10 ‘Chinese’ Foods You Won’t Find in China

General Tso's chicken. (Image:  wikimedia /  CC0 1.0)
General Tso's chicken. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Did you know that some of the dishes you enjoy at Chinese restaurants in the West aren’t actually available in China? This list from China News Service is full of surprises!

Crab rangoon

Chinese cuisine doesn’t use cream cheese or, generally, any other kind of cheese.

Crab rangoon (Benjwong/Wikimedia Commons)

Crab rangoon. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Egg rolls

It is believed that egg rolls were created in a Chinese restaurant in New York City in the 1930s. The main ingredient is usually cabbage, and there generally isn’t any egg in it at all.

Egg rolls (Deltabeignet/Wikimedia Commons)

Egg rolls. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

General Tso’s chicken

This dish has nothing to do with General Tso (Tso Tsung-t’ang), who was a Qing Dynasty statesman and military leader from Hunan Province. It is believed to have been invented by Taiwan-based Hunan cuisine chef Peng Chang-kuei at his New York restaurant.

General Tso's chicken (1700-talet/Wikimedia Commons)

General Tso’s chicken. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Chop suey

Chop suey is actually a swear word, thought to have first been used by a cook serving stir-fried leftovers to drunken miners in California.

Chop suey (Flickr/ECNS)

Chop suey. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Sweet and sour pork

Sweet and sour pork is a Hong Kong/Cantonese dish, but it’s made with different ingredients than its Western version.


Sweet and sour pork (ProjectManhattan/Wikimedia Commons)

Sweet and sour pork. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Mongolian beef

This is a dish created by Chinese-American restaurants based around Mongolian barbecue, but it doesn’t use any of the original Mongolian ingredients.

Mongolian beef (Craig Dugas/Wikimedia Commons)

Mongolian beef. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Orange chicken

Chef Andy Kao claims to have developed the original Chinese-American orange chicken recipe at a Panda Express in Hawaii in 1987. It is a variation on General Tso’s chicken.

Orange chicken (Evan Joshua Swigart/Wikimedia Commons)

Orange chicken. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)


The Chinese prefer to cook their veggies and generally don’t eat raw salads.

Salad (Traumrune/Wikimedia Commons)

Raw salad. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)


In the West, wonton wrappers are baked or fried until they’re crispy, but real wontons are dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables, and usually boiled and served in soup.

Wonton (Flickr/ECNS)

Wontons. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Fortune cookies

Fortune cookies are based on the Japanese version, which had a fortune, but different ingredients. After WWII, Chinese restaurants in the U.S. took over the fortune cookie business. When an attempt to introduce them into China was made in 1992, it failed because the fortune cookies were considered “too American.”

Fortune cookies (3268zauber/Wikimedia Commons)

Fortune cookies. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

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