From General Tso’s chicken to fortune cookies, crab rangoons to orange chicken. These are all common Chinese dishes, right? 

Most of us might have thought this at some point in our lives. 

What these dishes have in common is the Americanization of Chinese-inspired flavors. Let’s take a closer look at the myths and misconceptions associated with Chinese American dishes.

  1. 1 Dessert Calls for Fortune Cookies


    In the U.S., one of the most common desserts at a Chinese restaurant is the fortune cookie. But they are not Chinese in origin. 

    Fortune cookies were made by Japanese immigrants in 20th-century America. 

    At the end of World War II, many Japanese American restaurants began to close. This gave Chinese American business owners the chance to produce fortune cookies. 

    Chinese restaurants began to offer these cookies as desserts. This satisfied the American expectation for dessert after every meal.

  2. 2 The Mystery of General Tso's Chicken


    General Tso's chicken is perhaps the single dish most associated with Chinese food in America. Many associate this dish with Hunan cuisine, since it first appeared in a Hunan restaurant in New York City. 

    But the dish doesn't come from Hunan or China. General Tso's chicken was an invention by a Taiwanese chef who Americanized his version of Hunan cuisine.

  3. 3 The Truth about Crab Rangoons


    Crab rangoons can be found on the menu of many Chinese restaurants. This popular appetizer may also be misinterpreted as a Chinese specialty. 

    But do not mistake it as an authentic Chinese dish. This deep-fried dumpling is stuffed with cream cheese, imitation crab and scallions. Cream cheese is nonexistent in Chinese cuisine. As a result, crab rangoons are flat-out not Chinese.

  4. 4 The Distinguished Orange Chicken


    Orange chicken is one of the most famous Chinese dishes in America. In 1987, this dish was developed by the Chinese American fast-food chain Panda Express. 

    Now the sweet and tangy orange chicken is a staple in American Chinese food. But keep in mind that you will have a hard time finding it in authentic restaurants.

    There is nothing wrong with eating these Americanized meals! Next time you order from an authentic Chinese restaurant, keep in mind that you will not encounter any of these dishes you may be familiar with. 


    If you want to get a little taste of some authentic Chinese food, here are a few dishes you should be on the lookout for: 

    1. Peking Duck 

    You can’t go wrong with Peking duck. It is a notorious traditional dish you can try today! 

    1. Biang Biang Noodles

    Biang biang noodles are thick and fat. They are cut straight from dough balls and carry a heavy but tasty dough flavor. 

    1. Dim Sum

    Dim sum consists of bite-size pieces of steamed or fried dishes like rice noodles, steamed vegetables and BBQ pork buns served in a small bamboo basket. 

    1. Xiaolong Bao 

    Xiaolong Bao is a dumpling filled with soup. The best way to eat Xiaolong Bao is to bite a corner and suck the soup out to avoid burning your tongue with the alarming hot soup inside!


    Now that you know more about these commonly mistaken “Chinese” dishes. You can test your knowledge here


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Abigail Heng

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