Tag Archives: Asian

Chino Locos

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chino locos

Chino Locos—”crazy chinese” in Spanish—is a puportedly Mexican/Chinese fusion restaurant, although it comes off more as a burrito place with Chinese elements. It’s got an interior filled with various interesting pop culture posters, a short, enticing menu with weird names that attempt to be cool or funny.

chino locos inside

This is a trend that I’ve noticed in many home-grown fast food restaurants, especially in burger places. Keep in mind that, at time of writing and of reviewing, I felt more like an overly-critical cynic than a happy young blogger, and this may colour my review against my best efforts. It may not help Chino Locos (a lucrative-enough business to have two establishments—is what I think of as an “acceptable target”), as one negative review won’t harm the company’s revenue or chance at success.

feeling cold

Another justification for my bad mood in the following paragraph: it’s never a good thing when a person walks into your restaurant wearing two thick hoodies and goes through their entire meal without even taking off their hat. It’s Canada, not the Arabian Peninsula, buy a heater.

nachos

We start the meal off with a bowl of nachos, after having come here directly from swimming practice, I’m ravenous and tired. Even that doesn’t keep me from noticing that the 5 dollar appetizer is made with dollar store ingredients and kept marginally above absolute zero with a microwave seemingly so weak I wouldn’t be surprised if it were damaged in a drunken experiment involving half a grape, plasma and an exploded egg.

cheese sauce

More of an “edible oil product” than cheese

Let me paint a dank picture: temperature feels like the bowl’s been sitting around for ten minutes (actually, more like five given the restaurant’s cold interior) bland tortilla chips probably imported from over the border, and that kind of fake Taco Bell “cheese” that wouldn’t taste much different if it regurgitated back up my throat before being re-swallowed. To be succinct, I was disappointed so far and was already thinking of the snarkiest new name for Chino Locos that I could think of in Spanish, something using the word barato (which means “cheap”).

pork burrito filling

My Mom’s pulled pork burrito

Then came the burritos, which were good enough to elevate Chino Locos off my hit list and even give it a mixed review. Sort of. My mom had gotten the pulled pork option, and mine was a fish burrito. Both came to our table hot, as if they’d actually been cooked instead of microwaved, and the tortilla was generously stuffed with meats and filling alike. In terms of generous portion and comfortable heating, they passed the test.

fish burrito filling

My fish burrito

Given the choice of mild, medium or hot, the former was mild, and mine was hot, both choices turned out to be mistakes. Maybe the spicy choice was meant to live up to its name, perhaps I just was not in the mood for heat despite my mom convincing me I’d like the hot sauce, but whatever the reason, I found my burrito too spicy to honestly enjoy. Franky, there wasn’t much else to taste, even the milder pork wrap had little to no seasoning.

burrito

At least they’re a good size

What I will say is the ingredients of both were pretty good quality: fresh, tender and plentiful. While huge and filling, the burritos lacked a lot in terms of spice, not the fiery kind, but rather marinade, garlic, chives, herbs, decent salsa, friggin store-bought taco seasoning, something. Due to the simplicity of their ingredients, the burritos were two-dimensional in flavour: having many things to bite into and taste, but not much depth. I wish they’d added more sauces and aromatics from both Mexican and especially Chinese cuisines, some guacamole and hosin sauce would’ve killed it, but unfortunately the nuances of both ends of the world were overlooked. Good thing is that I’ve found my snarky re-name, “Gringos Locos”.

pro con

Pros: if you’re in the Broadview area of town and for some reason are stubbornly avoiding anything Chinese in the area, than Chino Locos will, despite its name, offer a non-eastern meal. I’d recommend ordering medium-spiced burritos, they’re too bland by default, and too spicy otherwise. If you want to feel stuffed by a tortilla baby and are likewise in the neighborhood, this will handle the craving. Coming here is really weighing how close you are vs how much you crave something with meat and beans in it.

Cons: were to begin? It’s cold and uncomfortable, for starters, and the nachos were something I could picture my dog nibbling on for a couple seconds before walking away disappointed. I get not every dish can be amazing, some will be bad comparatively to others, but at least try with everything, or else take it off the menu. Laying that to rest, let’s just say a customer should ignore the side dishes. The burritos, ignoring the spice problem that was 100% our own fault, didn’t have much flavour and they really shouldn’t hinge on what degree of heat the customer orders them in. In terms of constructive criticism, experimenting with extra seasoning could really make Chino Loco’s shine. Lastly, in relation to one of the pros above, the streetcars and buses go right by the place, if you’re in the area, just hop on something with wheels and go elsewhere. I’d sooner wait 15 minutes going downtown so I could eat at Chipotle’s.

 

In short, I thoroughly do not recommend Chino Locos, the best thing about their establishment is average, filling but done better elsewhere and complaining about everything they got wrong is like beating a dead horse at this point. 3/10 (Yes, the nachos knocked off a star off my rating)

Chino Locos 368 Broadview Avenue

Chino Locos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Dumpling House

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dumpling house

While I may be wrong, it seems like I’ve found out what the Chinese equivalent to a “family diner” is. In a given medium/large city, there are at least three mandatory dives that are always busy, crank out cheap and tasty american style meals and have the title “family diner”. You could argue that those vague “wok take-out” are “asian” dive counterparts, but those are more akin to hotdog stands than actual restaurants. And honestly, those places are empty and freaking terrifying. Dumpling restaurants fill the role of a neighbourhood diner much better: humble yet friendly locations with busy staff and food that keeps drawing in lots and lots happy customers.

dumpling house interior

Interior of Dumpling House @ Gerrard and Broadview

The reason for my little, more than slightly pompous rant was because, surprise surprise, this isn’t the only Toronto wonton restaurant called Dumpling House. There’s another one at Spadina, which is very popular and one of my family’s favourite eateries. Thus ensued an obligatory comparison between the two throughout this post. I wondered if the names of both places were different in Chinese, perhaps a way to differentiate the two names, so I examined pictures from both to see if I could notice any similarities or differences.

Dumpling House

This is the Spadina Dumpling House. Note the J-like character in the middle.

Dumpling House

This is the Gerrard Street Dumpling House. Note the same J-like character and how the left hand letter looks like a different version of the Spadina one.

Well, to my admittedly foreign and clue-less eyes, the words from both restaurants look similar, so my guess is that the Spadina title is in Traditional Chinese and the Gerrard one is in Simplified (because the characters are less intricate) or possibly one is in Cantonese. If anyone reading this knows more about Chinese than I do (which isn’t a lot), please feel free to correct my abysmal language skills in the comments.

So Dumpling House Gerrard Edition is a diner-like restaurant that serves wontons, has a generic name and smells delicious when you walk inside. Mom thought it’d be interesting to compare this restaurant to the other place, which I will now call the Mirror Dumpling in reference to people’s reflections in mirrors (what else?). I could call it “the Spadina place”, but Mirror Dumpling sounds cooler.

chinese menu

 Right off the bat Dumpling House offers a different menu: one with more selection for non-wonton items, and conversely less varieties of dumpling fillings. However, they have three different types of wonton as opposed to the Mirror Dumpling’s two: with the addition of boiled to the list of steamed and fried (although the boiled option was closer to Mirror’s actual steamed option).

steamed dumpling

Pork & chive Boiled Dumpling

First we had boiled pork and chive dumplings, a normal choice for us. Frankly it was a tie with the Mirror Dumpling, the meat was a delicious mix between umami and salty, with flecks of green onion to add some depth.

chicken dumpling

Inside the Pork & Chive Dumpling

I did notice these dumplings to be juicier, my plate was covered in warm meat grease coming from the tender pork ball wrapped inside soft, thin wonton.

Steamed dumpling

Their steamed Egg Dumpling

 

Our next option was more unusual and had no Mirror counterpart that we’re familiar with: steamed egg and herb dumplings. Interestingly, they came in a basket, and were more delicately put together. The wonton itself had more flavour, tasting more like rice dough than greasy wrapping; I believe this was due to it having less moisture. Without as much juice, I found the pastry to be a little bit too tough, although others may prefer a wonton that doesn’t fall apart so easily.

egg dumpling

Inside the Steamed Egg Dumpling

I do think it worked well with the filling, a wonderful blend of green herbs and mild, finely chopped egg. The softer flavours worked well with a steamed wonton, although the first dumpling tasted better than the last one of the batch. Make of that what you will, I liked it more than mom did.

beef dumpling

Fried Beef Dumpling

Third up were the pan fried beef, which came in a disappointingly smaller batch and made up for it with their individually larger size. Again, I liked those more than mom, who preferred the Mirror Dumpling for its crispy dough on top and less juicy meat. These dumplings squirted when you bit into them, while it proved how moist they were, it was actually kind of annoying on the first bite. I quite liked the beef, although it was pretty much flavoured by grease and a touch of garlic and basic seasoning. Oddly this was quite attractive in its own way and reminded me somewhat of beef in wonton soup, but swimming in its own juice instead of broth.

chinese dessert

Kind of like a dessert quesadilla

 

For dessert, we had red bean pancakes, something new that I wanted to try out. They were quite simple and mild, tasting familiar to me in a way I couldn’t put my finger on. The dough was thin and flat, cut into little triangles and wrapped around sweetened bean paste. I’d say it’s best for people who like desserts that aren’t sickeningly sweet or rich, although anyone who’s already full from their meal would like them.

Pros: has a diverse menu, lots of non-dumpling options, and even the wonton choices have variety: the steamed egg and fried beef dumplings were polar opposites. Also has a cozy decorative interior and very low prices. Less busy and crowded with customers than the Spadina place.

Cons: I can’t think of any true cons, other than what may only apply to some people (see below)

Toronto Dumpling House

Pro/Cons: some people may like Gerrard’s dumplings better, or Spadina’s, I can’t really accommodate for personal taste. Also in comparison with Spadina, some people may be closer to one than the other; I live on Gerrard and this place is inbetween my house and Spadina.

Verdict: Dumpling House is quite recommendable for anyone who wants large plates of tasty dumplings for a good price in a local wonton place. As I’ve said, preferences may vary and this isn’t exactly a high-end or fancy restaurant, but it is great for a good meal.

Dumpling House 619 Gerrard Street East

Dumpling House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nakayoshi

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Ramen noodle restaurantBefore I say anything else, I’d like to get one thing out of the way: Nakayoshi is my first true ramen noodle restaurant. I was a bit worried that my review of this particular place would be unrefined, since I had no idea what “good ramen” tastes like other than something that doesn’t warrant a gastric bypass. Regardless, I think I’ve pinned down Nakayoshi’s quality pretty well.

Octopus balls

Our meal started with octopus balls—to clarify—these are balls of octopus meat, not cephalopod gonads. Writing that last sentence down, I wondered, where are an octopus’ genitals? Don’t say you aren’t curious too.

 octopus reproduction

Well, a quick trip to Wikipedia taught me that males have a special tentacle that holds and transports sperm, and gives the dna to the female during mating. Somehow this ends up with both parties dying shortly after the eggs are laid, and I don’t think continuing this train of thought would make my blog very appetizingI’m assuming they remove the male’s “special” tentacle so that it’s not served to customers, as the anatomy is different and people wouldn’t want to eat it anyways. I couldn’t find anything about this organ being served in restaurants, and there would’ve been something if it were. The octupus balls are made with just regular, non-reproductive tentacles.

 octopus ball

That weird, oddly creepy rant aside, I loved these things. The chewy, briny tentacle nougats are embedded in a soft, creamy dough ball, that impacts a sweet, complementary flavour. These balls are in turn covered with aioli and a little bit of seaweed to add some crunch. While I found the balls absolutely delicious, my mom had a hard time not spitting up hers. The texture (soft outside with a chewy thing in the middle) was repulsive to her, so I’d recommend a little caution in terms of choosing these. If you’re okay with a unique texture and flavour, absolutely get these tasty little things.

 ramen noodle

Now for the main course: the ramen noodles. I ordered the Shoyu ramen: soy sauce-flavoured broth with bbq pork. Mom had the Gyoza Ramen with deep fried dumplings in salted broth. Combine these with a generous amount of veggies and half a hard-boiled egg, and you’ve got a huge, deliciously crowded bowl of soup. In a general sense, I guess you could say there were some similarities to wonton soup, but the details are all different. My bowl’s broth was saltier and richer at the same time, and obviously there were huge amounts of noodles in place of dumplings. Overall the broth was quite tasty by itself; it was quite salty, but in this case that was a good thing.

 ramen and gyoza

Of course, I’m just talking about the backdrop right now, the main co-stars of ramen and pork. I found the noodles to be in-betweeners: they were not thick n’ chewy Udon noodles, nor were they teeny tiny glass noodles. What the ramen was could be described as generous in portion size, adept at soaking up the delicious broth, and gifted with just enough bite to be satisfactorily chewy. Pair this with the tender, juicy hunks of bbq pork and you’ve got a pretty good dish for ramen experts and amateurs. What I liked most was that the meat didn’t have large bits of impossible-to-chew fat in it, which I sometimes find in Chinese wonton soups.

 japanese soda

For a drink, I had a cool glass of Calpico, a Japanese imported soda. Since this beverage traveled over an entire ocean like a ship-bound Amelia Earhart, Nakayoshi is probably one of the only places in Toronto to find [{ insert }]. It had a similar sweetness to coke, but less sickly and softer. I quite enjoyed its rather creamy and milk-like qualities. Of course, the second ingredient was high-fructose corn syrup, followed by sugar, so it’s the kind of treat personal trainers have nightmares about. At least it’s great for a hot summer day!

 japanese ice cream

We finished our lovely meal with a type of ice cream ball dessert, essentially regular ice cream wrapped in a thick rice dough. The combo worked very well; green tea flavour is an especially good option for this mild dessert. I dare say the rice dough works better than a sugar cone.

To wrap things up, I highly recommend Nakayoshi as Japanese/Ramen cuisine restaurant, you won’t be disappointed. The only reason I wouldn’t say it’s a good place to eat is simply if you’re not craving japanese food, and even then it’s worth a go.

Nakayoshi 812 Danforth Ave
Nakayoshi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bach Yen

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Que Ling

We had originally planned to review Que Ling and had even taken outside pictures, but something… unexpected happened. We were kicked out, within about half a minute of walking in—maybe more like 40 seconds—a record-breaking time regardless. They told us to take a seat, and then claimed the restaurant closes at seven, despite the fact a guy who walked in literally at the same time was allowed to stay. All kinds of reasons went through my head, that they didn’t like bloggers, had all of their tables reserved,  to maybe some kind of prejudice against certain customers. But either, d@mn that was a quick time, even Soup Nazi would be shocked.

Bach Yen

 

The closest other Phò restaurant, Bach Yen, was forgiving in that they actually liked paying customers. I was rapidly overwhelmed by the very bright interior.  As my eyes adjusted to the pitch, they revealed a decor of cheap furniture and one (maybe two) Asian paintings. But in many areas of Toronto, restaurants have an appearance many times worse than this, but have incredibly good food. This was—{breathes}—definitely not that.

Dining chairs

 

Let’s do a Pros and Cons list. What were the pros of the appetizers? There were pretty cheap: we afforded both the veggie spring rolls (order #3) and chicken satay (order #4) with peanut butter sauce, without having to mug someone for spare change! The cons? Everything else.

Spring rolls

 

The spring rolls tasted weird, not the weird flavour of pure genius, but rather the cacophony of bad ideas someone who thinks they’re genius would make. I really shouldn’t blame Bach Yen however, but rather the grocery store they got the frozen boxes from. Same could be said of the chicken sauce, I made a better peanut dish at home, all I did was crack open a jar and spread it on a tortilla wrap. I didn’t even add honey. By the way, the chicken was a bit chewy, and mom felt like it was a frozen product too.

Chicken satay

 

But maybe the appetizers aren’t the chef’s speciality. Maybe it’s a restaurant based off of one or two dishes and the rest are menu filler. The rare beef and beef ball phò (order 327) was going to put that to the test.

Pho soup

 

Unfortunately, we’ll never know, since all I got was a bowl of alien, brown liquid. I’m not saying I could ever make phò—unless stealing a bowl from someone else counts as “cooking”—but I can taste it. I’m on the easier side of the food world, I can’t produce my own stuff, but can judge who deserves praise and money like a dad with too many kids. As a soup, it wasn’t bad, but the only interesting flavour was a flowery back note. In a dish with many tastes mixing together, this would’ve been good, but in a slightly salty broth, it sticks out like a cuss word in kindergarten. This was the only time I hadn’t turned a bowl upside down to drink every last drop of the phò, there could’ve been a prize lurking in the bland depths and I would’ve been none the wiser.

 

 

Bean sprouts

The usual condiments that come with Pho

There’s a voice in the back of my head saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”, to which I reply, “Shut up you nasally parasite!” I also hear a second voice telling me to go back on the meds, but that’s not important at the moment. In order to be balanced and fair, there are some good qualities to Bach Yen, much like how a graph of the economy has upwards climbs of hope before crashing down into the abyss of Wall Street-esque anarchy.

Tea

 

I liked the tea, there were flowers in the pot which added a meadowy perfume to the drink, although I found myself picking microscopic petal fragments out of my cup like a passive-aggressive OCD sufferer. The service was friendly and quick, shame about the food though. I was thinking if someone wanted to open a can-opener Vietnamese diner, they should’ve have done so far away from Chinatown, where there are a host of better done Phò eateries.

 

Rare beef pho

Bach Yen wasn’t horrible, but it was pretty bad. I understand cooking is hard, but customers—put very nicely—don’t give a flying rat’s @$$. If you have a critic light years higher calibre than me, the kind of guy who exhumes pretentiousness and already had a rare truffle dish today, s/he’s not going to care either. You could go to Bach Yen and pay to have someone heat packaged food for you, or you could go to a better chef, or you could whip up your own experimental disaster at home yourself. Either way, I’m not recommending this.

Bach Yen 738 Gerrard St E.
Bach Yen on Urbanspoon

Sushi Friends

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sushi friend outside
See?  I’m back!  I said I’d still be blogging on this site, I never lie.   I just take writing breaks the length of a human pregnancy, at least it wasn’t as long as an elephant’s term.  The restaurant I’m reviewing is Sushi Friends, which can best be summarized as a friendly sushi place.
Given that I’ve been to a favourite Japanese restaurant prior to eating here, it wasn’t going to be an easy win for Sushi Friends.  But actually, (spoilers) they did pretty good.  

 bento box

My mom ate two servings of Philadelphia rolls, and I had the Queen Bento Box.  That came with miso soup, seaweed salad, 8 pcs California rolls, 3pcs Daily sushi rolls, 2pcs Shrimp Tempura, 5 pcs Vegetable and I chose Chicken Teriyaki out of Beef Teriyaki and Beef Ribs. 

miso 

Miso’s miso, so there isn’t much to review there.  I did notice the outside of the bowl wasn’t fully cleaned, being an expert on badly-washed dishes myself.  This as the only dirty plate I noticed, so it’s completely possible that was the only one out of 100 clean dishes.   So it’s not a problem, but worth mentioning.  

 seaweed salad

The seaweed salad, for those curious, has a texture similar to glass noodles.  Chewy, fresh and clean.  I really liked its refreshing, green taste and sesame sauce.  I could imagine sitting outside with that dish on a bright summer day, whilst getting a horrific neck burn and watching ugly shirtless men walk by.  Now I’ll go onto the least-good dish, worded that way because nothing I ate here was bad.   The chicken teriyaki had a weak sauce, but the meat itself was perfect.  I hadn’t noticed this before, but there’s a certain taste and feel to good teriyaki meat, and this chicken had it.  But the sauce didn’t hold up to the chicken, like pairing a 3-star meal with a bag of Ruffles.  

 philadelphia roll

The sushi was put together well, this coming from the guy who can hardly roll a tortilla wrap without it coming apart.  The ingredients were colourful and fresh, especially the fish.  That’s quite impressive considering how far away Toronto is from either coast—I’ve never caught imitation crab in Lake Ontario.  What really surprised me was the shrimp tempura, it was light and fluffy, kind of like a raccoon before it shows teeth.  The veggie tempura also stood out: the eggplant was really thick and generous.  There’s no pictures because I ate it—this is a me-eating-things blog, what do you expect, photos

 ice cream

So, what is that thing?   That is banana tempura, yes you can read that sentence again to make sure it isn’t an impossibly late onset of dyslexia.  It’s hot, gooey banana covered in a light tempura and drizzle of chocolate sauce.  The ice cream on the side was Green Tea flavoured, because why not?  The ice cream, just to describe it, is pretty mild with a back note of green tea, and isn’t that sweet.  It was perfect with this dessert, a chocolate-covered soft-serve vanilla twist would’ve been a bit out of place.   The banana was delicious, cooking it really brings out the sweetness, and it mixed with the other, maybe slightly random, ingredients perfectly.  This is a great dish to sneak potassium into your kid’s diet.  But if you’re like me you’ll require a skilled group of Japanese chefs to pull off the dish, so shoving bananas down the little brat’s throat works too.  Ah, that’s why I didn’t write a parenting blog, okay.  

 sushi friend inside

In other notes, the decor was fancy enough to be comfortable, but not so classy as to instill the awkward feeling of having to wear a tie at the table.  I liked watching tennis on the T.V., since I’m such a professional critic that stands out in my mind more than things like atmosphere or chef’s technique.  The service was polite, and quick enough that I wasn’t turning the table cloth into an appetizer 2 days after ordering.  I don’t like waiting for food, this place doesn’t make you wait.    On a side note, the bathrooms are clean, so you don’t need to pick between bodily discomfort or a post-modern dungeon of horrors.  Washrooms are part of reviewing a restaurant too, even though they aren’t that appetizing—hopefully that’s not just me—it’s important in my book.   
All in all, is Sushi Friends a good place with tasty food, and solid service/decor.  The prices were great, so you can bring someone here and not rely on the cheap ba$@rd to pay his own godd@mn bill.  No, I wasn’t projecting, honest.  If you’re an easy walk, car ride or subway ride away, Sushi Friends is a local place worth checking out.  
Sushi Friends 397 Danforth Avenue

Sushi Friends on Urbanspoon

Chinese Cuisine

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map of china
China: a country with thousands of years of human history that includes the days when ancient kingdoms fought for dominance, the rise and fall of the Silk Road which had secretive magic materials sold to Romans, and is now possibly one of the world’s strongest country with well over a billion people living in a gigantic communist regime.
american chinese food
 Writing a post on that should be easy, right?  Just to start off the bat there’s inherently a problem: ‘Chinese Cuisine’ is a loose term.  There’s food eaten in modern-day China, which is more traditional, and then there’s North American Chinese food, which can range from relatively authentic cuisine that is toned down for American* palates, since a lot of people on this continent get squeamish about pretty much everything that other countries eat and feel safer eating preservative-pumped McDonald’s because that’s clearly healthy for you.
chinatown toronto
 As I am Canadian, even the most Chinese destinations in Toronto [which are in no way hard to find, as there are literally five whole China Towns, and Chinese people make up 1.5% the population] will be missing: such as bird’s nest soup and fried honeybees [although I did glimpse a large bucket of chicken feet in a market once].  I’ll try and compare to make sure I know which type of Chinese I’m talking about, but I won’t bring any takeout crap into the equation. An interesting thing to add is that the West isn’t the only part of the world to drastically change Chinese cooking, it’s also been done in many other parts of Asia as well as the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and Peru.
chinese chicken feet

*by American, I meant Anglo-American, which basically means Canada/USA, and not just the states.  I didn’t say that because anglo means Caucasian, and there are tons of non-whites living in so-called Anglo-America I didn’t want to leave out.

To start, Chinese fortune cookies are not actually Chinese.  Either you’re in total disbelief or you’re glad someone else knows this too.  A study was done where people in China were shown fortune cookies and none of them knew what they were.  It turns out they evolved from a dish made in Japan [I wonder who failed first-grade geography to get those two countries mixed up].

 General Tso chicken originated from 70’s New York, which I don’t find surprising given the cheesy name which sounds like it was cooked up by an executive to sound ultra-foreign.  Kung-Pao and sweet and sour* whatever’s are also not Chinese, for the record. There are even more foods that are based on Chinese foods but gone awry, such as soy sauce [made with water, salt, caramel colouring, corn syrup and hydrolyzed vegetable oil]. The traditional recipe uses wheat and rice flour. Egg rolls are eaten in China, but they are a completely different food: the one in China is far lighter and is a dessert, so they have the same name, but different origins. Spring rolls are authentic, put they’re smaller, and not the giant behemoths associated with the name Egg Roll.
general tso chicken
*I admit to eating and being ignorant about sweet and sour chicken.  I’ve never had General Tso or Kung-Pao to the best of my knowledge, good to know I wasn’t missing out on actual Chinese food!
This has nothing to do with food, but it is a misconception in CanadAmerica.  To all those who think that Buddha is a fat, laughing Chinese man than you’re wrong.  The actual Buddha has many different depictions depending on which country he’s worshipped in [he’s not just worshipped by Chinese people either], but appears closer to the more classically divine-looking Krishna than an Asian Santa Claus.  That actual jolly man is named Budhai, who appeared in many Chinese adventure tales and probably got his named confused with the other guy.
buddha vs budhai
Here we go into the history of actual Chinese food, oh god the thousands of years of history.  Well, Gastronomy–the art of good eats–was around since the ancient days of China, when new emperors would be swift to appoint head chefs who desperately fought to be top dog.  Sometime after 2000 BCE, when rice was introduced from Western Asia, Confucianism started and developed along side even stricter Gastronomy.
rice in china history
 Later on, the Han Chinese [who now make up 92% of all China and 20% the Earth’s entire population] spread south and met other peoples who had been cultivating rice. The Han cultures, as you could probably tell by today’s demographics, had taken over China and unified its vast kingdoms through a network of canals. The food was closely linked with medicine, with beliefs around The Five Senses of Pungent, Sweet, Sour, Savoury and Salty as well as The Four Natures [temperatures] of hot, warm, cool and cold. Confucianism, which decided that people shouldn’t ‘eat with weapons at the table’ [I’m paraphrasing that a bit]–basically that included things you could use to kill someone like a knife or fork–made way for chopsticks and spoons and chefs had to make foods that were either bite-sized or easy to break up. This made the way for dim-sum.
confucius chopstick
Fast forward to the Song Dynasty, roughly between 960 and 1279 CE [yeah, the century-by-dynasty thing is a bit complicated, but that’s how history was recorded that long ago], and foods start to look even more modern. Wars [I won’t bother researching which war, that’s probably a really complicated back-story no one needs to know] had made staple foods such as rice increase demand, and Muslim cultures had started moving into China which lead to other cultural ethnicities being developed, such as the Xinjiang and the Uyghur. Later on, just before they were preparing to kill out the Aztecs and destroy Incan culture for the good of a Christian colony, the Spanish had been trading with the Chinese and introduced to them chili peppers and corn. Chinese food today, which is now influenced by a communist regime [I’m not making assumptions here, the Chinese government fully admits to being a bit regime-ish the past couple centuries], and that makes the food heavily industrialized, which I can understand given the ridiculously large population.
types-of-chinese-food-regional-styles
One thing that’s interesting is how much rice Chinese people eat. I know that may sounds stupid, but it’s more the creativity that shocks me. Rice is eaten just plain and steamed, in something, as a porridge, or as wine [Japanese call it Sake]. One of my sources described it as bread is to Westerners, which is a good way to put it [except I actually eat more rice and tortillas than I do bread].
chinese rice
As for the other staple foods, most of them are actually Chinese as opposed to something cooked up in The Americas or from Japan that was idiotically mistaken for China again[seriously, see that giant mass of a country roughly in the middle of Asia that you can see from the moon? That’s China!] So it seems like you can get legitimate Asian food in
The West, except they do purposefully leave out some stuff like still-moving octopus tentacles*.
*no, I didn’t make that up, google it, yes, that is an extreme example.
China has a population of 1,360,720,000 people [for those of you wondering, only 3,000 are nationalized citizens that were born in another country], only a billion of which are Han Chinese, which means that there are 360 million other indigenous ethnic Chinese groups there, each with their own history, culture and food. So to all those who belong to those groups that are reading this [possibly none if this is banned in China, no joke], I’m sorry, but I have to stick to the what the majority of Chinese are eating. Fun fact, even if the People’s Republic had one billion less people, they’d still have 50 million more citizens than the USA.
To narrow things down painfully further, I do believe the only Chinese food I’ve actually had are the staples.
staple chinese food
Fortunately, that includes noodle soup, dumplings, rice dishes and the like, and the basics are more or less the core of any cuisine, but if I actually were to go onto Chinese food for a long time [or any Asian cuisine really], I would probably discover new things even within my own city. I quite enjoy these staple foods, the quality of ingredients, the variety and the unique flavours make it one of my favourite cuisines.
chinese noodles
Now let’s compare with North American ‘Chinese’ foods, of which there are two: American and Canadian. The northern version evolved from abused slaves–er, I mean, immigrants who in no way were harmed in the making of the railroad–[I say ‘no way were harmed’ with maximum sarcasm active] who started to cook altered versions of their indigenous foods, so the same result happened in two different countries for different reasons.
canadian chinese
CanadAmerica [I’ll say AmeriCanadian when the States win a war against Canada and don’t go all 1812 on us again] has an emphasis on making things ten times unhealthier, turning central vegetable dishes into sides and generally getting rid of innovative, balanced flavours in exchange for crap loads of salt, sugar and fat. They also add MSG, which I don’t think was used in ancient China unless those damn aliens were mucking about with history again. Personally, I find that the take-out variety of Chinese, and by some extent other Asian foods, is greasier, fattier and just sloppier, the philosopher/chefs of the Dynasty days would probably be appalled.
gordon ramsay you used so much oil
The traditional cuisine focuses on perfect harmony between flavours and states, as I noted earlier, and has a better ratio of ingredients [as opposed to the disproportionate takeaway version]. It is also, in my book, far more complex, even excluding all the other ethnic Chinese cuisines/cultures, there is a lot in the main, Han version that has been around for thousands of years. I enjoy how it can be healthy but delicious at the same time, and the variety is quite impressive, but we get so little of the full picture here in Canada. Modern Chinese food is industrialized, starting with the in-no-way-like-out-of-the-novel-1984 start of the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s, which ended in starvation and famine [it’s evened out more now], and this modern version of the cuisine is another blind spot to me.
chinese food buffet
The only traditional version of this cuisine that I’ve had are basic, staple recipes, or completely bastardized greasy insults that they call Chinese, and I haven’t even had one single Chinese dessert. But, I guess I have to rate this stuff anyway.
Taste: The flavours have been worked on for thousands of years, and it shows. The meats, vegetables, and grains are prepared in perfect ratios and several tastes are unique to this cuisine, even including some other Asian styles of cooking as well. Plus, there are several different regional variations that offer their own ingredients.
chinese food ingredients
Health: While it unfortunately isn’t the healthiest thing to eat in CanadAmerica, the old Chinese cuisine actually has many vegetables and rices in it, with more meat and salt being added to the Westernized versions. As for the modernized foods that are actually being eaten in China in the 21st century [I could have said ‘right now’ but things never disappear from the web, they just disappear into the Deep Web after decades], I could easily imagine it’s nutritional value is somewhere around the same industrialized foods we eat here: with artificial chemicals added, meats raised in factories and not farms, that sort of deal. Chinese cuisine could be selectively eaten to get the healthiest or unhealthiest foods into your diet.
china regions
Variety: Well, China, and I’m talking about the country here, is kind of funny in a certain way. It has incredible diversity in terms of different cultures, sub-cultures, and ethnicities, but that’s all self-contained, and doesn’t really mix often with foreign cultures. I don’t know if that’s because of the Orwellian government [not that I’m saying NSA, Homeland Security and the Canadian government aren’t spying on people like they’re trying to take over the world] or the proud society, maybe both, but if offers enough by itself to not need much outside influence. The country is huge but in a habitable region to allow changes across the area [you know why Russia and Canada are the two largest countries? Because we’re both too bloody cold for anyone to want to steal our territory that’s why!], so I would say the variety is quite high.
Chinese-New-Year-2014
Will this cuisine reign supreme? I haven’t decided, but I believe it’s far better than what we see in the West, as Chinese food here has been put through a filter of sorts. The next one I’m doing is Mediterranean, which for reasons I’ll explain later, is divided into two categories: Persian and Greek.

Japanese Cuisine

Standard
Sea_of_Japan_Map
Japanese cuisine: one of the oldest and most cultural cuisines out there. I haven’t done one of these in months because I tried to research Mediterranean food, which is so heavily simplified and bastardized by North American standards that there’s controversy over what even is ‘Mediterranean’ because Westerners fail to realize that countries around the Mediterranean Sea include Egypt, Greece, Southern Italy and Persia/Iran.   Japan, being an island, is spared the indignity of being mixed with other countries into a watered down theme [except China, which makes sense because of its different culture, opposite government, and the fact the two countries were at war countless times historically],
Modern Japan

Modern Japan

Traditional Japan

Traditional Japan

 Japan is a remarkable country, with the perfect mix between ancient culture and ultra-modernism; we wouldn’t have Nintendo, which led to most other video game consoles, or be nearly as advanced if it wasn’t for Japan’s ingenuity [although it might be our doom when the robots take over or humans are all stuck in computers]. Not to mention how great a place it would be to visit.
Jomon period, Japan's hunter-gatherer phase

Jomon period, Japan’s hunter-gatherer phase

I’ll start with Japan’s thousands-of-years history. There was lots of recipes that are forgotten from the Middle-Ages. Oh, there are records of the food, but they’re just saying how good it was, not how to make the darn things. Japan went from hunter-gathering to growing food after the Jõmon period, about 12,000 B.C.E. Japan started to imitate China’s Tang Dynasty during their own Kofun period [they can thank the Koreans for introducing them] which was in the 6th century. This led to, partially Buddhist partially Shinto, bans on eating farmed meat [hunted meat was fine, but not very easy to get] from 675 which carried a death penalty, I guess homicide wasn’t species specific then. It got worse in the 8th century when Empress Kōken banned fishing, and anyone who ate meat was spiritually unclean for three days.
The Meiji Restoration (as a time reference - just after the American Civil War)

The Meiji Restoration (as a time reference – just after the American Civil War)

I guess they would’ve been terrified to meet the carnivorous other half of the world then [the Mieji restoration brought back the meat in 1867]. When the Tang Dynasty collapsed, Japan became more individual and familiar [commoners getting the modern luxuries only nobles had, eating habits and recipes we have today etc.]
Sushi rice history
Sushi, by the way, originated as a way to preserve fish: by fermenting the fish in rice, it was protected from the bacteria that caused it to putrefy. Tempera comes from the 16th century when the Dutch introduced fried food. As to the origins of rice, I think it’s so long I’ll have to make another post: it’s origin is disputed and ranging from Africa, India and China [otherwise known as historians who are too stubborn to admit they don’t know] and evolutionary-wise can be traced back 160 million years to the Cretaceous period.
bet you're thinking "what's this pic got to do with sushi?"

bet you’re thinking “what’s this pic got to do with sushi?”

Yes, that’s when dinosaurs walked the earth [after stegosaurus died, when the raptors were around, but Triceratops, which never really existed anyway*, wasn’t around until later], but it’s ancestors go back way before that.
*yep, another post.
I think I got the history done, but I had no idea that it went back that far [still younger than the first Doctor Who episode], I mean Mediterranean history only goes back 4 million years, because that’s when the sea formed.
The Bento Box.  Always my favorite thing to order when we go for sushi

The Bento Box. Always my favorite thing to order when we go for sushi

Modern Japanese meals are typically centered around one soup, clear or miso, and three entrees/side dishes, which you could probably find in most restaurants, excluding buffets or bento boxes.
I searched for what an average Japanese diet contains, and it is incredibly healthy. Some could argue that rice is the staple, but Tokyo’s official guide says that fish [I guess banning fishing on an island didn’t last that long] is, so I’ll just say the fish is the staple and rice is the leading grain; they don’t have bread very often in Japan.
image courtesy of tasteabroad.wordpress.com

image courtesy of tasteabroad.wordpress.com

But there are many ways they prepare rice, from rice balls called oniguri, rice cakes that go by the name of mochi, and rice wine known as sake.
never been a fan of tofu but I hear its good for you

never been a fan of tofu but I hear its good for you

Soy is also common, which is an equally healthy source of protein and is loaded with reasons health freaks like them as snacks. Japan ties with Switzerland, San Marino and Macau as the number one country in terms of life expectancy, with 83 plus years. Here’s the link to Wikipedia’s list to find out where your country is [I’m running out of room to mention the other countries].http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
life expentancy by country
I’ve also gotten the impression, both from experience and my research, that Japanese cooking is very low in fat, but has higher levels of salt from flavour, and the food is usually filling enough that they don’t need gigantic portions [do you think a Super Size sushi would sell big bucks?] And the least healthy things are Tempera and salted veggies.
not as healthy as sushi, but oh so delicious

not as healthy as sushi, but oh so delicious

The point of these posts are for me to decide which food I would want to be stuck with eating for indefinitely, like UNDER THE DOME, as long as it’s like the book and not that T.V. show, because otherwise I’d die of boredom and fanboy disappointment before I ate anything [I MIST the days when you could take a STAND against horrible adaptions that come SHINING around the corner].  A desert island works too.
stephen king book covers
Taste: Aside from anything else, Japanese food is just plain delicious.
Health: As I’ve already said, it is probably the healthiest in the world.
Diversity: A time-honoured cuisine, it has a lot of diversity within itself, but not too much influence from other cultures, excluding China.
japanese cuisine
Will this cuisine reign supreme? I haven’t decided, but you’ll probably have to wait many more months before I do. Bye for now!