Five Chinese Dishes You Will Not Find In China

chinese_newyearby Steven Doyle

We must be amusing ourselves when we order Chinese cuisine at restaurants that we seriously know are not serving anything close to what the Chinese might actually eat. There are restaurants that serve Chinese food that the Chinese consider indigenous, and we report on those often, but let’s take a look at dishes that the Chinese possibly never even heard of in their country. 


General Tso’s Chicken has become a staple in the American diet with all the elements that scream suburbs. You have your fried food group, the high fructose corn syrup  group, and there may even be an element of vegetation for good measure. The dish isn’t bad when done well, Five Sixty has a General Tso Quail that is outstanding. And this version from Howard Wang isn’t even breaded, and is sprinkled with bits of broccoli.


A Chinese-American cookbook published in 1917 included a dish for “Dan Gun” or Egg Roll. This recipe called for meat and vegetables to be wrapped in egg, sliced and served. Maybe it’s possible this is how the name stuck, but the closest thing to our egg roll in China might be called a spring roll. Regardless, they are delicious, fried and served just about everywhere with a myriad of fillings. We found a great version at Pho Bang in Garland.

beef and broccoli

Beef and Broccoli sounds like something we might like for lunch today, but probably difficult to find in China. The dish is thought to arrive in the States around 1920 and conjured up by Italian immigrants. We found a tasty version at Golden Joy BBQ in Richardson.


We love the little crab rangoon as much as you do, but when you think about it the Chinese are not that into cheese. This appetizer is made with cream cheese which isn’t to be found in China, but was on the Trader Vic’s menu in 1956 where it was first thought to be made.


You will be hard pressed to find a pupu platter even in Dallas today much less China. This is another throwback to Polynesian restaurants of old, dating back to Don the Beachcomber of the 1934 era. We found one of BoBo China in Garland. if you are looking for a retro feel today.


As an added bonus we are mentioning the famed fortune cookie which often will give fortunes and lucky numbers for lottery players. Not sure how that has played out, but it is fun to read these aloud with a tag line of “in bed” added for extra smiles. The history of the cookie dates bake to 1918 San Francisco, and we shall ever be indebted.

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One response to “Five Chinese Dishes You Will Not Find In China

  1. That’s interesting that foods like General Tso’s chicken and egg rolls aren’t very authentic. I always wondered if American Chinese food is all that similar to what inspired it. I’ll have to consider trying an authentic Chinese restaurant to see if I like the American version or the real deal better.

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