Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #101  
Old 01-02-2019, 10:00 AM
ISiddiqui is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Decatur, Georgia, USA
Posts: 6,480
Quote:
Originally Posted by enalzi View Post
Here's the menu for his restaurant:
https://luckycricket.net/dinner/

Seems pretty similar to every other semi-upscale (as in one step above takeout Orange Chicken) Chinese restaurant out there. Also, it has pretty mediocre reviews, but not sure how many of those are just from review bombing after this came out.
Not to mention there is a freaking TIKI BAR in the restaurant. What was that about authentic Chinese food?
  #102  
Old 01-02-2019, 10:34 AM
Mama Zappa is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 12,088
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
My brother spent a little over a year living in China. According to him, what we think of as "Chinese Restaurants" are not what exist in China as "Restaurants".
We've hosted students from China several times and taken them to our local Chinese place, and there was little on the menu that they'd have gotten to eat at home. We knew this - but figured they'd enjoy seeing American "Chinese" food. The staff also got a kick out of seeing the students and talking to them (it's a family run place, been around for 30+ years, and many of the staff are natives of China, though I don't know what part).

I also had a meal from a place in a small town in Vermont this past week. It was walking distance from where we were staying, and as we walked past it, I glanced in and wasn't impressed. But someone we talked with the next day recommended it, so we went in - and I think my first impression was spot-on. We got several standard dishes. The hot&sour soup was bad - second worst I've ever had: not hot, not sour, and roughly the consistency of Elmer's Glue (the worst I ever had was near home, and was all of the above + **burnt**). The chicken dish I had was edible if unexciting. The dumplings were probably OK - my daughter devoured them before I could try one. She also wolfed down her lo mein without comment.

But, while we were waiting for our takeout order, a group of people came in, sat down, and ordered - and they were speaking Chinese (I think; I don't speak the language but I thought I caught "shieh-shieh"). They may have been from a nearby youth hostel.

It's quite possible that the place was making dishes the way locals wanted them. Maybe when it's that cold out you WANT soup that literally sticks to your ribs .

Any food evolves when it goes to a new country. I'm reasonably sure that people in Italy eat things other than spaghetti, pizza, and chicken parmegiana, and I'd bet their everyday versions of those don't bear much resemblance to what we get in the US.

Zimmern can get bent. I've been to very few restaurants that had anything remotely "authentic" on the menu - usually these are places that do dim sum (it's how we accidentally tried chicken feet, for example). But you can adapt your dishes to serve the local preferences, and the results can be done well or badly even allowing for local preferences. Most "Chinese" restaurants are perfectly competent at what they do.
  #103  
Old 01-02-2019, 10:43 AM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
But you can adapt your dishes to serve the local preferences, and the results can be done well or badly even allowing for local preferences. Most "Chinese" restaurants are perfectly competent at what they do.
Here's the type of menu you'll see at my favorite types of places.

It'll have a mix of some of familiar food to your average take-out Chinese diner (pot stickers, spring rolls, crab rangoon, hot and sour soup, fried rice, orange chicken, sweet & sour pork) and more "exotic" Chinese fare (green peppercorn frog, tofu and pork blood cake, sea cucumber with sour pickle chili, pig ear szechuan style, double cooked spicy pork intestine, etc.) My favorite there is the Szechuan Boiled Beef (shuizhu niurou) and the lamb cumin. Of the odder bits, the sliced beef and maw (stomach) szechuan style is delicious.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-02-2019 at 10:46 AM.
  #104  
Old 01-02-2019, 11:16 AM
wolfman is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 10,800
My god, that is the largest menu I have ever seen at any type of restaurant, it's like 500 items.
  #105  
Old 01-02-2019, 11:24 AM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman View Post
My god, that is the largest menu I have ever seen at any type of restaurant, it's like 500 items.
Chinese restaurants, from my experience, are notorious about having everything and anything on the menu. If you click back up to my earlier link, the proprietor of Xi'an Famous Foods in New York talks about this, and how it's a point of pride. ETA: Here's the link at 3:10, so you don't have to dig in the thread. (Plus this link is cued up a little earlier to where my last link was cued.)

(And I'm not sure Lao Sze Chuan has anywhere near 500 items--but it's surely over a hundred.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-02-2019 at 11:28 AM.
  #106  
Old 01-02-2019, 11:31 AM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,547
Looking at the online menu, it is over 200 items, but also remember that many of the items are just variations of similar items.
  #107  
Old 01-02-2019, 11:40 AM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by Merneith View Post
I remember him loving taco rice in Okinawa.
"Taco rice," you say! Never heard of this. Well, I know what we're having for dinner tonight! And looks like it practically takes no effort to make. Perfect for a lazy Wednesday before the kids start back up at school and the madness continues tomorrow.
  #108  
Old 01-02-2019, 11:57 AM
txjim is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 315
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
I agree. Especially when compared to my personal local favorite:

https://jengchirestaurant.com/menu/

(snip)
My favorite as well. It's accessible for the unadventurous but offers a great experience for those looking for authentic ingredients and preparation.

And that entire strip mall is full of restaurants that show authentic ethnic food is alive and well if you look for it.

I suspect the food at Zimmern's place uses ingredients and preparations that are much higher end that one would find at places he would consider authentic. Like many others here, I've traveled enough to know that most good restaurants cater to local tastes. What is considered exotic to us is likely comfort food for local patrons.
  #109  
Old 01-02-2019, 03:00 PM
Siam Sam is offline
Elephant Whisperer
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posts: 40,592
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDog View Post
In a similar vein, when I was a teenager and the chain was more popular, I'd imagine an Austrian tourist stopping at Der Wienerschnitzel for a taste of home and being keenly disappointed.
In a similar vein, although the number and quality of Thai restaurants have gone way up in Hawaii since the wife and I were in school here 25 years ago, back then the handful of Thai restaurants sucked so bad that none of the Thai students, all of whom I knew, would ever go there. There was even a rather famous one here in Waikiki, long since departed, that was frequented by visiting celebrities, whose photos eating there adorned the walls. Expensive as all get out too, but every Thai student agreed it was horrible.

The are some good Thai restaurants here now though. Some not-so-good ones too. But at least some are good, unlike before.
__________________
Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions.
  #110  
Old 01-02-2019, 03:22 PM
Eonwe's Avatar
Eonwe is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Burlington VT
Posts: 8,514
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
He doesn't have to apologize if he doesn't want to. But you don't call people's livelihood horseshit and expect them to not get pissed off about it.

If he meant it, he should just say, "no, I think you run horseshit restaurants, and my cold sesame peanut noodles will make it clear that your version isn't fit for dogs."

Why won't he stand up for what he believes? (hint: it's because he felt cool being a dick like that, and didn't really think about the fact that there are human beings who make a living on those "horseshit" restaurants who might not appreciate being insulted by a famous, wealthy restaurateur)
  #111  
Old 01-02-2019, 05:06 PM
DrCube is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Caseyville, IL
Posts: 7,211
Andrew Zimmern is full of shit. Every restaurant is authentic to itself, and any that stick around longer than a year are pleasing a lot of customers, even if it isn't some celebrity's idea of "authentic Chinese".

Still, he lost his show because of that? It's nowhere near Rosanne-level gratuitous bigotry that I can see. It sounds to me like he threw down the gauntlet, made grandiose claims, a la "My restaurant will beat the pants off the weak, substandard competition" and it turned out to be a poorly conceived PR mistake. A misguided attempted at edgy boosterism that backfired. But hey, I don't make programming decisions at whatever network airs his show. I guess they thought he'd lose them money. He's nowhere near Rosanne's level of celebrity, either.
  #112  
Old 01-02-2019, 05:29 PM
Voyager's Avatar
Voyager is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 45,137
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jophiel View Post
I've seen Chinese restaurants with a little "American" section: a burger, chicken wings, fries and/or with a kid's section that has your hot dog and chicken nuggets. But it seemed an afterthought. Still, my Midwestern Chinese restaurant experience is largely limited to the two places near me that do delivery and a handful of other locations.
We have an Uighur place near us (fantastic) that has a second menu of traditional Chinese food for the faint of heart. So it depends on the clientele.
  #113  
Old 01-02-2019, 06:28 PM
wolfman is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 10,800
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe View Post
and didn't really think about the fact that there are human beings who make a living on those "horseshit" restaurants who might not appreciate being insulted by a famous, wealthy restaurateur)
I think the bigger part is insulting the much larger eyeball base that is the customers of those restaurants being told, "Hey stupid Midwestern yokels, I am a sophistimacated big city boy here here to save you from liking what you think you like, but are too clueless to know is horseshit."

That said I would be shocked if the show canceling was 100% percent about the comment. It just feel more like a timely event to excuse something wanted they wanted to finish with anyway, but I have nothing to back that up of course.
  #114  
Old 01-02-2019, 06:50 PM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman View Post
I think the bigger part is insulting the much larger eyeball base that is the customers of those restaurants being told, "Hey stupid Midwestern yokels, I am a sophistimacated big city boy here here to save you from liking what you think you like, but are too clueless to know is horseshit."

That said I would be shocked if the show canceling was 100% percent about the comment. It just feel more like a timely event to excuse something wanted they wanted to finish with anyway, but I have nothing to back that up of course.

Somehow, I totally missed that his show was cancelled. And I agree, I'm sure it's not based on just that one comment.
  #115  
Old 01-02-2019, 07:48 PM
China Guy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 11,521
Zimmerman's restaurant is fusion cuisine, so by definition, it's not "authentic" Chinese. I looked over the menu, and yes it's like a variant on Panda Express or PF Chang's. Some of it might be "authentic" Chinese, but I have my doubts.

If I want really authentic, high quality Chinese food, I drive 2.5 hours to Hongcouver Canada. There are some decent places locally but nothing that compares with the Richmond district of Vancouver.

Let's put it this way, one of the more authentic Chinese restaurants locally is Ding Tai Fung. Expensive for what it is but most of the dishes are reasonably tasty and authentic. And I'm sure it blows Zimmerman's fantasy project out of the water.
  #116  
Old 01-02-2019, 08:13 PM
sachertorte is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Cambridge, MA
Posts: 4,444
So many things wrong here. As already pointed out, there are surely plenty of good Chinese food places (authentic even) in his area. He just isn't looking hard enough. Also both 'authentic' and Chinese-American can co-exist. One does not preclude the other. I went to a restaurant with my mom in the suburbs. They gave us a menu, then asked me if I spoke Chinese. I said "No, but she does" and they gave my mom another menu with more stuff. You know, the real stuff.

The other point is he's really not paying attention to his own field. I was reading the book "Best Food Writing 2017" and there is an entire section "Whose Food is it Anyway?" with several articles written about culture, appropriation and who gets to represent a cuisine and the power imbalances therein. The concept isn't new, yet he stupidly walked right into it.
  #117  
Old 01-03-2019, 01:46 AM
Haldurson is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 205
Back when I was in Taiwan (granted, this was back in the 1990s), one of my sister-in-law's uncles was telling me how much he enjoyed visiting New York City because there were so many different styles of Chinese restaurants there with all sorts of food that he could not get in Taiwan. Taiwan isn't exactly China (unless you talk to someone in the People's Republic). But it is pretty close.

Personally, I think it matters more how much you enjoy a dish than it's precise 'genealogy'. I don't get to travel as much as I used to, but I always enjoy trying to sample whatever local dishes there are, where ever I am. Part of it is intellectual curiosity, part of it is the thought that I am immersing myself in the local culture. But in reality, it's mostly the idea that I might have a brand new experience. So what if it isn't what someone's grandmother used to make -- if it gives you pleasure, why complain? People are always experimenting, substituting ingredients, trying new combinations. Hell, I'm not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm always coming up with new culinary inventions in the kitchen (mostly because I don't like following other people's recipes). Some work better than others. I knew an excellent italian chef (while I was a busboy at a nice italian restaurant) who would always use the staff as guinea pigs for his new inventions. And everything was always excellent. And all of it was, more or less, original. Does it mean it wasn't italian? Who cares? It was good. And the restaurant had a great, albeit local reputation (especially his deserts which were to die for).

A good chef will try to replicate other people's dishes. A great chef will create his own (which will eventually be copied by others, as soon as they figure it out). It's food. Just eat it.
  #118  
Old 01-03-2019, 04:13 PM
bmoak is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,210
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Chinese restaurants, from my experience, are notorious about having everything and anything on the menu. If you click back up to my earlier link, the proprietor of Xi'an Famous Foods in New York talks about this, and how it's a point of pride. ETA: Here's the link at 3:10, so you don't have to dig in the thread. (Plus this link is cued up a little earlier to where my last link was cued.)

(And I'm not sure Lao Sze Chuan has anywhere near 500 items--but it's surely over a hundred.)
It's weird because Xi'an Famous Food has a very limited menu.
  #119  
Old 01-03-2019, 04:19 PM
bmoak is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,210
Zimmern has a point in there that he makes very poorly. It comes across badly because it looks like he’s slamming Chinese cooks, promoting his own restaurant, and coming across as a douche (not a reach for Zimmern). The talk about authentic Chinese food is also a loaded term and off-point (although I don’t see Zimmern actually use the word authentic in the linked article).

People who are bringing up tasty hand-pulled noodles, exotic ingredients, the cuisines of the remote regions of China, secret Chinese-only menus, and the state of Chinese food in NYC, Vancouver, Portland and other large cities with foodie scenes and large Chinese populations are kind of missing the point.

I can’t speak for the Midwest, but let me tell you about the state of Chinese food here in small-town upstate New York. I live in a town of about 7,000 that is the largest town in the county. There are three Chinese restaurants in my town (one buffet, one buffet/takeout, and one takeout), and four more takeout Chinese restaurants in the county. Other than Italian restaurants (all pizzerias) and a Taco Bell, they are the only ethnic restaurants in the county, and they range from mediocre to dismal. Their menus are almost 100% identical, and they have the same food/menu pictures over the takeout counter. Someone who had their first Chinese food here would assume that Chinese cuisine specialized in gloopy soups, doughy dumplings, fried bits of stuff, and breaded chicken nuggets in variations of sweet syrupy sauces. The part where Zimmern talks about having to educate people about chili oil, hand-cut noodles, and real roast duck would be spot on for this area.

Now if I drive roughly an hour in each of the four cardinal directions, I can reach a large town or small city and my food options greatly expand. I can get good Thai, good Vietnamese, good Indian, and good Korean food, but Chinese food is roughly the same. There are take-out places and buffets, and while some of the buffets are nicer, the general food quality is about the same. I have found better places that are not what I call cookie-cutter Chinese, but they have either a) closed down or b) not maintained quality or decided to switch to “standard” Chinese-American menus.

I took a friend to one of the good places before it closed and she was dismayed because a) they dind’t have General Tso’s chicken and b) she had to pay more than $10 for a Chinese dinner. Frankly, if someone in my neck of the woods says they want to eat Chinese food, I take that to mean they want a cheap meal with large/unlimited portions.

Last edited by bmoak; 01-03-2019 at 04:21 PM.
  #120  
Old 01-03-2019, 04:39 PM
Jackmannii is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: the extreme center
Posts: 31,175
Calvin Trillin once described trying homemade gazpacho at a neighborhood street fair. While eating it he was explaining to someone how it differed from authentic gazpacho, then realized that the main difference between what he was wolfing down and the authentic stuff, was that the version he was enjoying tasted better.
  #121  
Old 01-03-2019, 04:43 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 17,081
I kind of wonder if this talk about authenticity is something of a red herring though. America has a long tradition of culinary syncretism- some examples of "American" dishes:
  • Cajun/Creole food is basically French cuisine adapted with native ingredients and hefty doses of Spanish and native cuisine.
  • Chicken fried steak (of Texas fame anyway) is a riff off of German schnitzel.
  • US pizza styles are riffs off of the original Italian.
  • American "Italian" food is what immigrants made with abundant local ingredients.
  • Tex-Mex is probably one of the most famous- it's a border cuisine that blends traditional Mexican cuisine with Anglo ingredients and influences.
  • Viet-Cajun crawfish are a recent Houston-area thing- a sort of second-generation of syncretism.

Hell, steak, potatoes, ham, etc... are all of European derivation originally.

I guess my point is that there's nothing wrong with Chinese-American food because it's not strictly authentically Chinese. It's its own thing now, and there's no reason to shit on it any more than there is for Tex-Mex not being strictly Mexican.
  #122  
Old 01-03-2019, 06:51 PM
carrps is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
We made a mistake a few years back eating at a Chinese restaurant in North Platte, Nebraska. The meat was inedible! In Nebraska of all places.

If you can't do "adequate" why bother even trying?
O.k. this was like 50 years ago, but the second best cinnamon rolls I ever had in my life were from a place in North Platte.
  #123  
Old 01-03-2019, 07:07 PM
Miller's Avatar
Miller is online now
Sith Mod
Moderator
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Bear Flag Republic
Posts: 43,611
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
Hell, steak, potatoes, ham, etc... are all of European derivation originally.
I'm not sure where pigs and cows came from originally, but the potato sure as hell didn't originate in Europe.
  #124  
Old 01-03-2019, 07:56 PM
Wendell Wagner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 14,169
bump writes:

> Hell, steak, potatoes, ham, etc... are all of European derivation originally.

Cows come from Europe and India originally:

https://www.livescience.com/28154-ne...e-origins.html

Pigs come from Europe and Asia originally:

http://www.genetics.org/content/154/4/1785

Potatoes come from Peru and Bolivia originally:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato

Hell, in the modern interpretation of what it's like, originated sometime between the writing of the New Testament and the Middle Ages:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell
  #125  
Old 01-03-2019, 07:58 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 14,911
Once again, I don't understand the controversy about these comments. He didn't call Chinese people by an ethnic slur, say that Chinese people were inferior, or other otherwise say anything remotely mean or degrading to anyone.

His comment, as I understand it, was that the typical American Chinese restaurant serves slodge, barely a grade up from fast food, and that he is opening up an "authentic" Chinese restaurant.

I fail to see how this is different than almost any other restaurant advertisement out there. My restaurant's food is good, theirs sucks donkey balls. That is free market competition and I have never, not one single time in my life heard of someone whining about puffery in advertising.

Other posters are spot on about the "authentic" argument. Of course when foods cross cultures, there will be something added from the latter culture that changes the identity. Sometimes this change is good; sometimes it is bad. As others have said, the food style must change so that fat ass Americans will go eat it.

"Authentic" is just one of those marketing buzz words that are used all of the time and is not degrading. I mean, if I have a restaurant and advertise "homemade" vegetable beef soup "just like mom used to make" it would seem as if posters here would be claiming I was insensitive because I am saying that women should be in the kitchen cooking, not everyone had mothers, and I am not taking into consideration other cultures whose mothers did not make vegetable beef soup. Those are marketing terms and everyone knows what they mean.
  #126  
Old 01-04-2019, 02:24 AM
Wendell Wagner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 14,169
I would be interested in getting some objective measurements of how good American Chinese restaurants are. First, there are approximately 41,000 Chinese restaurants in the U.S. That's about three times as many such restaurants as there are McDonalds in the U.S. Maybe it's impossible to have that many restaurants of one type without most of them being somewhat poor. How does this compare to the Chinese restaurants in other countries (which are not majority-Chinese in ancestry)? How many Chinese restaurants are there in European countries or the Americas outside the U.S. or in Africa or in Oceania? Is it about the same number of Chinese restaurants in proportion to the population of the country as the U.S.? How good are those Chinese restaurants on average? Is there any (non-majority Chinese) country in the world that has, in proportion to its population, as many Chinese restaurants as the U.S. and where the average quality of those restaurants is as considerably better than in the U.S.? Is it just impossible for there to be lots of a particular type of restaurant without most of them being rather poor?
  #127  
Old 01-04-2019, 04:51 AM
Budget Player Cadet's Avatar
Budget Player Cadet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 8,927
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarnalK View Post
A celebrity chef making a disparaging comment on the state of the food industry is just so so wrong! What gives him the right? Think of the poor immigrants making crappy food!
Have you ever watched "Shokugeki no Soma!" (AKA "Food Wars!")? It's a bit like if HentaiHaven produced Iron Chef; a shonen battle anime with lots of fan service where instead of fights to the death, the drama plays out over (typically) one-on-one cook-offs.

Those of you who have seen the show, I want you to picture Zimmern imported as a character in that show. Let's say that one of the first things you see about him is his comment about "horseshit" restaurants. What role would he play? Would he be one of the "good guys"? Would he be a heel, like the arrogant italian chef eager to take a bite out of our protagonist? Would he be a full-on villain, like the student council?

Those who have seen season three don't get any points for guessing that the answer would almost certainly be that last option, because that kind of snobbish bullshit is one of the major things the show uses to mark its primary antagonist. Because it's a really shitty thing to say, even if it's true, and it's not hard to figure that out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I fail to see how this is different than almost any other restaurant advertisement out there. My restaurant's food is good, theirs sucks donkey balls. That is free market competition and I have never, not one single time in my life heard of someone whining about puffery in advertising.
Is this a common thing? I have actually never heard anything resembling "theirs sucks donkey balls". That's what makes this statement so odd to me. The closest thing I can think of is something like Ramsay's Kitchen Disasters, but "let's invite a well-established famous chef to point out how we can stop being horseshit" is a far cry from said famous chef just flat-out saying, "X, Y, and Z are horseshit". Advertisers typically don't go out of their way to slag off the competition - at most, they offer themselves as "the best around", which is still a far cry from "the competition is horseshit".
  #128  
Old 01-04-2019, 06:38 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 30,981
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmoak View Post
I can’t speak for the Midwest, but let me tell you about the state of Chinese food here in small-town upstate New York. I live in a town of about 7,000 that is the largest town in the county. There are three Chinese restaurants in my town (one buffet, one buffet/takeout, and one takeout), and four more takeout Chinese restaurants in the county. Other than Italian restaurants (all pizzerias) and a Taco Bell, they are the only ethnic restaurants in the county, and they range from mediocre to dismal. Their menus are almost 100% identical, and they have the same food/menu pictures over the takeout counter. Someone who had their first Chinese food here would assume that Chinese cuisine specialized in gloopy soups, doughy dumplings, fried bits of stuff, and breaded chicken nuggets in variations of sweet syrupy sauces. The part where Zimmern talks about having to educate people about chili oil, hand-cut noodles, and real roast duck would be spot on for this area.
The town I live just outside of has a population of 1,600 and a single Chinese restaurant, owned and operated for decades by a very nice Chinese family. I've discussed "Chinese restaurants" with members of the family (I'm a good customer/friend).

From what they've told me there are only a few wholesalers that all Chinese restaurants buy their stuff from. The light fixtures in the restaurant, pictures of various dishes, wall hangings, menu templates, teapots, dishes, etc are all uniform because they're all purchased from the same supplier.

It has been shown repeatedly that a hard working family, running a restaurant that follows a simple script and purchasing from a specific supplier, can turn an ok profit. It's very close to owning/operating a McDonalds franchise.
  #129  
Old 01-04-2019, 06:43 AM
DesertDog is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Posts: 5,172
Especially when Zimmern is trying to pass off food as art. It's like Thomas Kincaid saying, "That Jackson Pollock guy? His work is horseshit." -- slamming the competition without offering anything of his own that betters it.
  #130  
Old 01-04-2019, 07:17 AM
senoy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 1,722
Chinese restaurants are crap food largely because they are staffed with unskilled exploited labor. Many of their employees have never cooked a day in their life, so they need simple dishes that are hard to mess up. Triad members and snakeheads exploit smuggled illegals to staff the restaurants at below minimum wage and working 12 hour days 2 weeks straight for peanuts. It's why butt-end nowhere Indiana has a Chinese restaurant with a dozen workers, but you never see them in stores or out in the community. They are kept in group housing and many of the back room cooks are Latino since they are easier to find.

Of course, that doesn't apply to every restaurant and it's not uncommon to find workers who save up enough to open their own restaurant where they in turn use more exploited labor.

Here's a great piece on them, but it's hardly the only one. It's not exactly a well-kept secret. There's a second part to the expose as well on the site if you dig for it.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/wh...report-part-1/
  #131  
Old 01-04-2019, 08:25 AM
steronz is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Oh-hiya-Maude
Posts: 4,757
I think there's a couple of mistakes Zimmern made. First, the problem isn't Chinese food in the midwest being inauthentic, the problem is that food in small population areas is generally terrible. I call it the myth of the small-town hole-in-the-wall. The odds of a town of 100k having any restaurant that isn't going to be pizza, fast food, or terrible Chinese is slim. Maybe they have an Italian joint that serves a lot of frozen stuff, or an old diner, but that's about it. When looking for places to eat on road trips, all of these terrible options are highly rated on Yelp, which is absolutely no indication of how good they are. Yes, this sounds elitist as hell, but it's the truth. Small town food sucks.

But Minneapolis? I'm sure there's good food in Minneapolis, I'm sure there's good Chinese food in Minneapolis. Probably a lot of terrible Chinese (and other restaurants) as well but it's got a big enough population to support decent restaurants. Maybe not NYC quality but I don't think Lucky Cricket is going to be booked 6 months out anyway. So I think his first mistake is casting too broad of a brush, and incorrectly at that, with his "Midwest" comment.

But more importantly, he should have said this: "I think customers are increasingly demanding high quality Chinese food, so we've created Lucky Cricket to satisfy that demand." This accomplishes the same basic dig on existing Chinese restaurants but rather than putting their customers on the defensive (What? But I love the Jade Dragon!) it gives them an opportunity to put themselves in the role of the discerning consumer (Yes, I do demand quality things in my life, I think I'll give this place a shot!). It's marketing 101.
  #132  
Old 01-04-2019, 08:32 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 81,862
Quote:
Quoth Jackmannii:

Calvin Trillin once described trying homemade gazpacho at a neighborhood street fair. While eating it he was explaining to someone how it differed from authentic gazpacho...
How much more authentic can you get, than homemade at a street fair?
  #133  
Old 01-04-2019, 09:35 AM
Jophiel's Avatar
Jophiel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Chicago suburbia
Posts: 18,832
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmoak View Post
...the state of Chinese food in NYC, Vancouver, Portland and other large cities with foodie scenes and large Chinese populations are kind of missing the point.

I can’t speak for the Midwest, but let me tell you about the state of Chinese food here in small-town upstate New York. I live in a town of about 7,000 that is the largest town in the county.
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.
  #134  
Old 01-04-2019, 01:28 PM
DrCube is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Caseyville, IL
Posts: 7,211
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.
Coincidentally, the first and only time I ate at P. F. Chang's was in Minneapolis. Which is about the same level of quality I perceived in the Lucky Cricket website posted upthread.
  #135  
Old 01-04-2019, 06:56 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 14,911
Quote:
Originally Posted by Budget Player Cadet View Post
Is this a common thing? I have actually never heard anything resembling "theirs sucks donkey balls". That's what makes this statement so odd to me. The closest thing I can think of is something like Ramsay's Kitchen Disasters, but "let's invite a well-established famous chef to point out how we can stop being horseshit" is a far cry from said famous chef just flat-out saying, "X, Y, and Z are horseshit". Advertisers typically don't go out of their way to slag off the competition - at most, they offer themselves as "the best around", which is still a far cry from "the competition is horseshit".
Obviously the donkey balls comment is hyperbole, but criticism of the competition happens all of the time. Compare our product to "the leading brand." Use Visa because at XXX, they don't take American Express. Our burgers are "always fresh, never frozen" (implicitly not like those other fast food chains).

I agree that saying the competition is "horseshit" is taking it one step further, but the implication is one of racism, not of being a meany pants.
  #136  
Old 01-05-2019, 08:10 AM
DesertDog is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Posts: 5,172
Quote:
Originally Posted by senoy View Post
Chinese restaurants are crap food largely because they are staffed with unskilled exploited labor. Many of their employees have never cooked a day in their life, so they need simple dishes that are hard to mess up. Triad members and snakeheads exploit smuggled illegals to staff the restaurants at below minimum wage and working 12 hour days 2 weeks straight for peanuts.
Around here almost all of your lower-end restaurant workers are Hispanic; maybe the Midwest is different.
  #137  
Old 01-05-2019, 08:58 AM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Obviously the donkey balls comment is hyperbole, but criticism of the competition happens all of the time. Compare our product to "the leading brand." Use Visa because at XXX, they don't take American Express. Our burgers are "always fresh, never frozen" (implicitly not like those other fast food chains).
Honestly, in the restaurant industry, I don't really see as much direct comparison to competitors in advertising as perhaps with other industries. Yes, you get "fresh, never frozen," but I don't really see that as direct comparison to the competition (especially as there are a lot of places that do fresh, never frozen), but more bragging about the quality points of their own product.

Quote:
I agree that saying the competition is "horseshit" is taking it one step further, but the implication is one of racism, not of being a meany pants.
I don't even know if I'd go so far as to call it racism; but there's also implications of snobbism/classism/elitism by demeaning the entire Midwest for apparently having horseshit Chinese food. It's just such a tone deaf comment all around, and especially somewhat ironic given his menu which, as has been noted, just looks like fairly mainstream mall Chinese fare, perhaps sexed up a little bit.
  #138  
Old 01-05-2019, 01:02 PM
typoink is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 2,718
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
While Chicago has lots of great Asian food, I admit that I’ve never had decent Chinese there. Thai, Vietnamese, yes.
Depends what you mean by "decent" and "Chinese." There are excellent restaurants doing the "classic" Americanized Cantonese and Mandarin style, especially on the north side. Places with "Orange" or "Chop Suey" in the name have tended to be winners for me. There's also a bustling Chinatown that offers a wide variety of Chinese and Chinese-American food of highly variable quality (although some of the area's stalwarts have shut down pretty recently). There's also Friendship, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, which has a talented chef doing an improved take on Americanized Chinese without being too ritzy or "fusion"-y.

But there are, regrettably, also a ton of very low-quality fast-food-quality places that serve either bad or extremely inconsistent food. I think one of the problems is that Chinese restaurants are expected to always have an extremely wide menu and asking a small kitchen with maybe two or three people working in it to be able to produce 100 different dishes in 15 minutes or so is a recipe for mediocre food.
  #139  
Old 01-05-2019, 01:11 PM
you with the face is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Laurel, MD
Posts: 12,063
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe View Post
Why won't he stand up for what he believes? (hint: it's because he felt cool being a dick like that, and didn't really think about the fact that there are human beings who make a living on those "horseshit" restaurants who might not appreciate being insulted by a famous, wealthy restaurateur)
I suspect he was trying to capitalize on the Simon Cowell/Chef Ramsey I’m-a-mean-bastard shtick and thought no one (of importance) would complain.

If this is an indicator this style of critique is falling out of fashion, hallelujah.
  #140  
Old 01-05-2019, 01:26 PM
lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,424
Quote:
Originally Posted by typoink View Post
Depends what you mean by "decent" and "Chinese." There are excellent restaurants doing the "classic" Americanized Cantonese and Mandarin style, especially on the north side. Places with "Orange" or "Chop Suey" in the name have tended to be winners for me. There's also a bustling Chinatown that offers a wide variety of Chinese and Chinese-American food of highly variable quality (although some of the area's stalwarts have shut down pretty recently). There's also Friendship, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, which has a talented chef doing an improved take on Americanized Chinese without being too ritzy or "fusion"-y.

But there are, regrettably, also a ton of very low-quality fast-food-quality places that serve either bad or extremely inconsistent food. I think one of the problems is that Chinese restaurants are expected to always have an extremely wide menu and asking a small kitchen with maybe two or three people working in it to be able to produce 100 different dishes in 15 minutes or so is a recipe for mediocre food.
As long as the food is one style, e.g. Cantonese, the number of spices and sauces is rather limited. It's when a restaurant tries to mix different regional styles (e.g. Panda Express) that things go wrong because the ingredients may be completely different and they begin merge to styles. I'm sure somewhere, there's Mandarin Style Dim Sum.

I had a co-worker whose father used to be chef in Hong Kong and she'd always bring leftovers for lunch. Meat or poultry, vegetables, rice. Something different every day, but always those three things.

Last edited by lingyi; 01-05-2019 at 01:28 PM.
  #141  
Old 01-05-2019, 01:40 PM
lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,424
Here's a hilarious video from Off The Great Wall about must have Chinese sauces. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilkgD-TeUhg
Note that they're all from different parts of China. I know Dan was born in Shanghai, I believe Mia was born in Hong Kong, and Yi and Mike are, I believe Northern Chinese, which is why they don't all agree on the 'essential' sauces for their respective cuisine styles.

Last edited by lingyi; 01-05-2019 at 01:41 PM.
  #142  
Old 01-05-2019, 01:47 PM
lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,424
I'm rewatching the video now and Dan said he and Mia are from Shanghai and Mike and Yi are from Shiyan, Northern China.
  #143  
Old 01-05-2019, 04:22 PM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
Here's a hilarious video from Off The Great Wall about must have Chinese sauces. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilkgD-TeUhg
Note that they're all from different parts of China. I know Dan was born in Shanghai, I believe Mia was born in Hong Kong, and Yi and Mike are, I believe Northern Chinese, which is why they don't all agree on the 'essential' sauces for their respective cuisine styles.
Hah. Looks like my kitchen is set--I have all but two of those sauces. I do agree with not putting sriracha in pho, though. On the side to dip some beef in? Sure. But in the broth? Just destroys the delicate flavor of pho (and I love spicy foods and am a fierce chili head, so it's not about the heat.) A good bowl of pho is just such a beautifully balanced and aromatic broth, and throwing in something as abrasively sweet, sour, and garlicky as sriracha just kills it for me. (I will add the chopped fresh peppers, though, for a kick. That doesn't really change the underlying broth flavor to me.) I mean do it how you want, but I can see why Dan and Mia were a bit surprised.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-05-2019 at 04:26 PM.
  #144  
Old 01-05-2019, 09:57 PM
China Guy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 11,521
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
Here's a hilarious video from Off The Great Wall about must have Chinese sauces. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilkgD-TeUhg
Note that they're all from different parts of China. I know Dan was born in Shanghai, I believe Mia was born in Hong Kong, and Yi and Mike are, I believe Northern Chinese, which is why they don't all agree on the 'essential' sauces for their respective cuisine styles.
Not a bad video to start with. Maybe half are really essential and some are pretty regional. My Shanghaiese wife would view these as second or third gen American Chinese that don't really know shit from shinola when it comes to Chinese cooking.

Missing these from our kitchen cabinet: Soy Sauce, fish sauce, XO sauce, doubanjiang (豆瓣酱)and Shaoxing wine.
  #145  
Old 01-07-2019, 11:06 PM
bmoak is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,210
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
The town I live just outside of has a population of 1,600 and a single Chinese restaurant, owned and operated for decades by a very nice Chinese family. I've discussed "Chinese restaurants" with members of the family (I'm a good customer/friend).

From what they've told me there are only a few wholesalers that all Chinese restaurants buy their stuff from. The light fixtures in the restaurant, pictures of various dishes, wall hangings, menu templates, teapots, dishes, etc are all uniform because they're all purchased from the same supplier.

It has been shown repeatedly that a hard working family, running a restaurant that follows a simple script and purchasing from a specific supplier, can turn an ok profit. It's very close to owning/operating a McDonalds franchise.

I was going to come back to thread to mention something like this. I don't have my copy handy, but Jennifer 8 Lee's "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles"* covers some of this.

*An excellent book prompted by the author wondering why the Chinese food her Chinese-born mother cooked at home and what her non-Chinese friends ate in Chinese restaurants. It covers the history of Chinese food in America.

A couple of points made in the book in regards to the large-scale spread of Chinese restaurants across America in the past 25 years:

-A large majority of Chinese that come to America and spread out to work in restaurants are from Fujian Province. They can go to a job broker in a major city such as NYC and end up on a bus to say, rural South Carolina, the same day. Almost none of them have any restaurant experience until they come to the US. They work for a few years and save money until they can open a place of their own or buy an existing restaurant.

-The are wholesaler syndicates that will help set newcomers up by loaning them seed money and supplying everything a Chinese restaurant might need, including food/ingredients, with already-made noodles, wontons, soup stock, sauces, etc. Basically, a lot of Chinese restaurants are almost franchises of the same chain with different names.
  #146  
Old 01-07-2019, 11:50 PM
Ukulele Ike is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 16,513
Quote:
Originally Posted by typoink View Post
Depends what you mean by "decent" and "Chinese." There are excellent restaurants doing the "classic" Americanized Cantonese and Mandarin style, especially on the north side. Places with "Orange" or "Chop Suey" in the name have tended to be winners for me. There's also a bustling Chinatown that offers a wide variety of Chinese and Chinese-American food of highly variable quality (although some of the area's stalwarts have shut down pretty recently). There's also Friendship, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, which has a talented chef doing an improved take on Americanized Chinese without being too ritzy or "fusion"-y.

But there are, regrettably, also a ton of very low-quality fast-food-quality places that serve either bad or extremely inconsistent food. I think one of the problems is that Chinese restaurants are expected to always have an extremely wide menu and asking a small kitchen with maybe two or three people working in it to be able to produce 100 different dishes in 15 minutes or so is a recipe for mediocre food.
I admit to having one dinner in Chicago’s Chinatown that was...not too impressive. I am going mainly by Little Pianola‘s criticism. She was raised on Manhattan and Brooklyn Chinese food and has lived in Chitown for several years, and when she comes home to visit scarfs up as much Chinese as she can hold. Dim sum, high toned midtown places, cheap takeout, everything.
__________________
Uke
  #147  
Old 01-08-2019, 06:52 AM
Balthisar is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Southeast Michigan, USA
Posts: 10,958
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
I admit to having one dinner in Chicago’s Chinatown that was...not too impressive. I am going mainly by Little Pianola‘s criticism. She was raised on Manhattan and Brooklyn Chinese food and has lived in Chitown for several years, and when she comes home to visit scarfs up as much Chinese as she can hold. Dim sum, high toned midtown places, cheap takeout, everything.
We didn't make it to Brooklyn on our recent trip, but the Chinese food we had in Flushing almost had my wife wanting to move to New York. The previous month, we’d had Chinese in Chicago, but it was pretty much the same as the Chinese we get in Farmington, MI or Toronto.
  #148  
Old 01-08-2019, 10:35 AM
lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,424
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!"

Last edited by lingyi; 01-08-2019 at 10:40 AM.
  #149  
Old 01-08-2019, 10:51 AM
lingyi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,424
I shouldn't have said "Americanized" versions of their ethnic cuisine", because of course that's not fair. I meant to say, versions of their ethnic cuisine that's not cooked / prepared (i.e. without the same ingredients, especially spices and sauces) in the same way as the "real" versions. Even something basic as beef or pork may taste different because of the different breeds of animals available in the U.S. vs. other countries, as well as what, how they're fed.

Last edited by lingyi; 01-08-2019 at 10:54 AM.
  #150  
Old 01-08-2019, 10:58 AM
pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 46,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
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
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.
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 10:05 PM.

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