Chinese food - no big deal, we have all been eating in Chinese restaurants for most of our lives! We wondered what it would be like: better? Worse? Too different for our tastes? or just give me some good old KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), which they love to eat here, to get me through our three weeks in China. Well, just like anywhere else, it depends where you eat. We have had some really great Chinese food and we have had some really mediocre Chinese food and we've even had some bad Chinese food. Either way, there are definitely some difference...
1. Rice will NOT come with your food. If you don't order rice, you won't get rice. When you get your rice it comes in a small bowl. You do not dump your rice onto a plate placing your Chinese food on top. Instead, you leave the rice in it's little bowl and slowly move individual pieces of your meat or vegatable into your rice bowl and eat from there. It's a little bit of a challange.
2. Bones will come with your food - and lots of them. The meat in your dish is most likely still attached to it's bone, however, it is still cut into bite size morsels which means that the bones are in lots of little pieces. Allow extra time to eat!
3. I've always thought that Chinese food in America is pretty salty. That is not the case here. You will often need to add salt or soy sauce to your dish. If you want salt, just make the gesture of holding a salt shaker in your hand and shaking salt onto your food and you will get the salt. If you want soy sauce, learn the Chinese word for soy sauce as we can't seem to make them understand what it is we want.
4. We have seen no dish call Egg Rolls. They have spring rolls here and they come in a meat variety and a vegtable variety but the two don't ever seem to mix the two of them.
5. Speaking of not mixing meat and vegtables, unlike at home where dishes usually have meat and vegtables both, here there are meat dishes and there are vegatable dishes but almost no mixed dishes of meat and vegtables. Maybe it's a Chinese thing like Jews don't mix milk and meat.
6. Soup or no soup. When ordering a noodle dish you need to decide whether or not you want the noodles in soup or just on a plate. All noodle dishes require that this decision be made clear to your wait person.
7. Fried rice at home is good (or not so good in some restaurants). Fried rice here is not good. It's filling but it's tasteless.
8. You get no fortune cookies at the end of the meal. They must export all the fortune cookies to foreign countries and therefore have none left to hand out here.
9. Each dish you order is prepared fresh and one at a time. This means in order to serve your food hot, they bring out dishes one at a time. There could easily be a 15minute difference between when you receive the first dish ordered until you receive the last. This also means that if you want to eat your food hot, that you end up eating your dishes one at a time.
10. They eat everything here: chicken, pork, beef, duck, snake, rat, dog...and every part of it. Therefore when you see street food or an item on the menu that reads "Mixed Meat" you have to make the decision of whether TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT!