The United States has so many restaurants featuring just about any cuisine you can think of. People go to Benihana for some sushi, Fogo de Chao for some Brazilian churrasco, Cracker Barrel before good ol’ American southern fried chicken. But one of the most ubiquitous restaurants you can find in the downtown area of any city is a Chinese restaurant. If you’ve never been to one and are unsure of what to order, here are the top Chinese dishes that you should consider:
1. FRIED RICE (Chaofan)
Chinese fried rice is a complete meal with protein (chicken, shrimp, Chinese sausage, pork or beef), vegetables, and carbs (rice).
2. PEKING DUCK
Peking duck is probably the best way to eat duck meat. You get a roasted duck that has been seasoned for 24 hours. It’s crispy on the outside and very flavorful. It’s sliced into bite-sized pieces and rolled in a wrapper.
3. STINKY TOFU
Stinky tofu is fermented tofu which has been brined and fermented for several months, so expect it to have very strong odor. Don’t worry, the stronger the smell, the better it tastes. It may be served cold, although some would deep-fry or stew it.
4. CHOW MEIN
Noodles are as much as a staple in Chinese cuisine as rice and there are many variations of the chow mien.
This is basically rice porridge and it’s a traditional Chinese meal often served at breakfast. Congees vary from region to region: some are watery, others are thick. Some are made with grains that is not necessarily rice. Some congees are sweet, others are savory.
6. CHINESE HAMBURGER
It looks nothing like an American burger, that’s for sure but the Chinese hamburger is definitely delicious. It has a bun that looks like pita, and it’s filled with tender braised pork which contains over 20 spices. It’s been around since 221-207 BC.
7. SCALLION PANCAKES
Unlike American pancakes, this one is savory and is more of a pan-fried flatbread filled with scallions.
8. KUNG PAO CHICKEN
The kung pao is something you can find in the menu of most restaurants in China. It’s comprised of stir-fried spicy chicken.
These are bread-like dumplings filled with everything from veggies, veggies, bean paste, and other ingredients. Baozi buns are usually steamed—so they’re delightfully soft—and served with dipping sauces and chile pastes.
10. CHAR SIU
Char siu is a way to flavor meat that has been barbecued (usually pork). This Cantonese dish is cooked on a skewer over a fire and the seasoning contains five-spice powder, honey, hoisin sauce, red fermented bean curd, and soy sauce.
These are essentially “fried sauce noodles” made with chewy, thick wheat noodles and drizzled with zhajiang sauce.
12. WONTON SOUP
These are the most authentic Chinese dumpling made with a square shaped dumpling wrapper and filled with either pork, shrimp, beef, fish, chicken or a combination thereof.
13. HOT POT
The hot pot is a cooking method where the restaurant crew cooks the ingredients on your table in a huge pot of simmering broth. It’s usually filled with lots of veggies, meat, seafood and other toppings.
14. CHINESE STICKY RICE
This is a Cantonese dish composed of glutinous rice, chicken, Chinese sausage, mushrooms and aromatics, wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed.
15. HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE
This dish originated from the province of Hainan, and it’s poached chicken with flavorful broth, along with rice, ginger, garlic and scallion then served with chile sauce or oil.
Jiaozi is also a dumpling filled with veggies and meat but its dough is thinner than the baozi. It’s cooked by either steaming, boiling or frying.
17. SPRING ROLLS
Spring rolls are basically dim sum that is filled with meat or veggies and wrapped in thin edible wrappers, then fried.