I had to eat at a lot of Chinese restaurants to research this article. Chief Tecumsah had it right. There comes a time in a man’s life when a man has to do what a man has to do. And if it requires eating a lot of Chinese food for the sake of science, then who am I to argue, nor complain? At every Chinese restaurant, I carefully observed what every patron was ordering. I filtered the results, using some profiling I will admit, to determine whether a person was Jewish or not.
Chicken Chow Mein
If this is Mee V. Stoogas “go to” Chinese dish, then how can it be left of this list? It’s as American as Apple pie! Chow Mein was invented in the United States to feed Americans. It is based on Cantonese cuisine.
Chow Mein is Fried Noodles. Literally. Chow means “fried”, and Mein means “Noodles”. Even an American can understand that!
And it’s loved by our big Macha, so on the list it goes!
5) Beef with Broccoli
This is my go to Chinese dish. And I have observed it’s the go to dish of lots of other Jews (and Gentiles) as well. To me, this dish defines how good a Chinese restaurant, though more typically a takeout Chinese restaurant is. If the beef melts in your mouth, and the broccoli is nice and crisp, I feel that I can trust more dishes on the menu.
After I weaned myself off of spareribs, which used to be the only thing I would ever eat at a Chinese restaurant when I was a wee Mee, Beef with Broccoli became MY dish. And it’s still the dish that I will usually try the first time I got to a Chinese restaurant or takeout that I have never eaten at before. And judging by the number of other orders of Beef with Broccoli I see being served up, clearly then, I’m not the only one.
4) Sweet and Sour Pork
This is a very popular Chinese dish not only in the United States but all over the world. There are a lot of different recipes used to prepare Sweet and Sour Pork, so your mileage may vary. A lot of people believe that this Chinese dish originated in the Guandong province. However, considering the fact that the Cantonese have migrated to different places, and each place they went to developed their own version for it.
It seems that when people are ready to dip their toes in to more traditional (read that as Non-American) Chinese food, Sweet and Sour Pork is the first dish that they try.
It remains a very popular dish, perhaps because there are so many different variants of the sauce.
3) Shrimp with Lobster Sauce
To be honest, I don’t really know the appeal of this dish. Why don’t they use Shrimp sauce with it, and save the Lobster sauce for a lobster dish. Why kill two birds, err fish… no shellfish, with one dish?
Shrimp isn’t Kosher. So why do Jews love it? Ok, not all. But growing up, this seemed to be what every Jew, especially Grandmothers (ok, mine), used to order.
But it’s here on the list, ok? It’s not MY list. It’s a semi-scientific list derived from observation and bias.
2) BBQ Spareribs
First, let’s get this out of the way… Whether you spell it “Spareribs” or “Spare Ribs”, if these are cooked (barbecued) right, and if the meat isn’t “spare” on the bone, this IS the most delicious treat under the sun. When I’m really Jonesing for some Chinese food, nothing satisfies me quite like some Spareribs.
And I’m not the only one. Spareribs is this high on the list, because every child starts with these. I don’t care how sophisticated your family pretends to be, this is what kids like. Don’t deny it. Give the kids what they want!
And give me some good BBQ Spareribs every day! Please include some wetnaps (I so love the fresh lemon scent!) and some dental floss, and I’m one happy boy!
1) General Tso’s Chicken
Not only amongst Jews, but among all people, General Tso’s Chicken is the number one ordered Chinese dish in America. And, according to GrubHub, regardless of cuisine, General Tso’s Chicken is the 5th most popular dish ordered!
Though many think that General Tso’s Chicken is an Americanized Chinese dish, it was created in China by the late, great Chef Peng Chang-kuei, who passed away recently at the age of 98. Peng brought the recipe with him to the United States when, uneasy at Taiwan’s ongoing tensions with mainland China, he emigrated to New York City in 1973. He opened a restaurant on 44th Street, between Second and Third Avenues.
General Tso’s Chicken can be found on every menu of every Chinese restaurant in the United States.
So, there you have it. The Top 5 Chinese dishes ordered by Jews.
I will validate the results of this highly unscientific and statistically insignificant poll on Christmas Day. Hey, it’s not like I will have anything else to do, right?
You can help me out by posting a comment and answering this one simple question: “What’s on your plate?”
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)