It’s no myth that Chinese takeaways don’t taste anything like Chinese (or East Asian) food. A lot of Europeans really love Chinese curry (whatever that is) and chips, and usually will only order that from the takeaway.
When you order kung pao chicken, for example, you get the same three root veg in a thick sauce with huge bits of chicken. Sometimes, takeaways even use basmati rice (major, major no-no). It’s taken me a while to get into the groove of ordering from takeaways, but in every city I’ve lived over here I do have to say I’ve found good alternatives/possibilities, and sometimes even some authentic stuff!
When eating East Asian food, it’s very much a sharing experience. Usually, when you go out to eat, the rule of thumb, say, for two people, is two veg, one meat, and a soup. That obviously multiplies as more people join the table. You get your bowl of rice in front of you, and you pick with your chopsticks at this plate and that plate, essentially ‘making your own meal’. If you don’t like the morning glory *best veg ever* then you don’t have as much of that, but because you really like the broccoli carrot dish, so you have more of that. East Asian food is about variety and hand-picking your own meal. You get to go back as many times as you want to the same dish, because you don’t only eat what’s on your plate. The only thing in your bowl is plain white rice.
Back to the takeaway. The Chinese takeaway formula is about picking a ‘main’ and a side, so chips or rice. Of course you’ve also got a good dose of starters. But next time you order with a bunch of friends, think about the sharing idea. Most Chinese takeaways will have a ‘real Chinese food’ list that you can choose from that won’t be drowning in sauce and you won’t only eat the same three vegetables that seem to go with every ‘type’ of food you can get, the ‘sweet and sour’, the ‘szechuan sauce’, the ‘black bean sauce’, etc. And if you don’t fancy rice try a plain noodle. The noodles that you get at the takeaway are almost meant to be entire meals when they’re filled with meat, especially with the ‘special fried noodle’.
Some favourites of mine, that usually is ‘safe’ to order from any take away, is beef and pepper in black bean sauce. BBQ ribs always goes down well with my friends, and side dishes work well as veg, too. I would highly recommend morning glory. But go with it, see how it goes. Stir fries are usually a good option, not too saucy… and then of course, if you’re really brave and adventurous, try the beancurd (tofu) dishes. They’re not always going to be awesome, and some actually taste horrible, but sometimes you can also hit the jackpot.
This post actually is a lot more simple and straight-forward than it sounded in my head… hope ya’ll enjoy your Chinese takeaway next time you order.