Chinese restaurants have multiplied all over the US. In fact, there are more Chinese restaurants in the country than McDonald’s and its franchises. In Los Angeles, Chicago, and even New York, there is definitely one Chinese restaurant in the vicinity.
But this is not so in the 19th century. In fact, eating in a Chinese restaurant is considered dirty and gross. This is due to the perception that the Chinese were rat-eaters. Nevertheless, despite the biases on them, the Chinese continued to pursue the restaurant business and in the mid-19th century, a Chinese eatery sprang up in California, which was known then as “chow chow”. The main customers of the Chinese restaurant were the Cantonese laborers. From then on, Chinese restaurants began to mushroom, offering traditional Chinese cuisine embedded in familiar American dishes.
Today, most Chinese restaurants offer authentic Chinese dishes- from dim sum to shark’s fin soup, to noodles and Peking duck. Many Chinese restaurants offer cuisines on their menu that are famous in the different regions in China. Here are the most popular regional dishes found in a Chinese restaurant in America:
Mandarin. Very popular dishes, which originated from old Peking, now known as Beijing, include mu-shu pork and Peking duck with steamed buns. Other well-known Mandarin cuisines are beggar’s chicken, garlic and scallion Mongolian beef, and pan-fried pot stickers. As this type of cuisine originated from the old northern imperial courts, most of the dishes are often decorated with vegetables, animals and designs that are intricately made.
Shanghai. This type of cuisine originated from the southeastern region of China. It is composed of dishes that are braised and stewed slowly to get that full-bodied taste generally associated with Shanghai cuisine. The sauces are also thick and rich because of the slow cooking process applied. In addition, Shanghai cuisine includes preserved foods such as pickled vegetables and cured meats, noodles, as well as the region’s wine, which is an important ingredient in many dishes.
Canton. Canton cuisine came from the areas of southern China. Dim sum is an original dish in a Chinese restaurant offering Cantonese. It is usually presented in roving carts. Cantonese cuisine constantly has live fish and seafood in their list, as well as mild and subtle sauces. Popular Cantonese dishes are shark’s fin soup, roast suckling pig, and steamed whole fish.
Sichuan and Hunan. These two are considered to be China’s hottest dishes, literally. The former is generally spicy, with a combination of flavors of vinegar and sweetly fried food. Chili peppers and red peppercorns are used to heighten the taste of food. Similarly, Hunan dishes are hot and are cooked in oils, garlic and chili-based sauces. Well-known dishes are hot crispy fish, orange beef or chicken, and spicy eggplant in garlic sauce.