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Where do you go for Chinese food (delivery or eat in) that won't leave you feeling guilty/sick over all the sugar, grease, and who knows what it contained?

Full tummy Oct 19, 2007 11:33 AM

Someone I know tells me that Szechaun Szechuan is the only Chinese she can eat in the city, because it's delicious and not overly sweet.

If you've eaten there, what's your take on it?

  1. p
    pgfuzz Oct 19, 2007 03:28 PM

    Make sure not to order from the "Westerner" menu items designed for North Americans and avoid the "Chef Specials" - yet again designed for a westerner's palate. This applies to most Chinese restaurants you go to.

    1. t
      tjunmin Oct 19, 2007 03:07 PM

      Lai Wah Hen offers Chinese food that is not overly sweet or greasy. Enjoy!

      1. g
        Gary Oct 19, 2007 02:18 PM

        I agree that the tone and title of this query are a puzzling and a bit offputting, frankly.

        Is your friend by chance equating "Chinese food" with "Canadian Chinese food"? If she's ordering chicken balls and fried rice soaked in florescent orange "sweet'n'sour" sauce, then yes, her impression of "Chinese food" as being unhealthy junk is probably accurate. That food evolved because enterprising Chinese immigrants earlier last century discovered that that it was the only food that sold to puzzled Caucasians raised on roast beef and French fries. But Chinese people rarely eat these particularly unhealthy dishes; to assume they do is like assuming all Canadians of non-Chinese descent eat McDonald's three meals a day.

        If you visit any reasonably authentic Chinese restaurant and look at the menu items not aimed explicitly at "Canadians" (like me!) then you'll find many of them are in fact quite healthy -- lots of vegetable options, sometimes sauted with meat, fish, seafood and tofu, and served with steamed rice or very simple noodles. There will be greasier items, but there should also be lots of options that are strictly veggie, and many that are steamed rather than deep fried, and flavoured with spices and hot peppers rather than salt and fat.

        Dim Sum, of course, is an obvious exception to this rule; while fairly "authentic" it is usually pretty high in fat and sodium. Then again, I think it is more intended to be a once-a-week treat, not a daily meal.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Gary
          g
          gloriana232 Oct 23, 2007 07:56 AM

          I'll second Gary's thoughts. The only Chinese food that's ever made me feel ill is the junk I find at food courts, or obvious third-rate restaurants that cater to less knowledgeable crowds.

          Lots of dishes are steamed, boiled, or sauteed without relying on heavy additions of grease or sugar. Some people find congee plain, but it's really nutritious and filling, and my favourite's shredded pork and preserved egg (salty, but you don't eat a lot of it). Nothing beats a great bowl of hot noodles on a cold day -- especially the noodles that come in wonderful clear broths.

          I find a lot of people of non-Chinese descent don't quite understand the art of plain white rice; it helps distribute strong flavours, and tempers the different foods you're eating. Fried rice is supposed to be a meal unto itself, not a side dish.

          Dim-sum is definitely a weekly treat.

          1. re: gloriana232
            j
            Jar Nov 11, 2007 05:29 AM

            You are ever so right about white rice and fried rice!! What a simple observance that I am certain many people have not thought of --- fried rice is a dish on it's own, maybe with a small bowl of soup and/or an egg/spring roll. Chinese families or diners enjoy white rice with shared dishes. I have dined with owners and their chefs late Saturdays past the busy period and wonderful dishes ( not on the menu ) are served with only white rice!!

            1. re: Jar
              pescatarian Nov 11, 2007 05:34 AM

              I am not Chinese and for as long as I can remember I have only eaten white rice as a base for the shared dishes. I just prefer it.

          2. re: Gary
            k
            KevinB Nov 6, 2007 11:27 PM

            Oh, pooh. I live in Richmond Hill, and my Chinese wife - who doesn't mind dropping $200-$300 on excellent Chinese at Ambassador or O-Mei - orders the "dinner for 4" from Golden Hoy at least once a month. Sweet and sour chicken, chicken fried rice, egg rolls - the whole "Canadian Chinese food" experience. And whenever I go to pick the order up, I notice there are Chinese people eating there. My elder daughter has even taken to my taste of flourescent orange S&S sauce on the fried rice.

            It's like eating at McDonald's; you know it's not good for you, and it's not authentic anything, but every now and then, you want a Big Mac.

            1. re: KevinB
              pinstripeprincess Nov 7, 2007 06:27 AM

              kevin, i think gary is making the exact same point as you. he does mention that canadian chinese food is the rough equivalent of mcds and while some may eat it once in a while, it certainly is not the cuisine that many chinese homes subsist on day to day.

              i do think that the clarification of the difference between canadian chinese (or north american chinese) and real chinese food needs to be reinforced very heavily. i personally find it rather insulting when people adamantly tell me they don't like chinese food to only reveal that it's the canadian chinese stuff they've been exposed to, and probably even badly cooked canadian chinese at that!

              i think growing up with chinese food has given me a taste for subtlety and a different appreciation for what others may deem as bland (gloriana totally hit it on the head with some of the simple congee and noodle dishes). it's really interesting watching a half chinese half caucasian companion of mine because their family will readily order fried rice and use that as the base in their bowl but my family would never do that. a good fried rice should be appreciated for the wonderful components it already has, it is a complete dish.

              1. re: KevinB
                t
                torontokeywest Nov 7, 2007 06:56 AM

                Perfectly said. I agree.

                1. re: KevinB
                  g
                  Gary Nov 10, 2007 01:18 PM

                  Yup, you got it, pinstripe. I love a chicken balls and fried rice glowing sauce special every now and then, too. But I felt like all Chinese cuisine was being written off because of it, so I thought I'd toss in my 2 cents on the matter.

                  1. re: KevinB
                    vorpal Nov 10, 2007 09:26 PM

                    Hear, hear. I don't know what I'd do without my weekly dose of disgustingly sweet, deep fried lemon chicken. I know it's somewhat unhealthy and horribly inauthentic, but I need my occasional fix of Canadian Chinese.

                2. skylineR33 Oct 19, 2007 01:33 PM

                  The chinese food at Szechaun Szechuan is pretty bad, period.

                  1. Recyclor Oct 19, 2007 01:32 PM

                    Maybe order things that are steamed like whole fish or dumplings and filled buns, some soups or stir fries like beef with black bean sauce, bbq pork items or some veg only dishes, just avoid deep fried and heavily sauced items like Gen. Tao's chicken and crispy beef dishes, fried rices and the like...just a thought...I like New Sky, E-Pan, Dumpling House, Swatow all are easy to find on Spadina between Queen & College...

                    1. e
                      Ender Oct 19, 2007 01:21 PM

                      What an odd title for the question, either way I find szechuan szechuan to be basically candy. I have no clue what your friend is saying with "its not overly sweet" if it got any sweet willy wonka would be selling it.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ender
                        c
                        childofthestorm Oct 19, 2007 01:34 PM

                        Yeah, agreed, it sounds like your friend secretly likes to eat sugar, grease, and who knows what. On the bright side, it should open up a lot of dining options for her.

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