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Chinese Combo #1005

Ever notice Chinese restaurants usually have like 100 ways to serve beef, 200 ways to serve pork, 300 ways to serve chicken, fish, noodles, and so on and so forth? What’s the deal with that?

The list of menu items are so long, how on earth do the cooks remember how to make each dish?

You may remember me telling you before, while growing up in Kaneohe, my mom ‘n dad practically force-fed me Kin Wah Chop Suey. Ironically, regarding this subject, while Kin Wah also has quite a lengthy menu, my mom ALWAYS chose the SAME dishes: Abalone Soup, Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Beef Broccoli, Sweet & Sour Pork, Egg Fu Yong, Cold Ginger Chicken, Duck Egg and Crispy Gau Gee. Every time, the same thing.

Which I think many people do at Chinese restaurants: once they find several dishes they really, really like, they stick with the proven, not interested in trying anything else.

Reason I bring this up, is Diner E recently checked out this place called Sunny’s Chinese Restaurant in the Kapalama area of Kalihi, next to Diner’s Drive-In by the Kalihi post office. And when he showed me their menu, I nearly fell of my chair, jaw-dropped, as this reconfirmed my assertion that long menus really are a “Chinese” thing”.

Check it out (click menu image to enlarge so you can read it)…   Dude, that’s CRAZY!!!

Ai-yah… Computer just crashed. I’ll be offline 4 a while. Pomai

15 thoughts on “Chinese Combo #1005

  • August 29, 2014 at 6:33 pm
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    To be fair to your mom, Kin Wah’s sweet and sour shrimp and crispy gau gee were amazing. I last ate there in 1986 or 1987 though.

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  • August 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm
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    Ah grasshopper Pomai,

    If you operate a restaurant indicating Chinese cuisine and do not specialize in one regional cuisine and try to encompass all you end up with a lot of dishes that are going to be so, so and not really representative of China and a cuisine region (basically Americanized). What the heck, Westerners are not going to know the difference and are not going to travel to China so sell it as just Chinese cuisine! It does a dis-service to Chinese cuisine and heritage. Just like Americanized Hawaiian cuisine; add ham and pineapple.

    My close friend back East family owned the oldest Chinese restaurant in the city I lived in. His father would go to Hong Kong to recruit the restaurant chefs. The restaurant style was Cantonese Cuisine. Another friend owned three small restaurants in state and specialized in Southwestern Chinese cuisine. It was so authentic the Johnson & Wales Culinary University incorporated the restaurant into the Southwestern Chinese Cuisine mandatory curriculum. His cuisine was Sichuan and hot it was. Both restaurants had relatively small menus but specific to that regional cuisine.

    Summary of China’s eight recognized culinary styles, including their shortened names (which correspond to the single character abbreviation for their provinces). The two styles most famous in the West, Cantonese and Sichuan, are at the top:

    1. Guangdong Cuisine (Cantonese Food/Yue Cuisine): sweeter, favoring braising and stewing, adding various sauces.
    2. Sichuan Cuisine (Chuan Cuisine): spicy and bold, using lots of chili, garlic, ginger and peanuts.
    3. Shandong Cuisine (Lu Cuisine): salty and crispy, favoring braising and seafood.
    4. Fujian Cuisine (Min Cuisine): lighter, with a sweet and sour taste, using ingredients from the sea and the mountains.
    5. Jiangsu Cuisine (Su Cuisine): fresh, salty and sweet, favoring soups and precise cooking techniques.
    6. Hunan Cuisine (Xiang Cuisine): quite spicy, favors sautéing, stir-frying, steaming and smoking.
    7. Anhui Cuisine (Hui Cuisine): uses many wild plants and animals as ingredients, favoring stewing and more oil.
    8. Zhejiang Cuisine (Zhe Cuisine): mellow, uses freshwater fish, seafood and bamboo shoots, and a wide variety of cooking methods.

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  • August 29, 2014 at 10:24 pm
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    My concern was and has been validated by a Waipahu Chinese restaurant owner is that they have to keep a large inventory of mostly perishable foods such as the veggies. Which makes me think how FRESH is all of that incld. the meats and seafoods. Sorry to say each time I ate at his place I always got an upset stomach whereas I go to another restaurant now and no probs. And like your mom I always just order what I love to eat, the same thing over and over,

    I remember speaking to a chef a while back (not a Chinese rest.) and he told me be wary of a huge menu cuz most will be medicore. A good to excellent rest. will offer a smaller menu that they specialize in. I find that to be true for Chinese rest. and drive-inns.

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  • August 30, 2014 at 12:07 am
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    My first cousins use to own Mee Linn Restaurant on School St and made lot things to sell. Dim sums was a their best seller and chow mein. Every weekends book with dinner parties.
    As a kid with my sister I always get wonton soup and manapuas to eat when I visit them. They make Cantonese style food. Too bad place shut down due a fire I still miss that place.

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  • August 30, 2014 at 2:20 am
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    Pomai, my parents remember in early days Chinese food always good portion and filling. They love also Japanese but that time portion was small and felt not enough to eat in restaurants. They still enjoyed it still but now change if notice portions is bigger and more satifying. Chinese food family have most of time at home and out in restaurants.

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  • August 30, 2014 at 5:57 am
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    Here in the Bay Area, find your local “clean and friendly Hole in the Wall”, and most of the times, the BEST FOOD is “hand written and ordered OFF THE WALL”…..!!!

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    • September 5, 2014 at 7:24 am
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      where are ya in the bay area? oakland, ca here :) best shandong cuisine? is shan dong restaurant in oakland! :) also best cantonese would be hong kong lounge in SF off geary. i sometimes frequent hong kong city seafood in alameda :)

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  • August 30, 2014 at 7:02 am
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    There many ways to use sweet and sour sauce in dishes like shirmps, pork, and chicken. My mom like beef tomato chow mein and dad like by it self wirth rice. I don’t care either way fine. Now with northern style cooking I like spicy dried fry beef is pretty good.

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  • August 30, 2014 at 9:34 am
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    This type of menu usually signals that the sauce base is premade and repetitious. Usually three main sauces or so used in many dishes (oyster heavy or light, sweet sour, shoyu/sweet black bean, and maybe a plum). This is why the dishes tend to taste the same. If you see only one chef in kitchen, then you know. Also many foods are stored or prepared and not cooked fresh, such as beef pork and duck (which should be prepared the night before.
    Go with the specials or the specialty of the house like your mother did.

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  • August 31, 2014 at 9:24 pm
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    hope your crash computer is not serious

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    • September 4, 2014 at 10:05 am
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      pake (and anyone else wondering),

      Well, it’s a complete hardware “crash” (power supply shot and not worth the effort replacing), so serious enough to need a new computer as a “base terminal” to migrate all my files.

      No worries, everything’s under control. It will be about another week from now until I’m back up with new posts. With that, I’m kinda’ enjoying the break. ;-)

      Pomai
      The Tasty Island

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  • September 2, 2014 at 3:03 am
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    Pomai: Yeah, the number of dishes at the Chinese Restaurants here in AL are pretty extensive, too. But if you look at any Mongolian BBQ place you can get a sense of how they must do it back in the kitchen: 4-5 basic protiens (tofu included), 10-12 chopped prepped veggies, 5-6 sauces, three starches: assume that one meat, 4 veggies out of the 12,1 sauce and one starch makes one dish. 5x(4x3x2x1)x6x3= 2160 combinations. My math might be a bit sketchy as it’s been decades since I took that Stat course. (The veggie number is a probable factorial?) But you get the idea. Not such a stretch when you think of just the number of combinations a Whopper has when you do it “your way”; one site calculated 221,184 different ways!

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  • September 2, 2014 at 7:22 am
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    Yes, too many. After working in a Chinese kitchen on Maui, Ming Yuen for 10 years we had a lot of items on our menu. But sadly the restaurant has closed back in 1991. But I still have the recipes in my mind and can cook Chinese food any time. Pomai when you come here next year to celebrate Tyrus Eric 1 year birthday we can cook together. Are you up to it? Mahalo

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  • September 5, 2014 at 6:24 am
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    Pomai: A friend told me that Sunny’s changed ownership a little while back. Is the food you had recently still good? I used to like Kapahulu Chop Suey, but they closed. Then I frequented Duk Kee but they are going downhill fast. So the next time I come back to Honolulu, I thought I might try Sunny’s. What do you think?

    Reply

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