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Jul 11, 2011 04:26 PM

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 the so-called "hidden menus"...

          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)