In which this Chinese contributor proposes some “ethnic-cred” to this enterprise while conceding to being somewhat subjective, and hungry.
Mongolian Beef — A meat lover’s delight, this dish is basically an excuse to eat a lot of obtusely cut pieces of beef. Eating this dish will either make one feel like a Mongoloid, or look like one. There is a reason why we built the Great Wall: to keep those Mongoloids out. Mongolian beef is a brutal dish for barbarians.
Chow Fun — Its main constituent is “ho fun,” a wide flat oil absorbent noodle that may feel fun in your mouth, perhaps influenced semantically. As for the ho, this cheap dinner should do. Accompanied by beef, scallions, and bean sprouts, this Cantonese staple dish will fill you up with enough oil to lube next morning’s business. It might not be fun though, for you or the ho.
General’s Chicken — The general is Tso Tsung-tang. The association between him and this sweet and spicy dish is unclear. Let us assume, simply, that Tso really liked this dish, and killed someone for it. The thick hot sauce is typical of Hunan and Szechuan style cooking; being colder northern states, spiciness often offset the freezing weather.
Egg Roll — Basically a deep-fried grease stick, one wonders why the hell even put cabbage and carrots inside it, as if the mere allusion of healthy salad-like ingredients could offset the verity of this calorie bomb. The egg-based pastry is dipped in an egg wash before frying, thus being called what it is.
Wonton Soup – Often pronounced “wantan soup,” it is not bad, but so good, that is, as long as you’re okay with slimy testicle-esque dumplings, perhaps two of them, bobbing in your mouth. The clear broth will host egg noodles and bok choy, completing this culinary tea-bagging experience.
Beef and Broccoli — Despite its name, really ghetto establishments will subsidize the broccoli with celery, but when you’re drunk at 2:00 am, “beef and broccoli” and “beef and celery” sound similar, thus, our Beef and Broccoli symbolizes the aural and ethical concessions of its common patronage: the drunk hungry dude with four dollars in his pocket who has nothing to lose.
Orange Chicken — Coated with a thickened caramelized glaze of sweet orange-y sauce and topped with candied chilis, orange peel, and fresh scallions, these battered and fried pieces of tender chicken are love nuggets, in your mouth, begging the barely enunciated question “orange you glad you stayed in for take out?”
Kung Pao Chicken — Do not let the eponymous Pao (actually, B?o ?) confuse you, for the “pao” isn’t a Chinese pow mimicking or summoned by the chili peppers or crunch of the cashews (peanuts will be supplemented by cheaper establishments). The soft marinated pieces of chicken act as salty pillows on which the decapitated heads of said nuts softly rest. The chili peppers are exclamation points in your mouth!
Moo Shu Pork — The bovine-esque moo is contrary to its mascot swine, but semantics and the cutting board do not meet in the Chinaman’s kitchen. Made by stir-frying laterally cut pieces of pork, “wood ear” mushrooms, bamboo, and baby corn with scrambled eggs, its complex texture and flavor is augmented by serving it with Hoisin sauce ominously self-wrapped in a “báo b?ng” pancake.
Sweet and Sour Soup — If you’re into order, you will want to begin your meal with this complex soup of contradictory flavors. Made with reduced rice wine vinegar, its sourness is cut by white pepper (the more subtle yet intense core of a peppercorn). You will notice its constituents bamboo, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and egg, all buoyant, somewhat suffocated, in the cornstarch heavy broth. Enjoy, and though it’s soup, remember to chew.
Assorted Vegetables — Fucking sucks.
Chow Mein — Near the post-1500 calorie bottom of my grease-ridden “Chow Mein Kampf,” it seems my struggle has only begun. I lie on my couch, wondering if it was kosher. I hold my taut convex belly as a women in her first-trimester might. I get nauseous at my baby. The shallow still-lit dusk falls into a deep nightmare. I wake up in 1945 with a mustache and a large attitude problem. This is fucking war.
Stir Fried Rice — Put Asian’s miracle grain into a wok with half a cup of boiling Mazola® oil, add some anchovies, onions, mushrooms, and egg, and what do you think you’re going to get? Something less than heaven? Keep the flame on high until the wok creates a semi-burnt crisp armor (known as “guo ba”; literally, “wok scab”) around the outer layer of rice. Just like heaven, the cure for all things.
Fortune Cookies — Let us end with an aphorism brought to you by this lowly contributor: Hope is never found inside something else. But keep dreaming, you precious Orientalist, maybe I’ll see you in line one day.