Friday, March 23, 2007

"We're not in China anymore, Toto!" -- Chinese food in Lawrence today

Those of us who live on the Coasts, or in the City With Broad Shoulders, sometime take the availability of reasonably authentic Chinese food for granted. If all we had to eat was the stuff that the Center for Science in the Public Interest recently pilloried again for having a lot of salt and fat (I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that fast food is being sold with salt and fat in it!) we probably wouldn't be Chinese food fans. Or would we? There are plenty of Chinese food fans in places like Lawrence, KS, even though the Chinese food they have available might be somenthing we vaguely remember from distant and simpler times. The Lawrence-Journal World recently interviewed persons in the street, asking what their favorite Chinese foods were, and invited readers to comment with their own favorites. Here's the Chinese dishes of choice in Lawrence:

What is your favorite Chinese food?

March 22, 2007
Asked at Massachusetts Street

"I like General Tso’s chicken. I guess I like it because it’s always the same in all the restaurants, so I always know what I’m getting."

— [Name Withheld], engineer, Lawrence

"I really like the combination fried rice because of the variety of all the ingredients they use."

[Name Withheld], title abstractor, Kansas City, Kan.

"Crab rangoon, because it’s somewhat sweet and it doesn’t have anything too crazy in it."

[Name Withheld], Washburn University freshman, Topeka

"General’s chicken. I keep trying other things, but I always go back to it. It’s something about the sweet and spicy flavor."

[Name Withheld], Lawrence High School senior, Lawrence


[Edited by Gary Soup to delete flippant and/or demeaning comments or excessive prolixity; each bullet represents a separate reader's comments]

  • Broccoli and chicken
  • Beef and broccoli with steamed rice from Hy-vee. It is always fresh and the broccoli is still crisp in the center. Yummy
  • cashew chicken. mmmmmmmmm.
  • Chinese burritos.
  • Hot and Sour Soup, Sweet and Sour , Lo Mein whatever, Crab Rangoon.
  • Their green beans. Also Mushroon Chicken, and the Pepper Beef, and the skewered chicken. At China Buffet in Leavenworth they have steamed mussels on the shell (evenings). Yum.
  • Mongolian Beef with Beef.
  • Hmmmmmmm....Can't say that I've tried everything yet, so, I dunno. I can say that I tend not to like Chinese desserts. A dessert must contain more than a dash of sugar!
  • i love the broccoli beef.........hold the broccoli
  • Lo mein noodles. Love them.
  • I have to watch how much sodium I eat, so Chinese food is a once in a great while treat for me. I love hot and sour soup and anything (well almost) in hot garlic sauce.
  • mu shu shrimp
  • shrimp lo mein with crab rangoon simple but goooood
  • Bu zhidao, keshi wo chang chang xihuan chi yi pan mongol niu rou he yi wan suan la tang.
  • Egg drop soup from the Plum Tree
  • Cashew Chicken in Plum sauce from The Royal Peking (I think the best Chinese in town). I don't think any place else does the Plum Sauce with their Cashew Chicken. I like General Tso's Chicken also.I like most Chinese food, actually.
  • ... I'll go dine with jayhawk1234 as I like the broccoli beef minus the beef. Bring on the fried green beans, too. General Tso's Chicken, one spring roll, one rangoon, and some dry fried pork will fill up my plate nicely.... The kids like the authentic Chinese ice cream bar there.
  • actual favorites are oriental salads........with tofu
  • 酸辣土豆丝
  • I forgot - crab rangoons are a food group unto themselves. The hubby-to-be has to be reminded often that eating 6 of them at a sitting is unhealthy. But they are so GOOOOOD.
  • I love Jade Mongolian BBQ. It is so cool to be able to pick the veggies you like and mix it with whatever meat and sauce you like! They also have a regular chinese buffet. Hot and Sour Soup rocks!
  • My favorite is Grilled Lemon Chicken from Peking Taste chinese buffet and Crab Rangoon from Jasmins in eudora
  • Love them Raman Chicken Flsvor Noodles too.
  • Favorite foods...pretty much everything. I love the Spicy Peppered Beef and their fried potatos.
One long quote was too revealing to butcher by shortening:

"I love Panda Garden, King Buffet and Royal Peking also. Oh, and the answer to the question: Cashew Chicken or the sweet Walnut Shrimp from King Buffet. I still remember the first time I had Chinese food. I was a senior in high school 1985 and my mom and I went to Wichita to shop. She saw a little place that was a converted hamburger drive in. You parked by the old speakers and there was a paper menu taped to the old sign. It indicated that you could wait for a server to come out, or you could come in. We went in, and I tasted my first Cashew chicken. Also my first Chinese hot tea. I couldn't drink it because it smelled like A&D ointment (diaper rash ointment). Still can't! But I treasure the memory of that "exotic" lunch with mom, and have been a fan of Chinese food ever since."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Haute Chinese Cuisine: The Novel

As mentioned in my previous entry, I had planned to be in Shanghai by now, but I ended up postponing my trip until later in the year, for a variety of reasons. Someone who is in Shanghai at this moment, however, and who just sent me a report on the crab xiaolong at Jia Jia Tangbao's new location is Nicole Mones, a new e-Friend and Chinese food soulmate. Nicole is an Old China Hand, a novelist, and a food writer for Gourmet. She's just written what may be a literary first: a contemporary novel entirely framed by the world of high-end Chinese culinary art, The Last Chinese Chef. It's not due to be published until May 4, but she was kind enough to offer me an advance copy, which I have just received. I undoubtedly will have more to say about it once I've read it; in the meantime, you can get a preview of her novel, including a taste of Nicole's stimulating verbal food porn at her website.