When Americans think about going out to eat for Chinese food, chain fast food restaurants like Leeann Chin or Panda Express might be the first thing that comes to mind. However, those longing for a more authentic dining experience with high-quality and rich-tasting food that more closely resembles what they would eat in China might want to expand their horizons a bit more. Below are six popular dishes served in authentic Chinese restaurants.
Peking duck: With a tradition that dates back centuries and a preparation process that can last for days, this meal is about as genuinely Chinese as a person can find. The presentation of the duck by the server helps to complete the experience even more. With the crispy outer skin and dark meat inside surrounded by a thin pancake, hoisin sauce, and scallions, nearly everyone can find something to love about Peking duck.
Dumplings: These come encased in a shell of dough with vegetables, pork, or beef inside. The best way to savor the taste is to take small bites off the sides of the dumplings before finishing off the rest of it. Diners can also choose to dunk their dumplings in a sweet or spicy sauce for even greater flavor.
The Chinese Hamburger: While it might seem strange to see the words Chinese and hamburger in the same sentence, Asia’s version is nothing like that found in the United States. It consists of flavorful stewed pork stuffed inside of bread that somewhat resembles the hamburger bun here. Some restaurants substitute beef, chicken, or lamb for the stew depending on the culture and preferences of their typical patron.
Mapo Tofu: The Szechuan dish, known for its extreme spiciness, comes with a wide array of textures and flavors. The tofu helps to absorb the green onions, fermented black beans, garlic, and ground pork all mixed into a bright red sauce. Even with the tofu, however, diners should prepare themselves for an incredibly zesty, spicy, and tasteful dish.
Sweet and Sour Eggplant: Although eggplant is technically a vegetable, it tastes more like sweet and sour pork the way some Chinese chefs prepare it. Fish sauce, scallions, and chili all help to complete the look and taste of this popular Chinese dish.
Spicy Fish in Flaming Chili Oil: To create this popular Chinese seafood dish, chefs prepare the fish to the point where it is so soft it nearly melts in the diner’s mouth. This helps to offset the hot and spicy taste of the Sichuan peppers and chili oil mixed in with the meat. Although seafood is a common dish in China, it’s not consumed nearly as much by Western diners. This dish changes all that since people travel from all over the country to find restaurants that serve it.
The half-dozen authentic Chinese dishes listed above make an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to move beyond Asian fast food. For those who feel disappointed getting to the end of the list, remember it’s only a fraction of what’s available right here in the United States.
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