Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #151  
Old 01-08-2019, 12:19 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Here's the link. (You just linked it to the name of the title.)

Man, that young guy in the middle was annoying as all get-out. Loved the parents/elders. Pretty much how I expected it to go.
Thanks for fixing the link.

BTW, I can't figure out how the guy with the glasses is with that girl! Gives hope to us nerdgeeks.
  #152  
Old 01-08-2019, 12:34 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
My ex's Mom was Hakka, I believe her parents or grandparents were from Guangdong and she would take us to Hakka restaurant here in Hawaii. She said it was the only authentic Hakka restaurant in Hawaii and the food was definitely different (and delicious!) from any Chinese food I've had anywhere else.

Also, when I took a Cantonese language course (just a short intro), the instructor took us to what he said was the only authentic dim sum restaurant serving authentic Hong Kong style dim sum. Again, different from anywhere else I've ever been. Note I didn't say Guangdong style, which I understand is different.
  #153  
Old 01-08-2019, 02:32 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
BTW, yes I know Hong Kong is historically part of Guangdong province, but since it and Macau were under British rule for so long, it's developed it's own unique culture and style, so much so that even mainland China recognizes it as a Special Administrative Region.
  #154  
Old 01-08-2019, 02:41 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Decades ago, a new Chinese restaurant opened near to where I used to live. I don't know where the owners were from, but the style of cooking was different (there was a distinct taste of Chinese wine) from that I was used to and I liked it. Gradually, over the years, I noticed the taste changed to be more generic and closer to what I could get in other restaurants.

On of my favorite places to eat was a hole-in-the-wall place, next door to another hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. They both served almost identical menu items, but they were distinctly different. The owners of the place I liked spoke Cantonese (I believe Hong Kong accent), so I'm assuming they served Hong Kong style cuisine.
  #155  
Old 01-08-2019, 07:21 PM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 14,691
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
As I stated earlier, the issue with "authentic Chinese food" is that there's multiple (100's of millions if you count home cooking) of cuisine in China. Someone from Mainland China may never have had Southern cuisine, even dim sum and vice-versa. Taking a Chinese person to your local Chinese restaurant would be like someone in a foreign country taking you for chitlins and collard greens just because you're from America. Delicious for those from the South who grew up with it, but completely foreign to most Americans, myself included.

Note that in this YouTube video, "Chinese People Try Panda Express For The First Time", that the two older ladies are speaking Mandarin, so likely not from Southern China and I'm 99% sure the husband and wife are speaking Cantonese, so likely from Southern China. Again, two completely different sets of taste. Chinese People Try Panda Express For The First Time

Edit: There are numerous videos of people trying the Americanized versions of their ethnic cuisine, usually with the same results "This isn't real xxx food!"
Well, people sometimes talk about "American food" even though we have 50 states and many variations on food based upon locality. But the term has a meaning, so I'm unsure why we cannot use the term "Chinese food" an attribute a similar meaning.

I wouldn't describe chitlins and collard greens as "American food" even though for the semantic language lawyers out there, it is a dish eaten in some parts of the United States. If someone in France, for example, advertised "authentic American food" and I looked at the menu at it had meatloaf, roast, hamburgers, etc., then I would expect that such food be prepared and taste as it does in Anywhere, USA, even though I understand that those dishes might taste different in different regions of the country.
  #156  
Old 01-09-2019, 07:53 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Posts: 5,015
Here is a YouTube by a guy who was ten years in China and an ex-pat talking about the 'secret menu' I alluded to earlier and how to get more authentic versions of American favorites like egg roll and General Tsao's chicken.
  #157  
Old 01-09-2019, 09:06 AM
Jophiel's Avatar
Jophiel Jophiel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Chicago suburbia
Posts: 18,720
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Man, that young guy in the middle was annoying as all get-out. Loved the parents/elders. Pretty much how I expected it to go.
Felt like the older people were politely trying the food and giving their thoughts whereas the younger people were "We're gonna be on the internet gotta make this look good!" and dramatically overreacting.
  #158  
Old 01-09-2019, 10:45 AM
GargoyleWB's Avatar
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Somewhere cold 'n squishy
Posts: 5,364
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Korean-owned sushi places are actually pretty standard around here, so I’m not surprised.
My favorite sushi place is Korean-run and definitely not traditional japanese style. Their pieces are garishly festooned with every manner of inappropriate garnish and sauce imaginable piled with center of gravity so high that the table wobbles when you lift it to your mouth. I love every nontraditional bite of it.
__________________
"He was shortish. And oldish. And brownish. And mossy. And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy."
  #159  
Old 01-09-2019, 11:16 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,211
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDog View Post
Here is a YouTube by a guy who was ten years in China and an ex-pat talking about the 'secret menu' I alluded to earlier and how to get more authentic versions of American favorites like egg roll and General Tsao's chicken.
There is some truth to that (there are definitely restaurants here in Chicago that have two menus) but I doubt this is anywhere near universal or even common. Reading through the comments on the video, that does seem to be the case. If you live somewhere with a strong Chinese community (or other cultures also sometimes have a separate menu--there's a few Thai restaurants around here that have menus only in Thai that have different items on them than the English menu) this will be more common, but I would doubt this would work in a majority of a random sampling of ma & pop Chinese joints, if simply because a lot of times you will need to have different ingredients on hand, and if you don't have a strong local ethnic clientele, it just doesn't make economic sense to carry those ingredients.

And something just irks me about that guy.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-09-2019 at 11:16 AM.
  #160  
Old 01-09-2019, 12:10 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Well, people sometimes talk about "American food" even though we have 50 states and many variations on food based upon locality. But the term has a meaning, so I'm unsure why we cannot use the term "Chinese food" an attribute a similar meaning.

I wouldn't describe chitlins and collard greens as "American food" even though for the semantic language lawyers out there, it is a dish eaten in some parts of the United States. If someone in France, for example, advertised "authentic American food" and I looked at the menu at it had meatloaf, roast, hamburgers, etc., then I would expect that such food be prepared and taste as it does in Anywhere, USA, even though I understand that those dishes might taste different in different regions of the country.
Meatloaf, roast and hamburgers are prepared in the majority of households and restaurants throughout the U.S., differing in seasonings and prep. But they're still easily recognizable as American staples.

With the possible exception of mein (noodles), fried or boiled, the ingredients of "Chinese food" differs greatly according to region. It's only when you get to to the basics, meat or poultry (seafood is largely limited to the coastlines, no supermarkets in rural areas) and vegetables is there a commonality in "Chinese food". And since these are basic ingredients, it's the sauces, seasoning and prep that gives it, its unique flavor.

In the YouTube video I posted above, the old man (who BTW is speaking Cantonese and likely from Southern China) says "Chinese people don't have egg rolls", doesn't mean it's not made somewhere in China, just that he hasn't had one prepared the way Panda Express did. And of course as has been discussed, Panda Express, PF Chang's and apparently Zimmern's restaurant are a mish-mash of foods from different regions of China. Is it "authentic" Chinese food, possibly (yes, possibly even Panda Express) in the sense that it's sauced, seasoned and prepared in the same way as the food in that region. Is it "authentic" Chinese food in the sense that if you walk into a restaurant in say Shanghai, you'll get the same variety and selection? No.

I have a question for those who say the "Chinese food" they had in a regional restaurant was bad. Was it because it didn't meet your expectation of "Chinese food"? Could the food have truly been "authentic" and just not to your taste?

I'm not poo-pooing the the fusion of ethnic foods (though I draw the line at cold wasabi mash potatoes!), but I wish people would recognize that "Chinese food" is too generic for the multiple regional cuisines in China. This is just as true for any other ethic cuisine (I don't count American food as ethic since it's a mish-mash of multiple cultures and ethic foods). I'm even fine with "American Chinese Food" which more accurately describes what the majority of Chinese restaurants serve.
  #161  
Old 01-09-2019, 12:21 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
There is some truth to that (there are definitely restaurants here in Chicago that have two menus) but I doubt this is anywhere near universal or even common. Reading through the comments on the video, that does seem to be the case. If you live somewhere with a strong Chinese community (or other cultures also sometimes have a separate menu--there's a few Thai restaurants around here that have menus only in Thai that have different items on them than the English menu) this will be more common, but I would doubt this would work in a majority of a random sampling of ma & pop Chinese joints, if simply because a lot of times you will need to have different ingredients on hand, and if you don't have a strong local ethnic clientele, it just doesn't make economic sense to carry those ingredients.

And something just irks me about that guy.
There may not always be two menus, but as I mentioned when I order steamed pork hash with extra harm ha, you can often request changes or additions that aren't offered on the menu.

As for extra ingredients, particularly sauces, oils and spices, there are maybe a dozen of those that goes into the majority of "Chinese" (I put it in quotes to emphasize the numerous variations of Chinese cuisine) cooking. Watch a show featuring a Chinese chef and you'll see about a dozen containers of sauces, oils and spices. It's the combination and quantities of these ingredients that makes the dishes taste different.

See, I learned something from my thread about 'layering flavors'!
  #162  
Old 01-09-2019, 12:48 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,211
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
There may not always be two menus, but as I mentioned when I order steamed pork hash with extra harm ha, you can often request changes or additions that aren't offered on the menu.

As for extra ingredients, particularly sauces, oils and spices, there are maybe a dozen of those that goes into the majority of "Chinese" (I put it in quotes to emphasize the numerous variations of Chinese cuisine) cooking. Watch a show featuring a Chinese chef and you'll see about a dozen containers of sauces, oils and spices. It's the combination and quantities of these ingredients that makes the dishes taste different.

See, I learned something from my thread about 'layering flavors'!
Yeah, but the guy there is ordering stuff like "sour cabbage fish soup." I really, really doubt that my down-the-block American-Chinese place is going to have the ingredients for that.

I mean, just read the comments. People have tried this "hack" and been left mostly disappointed. Yes, if you ask for a rearrangement of ingredients, they'll accomodate you. I've done this in Italian and Mexican restaurants, not just Chinese. One day I was in the mood for a puttanesca, and the restaurant didn't have it on the menu. So I asked them. They obliged. There's nothing odd about that. But I think the Youtuber is overselling it a bit here at how much is possible.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-09-2019 at 12:53 PM.
  #163  
Old 01-09-2019, 12:49 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: In the Dreaming
Posts: 24,181
For a very long time, due to racist anti-Chinese immigration policies, one of the very few ways for Chinese to immigrate to the USA (at all) was to work in Chinese restaurants. To be successful, those restaurants had to make food that Americans would eat. No, the vast majority of it was NOT authentic Chinese food. It was bastardized, changed versions that Americans would eat and dishes invented in other American 'Chinese' restaurants.

Now we have "Chinese" food in America that is entirely American in nature and Chinese in name only. But you can't really explain that or sell it as such to your average person, so the labels remain.

Bashing the entire industry for not being "authentic" is epic stupid. It is authentic to what it is.

Edit: Just be glad there's good stuff out there today. In my youth and before, many were "chop suey restaurants" and horrible Americanized "Chop Suey" was about all you could buy in a store.
__________________
Tentatively and lightly dipping my toes back in the water.

Last edited by Chimera; 01-09-2019 at 12:51 PM.
  #164  
Old 01-09-2019, 01:39 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
LOL. I remember when Chun King chow mein (which is think is still around) in a can was Chinese food for a lot of people. And I suspect Chef Boy Ardee spaghetti is Italian food to some!
  #165  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:45 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,211
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
LOL. I remember when Chun King chow mein (which is think is still around) in a can was Chinese food for a lot of people.
Somehow, I never heard of it (La Choy is the brand I'm familiar with), and it looks like the brand was eventually phased out in the late 90s.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-09-2019 at 04:46 PM.
  #166  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:54 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,211
Speaking of chow mein, I'm going to ask a really stupid question. I've never ordered chow mein at a Chinese-American place. Lo mein, yes. Chow mein, no. Part of it is because when I see the chow mein noodles in the store, they're these crispy deep-fried noodles.

Is that what chow mein is? Does it get cooked so the noodles get soft? It looks like something that is supposed to remain crispy. When I google pictures of "chow mein" it just looks like normal soft stir fried noodles, so what is this bag of La Choy stuff? Though, now looking a little more online, it does seem that chow mein is supposed to be cooked to the crispy stage. What's the deal here?
  #167  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:56 PM
jayarrell jayarrell is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 45
I think what irks me the most about Zimmern's comments was the slam against Philip Chiang:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Zimmern
Because, despite how he looks on the outside, he’s a rich, American kid on the inside, right?
I'm not offended that he's opened a Chinese style restaurant. I don't know if other Chinese Americans feel this way, but I get really annoyed when someone essentially calls me a banana.

If he had just put out a release saying how he had partnered with Alex Ong of Betelnut (awesome restaurant, I miss it) to create fusion/regional Chinese cuisine I doubt it would have created as much controversy.
  #168  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:22 PM
jayarrell jayarrell is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Speaking of chow mein, I'm going to ask a really stupid question. I've never ordered chow mein at a Chinese-American place. Lo mein, yes. Chow mein, no. Part of it is because when I see the chow mein noodles in the store, they're these crispy deep-fried noodles.

Is that what chow mein is? Does it get cooked so the noodles get soft? It looks like something that is supposed to remain crispy. When I google pictures of "chow mein" it just looks like normal soft stir fried noodles, so what is this bag of La Choy stuff? Though, now looking a little more online, it does seem that chow mein is supposed to be cooked to the crispy stage. What's the deal here?
I'm probably going to get this wrong, but it refers to different techniques
Lo Mein = Tossed Noodle
Chow Mein = Fried Noodle

Where I live (SF Bay Area), chow mein is noodles that are stir fried a bit first then the toppings are mixed in or layered on top. Lo mein is not often used here but technically I think it's a style where the noodles are mixed with the toppings at the end of the cooking process (not really stir fried).

The closest style I can think of to the La Choy stuff here on the West Coast would be Hong Kong Style Chow Mein where the noodles are deep fried first, then the topping is placed on top of the noodles.

Growing up my family would make the pan fried version of the noodle; kind of like making a noodle hash brown, then mixing the topping in.

Also, if you are in the US, there's a slight East Coast/West Coast regional difference between lo mein and chow mein.

This link kind of describes the difference between lo mein and chow mein: http://www.thespruceeats.com/lo-mein...ow-mein-694238

The chow mein wiki page also goes into the regional differences a bit.

Last edited by jayarrell; 01-09-2019 at 05:23 PM.
  #169  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:23 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Somehow, I never heard of it (La Choy is the brand I'm familiar with), and it looks like the brand was eventually phased out in the late 90s.
The strange tale of Chun King Chow Mein.

It was invented by an American of Italian descent named Jeno Paulucci in the 1940's. He went to make Jeno's frozen pizza and pizza rolls!

https://culinarylore.com/food-histor...ing-chow-mein/

The Chun King brand was sold to R.J. Reynolds in 1966 and passed through a couple of mergers and buyouts until ending up at Hunt-Wesson who made La Choy products in 1995 who finally put the name to rest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chun_King
  #170  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:44 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
My ex's Dad would let me have honor of making chow mein during bai san (ching ming), the annual festival of honoring the ancestors. One year I put in too much broth and he joked that I was making lo mein instead of chow mein (which is supposed to dry). So yes, to my understanding chow mein is dry stir fried noodles and lo mein is usually dry or fried noodles with a gravy/sauce on it.

FWIW, the noodles at get at Panda Express and most fast food Chinese places if called chow mein.

I never had the puffed fried noodles like those in the Chun King / La Choy Chow Mein, though I've seen it in the market. I suspect it's an offshoot of the packaged ramen technique which is also lightly deep fried to give a longer shelf life. Fresh Chinese noodles go bad within days.

I think it was on Food TV's Unwrapped that featured the La Choy Chow Mein in one of the episodes.

The closet thing I've had to it is cake noodles, which I just found out is possibly unique to Hawaii, or at least not authentic Chinese from any province. It's really thin noodles (lo mein?) that is formed in a 1/2" circle and pan fried so the outside is crispy and the middle stays soft. It's always served with something that has a sauce or gravy as it's too dry and hard to eat alone.

Last edited by lingyi; 01-09-2019 at 05:46 PM.
  #171  
Old 01-09-2019, 06:06 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the 'chow' in chow mein means to fry (in a wok). So chow mein = fried wheat noodles and chow funn = fried rice noodles. So if you go to Chinatown and ask a noodle shop for chow mein or chow funn you'll get an odd look, though chow mein noodles or chow funn noodles (though redundant) usually gets the point across.
  #172  
Old 01-10-2019, 08:05 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Southeast Michigan, USA
Posts: 10,889
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
For a very long time, due to racist anti-Chinese immigration policies, one of the very few ways for Chinese to immigrate to the USA (at all) was to work in Chinese restaurants. To be successful, those restaurants had to make food that Americans would eat. No, the vast majority of it was NOT authentic Chinese food. It was bastardized, changed versions that Americans would eat and dishes invented in other American 'Chinese' restaurants.
This reminds me, for some reason, of Chinese Lemon Chicken. You know, the quintessential Chinese-American dish that’s ubiquitous at Chinese carryouts and Chinese buffets. It’s batter-fried chicken, some veggies, and a lemon-starch sauce with a bit of sugar that gives a nice sweet and sour tang to the mouth. Definitely a type of “Chinese” food that the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t object to.

The best lemon chicken I’ve ever had in my life was a small restaurant at the bottom of the Yellow Mountain. It was completely authentic, well made, properly balanced, and delicious. The menu was only in Chinese, but my coworkers told me the name of the dish from the menu: “American Chicken.”
  #173  
Old 01-10-2019, 09:02 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 14,691
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
For a very long time, due to racist anti-Chinese immigration policies, one of the very few ways for Chinese to immigrate to the USA (at all) was to work in Chinese restaurants. To be successful, those restaurants had to make food that Americans would eat. No, the vast majority of it was NOT authentic Chinese food. It was bastardized, changed versions that Americans would eat and dishes invented in other American 'Chinese' restaurants.

Now we have "Chinese" food in America that is entirely American in nature and Chinese in name only. But you can't really explain that or sell it as such to your average person, so the labels remain.

Bashing the entire industry for not being "authentic" is epic stupid. It is authentic to what it is.

Edit: Just be glad there's good stuff out there today. In my youth and before, many were "chop suey restaurants" and horrible Americanized "Chop Suey" was about all you could buy in a store.
I think that is the point. American Chinese food resembles nothing that you would actually get in China, and there is nothing wrong with that.

So along comes a guy who opens a restaurant claiming that he will serve "authentic" Chinese food. Whether he has or will do so successfully, or even if the term cannot be defined because there is no generic "Chinese" food is not the point. It is also possible that very few Americans would enjoy dishes as they are prepared in China, but again that is not the point.

The point is that like many entrepreneurs, he has found what he believes to be a gap in the market and advertising that his food is the real deal---not like that fake shit you get everywhere else. Now you, or anyone else, are free to go to his restaurant and voice your disagreement by saying that this is not authentic Chinese food or that there is no such thing as authentic Chinese food. You can post a negative Yelp review and tell everyone to go to the American Chinese places. You can refuse to go or anything in between.

The term "authentic" is sufficiently vague enough to be puffery and have enough meanings to where nobody could really say his claim is false.

It seems to me that what he is doing is little different than any other person promoting his product, save perhaps that he is a bit more aggressive that others. Just like anyone else, he may fall flat on his ass and lose a bunch of money; or he might be successful. I don't understand why he is being excoriated for it.

Last edited by UltraVires; 01-10-2019 at 09:03 AM.
  #174  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:10 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar View Post
This reminds me, for some reason, of Chinese Lemon Chicken. You know, the quintessential Chinese-American dish that’s ubiquitous at Chinese carryouts and Chinese buffets. It’s batter-fried chicken, some veggies, and a lemon-starch sauce with a bit of sugar that gives a nice sweet and sour tang to the mouth. Definitely a type of “Chinese” food that the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t object to.

The best lemon chicken I’ve ever had in my life was a small restaurant at the bottom of the Yellow Mountain. It was completely authentic, well made, properly balanced, and delicious. The menu was only in Chinese, but my coworkers told me the name of the dish from the menu: “American Chicken.”
Huh. Somehow, I have never heard of this lemon chicken. Will have to try next time. I looked, and of the four Chinese places in my neighborhood, two serve it, and two don't, so perhaps that's why I've never had it. Orange chicken, yes. Lemon chicken--this is new to me, and it sounds pretty good. (Yeah, and the place my parents order from -- which is when I usually have Chinese takeout food, doesn't have it, either.)'

I think even American Chinese food is somewhat regional. Is "kow" as in "vegetable kow" and "beef kow" ubiquitous in Chinese takeouts? Seems super common here, but I rarely hear references to it from people from the coasts.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-10-2019 at 11:14 AM.
  #175  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:48 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker kayaker is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 30,635
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
I think even American Chinese food is somewhat regional. Is "kow" as in "vegetable kow" and "beef kow" ubiquitous in Chinese takeouts? Seems super common here, but I rarely hear references to it from people from the coasts.
I've never seen it (western Pennsylvania).
  #176  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:51 AM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Another tale of a restaurant falling from authentic (at far as I know) to generic.

About 20 years ago, I found a Mexican restaurant close to where I worked. They had just opened a few weeks prior and when I walked in, I said to the owner "Wow, this place looks authentic.", to which she replied: "It is, I even have real Mexican cooks" and pointed to the two guys in the open kitchen. They smiled and waved at me and I smiled and waved back. I loved the food and ate there at least a couple of times a week for the few months I worked at that location.

I visited on and off for the next ten years when I was in the area and the food was great as always. I always saw the same two guys in the kitchen. Then the last time I visited about ten years ago, the decorations were the same, but the food was different and not in a good way. It was far more generic, closer to what I could get at a Del Taco and the kicker was the salsa had almost no flavor except for the ton of black pepper in it. I asked the waitress why there was so much black pepper (while thinking why it was even there in the first place) and she said that was what the new chef liked. I looked in the kitchen and there were still the two guys, but someone else also. That explained it. I've never been back there since.

Last edited by lingyi; 01-10-2019 at 11:53 AM.
  #177  
Old 01-11-2019, 12:22 AM
China Guy China Guy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 11,475
There may or may not be a Chinese language menu that's different. I just talk with the waitstaff in Chinese if they have this, or can do that, or what they recommend. It may not always be on the English language menu.
  #178  
Old 01-19-2019, 11:07 PM
bmoak bmoak is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,195
I’m hoping I’m not basing this on nostalgia, but I think that the Chinese food I was eating growing up (late 70s to late 80s) was better. Granted, I grew up in a much larger town than where live now, which was close enough to New York City that our family would go to Chinatown every few months.

My hometown had three or four takeout Chinese restaurants that were in our “neighborhood” (still bigger than the town I now live in in upstate NY) and several “nice” sit-down Chinese restaurants were in the area. There were were very Asians in my town, so these places were not catering to a Chinese clientele (I.e. no secret Chinese-only menu)

The sit-down restaurants had tablecloths, bound menus, nice decor and were spacious. Two of them dated from the Hawaiian/Polynesian craze of the 60s, so they basically had Cantonese menus with a few add-ons such as pu-pu platters, plus *gasp* a tiki bar and other Polynesian decor. One of the places was “Lee’s Hawaiian Islander” and the other was “The Pu-Pu Inn”. The other places were either Cantonese or Mandarin. There was a place called Hunan Something-Or-Other , but that was kind of out of the way.

You could get your basic Chinese food like lo mein and fried rice, just like the take-out places, but the sit-down places had more specialty dishes, more seafood, and more luxurious (but not exotic) ingredients like lobster, scallops, and duck.

Was it AUTHENTIC? With pu-pu platters and lemon chicken, I would say no. However, I would certainly say they were BETTER than the buffet options I have available to me now.

I could be nostalgic, but I think the takeout options were better in my old hometown as well. There was enough difference between the local places that if we wanted, say, moo shu pork, we’d go to one place because their version was better. Because the Chinese restaurant supply chain wasn’t as established and monolithic as it is now, the local places had to a make a lot more stuff from scratch. I’d walk by a place before they opened for lunch and staff would be at a table making dumplings. Granted, being close enough to make regular supply runs to NYC helped a lot.
  #179  
Old 01-19-2019, 11:16 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 34,724
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
I long for the day when a public figure can voice an opinion without having to apologize for it 24 hours later.


mmm
Why should public figures be immune from criticism if they say something that deserves to be criticized?

Is it only public figures that should get this immunity or should everyone be protected in this way?
  #180  
Old 01-19-2019, 11:34 PM
bmoak bmoak is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,195
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayarrell View Post
I think what irks me the most about Zimmern's comments was the slam against Philip Chiang:

I'm not offended that he's opened a Chinese style restaurant. I don't know if other Chinese Americans feel this way, but I get really annoyed when someone essentially calls me a banana.

If he had just put out a release saying how he had partnered with Alex Ong of Betelnut (awesome restaurant, I miss it) to create fusion/regional Chinese cuisine I doubt it would have created as much controversy.
It's an especially douche things to say because Phillip Chiang's mother, chef/restauranteur Cecilia Chiang, was one of the grand dames of Chinese cooking in America. Her restaurant, The Mandarin, was featured in Paul Freedman's "Ten Restaurants That Changed America".
  #181  
Old 01-20-2019, 08:57 AM
bmoak bmoak is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,195
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jophiel View Post
He's not bringing "good Chinese" to the towns of 7,000 people though -- he's setting up shop in Minneapolis with 3.6 million people in its metro area. Which isn't New York City but it's not Podunk, Nowhere either. I'm going to guess that the Minneapolis area already has a couple decent Chinese food joints or at least as good as what his menu suggests.
Yeah, but this is supposed to be the starting point of a chain, which I presume is going to expand into smaller cities at some point.
  #182  
Old 01-20-2019, 01:47 PM
bmoak bmoak is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,195
Only tangential to the OP, I think that the rise of cheap Chinese buffet, while certainly popular, has done a lot of harm to the perception of Chinese food outside of major metropolitan areas or areas with large Chinese populations.

Outside of those two areas, the buffet has largely has become the dominant model for sit-down Chinese options, and in large areas of America, the sit-down Chinese option is either a) buffet b) P.F. Chang’s or c) Panda Express/mall food court.

The dominance of the take-out/buffet model for Chinese restaurants have kind of locked Chinese food into the cheap/value niche of restaurants in America, maybe just a cut above fast food, and Chinese restaurants that compete compete on price points often suffer.

Way back in the day, the Chinese chop-suey joint and the Italian spaghetti house both occupied the same niche. They were cheap ethnic eats that had to Americanize their menus to survive. However, Italian restaurants have moved up from that rung to cover everything from the pizza place to fine dining, even outside of big cities.

Chinese restaurants were starting to climb off that bottom rung in the 60s and 70s, with the openings of larger, more elegant restaurants and moving into to regional Chinese such as Hunan and Szechuan. However, the buffet boom has really put the brakes on that, and locked Chinese restaurants into competing primarily on a price/volume continuum, an obligated to keep serving the same dishes that appeal to the customer base that is drawn to the low-price/big-portion model.

Meanwhile, as I posted above, restaurants with other Asian cuisines, are spreading into my neck of the woods and are providing better food than most Chinese buffets or Chinese takeouts can provide. Since people are around here have less expectations of what Thai or Vietnamese or Indian or Korean food should be, the chefs/owners can present food that is less skewed to perceptions of what Americans will eat.
While a lot of these places are inexpensive, they are still not as cheap as Chinese food, and are starting to open more restaurants in a higher price range. I can get family members and friends to try and eat at these places, but I have a hard time getting them to try Chinese restaurants that are not a) cheap and b) resolutely Chinese-American.
  #183  
Old 01-20-2019, 02:29 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 14,117
I'm not convinced that buffet restaurants have made Chinese restaurants worse in the U.S. I'm not even convinced that there are hugely more buffet restaurants among Chinese restaurants in the U.S. or that they are worse on average than the not-very-good Chinese restaurants they replaced. As you point out, bmoak, you grew up in an area with better Chinese restaurants than where you now live. In fact, I suspect that you grew up in an area where restaurants in general are better than where you now live. I suspect that what you're observing is that many of those not-very-good Chinese restaurants out in the places where Chinese restaurants (and restaurants in general) aren't very good decided that it was more profitable to change to being buffet restaurants. It may also be true that other types of restaurants also changed to being buffet restaurants (but still serving their own cuisine) because it was more profitable to change to being buffet restaurants. It may then be that not-very-good restaurants in general have decided that if they can't be very good, then they might as well just try to be profitable.

The problem in making this claim is that to check it, it would take someone who has lived a single area for many decades, who was willing to try many restaurants every year, and who can make an objective claim about the overall quality of Chinese restaurants in that area. Furthermore, for every area in the U.S., it would take at least one person in that area who is able to do that. I doubt if it's possible to do that. I don't see how it's possible to get an objective account of the quality of all the Chinese restaurants in every area of the U.S.
  #184  
Old 01-20-2019, 03:47 PM
nightshadea nightshadea is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: a condo in hell 10th lvl
Posts: 4,257
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmoak View Post
I’m hoping I’m not basing this on nostalgia, but I think that the Chinese food I was eating growing up (late 70s to late 80s) was better. Granted, I grew up in a much larger town than where live now, which was close enough to New York City that our family would go to Chinatown every few months.

My hometown had three or four takeout Chinese restaurants that were in our “neighborhood” (still bigger than the town I now live in in upstate NY) and several “nice” sit-down Chinese restaurants were in the area. There were were very Asians in my town, so these places were not catering to a Chinese clientele (I.e. no secret Chinese-only menu)

The sit-down restaurants had tablecloths, bound menus, nice decor and were spacious. Two of them dated from the Hawaiian/Polynesian craze of the 60s, so they basically had Cantonese menus with a few add-ons such as pu-pu platters, plus *gasp* a tiki bar and other Polynesian decor. One of the places was “Lee’s Hawaiian Islander” and the other was “The Pu-Pu Inn”. The other places were either Cantonese or Mandarin. There was a place called Hunan Something-Or-Other , but that was kind of out of the way.

You could get your basic Chinese food like lo mein and fried rice, just like the take-out places, but the sit-down places had more specialty dishes, more seafood, and more luxurious (but not exotic) ingredients like lobster, scallops, and duck.

Was it AUTHENTIC? With pu-pu platters and lemon chicken, I would say no. However, I would certainly say they were BETTER than the buffet options I have available to me now.

I could be nostalgic, but I think the takeout options were better in my old hometown as well. There was enough difference between the local places that if we wanted, say, moo shu pork, we’d go to one place because their version was better. Because the Chinese restaurant supply chain wasn’t as established and monolithic as it is now, the local places had to a make a lot more stuff from scratch. I’d walk by a place before they opened for lunch and staff would be at a table making dumplings. Granted, being close enough to make regular supply runs to NYC helped a lot.
that description was my favorite restaurant "mandarin gate" they had take out and delivery even lunch buffet and monogolian bbq and a huge menu and a bar from the 50s (along with the ww2 era bartender who knew how make all the tiki drinks) and they disappeared one day

Now all ive seen open is the mall/store front places that change owners every year or so and get worse each time aka "Chinese mcdonalds" also kari-out dosent do anyone any favors quality wise either

And FYI lemon chicken is no different than orange chicken ….just made with slightly sweetened lemon syrup I mean sauce poured over a chicken pattie or over a chicken tempura type of thing
  #185  
Old 01-20-2019, 04:00 PM
bmoak bmoak is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,195
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
I'm not convinced that buffet restaurants have made Chinese restaurants worse in the U.S. I'm not even convinced that there are hugely more buffet restaurants among Chinese restaurants in the U.S. or that they are worse on average than the not-very-good Chinese restaurants they replaced. As you point out, bmoak, you grew up in an area with better Chinese restaurants than where you now live. In fact, I suspect that you grew up in an area where restaurants in general are better than where you now live. I suspect that what you're observing is that many of those not-very-good Chinese restaurants out in the places where Chinese restaurants (and restaurants in general) aren't very good decided that it was more profitable to change to being buffet restaurants. It may also be true that other types of restaurants also changed to being buffet restaurants (but still serving their own cuisine) because it was more profitable to change to being buffet restaurants. It may then be that not-very-good restaurants in general have decided that if they can't be very good, then they might as well just try to be profitable.
While I agree the comparisons in my posts in this thread between where I live now and my hometown are somewhat like comparing apples to oranges, but here are a few mitigating factors.

-While my hometown is much bigger than where I live now, I did mention in this thread that I can get to large towns and cities if I want to drive an hour or so, and these places are at least as large and cosmopolitan as my hometown in NJ. The options for other Asian food are good, but the Chinese restaurants are still mostly limited to cookie-cutter takeout or buffet.

-I've been back to or through my hometown numerous times, and while I don't eat go there to eat Chinese food, I notice that while there are more Chinese restaurants, the only non-takeout places I saw were buffets. The better quality sit-down places of my youth are long gone. One place I do go back to when I'm in the area, a Peruvian-Chinese place that opened and I sued to go to just before I moved away, has much better Chinese food than the Chinese place across the street, although the Chinese menu is limited and I usually eat Peruvian food there.

-While I've talked about buffets being a bad influence on Chinese food in America, perhaps more important is something I mentioned earlier in the thread: the standardization of Chinese restaurants by wholesaler syndicates that supply everything from menus to signage to foodstuffs. A lot of the newer generations of Chinese restaurants are basically chain restaurants in all but name.
  #186  
Old 01-20-2019, 04:20 PM
nightshadea nightshadea is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: a condo in hell 10th lvl
Posts: 4,257
hence my statement that kari out and theres another place that almost everyone gets their sauces ect from hasn't done anyone any favors quality wise
  #187  
Old 01-20-2019, 04:32 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: the extreme center
Posts: 30,944
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmoak View Post
Only tangential to the OP, I think that the rise of cheap Chinese buffet, while certainly popular, has done a lot of harm to the perception of Chinese food outside of major metropolitan areas or areas with large Chinese populations.

Outside of those two areas, the buffet has largely has become the dominant model for sit-down Chinese options, and in large areas of America, the sit-down Chinese option is either a) buffet b) P.F. Chang’s or c) Panda Express/mall food court.
This must be some kind of regional variation.

The dominant Chinese food place around here (medium-to-large-sized Midwestern city) is the sort of small dine-in/takeout restaurant I grew up with long ago in a borough of NYC.* We also sometimes patronize a fancier Chinese and Thai place a few miles away. There's at least one Chinese buffet around here somewhere but I've never been to it.

*there was one joint ancient enough that it had once been called "The New Republic" in honor of Sun Yat-Sen. I still remember the childhood joy of riding home in the car with my father, holding a large sack of hot, fragrant Chinese takeout food.
  #188  
Old 01-20-2019, 08:00 PM
doreen doreen is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Woodhaven,Queens, NY
Posts: 5,924
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
This must be some kind of regional variation.

The dominant Chinese food place around here (medium-to-large-sized Midwestern city) is the sort of small dine-in/takeout restaurant I grew up with long ago in a borough of NYC.* We also sometimes patronize a fancier Chinese and Thai place a few miles away. There's at least one Chinese buffet around here somewhere but I've never been to it.
There's probably some regional variation, but the sit-down Chinese restaurants that existed in my NYC youth are basically gone. Of course, there are still sit-down restaurants in Chinese neighborhoods, but those are different from the ones I'm talking about. When I was a kid, there were sit-down restaurants with wait staff and bartenders. If you wanted to order takeout, you would order it at the bar or with the hostess. Now, the only sit down-restaurants outside of the Chinese neighborhoods are buffets. The other option is take-out places that might have 2 tables right next to the window where you can eat from your takeout container. Like this
  #189  
Old 01-21-2019, 12:55 AM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
I suspect that most non-Chinese kids in this generation wouldn't know 'real' Chinese food if they were served it. "This isn't what they serve at Panda Express!".

Chain restaurants like Pizza Hut and Papa Johns have taken pizza so far from it's origins that I don't know what a pizza is anymore! Ironically, I suspect the pizza I got at Woolworths in the 60's and 70's with a thin, slightly burnt crust, plain tomato sauce, oregano and mozzarella was probably closer to the original pizza than anything I can easily get today. Same with Taco Bell which vaguely resembles the Mexican food I used to enjoy at Cha Cha Cha Salsaria here in Hawaii.
  #190  
Old 01-21-2019, 01:55 AM
D'Anconia D'Anconia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 4,189
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
BTW, yes I know Hong Kong is historically part of Guangdong province, but since it and Macau were under British rule for so long, it's developed it's own unique culture and style, so much so that even mainland China recognizes it as a Special Administrative Region.
When was Macau under British rule?
  #191  
Old 01-21-2019, 04:12 AM
Ronald Raygun Ronald Raygun is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 111
Hell, there's a Cantonese place near me that sells Mapo Tofu, a Sichuan dish. It's been altered for Cantonese palates, and it tastes much different than what you'd get at a Sichuan restaurant ten miles away from us.

My father (who is Cantonese) and I went to western China about fifteen years ago, and he couldn't eat the food there.
  #192  
Old 01-21-2019, 05:27 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 14,117
Do kids today (I assume you really mean something like people in their late teens or early twenties) really think that Pizza Hut is authentic Italian food or that Taco Bell is authentic Mexican food or that Panda Express is authentic Chinese food or do they really think that it's obviously just American food vaguely influenced by Italian, Mexican, and Chinese food?
  #193  
Old 01-21-2019, 09:35 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Raygun View Post
Hell, there's a Cantonese place near me that sells Mapo Tofu, a Sichuan dish. It's been altered for Cantonese palates, and it tastes much different than what you'd get at a Sichuan restaurant ten miles away from us.
Heh. Same thing happened to me last year. The Chinese take-out my parents order from is your basic American-Chinese/Cantonese influenced take-out. I was excited when I noticed they had ma po tofu on the menu. Ma po tofu, at least served the way I get them at Sichuan restaurants in Chinatown here in Chicago, is one of my favorite dishes, and I am not generally a tofu eater. What I got from this take-out place ... I have no idea what it was. It was just gloppy tofu served in an overly cornstarch-thickened sauce, with little spice, no taste of sichuan peppercorns (so no signature ma la), no chile oil, etc. They did at least have ground pork in it, but it was such a muted dish compared to what I was used to.
  #194  
Old 01-21-2019, 10:37 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Do kids today (I assume you really mean something like people in their late teens or early twenties) really think that Pizza Hut is authentic Italian food or that Taco Bell is authentic Mexican food or that Panda Express is authentic Chinese food or do they really think that it's obviously just American food vaguely influenced by Italian, Mexican, and Chinese food?
Edit: Double Post

Last edited by lingyi; 01-21-2019 at 10:41 PM.
  #195  
Old 01-21-2019, 10:40 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Do kids today (I assume you really mean something like people in their late teens or early twenties) really think that Pizza Hut is authentic Italian food or that Taco Bell is authentic Mexican food or that Panda Express is authentic Chinese food or do they really think that it's obviously just American food vaguely influenced by Italian, Mexican, and Chinese food?
If they've never been exposed to the real thing, how would they know otherwise? I told the story about a guy (who admittedly was very sheltered by his Mom) who thought Taco Bell was real Mexican food and refused to follow me into a Del Taco (which is at least a step above Taco Bell) because he didn't understand the concept of not having a preset menu for him. He also thought Pizza Hut was real authentic pizza, because he never had anything else.

Ironically, he loved dinuguan (a traditional Filipino dish made with pork and pig's blood), but only the one his Auntie made, not anyone else's. There are as many variations as there are cooks. So at least he knew what at least one traditional Filipino dish was (he was 1/2 Filipino on his Mom's side).
  #196  
Old 01-21-2019, 11:26 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
Elephant Whisperer
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posts: 40,486
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
BTW, yes I know Hong Kong is historically part of Guangdong province, but since it and Macau were under British rule for so long, it's developed it's own unique culture and style, so much so that even mainland China recognizes it as a Special Administrative Region.
Quote:
Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
When was Macau under British rule?
Just to be clear, Macau was never under British rule. It was under Portuguese rule and handed over almost 2-1/2 years after Britain handed over Hong Kong.
__________________
Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions.
  #197  
Old 01-21-2019, 11:36 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
Just to be clear, Macau was never under British rule. It was under Portuguese rule and handed over almost 2-1/2 years after Britain handed over Hong Kong.
Duh...of course. I even knew that. Brain fart!
  #198  
Old 01-22-2019, 06:54 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 14,117
lingyi, you assume that the default belief is that any food they try for the first time is authentic example of the food of the foreign country it supposedly comes from. Perhaps the default belief is that any food they try for the first time is just American food that long ago may have been inspired by the food of some foreign country. I don't know which belief is more common.
  #199  
Old 01-22-2019, 07:40 AM
CelticKnot CelticKnot is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: BackHome again in Indiana
Posts: 870
Food is regional, not national, and tastes are individual. To condemn one or the other on generalization is unnecessary.

I have had Chinese on the East Coast, the West Coast, in many places in flyover country, and in the Western Pacific. It can be either good or bad, but it's always different.

I have never seen Prickly Ash sauce on the mainland US. Has anyone? Where?
  #200  
Old 01-22-2019, 07:52 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,211
Quote:
Originally Posted by CelticKnot View Post
I have never seen Prickly Ash sauce on the mainland US. Has anyone? Where?
What is prickly ash sauce? Googling isn't helping me out. I mean, we have lots of places that use prickly ash (which we call Sichuan peppercorns, usually) in their sauces, but I've always seen it in combination with Chinese red chile peppers for that ma la flavor. (Also, it should be noted that Sichuan peppercorns were banned in the US up until about fifteen years ago, due to some agricultural thing. I seem to recall there was a risk that it could carry some kind of plant disease.)
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:39 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017