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Draconess25's avatar

What do Chinese people think of "Chinese food"?

Asked by Draconess25 (4428 points ) April 16th, 2010

What do they think of the carry-out, mass-production, all-you-can-eat buffets, & lack of tradition?

Do Americans even cook it right?

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17 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Chinese food is a very, very big subject. It’s an enormous country, and each region has its own cuisine. You might want to narrow this question down a little, because as it is I think it is unanswerable.

DominicX's avatar

American Chinese food is its own branch of food. It wasn’t designed to imitate authentic Chinese food wholly. American Chinese food (chow mein, General Tso’s chicken, broccoli beef, etc.) was designed by Chinese restaurant-owners trying to cater to Western people by modifying authentic food and creating entirely different dishes.

I know I’m not Chinese, I’m just saying. :\

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Not enough MSG

dpworkin's avatar

@DominicX I pretty much agree, except when you are talking about certain restaurants in big-city Chinatowns where there are recent immigrants. In New York, in Flushing and in Manhattan it is possible to eat authentic cuisines of China, many, many types. The original populace was generally from Canton, but they are all being replaced by Mandarin speakers from different areas of China, and the food experience is becoming broader and more interesting.

ubersiren's avatar

@dpworkin You think it’s unanswerable because you didn’t read the details.

I’d love to hear what opinions Chinese people have about our version of their food. Do they enjoy it as an entirely different type of food or does it completely disgust them?

chelle21689's avatar

I’m half Chinese and half Filipino but grew up with Thai and American culture. I like Panda Express even though it’s not “real” Chinese. I don’t like P.F. Chang’s either, it tastes like Americanized Chinese food. Actually, the only dishes I really like are General Tsao, Orange Chicken, and Sesame Chicken…..Fried dumpling and crab rangoon. Not a big fan of Chinese food. I love Thai and Filipino food though.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

It’s like going to japan for American food. They’ll do their best and still be way off.

dpworkin's avatar

@ubersiren My apologies. You’re right, it’s a more interesting question than I thought. I’ll wait for the experts. I hope we have some on Fluther.

davidgro's avatar

Adding to @dpworkin‘s second response, Even outside of the Chinatown area of a city you can kinda get a rough idea of the quality of a sit-down, not-fast-food type Chinese restaurant by observing how many of the other patrons are of Asian decent.
(Obviously this is dependent on the local demographics, prices, and other factors, but for any food-ethnicity there are certain restaurants that attract more of the people who are likely to recognize if it’s good.)

Parrappa's avatar

Regardless of how unauthentic it is, no one can deny its deliciousness.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

^^ Parrappa is correct.

iphigeneia's avatar

This is a good question. I’ll have to ask my co-worker for the perspective of a recent immigrant, but as a half-Chinese person with a reasonable background in Chinese cuisine done correctly, I can say that my family likes Chinese takeaway-style foods very much. It’s the same for other cultures: there’s Pizza Hut, and then there’s what you get from an Italian family restaurant.

For people who don’t have a strong emotional attachment to particular foods, all that matters is that it tastes good. We don’t care that it’s come out of a bain-marie, as long as no one tells us it’s just how old Chinese grandmothers have been cooking for centuries. If we want to eat (and pay for) the good stuff, we know where to go.

The thing that is really annoying is the Asian-inspired recipes in cook books. Like adding coriander can suddenly make your dish oh-so Thai. I’ve never seen a Chinese takeaway promise much more than just a good feed. Those who claim authenticity are often way off.

YARNLADY's avatar

My son married into a third generation Chinese-American family, and they say that American-Chinese food is far more varied and less spicy than true Chinese food, and contains a lot more meat. There are several different ways to make soy sauce, and the flavor of soy has become the American Standard for Chinese taste. With a country as huge as China, there are many regional differences.

According to our export experts, Chinese prefer American Rice to locally grown.

MagicalMystery's avatar

when i go to Chinatown in NYC and i sit in Chinese restaurants, i often see other Chinese people eating. However, i wonder if they either order off another menu or just request different things than the “chow mein/general tso’s/egg foo young” stuff the rest of the Americans have to choose from.

Jack79's avatar

All traditional food is quite different when cooked at home than it is in restaurants. I’ve lived in Greece, where home-cooked Greek food is not even similar to restaurant food, and food in Greek restaurants inside Greece is way better than what it is in Greek restaurants in other countries. On the contrary, the Italian restaurants I have tried in Italy were horrible (with one notable exception in Rome), whereas most Italian restaurants everywhere else are at least OK. Of course quality varies, and the centres of big and touristic cities will have high prices for crap food, anywhere you go.

“Chinese” food refers to food that is not often Chinese. The best “Chinese” restaurants I have tried were one Filippinese and two Vietnamese. There was also a wonderful Corean restaurant I always ate at when I lived in Germany. I ate at a “real” Chinese one a couple of days ago and got food poisoning.

I once lived with an Indian, whose cooking at home was wonderful, albeit too spicy for me. As opposed to the takeaway Indian restaurants (Coventry was full of them) which I couldn’t stand.

iphigeneia's avatar

Okay, I asked my co-worker (grew up in China, recently came to Australia to study cooking) this question today and his answer was pretty much the same as mine. This is what I got from what he told me:

Chinese-takeaway-style food is fine if you just want to put food in your stomach. There’s nothing wrong with the food as far as food is concerned, but it’s a far cry from real Chinese food. Specifically, it’s sweeter and less spicy. They use ingredients like fish sauce and lemongrass which are only traditional ingredients in other Asian countries, or other parts of China than the origin of the respective dish.

We need to eat, and there’s nothing wrong with food being convenient (as mentioned in the description with buffets, mass-production, etc.) but it’s not really Chinese food, just a Western interpretation of Chinese food.

Sunny2's avatar

Out of curiosity, I had the experience of eating Chinese food at a restaurant in Greece. They used olive oil instead of peanut oil. I had to smile and try to explain the difference to my Greek friends.

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