For those who have tried Chinese food, most would agree that it is quite delicious — evident by its widespread popularity across the globe. Chinese cuisine offers a diverse range of flavors and various cooking techniques such as stir-frying and red-cooking. Everyone has their go-to when eating Chinese, but it could be time to try something new. Some of the best Chinese food harnesses the culture’s rich flavors and traditional preparation methods that make the cuisine so wonderful and unique.
In the United States, Chinese restaurants found their start with the California Gold Rush from 1848 to 1855. During this time, approximately 25,000 immigrants found their way to the U.S. from China, bringing with them the delights of Chinese cuisine. “The first-known Chinese restaurant in the United States, Canton Restaurant, opened in San Francisco, California, in 1849. Across the state of California, Chinese food establishments, then referred to as ‘chow chow houses,’ grew in popularity largely due to their cheap prices and delicious food,” reports Insider. “By 1980 Chinese food had become the most popular ethnic cuisine in the United States,” adds Oxford University Press.
In case you need another reason to order some Chinese food for dinner tonight, you’ll be happy to know that making heart-healthy changes to Chinese dishes can lead to a significant drop in blood pressure. Specifically, the new study finds cutting the salt in Chinese food can significantly lower the blood pressure of people dealing with hypertension. You can easily ask your server for less salt in your dish, or you can do so yourself, as many Chinese dishes are easy to cook at home.
Ready to delight your tastebuds? Having the chance to indulge in Chinese cuisine is an experience in itself. Not sure where to start? We did the research for you! StudyFinds compiled a list of the best Chinese food dishes across menus worldwide according to culinary experts. Don’t see your favorite listed? Let us know in the comments!
The List: Best Chinese Food, According to Food Experts
1. Peking Duck
“Peking duck is one of the world’s great dishes and as much an emblem of Bejing as the Forbidden City or the old hutong lanes,” writes National Geographic. The history of this beloved dish dates back about 600 years ago, to the Ming Dynasty. During this time, being a chef for the Emperor was considered a prestigious occupation, so many cooks from all parts of China traveled to Beijing in hopes of the opportunity. It wasn’t until the fall of the Ching dynasty in 1911 that we see court chefs, who had once worked for the emperor, open their own restaurants around Beijing and introduced the Peking Duck to the public.
Today, Peking Duck is offered at many Chinese restaurants and is typically served during special events such as weddings, birthdays, or holidays like Lunar New Year. Because Peking duck requires such intricate steps during the cooking process, most people don’t cook this dish themselves at home. Ocean Palace, a Chinese restaurant in Houston, rates Peking Duck as one of their top four traditional Chinese food dishes to try: “If you are interested in trying some duck, you’ll never go wrong with Peking duck.”
With such detail and care that goes into preparing this dish, it is easy to see how it has become so iconic. “Peking duck is usually served in three courses. The skin is accompanied by hoisin sauce (a commonly prepared, reddish brown, sweet, and spicy sauce), scallions cut into brushes, and thin wheat-flour pancakes or steamed wheat-flour ‘lotus buns,’ all of which are eaten together as a sandwich. The meat of the duck is cut up and served with vegetables as a second course, and a soup of the duck’s bones with celery cabbage follows. Because of the complicated preparation, Peking duck is primarily restaurant fare,” explains Britannica.
2. Dim Sum
Dim sum is considered to be more of a style of serving food than one specific dish. It is a traditional Cantonese meal that consists of a variety of small dishes, accompanied by tea. “Similar to the way that the Spanish eat tapas, the dishes are shared among family and friends. Typically dim sum is consumed during brunch hours — late morning to lunchtime,” describes Asia Society.
First We Feast ranked some of their favorite dim sum items: har gow (crystal shrimp dumpling), siu mai (pork and shrimp open-faced dumpling), char siu bao (baked pork buns), cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), zi jup paai gwat (steamed pork ribs), lo bak gou (radish cake), and dan tat (egg tart). These are just to name a few. “There are more than one thousand dim sum dishes in existence today,” according to China Highlights.
3. Hot Pot
Hot pot, or huo guo in Chinese, translates to “fire pot”. Like many other Chinese meals, hot pot is a communal affair where people come together to cook and enjoy a variety of meats and vegetables in a simmering pot of broth, set over a heat source. “Unlike other Chinese dishes which draw a clear line between the cook and the dinners, hot pot is an eat-as-you-cook type of meal where everyone participates in cooking while enjoying the food at the same time,” explains Red House Spice. Think of hot pot as sort of a soup version of Korean barbeque.
Hot pot is best served on a cold, chilly day, but can really be enjoyed during any time of the year, whether the weather is cold or hot. There’s nothing quite as comforting as sipping a spoonful of broth straight from the pot as you spend time with your family or friends. “Chinese people consider the hot pot their first choice to hold a dinner party since it can satisfy all the people’s taste,” writes Travel China Guide.
This fun and delicious meal can be enjoyed out at a restaurant or in the comfort of your own home. The ingredients are completely customized to each person’s own preference so it is easy to assemble at home. Bon Appetit tells us everything we need to know about making hot pot at home by breaking things down into five simple categories: the gear, the broth, the ingredients, the technique, and the condiments.
For gear, you just need three items, an electric burner, a divided pot, and a wire skimmer. Next, we have the broth. There are a variety of premade soup bases that you can purchase from most Asian supermarkets. All you have to do is bring the pot of water to a boil and then add in the seasoning. The next category, the ingredients, is the fun part. There are no right or wrong ingredients, but here’s a brief guideline to help you get started: protein (like pork, beef, or lamb), leafy vegetables (such as bok choy or napa cabbage), mushrooms, tofu, and a starch (think: vermicelli, udon, rice or ramen). After you bring your broth to a boil, lower it down to a simmer on the electric stove. Then, start adding your ingredients! It’s best to start with items that take the longest to cook and work your way from there. As you’re waiting for your food to cook, you can prepare the condiments. This too is completely customizable and dependent on each person’s preference. Some sauces to consider are black vinegar, sacha sauce, and sesame paste. Once your items are cooked, use your wire skimmer to help you scoop out your ingredients, dip them into your sauce of choice and enjoy!
4. Kung Pao Chicken
When you think of Chinese takeout, kung pao chicken is surely one of the first dishes that comes to mind. This is a classic Sichuan dish that came from the Sichuan province of China. “Kung pao chicken is a delicious Chinese dish with various ingredients besides the main protein, which is chicken (bell pepper, chili, vegetables), and is straightforward to prepare,” describes Lacademie.
Today, kung pao chicken continues to be a crowd favorite and can be found at various Chinese take-out establishments, sit-down restaurants. Cafe Delites raves, “Kung pao chicken is a highly addictive stir-fried chicken with the perfect combination of salty, sweet and spicy flavour.”
Healthline added kung pao chicken to their list of the healthiest Chinese food takeout options. “Not only is it high in protein and micronutrients like niacin and selenium, but it’s also topped with peanuts, which are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats,” notes Healthline. For those who are mindful of their sodium intake, simply ask the restaurant to add extra veggies and limit the portion size.
5. Beef and Broccoli
Beef and broccoli is another item that has become synonymous with Chinese takeout. However, its history may surprise you as broccoli is not native to China and is not typically eaten. “Broccoli & Beef is believed to originate from a Chinese dish called ‘Gai Lan Chao Niu Rou’, also known as Chinese Broccoli Fried Beef. Early Chinese immigrants could not find Gai Lan (Chinese variant of broccoli) in the US and so the broccoli that we know today became an easy substitute,” writes Made with Lau.
This dish has also been added to Heathline’s list: “It’s a relatively healthy dish that’s low in carbs and high in protein.” However, this dish is commonly made with fatty cuts of beef. To help mitigate this, simply ask for steamed broccoli instead of stir-fried with sauce on the side.
Though what makes this dish so great is that not only can you enjoy it as part of your takeout, but you can easily whip it up at home as well. Daring Gourmet claims, “This delicious Chinese beef and broccoli recipe comes together in just minutes. Perfect for busy weeknights and way better than Chinese takeout, this is sure to become a favorite in your home!”
You might also be interested in:
- Best Indian Food
- Best Chicago Pizza
- Best Burritos in America
- Best Buffalo Wild Wings
- Best Sushi-Making Kits
- Oxford University Press
- IBIS World
- National Geographic
- Ocean Palace
- Asia Society
- First We Feast
- China Highlights
- Red House Spice
- Travel China Guide
- Bon Appetit
- Cafe Delites
- Made with Lau
- Daring Gourmet
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.