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Why does Chinese Food taste the same, no matter where you get it from?

General Tso’s Chicken tastes the same no matter which Chinese takeout place you get it from. Same with other dishes. Is there just one main ingredient supplier for Chinese Restaurants? Sort of like McDonald's, a Big Mac tastes the same regardless of which McDonald's you go to.

by Anonymousreply 75March 31, 2024 6:18 PM

Because you patronize low-cost Chinese joints serving working stiffs. So yes, it is fast food, designed for the baby tastes of American peasants. General Tso’s Chicken is not a Chinese dish. It was conceived for Americans.

by Anonymousreply 1March 30, 2024 1:48 AM

Now I'm hungry.

by Anonymousreply 2March 30, 2024 1:54 AM

I think the sauces are all the same and arrive at the restaurant in a giant plastic jug.

by Anonymousreply 3March 30, 2024 1:59 AM

No, it doesn't.

by Anonymousreply 4March 30, 2024 2:01 AM

Ancient Chinese Secret, OP

by Anonymousreply 5March 30, 2024 2:02 AM

OP bery intellrigent

by Anonymousreply 6March 30, 2024 2:03 AM

I will agree somewhat - and Thai food also tastes similar due to fish sauce and hot sauce / consistent flavorings added to many dishes.

by Anonymousreply 7March 30, 2024 2:07 AM

O.K., I've had enough of this thread...

by Anonymousreply 8March 30, 2024 2:12 AM

If you go to Panda Express, then yes, the food is going to taste the same.

by Anonymousreply 9March 30, 2024 2:18 AM

Why does Italian food all taste the same? It’s always the tomatoes, the oregano, the cheese. Boring!

by Anonymousreply 10March 30, 2024 3:23 AM

That's not a fair comparison R10. The Italian Food from a real Italian Restaurant versus a chain taste different. Different Italian Restaurants use different recipes. But if you go to Mr. Fong's on 35th or China Garden on 7th it tastes the same.

by Anonymousreply 11March 30, 2024 1:53 PM

Could it be... its ingredients?

by Anonymousreply 12March 30, 2024 1:57 PM

I haven't seen the baby tastes troll in years.

by Anonymousreply 13March 30, 2024 2:04 PM

PF Changs tastes different from the local take out place. Better quality of meet and freshness of veggies. Crappy Chinese places will use wilted veggies and greasier cuts of meat.

by Anonymousreply 14March 30, 2024 2:06 PM

I often thought that as well, OP. I think there are"Chinese food" suppliers who send massive boxes of General Tso's chicken in fryer-sized bags, frozen dumplings, etc., to Chinese restaurants and depending on which supplier your favorite restaurant uses, the food will taste the same as any other Chinese place in the general area. Depending on the supplier, some things may vary a bit, and the food on offer changes from one restaurant to the next. But it's all pretty much the same.

IMHO, they're kinda like the Olive Garden. All the food is already prepared, and they just fry/heat it.

by Anonymousreply 15March 30, 2024 2:07 PM

[quote]Could it be... its ingredients?

If that were the case, then you could make a Big Mac at home that tastes just like a Big Mac at McDonald's.

by Anonymousreply 16March 30, 2024 2:14 PM

It's called "cooking flom lecipe," OP.

Ching ching chow chow.

by Anonymousreply 17March 30, 2024 2:19 PM

Why? It's because it's American Chinese food.

by Anonymousreply 18March 30, 2024 2:23 PM

I don't want to laugh at R17, but I can't help it.

by Anonymousreply 19March 30, 2024 2:24 PM

One chef. Busy man. Bicycle.

by Anonymousreply 20March 30, 2024 2:27 PM

Read this excellent book and all your questions will be answered OP. (If you're at a "syndicate" Chinese restaurant then yes the recipes are pretty much the same.)

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 21March 30, 2024 4:48 PM

Is the author’s middle initial really “8?”

by Anonymousreply 22March 30, 2024 4:52 PM

Yes. Yes, it is.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 23March 30, 2024 4:53 PM

She made “man-date” happen!

[quote] Lee attempted to popularize the term "man date" in a 2005 New York Times article, which subsequently inspired the 2009 film I Love You, Man.

by Anonymousreply 24March 30, 2024 4:56 PM

I cannot speak to your choice of entree, OP, since I never eat General Tso's, no matter where I go. But in my experience, different restaurants produce different versions of the dishes I eat - Kung Pao Chicken, Cashew Chicken, Orange Chicken, Black Pepper Chicken, Fried Rice, egg rolls, Hot & Sour Soup, etc..

by Anonymousreply 25March 30, 2024 5:00 PM

There's only one Chinese restaurant near to where we live, and every single thing you eat from there tastes exactly the same. There's an oily taste to everything. There was another Chinese restaurant and the food didn't taste that way, but the owner shut down because he wasn't paying his taxes, or something.

by Anonymousreply 26March 30, 2024 5:42 PM

OP, have you ever eaten anything other than fastfood-style Chinese food? I'm guessing the answer is no. Unfortunately most Chinese food in the US has been dumbed-down to appeal to American's unsophisticated palettes. (The same goes for other "ethnic" chain restaurants like Olive Garden.)

by Anonymousreply 27March 30, 2024 6:21 PM

R27 nailed it. Thread closed.

by Anonymousreply 28March 30, 2024 6:34 PM

Try making the real thing for yourself. There is a YouTube channel, Souped Up Recipes, which is excellent and authentic.

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by Anonymousreply 29March 30, 2024 6:42 PM

I guess OP doesn't know that La Choy comes in oil drums.

by Anonymousreply 30March 30, 2024 6:46 PM

Sum Ting Wong OP!

by Anonymousreply 31March 30, 2024 6:46 PM

Years ago, I was watching a documentary on PBS in which a 20-something Chinese man was marrying a young American woman. I believe they'd met when he was in the US as a college student.

The man took the bride home to China to meet his family, and they had a massive feast to welcome the young couple. I will never forget the PBS narrator saying, "And they're serving Chinese delicacies, moose nose and bear paw."

That's when I learned that Americans don't eat real "Chinese food."

by Anonymousreply 32March 30, 2024 6:46 PM

Why does my pangolin taste like General Tso's Chicken?

by Anonymousreply 33March 30, 2024 6:52 PM

Okay everybody, calm down. I know that Chinese food in retail Chinese Restaurants in America is not real Chinese Food. I don't even think General Tso was a real person. My only point was that the dishes taste the same, regardless of which Restaurant you get the food. I found that interesting.

by Anonymousreply 34March 30, 2024 6:54 PM

Sugar + MSG always tastes the same.

by Anonymousreply 35March 30, 2024 6:57 PM

R27, it is not dumbing down. If you've ever traveled abroad you'd know that all cultures appropriate dishes and make them their own, given local palates, available ingredients, traditional ingredients and seasonings, etc.

by Anonymousreply 36March 30, 2024 6:59 PM

It’s like my theory with most Mexican joints, where they have a buffet set up in the kitchen and just serve different combinations of the same 12 ingredients.

by Anonymousreply 37March 30, 2024 7:04 PM

Jiang Nan Boston and Myers + Chang are two wonderful Chinese restaurants in Boston.

I am going to have lunch at Jiang Nan on Monday.

Joanne Chang uses her grandmother’s recipes at Meyers + Chang and the food is wonderful.

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by Anonymousreply 38March 30, 2024 7:12 PM

R38 That place looks good. I like that sort of fare, as opposed to ‘3 Fat Whore Delight’, deep fried and covered in sweet and sour sauce.

by Anonymousreply 39March 30, 2024 7:14 PM

Joanne Chang also owns Flour Bakery — an excellent bakery with ten locations around Boston.

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by Anonymousreply 40March 30, 2024 7:14 PM

R27 R28 I noted the same points in R1. So the thread was already closed before it started.

by Anonymousreply 41March 30, 2024 7:15 PM

Jiang Nan

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by Anonymousreply 42March 30, 2024 7:18 PM

Are the people who think all Chinese food tastes the same from the UK or outside metropolitan areas of the US?

by Anonymousreply 43March 30, 2024 7:35 PM

UK here-

We have very long standing Chinese communities in our major cities. Takeaway Chinese food is completely bastardised to suit the palates of British people, in much the same way as Indian food.

In recent years people have become much more sophisticated and adventurous, and now seek authentic cooking. I am very lucky that there is a large Chinese community in my city, and I can easily find ingredients if I am cooking Chinese food. We also have fantastic restaurants. My favourite is a Chinese Malaysian place.

by Anonymousreply 44March 30, 2024 7:59 PM

Oh—one more suggestion for Chinese food in Boston: Peach Farm in Chinatown.

If you ever go to Peach Farm, you must order their specialty: Lobster with Ginger and Scallions.

It is delicious!

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by Anonymousreply 45March 30, 2024 7:59 PM

I’m pretty sure the meat comes in big bags already marinated and ternderized. Just throw in the fresh veg for a quick stir fry.

by Anonymousreply 46March 30, 2024 8:05 PM

I was in the herbs & spices aisle of the supermarket and there was a jar of “Chinese five spice”. I like Asian food so I bought it. Opened it when I got home, omg the smell. It was like every horrible greasy cheap Chinese meal I’ve ever had. Nauseating. Threw it out without using.

The ingredients are Star anise, fennel, cinnamon , cloves, pepper.

by Anonymousreply 47March 30, 2024 8:39 PM

R18, r27 are 100% correct

R36, A.K.A "dumbing down"

It's the same with most ethnic cuisines in the US. It's the same shit on almost every menu and it all tastes the same. Gotta appeal to the white folks, I guess.

LIke Chicken Tikka fucking Masala on just about every Indian restaurant menu in the US. It's not even an authentic Indian dish. When people say, "Oh, I love Indian food" I cut them off and say "Please don't say chicken tikka masala."

by Anonymousreply 48March 30, 2024 8:42 PM

Correct. In fact, basically all of your local restaurants on the cheaper side are getting the same exact ingredients. They are getting them from Cisco or some other major supplier that delivers, as well as your local Restaurant Depot/Smart and Final/Costco Business Center. Restaurant Depot in my city is where all the asian places get the same exact premade shrimp and orange/sweetandsour/generaltsos/whatever pork and chicken. Same wontons same egg rolls etc. If you have a major restaurant supplier retail location within 20 miles of you then they're all getting it there and it's probably just the same stuff Cisco drops off but at a slightly higher price. If you can get a restaurant owner to let you use their membership card it's a cool place to shop esp for cleaning supplies.

by Anonymousreply 49March 30, 2024 8:51 PM

I'm glad OP posted this question. I emailed Katie Phang and asked her for help on this, and she responded just now ! She said she will be addressing this concern next week on her show. Stay tuned !

by Anonymousreply 50March 30, 2024 8:55 PM

My favourite Chinese recipe site is Woks of Life. They have tons of traditional recipes, and also Westernised ones. They also have a lot of vegetarian recipes, which I appreciate, as a vegetarian.

One thing that surprised me was how much white pepper plays a role. It’s almost undetectable, but when it’s present, it really locks it in as a “Chinese” dish.

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by Anonymousreply 51March 30, 2024 10:41 PM

R1 both accepts the OP's unproven assertion and oversimplifies the realities of Chinese-American cookery, while defaming people as "peasants" and barking out her classist hauteur.

One would think she regrets that the menu of Wonton Wong's Express Delivery of Dacron, Ohio, does not include sophisticated delicacies befitting such a refined palate as hers.

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by Anonymousreply 52March 30, 2024 11:13 PM

Wrong. I grew up in the 70s eating adventurous Chinese food in NYC, spoiled at Shun Lee Dynasty, Uncle Lou's Sichuan eateries, and Shorty Tang's Hwa Yuan. Then I fled to SF where I was a night owl and ate in very late nite spots with Chinese only. Unspeakable ingredients, yes, so you got that part right.

30 years later I know what is possible but not reaching most restaurant diners. Same with every other cuisine. Fortunately in large cities there is a variety of Chinese cuisine from many regions, now, and it most definitely does not all taste alike. So, Miss Smarty pants, obviously our OP is completely outside that possible experience, and his Chinese cuisine is limited to fast cheap familiar chinese-american dishes for baby tastes.

French can get equally gnarly with their offal.

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by Anonymousreply 53March 31, 2024 12:41 AM

The racists appear five replies in… typical.

by Anonymousreply 54March 31, 2024 12:42 AM

Some of you are confusing what I wrote. I'm not talking about Asian Cuisine. I'm talking about China Garden and Hunan Palace those types of places on every street corner with virtually the same menu. The kind of Asian Restaurant where you can get Sweet and Sour Chicken and a side of french fries and wings. I know that is not traditional Asian cuisine.

by Anonymousreply 55March 31, 2024 12:45 AM

R29 no one wants to make their own Chinese food, there's always someone who say this EVERY time.

by Anonymousreply 56March 31, 2024 12:48 AM

So of course it all tastes the same OP, R55. That's the point.

by Anonymousreply 57March 31, 2024 12:49 AM

[quote][R29] no one wants to make their own Chinese food, there's always someone who say this EVERY time.

You can buy those Innovasian meals or the PF Chang at Home meals, but they never turn out right.

by Anonymousreply 58March 31, 2024 12:57 AM

I love Woks of Life, R51! I also have the cookbook. Easy, delicious and fresh recipes. Highly recommend.

by Anonymousreply 59March 31, 2024 1:00 AM

Indeed, R59! All it takes is having a few different ingredients on hand you might not otherwise have, but the recipes are easy!

Get stuffed, R56 - some of us do like making food ourselves.

by Anonymousreply 60March 31, 2024 1:19 AM

I don't quite agree with op. General Tso’s Chicken is a fave of mine. I've tried it in several Chinese restaurants near me and they taste/prepared differently. One is too sweet, another too sour, one is salty, one too dry, etc. Also, the vegetables they put varied. Actually, even the same restaurant could serve it differently at times. I guess depending on who's the cook in shift.

by Anonymousreply 61March 31, 2024 1:35 AM

R21, I second your recommendation. I ate so much Chinese reading it

by Anonymousreply 62March 31, 2024 1:49 AM

[quote] PF Changs tastes different from the local take out place. Better quality of meet and freshness of veggies. Crappy Chinese places will use wilted veggies and greasier cuts of meat.

PF Chang is a chain, like Olive Garden, catering to the American palate. I wouldn't judge all Chinese restaurant food based on your local take-out place.

by Anonymousreply 63March 31, 2024 1:51 AM

What r49 said.

All these local American-Chinese restaurants are getting their products from the same supplier (or maybe there’s several to choose from)

So, they’re all taste the same.

I liked in Florida and Colorado in the last 10 years and all the restaurants/take-outs all taste the same. Sometimes restaurants have better quality, but basically the same taste with same dishes.

by Anonymousreply 64March 31, 2024 2:06 AM

OP is correct. It always tastes like nothing to me.

by Anonymousreply 65March 31, 2024 2:19 AM

This stuff is good!

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by Anonymousreply 66March 31, 2024 4:38 AM


by Anonymousreply 67March 31, 2024 4:39 AM

No—check out R66’s signature.

by Anonymousreply 68March 31, 2024 4:44 AM

Yes, I was joking. In a goofy mood tonight. Greg got the joke.

by Anonymousreply 69March 31, 2024 4:46 AM

Good joke!

by Anonymousreply 70March 31, 2024 4:48 AM

If you go to your local Asian grocery store,( and most mid sized to large American city will have at least one), you will find row after row of prepared sauces, most with Chinese characters, Vietnamese, or Thai writing on their labels. You have to turn to the back for any sort of description of ingredients in English. These sauces are authentic, in the sense that they are prepared in Asia for Asian clients, not for Americans. Many have as a primary ingredient, fish sauce, which is made from fermented anchovies and other small fish. You can find every kind of curry paste, from green to red, black bean paste, hoisin sauce, duck sauce, gazillions of kinds of soy sauces. stuff to make tom kha gai, or peanut satay. I suspect that most restaurants and Chinese American households get their sauces from these stores and don't prepare them on site. What should be fresh in any dish are ginger, garlic, onion, meat and vegetables.

But American Chinese food, especially from chain restaurants like Panda Express, is usually heavily sauced and very very salty. I have found that I get the most fresh tasting food in Chinese restaurants if I don't order foods with "names". Often a menu will have selections like chicken with chinese vegetables, or beef with broccoli, gailan, or garlic string beans with sesame. Those choices will taste better, be fresher and will lack the heavy sauces. If you want food that has more heat, (created with peppers) choose a Hunan restaurant, or a Szechuan restaurant.

by Anonymousreply 71March 31, 2024 8:10 AM

[quote]R47: I was in the herbs & spices aisle of the supermarket and there was a jar of “Chinese five spice”.

I detest Five Spice Powder. Some Chinese restaurants put it in their principle dishes, and that's a guarantee I won't be back.

by Anonymousreply 72March 31, 2024 12:42 PM

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand

Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain

He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook's

Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein

by Anonymousreply 73March 31, 2024 2:33 PM

I have a theory here.I'd say when most people feel like Chinese or Mexican or Italian food, they're looking for that old familiar comforting feeling. It's not always authentic this or authentic that. It more of I just crave some of that best sweet sour pork dish or won ton soup or shredded beed enchiladas or that lasagna dish that made you feel happy and satisfied. Really no big deal. There are also many adventurous eaters who crave new and authentic every time. To each his own really. Happy Eastah!

by Anonymousreply 74March 31, 2024 5:27 PM

Hamburgers and pizza arguably taste “pretty much the same” wherever you get them too. But of course there are tremendous variations in the quality of ingredients and the care taken in preparation. It’s the same for Chinese food, but in most places there are no higher-quality Chinese restaurants. Just the equivalent of fast-food quality. If you’re lucky, you will find a restaurant that uses better ingredients and charges accordingly, but few places in the US can support that niche.

I went to a very fine Chinese restaurant in New York to celebrate the birthday of my cousin’s husband who is from Wuhan. It was not only more authentic in terms of what was served, but also had high quality ingredients and was prepared by a skilled chef. Such a restaurant can only be found in a few cities in the US.

by Anonymousreply 75March 31, 2024 6:18 PM
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