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Turning the tables on Chinese food
2014-12-04
By Alina Li

THERE are several good examples of Chinese restaurants that first open abroad, become famous and then give the China market a go. These restaurants may surprise locals with their distinctive features. They have often adapt Chinese food to make it more appealing to foreigners who love Chinese food for its diversity, but also shy away from it due to its oily nature.

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Fortune Cookie on Shanghai’s Changshu Road has been open a year and is the brainchild of two Americans, Fung Lam and David Rossi. Lam has worked in his grandfather’s Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Their goal is to bring Chinese comfort food, well the American version of it anyway, to China.

General Tso’s chicken, orange chicken and crab rangoon are dishes often found in American-Chinese restaurants.

Fortune Cookie’s design and decor resemble how Chinese restaurants and takeout joints look in the US. The main customers are expats, especially Americans, craving what they grew up thinking was authentic Chinese food.

The cuisine is distinct from what is served here since Chinese restaurateurs in the US adapted the food to suit American tastes. Fortune Cookie features numerous deep-fried dishes.

Popular menu items include General Tso’s chicken, crab rangoon, beef & broccoli, hot and sour soup and moo shu pork.

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All customers are given a complimentary snack: fried crispy noodles with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

General Tso’s chicken is a sweet deep-fried chicken dish that’s also a bit spicy. It’s named after Zuo Zongtang, the general from Hunan in the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), but you can’t find the dish in his home province.

The cubed chicken is covered in batter made of egg and cornstarch, deep-fried in hot oil before it is stir-fried with broccoli. The dish is high in calories and sodium. Half portions are also available.

General Tso’s beef is available as well.

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Crab rangoon is deep-fried wontons filled with cream cheese and crab meat, served with a dipping sauce on the side.

Moo shu pork, a dish that originated in northern China and appeared in Chinese restaurants across the US about five decades ago, is another crowd favorite.

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The barbecue ribs at Fortune Cookie are marinated overnight and slow cooked for nine hours, and the orange chicken is wok tossed in a thick orange sauce.

At the end of the meal, diners are given a plate of fortune cookies. This sweet treat with a hidden fortune inside is a signature of American Chinese restaurants, but is unknown to most Chinese here.

The restaurant also delivers and uses the white takeout boxes with wire handles and red pagodas on the side, something most Chinese people have only seen in American films and TV.

Fortune Cookie, which serves Cantonese food, is also another good example of this kind.

The restaurant first opened in Queensway, London more than two decades ago. Serving authentic Cantonese food, it is famous for duck and crispy pork dishes. It has three storefronts in London as well as one in Bangkok.

For those who are from or have been to London and want to revisit the delicacy, Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant recently opened a new store in Jing’an District.

The restaurant’s famous roast duck is claimed to be one of the best in the world. The duck is thoroughly dried before marinating in a special mix of spices and herbs, and then roasted in a specially built furnace that distributes heat evenly.

In addition to the roast duck, some popular dishes include sauteed prawns with scrambled eggs, fried rice and sweet & sour pork.


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