I am Chinese. Parents are Chinese (who knew!). Parents own a typical take out Chinese food restaurant. I have worked there almost all my life and I know almost all the ins and outs.

I saw that the Waffle house AMA was such a success, I figured maybe everyone wants to know what the typical chinese take out worker may know.

I will answer all your questions besides telling you EXACT recipes :P Those must remain a secret.

Edit1: The amount of questions went up substantially, I am slowly working my way from the old to the newest! Bear with me!

Edit2: Need to go to work for a bit, Will be back in a couple hours. Will answer some here and there! I will try my best to answer as much until the questions stop!

Edit3: Alright I am back, I have been slowly answering question, Now I will try an power through them. Back log of like 500+ right now lol

Edit4: Still answering! Still so far behind!

Edit5: I need to get some sleep now, already 4 am. I will try my best to answer more when I wake up.

Edit6: I am awake once again (9:40 EST). Here we go

Edit7: At this point, I say this AMA is closed, but I will still slowly answer question that are backlogged (600ish left).

My Proof:


Comments: 6089 • Responses: 95  • Date: 

notthatshort2657 karma

I try and try to make Chinese food at home and it's never as good as the worst Chinese takeout. What's the secret?

typicalchinesefood3623 karma

I can guarantee you the main reason is the sauce. The recipes you find online dont use the same ingredients we have in stores. The sauces in restaurants usually mix a variety of seasoning and sauces togethers to achieve the correct taste.

Also the ability to flash cook in a wok makes a big difference believe it or not.

Edit: You should try to ask your local chinese takeout that you order from and see if they will sell you some sauce. I dont see any reason for them to decline.

azreel1633 karma

I've got my own wok and make my own North American Chinese dishes at home - having the ability to get that wok screaming hot and KEEP it hot while cooking is KEY. You have to have all your vege, meats, and sauces prepped and ready to add at the exact right time.

What I do is set the wok on low-medium heat while I prep. That way when I'm ready I can crank the heat and in a minute or two start adding the ingredients.

No idea how similar this is to a chinese takeout place, just what works for me.

Don't try to make a dish like this in a skillet.

typicalchinesefood1475 karma

Spot on!

I would like to add, that the best way is to have the vege and meats cooked already.

First you add some oil preferably vegetable oil, add a pinch of garlic to quickly sauteed, and then add the sauce.

Now here is the tricky part, you had the corn starch to thicken the sauce, but dont add too much. Wait till you have a smooth bubbling to the sauce and that is the point when you add in all the veges and meats. If you add it too late the sauce will burn and if you add it too slow the sauce will be runny.

Heffeweizen346 karma

What do you think about Sesame Oil?

typicalchinesefood831 karma

I think it is great! I wouldn't use it as the oil to cook with, but adding a couple drops of it will add a great smell to the dish!

Schwa112207 karma

Is there any way to get on the Staff's good side? I feel like where I go they just want me gone.

typicalchinesefood2635 karma

That's a hard one and it depends on the store. I really think the best way is to talk to them, but not about the store. They work in the store 11+ hours a day. Local news or anything interesting :)

TrOGGlez1796 karma

How do all the Chinese takeout restaurants have the same menu? Is there some secret "American Chinese food" cookbook that everyone uses?

typicalchinesefood2422 karma

This is probably because everyone copies the success of another. And as a result, everyone expect all chinese takeout to have the same dishes. Its a cycle.

Pregfur_1322 karma

I honestly thing that is one of the most endearing things about Chinese take-out. You can go from city to city and the hole-in-the-wall takr-out joints are going to be more or less consistent in quality. You never have to be disappointed when you feel like Chinese.

typicalchinesefood1100 karma

^ this is it exactly

You can go the safe route and open up a standard chinese takeout. Or you can be adventurous and open a new style of chinese that may become extremely popular.

Gamion192 karma

Besides the similarity of the menu, how come they all seem to purchase their stuff from the SAME exact supplier. For example, the menu looks exactly the same. I don't mean just the contents. I mean the literal menu hanging on the wall of the restaurant looks like it came from one single company. I feel like the answer to this is just going to be 'because there is one company.'

[edit]: Here are just three examples!

typicalchinesefood41 karma

Actually there are multiple companies but they just share the same images lol

IThoughtInsideTheBox1634 karma

Two local stores have kids that are always playing around inside, and they are there so much I have literally watched them grow up to some extent. Did you have this same experience? If so, how would you describe being there so often?

typicalchinesefood1981 karma

I know exaclty what you are talking about. I am one of those type of kids!

The restaurant is a love hate relationship! Its great because it keeps your family so close together, but at the same time it keeps them far apart because they are working 24/7.

however, it is a unique eperience, you learn about tons of different people and personalities. you also learn about the value of money and work ethics!

ElmerCowley1018 karma

And then?

typicalchinesefood497 karma

What do you mean "and then" sir? :O

ElmerCowley687 karma

typicalchinesefood464 karma

I guess I am not cultured enough, You have enlightened me!

tigrrbaby47 karma

The fact that you are not heartily sick of people saying this to you gives me a little hope for humanity; even if people are reminded of that movie clip all the time, they are at least conscious that it would be rude to say it to you.

I tell you what though, that is one of the most used movie quotes in our household, unrelated to whether we're eating Chinese food or not :)

typicalchinesefood56 karma

Everything is part of the culture! Embrace it :)

Fusionoma915 karma

What is used for coating the chicken in dishes like general Tso's?

typicalchinesefood1483 karma

It's lightly seasoned wet batter ( water, salt, oil, egg white, flour)

Cooking is 4ish steps:

  1. marinate in he chicken in light seasoning
  2. mix in batter
  3. fry it hot oil to lock on the batter
  4. lower the temp of the oil to fully harden the outside and cook the inside
  5. Stir fry the chicken with the sauce.

gimp1124911 karma

What's the actual way to pronounce Tso? Some people say general so or taos or chows

typicalchinesefood1382 karma

It's usually "so's" or "sao's." Please dont try to sound out the "T."

RancorHi5796 karma

Does your place proudly proclaim "no msg" like some I've seen? Because I want the damn msg! It took me some serious searching in my town to find a bag, and it was in the Asian aisle of the restraunt supply store. A little bit on meat does miraculous things.

EDIT: I know about the product called Accent guys thank you.

typicalchinesefood1521 karma

Dont believe the places that say no MSG. Cause their food will have it regardless. Even if they dont add additional MSG, the sauces will have it.

OfficerPewPew773 karma

I once ordered Chinese food using GrubHub and it arrived at my house 15 minutes later... How is that possible? It was typically ordered Chinese food and I live about 2 miles from the shop, but i figured it was all made to order.

typicalchinesefood1925 karma

The store probably wasn't busy and you were the first order there.

Those woks are damn hot and a $20ish order can be cooked under 7 minutes :O

If you are 2 miles away, then I can see them making an order and delivering under 15 minutes.

your lucky day :D

ProfessorPulp893 karma

I like this AMA.

typicalchinesefood34 karma

Thank you!

cyberiagirl730 karma

Is North American style Chinese cheaper and/or easier to make than something more authentic? Which do you personally prefer to eat?

typicalchinesefood1441 karma

North american Chinese is definitely easier and cheaper to prepare. Most of the prepping can be done in bulk and final product from the precook stages only takes a couple minutes.

Authentic chinese food requires more ingredients and a longer cooking process.

I prefer authenic chinese food on a daily basis but I do get cravings for the north american style.

MangoWhoDidNotLive649 karma

This question is going to be a bit personal so hope you don't mind, but did you ever feel 'forced' to work in your family's restaurant? I sort of come from the same background where my family owns a diner and sometimes I just get annoyed at the fact I feel chained down as I started working there since I was 14 and almost all my free time goes into there even now at 18. On some days I can look past it because hey family is there for one another and I can relieve some stress on my parents but sometimes I can't help but feel sad that my life is passing me by and I just don't have that many fun memories of my teenage life.
I love them for sure do not get me wrong! I'm mostly annoyed at the situation rather then being mad at them. But I just wanted another person's perspective on it.

typicalchinesefood765 karma

I have had those thought as well. And I view them in almost the same way. I guess the question to ask yourself is, do you want to continue this as a source of income or do you look for something else in the future. Once you figure that out, you will be able to decide how you want to proceed with you career. Best of luck to you

Symme550 karma

Most Chinese food places have the stereotype of being unclean. Is there any truth to this? If so, why?

typicalchinesefood1017 karma

I am not surprised from this stereotype, but it is usually dependent upon the area. I have been two a few places that i felt were not clean, but most are usually sanitary. All stores have health inspectors come by, so they have to meet some sort of standard.

If you live in a nice neighborhood, the store will be clean, if you really want to make sure, just go to the store and ask to use the bathroom.

The reason behind the negative stereotype comes from china. They probably work in a store in china and what worked over there might not work over here. I dont have any personal experience with this so I can not elaborate further.

Dickdude9000509 karma

What's the best seller ?

typicalchinesefood1039 karma

General Tso Chicken and its variations.

SputtleTuts462 karma

Ever see "The Search for General Tso" ? It's a documentary all about how and why that dish got to be so popular. Based on your answers to other questions in this ama I think you might like it. It's on Netflix I think.

typicalchinesefood349 karma

I havent seen it, but I will definitely give it a shot when I have time :)

EdOharris114 karma

I often find General Tso to be too sweet and not spicy enough. It's rare I find what I consider to be good General Tso. Is it supposed to be less heat and more sweet, or am I just finding subpar chicken?

typicalchinesefood249 karma

The majority of customers usually find sweet better than spicy and it probably the reason why you are having a hard time find just the right chicken.

Most places will not be able to make it less sweet but they can definitely make it more spicy. Maybe you can ask to get it extra spicy and it can mask some of it sweetness?

OpTOMetrist1502 karma

My local Chinese take out place puts a guy that can barely speak English on the phone but a fluent guy delivers the food, can you explain the thinking behind this?

typicalchinesefood757 karma

There can be quite a few reasons. but the main reason is probably the driver doesn't work in the restaurant and is just hired to deliver food.

CreamNPeaches364 karma

I can confirm. Am a white delivery driver. They don't ask me to do anything else in the restaurant even though I'm very willing to help. I'll ask on the busiest days if they need me to do something and I don't think I've had a single night where they want me to clean tables or run the dishwasher.

typicalchinesefood523 karma

They probably think that since they dont pay you to do that, you will be unhappy do it :/

Its the sad truth.

DontClickTheUpArrow440 karma

Ok so this question is about the little bags of fried noodle strips that come with wonton soup. The place near me always had the absolute BEST fried noodles, like I would order wonton and get 3 extra bags because they were so good. Then one day they switched to the horrible stale noodles I find at most chinese places. Were they making their own and then started buying the cheap ones? How can I get those amazing fired noodles again?

typicalchinesefood589 karma


you have two options for crispy noodles as a restaurant owner. You either buy the premade ones (stale) but easier to do. or you make your own. To make your own, you have to get egg roll wrapping and cut them into strips and fry them.

DontClickTheUpArrow70 karma

Is it ok and would they know what I was talking about if I asked them to make the homemade ones for me? What should I say? I would be so happy If they would and I could regain my addiction to wonton soup :)

typicalchinesefood215 karma

I am sorry to say they probably will not be able to make it for you only. You will have to let them know that most people dont like the prepackaged ones and let them know that the ones they make themselves are much better. Maybe they will be able to change back to the old ways.

Otherwise you may have to find it somewhere else :(

PastaPappa430 karma

I like pressed duck. There's a place nearby that serves it, and I can order it and have it ready in "15 or 20 minutes". I have made pressed duck at home, following a receipe from the "Classic Chinese Cookbook" (I'm old. I use cookbooks.) It took me 4 hours to make pressed duck! I'm assuming that the place I order from uses duck for it's broth bases, so they've already deboned the duck. Do you serve it, if so, is that the technique you use? Or are there shortcuts?

typicalchinesefood983 karma

I am not surprised it takes so long to make the duck. Duck is probably a dish that takes the longest to prepare; that's why it is so damn expensive!

The only reason they can prepare it so fast is because it has been precook. the way they probably make the duck is to massage the seasoning onto the duck and then roast the duck with the bone first. Then they de-bone the duck. At this point, they are stored until it is ordered.

When it is ordered they will roast the duck once more which will take around 10-15 minutes.

So in the end, there are any shortcuts, but a lot of prep time.

YourLastCents362 karma

Thank you and your parents for having the dedication to run a restaurant. I've been buying from the same family owned place for 20 years and haven't found anything like it wherever I go.

How important is the family business to you, or other generations of family?

typicalchinesefood494 karma

The restaurant is important because it is usually the only source of income for a first generation family in the US. Usually the second generation looks for more of a professional career!

cheifdwarf998343 karma

Why doesn't my local Chinese restaurant sell orange chicken!!??

typicalchinesefood651 karma

Uhhhhhh, that a surprising one. If they have general tso chicken they should have orange chicken. The only difference between the two dishes is that the orange chicken has orange zest added to the sauces when the dish is in the wok.

cheifdwarf998207 karma

They have general tso's but no Orange chicken! :(

typicalchinesefood1092 karma

You should find another place! How dare they not serve orange chicken!

MsNewKicks342 karma

(Half) Chinese here! My mother owned a Korean restaurant during my youth-teen years that I helped out at. Not sure why but I couldn't ever eat at other Korean restaurants (used to eating at my mom's place, free food vs paying,etc.) until well into my college years.

How often, if at all, do you eat at other Chinese restaurants? Can you just enjoy the food or do you compare/critique it?

typicalchinesefood515 karma

I actually eat at other chinese takeouts pretty often when I am out an about.

Its fun trying out different places and comparing them to your own. So I do critique it but it doesnt mean I dont enjoy it when I do.

SyrinxVibes339 karma

Why do so many Chinese restaurants get teased about their food being "cat" or "rat." I absolutely love Chinese food but do you know why that stigma is so popular?

typicalchinesefood466 karma

it use to be extremely prevalent 10 or so years ago, but not so much anymore. However, I dont know the reason for it.

CherryCherry5289 karma

How can I get REAL Chinese food without being offensive? I love a little traditional Chinese restaurant near me. Traditional Northern Chinese food (I've been told). I found it through a Taiwanese friend who was visiting me for a year. When I went with her, the food was AMAZING! Hands down The Best Chinese food I've ever eaten. She's now gone back home to Taiwan. The last time I went with my family, I feel like they gave us completely different food: Americanized (or Canadianized in my case) versions of what we ordered. Example: crispy sesame beef - the sauce wasn't the same. It was ketchup-y. It happened again the next time I went. The only difference is that my Chinese, Mandarin speaking friend isn't with me. So, how do I let them know that I want the real stuff? I don't want to order a pork bun or those black noodles (not actually noodles, but fern roots) and get some weird American version.

typicalchinesefood406 karma

Thats hard to do. Unless its on the menu, you will need to know the chinese name or the english version of the chinese name and ask if they can make it for you. They will know what you are talking about as long as you get the name correctly. You wont offend in anyway by asking for more authenic food as long as you know what you are looking for!

heykarlll249 karma

were your parents cooks in china? why did they decide to come here?

typicalchinesefood535 karma

No my parents were not cooks, they learned to cook when they got out here! Short answer, the money and better life

whydoipoopsomuch244 karma

Why do some places not run air conditioning and leave the front and back doors open?

typicalchinesefood871 karma

The truthful answer: We are cheap people trying to save some money here and there

The usual answer: Its because we expect the customer to be in and out as it is a take out store and the A/C doesnt work in the kitchen because the ventilation keeps if from staying cool.

00setsuna243 karma

What is in the brown sauce used in egg foo young? I typically get roast pork or shrimp egg foo young on occasion

typicalchinesefood441 karma

To be honest, that is probably the hardest sauce in the store to make. So many different ingredients go into that sauce, I actually need my super secret recipe book that was passed to make it. So sadly I cant answer that right now :(

jackruby83109 karma

Similar question, what is lobster sauce? It's so thick

typicalchinesefood278 karma

Its mainly just thicken chicken broth with salt, sugar, msg, white pepper and flowered egg whites.

Freikorp237 karma

As a jew, I just want to say thank you for always being there for delivery on Christmas day (well, for the people in your line of work always being there). My favorite thing on that day is giving the driver a wrapped "Christmas" present. it's kind of a tradition now.

How busy are your Christmas days? Any good stories, or is it just extremely busy and stressful? I guess this depends entirely on the area you live.

typicalchinesefood32 karma

We are actually fairly busy around Christmas time. I am trying to remember a good story that involves a customer but none is coming to mind right now. If I think of something I will let you know.

qandmargo226 karma

What's your life outside the restaurant like? Do you have a lot of free time to yourself?

typicalchinesefood530 karma

I am actually a college graduate looking for higher education right now. So I do that in my free time.

crabbypad215 karma

Does your chef(s) ever cook regional, authentic Chinese food? Whether it's for fellow coworkers or perhaps special requests from costumers (if that's possible)? If it's possible, how would I go about making that request?


typicalchinesefood418 karma

We do cook authentic chinese food for ourselves and we do make it by special request to the customers!

You just have to know the name and how the dish is like and then ask if they know what you are talking about and if they have the ability to make it! Some authentic dishes require a lot of prep so they wont be able to.

whyisntitlegal151 karma

Can you recommend some authentic dishes?

typicalchinesefood259 karma

One of my favorite authentic dishes is Cantonese lobster!

Sphynx87200 karma

Hey, I'm a chef / food scientist and I had a couple questions.

First off what types of vendors do you use for your primary suppliers? Do you use a vendor for a lot of the "chinese food place" stuff and then a separate vendor for your wholesale produce and meat or do you buy from one company?

I read some of your other responses in regards to prep, particularly what you mentioned about bulk prep. Do you rely on tools as often as possible (mandoline, food processor w/ attachments) to speed things up or is everything done with a big ass chinese cleaver?

I've worked with commercial wok stations before, they use a ton of gas. What's your gas bill like usually?

Have you had any questionable issues with health and safety inspections? (On your part or theirs).

Do you experiment with cooking a lot outside of what you cook at your restaurant? Do you have any kind of desire to work in different types of kitchens or make different types of food?

Thanks for doing the AMA. I love cooking on a real wok burner btw, it's like cooking on a jet engine.

typicalchinesefood295 karma

Here we go, one by one!

We personally use there different suppliers. One supplier for the utensil and containers, one for produces and typical chinese food stuff, and one for meats.

Almost everything is done with a big ass cleaver! However, we have small knives for deboning and a big mixer for the marination and mixing process when we season the meats. We also have a deli slicers as well. And a meat grinder to make grounded pork and mix dough (works well).

I can really comment on gas bill, as I dont have any one hand and I dont usually do the gas bills, sorry.

Our places is usually clean but we alway have the mark were things are not covered. We cover everything daily, but it get so busy during the day that its hard to keep it covered when the health inspector arrives. We are talking about food in the fridge.

i dont really have time for cooking outside of the restaurant so I have not. I don't have any desires besides maybe learning some sushi :O a fine art!

Wesleybuckshot198 karma

What happened to "fortune" cookies? These cookies nowadays say some bullshit like "the weather is nice" I haven't had a fortune in years. They're all statement cookies.

typicalchinesefood351 karma

I want to know too. The worst ones are the Kung fu panda cookies. It a sad day for fortune cookies

SirEDCaLot197 karma

Okay a few questions:

  1. Every Chinese place near me has the exact same egg rolls. I mean like they look and taste EXACTLY the same. Same thing with a few other dishes like lo mein noodles, sesame chicken, etc. I assume there's some food supplier in the area that they all get their stuff from. Any thoughts on this / how widespread is this? How much of typical Chinese food is made from scratch vs made from prepackaged ingredients?

  2. You mentioned food coloring. How much food coloring is typically added to a dish you make? Do colored dishes sell better than the same uncolored dishes (which presumably taste exactly the same)?

Also thanks for the clean bathroom tip, I'll have to check that out :)

typicalchinesefood461 karma

There are usually 2-3 competing suppliers for every location, but all those suppliers stock the same products and its just the price that is different. Now to answer your question, there are premade egg rolls and I am sure places order those egg rolls because they don't want to make their own. However, I am not sure how widespread it is. Even places that dont order the premade egg roll still have to order the veges to put in the egg rolls and that is the same regardless of where you go. And becauses egg rolls are so lightly seasoned and the veges are usually the same, rolls premade or not usually look and taste the same. There are small differences if you pay close attention, but usually people put such an abundance of extra sauce on it that they cant even taste the difference anyways.

Most chinese food dishes are made from scratch and rarely are they ever prepackaged. the most common thing that is prepackaged are probably dumplings.

There are two food coloring that most stores use. one is egg yellow and the other is red. The yellow one is usually to lightly color the wonton soup base. And the red one is for everything else. I am sure you noticed that pork is normally grey put in chinese food it is red. A hint of red usually makes it more appealing to the eye.

I cant say much about the selling stance as I havent done a controlled comparison, but it wouldnt surprised me if it did.

Valnoric162 karma

What is your favourite Chinese takeout item to eat?

typicalchinesefood377 karma


It's a sweet, spicy, peppery dish!

Absolutely delicious!

yupwhynotiguess46 karma

Did you ever go to/live in China? Where are your family from?

typicalchinesefood121 karma

yes I have, I live in china from right after I was born to 4 year old and then went back for vacation a couple times. I havent been back in 10+ years though.

CorsarioNero162 karma

What's the worst client you had to deal with?

typicalchinesefood673 karma

One of the most common sayings you hear in the food service industry is that "The customer is always right." I wish you didnt have to follow this rule, but no matter how much you hate it, there is a reason for it.

Because of this mindset, you get these customer sometimes that believe they can do whatever they want.

One time, this individual comes in with an already eaten dish. I mean like, the dish was already almost done; only a couple pieces of veges left on the plate. he claims that the dish is not what he order and ask for a refund and starts throwing a fit while there were tons of other people around. he throws the food on the ground and then leaves. We end up with a mess and dead silent waiting room. What an asshole

ALoseItAccount248 karma

My local place doesn't give much of a shit and gives customers hell if they're royal pricks like that. It's hilarious to watch.

typicalchinesefood181 karma

How are they stll in business! Must have some amazing food lol

philldaruler122 karma

How often do you burn/ruin/make the wrong dish?

typicalchinesefood314 karma

quite often actually, maybe once a day? not because we take the wrong order, but because the chef sometimes gets orders mixed up because there are so many.

jamesd42581 karma

What does "Szechuan" mean? Never knew this.

typicalchinesefood201 karma

That word is derived from a location in china. the food of from there is extremely spicy so "Szechuan" style dishes are usually spicy.

Nixplosion68 karma

Whats the key to a solid Crab Rangoon?? I just can NOT replicate the stuffing!

typicalchinesefood30 karma

It would be, thoroughly mixing the season into the cream cheese.

illuminati30359 karma

What are the most popular dishes? Is there a dish that is ordered rarely but you think is one of the best on the menu?

typicalchinesefood124 karma

Most popular? General Tso chicken, hands down

rarely ordered but good? Probably mongolian style dishes and actual chow mi fun noodles (rice noodles)

ElmerCowley91 karma

Mongolian beef is my JAM

typicalchinesefood62 karma

definitely an underappreciated dish :O

Chippingawayatlife57 karma

I often order chinese food "all dishes with less sodium and oil please". Doctor's order. Do you guys hate that, or does it make the cooking harder?

typicalchinesefood121 karma

We do try our best to use less oil and take out the sodium if that is what is requested. However we also inform them that in most cases the dish will be much blander and recommend adding a bit of their own sodium free sauce.

It is not harder to make, just something different.

ImAFiggit50 karma

What is the number one thing you would never order from a Chinese take-out restaurant?

typicalchinesefood49 karma

Probably french fries if they offer it. We dont but i know some places that do.

Cryogenic_galaxy45 karma

Ive had two styles of crab rangoon, some on the sweeter side, and some more on the savory side. Why is that so? Is it regional or just a matter of preference?

typicalchinesefood67 karma

You are talking about the cream cheese crab rangoon right?

It is a regional preferences, they try what people like.

ThedaBare44 karma

Thank you for doing this actually. My main question, which is probably unanswerable, is why so many delivery places really do bad food. I just keep looking. In any case, did you see this really fascinating article on how Chinese restaurants in the most remote, tiny towns throughout the States get their labor? http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/13/cooka%C2%80%C2%99s-tale

typicalchinesefood77 karma

Actually that question is quite answerable!

The places that do delivery usually do it because it adds a source of business in which otherwise their store will not get. Usually places that are not busy will do this to get more business. And why are they not busy? Its probably because the food is not so great!

I good chinese food takeout will have people willing to come pick up the food because they know they make tasty takeout!

I have not seen this article, but it is not unfamiliar territory. We dont do this at our store, but it does happen :O

AusInNYC39 karma

Chinese takeout varies around the world. Is it chef's knowledge or business that restricts? In Australia every takeout will offer a 'Honey Chicken' - have you ever heard of it?

typicalchinesefood70 karma

Yes I have seen and have had it in the US. But not every place has it. The variety comes not from the chef, but what the customer want. If it isnt popular and it isnt being served, there is no point in having it on the menu.

I personally like honey chicken, but people dont like trying new things :O

klausterfok38 karma

One more question, are you offended if someone doesn't tip for take out? I tip most times but sometimes I think it's unnecessary.

typicalchinesefood127 karma

Never! No one should be forced to tip. If you like us or the food then tip if you want, but dont tip because you think you have to! I would never go to a place that forces people to tip, especially take out!

Xybernetik32 karma

I order and eat at many chinese restaurants around the bay area, and I am always amazed at the sheer madness that goes on in those kitchens! (During lunch hour), I love the mongolian dishes, especially the "trio" when they add pork/beef/shrimp all in one (not many places have it)

I have one question for you, what is the best type of beer that you would recommend for your typical american chinese fare? Keep up the hard, often thankless work!

typicalchinesefood46 karma

The two type of beer you will usually find at chinese gathering is corona and heineken! Pretty simple, but we like it :0

Gitdagreen30 karma

Are you nervous about doing deliveries to specific neighborhoods?

typicalchinesefood54 karma

We actually dont do delivery to residential neighborhoods, so i wont be able to comment with experience. But I probably would be cautious!

Joker2kill22 karma

Is there any way to make that delicious neon-red sweet and sour sauce at home? I've tried many recipes but they never come out like the restaurant.

typicalchinesefood27 karma

I am not familiar with home cook chinese takeout. So I dont know the secret to it. sorry.

I think the best idea is just to go to a chinese food takeout place and ask to buy some unheat sweet and and sour sauce. They definitely will sell it and it will be cheap!

zwhenry9 karma

I order from a place to deliver to my apartment sometimes at around 9 or 10. I'm always surprised to find the food still arrives. Is it typical for a restaurant to stay open and deliver for a long time? How late will it go? Do you hate me for placing a big order at 10 pm?

typicalchinesefood34 karma

I am guessing most stores around your area closes around 9-10? How late a store opens really depends on the location. A city like boston will have chinese food stores open all the way till 3am!

Most places will deliver food till they close or until like 15 minutes before they close so the delivery person can make it back to the store.

Truth be told, they probably hate you for ordering so late if they are trying to clean up and close up. But that shouldnt stop you from ordering because you are definitely not the only one.

meriadoctargaryen6 karma

How fresh are the ingredients used? I keep having to change where I order Chinese food from since they keep using stale vegetables.

typicalchinesefood30 karma

Most stores usually use decently fresh veges unless they arent busy. Or you live in a not so friendly neighbor hood. check the bathroom and see if it is clean before you order from there. clean bathroom means fresh veges :P

sdfgh2345616 karma

But why are you taking my veggies into the bathroom?

typicalchinesefood28 karma

=.= No veges in the bathroom. Just check to see if the bathroom is clean lol. A hygienic place usually uses fresh veges

jimmyjammer0076 karma

Hi, just had general tso yesterday and hardley tasted any chicken just breading, is that the way it is supposed to be?

typicalchinesefood14 karma

No, definitely not!

Assuming it isnt like that all the time, you probably had the end of that batch of chicken. What happens is the chicken is cooked in batches and towards the end of the batch, the small pieces are left and mainly consist of breading.

LudovicoSpecs4 karma

How do you get the broccoli so green???

typicalchinesefood11 karma

We go through a lot of broccoli, so it is always super fresh!

TrikkyMakk4 karma

Where do they learn their trade from? My understanding is that US Chinese food is vastly different than Chinese Chinese food.

typicalchinesefood12 karma

Most people who open a takeout store have work in one for year already before saving up enough money and going out to a new location to open their own.

lost_in_life_343 karma

I like to eat the mandarin pork noodle soup or any pork dish when I'm sick. Does the pork really have antibiotics illegal in the USA?

typicalchinesefood10 karma

you are probably just a pork person :P

The meat you find in our chinese takeout is the same you find in most takeout stores. They are all USDA inspected I believe

yadoya2 karma

What language does the Chinese community speak at home/between them? Is the community so tightly - knit together? Where do they hang out and meet other Chinese people?

How do I participate in their activities as a white male?

typicalchinesefood13 karma

Usually what ends up happening in first generation Chinese families in America is that the kids in the family will main speak English between there peers and then speak Chinese to their parents.

I guess the community is geographically dependent. In areas where the density of chinese people are high, you do have tightly knitted communities. I am not from one of these areas, so I will not be able to answer what they do.

But in most cases where the chinese population is sparse, we actually invite quite the variety of people over when we host a party or bba or such (always have an Asian twist to them). Sometimes they are our loyal customers, sometimes they are just friends and family. You just need to get to know the family behind the restaurant. We dont bite.

Thepointgod2 karma

OP, is there a reason why you are pretending like there is any "secret" recipe that can't be disclosed?? There isn't any secret to any of these dishes and as people have already discussed, lack of super hot range for a wok or a commercial deep fryer are the primary reasons that many of these dishes can't be replicated.

To the extent that it even matters (which it doesn't, because Chinese take out is ordered due to convenience, price, and habit), considering no one knows who you are or what restaurant you work for, your sales are not going to be affected in the least. Is this is just a stupid ploy to pretend you have some exclusive knowledge over other people and to keep people interested in your AMA?

Recipes are easily found online, and there is no magic to any of them. They are not secrets, and they are openly disclosed to any employee who works at any of these restaurants. Often, many Chinese immigrants off the boat are hired to work in these restaurants to gain economic footing, and they are taught how to cook the recipes. There is no NDA that these folks are signing, nor is any of this rocket science.

If anyone wants to know how to cook any dish or prep any item on a standard takeout menu, send me a PM and I can walk you through the whole process, including where the ingredients can be found and how a home cooked version will likely differ from one made in a restaurant, if at all.

I think this is a good AMA and is beneficial to debunk some of the misconceptions and negativity surrounding Chinese take out places, but I am wondering why this ruse to pretend to hold knowledge over anyone who is interested?

typicalchinesefood1 karma

I give you the honest response. You are correct to say that most of the general recipes are out there, but each and every store has their own tweaks to the sauce. So we are not able to say that all the sauces are the same.

The main reason why I didnt want to answer the recipe questions is because I didnt want the AMA to become a recipe request. Those are already out there and people can find them online and they can tweak them to how they like. Additionally, the way the sauces are prepared in the store will differ from how it is prepare at home.

I am sorry if I have offended you in anyway, I just didnt want to answer a whole bunch of recipe questions has they are not interesting in my opinion.

rickeyspanish2 karma

absolutely love american chinese food over authentic chinese. panda express, pei wei, and typical takeout places are the best! is general tso a east coast thing? i live in LA and have never seen it on a menu

typicalchinesefood4 karma

I guess it would have to be an east coast thing. Now you know I am on the east coast! oh no :P

lonesome_valley2 karma

Why aren't there any good Chinese places in my town? It's a major public college town 20 minutes from a state capital...

typicalchinesefood13 karma

It's hard to answer that question!

But the main reason is that there are probably quite a few okay ones around and because of that, the risk of failure of opening up a new one, even if you make the best food, is high. It's hard to get people to try new places!

Morbid_Truffles2 karma

Someone comes in and asks for "Hong Kong-style" whatever. Will you guys make it for them?

And thanks for doing this AMA!

typicalchinesefood10 karma

There are so many different dishes from hong kong! We would need more information, but tailoring order to specific requests is not uncommon!

brsboarder22 karma

Brown Sauce recipe? Garlic Sauce recipe?

typicalchinesefood7 karma

no can do! I can tell you they all have some soy sauce in it


Spiculus2 karma

What's the secret to a good spring roll?

typicalchinesefood4 karma

Freshly chopped veges and with a great dipping sauce of your choice :O

sadderdrunkermexican1 karma

Assuming I've already heard the workers speaking mandarin white, if I try to practice my shitty mandarin when I order or between ordering and the food being ready, while the place is slow, am I being annoying, is it a nice break in monotony?

typicalchinesefood2 karma

It dont find it annoying, but you just have to hope the worker speaks both languages well enough. just let them know before hand that you are learning :O

rbobby1 karma

Style of food (north american vs actual regional)?

Also... exact recipe for the red sweet and sour sauce for chicken balls please!

typicalchinesefood7 karma

care to elaborate, I am not sure what you mean?

We serve north american chinese food. Not authentic chinese food, if that is your question.

Sorry :( cant tell you. what i can say is that it consist of a lot of sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice, water, corn starch.

shinbo-1 karma

What type of Chinese are you?

typicalchinesefood2 karma

I was actually born in america, but my parents come from south east china.

dottmatrix-2 karma

It's just an urban legend that Chinese takeout places pass off cat as chicken, right?

typicalchinesefood9 karma

10 or so years ago, we would get prank call from kids trying to order "cat fried rice" on a daily basis. I dont know where this all started but we dont serve cats or an domestic animals =.=

lBasket-25 karma

What's up with all these high-school job AmAs?

typicalchinesefood22 karma

This isnt a really a high school job T_T, more of a lifestyle!

You probably wouldnt even be able to get this job unless your parents own the store...

SexyPatrickDuffy-78 karma

So why did you think any one would care?

typicalchinesefood26 karma


SexyPatrickDuffy-58 karma

Not the answer I was looking for. Are you even taking this AMA seriously?

typicalchinesefood39 karma

I didn't know such a condescending question requires a serious response.