Traditional Eastern Fare - Chinese Restaurants
In the United States, Chinese restaurants are establishments that specialize in an Americanized version of traditional Chinese cuisine. Unlike traditional Eastern fare, Chinese restaurants in the United States cater to western tastes. Chinese restaurants enjoy their place as a mainstay in American culture.
The first Chinese restaurants were introduced in the 19th century. While originally their clientele consisted of mainly railroad workers, Chinese restaurants soon grew in popularity. In short order, Chinese restaurants were soon opening in towns where Chinese cuisine was virtually unheard of. As they grew, Chinese restaurant owners learned to use the ingredients that were available locally in the area, and adapted traditional recipes to reflect that. To bridge any language barriers, it was common for menu items to be given numbers. Thus, the American Chinese restaurant was born.
A Fortune with Every Meal
The American Chinese restaurant has led to the Americanized creation of many of our favorite dishes, including chop suey, General Tsoâs Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Chow Mein, and even Crab Rangoon, a favorite appetizer. The much loved Fortune Cookies served at the end of meals in Chinese restaurants are also an American invention: these were actually created and first offered by the Japanese Tea Garden restaurant in San Francisco. They have gradually grown in popularity so that now even authentic Chinese restaurants offer these treats.
Many of the foods are cooked using stir fry methods or steaming, and often seasoned with soy sauce, large amounts of salt, and other mild seasonings. Many Chinese restaurants once used monosodium glutamate (MSG) as a flavor enhancer. However, the unpleasant âChinese food syndromeâ seemingly caused by this additive â to include profuse sweating, flushing, headache â has led to a market demand that Chinese restaurants be âMSG-free.â
Chinese restaurants are generally categorized by the way food is served. Some offer carryout service, while others might offer eat-in dining. Quite often, Chinese restaurants offer buffet style eating, where patrons can come and eat from a full selection bar an unlimited number of times, for a set price.
âCalifornia Chineseâ Cuisine
American Chinese restaurants have evolved again more recently as certain trends have caught on in varying regions of the United States. For example, influences of San Francisco and Bay area patrons has led to the development of âCalifornia Chineseâ cuisine, which features an emphasis on the use of healthier ingredients such as fresh vegetables, brown rice, and whole wheat products. Hawaiian Chinese Restaurants have evolved a bit differently from the continental American standard as well. Chinese food is a main component of Hawaiian cuisine, which itself is a fusion of various cultures. Chinese restaurants are known for their fusion dishes, as well as their wide (and to many outsiders, puzzling) use of SPAM.
Chinese restaurants in America are mainstays of the fast food realm. Whether you desire a full blown meal, or simply wish for dim sum or dessert and tea, there is sure to be a Chinese restaurant to suit your palette.