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Maciamo
Nov 14, 2005, 18:52
I have been to Shanghai and Beijing this year. I tried "real" Chinese food from China for the first time, after having had it in Europe, Thailand, Japan, Australia or Hawaii. I have to say that I was rather disappointed. I tried all the main types of Chinese food : Shanghainese, Cantonese, Sichuanese, Pekinese, and Shangxinese. I had already been disappointed by Chinese food in Japan, compared to the one in Belgium and Australia (the two best I have eaten in average worldwide).

Chinese food in Japan is very different from that in Western countries. Chinese usually means gyoza (jiaozi), ramen or tantanmen, shoronpo (dim sum), which is the good part. When it comes to rice dishes, it is usually less good and less varied than the best Chinese of Western countries. Japanese Chinese is pretty much limited to chukadon, ebi chili, subuta, mabo doufu and a few other dishes. Expensive Chinese in Japan serve bird's nest, shark's fin, abalone, and other typical Imperial Chinese delicacies, but frankly, it's not because it's costly that it is good.

In China, I found all the dishes I had seen in Japan, as well as many of those in the West (but not all, e.g. I couldn't find orange duck, lemon chicken, black beans pork, crsipy chicken in tomato-sauce on cabbage, fried vegetable thick noodles, BBQ pork, etc.). That is probably due to the shortness of my stay. On the whole, the food was less good, and rather poor quality. I had to go to the most expensive restaurants in town (e.g. Fangshan (http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/China/Beijing_Shi/Beijing-1024960/Restaurants-Beijing-Fangshan_Imperial-BR-1.html) in Beihai Park in Beijing, and the Cantonese restaurant or Shanghai's Grand Hyatt) to find something equivalent to what I'd eat in Belgium. The irony is that it was more expensive in China, where the GDP per capita is 30x lower.

Did anybody else have similar impressions ? Thomas, Bossel, Rocklee and other that went to China ?

lexico
Nov 14, 2005, 21:10
Another great topic, Mac !
I have never taken the effort to see the big picture regarding Chinese food although I've always loved "Chinese food." I could safely say that Chinese is my favourite kind of all dishes of the world. That having been said, I am also puzzled by the fact that I could rarely find in China the kind of Chinese food I enjoyed outside China, mainly the kind of vegetable & meat dishes served in Korea, Pacific US, the UK, and Europe. I think there is some link to the history of Chinese immigration and migration. I've noticed many overseas Chinese either come from the southern or coastal China stretching from Shandong, Fuzhou, Shanghai, Guangdong and also from Chinese communities clustered in SE Asia.

I think the international envorinment and exposure to non-Chinese people posed the traditional Chinese chefs with a challenge to adapt their cooking to something more universally palatable as well as having to use material more readily available. The great taste of internaltional Chinese dishes, therefore, can be attributed at least in part to the creativity of the Chinese businesses to adapt something ethnic to people of other ethnic groups. Mainland China may not have had this kind of contact, pressure, or opportunity to play the Chinese tune to a more foreign audience. Perhaps this will change with the continuing flow of business with foreigners.

As for the price of westernised Chinese food in Beijing, I really can't say much. Perhaps they are exorbitantly expensive due to both the scarcity of internationalised Chinese cooks and the relatively high demand. Another possibility is the tradition of Chinese hospitality that dictates that an important guest be treated with extreme lavishness. Too many rich people of the past may have disrupted the pricing system of internationalised Chinese food.

Yes, I love Chinese food, but getting by in China can be a struggle indeed. I would say it helps to be flexible, creative, and open to experiment if anyone plans to stay for more than a few months in China. In general, I have found Shandong dishes highly elegant and tasteful. :liplick: :liplick:

RockLee
Nov 14, 2005, 21:54
I'll start with the food in Beijing as that's where I visited first :)
In general I think Beijing food is kind of spicy, I only ate Chinese food in Belgium before and as you already might know tastes nothing unlike real Chinese food.A Chinese friend(From Hong Kong, so it's Canton food) owning a Chinese restaurant told me that the food they make here is adjusted to Western taste, that's maybe why you found it really different Maciamo ? In general Beijing food wasn't that bad because I'm more into Asian food anyways.One thing though is that you have to get used to eating spicy to really mouthburning hot food.I expected more of Peking duck, but maybe I just went to the wrong restaurant :? Having porriage, dumplings and that kind of food for breakfast is something I couldn't get used too to be honest.Chinese bread on the other hand was really tasty!

In Shanghai the food tasted sweeter, my favourite food actually.I only spend 3 days in Shanghai so I didn't eat that many different kinds of food.But my impression was rather good.I like sweet more than spicy, so that's good hehe :cool:

In Guanghzou I had also really good food, Canton specialities, lambmeat with thai-style rice, vietnamese style rice and small cut pork with honeysauce (the tastiest meal I ate in my whole life(also one of the most expensive ones in China).One piece of advice, keep away from those familyrestaurants ! It's more quantity than quality.Went to one in Shenzhen(it was part of a tour) and it was one of the worst experiences foodwise.Everyone packed like pigs and at least 10 people at 1 table. Not very hygenic I must say.

My gf made me Chengdu food which nearly burned away my mouth :mad: Chengdu food is one of the most spiciest kind of food in China I think.

I also ate a lot of different kinds of 'mien' or 'men'.The best kind was Yunnan speciality. :) My friend from Yunnan who lives in Beijing took me to a Restaurant with Yunnan food.


Overal :- Chinese food wasn't that bad, much better than the Chinese food in Belgium in my opinion.Maciamo, do you know any good restaurants with tasty Chinese food in Belgium? Might give it a try and see if you're right. :cool:
- I prefer Japanese food to Chinese food.More variaty and IMO much tastier.

Maciamo
Nov 14, 2005, 22:45
A Chinese friend(From Hong Kong, so it's Canton food) owning a Chinese restaurant told me that the food they make here is adjusted to Western taste, that's maybe why you found it really different Maciamo ?

I know that it's adapted to Western taste. That's also why some dishes cannot be found in China, and other taste different. But from my limited experience in China, Westernised Chinese food tastes better than the real stuff. As Lexico said, it's maybe because overseas Chinese had to try harder and innovate to satisfy Westerners not used to Chinese food. That's especially true in culinarily demanding societies like France and Belgium.


In general Beijing food wasn't that bad because I'm more into Asian food anyways.

I also love Asian food. I found that Thai food in Thailand was as good or better than the one in Europe, and both Korean and Japanese food are much better in Korea and Japan than in Europe. That's why I was so surprised about the quality of Chinese food in China - especially that Chinese people are so proud about it.


I expected more of Peking duck, but maybe I just went to the wrong restaurant.

Me too !


Chinese bread on the other hand was really tasty!

Same here. Even stranger that bread in Japan can be pretty good (e.g. Kobeya, Vie de France...).


In Guanghzou I had also really good food, Canton specialities, lambmeat with thai-style rice, vietnamese style rice and small cut pork with honeysauce (the tastiest meal I ate in my whole life(also one of the most expensive ones in China).

The 2nd best meal I had in China was Cantonese food (in Shanghai). The best was the Imperial Chinese at Fangshan, but that was 500 RMB per person ! (never had such expensive Chinese food in Europe !)


One piece of advice, keep away from those familyrestaurants ! It's more quantity than quality.

I suppose that we went to lots of them with the tour. But it wasn't so cheap (40 to 80 RMB per dish, which is about twice the price of Chinese food in Belgium), especially by Chinese standard.


Maciamo, do you know any good restaurants with tasty Chinese food in Belgium? Might give it a try and see if you're right. :cool:

I mostly know restaurants in Wallonia. There is a famous take-away in Liege (4 branches, including one near the Opera) called MacLam (http://www.resto.be/ware/details.jsp?businessid=4664). It's quite different from the other Chinese, but it's very good and the portions are huge for the price. The menu is so long that it takes 10min to decide. Another good one in Liege is on Place de la Cathedral, called Le Shanghai (http://www.resto.be/ware/details.jsp?businessid=1276). In Namur they are almost all good. Try the one near the Casino, in front of the 'Pont de Jambes' (Jambes Bridge). Sorry I forgot the name.

RockLee
Nov 14, 2005, 23:00
I also love Asian food. I found that Thai food in Thailand was as good or better than the one in Europe, and both Korean and Japanese food are much better in Korea and Japan than in Europe. That's why I was so surprised about the quality of Chinese food in China - especially that Chinese people are so proud about it.True, Japanese food tastes much better in Japan than Europe.I didn't have Korean yet, because frankly I don't know what to expect.Maybe Lexico can give me some tips on what to try the first time eating Korean food?


I suppose that we went to lots of them with the tour. But it wasn't so cheap (40 to 80 RMB per dish, which is about twice the price of Chinese food in Belgium), especially by Chinese standard.With 3 people we ate for about 100RMB in an expensive restaurant and quite a lot of different food.So 40-80RMB is indeed expensive ! :p


I mostly know restaurants in Wallonia. There is a famous take-away in Liege (4 branches, including one near the Opera) called MacLam (http://www.resto.be/ware/details.jsp?businessid=4664). It's quite different from the other Chinese, but it's very good and the portions are huge for the price. The menu is so long that it takes 10min to decide. Another good one in Liege is on Place de la Cathedral, called Le Shanghai (http://www.resto.be/ware/details.jsp?businessid=1276). In Namur they are almost all good. Try the one near the Casino, in front of the 'Pont de Jambes' (Jambes Bridge). Sorry I forgot the name.Thanks, I might give it a try when I'm in Liège the next time.:wave:

Gaijin 06
Nov 15, 2005, 00:29
I can't agree at all with the OP. I love Chinese food, and ate it almost exclusively in Hong Kong over the last couple of years.

However when I went to Shanghai both the price and relative quality of the food was fantastic. Could eat all my Shanghaiese favourites for 20% of the (already cheap) cost in Hong Kong... mmmm I am salivating just thinking about it.

But back to the topic at hand, I've found Chinese food is best served in China. Maybe the OP prefers Westernised versions of the dishes, which is why he thinks Belgian Chinese food is better?

Maciamo
Nov 15, 2005, 00:47
But back to the topic at hand, I've found Chinese food is best served in China. Maybe the OP prefers Westernised versions of the dishes, which is why he thinks Belgian Chinese food is better?

Just wondering, which Chinese restaurants have you tried in Belgium to disagree with me ?

It's also fairly difficult to compared Westernised Chinese food in different countries. For example, the ones I tried in Hawaii (China Town, Alamohana Centre, Waikiki) were all quite disgusting (the worst Chinese food I have had so far). Non-Westernised Chinese food outside China (like in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore) was better than what I ate in China for the same price. All the Japanese in the group agreed that it was less good than in Japan - except for the one at 500 RMB (7500yen) per person. But even for this price is was not so exceptional, and my wife also agreed that we could eat much better in Tokyo (Japanese, French, Italian, Indian, Mexican...) for much cheaper. Yet, this restaurant was praised by Lonely Planet as Beijing's most elaborate Imperial cuisine. We went there mostly because the older Japanese men in the group constantly complained to the guide that Chinese food in China was not good. The same happened in Shanghai. The best restaurant I went to was M on the Bund, which is French-Italian food. Despite being one of the most reputed restaurant in town, it was just average by Belgo-French standard.

The Chinese food I ate in Italy and Spain was almost the same in every city (in both countries), and although better than in Hawaii, it was less good than in Belgium (similar level to Japan, although very different in style). Such restaurants are usually quite big, with the same stereotypically Chinese decoration, and usually empty. The Chinese restaurants I tried in France (mostly in the South) were also not remarkable, usually mixed with Vietnamese cooking (as there are many Vietnamese in France), and very different from those in Belgium or Australia. The best Chinese restaurants in Belgium have private rooms and revolving tables like in China and Japan, something I haven't seen in Southern Europe.

bossel
Nov 15, 2005, 10:18
Can't compare much to German/European Chinese restaurants, since I only went to about 4 of them. 1 was long ago (~20 years) & was quite disappointing, some mushroom dish almost without any taste. The other 3 are quite recent (last year), for my girlfriend took me there. I told her that I wanted to taste the real deal & not some westernised fake; dishes served there tasted very well.

For the experience in China: it varied.
It is very dependent on which restaurant you go to. I was once invited for breakfast into South Sea Fishing Village & man, that was good! I don't know how much it cost (didn't dare to ask), but judging from the service (what was missing was being carried around) it must be quite expensive.

The counter experience was a little restaurant in Beijing where I had Beijing duck, which was a huge disappointment. Bad service, taste alright, but not good, bad manners by the personnel (we sat right in front of some kitchen part & one of them constantly stared at me eating).
Next day I had Beijing duck again, but in a restaurant of some chain & this was really good. Quite a number of Westerners in that restaurant (more than Chinese, which was the 1st time for me in China, else I was always the only one), it must have a name among them in Beijing.




Chinese bread on the other hand was really tasty!
Really? Well, I admit, it tastes well, but it's always the same (more like dessert [pastries?] than like bread, anyway, except when it's steamed with meat inside). Real bread (what I'd call real) doesn't look tasty (didn't buy it since I didn't have anything to put upon, only found something like cut (sausage or cheese) when we arrived in Beijing) & is as expensive as in Germany.


One piece of advice, keep away from those familyrestaurants ! It's more quantity than quality.Went to one in Shenzhen(it was part of a tour) and it was one of the worst experiences foodwise.Everyone packed like pigs and at least 10 people at 1 table. Not very hygenic I must say.
Bad advice! Some of the tastiest stuff I ate was from small restaurants or vending booths. You just have to find the right place, which should be not too hard if you have some Chinese friends. About hygiene you're right, though, but that's a topic of its own in China. One of the most tasty stuff I had, meat skewers, was prepared by a guy who had fingers, dirty beyond recognition.
Haven't seen anything like what you said about 10 people at one table, except for the cases when I was invited into backrooms of a restaurant for a family meeting. But the tables were big & round, no problem there.


I prefer Japanese food to Chinese food.More variaty and IMO much tastier.
Nah, here I definitely cannot agree. The variety of Chinese food is phenomenal (I was there for only 3 weeks & touched only the surface of this sea of food). Dim sum alone are a world of their own. Same could be said about dumplings. There are numerous varieties.

There are 2 things that bother me about Chinese food:
- bones: meat is almost always cut into small pieces, with the bones, & then you have to eat around or gnaw the bones (& put them on the table afterwards)
- prawns: they are highly estimated & when invited to lunch or dinner, you inevitably get them, 3 or 4 days in a row is just too often.

Maciamo
Nov 15, 2005, 10:48
I would like to add that for me price is part of the quality, as I consider the quality/price ratio. I also count the difference of GDP/capita, so a dish selling at 60 RMB (6 euro, 900yen) in China is basically the same price than a regular Chinese restaurant in Tokyo. Considering that salaries are about 10x lower in Beijing than Tokyo, 900yen in Beijing should be compared to a 9000yen dish in Tokyo. From this point of view, the food in China was very very overpriced.

In Australia, I remember eating Chinese food for 5 AUS$ (2.5 euro at the time), and it tastes better than the cheaper range of food I had in China. Chinese food in Belgium is also very cheap (the cheapest of any cuisine in fact), with copious and tasty take-away for about 8 euro.

Then comes the service. Whereas service is usually good in Japan, and in good Chinese in Belgium, it was quite bad in China, except in the 2 expensive restaurants where it was very good.

Decoration-wise, it is usually quite mediocre in Japan even in expensive Imperial Chinese ones (esp. compared to Japanese kaiseki, French, Italian or India restaurants). In Belgium, good restaurants have great decoration, others, like in Southern Europe are stereotypical but ok. In China, it was usually fairly plain, except at the 2 expensive restaurants : of course the Grand Hyatt Shanghai (great decor), but also Fangshan in Beijing, which is in a traditional pavillion on an island in Beihai Park, just opposite the Forbidden City, with walls painted beautifully like a palace, and waitresses wearing a traditional dress. So decoration-wise, it depends more on the price, except in Japan were the 2 most expensive Chinese I tried (about 10,000yen per person at lunch) had the same very dull decoration in their private rooms.

Overall, I would say that the best Chinese restaurant in Belgium are good on all the line. They are very well decorated, have good service, excellent food and are relatively cheap by Belgian standard. In Japan, the decoration is bad, service is good, and the food is fairly good, usually cheap but some really overpriced for the quality. In Australia, decoration and service are ok, but the food is good and very cheap. Same in Southern Europe, but a bit less good, and a bit more expensive. In Thailand, the decoration and service depend a lot on the place (touristy or not), but the food is good and cheap, except in big hotels and tourist-only restaurants were it's a bit too expensive. In Hawaii, the decoration was so-so, the service ok, the food bad, and the price reasonable.

For some reason I almost didn't eat Chinese when I was living in the UK and Germany. I went to a Chinese all-you-can-eat in London's China Town last June, but it was very bad, had bad service, bad decoration, and was not so cheap by Western standard (well, London obviously isn't cheap).

Gaijin 06
Nov 15, 2005, 12:58
Just wondering, which Chinese restaurants have you tried in Belgium to disagree with me ?


You wrote


I have to say that I was rather disappointed. I tried all the main types of Chinese food : Shanghainese, Cantonese, Sichuanese, Pekinese, and Shangxinese. I had already been disappointed by Chinese food in Japan, compared to the one in Belgium and Australia (the two best I have eaten in average worldwide).

I wrote you may prefer Belgianized Chinese to real Chinese food. Not sure why I need to go to Belgium to draw that conclusion!

I found that the many of the "best" restaurants in Shanghai (and also in Hong Kong) didn't have great decor, didnt look especially clean or look too inviting to Westerners, but that's where you hit the sweet spot for price/quality ratio.

Maybe if you go with a Chinese person next time you would have a better experience.

RockLee
Nov 15, 2005, 17:34
The counter experience was a little restaurant in Beijing where I had Beijing duck, which was a huge disappointment. Bad service, taste alright, but not good, bad manners by the personnel (we sat right in front of some kitchen part & one of them constantly stared at me eating).That was kind of like my experience, the food was not bad tasting, but I expected more of it. Also if some of the waitresses look at you as if they want to jump your plate and eat it's not that comfortable :okashii: People stared at me every second of the time I spent in China, unlike Japan where people didn't even mind or hardly looked.



Really? Well, I admit, it tastes well, but it's always the same (more like dessert [pastries?] than like bread, anyway, except when it's steamed with meat inside). Real bread (what I'd call real) doesn't look tasty (didn't buy it since I didn't have anything to put upon, only found something like cut (sausage or cheese) when we arrived in Beijing) & is as expensive as in Germany. I didn't buy regular bread either for the same reasons, but I had a lot of pastry goods filled with wipped cream.One time I mistook the bread for one filled with W/cream but it was filled with some reddish paté or red beans.BIG MISTAKE !



Bad advice! Some of the tastiest stuff I ate was from small restaurants or vending booths. You just have to find the right place, which should be not too hard if you have some Chinese friends. About hygiene you're right, though, but that's a topic of its own in China. One of the most tasty stuff I had, meat skewers, was prepared by a guy who had fingers, dirty beyond recognition.
Haven't seen anything like what you said about 10 people at one table, except for the cases when I was invited into backrooms of a restaurant for a family meeting. But the tables were big & round, no problem there.Yeah that kind of thing is exactly what I mean, the round tables which can be rotated.Also this wasn't a small restaurant nor a vending booth, it was a big room filled with small tables and people packed like pigs.No privacy whatsoever :okashii: That's what I mean with family restaurants, cheap and quantity above quality.


Nah, here I definitely cannot agree. The variety of Chinese food is phenomenal (I was there for only 3 weeks & touched only the surface of this sea of food). Dim sum alone are a world of their own. Same could be said about dumplings. There are numerous variaties.Well I think every place has it's own speciality maybe, so ofcourse you have a wide range of different food and styles.But unlike Japan I didn't see that much fish in China :? no Sushi,Sashimi etc.
Don't you think Chinese are more of a men/mien people? Always noodles, rice is more of a sidedish.They don't even eat every grain of rice !! :eek:

quiet sunshine
Nov 15, 2005, 18:30
Don't you think Chinese are more of a men/mien people? Always noodles, rice is more of a sidedish.They don't even eat every grain of rice !! :eek:
North Chinese's staple food is flour food, South Chinese's staple food is rice.

RockLee
Nov 15, 2005, 18:53
North Chinese's staple food is flour food, South Chinese's staple food is rice.That explains why in Guangzhou there were more ricedishes :p

Maciamo
Nov 15, 2005, 19:26
By the way, many of the good Chinese restaurants in Belgium are held by Taiwanese people. Maybe that is why it is different from other Chinese ? Yet, I'd say that the cooking style is closer to Cantonese. No dim sum, no jiaozi, no men, no Imperial cuisine...

The 'Mac Lam' restaurant mentioned above is very different in style from all the other Chinese in belgium, and contrarily to the others, the owner are not settled (2nd generation) immigrants, but temporary Chinese staff, most of whom speak only Chinese. Does anybody know what Chinese dialect does the word 'Mac Lam' come from ? It sounds more Vietnamese to me, but they don't have Vietnamese food at all... Probably Cantonese then (Mak Lam, I guess).

Gaijin 06
Nov 15, 2005, 19:42
By the way, many of the good Chinese restaurants in Belgium are held by Taiwanese people. Maybe that is why it is different from other Chinese ? Yet, I'd say that the cooking style is closer to Cantonese. No dim sum, no jiaozi, no men, no Imperial cuisine...


Umm, yum cha (dim sum) is a (the!) signature Cantonese meal....

Kama
Nov 15, 2005, 19:45
I haven't been to China, but my sensei once told us that Chinese food is worse in China than in Japan because the foreign country's food is made suitable to the local's taste. Maybe that's why?

But I hope sushi in Japan will be better than in Poland :P

thomas
Nov 15, 2005, 20:03
Maybe if you go with a Chinese person next time you would have a better experience.

I concur. The best food I have had in Shanghai was at restaurants I would have missed without my Chinese friends. Will never forget the bear stew I had in one of my favourite places serving Harbin food close to Nanjing Lu, quite an experience.

:-)


I would like to add that for me price is part of the quality, as I consider the quality/price ratio. I also count the difference of GDP/capita, so a dish selling at 60 RMB (6 euro, 900yen) in China is basically the same price than a regular Chinese restaurant in Tokyo. Considering that salaries are about 10x lower in Beijing than Tokyo, 900yen in Beijing should be compared to a 9000yen dish in Tokyo. From this point of view, the food in China was very very overpriced.

Haven't been to Beijing yet, but the average price for a meal in Shanghai is around 10 to 15 RMB. Furthermore, the price difference between restaurants of lower and higher quality is not that large in fact, unless you dine at a 5 star hotel.

My most favourite place in Shanghai: Jade Garden close to Huai Hai Lu

=> http://www.jade388.com/

Gaijin 06
Nov 15, 2005, 23:39
I concur. The best food I have had in Shanghai was at restaurants I would have missed without my Chinese friends.

.......

Haven't been to Beijing yet, but the average price for a meal in Shanghai is around 10 to 15 RMB.

Both of these are spot on matches for my experience. Most of the restaurants/eateries I liked the most didn't have English menus and I was frequently the only gweilo in there, attracting many stares.

My girlfriend & I are both very fond of our food, and we found we could almost make the price of the air fare from Hong Kong in food savings over a short break :)

Gaijin 06
Nov 15, 2005, 23:40
By the way, what does bear taste like?!

Gaijin 06
Nov 15, 2005, 23:42
Does anybody know what Chinese dialect does the word 'Mac Lam' come from ?

You didn't end up eating in a restaurant with a big yellow M on the front did you? Sounds like some kind of mutton burger happy meal.....

lexico
Nov 15, 2005, 23:51
By the way, what does bear taste like?!Wild ? :?

I hear it tastes bitter; I also heard the Gilyak (Nivx) and the Ainu traditional diet included the ritual hunting and feasting on the bear. I am tempted to say equally of the Manchu & Mongol tribes of the lower Amur, but I'm a bit fuzzy on those details. Are bear paws really a delicacy ? (no, not the pastry with sweet anko filling) :p

Maciamo
Nov 16, 2005, 08:27
Here is some more to help for the comparison.

In Japan, one can buy semi-ready-made Chinese food in supermarkets, that we only need to put in a pan with an onion, cabbage or hakusai. This is the Chinese fast-food par excellence, obviously less good than in a restaurant in Japan. Well, I'd say that it still tastes better than most of the food I had in China.

Has anybody been to the famous dim sum restaurant in Shanghai's Yuyuan, called Nanxiang Mantou Dian (http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/China/Shanghai_Shi/Shanghai-1003464/Restaurants-Shanghai-Nanxiang_Mantou_Dian-BR-1.html) ? They have a branch in Tokyo's Roppongi Hills too. I have been to both, and the Roppongi branch (http://www.soho-s.co.jp/english/nansyou/hills_fs.html) tasted better (and had better decoration).

I tried 3x Mabou doufu in China, and it was less good that those I usually eat in Japan. In fact, I have to say that the best Mabou doufu I have had is the one my wife cooks (NOT the ready-made one bought in boxes). She has experimented a bit, and uses a firmer kind of toufu, and makes a thicker, browner sauce. :gohan: I can't compare with Europe or S-E Asia, as I have never seen Mabou doufu there.

Another thing that is usually better in Japan than China is the rice.

This thread could serve as a recommendation for Chinese restaurants in various countries. Here are a few notable Chinese restaurants where I have been in Japan. The Kiwa Group (http://www.kiwa-group.co.jp/rest/index.html) operates over 20 chains of Chinese restaurants (so hundreds of restaurants) in Japan. Among them, I have been to Wanjuji (http://www.kiwa-group.co.jp/brand/search.php?j=100004) (万豚記) and Benitora (http://www.kiwa-group.co.jp/brand/search.php?j=100008) (紅虎), both similar and specialising in Sichuan cuisine, especially tan-tan-men, gyoza and fried rice. That's one of the best chain of Chinese I know in Japan.

One chain I wouldn't recommend is Seiryumon (http://www.soho-s.co.jp/english/seiryumon/index_fs.html) (青龍門), which interestingly belongs to the same Soho Group as Nanxiang in Roppongi Hills (see above). Nevertheless, I do recommend Nanxiang, except that it is a bit overpriced.

Ginza Chuka Daiitchiro (http://www.ginza.jp/daiichiro/) (銀座中華第一楼) is one of the Imperial Chinese I went to with my in-laws (for a birthday). It was expensive and nothing special. I guess that Imperial cuisine is always expensive because of the ingredients (shark's fin, bird's nest, abalone...), but it doesn't taste that great.

Here is an example of a typical small Chinese restaurant held by Chinese people in Tokyo : Fuu (虎) (http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g578900/). It's good, but not exceptional (my wife's Jajamen is much tastier ;-) ), and a bit overpriced, as is usual wit Chinese restaurants in Japan. At equal price, Japanese (e.g. tendon, omerice, tonkatsu, bento...) or Italian food is much better quality in Tokyo.

Well, many Chinese restaurants in Japan are small and don't have a website, so it's actually difficult to recommend these ones. What I can say is that I usually don't like much the messy, hole-in-the-whole type of Japanese-Chinese that always have the same limited menu : Chuka-don Ebi-chili, Subuta, Chaahan, Gyoza...

Maciamo
Nov 16, 2005, 09:18
I concur. The best food I have had in Shanghai was at restaurants I would have missed without my Chinese friends.

We had a Chinese guide during the whole trip - that's why I don't understand. In short, DON'T trust guides of H.I.S. tours ! What's more we ended up going to more scam souvenir shops (10x over the real price) than sightseeing. Next time, it will be 'flight-only' (well, maybe hotel too, if it's a good deal).


Haven't been to Beijing yet, but the average price for a meal in Shanghai is around 10 to 15 RMB. Furthermore, the price difference between restaurants of lower and higher quality is not that large in fact, unless you dine at a 5 star hotel.

All our meals were included in the tour, but I checked the menu on the wall, and the price in what looked like average family restaurants was between 40 and 80 RMB per dish (so probably over 100 RMB per person for a whole meal). According to the prices indicated in my Lonely Planet, that's normal for middle-range restaurants. Those at 10-15 RMB are the cheapest possible. Even in the "Cheap Eats" section, many still cost 30 to 40 per meal. Foreign food (Italian, French, India...) is typically over 100 RMB. The Fangshan restaurant I mentioned had menus between 100 and 500 RMB (without the drinks), which is normal for an upmarket restaurant in Beijing. A very tasty and copious meal (I couldn't even finish my dish, which never happens normally) at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai was 150 RMB per person. So it may be a bit cheaper in Shanghai. :?

bossel
Nov 16, 2005, 09:42
DON'T trust guides of H.I.S. tours !
Always better to have some Chinese friends or acquaintances who can show you round, preferably from the place you visit (else you end up moving around for hours on a number of different buses to find your destination, happened in Beijing to us).


What's more we ended up going to more scam souvenir shops (10x over the real price) than sightseeing.
I think, pretty much all souvenir shops are like that, esp. for foreigners. Eg. if you want to buy postcards, never go to a shop. At tourist locations there are numerous poor people selling the same postcards much cheaper than at what you get them in a shop: 18 (or even more than 20) yuan for one pack in a shop, 5 yuan for 2 packs near the Forbidden City.


the price in what looked like average family restaurants was between 40 and 80 RMB per dish (so probably over 100 RMB per person for a whole meal).
40-80 seems a bit high for "average family restaurants", but it probably also depends on where you are.

cyberryo
Dec 23, 2005, 23:26
I would have to concur with Gaijin 06. Go with your Chinese friends or business associates. I am a Chinese from Singapore, and on my business trips to Shanghai, Beijing or even HongKong, I would also ask my Chinese friends for their recomendation. So far, I have nothing to complain, and can attest that there are good Chinese restaurants where the food is great. But there are also many other Chinese restaurants where the quality is not so good. The locals who do a lot of business entertaining would know.

Restaurants recommended by tour guides on your package tours in China cannot be fully trusted, as most of these guides get commission for taking the tourists there.
Ken

cyberryo
Dec 23, 2005, 23:51
Forget to add: I agree though quality/price ratio is not as good or uniform as that in Japan. Can`t comment about the quality of European or US Chinese restaurants except to say that much depends on the cook. I stayed in Milwaukee for one year and have tried various Chinese restaurants in the city. I finally stuck with one restaurant where the chef is a migrant from HongKong and who worked in a reputable restaurant in HongKong before. He would cook authentic Chinese food on personal request. Most of the time, the quality is cooked just right for Western taste...too bland. One man`s food another man`s poison?
Ken

Minty
Feb 26, 2006, 12:10
I know that it's adapted to Western taste. That's also why some dishes cannot be found in China, and other taste different. But from my limited experience in China, Westernised Chinese food tastes better than the real stuff. As Lexico said, it's maybe because overseas Chinese had to try harder and innovate to satisfy Westerners not used to Chinese food. That's especially true in culinarily demanding societies like France and Belgium.
I think a reason to explain why Chinese foods within China taste like crap because China has turned into communists since Cultural Revolution in the 1940s, and that have prohibited and limited people to develop arts, crafts, science and technology.
I never been to Belgium but I am told Chinese restaurants in France taste like crap. All the European friends I have prefer my home made Chinese foods over the stuff they sold in Chinese restaurant here. *Shrugs*:clueless:

There are 2 things that bother me about Chinese food:
- bones: meat is almost always cut into small pieces, with the bones, & then you have to eat around or gnaw the bones (& put them on the table afterwards)
- prawns: they are highly estimated & when invited to lunch or dinner, you inevitably get them, 3 or 4 days in a row is just too often.
:-) My European friends here say the same!

In Australia, I remember eating Chinese food for 5 AUS$ (2.5 euro at the time), and it tastes better than the cheaper range of food I had in China. Chinese food in Belgium is also very cheap (the cheapest of any cuisine in fact), with copious and tasty take-away for about 8 euro.
You were lucky there are some bad ones too. :mad:

Really? Well, I admit, it tastes well, but it's always the same (more like dessert [pastries?] than like bread, anyway, except when it's steamed with meat inside). Real bread (what I'd call real) doesn't look tasty (didn't buy it since I didn't have anything to put upon, only found something like cut (sausage or cheese) when we arrived in Beijing) & is as expensive as in Germany.


I didn't buy regular bread either for the same reasons, but I had a lot of pastry goods filled with wipped cream.One time I mistook the bread for one filled with W/cream but it was filled with some reddish paté or red beans.BIG MISTAKE !

No the real Chinese bread is the Chinese steamed bread. Those with Asian version of adopted western cream or sausage or if they added a Chinese desert ingredient such as red bean paste in it are western bread adopted by Chinese and being localised, that’s why you get flavours like red beans, mung beans, sesame seeds…etc




Well I think every place has it's own speciality maybe, so ofcourse you have a wide range of different food and styles.But unlike Japan I didn't see that much fish in China no Sushi,Sashimi etc.
Don't you think Chinese are more of a men/mien people? Always noodles, rice is more of a sidedish.They don't even eat every grain of rice !!
It depends on the province; I am Chinese by race/ethnicity. But I am Australian by nationality. My ancestor’s province is the “fu Chew/Fu Zhou”福洲, province and this province as its closer to the river and the sea, the cuisine has a lot of seafoods.


By the way, many of the good Chinese restaurants in Belgium are held by Taiwanese people. Maybe that is why it is different from other Chinese ? Yet, I'd say that the cooking style is closer to Cantonese. No dim sum, no jiaozi, no men, no Imperial cuisine...
The 'Mac Lam' restaurant mentioned above is very different in style from all the other Chinese in belgium, and contrarily to the others, the owner are not settled (2nd generation) immigrants, but temporary Chinese staff, most of whom speak only Chinese. Does anybody know what Chinese dialect does the word 'Mac Lam' come from ? It sounds more Vietnamese to me, but they don't have Vietnamese food at all... Probably Cantonese then (Mak Lam, I guess).

No dim sums are Cantonese cuisine, Taiwanese have their own cuisine and I don't think their cuisine is close to the Cantonese at all. An example of the Taiwanese food is this shredded fried pork food that has been stir fried with wheat flour and sugar. You eat it with rice or bread I don’t know the exact translation but the Chinese word for it is肉鬆 Rou Song. The Taiwanese likes to put that in their version of sushi. Taiwanese food should be closer to Fujian Province 福建.

Kara_Nari
Feb 28, 2006, 23:18
This is great! My first time to wander into the Chinese forum!
Im going to China next month for my birthday and was a bit worried about the food, because im not a big fan of chinese food... but you guys all made it sound rather tasty!
If the bread is as good as the japanese bread (i.e: better than korean bread), I think I will eat lots of that hahaha.

However, I do have to ask... did you sometimes get served up things that still look like the animal it was made from? Im thinking of the nightmares I might have should I see a chicken head looking up at me from my soup... or something like that... I dont even like the little fishy eyes in my dishes here.

Sounds like Shanghai food is good, which is handy coz thats where im going, and I will be with a friend, so im sure I wont be too disappointed.

Rock Lee... Korean food is good! Because you are accustomed to spicy food I wouldnt think you would have any problems. I found my favourite little Po Jang Macha (street vendor) just the other day serving the best ever ddok bokki ( rice cakes, with deep fried veges/fish/egg/whatever you want, drowned in a red spicy sauce mmmm), my favourite now is Kimchi Jjigae which is pretty much like kimuchi nabe... however it could be an aquired taste, but I have eaten it for years. Or JaeYook Bokkum... fried spicy pork yummy! I had really good Korean food in NZ, but you do have to look around to find one that suits your pallette, however in Korea I have had terrible korean food too, best place is the cheap cheap cheap everywhere restaurant, honestly its a chain that has more than I would think a city in U.S would have McD's. 60 dishes on the menu, so you can be as fussy as you like, get full and spend less than $5. Bargain haha.

Kara_Nari
Feb 28, 2006, 23:20
By the way if you happen to be in Korea, that restaurants name isnt actually 'cheap cheap everywhere restaruant' thats just what it is... the name is: Kimbab Chun Guk (Kimbab heaven) kimbab is the equivalent of sushi roll in Japan.

Minty
Mar 1, 2006, 08:08
This is great! My first time to wander into the Chinese forum!
Im going to China next month for my birthday and was a bit worried about the food, because im not a big fan of chinese food... but you guys all made it sound rather tasty! If the bread is as good as the japanese bread (i.e: better than korean bread), I think I will eat lots of that hahaha.
Well since you are Korean I am guessing you wonft hate red bean or mung bean pastes like the whites so for breads you shouldnft have any problem.

However, I do have to ask... did you sometimes get served up things that still look like the animal it was made from? Im thinking of the nightmares I might have should I see a chicken head looking up at me from my soup... or something like that... I dont even like the little fishy eyes in my dishes here.
I advise you not to eat sea foods, except for the fish balls; prawn balls and few other stir fry seafood cuisines because for sea foods Chinese like to serve the heads, it is considered unlucky to remove the heads before serving. Chinese is very superstitious. Beef and pork are not served with heads. With poultries you might see the birds still with their heads hang on some stalls, I am not sure about when they are served I am Chinese but I am not from China and I have been living in Western countries so long, but in my home and in Chinese restaurants outside of China (including TW and HK) poultries are not served with heads on. At least not that I have encountered. Oh another thing is Chinese eat the organs of the animals, not sure whether you will be disturbed by this. Just letting you know first. I know Westerners are.:shock:

bossel
Mar 1, 2006, 11:25
Well since you are Korean I am guessing you wonft hate red bean or mung bean pastes like the whites so for breads you shouldnft have any problem.
Whites on average may not like bean paste as much as yellows do, but you overly generalise.


Oh another thing is Chinese eat the organs of the animals, not sure whether you will be disturbed by this. Just letting you know first. I know Westerners are.
Eating visceral organs is normal in Western societies as well, only depends which you mean. Pigs' guts are used for sausage, pigs' maw is a regional specialty, liver is commonly eaten all over Germany, a.s.o.

Minty
Mar 1, 2006, 23:11
Whites on average may not like bean paste as much as yellows do, but you overly generalise.
:relief: Well maybe it is because from my personal experiences with whites with the exception of my husband who actually likes them, everybody else that I have encountered not just dislikes them but absolutely hate it. After all I have been to many western cities and I have lived in many Western cities for long time. Then again could it be just a coincidence that I just so happened to have bumped into people who just so happened to dislike bean pastes so much?:?

Eating visceral organs is normal in Western societies as well, only depends which you mean. Pigs' guts are used for sausage, pigs' maw is a regional specialty, liver is commonly eaten all over Germany, a.s.o.
Yes I am fully aware of that, like the French like to eat foie gras which is duck or goose livers. The difference is in Western societies they don't display the actual organs in stalls or hypermarkets where they sell things to eat, (at least not that I have seen, I am basing my knowledge mainly on say the cities of Australia and France because with other Western cities I was only there for vacations).
I took my husband to Taiwan and there was a stall inside a mall that sells animal organs, my husband saw displays in rows of different organs on the glass windows of the stall and he was horrified!
:shock:

bossel
Mar 2, 2006, 11:59
Then again could it be just a coincidence that I just so happened to have bumped into people who just so happened to dislike bean pastes so much?:?
Possibly. But I don't have any doubt that most Europeans would dislike the stuff. That's more to do with getting used to it. If they had had more chance to taste new things in their childhood they would be opener to it later on.


The difference is in Western societies they don't display the actual organs in stalls or hypermarkets where they sell things to eat, (at least not that I have seen, I am basing my knowledge mainly on say the cities of Australia and France because with other Western cities I was only there for vacations).
Can only speak for Germany (I was shopping in Holland quite often, but I can't remember the meat departments there), here it's pretty normal to see liver, kidney & heart in the shelves, sometimes also rumen. Everything else is available, but you would have to ask your butcher for it.


I took my husband to Taiwan and there was a stall inside a mall that sells animal organs, my husband saw displays in rows of different organs on the glass windows of the stall and he was horrified!
I was quite horrified (well, not really, since I knew about this before) when I saw such stalls in China. Not for what they offered, though, but for the lack of cooling & hygiene.:okashii:

Kara_Nari
Mar 2, 2006, 23:37
Thanks Minty!
Im not really korean... just living here, pretending to be korean hahah.
Yeah, not too big a fan or innards... sausage is about as far as I go. I dont even eat Sundae (Korean sausage). Pretty fussy an eater I must say.
Breads with stuff inside are great, I just hate korean plain bread, they make it sweet when its not supposed to be.
Good to hear that Taiwan dont like to keep heads on... Im going there sometime in the near future also.

nurizeko
Mar 4, 2006, 18:45
Theres a chinese take-away called the lucky boat or something (havnt been there a lil while) it serves the best fried rice in aberdeen, a perfect side to sweet and sour pork.

Theres a resturaunt called the royal china i believe, i took my japanese girlfriend there.....the manageress said "aahh your girlfriend is pretty, she is from hong kong?" LOL my girlfriend really loved that! :blush: not really, but yeah, good atmosphere there, good place.

Maciamo
Mar 4, 2006, 18:53
Yes I am fully aware of that, like the French like to eat foie gras which is duck or goose livers. The difference is in Western societies they don't display the actual organs in stalls or hypermarkets where they sell things to eat, (at least not that I have seen, I am basing my knowledge mainly on say the cities of Australia and France because with other Western cities I was only there for vacations).
What ? In all butcher's shops here (even inside supermarkets), we can see big pieces of meat displayed in the fridge-counter, including the beef, pork and chicken lever, kidneys and even brain. Btw, supermarkets in Belgium are Belgian, French, Dutch or German, and from what I remember it's basically the same all over Western Europe.

What surprised me in Japan is that they have no (or very few) butcher's shop. All the meat is pre-cut and packed, and you can't ask them to cut the meat the way you want for the exact quantity you want, and they also don't sell "cooked meats" (charcuterie in French, such as sausages, black pudding, pâté, etc.).

Coming back to the main topic, I tried a few more Chinese and Thai restaurants in Belgium since my return from Japan, and I sustain that the best Chinese restaurants here are much better than the best I have tried in China, and even Japan. My wife agreed too. For the record, I also tried a more "authentic" Chinese (in what could be called Brussels' China Town), but it was not as good (more like in China in fact). My wife agreed that she had never tried better Peking duck than in Belgium (first of all, the quality of the meat itself and some other ingredients are much higher than in China).

Minty
Mar 13, 2006, 06:06
What ? In all butcher's shops here (even inside supermarkets), we can see big pieces of meat displayed in the fridge-counter, including the beef, pork and chicken lever, kidneys and even brain. Btw, supermarkets in Belgium are Belgian, French, Dutch or German, and from what I remember it's basically the same all over Western Europe.


Huh? I don't know about Belgium but I never saw that here before in the super/hypermarket I go to, Cora, Auchan, Super-U/Hyper-U you name it, no. I have confirmed with the French they donft displayed internal organs of animals in their super/hyper markets. Their favourite food made from duck or goose kidney foie gras is either in cans already or in cube like form in the glass window for you to pick and buy or some other already packaged format.



Coming back to the main topic, I tried a few more Chinese and Thai restaurants in Belgium since my return from Japan, and I sustain that the best Chinese restaurants here are much better than the best I have tried in China, and even Japan. My wife agreed too. For the record, I also tried a more "authentic" Chinese (in what could be called Brussels' China Town), but it was not as good (more like in China in fact). My wife agreed that she had never tried better Peking duck than in Belgium (first of all, the quality of the meat itself and some other ingredients are much higher than in China).


I agree that Chinese foods taste better in countries with higher GDP than in Mainland China with the exception of France in general. This is because the Chinese restaurants here are open by Vietnamese or Chinese from Vietnam and their tastes have change due to their migration to Vietnam.


Due to the fact that Mainland China has become communists since the Cultural Revolution the people there have lost touch in arts, crafts, cooking, science and technology...etc because Communism has suppressed those activities. However that will change because China is changing.

Mikawa Ossan
Mar 13, 2006, 07:58
Well, I don't know about mainland China, but Taiwan certainly was delicious!

Glenn
Mar 13, 2006, 07:58
You ate Taiwan?! Now where's Gaijinian going to go on exchange?

Supervin
Mar 13, 2006, 10:31
As a chowhound that I am, the best Chinese food I reckon is in Hong Kong. There's Guangdong, Shanghai, Beijing and Sichuan cuisines all in HK as well with chefs from those parts. To top it all off, you have HK cuisine too (i.e. modified Guangdong cuisine). I find it hard not to sound biased though. :p

Mikawa Ossan
Mar 13, 2006, 18:57
You ate Taiwan?! Now where's Gaijinian going to go on exchange?
Don't worry! What comes in, must come out! :-)

Glenn
Mar 13, 2006, 19:29
LMAO!!! That's gonna hurt, don't you think?

(I've gotta say that was NOT the response I was expecting!)

Mikawa Ossan
Mar 13, 2006, 19:34
Yeah, it's going to put women in labor to shame! :relief:

nurizeko
Mar 20, 2006, 22:08
NEWSFLASH!: The peoples republic of China has this evening accused the United states of abducting Taiwan and hiding it, the United states Denies any knowledge of this, merely stating, "one of our patrol ships noticed a giant maw decend from the clouds and engulf the entirety of taiwan, a huge booming rumbling voice said "mmmmmm thats finga lickin goood!" before ascending back into the heavens".

The UN following this statement sectioned the united states on the grounds it was mentally unfit to continue without intervention, meanwhile, the search for taiwan continues, Though a large patch of soy sauce is floating in the ocean where taiwan once was, huge logs, which look like splinters from chopsticks have also been found, The Japanese government is still in shock after finding a giant fortune cookie floating into tokyo bay, an official response from Tokyo was quoted as saying "It tastes pretty good".

More news on this story as it comes in.

Kara_Nari
Mar 22, 2006, 20:50
Ok, went to China on the weekend, and as I was never a big fan of Chinese food, I had my trusty supply of korean noodles.... just in case!
However I was pleasantly surprised, my first meal in China was at about 5am after too many bottles of alcohol in a VIP karaoke bar somewhere in Shanghai, we had noodles, and they were great!
Next day we went to a restaruant next to my hotel, and I was worried, because my friend said I had to at least 'try' everything, even the headed river fish (which was turned so it wasnt looking at me) was good!
Unfortunately because I was still a bit drunken I didnt eat enough, and was wishing I'd taken a doggy bag. Ate lots more noodles... all of them delicious, as well as fantastic other dishes...
Overall not disappointing at all.

Minty
Mar 24, 2006, 07:48
Ok, went to China on the weekend, and as I was never a big fan of Chinese food, I had my trusty supply of korean noodles.... just in case!
However I was pleasantly surprised, my first meal in China was at about 5am after too many bottles of alcohol in a VIP karaoke bar somewhere in Shanghai, we had noodles, and they were great!
Next day we went to a restaruant next to my hotel, and I was worried, because my friend said I had to at least 'try' everything, even the headed river fish (which was turned so it wasnt looking at me) was good!
Unfortunately because I was still a bit drunken I didnt eat enough, and was wishing I'd taken a doggy bag. Ate lots more noodles... all of them delicious, as well as fantastic other dishes...
Overall not disappointing at all.

Well it is pleasant to hear that the experience turned out to be a relatively positive experience for you. Just out of curiousity which part of China did you go for vacation?

happyblinker
Mar 24, 2006, 23:44
Well, all the restraunts that I have been to in China and Hong kong were great, you really have to know where to go to get good food... infact one of my favourite parts of going there is eating all the cheap yummy food!

Since my cousins take me around I'm get ripped off, and the expensive places are also very very nice...

Kara_Nari
Mar 25, 2006, 00:55
Ooops sorry haha, I went to Shanghai... and really really really cant wait to go back there. For as cheap as it is, I think I would like to take a couple of months out and just relax amongst the fantasticness.