8 Chinese Food Dishes You Won’t Actually Find in China

Table of Contents

People in the west absolutely love Chinese food dishes, it’s the best go-to option in many situations: if you need something quick, and cheap, or if no one in your family can agree on what to have… as soon as someone mentions Chinese food as an option, everyone will be onboard, not to mention it is delicious! 

Chinese food has become a part of Western culture thanks to its unique flavor, different from anything else, the sweet and sour stamp of its cuisine has created a special connection between the American and Chinese culture and has many people thinking about how lucky the people in China are because they get to eat those amazing dishes every day, and that’s correct, people in China get to eat amazing food every single day, but probably not the food you are thinking of.  

To answer your question, is American Chinese food real Chinese food? Not really, but it is influenced by traditional Chinese food. If you go to China and ask for an orange chicken, an egg roll, or a crab rangoon it’s going to be very unlikely they will know what you’re talking about. In fact, the majority of the most famous Chinese food dishes in the west don’t exist in China, including the famous Chinese takeout box, mainly because of the kind of ingredients available, for example, the cream cheese, an ingredient so uncommon in China that makes the crab rangoon almost impossible to find. But that doesn’t mean they are not tasty, in fact, they are awesome! So here are the top 8 Chinese food dishes that you won’t actually find in China. 

Beef and Broccoli 

Beef and Broccoli is a popular dish in America, but you will not find it in China due to the differences of ingredients that are available in each region. Beef is a type of meat that is difficult to find in China, but the main reason you won’t find this stir-fry dish in China is because there’s no broccoli in China or at least the type of broccoli that is sold in America, instead, they use a leafy vegetable called gai ian

Chinese food dishes beef and broccoli

Sweet and Sour Pork 

The iconic Chinese sweet and sour sauce found across America is quite different to the one in China, the American version uses a ketchup-like tomato paste, which you won’t find in China since the tomato is not an easy-to-find vegetable in China, also, their version of the sauce is less sweet and is normally served on the side of some seafood dishes, almost never with braised pork.  

General Tso’s Chicken 

General Tso’s Chicken is another Chinese dish that is so popular you will easily find it in any Chinese restaurant but, as you probably guessed, not in China, although the dish’s name comes from a real general and the base of the original recipe was invented by a Chinese chef living in Taiwan, what we know of the deep-fried chicken dish, its crispiness and sweetness, with the unique flavor of the sesame oil was reinvented in the 1970s in New York.  

Chinese food dishes general tso's chicken

Orange Chicken

If you hear the words “Chinese Food dishes” probably the first dish that comes to your mind is Orange Chicken, especially the fast food restaurant version which is where it became famous and actually where it was invented in Hawaii by chef Andy Koa in 1987. Since then, this citric sweet and sour boneless chicken dish usually served with fried rice has become one of the most iconic and popular Chinese American preparations, which can instead be categorized just as an American preparation.   

Egg Foo Young 

Also known as the Chinese pancake, its only resemblance to a pancake is its shape and the way it looks, but on the inside they are completely different from each other. Egg Foo Young is made out of vegetables and meat. The recipe idea originated with a small Chinese restaurant in California called Chow-Chows around 100 years ago by Cantonese immigrants and it was a successful attempt at introducing a dish with unusual flavors to the American public without it looking intimidating to the locals.

Chinese food dishes egg foo young

Kung Pao Chicken

This famous Chinese American dish in particular is both Chinese and American at the same time, but the Kung Pao Chicken that you are familiar with is probably not the same served in China. It is said that it was because of Richard Nixon that we are able to enjoy this dish. Thanks to a historic visit the former president made to China in 1972, Americans became more interested in different Chinese food dishes, like Kung Pao Chicken, the issue was that one of the main ingredients of the preparation was banned in the United States from 1968 to 2005 because it was considered dangerous for human consumption, that ingredient was Sichuan peppers, and because of that, the dish had to be prepared differently in America, using bell peppers as a substitute. 

Chop Suey

Chop Suey is one of the oldest Western Chinese food dishes being over 100 years old. It was also created in America; it is believed that it was cooked for the first time in San Francisco also by a Chinese immigrant chef who decided to serve drunk workers a dish made up of leftovers and soy sauce. 

Chinese food dishes chop suey

Fortune Cookies 

Asian cuisine restaurants are unique in the way that everyone looks forward to the check, not because the food was so good that they can’t wait to pay, but because of what comes with the check, the fortune cookies. Inspired by a Japanese fortune cookie called omikuji senbei, made out of rice, sesame, and miso, slightly bigger, but also with a fortune inside. They were reinvented in the west also in California and adopted by different Asian cuisine restaurants as a free snack to close a wonderful meal with. 

Even though these preparations are not Chinese, they have become a great Chinese experience tradition in the west. They are different and delicious. But that doesn’t mean there are no traditional Chinese restaurant in your reach. There’s a number of delicious traditional Chinese restaurants around, restaurants where you’ll actually find traditional Chinese food dishes like mapo tofu or the hot pot.  

DAO Contemporary Chinese Cuisine restaurant at Hotel Mousai in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is the best Chinese restaurant of its type in the entire region. DAO offers a fine Asian cuisine experience under the command of chef Ivan Yuen, he was raised in Canton, China where at a very young age he began working in the kitchen. His outstanding work took him to the United States where he lived for 30 years working as an Executive Chef in many of the greatest Asian cuisine restaurants. 

Now at DAO, he will bring traditional food from different regions of China to your table. You’ll have the opportunity to try amazing traditional dishes such as dim sum, crispy Peking duck, and other land and sea elegant preparations that will make you appreciate Chinese cuisine on a whole different level.   


related posts

Book Your Next Beach Getaway at Hotel Mousai Now!

Last news