Once in a while, you will find yourself craving Chinese dishes. While there are hundreds of Chinese restaurants to choose from, not all of them provide the taste and experience you are looking for. Finding your next go-to authentic Chinese restaurant can be challenging, but you can speed up your search using our guide.
If you are on the lookout for a real Chinese restaurant, here are some tips to help you find the right one.
1. Feel the restaurant’s atmosphere
If it is your first time visiting a restaurant, the first thing you should check is its atmosphere. Authentic Chinese restaurants have the usual red or gold designs.
You may notice the same red or gold color schemes in other Americanized Chinese restaurants, but you will see that these restaurants do not have a shrine. This is how some owners design their restaurant for customers from different religious backgrounds.
On the other hand, traditional Chinese people tend to be more expressive of their religion. In fact, the shrine you often see in Chinese restaurants is a shrine to the god of wealth—the patron deity of millions of Chinese businesspeople.
2. Check their teapot
The next thing you check is how they serve their tea. Chinese people believe that tea burns fatty foods and aids in one’s digestion. For them, teas are a must when eating.
Earthenware or stone teapots are also expensive materials, and they can get broken easily. Authentic Chinese restaurants often use metal or ceramic teapots and ceramic teacups because they are highly durable and easier to clean, making sure that their purchase is worth it.
3. Explore their food serving sizes
Here is the main difference between most American restaurants and a Chinese restaurant: An authentic Chinese restaurant serves food in family-style and on lazy susans. Chinese meals are often eaten with the family. Instead of one person having their individually served food, a Chinese family shares multiple dishes. This eating tradition lets them enjoy a variety of food
If the restaurant you are at does not serve food in this style, it is definitely not authentic. Not following the family style of serving is a huge step away from the Chinese’s communal culture of eating.
4. Check how they serve fish
If you want to triple-check the restaurant’s authenticity, try ordering a fish dish. Get a sea bass—one of the classic dishes—if you can. Authentic Chinese restaurants serve fish dishes with the head still intact. This style is not typically observed in Americanized restaurants.
Americans tend to find dead fish disgusting. That is why they never serve a whole fish. However, for most Chinese restaurant owners, filleting fish ends up with a lot of wasted food. A fillet will not have the fish’s tender cheeks and crunchy skin that a whole fish has.
Finding an authentic Chinese restaurant may be challenging, but using this guide can help you narrow down your choices. If the restaurant you find scores four out of four on this checklist, you will definitely enjoy the authentic Chinese experience they will provide.
If you are looking for the best Chinese food in Houston, look no further. Ocean Palace Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant located in the heart of Hong Kong City Mall’s Chinatown. We have been serving authentic Chinese food since 1999. We offer delivery services for your favorite dim sum or family packed food for selected locations. Contact us today!