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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

China Gets a Taste of Americanized Chinese Food

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 3:28 PM

click to enlarge FLICKR/STEVENDEPOLO

It's an oddly disorienting experience to be traveling abroad and stumble on an "American restaurant" — not a chain, but a place that was opened by expats and sells pancakes and burgers and milkshakes to backpackers and America-philes. Inevitably the food is the same as what you'd find at home in name only, victim to the different ingredients and tastes of its host nation.

Anyway, you probably know that what we mostly consider "Chinese food" isn't; that General Tso's chicken and Mongolian beef and fortune cookies are American inventions. (S.F. even claims to have invented the fortune cookie. Holla.) Chinese food in China is much more varied and seasonal than our Chinese restaurants give it credit for. But now some Cornell graduates have opened an American-Chinese restaurant in Shanghai.

Co-owner Fung Lam comes from a family of Chinese restauranteurs in the United States, and so there was already some institutional knowledge to tap into. The biggest issue the two classmates ran into, reports CBS, was getting the right ingredients to make the dishes taste like they'd come out of any small town in America: Mott's, Heinz ketchup, and Skippy peanut butter feature in the dishes.

For more on American Chinese restaurants, the New Yorker ran a fascinating feature a few months back about the network of chefs and workers that populate these kitchens. Well worth a read. And something you can bring up at the table at your family's Chinese food Christmas dinner to distract from your Uncle Jim's insistence on talking politics at the dinner table.

[CBS via Eater]

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About The Author

Anna Roth

Anna Roth

Anna Roth is SF Weekly's former Food & Drink Editor and author of West Coast Road Eats: The Best Road Food From San Diego to the Canadian Border.

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