Chinese food has a wide variety of flavors and tastes. There are a few classic, popular dishes are delicious and are certainly worth enjoying, like chow mein or orange chicken. However, if you want to expand your palate and experience more of the breadth of Chinese cuisine, there are a couple of more unique dishes worth trying when you see them on a menu.
This noodle dish is a good one to try if you're used to ordering lo mein, but want something a little different. It is made with much fatter noodles — typically rice noodles — stir-fried along with vegetables and meat, and then coated in a sweet and salty sauce. Usually, Chinese broccoli and cabbage are used, but some restaurants may use different veggies like onions and American broccoli. You can usually choose your meat, ordering chow fun with beef, pork, chicken, or even shrimp. The dark, rich sauce is particularly good with beef.
You might think this is a vegetarian dish, but it's not. Although it mostly consists of stir-fried tofu, the topping is made from diced pork. Both the tofu and the pork are cooked with a lot of chili oil, so this is a really spicy dish. However, the sweetness, which comes from white sugar, does balance out the heat somewhat. Mapo tofu is usually served over rice — sometimes with green peas, which can further balance out the spiciness.
Char Sui Bao
Char siu bao is often served as an appetizer, but you can certainly eat it as a meal. These are steamed buns stuffed with a tasty blend of ground pork, onions, and spices. The filling reminds some people of barbecue pork, but with a Chinese flair. Some people like to dip the buns in soy sauce.
If you love fried rice but want to try it in a different form, Hainanese rice is the right dish for you. The rice is gently sauteed, and then it is topped with a tender, poached chicken breast and drizzled with a sauce made from chile sauce. Hainanese rice is comforting and is a good example of more everyday Chinese cuisine. It's something people would make and enjoy in their own homes.
Chinese food is incredibly vast, and there are so many delicious dishes to try. Order one of the dishes above and you won't be disappointed, and you'll find a new favorite.