I love Chinese food, but I am totally unfamiliar with the cooking process. Because of this, it is hard to figure out which options are healthy. It is easy to avoid the deep fried, sugar sauce coated stuff like lemon chicken (aside from the occasional treat - I love that stuff), but I’m not sure how to weed through the other options to find a healthy choice. Any suggestions?
I’ve found that the chicken and veggie stir fry is not that bad. Little oil. Just avoid the noodles, pork and beef. They use corn starch as a thickener, so it’s not as fatty as it may look.
There are many things but you may have be adventureous, and order new things. Try some of the claypot offerings(usually stewed/braised items) and steamed dishes. The best way that I can think of for you to learn about the food, is to go buy a good Chinese cookbook (“The Thousand recipe Cookbook” is a good one), and thumb through it. This should give you insight into the cooking techniques and ingredients.
One of the biggest problems with Chinese food (or any ethnic food), is that many recipes are "Americanized", and what was once healthy, is now greasy and coated with heavy sauces. Try sticking to Cantonese style restaurants (Dim Sum is Cantonese). Cantonese cooking is more like Japanese, in that they try to accentuate the natural flavors without heavy sauces.
Great question, I can answer many questions since I’ve worked at PF Chang’s China Bistro for over a year now. Almost everything served in Chinese restaurants are wok fried in oil, sometimes deep fat fried and wok fried, unless the item has “steamed” in its name or description. I know at our restaurant you can have any dish special ordered ( eg. get your entree steamed w/ sauce on the side, or even some chefs that are willing enough will make some of the sauces w/ out sugar when you order it. You can also substitute different veggies in the dishes.) Just remember that pretty much every sauce in the restaurant has some sugar in it in order to rival the taste of the soy sauce(msg) that’s in almost every dish served. All of the chicken that’s wok cooked is also breaded in cornstarch as well, so you have to specify no cornstarch if you’re really carb conscious. The cantonese sauces are probably the lowest in sugar, the kung pao sauces have both sugar and oil (yikes!), but damn they’re good. Oh yeah, never eat the peanut or oriental salads since these dressings are loaded w/ sugar and oil. they also have crispy wontons(fried dough) on top as if the dressing isn’t bad enough. Just remember to have your dish special ordered if you’re at a restaurant that isn’t fast food.
Hey Jason: someday, Ko and I will personally cook you (and your wife) up a nice, AUTHENTIC, Chinese meal. Would be a pleasure to do so.
My mom useto work in a Chinese restaurant - and I also worked there. There was usually a table back in the kitchen that was always laid out with the more authentic Chinese foods. This food was for the employees. As for what was prepared for the customers - totally different story. My parents now own a cafe and my mom cooks Chinese food on Fridays and Saturdays. Typical Americans prefer their food rather loaded with oils, flavorings, etc. :so that is how most Chinese/American restaurants cater the food.
But, really the best thing to do is to go to a Chinese restaurant with someone who is Chinese. That way, they more than likely will be able to order off the menu. Which means more authentic and "safer" foods to eat.
Thanks a lot guys. Your suggestions are quite helpful and give me some ammo next time I’m at a Chinese restaurant.
Aboulder - How is P.F. Changs? I've got one right by my house, but my wife and I have yet to try it. Is it worth the cash?
Jason- I eat at P.F. Changs from time to time to get my chinese fix and they are always willing to make “weird” alterations to the menu items. The tangerine chicken or beef are both really good, and you can order it not fried and 1/2 the sugar in the sauce. If you have a Chin-Chin in your area they will make any changes/substitutions you ask for, or you can order “health style” i.e. no oil, no sugar.
Jason…I travel pretty much 100% of the time with my job, and have stayed in a hotel next to a PF Chang’s for the last 9 months. I don’t really think that it is anything to get too worked up about, but there are a couple of good bodybuilder dishes there. There is a seared ahi tuna appetizer that is pretty good. Also, the steamed salmon isn’t bad. And, the “Buddha Feast” (a bunch of steamed veggies) is a pretty good complementary dish. However, I wouldn’t go there to get the full Chinese experience, as the choices that are healthy don’t tend to have much of an Asian flair at all…Matt
don’t you dare eat my chicken! it is fried twice and isn’t even chinese! that’s right it was invented in New York!
Good thread Jason. Like you, I am a big fan of Chinese food. My girlfriend and I made our first trip to P.F. Changs. The food was good, but not exceptional. The bill didn’t end up too bad, we both had a dish which came with steamed rice and a couple glasses of water. The check came to be around $32.00.
I work in a mall (GNC, no I don’t use any of their products), and one of the Chinese “restaurants” agreed to fix me up some healthy Chinese cuisine. Basically they make me a stir fry over steamed white rice with a bit of teriyaki sauce added to it. Actually tastes pretty good for “mall food.”
Hey, I saw at one time that you are from Portland, OR. Is your mother’s cafe there? I have family there and may be up soon. I’ve never liked Chinese food and I’ve been convinced it was because it wasn’t ‘real-Chinese’ so I’d love to try it.
We live in Portland, Patricia’s mom lives in north-central Washington. Couple of places that I can recommend:
Legin- Cantonese, great Dim Sum
Golden Horse- Good food, resonable prices.
Lum Yuen- have not been here yet, some of the local Chinese say its the best.
Sungari -Upscale, a little more expensive, getting raves from the critics.
Hope this helps.
No mention about sushi has been made. I know it’s not necissarily chinese, but our chinese restaurant serves a couple of sushi dishes. Is there anything i should look out for when ordering a sushi dish? Is it even healthy, or am i on the wrong path? Thanks for any help.
Sushi shouldn’t be that bad if you want carbs and protein. Stick to the more traditional sushis and sashimis. Don’t get anything deep fried or with mayo in it (I can’t understand why anyone would eat sushi with mayo in it anyway - yuck!) Eel rolls, yum…
By the way, never move to the South if you like Chinese food. Every Chinese resturaunt here sucks.
I would never eat sushi in a Chinese restaurant. Seriously. We go to a Japanese restaurant for sushi. Which is what I recommend. I can eat sushi up to two weeks before a contest. So, sushi is actually pretty good.
You know the trick about Chinese and Japanese restaurants is go to the ones that you see only Chinese and/or Japanese folks eating at.
I used to work in a Japanese restaurant. As long as you stay away from the tempura, all the rice (if on a low carb), skin rolls. Skin rolls are normally the skin fried in a wok to a crisp golden brown. Sashimi is your best bet. I normally eat sushi 2 times a week getting all albacore and salmon sashimi. I use very little if any soy and moderate amounts of wasabi. I can tell you this. When I worked at the restaurant I had a relatively sedentary lifestyle but since I was eating suchi at least 6 times a week, I was pretty lean considering my activity levels.
New Kids On The block,had a bunch of hits
Chinese food makes me sick.
And I think it’s fly when girls stop by for the summer,for the summer
I am Chinese and I am glad my mom cooks my Chinese food,I hate Chinese food in restaurants in America except those in Chinatowns.
Thanks Ko. I asked a friend and they knew about Legin but hadn’t been to it or to the others. I’m also curious about any Sushi places in Portland if you know of any. (Sorry I guess this should be in the off-topic section )
Hey, go to my online portfolio: www.portfolios.com/PatriciaSmith - send me a email. We can discuss offline - lest anyone be bored by this. We’ll be in San Diego next week, when are you going to be in Portland? We would be happy to recommend ALOT of good places for fine Asian cuisine! Maybe even accompany you. I’m always up for good Chinese food! Well, this well be pre-contest for me
For Japanese; most authentic would be Murata in downtown Portland on Market street. For really good,but inexpensive a little place called Yoko's on SE 28th and Gladstone. And there is a small "chain" here called Koji's. They're reliable, especially the one on Macadam Blvd. Also, Ichidai which is now on Powell Blvd. useto be pretty good, especially their tempura ice cream (I don't like ice cream that much, but THIS I'll eat!). Hope this helps!