Chinese restaurants typically name their dishes after the regional cooking styles of China (e.g., “Szechwan”). Many feature the same standard ingredients, such as soybeans, vegetables, rice, and noodles.
Appetizers often include crispy fried noodles with fried cuts of meat. They can be high in fat and calories as well as toppings like wonton strips, cashews, peanuts, and eggs. The Paper Wrapped Chicken is very popular. Although it is deep-fried, the paper seals out most of the oil and lets the chicken steam in its natural juices. But be careful, the ingredients besides the chicken and cabbage are inherently high in fat and sodium. Steamed Dumplings are a better choice.
Soups make good starters. Generally they contain leaner and better cuts of meat. If made with fresh broth, they are typically low in sodium. A poorer choice is Sizzling Rice Soup because the rice is deep-fried, boosting its fat content.
Many entrées are fried and coated with a sauce, making them full of sodium and fat. Wok-cooked items are preferable. As with Moo-Shu, for example, no oil at all is needed, since the vegetables provide enough moisture for cooking. Ask the chef to omit oil, salt, or soy sauce whenever possible. Choose steamed over fried rice and mix with the juices from your entrée dishes. When ordering combination dishes, ask for larger portions of vegetables than meats.
The customary orange segments and fortune cookies at the end of your meal are good dessert choices. By contrast, almond cookies are much higher in fat and therefore not recommended. As for the deep-fried ice cream…? Better pass.
Chinese Restaurant Menu
(Fresh vegetables and meats wrapped in a cornstarch wrapper and fried)
(Minced meat folded into a small cornstarch wrapper and fried)
♥ Paper Wrapped Chicken
(Diced boneless chicken wrapped in foil and fried)
♥ Steamed Dumplings
(Vegetables and meat wrapped in a cornstarch dough and steamed)
♥ Wonton Soup
(Small meat filled wontons in an aromatic chicken broth)
Sizzling Rice Soup
(Deep-fried rice poured over a rich broth with vegetables and meats)
Hot and Sour Soup
(Sour and spicy vegetable based soup thickened with cornstarch)
♥ Imperial Soup
(Pork, chicken, prawns, and vegetables in an aromatic chicken broth)
General Tso Chicken
(Cornstarch battered chicken, fried and tossed in a spicy dark sauce, sometimes with cashews)
(Filets of chicken breast, battered, fried, and served with a sweet, lemon-flavored sauce)
Sweet and Sour Pork
(Battered and fried pork with a sweet red sauce with diced pineapple)
♥ Szechwan Pork
(Spicy, cuts of pork with water chestnuts, scallions, and bamboo shoots)
(Stir-fried vegetables wrapped in a rice flour pancake, add meat)
♥ Prawns with Snow Peas
(Prawns steamed in a white sauce with fresh snow peas)
Deep-fried Ice Cream
♥ Fortune Cookies