Friday, June 15, 2007

Zagats: Bring on the Chinese Chefs

Nina and Tim Zagat say we don't know what we're missing when Chinese chefs can't come to this country because of visa difficulties:

Eating Beyond Sichuan
TWENTY years ago, American perceptions of Asian food could be summed up in one word: “Chinese.” Since then, we have developed appetites for Korean, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese fare. Yet while the quality of the restaurants that serve these cuisines, particularly Japanese, has soared in America, Chinese restaurants have stalled. For American diners, the Chinese restaurant experience is the same tired routine — unimaginative dishes served amid dated, pseudo-imperial décor — that we’ve known for years.

Chinese food in its native land is vastly superior to what’s available here. Where are the great versions of bird’s nest soup from Shandong, or Zhejiang’s beggar’s chicken, or braised Anhui-style pigeon or the crisp eel specialties of Jiangsu?


[T]he lackluster Cantonese, Hunan and Sichuan restaurants in this country do not resemble those you can find in China...Without access to key ingredients from their homeland, Chinese immigrants working on the Central Pacific Railroad in the 1860s improvised dishes like chow mein and chop suey that nobody back in their native land would have recognized. To please the naïve palates of 19th-century Americans, immigrant chefs used sweet, rich sauces to coat the food — a radical departure from the spicy, chili-based dishes served back home...

But today, getting ingredients is no longer an issue. Instead, the principal obstacle to improving Chinese fare here is the difficulty of getting visas for skilled workers since 9/11.


Blogger Katherine Josh said...

i've been drinking bird nest soup every night (i only get the homemade kind back at home). the only reason why i drink it is because it's supposed to be good for complexion.

i’ve been taking the store-bought kind online (e.g. of famous branded only of course) which is directly mailed from Hong Kong. this would be at a more affordable price.

11:49 AM  

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