clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Finally, China Gets a Taste of American Chinese Food

New, 2 comments

It's as foreign as French toast or spaghetti carbonara.

Fortune Cookie/Official

Little known fact: The Chinese food served in restaurants in the U.S. bears little resemblance to the Chinese food served in China. Fortune cookies are an American invention, as is Panda Express' sticky orange chicken. Even the ubiquitous square take-out boxes are a novelty that doesn't exist in China. But as CBS reports, American Chinese food has finally entered mainland China thanks to two Cornell graduates.

Heinz ketchup is used in the sweet-and-sour recipes; the fried noodles contain Skippy brand peanut butter.

A year and a half ago, Fung Lam and Dave Rossi opened a location of Fortune Cookie, a restaurant based on Lam's family's restaurant, in Shanghai. Today, Fortune Cookie serves "sweet-and-sour pork, General Tso's chicken, orange chicken, chow mein, crab rangoon," and other dishes that the former classmates say cannot otherwise be found in Shanghai today.

Fung's family runs Chinese restaurants "from Brooklyn to Texas" so the venture is partly a family affair. As they discovered when they first opened, finding ingredients to cook Americanized Chinese food in China is tricky. They have been importing certain ingredients in order to give dishes that "American-ized flavor." Heinz ketchup is used in the sweet-and-sour recipes; the fried noodles contain Skippy brand peanut butter.

When Fortune Cookie first opened, clientele was mostly made up of American ex-pats. Today, Chinese youth visit the shop to get dishes they see on American television, including General Tso's chicken, a dish with elusive origins.

Sign up for the Sign up for the Eater newsletter

The freshest news from the food world every day