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Top 10 (20?) American-Chinese dishes

Long story why I need this list. Basic reason people from different parts of the US complaining about the differences in regional American Chinese food. I hope to reconcile the various answers hounds post and eliminate regional specialties. Please note where you live or grew up.
In my mind they are:

Peking ravioli (pot sticker, dumpling etc...)
Egg or spring roll
Hot and sour
General Tso's,
Mongolian ---,
kung pao ----,
beef and broccoli
sweet and sour ---
cashew chix or shrimp
lo mein

15 to 20 years ago I would have included egg foo young, lobster sauce and moo goo gai pan. I write this as a Southern New Englander with frequent NYC and Boston influences.

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  1. I grew up in Southern California and still live there. Here are mine:

    Hot and sour soup
    Beef and broccoli
    Hunan chicken
    Chicken with snow peas and cashews
    Egg rolls
    Chow mein
    Fried rice
    Egg drop soup
    Sweet and sour chicken/pork/shrimp/whatever
    Pot stickers

    4 Replies
    1. re: gator28

      Hunan chicken? don't see that much here. Is chow mein lo mein on the West Coast? Noodles with shredded veg and your choice of protein?

      1. re: KilgoreTrout

        Yes, I think chow mein and lo mein are the same. Hunan chicken may be similar to kung pao or "orange chicken"? My parents always ordered it from our local Chinese restaurant growing up.

        1. re: gator28

          See this old thread for lots of arm-waving about chow mein vs lo mein, plus other stuff...like the so-called "hidden menus"... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/629916

          1. re: huiray

            Very interesting, thanks! Always thought it was the same stuff.

    2. Kilgor, how goes Venus on the Half Shell?
      Moo shu...
      Pork fried rice
      Lemon or Orange chicken
      Peking Duck

      Pa., NJ, Pa, 'Nam, NM, USSR, Norway, Finland, Maine, Bolivia, Brazil. Maine, NM!?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Passadumkeg

        I haven't seen shrimp kew on here anywhere. Fresh fried shrimp in a light brown sauce with broccoli, snow peas, and water chestnuts. A little hole in the wall in Bellaire (Houston) does this along with great American classic egg rolls. My favorite Trout classic is Now It Can Be Told, the one that made Dwayne run amuck.

      2. I grew up in Northwest Indiana, about 35 miles outside of Chicago. I have now lived in Florida for 21 years. I also lived Singapore for a year. He's my list in no particular order of preference:

        1. Chili crab
        2. Pepper crab
        3. Beef with green pepper and onions in oyster sauce
        4. Har gau (shrimp dumplings)
        6. Hot and sour soup
        7. Chicken rice
        8. Salt and pepper calimari/cuttlefish/squid
        9. Peking duck
        10. Sweet and sour shrimp--if the sweetness and sourness are balanced. Most U.S. version of this dish just contain an overly thickened super sweet sauce. This was not the case 30 years ago.

        9 Replies
        1. re: gfr1111

          Interesting. Was sweet and sour good? I'm this () close to 40, and don't remember sweet and sour ever being much different. It is reddish here, though I have seen an orange version as well.

          1. re: gfr1111

            Are chili crab and pepper crab really Chinese-American dishes? (Singaporean-Chinese and Malaysian-Chinese, yes...)

            1. re: huiray

              Thanks for this. I was getting very confused. Seems like many of these dishes are authentic Chinese dishes, not Chinese-American. What am I missing here?

              1. re: bobcam90

                I would also classify "Har Gau", "Hot & Sour soup" and "Peking Duck" as Chinese-Chinese dishes. One could say there are Americanized versions of these but the poster would need to specify what version he/she was thinking of in that case.

                "Chicken Rice" could be considered as Chinese-Chinese or Malaysian-Chinese/Singaporean-Chinese depending on what exactly one is talking about.

                1. re: huiray

                  Do you think this thread is really about what Chinese food do you like in the US?

                  1. re: bobcam90


                    I was responding to your comments and adding on to your question about the original list posted in this subthread. Are you asking in a general sense, or are you poking at me?

                    1. re: huiray

                      Oh, gosh, no, I'm not poking at you. I agree with you competely. Just adding on. So many of the dishes mentioned seem like total Chinese dishes, not Chinese American. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

                      1. re: bobcam90

                        Ah, thanks for the clarification. :-)

                2. re: bobcam90

                  Dishes often have an "authentic" basis in Chinese cooking, but they can be modified for the American palate. Chow mein and fried rice are two broad examples.

            2. I grew up in southern CT and am in my late 50s. Until the 1970s Chinese American Food was strictly Cantonese.

              Every Thursday Night we had the same take out order from Golden Inn in New Haven

              Won Ton Soup, which had seaweed, not scallions

              BBQ Spare Ribs

              Pork Egg Rolls

              Lobster Cantonese, made with minced pork in white sauce NO peas

              Roast Pork Egg Foo Yung

              White Meat Chicken Chow Mein (NY style, not like lo mein)

              Seven Stars and the Moon

              Happy Family.

              No one had yet discovered Szecuan, General Tzo, Mu Shu, Hot and Sour or Broccoli.

              In 1972 was living in Philadelphia, only places open after midnight for hot food were small Chinese joints in ChinaTown (10th and Race) with no English menu, we were usually served what the family was eating, often Mu Shu Pork

              4 Replies
              1. re: bagelman01

                I rarely admit this out loud, but I was born in New Haven and lived there from 72 until 80ish. I remember the chicken chow mein now, celery and onions in a whitish sauce with crunchy noodles right? I also remember feeling grown up when I switched from won ton to hot and sour soup.

                1. re: KilgoreTrout

                  Yes, that is the style of Chow Mein still served in New Haven. Hot and Sour didn't arrive until about 1975.
                  When you were born, I was already out of High School in New Haven.

                2. re: bagelman01

                  Was that (or any other) Chinese place there in the '50's? I had never heard of one nor had I ever eaten Chinese food until I moved to LA in '61'

                  1. re: mucho gordo

                    Golden Inn opened about 1960 in the Amity Shopping Center.
                    Prior to that we dined regularly at Far East on Chapel Street just west of Howe. They were there from at least 1957 til the 1980s.

                    There was no Chinese (I remember) in Hamden until at least 1965..

                3. When I was a kid in the early 1970s (northen NJ) we got wor sho op, a pressed duck dish with brown sauce and crispy duck skin. I think it had pork in the layers, but as I was a kid my memory could be wrong on that. We also got:
                  Chicken w/cashews
                  Beef w/broccoli
                  Sweet & sour pork (with pinkish red syrupy sauce) the pork was large chunks in a light batter, not like what I have seen since.
                  In late 1970s a Hunan place opened and we always went there. I don't remember the names of any of that.
                  Here and now in central New Hampshire:
                  General Tso's (grown up sweet & sour)
                  Corn egg drop soup
                  Subgum Lo mein
                  House special bean curd ( which is almost always triangles of fried tofu in a black bean sauce)

                  1. Oh yeah, I love American Chinese food and I crave it to the point of dreaming about it when I am in China for too long. I grew up in central Indiana. Here's my top ten in the order that I would pick them off the buffet.

                    1) General Tso's chicken

                    2) Beef and broccoli with brown sauce

                    3) Egg roll - stufffed with shredded cabbage and thick as your wrist

                    4) Sweet and sour pork

                    5) Bourbon chicken - sometimes marketed as 'cajun chicken'

                    6) Chicken lo mein - soft, stir-fried noodles

                    7) Crab rangoon

                    8) Egg drop soup - unnaturally yellow

                    9) Sesame chicken - General Tso's weak sister

                    10) Mayonnaise shrimp

                    Beef chow fun deserves honorable mention for how awesome it is, but is not really 'American Chinese' so it doesn't make the list.

                    1. I live in Boston/grew up in MA....

                      1. Chicken fingers
                      2. Crab rangoon
                      3. Beef teriaki
                      4. Chow mein
                      5. General Gau's (never Tso's!)
                      6. Beef and broccoli
                      7.Sweet and Sout ____
                      8. Egg rolls
                      9.Pork fried rice
                      10. Sesame or (maybe lemon) chicken

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: LeoLioness

                        What do you mean by "never Tso's"? I've never seen a dish called "General Gau's" chicken on any menu.

                        1. re: joonjoon

                          It's the same dish, but I've only seen it called "General Gau's" in the Boston area, never General Tso's.

                          1. re: LeoLioness

                            I've never seen or heard of that! How fascinating.

                            1. re: LeoLioness

                              I've also heard it pronounced "General Chow's" by a group of Midwesterners who shared our table at dim sum, regarded our orders with suspicion and promptly retreated to something safer.

                              1. re: JungMann

                                If there's one dish that no one in the world seems to actually know how to pronounce, it would be General xxx's chicken. I've heard it pronounced so, chow, chou, tao, toe....and so on.

                                1. re: joonjoon

                                  Apparently the General traveled under many names! Being a native New Englander (RI, then Boston, so I also call dumplings Peking ravioli), I always knew the dish as General Gau's. Down here in the DC area, it's usually General Tso's, but I've seen General Chang's, General Ching's, and probably others. I don't pay much attention any more since I don't order the dish much these days.

                                  I learned about shrimp toast when I went to college in Baltimore in 1978. Similarly, crab rangoon seems to be a mid-atlantic favorite.

                                  By the time I went off to college, I had become a szechuan snob -- the first szechuan resturant had opened in my hometown of Pawtucket around 1975 and the world changed forever. 8>D

                                  1. re: Bob W

                                    Not only are the names different, the ranks are too; I have even seen Governor's, and Admiral Tso's chicken on midwestern menus. Lucky for all of us the General is safely in his grave. If he were alive to hear so many people mispronouncing his name and slandering his service record, his vengeance would be served the same way he serves his chicken: viciously and deliciously!

                                    When I was a kid I asked my mom why she never made General Tso's for us at home, when by all the visual evidence we appeared to be a Chinese family. 'That's white people food' she sniffed. Well I remember thinking as I stared down a steamed fish head for dinner, that white people must surely be on to something.

                                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                      Uhh...he never did serve this chicken, and neither did his descendants, nor anyone who even vaguely knew him or his family.

                                      Well, did you eat the fish head anyway? :-)

                                      1. re: huiray

                                        Yeah, that was my attempt at being funny. It amuses me to think of a sauce- and blood-spattered General Tso with avenging sword in one hand, take-out carton in the other.

                                        I did eat the fish head because with my parents, dinner choices were as non-negotiable as the General's wrath.

                                      2. re: RealMenJulienne

                                        "Well I remember thinking as I stared down a steamed fish head for dinner, that white people must surely be on to something."

                                        That cracked me up! It's good growing up with fish heads though...I'm the only person I know who can go through a whole fish and leave only bones left.

                                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                          LOL +1

                                          I can see the ranks indicating degree of spiciness. Comptroller Tso's Chicken would be very bland.

                                      3. re: joonjoon

                                        Given that there are multiple spoken Chinese languages, and multiple ways of transliterating them into English, there's not really a 'correct' pronunciation or spelling, especially since the dish doesn't seem to have originated in China.

                                        For anyone interested, it's 左 (Zuǒ) according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_.... In Mandarin, this is pronounced as a dipthong of 'dzoo-uh' with a tone that falls, then rises (you can hear a sound recording at http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail... ), but most old-school Chinese restaurants were operated by folks from parts of China where Mandarin was not the primary language.

                              2. I won't be able to contribute here, since I'm Chinese but non-American. I just want to say how absolutely fascinating I find these lists of food which are somewhat similar, yet so very different from "genuine" Chinese cuisine.
                                I enjoy American-Chinese food (chow mein, mushu pork, etc) in their own right - I don't really compare them to Chinese food we get in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Singapore.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  Heh. One gets into disputes here sometimes over various dishes and whether they are "Chinese", or how "authentic"/"traditional" they are etc etc. I'm sure you must have brushed up against these arguments on your various visits to the US.

                                  1. re: huiray

                                    I'm always amazed at how Chinese cuisine evolved in each country: in London, you get the crispy duck which you won't find outside the UK; in India, you'll find Manchurian chicken, which is uniquely "Chindian". In the Philippines, you get pancit Canton, siomai & siopao. In Japan, Chinese dishes have a gooey consistency, whereas in Korea, it takes on a Korean slant with dark soy sauce & sesame. Even in Malaysia & Singapore, Chinese food is spicier than what you'd find in HK or Taiwan, with chilli pastes & chilli dips a-plenty. To each his/her own, I'd say :-)

                                    1. re: klyeoh


                                      Chinese-American cuisine is in a separate category from Chinese-Chinese cuisine (so to say), ditto all the other national variants you cite. And in Malaysia/Singapore/Thailand, there's so much that straddles "Chinese" and "Local" cuisines that blur the lines between cuisines yet is "Malaysian" or "Singaporean". I myself would consider Penang Har Mee, as just one example, as kind-of "Chinese" yet is also heavily influenced by native cuisine but is wholly "Malaysian" and delicious!

                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                        And in Ireland, you get Chinese food with mashed potatoes on the side. They certainly know how to adapt...lol

                                        1. re: arktos

                                          Hmm, sorry, but that I would tend to think of as a mish-mash rather than an adaptation of a dish into a new 'integral' dish under new circumstances. It reminds me of what I read about Indian restaurants in France serving sliced baguette bread right besides the naan (or of bread served at "Chinese" meals in Chinese restaurants) because the French insist on having their bread, come Hell or High Water.

                                    2. re: klyeoh

                                      When my partner or I suggests Chinese as our dining/takeout option for a meal, the other invariably asks "real Chinese or fake Chinese?" I have love for both, at different times.

                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                        I personally don 't dismiss American Chinese food as 'inauthentic' (implying: 'bland', 'inferior' or 'ad-hoc') which seems to be so fashionable nowdays, I prefer to see it as just another Chinese regional food style, created by the Chinese given the local avalability of ingredients, climate, local taste preferences, etc.

                                          1. re: arktos

                                            Precisely! We don't get mushu pork in Singapore or HK, for example, and I sooooo missed it so much that I'd make sure I'd go to R&G Lounge or Great Eastern in San Francisco Chinatown whenever I was there. They really make it the "genuine" American-Chinese way :-D

                                            1. re: arktos

                                              I tend to the view that 'inauthentic food' does not necessarily mean 'bland', 'inferior' or 'ad-hoc' [?] even if there may be a bias by some against it in that regard. It depends on what the dish is, where you got it and who did the cooking. Many 'inauthentic' dishes - inauthentic in relation to the 'traditional'/'place of origin' dish - can be absolutely delicious. By the same token, 'authentic dishes' can be pretty bad, even if all the ingredients in it are 'authentic' - a bad cook/bad execution will do it, for example.

                                              1. re: huiray

                                                I feel the same way. My friend was talking about the "best" chinese restaurant, in her opinion, and asked me what I thought. I said it was very good American Chinese food. She thought it was a slam on the restaurant and I didn't mean it that way at all. It's good food. It's just not where I'd go if I were in the mood for Chinese food.

                                        1. BTW I assume you have looked at the Wiki article?

                                          1. This topic sure took me a funny little trip down memory lane :)
                                            I grew up in Central Pennsylvania and Arizona. Then as an adult meandered through Atlanta, coastal SC, the Czech Republic, southern Thailand, and finally (for now) Texas.
                                            1. pot stickers - most everywhere
                                            2. chinese bbq spare ribs - Pennsylvania
                                            3. egg drop soup - Pennsylvania
                                            4. cashew chicken - Arizona and SC
                                            5. orange beef - Arizona and SC
                                            6. egg foo young - imo the only good Chinese during my time in the CR
                                            7. shrimp fried rice - Thailand
                                            8. peking duck - Thailand
                                            9. black pepper crab - Thailand
                                            10. chow mein - Texas, Atlanta
                                            The chinese food in Thailand was excellent! I'm extrmemly picky about it now, where as a 10 year old, bright red spare ribs with gloppy fried rice was a divine treat.

                                            1. Midwest here. I grew up in an Asian family so there was a fair amount of bird's nest soup and char siu bao, but if I were to focus solely on the American Chinese we ate, which was not inconsequential, my list would feature:
                                              Egg rolls
                                              Mongolian beef
                                              Sweet and sour shrimp
                                              Egg drop soup
                                              Egg foo yung
                                              BBQ spareribs
                                              Beef and broccoli
                                              Pepper steak
                                              Crab rangoon
                                              Most of the Chinese restaurants, particularly in downrent areas, included fried chicken and rib tips on their menus, though I never found them very good. Either way no meal would be complete unless it ended with oversized almond cookies. When I moved to New York, I was introduced to sesame chicken, orange chicken as well as General Tso's. I can't recall if that just wasn't common where I was from or if I was so set in my ways that I never deviated from the usual order.

                                              1. Can stuff be included as long as it's widely available at most american chinese joints?

                                                My favorites are below, they are almost always on Chinese restaurant menus:

                                                Chicken Broccoli
                                                Pepper steak & Onion
                                                Curry Beef/Chicken.
                                                Chow Fun
                                                Singapore Mei Fun
                                                Hot & Sour Soup
                                                Egg Roll
                                                Kung Pow chicken
                                                Moo Goo Gai Pan
                                                Moo Shu Pork
                                                Twice Cooked Pork
                                                Mapo Tofu (usually called szechuan bean curd or something similar)
                                                General Tso
                                                Sweet & Sour Pork
                                                Eggplant w/ garlic sauce
                                                Fried chicken wings

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: joonjoon

                                                  That is the first time I've heard chicken with broccoli. Beef yes. The singapore mei fun has only been on menus for a decade or so but is now everywhere. I think pepper steak is out of "fashion" though we ate it every take out meal in the 70's.

                                                2. Growing up in Phoenix in the 80s:

                                                  - Egg Rolls (never spring rolls, always with the wonton that puffed/bubbled when fried)
                                                  - Hot and sour braised tofu (mom's favorite)
                                                  - Sweet & sour pork, always with large chunks of pineapple and green bell peppers
                                                  - Lemon chicken
                                                  - Broccoli beef
                                                  - Mongolian beef
                                                  - Cashew chicken
                                                  - Chow mein
                                                  - Egg Foo Young, always w/hollandaise and never w/brown sauce
                                                  - Fried shrimp (the term "prawn" was never used, even if that's what they were).
                                                  ...and all of it served with dual squeeze bottles of sweet and sour (in the red) and hot mustard (in the yellow) on the table.

                                                  San Francisco now:
                                                  - Honey walnut prawns
                                                  - General Tso's chicken
                                                  - Sesame chicken
                                                  - Xio Long Bao
                                                  ...though most of my favorites tend not to fall into the American Chinese category these days. Most of the dishes from Phoenix can be found here as well, with the egg rolls using the more traditional wrappers, and hot mustard seems to be an exception rather than a mainstay.

                                                  1. Okay here's my top ten in Denver:

                                                    1) shrimp with lobster sauce
                                                    2) subgum wonton
                                                    3) Szechuan (meat choice)
                                                    4) Hunan (meat choice)
                                                    5) pineapple (meat choice)
                                                    6) (meat) with garlic sauce
                                                    7) moo shu (meat)
                                                    8) moo goo gai pan
                                                    9) Singapore chow mei fun
                                                    10) Fried chicken wings (often w/ 5 spice)

                                                    These are standards and/or favorites. I'm not sure how many are American/ Chinese or Americanized but there you go!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: LorenM

                                                      This Denver list is the one with the least common items in the Northeast. You see these on some menus, but only the mushu and lobster sauce is ubiquitous.

                                                      1. re: KilgoreTrout

                                                        Everything on my list is pretty standard except subgum wonton, which I order when I see it usually but isn't served everywhere- just a local personal favotrite. I would also add kung pao, of course and Mongolian beef which are everywhere, I think.Singapore Chow Fun is getting to be pretty standard nowadays as they have it at all three of my regular take-out places

                                                    2. Austin, Texas:

                                                      Sweet and Sour
                                                      Beef and Broccoli
                                                      General Tso's
                                                      Mu shu pork with raw wheat egg roll skin wrappers
                                                      Chicken Almond Ding
                                                      Moo Goo Gai Pan
                                                      Lemon Chicken
                                                      Orange Beef
                                                      Lomein (probably chicken as preferred protein)
                                                      Fried rice
                                                      Hot and Sour Soup
                                                      Egg Drop Soup
                                                      Crab Rangoon
                                                      Egg rolls
                                                      Chicken wings
                                                      fried won ton

                                                      1. I love American Chinese food, love it!

                                                        In the Northwest-

                                                        Almond Chicken
                                                        Sweet and Sour---(the kind with the florescent pink sauce and fried won tons)
                                                        BBQ Pork with hot mustard/ketchup/sesame seeds to dip
                                                        Kung Pao Chicken
                                                        Gen Tso's
                                                        Egg Drop Soup
                                                        Sub gun Chicken Chow Mein
                                                        Egg roll
                                                        Pork Fried Rice
                                                        Broccoli Beef

                                                        ...and I can't resist the stale fortune cookie with my tea, thank you very much :)

                                                          1. I grew up in Appalachia, so you can imagine how sophisticated our Chinese food was!

                                                            Won Ton Soup
                                                            Egg Drop Soup
                                                            Sweet and Sour chicken
                                                            Egg Rolls
                                                            Fried Rice
                                                            Crab Rangoon
                                                            Jello (Did anyone else's Chinese restaurants always include a Jello buffet for dessert?)

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: iambecky

                                                              OMG I was going to include jello on my list but then decided not to because I was thinking more a la carte than buffet, but YES Chinese buffet jello!!!

                                                              1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                Chinese buffet jello...I've never actually tried it although I've seen it. Does it differ in some way from jello that one may have at home or elsewhere?

                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                  I think it's just the standard jello that is typically on offer at most buffets whether Chinese or not. It does complete the experience, though.

                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                    I haven't eaten it in like 20 years, but if memory serves it tasted like no one measured the water going in the jello mix and the strength of the jello flavor could vary. Sometimes it was dried out and stiff in corners, too.

                                                                    Oh, I remember candied bananas on buffets, too. And biscuits from tube cans deep fried and doused in sugar.

                                                                    1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                      Actually, that is interesting because folks in SE Asia & other parts of E Asia etc make various kinds of jellies using agar-agar, sometimes molded, often (esp. in SE Asia) of a consistency appreciably firmer than the "standard" Jello one would find in N America (if one followed package instructions). There's also a kind of firm, black grass jelly foodstuff, used often in sweet preparations/drinks, widely found in Malaysia/Singapore as well as other parts of E Asia.

                                                                      When I first had "Western-style" Jello I remember thinking that it was too wobbly and too "un-dense", if that makes sense.

                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                        Not only does it make sense to me, I feel the same way. A good almond "Jello" has a different consistency and is too good to pass up vs regular jelly, in the way that panna cotta is more dense.

                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                          I also had 'Vietnamese jello' or agar agar jelly sweets at friends houses as a kid and recall the distinct firmness. The Chinese buffet jello is definitely just the North American standard pork gelatin based product. It just seemed to me that on the buffet it was just made haphazardly.

                                                                  2. re: iambecky

                                                                    jello, pudding and stale nilla wafers were all on the buffet where I grew up in Central Pa.

                                                                  3. Most of the dishes described on this thread are Chinese restaurant standards all over the world. I'm not sure what's making them particulalrly American Chinese? Just looking at my local takeaway menu includes

                                                                    Spare ribs
                                                                    Spring Rolls
                                                                    Chow Mein with your choice of meats
                                                                    Fried rice ditto
                                                                    Sweet and Sour whatever
                                                                    Kung Po style whatever
                                                                    Szechaun whatever
                                                                    Mongolian Chicken
                                                                    Black Bean dishes
                                                                    Hot n Sour Soup
                                                                    Chillie Chicken wings
                                                                    Salt and Pepper wings

                                                                    And that's in Central Scotland. I know I'll find much the same in anywhere in the UK, Germany, France etc.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: stilldontknow

                                                                      When I visit other countries, I like to try Chinese food there--not "authentic" chinese food but their versions of it because even the same dishes like sweet and sour dishes are different from American Chinese. But, then again, even American Chinese dishes are different in each restaurant. I never know what I'll get when I order Mo shu pork.

                                                                      1. re: stilldontknow

                                                                        i think chinese food in the western hemisphere is fairly similar, with regional differences. obviously from this thread there are even regional differences in chinese-american food within the US alone. but yeah chinese menus i've seen in germany, ireland and scotland were pretty familiar to this american.

                                                                        although i HAVE to say that the most surreal chinese meal i've ever had was in ireland. friend's parents took us out. i ordered the black bean beef, which you reference but which i never see in california. during the meal i looked around and realized that i was the only person in the room eating white rice and using chopsticks. there were maybe five people eating fried rice with their meal, and the rest were eating chips!