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European-ized (not Americanized) Chinese Food


markk
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Huh. I have several Australian cookbooks with recipes for what they call "dim sims" (spelled with an I), what the Chinese call shu mai. The Australian cookbooks basically make them by wrapping an egg roll skin around a ball of filling, then steaming or deep-frying them.

I saw these at a number of Chinese restaurants Down Under. The Dim Sims looked just like gigantic Shu Mai. Does anyone know what their Chinese name is, if there is one?

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Forgot to mention that one of the best meals I had in London was in their Chinatown. I think with the large number of ex-pats from HK they have a very decent restaurant business in London proper. I had an excellent bbq meat over rice dish and my friend had prawns with chow fun in black bean sauce. It was the best meal I had in London - well, excluding the crisps I ate from the stores. I would put the food on par with NYC Chinatown food.

The Chinese food elsewhere can be described as food best fit for the LaChoy company. For those of you who don't know what LaChoy is, it's the bastardized Chinese food in a can they had (still have) in the States back in the day. Why can't they open a noodle stall or a mantou stall? Shoot, a well-prepared bowl of wonton mein or dan dan mein or a perfectly steamed mantou would make more money than these slop joints they call restaurants. Ick, ugh and gack.

Honestly, except in London, I wouldn't bother eating in Chinatowns in Europe (I have heard that Paris has good Vietnamese food, though). I really wish I didn't eat Chinese in Rome because I missed out on another chance to eat spaghetti carbonara. Ooooh. Excuse me while I have a moment...*sigh*

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Honestly, except in London, I wouldn't bother eating in Chinatowns in Europe (I have heard that Paris has good Vietnamese food, though).  I really wish I didn't eat Chinese in Rome because I missed out on another chance to eat spaghetti carbonara.  Ooooh.  Excuse me while I have a moment...*sigh*

That's the question I have been asking.

When I am in Texas, why would I want to seek out a good seafood restaurant; whereas when I am in Maine, that I would try to look for a good steak house? Why go out of the way to look for good wonton noodle in Italy, and try to look up a good pizza/spaghetti restaurant while visiting Hong Kong?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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That's the question I have been asking.

When I am in Texas, why would I want to seek out a good seafood restaurant; whereas when I am in Maine, that I would try to look for a good steak house?  Why go out of the way to look for good wonton noodle in Italy, and try to look up a good pizza/spaghetti restaurant while visiting Hong Kong?

But that wasn't the original question that started the thread. THAT question referred to what we all call "Americanized Chinese Food", and was posed as: if you ever have eaten Chinese food in in a city in France or Italy, or Germany, outside of a Chinatown, would you say that the food was lousy becasue it was adapted in some way to what the people cooking it thought was a nod to the 'local' cusine - that is to say, Italian-ized, French-ized, etc?

There were a lot of responses that said that Chinese food in Germany was greasy and heavy, and that makes a lot of sense. I was wondering if anybody was going to write in that the Chinese food in Rome had any Italian flavorings or ingredients, for example.

As far as your phrasing of the question, of course nobody American willingly gives up a local European meal to eat Chinese food. But as I've seen the more than occasional ornate, 60's style decor Chinese restaurants in most small cities in France, Italy, and Germany, I presume that the locals go there for variety from their cuisine, and I just wondered what it tasted like; I've never tried it either.

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There were a lot of responses that said that Chinese food in Germany was greasy and heavy, and that makes a lot of sense.  I was wondering if anybody was going to write in that the Chinese food in Rome had any Italian flavorings or ingredients, for example.

I should qualify this by saying I've had decent Thai and Korean food in Hamburg and good Malaysian food in Berlin. It just seems like Chinese food has been around longer so people have certain expectations for it. People think of it as cheap food, and the quality suffers for it. For all the great turkish imbiss in Hamburg, you would be hard-pressed to find a really nice sit-down Turkish restaurant, I think for the same reason. But you can easily blow 100 euro on say, a Lebanese meal.

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Why go out of the way to look for good wonton noodle in Italy,

I don't know exactly why, but it just seems like when I visit foreign locales I just have to sample the Chinese cuisine, and I know this is the case with a lot of other Chinese people as well. I think we Chinese take a certain amount of pride in the fact that Chinese can migrate to places all over the world and use their skill and ingenuity to create a successful business, despite not having a lot of education or knowledge of the local language. Even though the food may not always be fantastic at these establishments, it's kinda nice to see how our "cousins" around the world are doing.

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I asked my grilfriend (she lived for 4 years in China during the early 80ies), because she worked several times as a European tour guide for groups of chinese.

She thinks there is no such thing as a French style chinese or Italian style chinese, maybe just a somewhat adapted Europaen style chinese.

For most of the time, the chinese visitors (groups of engineers etc) wanted to have simpler, home-style dishes than the one the regular menu lists, because most of them didn't want to spend high European prices on "better", more complicated dishes prepared without authentic ingredients.

Another reason for lower quality may be that many chinese cooks in Europe are not really cooks with a professional education. Finally, most chinese restaurants offer a kind south chinese (cantonesian) style chinese cuisine mixed with Shezuan.

The best Chinese meal she (and I) ever had outside China was years ago, when an award winning chinese cook opened a restaurant in Vienna and brought along a container with authentic ingredients. Now, years later, the ingredients are gone but it may be still quite good: Zhang&Deng

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Why go out of the way to look for good wonton noodle in Italy,

I don't know exactly why, but it just seems like when I visit foreign locales I just have to sample the Chinese cuisine, and I know this is the case with a lot of other Chinese people as well. I think we Chinese take a certain amount of pride in the fact that Chinese can migrate to places all over the world and use their skill and ingenuity to create a successful business, despite not having a lot of education or knowledge of the local language. Even though the food may not always be fantastic at these establishments, it's kinda nice to see how our "cousins" around the world are doing.

Good response!

And I'm not Asian, but I try Asian restaurants in Europe for the same reason I do here: because the restaurant looks interesting, because I'm curious about what Asian food in ______ (name the city or town) is like, and because and I don't always want to eat the same type of cuisine every day.

SuzySushi

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Well, the Chinese food I had in Rome was not Italianized - it did not use olives, cheese, pancetta, balsamic, lemoncello or other Italian ingredients in their cooking. It was like any other "Westernized" Chinese food I had in America. The Chinese food on the buffet table in Frankfurt had alot of fried items and all the items were EXTREMELY sauced. Honestly, it looked like a buffet you'd find in the States. No wurst or kraut to be found. I think Chinese food outside of Asia is going to be Westernized - esp. in Europe/America.

I can appreciate acknowledging and exploring the successes of our cousins in other countries but I'm not wasting my food opportunities in a non-Asian country eating Chinese food. I can eat that at home or eat it properly back in the motherland or where they do it right (ex: CTs in NYC, SF, Philly, Boston, Canada...)

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I lived in Germany for three years. I sought out chinese, greek, Mexican, anything to get away from all the schnitzel, currywurst, bratwurst, knackwurst, knockwurst, saurkraut, kartofflepuffen etc. Don't get me wrong, I love some good German food, but I don't want it *every* time I eat out! The chinese food was certainly from a different region than what is typically found in the US. It was very bland, and different..... The egg rolls were about the size of say, a chimichanga, but sorta flat, deflated and very greasy. I really did not care for it, but it was a nice break from the heavy German cuisine.

Did I mention it being *very* bland? Heavy on the oil, and sweetness as well. Ah well.

Don't get me started on the *mexican* food......

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MarkK brought a really interesting topic here, and I think I have to say something.

I have lived in Lucern, Switzerland for 3 years, when I was a hotel management school student from 1997 to 2000. The Swiss people like something sweet sour or really spicy. They prefer chicken, duck, beef, shrimp and maybe pork, but they don't go any further in seafoods till frozen fish filet.

When I left Switzerland, Chicken Broccolli or Beef Broccoli, General Tsao's Chicken, Orange Beef, and so on have been introduced as new "Chef Secials."

As always, a very interesting thing is European people reallly like duck. I remember the Beijing Duck has to be reserved in three day advance.

If anyone want go to Zurich, you can try a good Chinese restaurant in Bahnhof Str.(RailStation Street), whose name is China Garden. You can sit at one the most expensive street of the world, but still paying in fair price. My classmate Rebacca Liu is the manager there, and her husband is the head chef. I belive they are still there.

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i've had chinese food in Italy more times than i'd care to remember. once while i was studying there for a summer (we got bored of the pasta, decided to venture out), and many many times on a trip with my mother (she only eats chinese food). maybe i just didn't go to the right place, maybe i'm used to "americanized" chinese food, but they were all awful experiences.

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i've had chinese food in Italy more times than i'd care to remember.... but they were all awful experiences.

A large number of the cooks in European chinese restaurants are just Chinese immigrants seeking some work. Most of them didn't even cook at home in China. Furthermore, most chinese restaurants are cheap restaurants, so no one expects ingredientwisely real quality there.

How can the result be different from what it is?

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Re Chinese food in UK: I remember very good Chinese food in Durham, Yorkshire, in the mid-70s. We were in an upstairs restaurant with a table by an open window. We enjoyed steamed beef with mui choy, fresh mint and chilli peppers. I've never had this before and it is now one of our family favourites. Other dishes we had were steamed fish with ginger, scallions, and black beans, and stir-fried snap peas with chicken. The day happened to be Miner's Gala in Durham.  We watched and enjoyed the collier bands as they marched to the cathedral.

Hmm - don't think that is there anymore (And p.s, Durham isn't in Yorkshire!).

Most chinese food comes under one of 4 categories in the UK

Takeaways - These are quite often combined chinese/fish and chip shops, and unfortunately do neither well (with a few notable exceptions). I wouldn't really associate most of the food with anything authentic - most dished consist of some pre cooked meat (you'ld be lucky to get any fish other than battered) cooked in one of two sauces (A gloopy sweet and sour or a generic brown stock based sauce) with some extra vegetables/flavourings depending on the dish. Anything 'Szechuan' is usually sweet and sour with a spoonfull of chilli sauce.

It can be done well though - and if so can be quite tasty and is cheap. Occasionally they do one or two 'specialities' which aren't quite as generic. And there are a few very good takeaways (usually ones from a restaurant)

High street type restaurants

They tend to offer a similar range to the takeaways - it is what people are used to. Normally a bit fresher and better prepared. Bit more of a chance of getting some seafood and the odd regional specialitiy. Nearly all the restaurants in Britain are Cantonese though (Well in name - don't think many of them adhere to the principles of subtlety and clean flavours!). There is usually a very appetising smell, usually because the most popular dishes come 'sizzling', and a heated metal platter (Some places allow any dish to come 'sizzling' for a small surcharge).

There is also the strange fascination with 'value' we get in Britain, a lot of places operate on an eat as much as you like principle, not necessarily buffet style, they will keep cooking what you want to order. Actually some of these can be quite good - if you have a large group you can try pretty much every starter on the menu, and they are often the best thing(That's another point - thngs work on much more of a three/four course basis).

Chinatown restaurants

Lots of cities have a little chinatown. The food here can be good, sometimes great, but as a rule you need a bit of guidance. A lot of places havr two menus, and the english one is full of the high street restaurant standards. Very often it is hard to convince the waiter you don't want sweet and sour chicken and chow mein. I remember once eating somewhere where we tried to get some more interesting dishes - a treasures of the sea special, a belly pork dish etc. We then asked for any recommendations and we ended up with a horrible oversweetend cornstarched thing. Served in a hollowed out pineapple :blink:.

Still much more fun than the high street option. Some places have modernised, made the menu more accesible and the whole thing a bit less intimidating (And upped the prices too!) which is a good thing.

Destination type

Looking at the high end places in general (Although also the odd cheap but good types). Mainly in London but a few others knocking around (Yand Sing in Manchester for instance, which is in Chinatown but I don't really class in the same way). Getting closer to real Chinese food I guess - probably still westernised and in some cases mordernised/fusionised (I think I made that word up)

I terms of the food, I guess dishes are quite often oversauced (something we seem to do with every cuisine). Chicken is always white meat, off the bone and is by far the most popular meat. Pork isn't on the menu much (A family remember said on me mentioning this said 'But pork isn't very chinese really is it :shock: ).

Showpiece dishes are always popular - the sizzling dishes plus crispy duck (shredded at the table) but you have to try hard to find a hotpot dish. Don't often see obvioulsy anglicised dishes though and I think genuine ingredients aren't too hard to come by here.

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