Chinese cuisine, rich in history and diversity, offers a symphony of flavors and textures, but some dishes are better left unordered. Though these dishes may seem tempting, knowing what to avoid could significantly enhance your dining experience and protect your well-being.
1. Calorie-Laden Culprits
Many Chinese restaurant dishes are high in calories, which may lead to overeating and weight gain. Dishes like Barbeque spare ribs, with one serving containing over 600 calories and 66% of daily saturated fat, are obvious culprits. Crab Rangoon and fried egg rolls are other examples, being deep-fried and high in fat, sodium, and sugar, leading to overconsumption and potential health risks.
2. Stealthy Sodium Sources
Some offerings, like Beef and broccoli, can contain over a day’s worth of sodium in the black bean sauce alone. Consuming high levels of sodium can lead to health issues like hypertension. Dishes with copious amounts of sauce, especially soy sauce, are likely to be high in sodium, and modifying these dishes with sauce on the side can significantly impact the flavor and overall experience.
3. Surprisingly Sugary Selections
Don’t be deceived by seemingly savory plates. Dishes like General Tso’s chicken are not only high in calories, fat, and sodium, but also in sugar, making them a less healthy choice. Excessive sugar intake can lead to various health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. It is essential to be cautious about the sugar content in seemingly savory dishes.
4. Dishes Lacking Authenticity
Many restaurants offer dishes that are not authentic and have been adapted to suit local palates, leading to a lack of traditional flavors and culinary techniques. For instance, popular dishes like chop suey and egg foo young were invented in American Chinese restaurants. Choosing more authentic dishes can provide a truer taste of Chinese cuisine.
5. Unconventional Choices and Etiquette
Some dishes served in the early Chinese restaurants, like steak and pork chops, were included to avoid negative perceptions from local communities. Being aware of unconventional choices and understanding proper Chinese restaurant etiquette, like avoiding sticking chopsticks straight up in rice, can enhance your dining experience and respect for the cuisine and its traditions.
6. A Stir-Fry Faux Pas
While ordering, avoiding dishes with sauce on the side or with no oil is crucial. These alterations can significantly impact the flavor produced by stir-frying in oil over high heat, known as “wok hei”. Appreciating traditional Chinese cooking techniques like velveting that produce tender meat textures through breading and quick high-temperature cooking can lead to a more authentic and flavorful experience.
In conclusion, while indulging in Chinese cuisine, choosing wisely and avoiding certain dishes can lead to a more authentic and healthier dining experience. From high-calorie dishes to those lacking in authenticity, being informed about what you order can significantly enhance your appreciation for this diverse and rich cuisine.