Wherever you live, it’s almost certain that you will have a Chinese restaurant within easy reach. Chinese food is very popular, and rightly so, as it’s tasty, affordable, and pretty healthy too. Chinese restaurants offer options for both meat-eaters and vegetarians and have every style of eating from the quick lunchtime snack to the magnificent banquet.
It’s usual when there is a group of people ordering Chinese food for a selection of contrasting dishes to be chosen, and shared between the diners. If you are eating alone, another option is the Set Menu, which usually offers standard favourites at a very reasonable price.
Some popular dishes which you can find on most menus include:
A deep-fried pancake roll, stuffed with a variety of vegetables, meats and seafood. Often served with a sweet and spicy sauce, these are quite filling, and good for the person who comes to the table very hungry.
Shredded seaweed (sometimes other greens are used), deep-fried and sprinkled with spices. Although deep-fried, this is a light and tasty start to your meal if you are just looking for something to nibble.
Soup is a good start to any meal, especially in colder weather. Favourites include Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup, Hot and Sour Soup, and soup with stuffed dumplings, known as Won Ton.
Sweet and Sour
Sweet and Sour Pork is very often the first Chinese food most people eat in a Chinese restaurant. Deep-fried batter-coated pork (often belly pork is used) is served with a bright red sweet and sour sauce, often with pineapple included, and plain boiled rice. Other popular sweet and sour options are chicken, fish and prawns or shrimp.
Rice is a staple, and served with just about all Chinese main courses. Its function is to absorb sauces, add a bland note to strongly flavoured food, and of course, to satisfy your appetite. Rice can be plain boiled or fried.
Chow Mein is a popular mixed dish based on noodles. Included will be vegetables, and you can choose to add beef, chicken, pork, rice, tofu, prawns or fish, or a mixture of these.
Chop Suey is similar to Chow Mein in that it is a mixed dish, based on rice, with vegetables and a protein added for flavour and nourishment. This is a good choice for a quick one-dish lunch.
Peking Duck is one of the stars in the Chinese food firmament. You will often need to order this 24 hours in advance, unless you are going to a very busy restaurant which can anticipate orders for this gourmet dish every evening.
The duck is carefully prepared and seasoned and hung to dry before cooking. You can usually order a quarter, half or whole duck – a whole duck is not too much for two hearty eaters! Your waiter will bring the duck whole to the table and will shred the tender meat with a couple of forks, delicious crispy skin and all. Accompaniments are shredded spring onions and cucumber, small dainty rice flour pancakes, which will arrive in a basket, and a black bean based duck sauce. You pile meat, vegetables and sauce on a pancake, roll it up and go to culinary heaven.