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View Full Version : Chinese Food (esp Takeout) Can you get any good CF in most cities?


Charlie Wayne
03-20-2015, 05:28 AM
I have had Chinese Food in New York City and I've had it in many other cities too.

I'm not currently living in NYC. But from my personal experiences, the CF that you get in most other cities is just a pale imitation of the real delicious stuff that you get in NYC.

Has anyone been around and tried CF in many diff cities? Can you give your opinion as to what cities have the real delicious CF and which have the terrible pale imitation stuff.

It seems to me the imitation stuff costs a lot less to produce and maybe the owners of the restaurants just don't know how to produce the good stuff? Or maybe they just want to save money?

But, either way, it's a terrible shame. Because nothing tastes as good as good CF if you haven't had any for a while. I think the same goes for pizza. But that is a diff thread and there is now an expert Pizza guy in this forum who can answer that.

But how about CF? Are there any other cities that have the good CF? Or am I just SOL?

Terminus Est
03-20-2015, 06:11 AM
I hear the Chinese food in Hong Kong is excellent. Also Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong.

DrFidelius
03-20-2015, 06:22 AM
I hear the Chinese food in Hong Kong is excellent. Also Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong.

But they don't call it "Chinese Food" there. They just call it "food."

And for my contribution, I have not found an appreciable difference in (take out) Chinese food between any place I've eaten it in the US. New Haven, Boston, Raleigh, New York City, Orlando, Rapid City, Phoenix -- all take out Chinese food seems to be adequate.

Jackmannii
03-20-2015, 07:06 AM
Cite that "real delicious" takeout Chinese food is readily available in NYC (unless you're taking it out of certain restaurants in Chinatown)?

I suspect the sources of common takeout dishes are similar in most of these joints around the country.

Telemark
03-20-2015, 07:11 AM
I've had great Chinese meals in many cities in the US, and even in some pretty rural places. NYC is good, but so is SF, Seattle, Boston, LA, and pretty much every major city has a few excellent places. It really depends on what you are looking for and what you define as "good Chinese food" since there are dozens of different styles.

Quimby
03-20-2015, 08:24 AM
Most large cities will have good ethnic food of all kinds because you have people there that are from those parts of the world and have talent but some places will be better than others because they have a larger pool of specific talent. The North east and Italian food, for example, the West Coast and Asian food, the mid west has great German food etc.

RealityChuck
03-20-2015, 08:30 AM
You have to look around. There was one Chinese takeout place -- luckily, the nearest one to me -- that had great food. There's been a change of management -- very common in the trade -- and it's still OK, but not what it was.

Chinese takeout places have a big turnover of management. People run them for a year or two, then sell out. They train the new people, then move on, either to a better market or something else. Of course, once you have a new staff and management, the quality will change, no matter how much training you get (and it's usually just a month or two).

We also have a more traditional Chinese restaurant around here, with whole fish, tong po pork, and even jellyfish. I love to eat there.

bump
03-20-2015, 08:58 AM
I have had Chinese Food in New York City and I've had it in many other cities too.

I'm not currently living in NYC. But from my personal experiences, the CF that you get in most other cities is just a pale imitation of the real delicious stuff that you get in NYC.

Oh, Lord, another person talking about how awesome NYC is, and how the rest of the country doesn't measure up. News flash; there are pockets of immigrants elsewhere in the country that are larger than their respective NYC populations.

San Francisco comes to mind immediately as a place with a thriving Chinatown and excellent Chinese food. So do Houston and Los Angeles.

I happen to frequent this place in Richardson (http://jengchirestaurant.com/menu/) also... from what I've heard, it's pretty authentic. It's certainly delicious.




What's interesting is that if you look at the numbers and percentages of Chinese people by city, there are quite a few with relatively large numbers and percentages that do NOT have Chinatowns or anything like that. For example, Plano, TX is supposedly 5% Chinese, and has nearly 14,000 Chinese-Americans, yet there isn't a Chinatown in Plano as far as I'm aware.

The other thing to look out for is that in many cases, the people actually live somewhere a little way away from the classic "Chinatown". For example, in the Houston area, "Chinatown" is more or less contained in a box bounded by Gessner, Beechnut, Kirkwood and Westpark/Harwin, meaning that the vast majority of Chinese businesses are located within or very near that box. However, while that's where the commercial and cultural heart is, the actual people of the community live in Fort Bend county, further west in Alief and some live east in Bellaire. Similarly, although the San Francisco Chinatown is in downtown San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose have very large Chinese populations.

chaika
03-20-2015, 09:07 AM
IME, the best Chinese food in North America is to be had on the West coast.

There was an interesting article in The New Yorker a few months ago about the underground network of Chinese restaurant employees.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/13/cooka%C2%80%C2%99s-tale

But I imagine none of the restaurants described in the article serve particularly high quality dishes.

DummyGladHands
03-20-2015, 09:24 AM
NOT in Pueblo, Colorado. Take my word on that.

Charlie Wayne
03-20-2015, 10:27 AM
I've had great Chinese meals in many cities in the US, and even in some pretty rural places. NYC is good, but so is SF, Seattle, Boston, LA, and pretty much every major city has a few excellent places. It really depends on what you are looking for and what you define as "good Chinese food" since there are dozens of different styles.

The best Chinese food restaurant I have ever been to other than NYC was a place that featured some Szechuan dishes as well as some non-Szechuan dishes. Oh my! This is very difficult trying to remember the names of these dishes given that it's 20 years since I ate there.

My most favorite dishes were some big soft noodles, some Cashew Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, something called "Funny Tasting Chicken". I don't know why they called it that. But it was heavy of the vinegar taste. Darn! There were so many other great dishes but I can't remember them now.

jz78817
03-20-2015, 10:43 AM
What's interesting is that if you look at the numbers and percentages of Chinese people by city, there are quite a few with relatively large numbers and percentages that do NOT have Chinatowns or anything like that. For example, Plano, TX is supposedly 5% Chinese, and has nearly 14,000 Chinese-Americans, yet there isn't a Chinatown in Plano as far as I'm aware.

or even Madison Heights, MI. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madison_Heights,_Michigan#Asian_and_Vietnamese_people)

Dr. Righteous
03-20-2015, 03:02 PM
I've also seen discussions online about "NYC style Chinese food". I'm a native New Yorker, but the difference between ye olde generic takeout from your local joint here and if one were in Chicago is beyond me.

Perhaps the OP just really likes "NYC style" takeout Chinese food?

SJL4041
03-20-2015, 03:40 PM
IME, the best Chinese food in North America is to be had on the West coast.

There was an interesting article in The New Yorker a few months ago about the underground network of Chinese restaurant employees.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/13/cooka%C2%80%C2%99s-tale

But I imagine none of the restaurants described in the article serve particularly high quality dishes.

Great article. I think it points to exactly the reason why quality Chinese food has become difficult to find in many (most?) US locations. It's just about pumping out the cheapest version of the stereotypical US Chinese menu using highly replaceable unskilled workers. People want to load their guts at the buffet and they don't care that the food is, well, buffet-level quality. Even if you did want to open a high-quality different menu-ed Chinese restaurant, how in the world are you going to be able to market it so people realize it's not just the usual takeout joint? I'm sure it's possible in larger cities, but in most of America, forget it.

Dorjän
03-24-2015, 08:51 AM
Chinese "Take Out" food is bland everywhere, including NYC. Now real Chinese restaurants, focusing on specific regional cuisines, we have some very good ones here in Cleveland.

FuriousGeorge
03-24-2015, 09:14 AM
Back home in Baldwinsville, New York, there was a little Chinese takeaway place on the way to my father's house that had, in my opinon the best Chinese-American Takeaway style food product* ever. I's changed hands since I moved away, so I can't vouch for it's quality though my daughter says it's still pretty good.

Here in Denver, it's pretty.. meh. Though there is a little place nearby that serves a ridiculous thai style hot and sour soup that I could eat probably forever.





*-was the OP confusing for some that he was talking about the Chinese Food from takeaway joints in the little cardboard white fold out plate buckets or black microwaveable plastic dishes that holds very very little relation to real Chinese people chinese food?

I'm not sure Anthony Bourdain needs to pop in to discuss the TRADITIONAL regional meal of mud grubs and damp log lichens served in a battered tin can dated from the time of the Nanking Massacre in a remote village he found while cruising the Yangtze River in a dugout made from the dung and bones of long dead elders.

Dorjän
03-24-2015, 09:27 AM
The OP said Chinese Food (esp takeout), which to me implies all Chinese Restaurants.

Oh, and takeout containers are NOT designed to be folded out into plates! I don't know who got that little "factoid" going on the internet, but it's BS. They are designed that way so they can be flat packed and shipped, and assembled at the restaurant. You are not supposed to disable them again to serve as plates.

Cheesesteak
03-24-2015, 09:54 AM
I think you've got 2 types of CF in this country.

Generic American-Chinese takeout - This is basically the same everywhere, though each place may be good or bad depending on the quality of the management. May also be a sit-down restaurant with or without buffet.

Authentic Chinese Restaurant - These are restaurants specifically trying to capture some aspect of authentic Chinese cuisine, and while they may serve many American-Chinese dishes, they have a wide selection of other dishes you don't see at takeout joints.

You should be able to find an authentic Chinese restaurant in any town that has a vibrant restaurant scene. The trick is to not just order the Pork LoMein, you have to pick the cuisine they're specializing in.

QuickSilver
03-24-2015, 09:55 AM
For me, take-out chinese is a guilty pleasure and my standards for it are pretty low. I know I'm supposed to sneer at the lack of authenticity compared to "real" Chinese food. And I know that one General Tso's is indistinguishable from another from most American style chinese restaurants. But dammit, I love it. And I'm not above Panda Express. Probably one of my favourites.

Typo Negative
03-24-2015, 01:39 PM
Not finding very much good Chinese in the Sacramento Ca area. A couple of decent ones, but nothing memorable. Some good sushi, though.

When I lived in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, there were always a lot of good choices. Most were pretty close by. Like this (http://www.citywok.com/) place.

Charlie Wayne
03-24-2015, 03:17 PM
Chinese "Take Out" food is bland everywhere, including NYC. Now real Chinese restaurants, focusing on specific regional cuisines, we have some very good ones here in Cleveland.

Oh my gosh! I just can't believe how many times recently I have read posts in this forum or heard from people irl about how great something in Cleveland is. I had always grown up to recognize Cleveland as an awful place where everythign was terrible. But in the past year or so, I have met several people or read several items from people who attest to just how wonderful something is in Cleveland.

I just don't get it. But I am coming around to the point of view that Cleveland must be a truly wonderful place.

I apologize to Cleveland and all things Clevelenese for my previous negative opinions. Apparently, I was very wrong and Cleveland is a city chock full of great things.

I'm sorry, Cleveland.

Dorjän
03-24-2015, 03:44 PM
Oh my gosh! I just can't believe how many times recently I have read posts in this forum or heard from people irl about how great something in Cleveland is. I had always grown up to recognize Cleveland as an awful place where everythign was terrible. But in the past year or so, I have met several people or read several items from people who attest to just how wonderful something is in Cleveland.

I just don't get it. But I am coming around to the point of view that Cleveland must be a truly wonderful place.

I apologize to Cleveland and all things Clevelenese for my previous negative opinions. Apparently, I was very wrong and Cleveland is a city chock full of great things.

I'm sorry, Cleveland.

Well, we don't call it "The Best Location in the Nation" for nothing! But come and see for yourself sometime :D

May 20
03-24-2015, 03:59 PM
When I lived in Austin, there was a Chinese take-out place that we absolutely loved. We ordered from there frequently. After moving to the western Chicago suburbs, we have tried so many Chinese places over the years, but none of them are as good (to us) as the place we loved in Austin. *sigh*

I've sort of given up on Chinese and moved to Thai as a result.

Smapti
03-24-2015, 04:03 PM
The best American-style Chinese food I've ever had was at a dingy old empty-except-for-me diner in Portland's Chinatown by the incongruous name of "House of Louie", which had delicious won ton soup, char siu to die for, kung pao chicken with actual Szechuan peppercorns, and an amazing chili paste on the side.

The best Chinese-style Chinese food I've had was a "hot soup" restaurant in Seattle's International District (the politically correct, pan-Asian name for what used to be called "Chinatown") which was packed to capacity with Asian diners and maybe one or two other white people, where I was served a steel bowl atop a portable gas burner, filled with a mildly spicy chicken broth, all manner of vegetables, thin-sliced pork, tofu, fishcakes, rice noodles, and a raw egg cracked into the bowl immediately before serving which gradually became poached as the burner kicked in.

Saturn Dreams
03-24-2015, 09:36 PM
Oh my gosh! I just can't believe how many times recently I have read posts in this forum or heard from people irl about how great something in Cleveland is. I had always grown up to recognize Cleveland as an awful place where everythign was terrible. But in the past year or so, I have met several people or read several items from people who attest to just how wonderful something is in Cleveland.

I just don't get it. But I am coming around to the point of view that Cleveland must be a truly wonderful place.

I apologize to Cleveland and all things Clevelenese for my previous negative opinions. Apparently, I was very wrong and Cleveland is a city chock full of great things.

I'm sorry, Cleveland.
Yeah, I was in Cleveland once a long time ago for a baseball game in the early 90s and remember it being a really dreary place. I even remember its moniker as “The mistake by the lake”. (No offense to anyone in/from Cleveland.) This “tourism” video (https://youtu.be/ysmLA5TqbIY) pretty much sums it up.

And just to keep this post on topic…
I think you've got 2 types of CF in this country.

Generic American-Chinese takeout - This is basically the same everywhere, though each place may be good or bad depending on the quality of the management. May also be a sit-down restaurant with or without buffet.

Authentic Chinese Restaurant - These are restaurants specifically trying to capture some aspect of authentic Chinese cuisine, and while they may serve many American-Chinese dishes, they have a wide selection of other dishes you don't see at takeout joints.

You should be able to find an authentic Chinese restaurant in any town that has a vibrant restaurant scene. The trick is to not just order the Pork LoMein, you have to pick the cuisine they're specializing in.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. There’s North American style CF and then there’s authentic CF, which you can usually have in a metropolitan city, or any city with a vibrant Chinese community. Personally, I find NACF to be sweet and/or bland and don’t enjoy it, but whenever I’m in TO, NY, SF or Seattle, I make it a point to visit an authentic-style Chinese restaurant because they’re so good.

There’s a place near Palais Garnier in Paris called the Mandarin Opera that serves a kind of blend of NA and authentic CF, which is really strange. The owners and chefs are Chinese of course, but I think they are limited by the kinds of ingredients they can get in France. I probably wouldn’t visit the place if it was any other city, but when you’re having cheese, foie gras, and charcuterie morning noon and night, it makes for a nice change and a way to reset the palate.

actualliberalnotoneofthose
03-26-2015, 09:51 PM
I've found palatable "Chinese food" in just about every town of 500+ people I've ever been.

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