Feb 28, 2017 Translated by eChinacities.com

Chinese restaurants can be found all across America, but except for a few locations in various Chinatowns, most of these restaurants cater to Western people’s tastes and are almost unrecognizable to Chinese people from across the ocean. America’s alternative versions of “Chinese food” can be found in any of the many Chinese restaruants across the country, but most Chinese people wouldn’t dare to order any of these mutant dishes. These American-Chinese dishes are tokens of the style native to the States, and even though some of them seem familiar upon first glance, restaurants manage to make them more suited to western palates. For many Chinese, they are barely even edible.

Let’s take a look at some of the classics of the Western-”Chinese” style below:

1) Wonton soup, Sweet and Sour Soup, Egg drop soup (云吞汤, 酸甜汤, 蛋花汤)


Source: QQ News

As is only natural, your average Chinese restaurant wouldn’t prepare one of those beautiful soups stewed in a little clay pot for foreigners, so these three simple soups are the staples of overseas Chinese dining establishments. Aside from Wonton soup being more or less edible, the other two are so thick and goopy that if you’re going to try them, prepare to be disgusted. Sweet and sour soup is not only sweet and sour, its also spicy, bringing to mind something akin to Thailand’s tomyum soup.

2) Crab Rangoon (蟹角)


Source: QQ News

This strange delicacy often lacks a critical element: the crab. However, in the best case scenario, it is still merely a deep-fried wonton filled with cream cheese and a few strands of overcooked, artificial crab meat if your luck is good that day. Cheese doesn’t exist in the traditional span of Han Chinese ingredients, but foreigners like it and so this strange yet devine pocket of creamy goodness was born. To be honest, its not bad at all, its just that like the fortune cookie, it too is an exclusively American creation.

3) Spring Rolls (春卷)


Source: QQ News

Spring rolls are probably one of the most popular appetizers found in foreign Chinese restaurants. On the surface, a crispy, golden shell filled mainly with bean sprouts and cabbage, but when it comes down to putting it in your mouth, you’ll find that they are usually fried into oblivion and if you can manage to make it to the center of this cudgel-like snack you’ll likely be left with a mouthful of oil. True spring rolls should have a very thin skin, abundant filling and just a little oil.

4) Lo Mein (捞面)


Photo: QQ News

Lo Mein are actually a traditional snack from Guangzhou and the most common composition of the dish uses Oyster Sauce as the main flavor component. Its best eaten when the noodles are still a little al dente. However, the foreign version of this dish is frequently of poor quality, the noodles clump into a big mass and the sauce is almost always too sweet.

5) Egg Fuyong (芙蓉蛋)

Photo: QQ News

Egg Fuyong if you’ve never ordered it from the menu of your local take-out joint, is essentially a fried egg filled with meat and vegetables making it somewhat similar to an omelet. That said, the beautiful Chinese name of this dish doesn’t equate to its deliciousness. The filling often lacks flavor and its usually drenched in ketchup or sweet and sour sauce.

6) Beef with Broccoli (西兰花炒牛肉)


Photo: QQ News

Broccoli is a mainstay of many foreign “Chinese” dishes and its not just beef that this crunchy, green vegetable is often paired with (there’s also chicken and shrimp). Its ubiquity is probably due to the fact that its healthy and if the vegetables haven’t been overcooked and the sauce is not too salty or thick, it can be eaten. Although not without some difficulty.

7) General Tsos Chicken (左宗棠将军鸡) 

Most people who grow up in China have never heard of this dish that was created by a Taiwanese chef in the 50s, and in fact it is has not the slightest bit of relevance to Zuo Zongtang (the General Tso for which the dish is named). In the 1970s, the dish’s creator brought it to America where it was adored by Henry Kissinger and suddenly it’s popularity exploded. Chinese restaurants all over started making their own imitations of the dish. The dish’s flavor slowly morphed from the original salty and spicy profile into the sweet one that is presumed to be loved by so many Americans until it reached its current state as just a kind of sweet and sour chicken.

8) Mooshu Pork(木须肉)


Photo: QQ News

This classic Northern dish is also known as Mushu Pork and though it has its variations, it is almost always made with pork, wood-ear fungus, egg, cucumber and day lily. The flavor should be crisp, clean and, of course, delicious, but most foreigners don’t eat wood-ear fungus and so their versions of the dish are completely different from the one that we’re used to. Bean sprouts and a hefty dose of sugar or corn syrup are added and its usually accompanied by a pancake which is made similarly to the spring roll shells mentioned above.

9) Sweet and Sour Pork (酸甜肉)


Photo: QQ News 

This is actually the sweet and sour pork that we are familiar with in China! Good job Westerners!

10) Shrimp with Cashew Nuts(腰果虾)


Photo: QQ News

America only has frozen shrimp, but not live ones [sic] making this a suitable use for such ingredients. One could say that this dish is ‘high-class’ American-Chinese food due to the fact that nuts like cashews and pistachios which are expensive in China, are also super expensive in the U.S. The author also makes this dish at home from time to time with the added caveat that more shrimp and cashews are added as opposed to the restaurant version where the vegetables are the stars.

11) Bonus: Chop Suey ("杂碎")


Photo: QQ News

When Chinese people talk about ‘chop suey’ they mean animal organs chopped up together and eaten, but westerners don’t eat organs and offal, so the American ‘chop suey’ refers to a mismatched mess of foodstuffs such as cabbage, pork strips, bean sprouts, celery, green pepper, onion all fried up together. It’s said that the dish was popularized by immigrants brought over to work on the railroads although it wasn’t eaten by them and at one point its name was even used to refer to Chinese food as a whole. As one can well imagine, there is no standard for this dish, any restaurant can take whatever leftovers they have and turn it into chop suey. Liang Qichao, during a 1903 visit to the U.S. tried the dish and left us with the following evaluation: “Those eaters of chop suey lack culinary skill. Chinese people would never touch such a dish.”

Source: QQ News

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Keywords: Weird Dishes Chinese Foreign Food

7 Comments Add your comment

1

Judred1967
comment|73695|1661300

I am a Filipino with Chinese blood. Filipino-Chinese serve some of the above dishes so I believe there has to be some Chinese influence in their cooking because it is not exactly Filipino cuisine. I believe the Chinese in the West also used Chinese influence in their dishes overseas. It might be a fusion of East and West but I don't see any Western idea in the above examples except of the cheese. China is so big and each region and its sub-regions will never cook thing the same way. Most Chinese in the Philippines came from South China so I believe the Chinese dishes offered in my country come from the South of China. They are still authentic Chinese if you ask me but maybe not as traditional and may not have existed in some parts of China. In the Philippines, each region has its specialty and what is being cooked in the US usually comes from different regions like Ilocos, Pampanga, Tagalog Region, Bicol, and the Visayas. I will also guess that some of those cooked abroad may not taste that well because they were scrimping on some ingredients or did not cook them properly.

Feb 28, 2017 10:07 Report Abuse

2

tomcatflyer
comment|73697|60242

Now, how about the complimentary article of how "western" dishes are absolutely destroyed by restaurants in China. Food is produced to local tastes, it is not an example of stupid foreigners cannot cook our delicacies correctly. If you go to any country you should not be surprised that they cook food the way they like it.

Feb 28, 2017 20:00 Report Abuse

3

Shining_brow
comment|73699|64095

Nice little 'western' bashing going on here.... especially when implying that ALL restaurants cook dishes badly, when in fact it's just some of them...(talking about oily dishes is rather ironic, given the greasiness of many Chinese dishes I've eaten here - and refuse to again!) Also, somewhat amusing to point out that most Chinese wouldn't touch 'chop suey' with good meat and vegetables cos it doesn't have organs and intestines in it.... that's to say, foods eaten at the extremes of survival (ie, peasant food) are better than "what to do with these small amounts of mixed vegetables and meats?"

Mar 01, 2017 12:33 Report Abuse

4

tanbank34
comment|73715|1638305

I like spring rolls

Mar 02, 2017 01:44 Report Abuse

5

Guest15000644
comment|73892|1666738

wonton soup... I always try to avoid it :D

Mar 29, 2017 07:24 Report Abuse

6

writer_producer
comment|73906|1656884

Yet, their idea of cheese, bread, hamburgers, and ice cream make this foreigner begin to hate all four things. And let's not go into that disgusting "food" that Chinese hot dogs are. But knowing people there, they will complain I don't understand. Here's reality: Food changes for the palate of the people you serve. I doubt foreigners will eat dog like Chinese people do at the dog meat fare, just like Chinese can't make a decent steak or cup of coffee to save their lives.

Apr 09, 2017 17:20 Report Abuse

7

saraadil31
comment|74106|1678335

i can't wait to taste all of them i love asian cousine

Jun 09, 2017 01:37 Report Abuse