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Mar 16, 2014 07:54 PM

I can't eat at our local Chinese restaurant anymore.

Please allow me to rant a bit as I have no where else left to turn.

I grew up just outside of NYC in NJ. Great pizza, the BEST bagels, and great Americanized Chinese. When I say Americanized I mean egg rolls the size of a small burrito, shrimp with lobster sauce, and those great big spare ribs. As I grew and traveled I discovered the "other " Chinese food. The Chinatowns of London, New York, and Boston. This food is sublime, healthy, and simple. Tonight's example. A Boston place called The Best Little Restaurant. Seafood with XO sauce that I knew probably only had 6 ingredients. Shrimp and tofu hotpot - beautiful. Simple, and you can taste every ingredient. Nothing is greasy or "gloppy".

I attest that I have never been to Asia, so authenticity is not my concern. My problem is why can't we have this outside of Chinatown? Yes there are the exceptions, but we are eating food that I don't see as any better than McD's. As an ex-chef I can tell you that this stuff is not rocket science. A 900 degree burner and some fresh ingredients is all that is needed. Has the American palette been so horribly corrupted and degraded that this is considered "food"? I can barely enjoy our town's "best" Chinese restaurant's hot and sour soup. I feel like going there or going to Subway is about the same. And please understand I live in a very liberal NE town with many good food options. The sad part is if someone opened a Chinatown style restaurant here, I'm not so sure it would do that well.

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  1. "My problem is why can't we have this outside of Chinatown?"

    . . .

    "The sad part is if someone opened a Chinatown style restaurant here, I'm not so sure it would do that well."

    It sounds like you understand the reason already!

    2 Replies
    1. re: lamb_da_calculus

      Yeah, but these are the same people that will pay $10 a pound for organic artisan Italian sausage that is not even that good. Or "boutique salad greens! Don't get me started!

      1. re: jefpen2

        So your complaint is that people who are known to buy stuff that isn't even that good are buying Chinese food that isn't that good?

    2. Probably 10 years ago I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant local small town restaurant...possibly the only sit down one in that particular town, the rest were Take-Out only. Just like every other similar Chinese Place, I would consider it inexpensive and moderately priced with most items under $15...many under $10 at the time. While I may be accused of staring, although unconsciously on my part, I do not try to eavesdrop on any person or group...however on this particular night, the table next to me was so close, I could not help but hear the conversation next to us at the adjacent table.

      In a nutshell, The husband asked the wife how she like the food and restaurant..her response was it was excellent, but thought it was too expensive. She said she could go to the Buffet in the next town over for $12 and it was AYCE

      Restaurants open and give the customers what they want.. the majority of the dining public eat to live, not live to eat. Their concern is to eat out for convenience and price.....not quality.

      1. So, are you saying that you *now* don't appreciate good Americanized Chinese food?
        If so, that is a shame. I cook many Asian foods at home, from Vietnamese, Burmese, Thai, some Chinese and Indian foods. But, I still like chicken chow mein and fortune cookie every now and again. Apples and oranges.

        5 Replies
        1. re: sedimental

          No. When I am in NJ I sometimes go out w/friends to the local chinese and we have a great time! The spare ribs are my favorite!

          1. re: sedimental

            I also cook many Asian and Indian cuisines at home. The thing with Chinese is I never felt you can get the same results on a regular stove. Now if I had the $ for a real wok burner.....

            1. re: jefpen2

              You can purchase a portable propane candy stove or a Turkey deep fryer to achieve higher heat.

              1. re: jefpen2

                Yes, using a wok is not something I am interested in anymore. I prefer other techniques. So many other great Chinese foods that are not stir fry. I am not sure why American Chinese food concentrates on stir fry so much?

                I tend not to cook Americanized Chinese at home and prefer to go out for it. When I do eat it...I get the stir fry and fried rice! Lol.

                1. re: sedimental

                  Stir fried dishes are the quickest to cook once it has been ordered. Many Chinese dishes are braised or steamed, but those cooking methods can take a long time.

            2. I'm sure that your local Chinese restaurant can cook much better dishes but only if you ask for it. For example, ask which region the cook is from and if it's possible to try some dishes from that region. They might need some advance notice, but it surely can't hurt to ask.

              2 Replies
              1. re: raytamsgv

                What if that cook is from Hoboken ? ;-)

                1. re: LotusRapper

                  Send the cook a Chinese cookbook from

              2. My 91-year old mom, who spent the first 60 years of her life in NYC and north Jersey, is on a perpetual quest for what she calls "real Chinese food" -- meaning the Americanized Chinese food you described: chicken chow mein, egg rolls, wonton soup, spare ribs, and even lobster Cantonese. I wish I could find it for her here in southeastern PA.