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Come on chinese restaurants, get with the program!

  1. May 6, 2009 #1

    Pengwuino

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    I love Chinese food, but I hate chinese restaurants! Almost every chinese restaurant I go to, there is just a giant list of 482734 different meals, each with a slightly different name. The worst is that they never have a description. I honestly, when I go to a new place, I look for something with "chicken" in the title with other words i can pronounce and just hope to god I picked something good.

    I know, im such a cultured person.

    Does anyone else have this problem? I love Italian restaurants because the descriptions themselves make you feel full. DISCUSS!
     
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  3. May 6, 2009 #2

    JasonRox

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    In China there are many many many foods to choose from, so it makes sense that there are a lot.

    Also, in China they are less picky, so they just try everything. Literally.
     
  4. May 6, 2009 #3

    Evo

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    I don't know much about chinese food, so I stick with what I know. But even then, what is awesome at one restaurant can be awful at another. I know what you mean though, descriptions of sweet sauce, garlic sauce, spicy sauce, all tend to be too vague if you don't know what they are thinking. I think that is more due to not being familiar with the food than with the description. I've had "garlic sauces" that I would think would be savory that turned out to be sweet and spicy sauces that were bland.

    I think the standard Italian and Mexican fare found on American menus that we are used to are pretty well known so we know what to expect. I'd say the descriptions are just as vague though "pasta in a tangy tomato sauce".
     
  5. May 6, 2009 #4
    http://www.theaterhopper.com/h_mag/Image/facepalm.jpg [Broken]

    (Sorry, I really wanted to use this somewhere).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. May 6, 2009 #5
    I have one word for you: Buffet
    Who cares what its name is, if its yucky you just pick something else. Eat till youre full and then eat a little more.
    Theres a wonderful Tai restaurant my boyfriend and I enjoy and I remember ordering mango salad the second time I went there. I figured it would be light and fruity and delicious and I love mangoes. When I bit into it I immediately started to sweat and tears ran down my face it was so hot. I love cayenne and pride myself on being tolerant, but I wish they had specified how hot it was going to be! Now when I order it I specifically have to tell them not to make it hot, and put the hot sauce on the side. Sometimes if youre really friendly you can get your server to tell you what each dish is like, and what is good or popular.
     
  7. May 6, 2009 #6
    I always look at those menus trying to figure out what I want, weighing the likelihood that I may like this thing that I have never tried, and then I just order the usual.
     
  8. May 6, 2009 #7

    Moonbear

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    I agree that it would be nice to have descriptions, especially when they call meals things like "Happy Family." Um, I assume they haven't chopped up the grandkids and tossed them into a wok, so some description there would be helpful.

    I also wish that spicy always meant spicy. I have started to request everything "extra spicy" here just to get some small amount of spiciness on dishes that are supposed to be spicy.

    As for things like garlic sauce, that's even more confusing. There isn't just one kind of garlic sauce. So, I might like the chicken with garlic sauce one place (I like the one that's a brown sauce, very savory along with the garlic) and find it completely bland at another where it's the clear garlic sauce. I realize there are different styles of Chinese cooking, and some of these differences might be regional, but then they should clarify this somehow on a menu.

    But, on the plus side, I found a new Chinese restaurant near my new house, and the food there is the best I've found in this town so far! :approve: It's a little hole-in-the-wall that I never even noticed until I was looking at houses, and as we passed it, my realtor just happened to mention it was her favorite. So, I decided to give it a try. Indeed, she knows her Chinese food. The place mostly does take-out...a whole 6 tables in the place, and if you eat in, everything is served in the to-go containers (which is great for me, since I always take some with me anyway, and I wasn't there for the plates). The best indication it was going to be good food is nobody working there spoke much English...the person taking my order needed me to point to what I was ordering on the menu (I'm not sure if he needed the number rather than name, or if he needed to see the Chinese characters next to the English words).

    On the downside, the new place is outside the delivery area for the two pizza places I've found that I like (but one will deliver to a parking lot half way...it sounds weird, but if I can avoid driving all the way downtown to get my pizza, it might be worth it).
     
  9. May 7, 2009 #8

    JasonRox

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    Also keep in mind that most Chinese restaurant owners are Chinese so describing what the food is can be hard for most of them.
     
  10. May 7, 2009 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    My contention is that Italian restaurants provide the least amount of value for the cost. When you eat in a decent restaurant, you are paying more for the service, atmosphere, and location, than you are for the food. Since pasta is an inexpensive food, there is less value for the same price compared to most other food options.

    I started to notice this back in LA when Tsu and I ate out a lot. One night it hit me that I'm paying $25 for a plate of noodles. That's nuts! I can whip up some Fettucini Alfredo for a few bucks.

    As for Chinese food, don't be so picky and try new things. The best meal I have ever had was in a [spendy] indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam. I still have no idea what I ate, but all seven courses were unbelievably good.
     
  11. May 7, 2009 #10
    Theoretically you are paying for the quality of ingredients and skill of the chef. I've certainly had some crappy Fettucini Alfredo but also some that was very good.
    While seemingly simple a marinara may have years of experience and experimentation behind its supposed perfection but spaghetti marinara is something you can easily whip up at home in a half hour for a couple bucks.
     
  12. May 7, 2009 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    There are some dishes that are worth paying the extra but I never noticed any great difference is the quality of the basic dishes. I think fettuchini in particular is what caught my attention. As far as I was concerned, what we made at home in a few minutes was as good as any that I've had in a good restaurant.

    If you get into specialty restaurants, I agree that the quality can vary a lot. But if you look through the LA phone book and choose ten Italian restaurants from the yellow pages, I doubt if you could tell much of a difference between them. In fact some of the best food I've ever had came from relatively obscure and inexpensive locations. This was especially true of Mexican food. I've eaten in some of the best and worst Mexican restaurants, but the best tacos I've ever had were bought at a hole-in-the-wall in gangland LA.

    What really fries my tortilla is that even many "good" Mexican restaurants are now using those prefab cardboard shells. That is downright sacrilegious!!!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2009
  13. May 7, 2009 #12
    The rise of the Chinese all you can eat buffets have absolutely decimated the quality of authentic Chinese restaurants in the US. The only place around here to get quality Chinese is in Chinatown. If you don't live near a major city, then it is hard to get good Chinese. I know what you are talking about, but the best way to figure out Chinese cuisine is to just simply try it all.
     
  14. May 7, 2009 #13

    russ_watters

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    So....you're blaming the restaurant owner for your indecisiveness and unwillingness to try new things?
     
  15. May 7, 2009 #14
    I know all too well about taquerias. Some of them are absolutely amazing.
    Unfortunately I have yet to find a cheap hole in the wall italian food place that is good. The only one I have found was not so good and the food even made me sick the last time I ate there.
     
  16. May 7, 2009 #15

    Moonbear

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    If all you're getting is pasta, find a better Italian restaurant. I don't go to restaurants to buy pasta dishes...those are far too easy to cook at home. The things I look for in an Italian restaurant are the ones I can't make at home...veal saltimbucca, osso bucco. I also will get the seafood dishes. The only time I'll order a dinner with pasta in an Italian restaurant is if they have homemade gnocchi...but you never just get those with sauce on it, rather it's usually incorporated into a bigger dish with vegetables, a meat, an interesting sauce (I had one once with a creamy pumpkin sauce and autumn vegetables which was REALLY tasty...and just perfect for the cold, drizzling day when I was getting the food).
     
  17. May 7, 2009 #16
    Same here in the UK and better still visit a Chinese restaurant with a Chinese friend a Thai restaurant with a Thai friend and so on.They will be familiar with the cuisine and can order stuff which is not on the normal menu.I get confused going in Mcdonalds.What are those burgers about?
     
  18. May 7, 2009 #17

    GCT

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    Chinese food - American Chinese food that is - is pretty much all the same stuff ... meat , vegetables lots and lots of vegetables , and corn starch for that thick sauce. There are two dishes however that separate itself from the pack - Kung Pao and Mongolian Beef. If they have thai dishes then go with Pad Thai.

    Italian food is pretty much the same thing also , it's just a different blend of cheese , meat , pasta. They give you so little so you have to pay a hefty amount to get your fill. Also , a lot of Italiana restaurants aren't authentic e.g. pasta from Walmart.
     
  19. May 7, 2009 #18
    It is a source of amazement to me that my wife likes to eat in American Chinese restaurants, even cheap takeouts. The ingredients and cooking style are so different from what she knew in Taiwan that I don't think she would have guessed it was Chinese food on first sight. She laughs when she talks about Chop Suey because she never heard of it before she came here and the name amuses her. "What is that? Chop chop chop sue I don't know?" There was a Taiwanese restaurant that opened nearby and the dishes were as authentic as you could get using local ingredients and very delicious. Unfortunately, the building looked like a Chinese takeout and people would come in expecting Moo Goo Gai Pan or General Tsao's Chicken and such which weren't on the menu. They went out of business in a hurry.
     
  20. May 7, 2009 #19
    Italian food here is really Italian American food.
    I've been to only one authentic chinese restaurant in California. It was very expensive and full of japanese people.
     
  21. May 7, 2009 #20
    I can never leave without commenting, "I just ate enough to feed a family in China for a week." I've been told it's an annoying habit. Probably not true either. I guess I should stop saying that.

    Give me a plate of boiled mud with water chestnuts and I'll be happy. Water chestnuts make everything better. Anything cheap to throw in the furnace will suffice. The only thing about fancy restaurants that impresses me is the price. It's not too hard to find good food and atmosphere at affordable prices. The grapevine is a better place to search for them than the phone book.

    I've noticed a lot of restaurants in Portland have decent menus. I think it's because it seems like every other person here is a vegetarian or vegan. It's just good for business.
     
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