a very very good restaurant that went out of business.

                                                                                              1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                I don't think of Congee as a copycat. They're different restaurants. I like them both and feel they have some similar and some different strengths.

                                                                                                1. re: Pan

                                                                                                  The reason I think of them as a copycat is that as soon as Congee Village became popular, Congee opened nearby with a similar menu (even the printing was similar) and of course a similar name.

                                                                                                  So what are their different strengths? I should try both of them. Oh, and how about Congee Bowery (owned by Congee Village)

                                                                                                  1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                    Yes, try both of them. Lotus Root in Red Bean Sauce and Sha Cha Beef are better at Congee Village, and I think I remember liking the House Special Chicken (or the equivalent; I forget the name) better at Congee. In my limited experience at Congee Bowery, it seems pretty much just like the parent.

                                                                                      1. I just found a long post by Mr Lwong on the economics of the Chinese restaurant business which might be relevant. It's the long post just below mine.


                                                                                        1. Hey I've eaten some great meals at Hop Lee, 16 Mott, which is as old-school Toishan as you can get. I order casseroles. A lot of Chinese eat there, they even host the Chinatown Rotary Club meals. Of course when tourists come in wanting gloppy food, that's what they are given.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                                                            China Moon in midtown is delicious! I think this is what your looking for

                                                                                            1. re: Brian S

                                                                                              I grew up in Chinatown and had never tried Hop Lee. Did try Hop Kee next door and found a respectable beef chow fun. I always thought those 2 places were strictly tourist traps but they seem to be around for ages. Which place is better?

                                                                                            2. A few more thoughts.

                                                                                              1) New York has six Chinatowns. Here's my account of a visit to one of them... a whole untapped reserve of new un-gloppy restaurants. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/438915

                                                                                              2) Things may change. Go back forty years, and just about every restaurant in the USA served gloppy sauces, because they thought rightly or wrongly that that was what Americans liked. Italian... drown it in red sauce. Mexican... smother that food with processed melted cheese. American.... pour a gallon of gravy on that chicken-fried steak. French... actually I love those rich French classic sauces and I'm sorry they are gone. Starting about 1970, the trend began to hold the sauce. There was a new wave of Chinese cooking in Hong Kong in the 1990s. Soon it will reach the New York shoreline.

                                                                                              3) This post is getting dangerous for our readers who live in Los Angeles... because they are laughing so hard and so uncontrollably that they might fall and bump into furniture.

                                                                                              1. just want to add that my favorite chinese brown glop is the gravy often served with the egg foo young at a local chinese chicken wing palace.

                                                                                                1. Not really! Having grown up in Hong Kong and Singapore you can imagine the heartache I've been through in trying to find a remotely "qing" (clean...not overly greasy) restaurant. The closest I could find is XO Kitchen in Chinatown. They have some very authentic dishes, that while a little rough (cuts of meat and noodles are always 10 times thicker in America), tastes pretty good.

                                                                                                  I like to eats.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: druz99

                                                                                                    Which branch of XO Kitchen do you frequent, and do you have any particular favorite dishes there?

                                                                                                  2. I know exactly what you're talking about. It's not merely the sauces, it's the frozen baby corn, and the mystery meat combo with the gloppy sauces, right? The flipside would be the stuff glistening in fish sauce with some strangeness pooled at the bottom of a shallow dish. I've been to Chinese weddings where things got a little too authentic, and so there is a good balance between Americanized tastes, and still good food.

                                                                                                    Part of the problem, and I saw this while growing up in SF, is a shift away from quality, to disguising low quality cheap foods. They don't see much value in making potstickers by hand when you can buy them frozen and sell them dirt cheap at a greater profit margin. I actually prefer chinese in New York, because of the noodle and dumpling houses that use fresh ingredients.

                                                                                                    A few years back, the answer to your prayers would have been called Sam's Noodle Grill. I can't vouch for the last location left, but have you tried it by chance? They used the full run of colored sauces, oyster, black bean, etc. but the food looks and tastes like what you ordered, and I don't think your problem is the sauces so much anyway. Anyway, Sam's original location (RIP) was a special breed of Chinese food.

                                                                                                    The next suggestion would be a Malasian style place called Nyononya (I'm messing that spelling up, but it's in Little Italy on the same block as Di Palo's). It's not incredible, but the one thing it has going for it is they lightly sauce many of their dishes. My favorites are actually made in a sticky rice wine sauce.

                                                                                                    In any case, I think 99.9% of what people embrace as good Chinese (or Asian food in general) is pretty lousy.... so you're not alone in this.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                      The place you're thinking of is Nyonya. Properly speaking, Nyonya cuisine is the cuisine of the Straits Chinese, originally the products of marriages between Chinese men in the explorer Zheng He's entourage and Malay women. Babas (Straits Chinese men) and Nyonyas (Straits Chinese women) speak Malay and have many Malay aspects to their culture, but are generally non-Muslims and eat pork. That said, Nyonya restaurant is simply Malaysian, not really a Nyonya specialty restaurant as such.

                                                                                                    2. Ohhh will this thread never die?

                                                                                                      I think I found an answer to the OP's question, Can you recommend any restaurants in Manhattan that serve tasty Chinese food? On several visits to Amazing 66 I ordered dishes I usually don't get but which I think is the essence of Chinese neighborhood takeout: chicken in black bean sauce, beef with oyster sauce. They were EXCELLENT!!!

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                        Can someone please define what the "glop" actually is? Is it oyster sauce? I know NY-er expats in California are always on a search for duck sauce, but it can't be duck sauce. No one cooks in duck sauce.

                                                                                                        1. re: david t.

                                                                                                          i think what they mean is the sauces that are made at the americanized chinese take out or other restaurants in the city where they use an excessive amount of starch, which makes the sauces turn into these brown thick semi gelatinous sauces...so think of beef with broccoli or general tso's chicken at your local chinese take out joint.

                                                                                                          Unfortunately, i think this has been defined as "chinese food" and "good chinese food" has been redefined in this same definition by mr chows etc who have taken the same type of food, but made it substantially better with better ingredients and preparation (nothing particularily wrong with that it's just isn't real chinese food).