Food Stories

Jumping off the Panda Express

After leaving one of Asia’s top food capitals, Hong Kong, the search for places that even remotely compare to the heavenly goodness back home has been like trying to find water in the desert. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are many restaurants in Chinatown and Flushing that would do Chinese cuisine justice. However, generally speaking, it is a shame that many people here will not get to taste the brilliance of the East due to the necessity for Chinese immigrants to adapt and fuse other global tastes to make Chinese food more accepted. As the crying of my soul at restaurants is a sound that I am too familiar with now, I have decided to point out the top three downfalls from the “American makeover” of Chinese food.

  1. Less is More: It boggles my mind how much salt, gravy, sauce and other condiments get included into dishes. As other #fobs may agree with me, we tend to already have a expectation and standard to which the dish should taste and look like, given the dish is called the same back home. However, it no longer surprises me when my palate must take on a overwhelming sensation of saltiness, or MSG. The amount of sauce and gravy tends to have a ratio of 2:1 over the actual dish. Thus, the taste of the actual dish gets overpowered and disappears.
  2. Glistening in the Morning Sun: Apparently restaurants think that we cannot see what dishes have been served and so they decide to add too much cornstarch to the sauces, giving it the shiny layer.
  3. DIY Customization Dishes such as “chop suey” are not even served in China. Who is General Tso?!?! Our egg rolls are sweet and biscuit like! I wanted to try egg rolls and orange chicken when I came over here because I was so fascinated by what Americans associated with Chinese cuisine. 

I am fully aware that when we borrow cuisines from other places and introduce them back home, it is inevitable to alter it a little so that it will be more widely accepted. We tend to stick to what we are familiar with and subsequently miss out on authentic foreign foods that may enlighten and bring a new world of flavor to our palate.

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