If you’ve ever been part of a group that’s dined in a top Chinese restaurant in Houston, you know that things can get a little tricky since everything just looks so good. There’s actually a right way to go about ordering a Chinese meal, and the secret lies in a balancing act. The best one allows for a harmonious flow with elements that have sharp contrast, with ingredients, textures, and tastes varying.
Variety Goes a Long Way
Sure, everyone can just go ahead and order whatever dish looks good to them at a Chinese restaurant in Houston. However, the final result will be that the entire table winds up with a chaotic spread. Probably way too many chicken dishes, and likely more than one dish that involves sweet-and-sour sauce. On a solo level, they’re good. However, in a group setting, your palate will either get dulled or entirely overwhelmed fairly quickly.
The finest Chinese meals can actually be likened to a musical composition, with melodies that are gentle and rhythms that are rousing, alongside lulls and peaks. There is a perfect balance lying there, which should equate to a journey for your senses which please both mind and palate alike.
There is wisdom in having dishes that may seem more low-key when putting together a large meal. It is the presence of these toned-down choices that allow for the star dishes to truly have a moment to shine. Soup is universally helpful for this, as well as plain rice and vegetables.
Consider the Culture
By default, China has a culture particularly focused on food. This is quite evident in the attention they pay to cooking and all the infinite possibilities there are with it. Health and pleasure have always been intertwined in Chinese gastronomy, as they believe that they directly affect one’s physical well-being.
This is a stark contrast to Western food culture, which seems bent solely on being pleasurable while completely disregarding balance and health. The feeling of being shufu (comfortable, well) goes out the window in lieu of a “food coma” of sorts from all the richness and heaviness that were just taken in.
This is why there’s a good number of qingdan (a Mandarin term that translates to “bland”) dishes in any Chinese menu you may encounter. These dishes are lighter, and will likely seem uninteresting and dull as opposed to other dishes that may involve sweet-and-sour sauces, chili oil, and deep-fried chicken parts.
Say you had a full order of dumplings that were deep-fried and practically swimming in chili oil, accompanied by a large serving of fried rice. It would be natural for you to feel incredibly bloated after. When you top that meal off with fresh fruit or a nice, light soup, you allow yourself to get a more comfortable feeling which will let you sleep better later on.
It can be incredibly tempting to stick to what you know in a Chinese restaurant. It is equally appealing to just go for all the rich, extremely flavorful things on the menu. However, you should note that in order to have a proper Chinese meal, balance is absolutely everything.
Looking for the best Chinese food in Houston? Ocean Palace Restaurant is your best bet! Visit us today to sample in-house favorites such as Chinese seafood, dim sum, noodles, congee, and more.
One Reply to “Our Guide to the Best Ways to Order a Chinese Meal”
My girlfriend and I started watching a cooking TV show last week, and we’re very curious about trying Chinese cuisine. It’s interesting to know how we could order at a Chinese restaurant to achieve the perfect balanced meal, so we’ll keep it in mind when we find a Chinese restaurant to try out next week. Thank you for the insight on Chinese restaurants and why it’s smart to order a light soup first.