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May 20, 2012 11:37 AM

"real" chinese food??

To anyone who knows about authentic chinese there ANYTHING on the typical american menu of chinese places that resemble food chinese people eat? I know this isnt worded well..forgive me..i have the flu and am weirded out on cold
But i do hope i got my point across..i always fee l stupid ordereing things..
Like they take
Y order and laugh in the kitchen.

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      1. Now, now guys - I think this poster is on the up-&-up. Take your snarkiness elsewhere. Good grief - were you all born with Chinese Cuisine spoons in your mouths? I think not.

        Mizzdee - first off, where are you located? Perhaps there's a good Chinese restaurant in your area. Second - what type of Chinese food do you enjoy? Spicy Szechuan? Milder Cantonese (which is what most American Chinese restaurants serve).

        If you're looking for specific dishes to order, what sort of foods do you like?

        Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of neighborhood Chinese restaurants who serve authentic Chinese cuisine, since a lot of it isn't Americanized enough for the general public so they can make a profit. Who can blame them?

        (Now, if you're Chinese & can go & ask at the restaurant for certain dishes, I'm sure you can get whatever you want.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bacardi1

          Thank you so much bacardi!!!! I am in charlotte nc..for now
          i really do care about food..almost to a nerd level.the history of it etc..everything.I know it seems silly but I do really care.I am lucky enough to be in a city that hasmany many different foods available..several in my little neighbourhood idea though if they are americanized or not

          1. re: mizzdee

            Let me put it this way.

            If the restaurant folks are the "laughing type" then no matter what you do, they'll be laughing at you.

            If you order an Americanized dish, they'll laugh at you because you're a typical "lau wai".

            If you order an authentic, traditional Chinese dish (whatever that may mean), they'll still laugh at you because they believe you don't know what they hell you just ordered.

            So my advice to you is just live and eat, and not stress about it.

            If you want advice on what is traditional or authentic (again, whatever that may mean) Chinese dishes, do a little searching on these boards because it is a well sussed out topic, and then repost with a title that says something like "What is a traditional Sichuan dish" or "How are Cantonese seafood dishes typically prepared and served"?

            Best of luck to you.

        2. I find Chinese restaurants to be some of the most flexible when it comes to making something that you want. I don't know about Charlotte, but most American-style Chinese restos in LA are owned and operated by people who are Chinese from various parts of Chinese Asia.

          Having no idea how "authentic" Chinese food offerings are in Charlotte, one strategy might be to engage the owner at your local eatery and ask the person if they would be willing to make a simple dish (e.g., based around either rice, noodle, protein, vegetable, dumpling, etc.) as they would enjoy it themselves - what they would consider to be as close to what they would consider to be similar to "back home." Depending on where they are from, this most likely will determine the type of cuisine (Cantonese, Shanghainese, Sichuan, Taiwanese, SE Asian, etc.) and what ultimately they might offer to you. It could be very simple of ultimately something very exotic.

          In my limited experience, the vast majority of "generic" Chinese eateries I've come across tailor their offerings to the local tastes, based on ingredients that are locally available and relatively inexpensive, and what standard dishes they think will sell (fried rice, chow mein, orange chicken, beef & broccoli, etc.). I would think that of the standard ingredients found throughout the nation, rice might be transcultural in this case - conjee/jook might be a candidate. Fried rice is pretty generic, but Yangchow or LapCheung (Chinese dried sausage) is easy to make. Dumplings might also work since flour and (usually) pork are basics in most areas. Handmade noodles are probably out unless the place has a "ringer" with this skill.

          1. Many people have their own definition of "real" or "authentic" Chinese food. My opinion is that it really doesn't matter. All that matters is that you like it.

            If you like a restaurant's food and go there often, they will love you regardless of what you order. Trust me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: raytamsgv

              Ditto. There are a LOT of so-called "Americanized" Chinese dishes that I consider real "comfort food". "Shrimp in Lobster Sauce", "Singapore Noodles", various Lo Mein & Fried Rice dishes, etc., etc. I'd be lost without them.

              Some do even have authentic counterparts that I make at home. For instance - the "Shrimp with Lobster Sauce" you get at your local take-out can be delicious, but won't be authentic, since it most likely will be lacking in the addition of Chinese Preserved Black Beans, among other things. (Very easy to keep on hand in your own pantry, by the way.)

              1. re: raytamsgv

                "All that matters is that you like it."

                Not exactly. Nobody starts out reading long novels, listening to serious music, or eating foods that are unfamiliar in style and substance. Tastes have to be developed.

                The OP already has the instinct that there is more out there in this big world of ours that is off limits to her. That is a valuable trait that can lead to tremendous pleasures for anyone with an open mind.

                I say be inquisitive and do not settle for the familiar. Many Chinese families start off a meal at a restaurant with a consultation. If a restaurant is talented and enterprising, they will very much welcome and encourage your interest. I have found many such places, though I do not have experience in Charlotte. Ask queastions, ask if they have Chinese customers that order different dishes than the usual, ask to see if by any chance they have a Chinese language menu. Ask where the family or chef is from.

                I am against the idea of treating waiters like intelligent vaccuum cleaners: there to fill you water and take your order. Strike up a conversation and show some interest. Let them be your guide. You may be surprised at what you can discover.

                Here are some generic tips:

                Ask if they can make something dry-fried. Noodles can develop a wonderful wok char to them if they aren't drowned in a sauce. Kung Pao Chicken can be great dry-fried. Speaking of KPC, after you ask for dry-fried, you can always sprinke on your own Sichuan peppercorns: buy a small jar from Penzey's online. Toast them in a skillet and then put them in a pocket grinder that you can take with you to the restaurant. Voila, authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken.

                Ask for a simple green vegetable. Do they serve baby bok choy? Water spinach? Any other leafy greens unfamiliar to you? Just simply sauteed with garlic. Are there any Asian supermarkets in your area? Go to the produce section and investigate what's there.

                Happy eating, and I hope you find a place that has some talent in the kitchen.