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Kroepoek... or why is "Chinese" food different in various countries?

linguafood Feb 14, 2008 01:26 PM

So here's a question perhaps some Chinese-Americans may (or may not) be able to answer.

Having grown up in Germany, every single Chinese resto I have ever been to offers kroepoek (deep fried shrimp chips, basically) in the appetizer section of the menu, but I've never seen it in the US. I guess the spelling indicates that this may not be a *traditional* Chinese dish (sounds Indonesian to me), and -- as many CH have pointed out -- national cuisines tend to assimilate or cater to the countries they are transplanted to. However, that still wouldn't explain kroepoek, as there's nothing German about it.

I find that the equivalent in Chinese restos (and by equivalent I mean the prevalence of the dish, absolutely NOT in taste) here in the US seems to be fried noodles, or crunchy/crispy noodles, or whatever you would like to call that tasteless morsel of fried dough.

Does kroepoek exist in Canada? Or does one have to look into other cuisines than Chinese?

Big question mark.

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  1. ipsedixit RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 01:30 PM

    You can find deep-fried shrimp chips in Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles.

    Are the ones in Germany multi-colored?

    1. livetocook RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 01:40 PM

      I've seen them in Edmoton, Alberta. They are multicoloured (pink, white) and are usually the "bed" for something else, like dry garlic ribs or deep fried shrimp, that type thing.

      1. dagoose RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 01:56 PM

        Regardless of whether or not it has something 'german' about it, it may just be something the first chinese restaurants in germany served and people liked that about the chinese restaurant, so asked for it when they ate at other establishments. See the history of the fortune cookie.

        Other than that, it could be that germans have a prediliction for that taste...so they order it alot...

        1. chowser RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 01:58 PM

          I get shrimp chips at chinese restaurants--usually alongside poultry like duck or roasted chicken.

          1. Sam Fujisaka RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 02:35 PM

            Chinese in different countries? Unrecognizable in Colombia. Salty, oily, and no spices in the Philippines--albeit prepared by filipinos of Chinese descent. Terrible in Guatemala. Locally adapted and quite good in Peru. Sporadic and sometimes humorous in Africa. Locally adapted by local Chinese populations and dinstinctive in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand.

            Then there was Tarija, Bolivia, in the mid-70s. A Chinese couple came and opened a restaurant. She did the shopping and part of the cooking. He cooked, didn't speak Spanish. FANTASTIC food! Course they went out of business after a bit. I had to wait years more to get Chinese food that good.

            26 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
              linguafood RE: Sam Fujisaka Feb 14, 2008 02:57 PM

              I've noticed other stuff like lo mein, and chow mein, that I have never seen in 'German' Chinese restos. Or Kung Pao? General Tso? Never ever ever. I find that truly fascinating, and would be curious to find out more...

              The most popular German Chinese resto dish is probably chop suey.

              1. re: linguafood
                fmed RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 03:08 PM

                This is a very interesting topic. Even within the North American continent you get these regional differences in restaurant Chinese food. Here in Vancouver you can actually get authentic regional Chinese dishes because we have a large ethnic Chinese new immigrant population from almost all the regions in China (Cuichow, Taiwan, Sichuan, Hakka, etc cuisine).

                We also have quite a number of "North American Chinese" restaurants here that serve the dishes you just described. These restuarants developed from the traditions started by the first wave of immigrants that came to help build the Railroads in the 1800's.

                It would be interesting to do a survey of all the Western style Chinese foods from all parts of the world.

                1. re: fmed
                  linguafood RE: fmed Feb 14, 2008 09:07 PM

                  fmed..... well, I was hoping to get a few more replies :-D. I am really curious -- wonder what Chinese restos are like in GB, for example. Or France. They must all have their own riffs/twists on things.

                  Anyone?

                  1. re: linguafood
                    fmed RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 09:47 PM

                    For North American Chinese:
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American...
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian...

                    There are some dishes I never see in my part of the continent that seem to be very common in the eastern parts of Canada and into the US (eg Crab Rangoon, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chinese Chicken Salad). In short, the cuisine is very regional.

                    The word on France and GB - the Chinese food there is generally quite inauthentic.

                    Have a look at the side bar on those Wiki pages for info about other "overseas" Chinese food and the common dishes served in various countries.

                    1. re: fmed
                      linguafood RE: fmed Feb 14, 2008 11:28 PM

                      Interestingly enough, there's nothing on German Chinese cuisine. Bummer. Thanks for the links, though.

                      1. re: linguafood
                        j
                        justagthing RE: linguafood Feb 15, 2008 05:59 AM

                        I have family that live in Germany and they never eat Chinese there. When I went to visit, we took a road trip to France and my aunt took us to eat Chinese food. I was so disappointed, as it was my first time in France and what!!! no French food. Anyways, they do not eat out at Chinese places nor do they make it at home very much because it is harder to get the proper ingredients, in her opinion.

                        1. re: linguafood
                          fmed RE: linguafood Feb 15, 2008 09:07 AM

                          >> Interestingly enough, there's nothing on German Chinese cuisine. Bummer. Thanks for the links, though.

                          Sounds like an opportunity for you to become a Wikipedia editor. Start your research during your next luchtime ;)

                          In all seriousness, I would love for you to post a list of "common" Chinese dishes in Germany (and would they be the same in Hamburg and Munich, for example).

                          1. re: fmed
                            linguafood RE: fmed Feb 15, 2008 01:23 PM

                            Nah, my days of honorary work are over ;-)

                            But to answer your question -- I seriously doubt that there are regional differences within Germany regarding Chinese menus. The country is simply to small (especially compared to the US) to have any regional influence on ethnic restos.

                            Which makes going to ethnic places in Germany relatively 'safe': when you go to a Croatian/Serbian place, you can be assured that you will find mountains and mountains of meat. Any platter you order "for one" is usually enough to feed three.

                            When you go to most Greek places (though, admittedly, neo-Greek is becoming more popular in Germany, and even before this renaissance happened, there were a few Greek restos that would serve *real* Greek food) -- which I assume is the same in the US, you get moussaka, souvlaki, gyros, tzatziki, etc. Standard fare.

                            Commonalities between Chinese dishes in Germany and the US:

                            - menus with 100+ dishes, all numbered
                            - wonton soup, fried wontons, lumpia (deep-fried spring roll), hot & sour soup
                            - fried rice/fried noodle dishes galore
                            - crispy duck dishes

                            I would say that there is more emphasis on stir-fried over deep-fried (called 'double-baked' in many German Chinese restos), less sweet & sour stuff, and less named dishes. The only one that comes to mind is the "happy family", which contains any number of meats, shrimp, vegetables, served over rice.

                            Most German Chinese dishes are brown-sauced, though they don't seem to be as cloying/starchy as in the US. My guess is chop sueys are ordered most frequently.

                            There used to be the aptly named "Peking" in my hometown, seriously kitsch-y decor (you know, the wood works, the aquarium, the funny lamps with the red dangly fringes...), and I practically grew up on their "Special Chinese noodle soup": a wonderful, deeply flavored beef broth, with thick Chinese noodles, tons of veggies, tung-ku mushrooms, beef, chicken, pork, duck, king prawns...

                            I would order this soup every single time I went, and pretty much had it about once every week.

                            It was one of the few things I looked forward to when visiting my hometown --- which is not a pandemonium of culinary delights.

                            Imagine my incredible disappointment last year to find out they had closed.... then again, I could never figure out how they lasted as long as they did (25+ yrs). The place was almost always near empty. Bad location & perhaps the owners' age probably had to do with that decision... sigh. I CRAVED that soup!!!!

                            There are a couple of places in Berlin that have a large Chinese customer base, so one can assume that their cooking is more authentic. The service in one of them is incredibly rude, but it remains highly popular with those seeking the real deal. Of course, they have two different kinds of menus -- one for their Chinese customers, and the regular one...

                            The other one is located near the Chinese embassy and enjoys great popularity with its employees. I went once and was not impressed. I guess I just haven't had Chinese food that blew my mind.... I do like my kroepoek, though --- :-D

                        2. re: fmed
                          f
                          FrankD RE: fmed Jan 17, 2010 12:55 AM

                          I've eaten in nearly a hundred different Chinese restaurants from Windsor to Montreal, and I've never seen "Crab Rangoon" or "Chinese Chicken Salad" on a menu. Moo Goo Gai Pan does show up at many Chinese-Canadian restos, but I've never ordered it.

                          None of the Chinese restaurants in Canada that I've been to automatically bring some kind of appetizer to the table (wontons, fried noodles, or kropek). I have noticed this in the US.

                          Finally, in the better Chinese restaurants, certain versions of poultry are served with colourful kropek surrounding it on the platter. At home, we like to make them and serve them with a spicy peanut sauce, presented on their own, but usually as part of a meal that includes either crispy chicken or pork.

                        3. re: linguafood
                          Miss Needle RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 11:58 PM

                          When I was in Paris recently, I noticed a lot of Chinese restaurants had their food ready-made on the counter. And I'm not talking about things like roast pork buns and BBQ meats. I'm talking about stir-fries and spring rolls. What about the wok hai? I was dumbstruck as the French are generally into fresh preparations of food. Needless to say, I didn't eat any Chinese food on that trip.

                          1. re: Miss Needle
                            fmed RE: Miss Needle Feb 15, 2008 09:08 AM

                            >> I was dumbstruck as the French are generally into fresh preparations of food.

                            Ah yes...the French are only chauvinistic about their own food ;)

                            1. re: Miss Needle
                              Prav RE: Miss Needle Feb 20, 2008 07:39 AM

                              When I lived in Seville, Spain, the Chinese food was shockingly bad. The menu even had something called 'pan chino' - Chinese bread. They were dinner rolls. (Which reminds me, some of the really old school American Chinese places in Boston still retain a tradition of including a handful of dinner rolls in with each take-away order.)

                              1. re: Prav
                                f
                                Ferdzy RE: Prav Jan 16, 2010 06:02 PM

                                I had some surprisingly edible Chinese food in Spain, although admittedly it mostly wasn't great. I still dream about the fried rice I had at an all-you-can eat buffet in Huarte (Pamplona). It was very simple: Spanish-grown rice fried with peas (probably frozen, but fine) onions, and bitty cubes of good Spanish ham, all fried in olive oil - amazingly good. As soon as I discovered it, I abandoned the rest of the buffet, which was mostly big mounds of grilled meats.

                                That said, we found the Chinese restaurants had the same problem as Spanish restaurants - nothing green, if you can imagine it; just those big mounds of meat. We kept eating at Chinese restaurants in the hopes that they would serve green vegetables, but nothing doing. Even when we ordered mixed stir-fried vegetables, what we got was mostly beige. The zucchini had been carefully peeled so that there wasn't a speck of green left.

                                1. re: Prav
                                  Ed Dibble RE: Prav Jan 18, 2010 08:22 AM

                                  Which reminds me of the Chinese restaurant that used to be a few blocks north of Ohio State in Columbus that always served two slices of white bread with everything - even the noodle dishes.

                                  1. re: Ed Dibble
                                    chowser RE: Ed Dibble Jan 18, 2010 10:21 AM

                                    My college roommate told me (back in the 80's) that the only chinese food she'd ever had was a chop suey sandwich.

                          2. re: linguafood
                            Eat_Nopal RE: linguafood Feb 15, 2008 01:37 PM

                            I am not at all surprised with a culinary tradition as varied as the Chinese... it is bound to happen. If I compare it to Mexican cuisine... what gets served in the U.S. is really random and doesn't at all jive with the way people eat in Mexico. Look at the Burrito... something that is only consumed in a few cities in the North, and definitely not with all the rice, bean, guac, sour cream, salsa etc., crap... and now its a global phenomenon. And the few decent Mexican restaurants in Spain have completely different menus because they reflect the specific traditions of a few migrants from Central Mexico.

                            We are talking Culinary Traditions that easily have 5,000 common / classic preperations... anything that ends up on a menu is going to be random based on local tastes, ingredient availability & the specicific migrant.

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal
                              johnb RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 15, 2008 01:59 PM

                              Mexican in the US isn't Mexican at all in most cases---it's Tex Mex, which is a whole sub-cuisine all its own.

                              1. re: johnb
                                Eat_Nopal RE: johnb Feb 15, 2008 02:04 PM

                                So you don't think its analogous to Chinese American? Outside of Fajitas and some soulful Southwestern Native American dishes what Tex-Mex dishes aren't Mexican? To me Tex-Mex serves lots of Authentic Mexican dishes that have been screwed up... i am sorry, adapted to local tastes & ingredients... maybe the way they are Combined & paired differently but I don't see how this is dramatically different than the Chinese-American or even Italian-American analogy.

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                  johnb RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 16, 2008 08:34 AM

                                  I didn't say it was or wasn't analogous. Clearly there are similarities. My point was just that Tex Mex has become a highly developed sub-cuisine all its own and is not Mexican. And yes paulj it has developed in border places other than Texas, but the term tex-mex is just sort of a broad brush was to describe it (easier to say than, say, ariz-mex). LOL

                                  How analogous are Tex-mex and Chinese-American? Good question. But I have to run--let somebody else address that one.

                                  1. re: johnb
                                    linguafood RE: johnb Feb 16, 2008 08:38 AM

                                    Yeah, and I'd appreciate it if we focused on the OT. There is plenty of discussion of Mexican food in all its splendor and variety on a number of threads.... this is not one of them :-D thank you.

                                    1. re: johnb
                                      Eat_Nopal RE: johnb Feb 16, 2008 10:27 AM

                                      That is my point.... Chinese-American is just as much a sub-cuisine on its own... in a similar way... because if we think about it... its the same 100 to 200 dishes that end up on the same Chinese menus in 95% of "Chinese" restaurants in the U.S. But if you randomly polled Chinese dietary customs throughout China... you probably wouldn't find any significant number of people that actually eat these 100 to 200 dishes on a regular basis. So my theory is that any where you have a complex, diverse cuisine that goes back many thousands of years + fairly random emigration to various parts of the world ... you are bound to get variation... I would be more surprised at the actual similarities than the differences.

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                        johnb RE: Eat_Nopal Feb 19, 2008 06:01 PM

                                        But you'll also get that kind of variation in other cuisines too, where immigration has been intense. Take Italian for example. Many dishes that are part of accepted "Italian" cuisine in the US are seldom if ever found in Italy. Meatballs, for example, are basically unknown in Italy, just as "chop suey" is pretty much a US only dish (its Chinese namesake is quite different, but thats true of many Chinese American dishes). It's not that these dishes came from some obscure backwater in the homeland, but rather that they were pretty much invented here.

                                        1. re: johnb
                                          thew RE: johnb Jan 17, 2010 03:49 PM

                                          meatballs- polpette - are indeed found in italy, though they are rarely pared with spaghetti.

                                  2. re: johnb
                                    paulj RE: johnb Feb 15, 2008 02:50 PM

                                    Not all Mexican in the USA has come by way of Texas. New Mexico, Arizona, and California have all had extended interaction from across the border. After all they were all part of Mexico at one time. In addition there have been plenty of Mexican immigrants from other parts of Mexico. Eat Nopal has written elsewhere about the large influx from Jalisco in the 1930s.

                                    For a while it looked as though Seattle's biggest influx was from the Pacific coast, particularly from around Guayamas, though I am not sure where the current of influx of 'taco truck' style Mexican is coming from. Someone else may be able to write something about the regional influences in cities like Chicago.

                                    paulj

                                    1. re: paulj
                                      Eat_Nopal RE: paulj Feb 15, 2008 07:59 PM

                                      Chicago was initially settle by your usual suspects... Jaliscans, Zacatecans etc.,... but from a chow perspective the dominant group comes from Teloloapan in the hot lands of Guerrero. Most of Bayless' key personnel have from here... as well as scores of other immigrants behind the most interesting, authentic Mexican restaurants there.... Casa de Samuel etc., throughout the Pilsen & La Villita neighborhoods you can find markets that specialize in Quail, Cornish Game Hen, Venison tazajo, Smelt etc., this is all due to the Guerrero contingent.

                              2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                jgg13 RE: Sam Fujisaka Feb 17, 2010 01:01 PM

                                I remember once at a chinese resto in italy realizing that the 'soy sauce' jar on the table was actually a jar of balsamic.

                              3. fmed RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 02:47 PM

                                Kropek/Krupuk/Kroepoek exists in Canada. It's pretty easy to find (and quite common) here in Vancouver anyway. You can get the raw chip that you deep fry at any asian store and you can get them with certain dishes in some restaurants. It is very easy to find at Filipino food stores too.

                                >>However, that still wouldn't explain kroepoek, as there's nothing German about it.

                                It is perhaps the result of the Dutch connection with Indonesia (which I believe is where kroepoek originated). Perhaps touring Germans experience them at the ristafels in Holland? Just a guess.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: fmed
                                  linguafood RE: fmed Feb 14, 2008 02:56 PM

                                  Yeah, I've bought them in Asian stores in Germany -- they're translucent and look like small chips of plastic.... deep-fry and the expand to three times their size and get fluffy, shrimpy, and delicious....

                                  While the Dutch and the Germans are neighbors, I can't say that there's been nearly enough transference of cuisines. Indonesian restos are very hard to find in Germany, whereas Chinese are everywhere.

                                  1. re: fmed
                                    k
                                    KevinB RE: fmed Feb 14, 2008 09:24 PM

                                    We see shrimp chips served along with crispy skin chicken/duck in Toronto. Also, and somewhat surprisingly, many Thai restaurants serve them with a spicy peanut sauce (which is how my Chinese wife prepares them at home), which I would also associate with Indonesia.

                                    My kids love to watch her make them. She heats oil in a wok, and then adds the chips, which are about the size of a quarter. As soon as they hit the oil, they puff up to 3-4 times their original size. It only takes about 15-20 seconds to cook them, and slightly less time for them to disappear.

                                  2. chefschickie RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 02:48 PM

                                    I'm from Holland and we also have Kroepoek (krupuk) at each chinese restaurant. I think it is indonesian and Holland has a lot of Indonesian influences because of the history we have. Pretty much every chinese restaurant has indonesian food as well....
                                    I have noticed the difference in Chinese food when I came here for the first time, it's completely different....

                                    1. manraysky RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 03:16 PM

                                      I saw kroepoek in a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco for the first time just last week. Granted, they may be more common, I just never saw them before. I've seen them before at Indonesian restaurants, though.

                                      1. pepper_mil RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 10:35 PM

                                        Chinese food is different in China too; there is a universe of regional variations. It's hard to tell within China what "Chinese food" is local, what has been genuinely adapted from other regions (I mean brought by actual people from that region and cooked in a manner that satisfies people from that region as authentic) and what has been faked (local interpretations of some other trendy area'a cuisine).

                                        1. luckyfatima RE: linguafood Feb 15, 2008 01:28 AM

                                          Krupuk is the Malay/Bahasa Indonesia word. But it is also a Chinese food.

                                          So true that Chinese restaurants meant for primarily non-Chinese patrons do adapt to suit local tastes. Chinese food restaurants in India and Pakistan, owned by Chinese origin Indians and Pakistanis (both countries have Chinese communities), serve lumpy corn-starch and spice and ketchup laden dishes, every dish drowning in excessive gravy to be eaten with local rice. I can't stand it, but I know some people who can ONLY eat Indo-Pak variety Chinese food just like some Americans can't venture beyond sweet and sour chicken and beef and broccoli.

                                          In addition, in places where the Chinese become a major part in the local population, like in certain parts of Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. the Chinese immigrants have adapted their cuisine to suit South East Asian ingredients and techniques. I actually love this syncretism in food, and I think the food from these Chinese communities is really delicious, especially Straits Chinese food.

                                          That said, in some places the Chinese food meant for Chinese customers is different as well depending on the origin of the majority of the Chinese diasporic community. In Dubai where I live there are many people from Manchuria here and their food is completely unrecongnizable to the Hong Kong Chinese, Mainland Cantonese, and Chinese-Vietnamese foods that I ate in my childhood in Texas. Night and day differences. I avoid those restaurants and only seek out Cantonese type ones because the Manchurian food isn't what I am used to so somehow I don't enjoy it.

                                          So, I think both the locals and the region of Chinese immigrants impact what becomes standard in whatever locale.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: luckyfatima
                                            paulj RE: luckyfatima Feb 16, 2008 01:53 PM

                                            A complement to this thread is the recent one about what Chinese immigrants (and 2 and 3rd generations) eat at home. There was a lot more mention of things like congee, Chinese style sausage, and steamed items, than of dishes we commonly associate with restaurants.
                                            paulj

                                            1. re: luckyfatima
                                              l
                                              Libertycafe RE: luckyfatima Feb 19, 2008 08:17 AM

                                              I attended school in Harbin, Heilongjiang in the summer of 1984; Helongjiang is a province that makes up part of Manchuria, and I did not think the food was that good at all. At the time, I chalked it up to having eating Cantonese style food at home.

                                              But the fact is that food from H.K. and Canton/Guangzhou (and probably the southern coastal provinces) had more variety of vegetables, fruits and plenty of meat due to location and warmer climate to grow crops. Whereas the northern area was limited in the transportation of food from other areas. So I basically ate cucumbers, a very hot spicy green pepper, onions, green onions, garlic, garlic, cabbage, and a little bit of duck or chicken, which had very little meat on it. I don't like to eat fish or eel. The only fruit I saw in the markets were small type of bananas and a tasteless melon, and that was pretty well it. So other than the dumpling, "jioudza" (sp?), I can understand why the cuisine from the former Manchuria area would not have the appeal of other Chinese cuisine.

                                            2. johnb RE: linguafood Feb 15, 2008 08:42 AM

                                              Apparently you (the OP) must live in or near NYC, because those fried noodles you mention are pretty much a NYC Chinese restaurant phenomenon, and (at least to my knowledge) are generally not found elsewhere in the US, at least as you get some distance from NY. Which shows how regionalized these "Chinese" things are.

                                              As others have pointed out, in China itself there are huge regional variations. You would certainly expect even bigger variations as the cuisine gets further from its homeland and is subjected to the (corrupting???) influences of whatever foreign locale it finds itself. As second and third generation Chinese open restaurants, they have come more and more under the influence of what has worked in the place they are, and the local version of Chinese departs more and more from both the homeland and other outposts. Perhaps that is why, to get "authentic" Chinese, it is well to patronize places who have imported their chefs from China.

                                              15 Replies
                                              1. re: johnb
                                                chefschickie RE: johnb Feb 15, 2008 12:45 PM

                                                What do the Chinese eat for Take out?? :)))

                                                1. re: chefschickie
                                                  fmed RE: chefschickie Feb 15, 2008 01:00 PM

                                                  KFC! (It's true!)

                                                  1. re: fmed
                                                    Sam Fujisaka RE: fmed Feb 15, 2008 02:28 PM

                                                    Actually KFC in China is thought of as a nice sit-down place to eat.

                                                  2. re: chefschickie
                                                    pepper_mil RE: chefschickie Feb 15, 2008 06:20 PM

                                                    Many office workers get noodles, dumplings, fried rice, or entree on rice type dishes delivered at lunch time. A meal at KFC costs four times as much as a normal lunch here; I only see tourists or very rich people getting it to go. I don't think takeout is as common at dinnertime but most homestyle restaurants can make any of their dishes to go.

                                                  3. re: johnb
                                                    a
                                                    antrobin RE: johnb Feb 19, 2008 09:50 PM

                                                    Well, johnb, I've lived in Oregon for most of my life, and for my first two decades (until I moved to Southern California) I didn't know that there was any alternative to
                                                    "those fried noodles." Without exception, every "Chinese" restaurant I dined at in Oregon up to that point served the fried noodles as default. If you could ask for noodles another way, I wasn't aware. When I lived in San Diego, I began to realize that the deep-fried mess of crispy noodles wasn't all there was and wasn't particularly authentic. So, New York Thing? I think not.

                                                    T

                                                    1. re: antrobin
                                                      johnb RE: antrobin Feb 20, 2008 04:55 AM

                                                      Well, I'm in the East, and have eaten much Chinese in places as diverse as NY, New England, the DC area, Florida, Georgia, and NC, among others long forgotten I'm sure. The only place I can say I've seen those fried noodles, at least on a consistent basis, is in the NYC area. So maybe it's a NYC-Oregon thing??? LOL. You suggested they don't always (ever?) show up in SCal. Seriously, I'm sure you can find them elsewhere, somewhere, but NYC seems to be the center point, where EVERY Chinese restaurant puts them on the table immediately, and everybody seems to eat them by dipping them in those little pots of mustard and plum sauce (yuck). That's why I wondered if the OP was speaking from NYC experience and generalizing to the "US." (I don't recall seeing an answer to that). Maybe he lives in Oregon.

                                                      Perhaps a new topic thread is in order here, to find out where these things are found and where not. Might be interesting. In any case, the OP's original comment, inplying that they are a "US" thing comparable to the "kroepoek" found in every Chinese restauant in Germany, is certainly a generalization not supported by the facts. And that was my point.

                                                      1. re: johnb
                                                        j
                                                        justagthing RE: johnb Feb 20, 2008 05:51 AM

                                                        I have to concur with antrobin. At my family's old restro, we use to serve the fried crispy noodles unless someone ordered otherwise. I think it is more of an old school thing, since our restro was about 45 years in business. We were one of the first cantonese style place in the area. The other item that I've noticed many people calling NY style are eggrolls, in which we always made the ones that people are longing for, never called them NY style at our place here in CA.

                                                        1. re: johnb
                                                          o
                                                          olia RE: johnb Feb 20, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                          I have never seen any fried noodles placed on a table in NYC o_O
                                                          are you talking about those noodles they give at takeout joints w/hot and sour soup?

                                                          also I have seen kroepoek (never knew the name) at amazing66 (with duck i think) and at viet. restaurants (also remember them from childhood in Moscow...not sure why or how o_O)

                                                          1. re: olia
                                                            johnb RE: olia Feb 20, 2008 03:36 PM

                                                            That type of noodle, yes, I think we are talking about the same thing.

                                                            It may well be that the practice has declined, for example among the more "authentic" places, say in Chinatown. But it must be happening somewhere, because that was the proposition of the OP in this thread. Certainly in the past Chinese (American??) restaurants in NYC (and at one time Chinese American was all there was--I was already living in NYC when the first "Sichuan" restaurant opened up--I won't mention when that was) set out a bowl of those crispy fried noodles almost immediately upon sitting down. Times change, but I suspect most places in NY still do it. Not necessarily the ones Chowhounds frequent, of course.

                                                          2. re: johnb
                                                            m
                                                            mpjmph RE: johnb Sep 28, 2012 04:24 AM

                                                            No, we definitely get fried noodles here in NC. Mostly with soup, but sometimes just a bowl for the table. Have seen them here at least for 20 years.

                                                          3. re: antrobin
                                                            Sam Fujisaka RE: antrobin Feb 20, 2008 07:24 AM

                                                            When I moved to Oregon for grad school in 1972, the state was 98.6 caucasian. There were no Chinese or Japanese restaurants to speak of in Eugene-Springfield. Someone asked my (Califiornia blond) first wife if "Fujisaka" was Finnish. We had to import food from California and Washington.

                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                              Ed Dibble RE: Sam Fujisaka Jan 18, 2010 08:34 AM

                                                              When I left Eugene in 1970, there was a sizable Chinese (American style) restaurant located (if memory serves) several blocks west of campus. While the food was probably what I would call "country and western chinese" today, the place served some dishes more exotic than what was available in my small hometown and the owner was insistent that we all eat with chopsticks - and in fact that's where I learned how to use them. It was as if her goal was to educate a generation of ducks to some alternatives to chow mein eaten with a fork.

                                                              Had it disappeared by '72, or did you feel that it was not Chinese restaurant "to speak of"?

                                                              1. re: Ed Dibble
                                                                Sam Fujisaka RE: Ed Dibble Jan 18, 2010 12:20 PM

                                                                Ed, I'd include anything that made even the palest of attempts as a Chinese restaurant. I just don't remember the place you mention - or it was gone by late 1972.

                                                            2. re: antrobin
                                                              paulj RE: antrobin Feb 20, 2008 08:56 AM

                                                              I don't recall eating at a restaurant where crisp noodles were served as a snack at the start of the meal (like Mexican chips). Takeout chowmein that I had as a kid did include little packets of crisp noodles, which we sprinkled on top.

                                                              Most of the 'stir fried noodles', true chow-mein that I've had was, in effect, 'fried rice' (chow fan) using soft noodles in place of rice.

                                                              But at one Seattle area restaurant (T&T Seafood), when I ordered fried noodles, I was asked whether I wanted soft noodles, or crisp ones. My memory is that they said the crisp style was Singapore style, though the wiki article talks of a crisp Hong Kong style. "flour noodles pan-fried until crispy, and served together with vegetables, chicken, and/or seafood."

                                                              paulj

                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                b
                                                                Blueicus RE: paulj Feb 20, 2008 03:05 PM

                                                                But the Hong Kong style "chow mein" crisp noodles aren't like the ones they serve as snacks at old-school chinese restaurants (I'd only seen that phenomemon last week when a friend and I both went to this place that reminded me of a 70's style chop suey palace in the middle of Saskatchewan).

                                                          4. l
                                                            Libertycafe RE: linguafood Feb 15, 2008 09:07 AM

                                                            In Canada, shrimp chips have been served with Cantonese dishes such as duck and chicken, since I can remember (I'm in my mid-40's). But I don't recall ever eating shrimp chips during my 2.5 months in central and northern China, in the 1980's.

                                                            My girlfriend, whose parents were Dutch immigrants, originally thought shrimp chips were Dutch, via connection through Indonesia, until she met me.

                                                            I've only had Chinese take out-food once when I was visiting Faringdon, England - I thought it was somewhat similar to the typical mall food court Chinese take-out in Western Canada, except that the various foods were even more sweet, sticky, and glutinous texture from all the corn starch thickening. In London, near Kensington, we went to a Chinese Cantonese -style restaurant and the food, again, tasted more like what you would get in a mall food court. But the restaurant seemed to be catering to the tourists, so I don't know how dishes like crab or steamed chicken would have turned out.

                                                            We are heading out to southern Germany in May - is Chinese food something we should avoid? Should we stick to eating bread, schnitzel, and spaetzle instead?

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: Libertycafe
                                                              fmed RE: Libertycafe Feb 15, 2008 09:26 AM

                                                              >> We are heading out to southern Germany in May - is Chinese food something we should avoid? Should we stick to eating bread, schnitzel, and spaetzle instead?

                                                              Yes to both questions....actually question 2 is a bit loaded...since we are talking "regionalism" in food...you should explore that aspect of Germany as well!

                                                              1. re: Libertycafe
                                                                m
                                                                moh RE: Libertycafe Feb 15, 2008 01:28 PM

                                                                "We are heading out to southern Germany in May - is Chinese food something we should avoid?"

                                                                Calvin Trillin has a very interesting article about how he always tries to eat Chinese anywhere he goes. It is very fascinating to see different countries takes on a certain cuisine, and since the Chinese diaspora is so extensive, Chinese cuisine is probably one of the easiest ones to study for the effect of fusion on cuisine. Like Trillin, I find it a lot of fun to try a cuisine that I know intimately in a completely different context. It is interesting to see what sells. If you have time to fit it in, it may be worth doing so. But if you are taking a short trip, then by all means, focus on German cuisine.

                                                                I also love going to grocery stores in foreign countries. I love to see what goes as regular fare. Tells you a lot about tastes in each country.

                                                                1. re: Libertycafe
                                                                  linguafood RE: Libertycafe Feb 15, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                                  No. I don't think you should have Chinese food in Southern Germany in May. This is less of a reflection on the overall quality of Chinese food in Germany (it's not bad, but it's really rather pedestrian), but the availability of fantastic German food. That said, you can get great Italian, French, Alsatian, Turkish, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. etc. in any major city in Germany...

                                                                  If you haven't been to Germany, nor tried any of the many, many regional as well as seasonal (dare I mention that WHITE ASPARAGUS season is at its height in May & Germans all over go complete batshit over this?) specialties, I think it would be a total waste of your (culinary) time. Whereabouts in the South will you be? Schnitzel is only one of our amazing culinary achievements '-). How about Maultaschen? Kässpätzle? All kinds of fresh-water fish dishes? The meat spreads like leberwurst and teewurst? Patés?

                                                                  Do eat a lot of bread. You'll miss it once you leave, trust me.

                                                                  1. re: linguafood
                                                                    chefschickie RE: linguafood Feb 15, 2008 04:25 PM

                                                                    aaaaaaaaah, white asparagus....... man do I miss those........

                                                                    1. re: chefschickie
                                                                      linguafood RE: chefschickie Feb 16, 2008 08:47 AM

                                                                      I know.... nothing like buying it at the market, having been pulled fresh out of the ground the same morning. Add new potatoes, lots of drawn parsley butter, and smoked ham. That's dinner at least 10 times in May/June for me :-D. And it is soooooooo healthy... well, sans the butter, but hey. It's not all about health, eh?

                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                        chefschickie RE: linguafood Feb 16, 2008 09:29 AM

                                                                        I know! we used to eat them at least once a week (if not more, haha) and the day after the asparagus soup! yum!!! we ate them the exact way as you do, just added mashed up hard boiled eggs... aaaaaaah, gonna miss them again this year......:(

                                                                    2. re: linguafood
                                                                      l
                                                                      Libertycafe RE: linguafood Feb 19, 2008 07:51 AM

                                                                      Not to divert from the original discussion, but we, including a 5 year old child, plan to be in Munich, Lake Konstanz, and the Black Forest area just south of Baden Baden for about 2 weeks. My concern is my somewhat picky eater child, although she loves buns and butter. And she will eat Chinese food because my mother feeds her Chinese food, so I was wondering whether Chinese restaurants in Germany will be a good backup. I can already see her alternating between schnitzel and won ton soup - although she and my spouse both do enjoy eating smoked ham.

                                                                      I have only once been to Cologne, Bonn, and nearby area about 10 years ago. I don't ever remember seeing any Chinese restaurants, and in fact, I didn't see anyone of southeast Asian ethnicity while I was there for 2 weeks. (I did get a number of curious stares at me, though.) I thought the food was very similar throughout my stay there - meat and potatoes, with Turkish bread and dip.

                                                                      1. re: Libertycafe
                                                                        linguafood RE: Libertycafe Feb 19, 2008 08:00 AM

                                                                        Lc, you'll be in the culinary epicenter of Germany, so I'm confident you and your family will find plenty to choose from. And hey, let's not forget Schwarzwaldtorte = Black Forest cake. I would guess a 5 yr. old would enjoy that one '-).

                                                                        Funny to hear you've been to Bonn, which is my hometown -- that's where I had my fave Chinese soup... back when the resto was still around. *sigh*.

                                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                                          l
                                                                          Libertycafe RE: linguafood Feb 19, 2008 08:30 AM

                                                                          Yes! Black Forest cake and other tortes!!! I forgot about all those lovely coffee cakes. Thank you for reminding me. My child will love it!

                                                                          BTW, my brother went to Germany about 20 years ago and he claimed that the best Chinese restaurant he found was in Bonn. I wonder if it would have been the same one!

                                                                          1. re: Libertycafe
                                                                            linguafood RE: Libertycafe Feb 19, 2008 08:43 AM

                                                                            You know, I seriously doubt that... apart from that awesome soup, it served up the msg-ladden brown sauced standard fare...... though I'd be curious to hear which one he's referring to!

                                                                        2. re: Libertycafe
                                                                          j
                                                                          justagthing RE: Libertycafe Feb 19, 2008 05:31 PM

                                                                          My aunt and uncle lived in Pulheim, just a couple of stops from Koln from the train. They were the ONLY asians in that neck of the woods. My aunt and uncle are still there, retired, but my cousins both live and work in Koln. Again, they are such the minority. Also, when I went to visit, also about 10 years ago, didn't see any Chinese restros either...but then, I didn't really want to eat Chinese while in Germany.

                                                                          1. re: justagthing
                                                                            linguafood RE: justagthing Feb 20, 2008 08:21 AM

                                                                            Pulheim! Why... that's curious. Not many people know Pulheim (not that it's a significant place).

                                                                            One of my best friends lived in Pulheim. I still have friends around there -- Stommeln & Sinnersdorf -- sang with a band there for a few years. fun.

                                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                                              j
                                                                              justagthing RE: linguafood Feb 20, 2008 04:10 PM

                                                                              I stayed with my family there and we had some wonderful meals. I love the 'cold cuts' that my aunt served us and the cheese and wine...OMG! This is where i learned to love prosciutto.

                                                                    3. paulj RE: linguafood Feb 15, 2008 01:26 PM

                                                                      Last weekend, The Splendid Table (NPR) had an interview with one of the pioneers of non-Cantonese Chinese food in San Francisco. You should be able to listen to this via the web site.

                                                                      paulj

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                        fmed RE: paulj Feb 19, 2008 10:13 AM

                                                                        Listened to this last night. Thanks for the tip. It's the first time I've listened to The Splendid Table. Great podcast...I think it's the best food related podcast out there.

                                                                      2. s
                                                                        smartie RE: linguafood Feb 20, 2008 06:11 AM

                                                                        this has been interesting - I am British living in the US and find that Chinese food in America is so very different from that of the UK - cannot get fried rice as we are used to, lemon chicken, prawn crackers (are these your shrimp chips) fried crispy seaweed, crispy fried ginger toffee beef, and things do not taste the same. Interesting how the cuisines have diverged.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: smartie
                                                                          r
                                                                          relizabeth RE: smartie Feb 18, 2010 03:35 AM

                                                                          I'm American living in the UK and I yearn for the suburban NJ Chinese food of my childhood. I have heard that it is a different bunch of immigrants that have setup in the UK and USA both geographically and also perhaps generationally. The closest I've come to the chinese food of memory is at a Keralan restaurant where some Indian friends wisely ordered Gobi Manchurian. It was probably the closest to a proustian experience where all the memories of suburban NJ food came rushing back, distracting my father so I could eat more of those delicious fried noodles with duck sauce that would "ruin my appetite."

                                                                          1. re: relizabeth
                                                                            h
                                                                            Harters RE: relizabeth Feb 21, 2010 07:01 AM

                                                                            "I have heard that it is a different bunch of immigrants that have setup in the UK and USA both geographically and also perhaps generationally."

                                                                            As I mentioned in my 2008 post below, the majority of Chinese immigration into the UK has, been from Hong Kong. Unsurprising due to the coloniual background. That said, immigration started in the early 19th century and until the mid 20th, it was pretty much related to seafaring with people who had served on ships taking up residence in ports such as Liverpool, London, Glasgow and Manchester. This was a more diverse group than the main groups who arrived in the 1950s and 60s from Hong Kong and the immediate surrounding area. Recent census figures show that the UK has around 400,000 people who describe themselves as ethnically Chinese - although the vast majority are British born. The population is spread across the country and there are no major concentrations of people.

                                                                            How does that compare with Chinese immigration into America.

                                                                            1. re: Harters
                                                                              scoopG RE: Harters Feb 21, 2010 04:59 PM

                                                                              The earliest known Chinese in America were of course sailors - and some servants. A Dutch trader (Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest) in New York employed eight Chinese house servants in 1796. But Chinese were certainly present in New York City in some numbers by 1808 and recent scholarship by John Kuo Wei Tchen places Chinese settlers in "a sleeping trading village called Yerba Buena" in 1838 - fully eleven years before gold was discovered in nearby Sutter's Mill.

                                                                              According to Tchen, the earliest Chinese in America mostly came from three wealthy, commercial and agricultural districts of Canton. Other scholars (Peter Kwong and Dusanka Miscevic) broaden that to claim the earliest Chinese immigrants came from eight counties of Canton province. But one county, Taishan accounted for 45% of all Chinese in the US in 1876.

                                                                              Our doors were closed to the vast majority of Chinese from 1882 until 1943 with the Chinese Exclusion Act. There was some loosening of the restrictions placed on the Chinese after WWII but the real explosion occurred in 1965 with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act, where we switched from a strict quota system to one where we allowed 170,000 immigrants per year, with no more than 20,000 from any one country (family reunification was unlimited.) From 1965 until 1979 the Chinese immigrants were coming from Taiwan and Hongkong. In 1979, when relations with China were normalized, China was allowed up to 20,000 per year.

                                                                              In recent waves in the past 10-20 years, the vast majority of immigrants (legal and undocumented) are coming from Fujian province: estimated at around 300,000.

                                                                              Today, America's Chinese-American population is 2.9 million (from 240,000 in 1960.) More than you wanted to know I am sure. :)

                                                                              Edit; for even more details:
                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/491041

                                                                        2. a
                                                                          avena RE: linguafood Feb 20, 2008 09:31 AM

                                                                          This thread reminds me of a documentary series I've been meaning to find. Its called "Chinese Restaurants" and its about how Chinese have brought their cuisine to every corner of the globe, and the people behind them. The series has stories about Chinese in Norway, South Africa, Argentina, Israel, etc. I'd be very interested to know how the series is from anyone who's watched it! http://www.tissa.com/index.html

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: avena
                                                                            fmed RE: avena Feb 20, 2008 09:53 AM

                                                                            I've been waiting for it to come around these parts. (The Director is Chinese-Canadian). I have read some of the papers on the website. Highly recommended.

                                                                          2. h
                                                                            Harters RE: linguafood Feb 20, 2008 12:59 PM

                                                                            It's what in the UK we would call a "Prawn Cracker" - available in every Chinese restaurant or takeaway.

                                                                            As someone mentions, it is perhaps a Cantonese influence. Almost all Chinese families in the UK originate from Hong Kong.

                                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prawn_cr...

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Harters
                                                                              linguafood RE: Harters Feb 20, 2008 02:03 PM

                                                                              Yeah, come to think of it, most Chinese restos in Germany seem to be Cantonese. Do they serve them in Cantonese restos in the US, then? Or is this a particular Euro-Cantonese snack/appetizer?

                                                                              1. re: linguafood
                                                                                fmed RE: linguafood Feb 20, 2008 02:21 PM

                                                                                >> Do they serve them in Cantonese restos in the US, then?

                                                                                Yes...many places. I often see them at HK-style BBQ/Noodle Houses (Cantonese BBQ houses) where they use them alongside certain BBQ items (eg BBQ Duck). They use the crackers in other dishes too.

                                                                                1. re: fmed
                                                                                  linguafood RE: fmed Feb 20, 2008 02:30 PM

                                                                                  'IN other dishes'? That is so weird. I mean, those things get soggy when doused with liquid. I only know them as an app or side dish. One of the fun things about their styrofoam-esque quality is that you can lay it on your tongue, and it gets all crackly and stuff. Kinda like shrimp-flavored pop-rocks..... that sounds gross, actually.

                                                                                  1. re: linguafood
                                                                                    fmed RE: linguafood Feb 20, 2008 02:38 PM

                                                                                    Sorry..I wasn't clear. It's usually served right on top or as a garnish surrounding the dish.

                                                                            2. Kees Blanda RE: linguafood Jan 16, 2010 10:38 AM

                                                                              Hi. I found your question when i googled "chinese kroepoek" to find out if there was a chinese version of kroepoek or maybe if it's origanally chinese, because kroepoek is a wonderful accompianament (the only one, I think) to Yang zhou chow fan. I didn't have the patience to read all 71 replies, so maybe somebody already offered a similar answer, but here's what I know: Kroepoek is Indonesian. What's interesting about your question relating to Germany, is that "kroepoek" is Dutch spelling. In Indonesia it's spelt "krupuk". Both are pronounced (in phonetic english) "kroopook" with very short "oo's". When chinese restaurants in Holland found that Indonesian food was very popular (I think somewhere in the fifties) they all started serving Idonesian food, be it somewhat "chinafied". Even their chinese food was somewhat 'Indonesialized", thus creating a pretty unique cuisine, only found in The Netherlands, called Chin.-Ind. So kroepoek accompanied chinese dishes as well. Usually a small packet of kroepoek is tossed into your bag of take-away as a free addition. If you want more you order an pay for a (large) portion. My guess is it somehow leaked to Germany (maybe german chinese having a look in Holland how the dutch chinese did things?). I hope this helps.

                                                                               
                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Kees Blanda
                                                                                linguafood RE: Kees Blanda Jan 16, 2010 02:31 PM

                                                                                You know, both spellings were/are actually used in German Chinese restos. Ironically, I always thought krupuk was the Germanized spelling.

                                                                                The more you know .... (cue rainbow) '-D

                                                                              2. p
                                                                                PAO RE: linguafood Jan 17, 2010 03:47 PM

                                                                                Krupuk is an Indonesian shrimp chip. The Chinese also have shrimp chips. They are very different, in my experience, than the Indonesian ones. The Indonesian ones tend to be very large and thick and the only ones I've ever seen have been kind of a tan, beigish yellowish in hue. No artificial colors! The Chinese ones are small, thin, very delicate and melt in your mouth. I have often seen them dyed in various colors. My preference is the Chinese ones, but obviously it's a matter of personal preference. In the US and Canada (British Columbia), I've never seen shrimp chips listed in the appetizer section of a Chinese menu. They come as garnishes to some types of dishes. Most recently, I've seen them used to garnish Chinese roast chicken. You can buy them either already fried or in discs, ready to fry, in Asian groceries. I'm sure you can get Chinese shrimp chips in Vancouver, British Columbia, for example. For Indonesian krupuk, you'd either need an Indonesian grocery or a well-stocked Pan-Asian grocery. Fried noodles have nothing to do with either type of shrimp chip, because they don't have shrimp in them.

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: PAO
                                                                                  Kees Blanda RE: PAO Jan 18, 2010 01:22 AM

                                                                                  Can you please tell me what the chinese ones are called?

                                                                                  1. re: PAO
                                                                                    linguafood RE: PAO Jan 18, 2010 07:45 AM

                                                                                    Yes, I am quite aware of the fact that fried noodles have no shrimp in them. HOWEVER, fried noodles seem to be as UBIQUITOUS in Chinese restos in the US as KRUPUK is in Chinese restos in Germany.

                                                                                    Hope I clarified that for you.

                                                                                    I also am aware of the fact that kroepoek/krupuk is often available in Asian grocery stores to be fried at home. I like my krupuk on site, at the Chinese resto. Which is a no-go in every Chinese resto I've been to in the U.S.

                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                      mogo RE: linguafood Feb 17, 2010 07:29 AM

                                                                                      A lot of Indonesians of Chinese descent left the country during the 1960s to escape all the anti-Chinese violence. For whatever reason, Germany was one of the places they fled to. On both sides of my family, anyone who left Indonesia during that time went to Germany. (Many have since decamped for Canada, but that's another story)

                                                                                      Also, Indonesians are pretty adamant about having crunchy fried things with their food, so I would not be surprised if they felt it a necessary addition to any Chinese restuarant menu they were in charge of. If they added it to an Italian restaurant menu, I would still not be surprised. And kroepoek is pretty awesome; anybody would take that stuff and run with it.

                                                                                      1. re: mogo
                                                                                        linguafood RE: mogo Feb 17, 2010 07:44 AM

                                                                                        I must have Indonesian roots somewhere, then -- I love myself some crunchy fried things with my food '-)

                                                                                        Kroepoek rocks.

                                                                                      2. re: linguafood
                                                                                        Caitlin McGrath RE: linguafood Feb 20, 2010 06:17 PM

                                                                                        I hope this thread has made clear that fried noodles as a crunchy snack that hits the table are not ubiquitous in Chinese-American restaurants all over the US, but are only a tradition in particular kinds of restaurants in particular areas. In other words, much less ubiquitous than you've described kroepoek to be in German Chines restaurants.

                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                          linguafood RE: Caitlin McGrath Feb 21, 2010 08:11 AM

                                                                                          What particular kinds, and what areas? I've seen the crunchy noodles on both coasts, so perhaps in the middle they're not around?

                                                                                          I just wish the kroepoek were as ubiquitous as the noodles are, regardless of where the resto is located in the U.S.!

                                                                                          1. re: linguafood
                                                                                            Caitlin McGrath RE: linguafood Feb 21, 2010 09:00 AM

                                                                                            In Northern California, where I have spent the majority of my years, I've never seen the fried noodles in a Chinese or Chinese-American restaurant. In NYC, where I lived for 10 years, and I did see them, but only at neighborhood Chinese-American takeout type places, and at no other kind of Chinese restaurant - certainly not more authentically Chinese ones. In this thread, others have talked about them being served specifically at this kind of Chinese-American place in the Northeast, others have said they've seen them here or there at typical Chinese-American restaurants, and still others have said they've never encountered them anywhere.

                                                                                            You've said that kroepoek are served at every German Chinese restaurant; I'm saying that crunchy deep-fried noodles as a table snack aren't as ubiquitous in the US as you say they are, based on my own experience and what others have reported in this and other threads.

                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                              linguafood RE: Caitlin McGrath Feb 21, 2010 09:12 AM

                                                                                              So maybe it's a Northeastern US thing, then. I went to a Chinese resto in SF's Chinatown in the mid 90s, and I don't actually remember the crunchy noodles there. Then again, it was a Chinese resto, not CA.

                                                                                              Damn, I wish I had some fresh kroepoek now.

                                                                                    2. v
                                                                                      vincentinparisandrome RE: linguafood Feb 20, 2010 01:29 PM

                                                                                      This thread makes me want to share a few random bits of information.

                                                                                      I remember, not that long ago in the scheme of things, reading an Italian cooking magazine. What must have been risqué at the time, they offered a feature about "discovering" Asian cooking. They carefully explained what soy sauce was, and gave the addresses of the couple of big shops in Milan or Rome where such an exotic product could be found. For everybody else, they suggested substituting a slurry of balsamic vinegar, salt and sugar. That's about the same, isn't it?

                                                                                      (A random factoid for you: in a poll published last year, 85% of Italians claim never to eat "foreign" food. I served Sardinian ravioli to a well-traveled Roman friend once, who proclaimed that "this foreign stuff" -"'sta roba straniera"- was actually pretty good. Make of that what you will.)

                                                                                      There isn't a Chinese restaurant in France that doesn't serve "nem", in other words, stubby Vietnamese spring rolls. (Come to think of it, there is barely a Thai restaurant that doesn't serve them either, under their Vietnamese name.) I guess that's what a colonial past will do for you, even a couple of generations later.

                                                                                      And a word about those "traiteurs chinois" that have popped up everywhere in the last decade. They ARE an aberration, and nobody who knows anything about Chinese or Asian food would claim that it's authentic, or even very good, but (here's the punchline) by and large their standardized "caramel chicken" and "satay beef" are so much tastier than the bland, foul offerings of the handful of "Chinese-Vietnamese-Thai" restaurants of recent Parisian past. Paris is by no means a destination for Asian food (even though there are now some better places), but in the 80s and 90s it was a veritable wasteland.

                                                                                      Finally, I had my first Indian-Chinese food in Kerala last Christmas. It was everything that fatima and relizabeth said: greasy, cornstarch gravy, sweet "curry" and as I recall, it was served with a bucket of ketchup-y sweet and sour sauce on the side. It wasn't exactly unpleasant, I don't think I'd rush out and order it again, but it was a fascinating cultural experience.

                                                                                      1. m
                                                                                        ML8000 RE: linguafood Feb 21, 2010 05:15 PM

                                                                                        Here's some video of Chinese restaurants around the world. The filmmaker, Cheuk Kwan, has covered Chinese restaurants on, I think, every continent in a series. http://www.chineserestaurants.tv/

                                                                                        Here's a couple of clips: http://www.sanfranciscochinatown.com/...

                                                                                        1. pdxgastro RE: linguafood Feb 21, 2010 10:21 PM

                                                                                          Lingua, you should be able to buy the (unfried) chips in Chinese Food stores. They come in a smallish box the size of a paperback. They are beautifully translucent in pastel colors. You fry them up in oil and voila, fresh 'kroepek'! My friend and I used to buy 'em and fry'em in college. It was fun to see them grow in the hot oil.

                                                                                          And yes, the Italians are so unadventurous when it comes to foreign food. I found the Chinese food in Rome to be very bland. Dumbed down for the Italian palate, no doubt.

                                                                                          1. c
                                                                                            CheukKwan RE: linguafood Sep 14, 2012 09:33 PM

                                                                                            Hi, I am just reading this. I am the filmmaker who made Chinese Restaurants documentary series www.ChineseRestaurants.tv.

                                                                                            Kroepoek are Indonesian shrimp/prawn crackers, the original one. They are popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, and esp. Singapore where I grew up. The multi-color Chinese shrimp crackers you find accompanying roasted spring chicken are pale imitation. These kroepoek can be found in Chinese stores in Canada, e.g. imported from Indonesia or Holland! Every Dutch Chinese restaurants serves kroepoek as appetizer. Of course every Indonesian restaurant in Holland serves kroepoek. I believe the German Chinese restaurants might have copied this Dutch habit (as they are quite close in language and geography).

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: CheukKwan
                                                                                              m
                                                                                              MellyMelle RE: CheukKwan Sep 27, 2012 01:01 PM

                                                                                              Hi CheukKwan, is your documentary available in stores (I'm in Toronto) or only through your site? Not saying your site does this, but I'm tired of all the junk mail that I curiously get after purchases on certain websites...

                                                                                              1. re: MellyMelle
                                                                                                c
                                                                                                CheukKwan RE: MellyMelle Sep 27, 2012 08:42 PM

                                                                                                It's not available in stores, but if you want you can pick it up from me. I live in Etobicoke, and work in Leslie/York Mills area. Might be easier if you just order it online and I send it to you pretty fast by expedited mail. Cheuk

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