Every day, more than 45,000 Chinese restaurants across America fill up with happy customers looking to enjoy their favorite dishes like General Tsao's chicken, beef and broccoli, and salt and pepper shrimp.
Next to fast food and a nice, home-cooked meal, there's nothing better than sitting down with a plate of egg rolls and mixed veggies. But even if you know the number to your local takeout place by heart, there are secrets to every Chinese restaurant you probably don't know.
Learn these 7 strange facts and use them to get the most out of your next trip to the buffet.
The first thing you should know is Chinese food isn't authentic, but that doesn't mean it's bad. The dishes served at your favorite restaurant have been perfected over decades,but you're right to expect that they're not 100% authentic Chinese cuisine.
Even fortune cookies are actually Japanese, so Chinese takeout is really fusion food.
But if you want to try something a little closer to "real" Chinese food, you can ask your waiter for something "more authentic." Just be ready to experiment, because your dish could include offal (stomach meat) or pig's feet.
Don't bother trying to recreate your favorite dishes at home, the secret to the great flavors are the wok and the sauces. If you're desperate, you could ask your local restaurant to sell you some sauce.
Also: don't be picky about which restauraunt you visit. Lots of restauraunts use the same suppliers for things like egg rolls and vegetables, so your meal will be pretty comparable wherever you go.
Even the names are pretty similar between most restaurants. In Chinese culture, naming a restaurant "gold" or "lucky" is meant to bring good fortune. The word "garden" is common too, because the Chinese word for garden sounds like money.
Finally, watch out when you visit a buffet. Everything from the layout to the plates is designed to make you fill up quickly.
The most expensive food is at the back of the section, so you fill up before you get there. But costly ingredients don't always mean good food.
For best results, avoid eating at lunch time. That's when restaurants recycle yesterday's dinner. Instead, try to get to dinner early to make sure your food is freshly made.
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