Craving some Chinese food but not sure what to get? With so many options on the menu, it can be overwhelming deciding what to order. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Start with classics like egg rolls, wonton soup, or hot and sour soup.
For main dishes, can’t-miss choices include General Tso’s chicken, orange chicken, lo mein noodles, fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, beef and broccoli, and kung pao chicken or shrimp.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go through the must-try dishes at any Chinese restaurant to help you navigate the menu like a pro. With appetizers, soups, main entrees, side dishes, and desserts, we’ve got you covered on what you should order to have the perfect Chinese meal.
Egg rolls are a popular Chinese appetizer that you must try when dining at a Chinese restaurant. These crispy and savory treats are made with a delicate combination of vegetables, meat, and seasonings, all wrapped in a thin pastry and deep-fried to perfection.
The filling can vary, but it often includes ingredients such as cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, and sometimes ground pork or shrimp. Egg rolls are typically served with a tangy and slightly sweet dipping sauce, adding an extra burst of flavor to each bite.
Don’t miss out on this classic appetizer that is loved by many!
Potstickers, also known as Chinese dumplings, are another fantastic appetizer choice. These delightful bite-sized morsels are made with a thin dough wrapper and filled with a savory mixture of ground meat (such as pork or chicken) and vegetables.
They are then pan-fried until the bottom is golden and crispy, while the top remains soft and tender. The combination of textures and flavors in potstickers is truly satisfying. They are typically served with a dipping sauce that complements their taste perfectly.
Whether you’re a fan of dumplings or trying them for the first time, potstickers are a must-order at a Chinese restaurant.
Scallion pancakes are a delightful appetizer that combines a crispy texture with the wonderful flavors of scallions. These pancakes are made by mixing flour, water, and chopped scallions to form a dough, which is then flattened and pan-fried until golden brown.
The result is a thin and crispy pancake with a deliciously savory taste. Scallion pancakes are often served with a soy-based dipping sauce, adding an extra layer of flavor. They are a popular choice among both vegetarians and meat lovers, making them a versatile and crowd-pleasing appetizer option.
Crab Rangoon is a delicious appetizer that combines the flavors of cream cheese and crab meat. These crispy dumplings are made by wrapping a mixture of cream cheese, crab meat, and seasonings in wonton wrappers, and then deep-frying them until golden and crispy.
The result is a heavenly combination of creamy and savory flavors, with a delightful crunch. Crab Rangoon is often served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce, which complements its taste perfectly. If you’re a fan of seafood and creamy textures, don’t miss out on this delectable appetizer.
While spare ribs are not traditionally considered an appetizer, they are a fantastic choice for those who enjoy meaty and flavorful dishes. These tender and succulent ribs are typically marinated in a combination of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, and other seasonings, and then either roasted or grilled to perfection.
The result is a deliciously sticky and flavorful dish that is sure to satisfy your cravings. Spare ribs are often served with a side of steamed rice or noodles, allowing you to enjoy both the meat and the accompanying carbs.
If you’re a meat lover, spare ribs are a great option to start your meal with.
When dining at a Chinese restaurant, soups are a great way to start your meal. They are not only delicious but also warm and comforting. Here are some of the best soup options you can order:
Hot and Sour Soup
Hot and Sour Soup is a popular choice for many Chinese food lovers. It is a flavorful combination of spicy and tangy flavors. Made with ingredients such as mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots, and vinegar, this soup is sure to tantalize your taste buds.
The heat from the spices and the tanginess from the vinegar create a perfect balance of flavors. It is a great choice if you are looking for something that is both comforting and flavorful.
Egg Drop Soup
Egg Drop Soup is a classic Chinese soup that is loved for its simplicity. Made with just a few basic ingredients like chicken broth and beaten eggs, this soup is light and comforting. The eggs are gently stirred into the hot broth, creating delicate ribbons that add texture to the soup.
It is perfect for those who prefer a milder flavor and a lighter option.
Wonton Soup is a must-try when visiting a Chinese restaurant. It is a flavorful soup made with wonton dumplings filled with ground meat, such as pork or shrimp. The dumplings are served in a rich and savory broth, often garnished with green onions and cilantro.
The combination of the tender dumplings and the flavorful broth makes this soup a favorite among many.
Chicken Corn Soup
Chicken Corn Soup is a comforting and hearty soup that is perfect for colder days. It is made with chicken broth, sweet corn, shredded chicken, and sometimes, beaten eggs. The sweetness of the corn and the richness of the chicken make this soup a delicious and satisfying choice.
It is often garnished with green onions and cilantro, adding a fresh and aromatic touch to the dish.
Next time you find yourself at a Chinese restaurant, consider starting your meal with one of these delicious soups. They are a great way to warm up your appetite and experience the authentic flavors of Chinese cuisine.
When it comes to ordering at a Chinese restaurant, the main dishes are often the star of the show. These flavorful and satisfying dishes are usually served with steamed rice or noodles, creating a complete and delicious meal. Here are some of the best main dishes you can order:
General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken is a popular choice for those who love a combination of sweet and spicy flavors. This dish features crispy chicken chunks that are stir-fried with a tangy sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and spices.
It is often garnished with green onions and served with steamed broccoli. The crispy texture of the chicken combined with the flavorful sauce makes it a crowd favorite.
Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken is a classic Sichuan dish that is known for its bold and spicy flavors. It consists of diced chicken stir-fried with peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers in a savory sauce. The dish is usually topped with a sprinkling of Sichuan peppercorns, which add a numbing sensation to the tongue.
Kung Pao Chicken is a great choice for those who enjoy a bit of heat in their meals.
Sesame Chicken is a dish that is loved for its sweet and savory flavor profile. It features battered and deep-fried chicken pieces that are coated in a sticky sauce made from soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil.
The dish is often garnished with sesame seeds and green onions, adding an extra layer of flavor and texture. Sesame Chicken is a crowd-pleaser and is sure to satisfy your cravings.
Orange Chicken is a dish that combines tangy citrus flavors with tender pieces of chicken. It is made by coating chicken in a batter and frying it until crispy. The chicken is then tossed in a sticky orange sauce made from fresh orange juice, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar.
The result is a dish that is both sweet and tangy, with a hint of spiciness. Orange Chicken is a popular choice for those who enjoy a zesty and refreshing flavor.
Mapo Tofu is a traditional Sichuan dish that is loved for its rich and spicy flavors. It consists of soft tofu cubes that are cooked in a sauce made from doubanjiang (a spicy fermented bean paste), chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and ground pork.
The dish is known for its numbing and tingly sensation, which comes from the Sichuan peppercorns. Mapo Tofu is a must-try for tofu lovers and those who enjoy a bit of heat in their meals.
Beef with Broccoli
Beef with Broccoli is a classic Chinese dish that is loved for its simplicity and delicious flavors. It features tender slices of beef that are stir-fried with broccoli florets in a savory sauce made from soy sauce, oyster sauce, and garlic.
The combination of juicy beef and crisp broccoli creates a satisfying and nutritious meal. Beef with Broccoli is a great choice for those who want a wholesome and balanced dish.
Mongolian Beef is a dish that is known for its rich and savory flavors. It features thinly sliced beef that is marinated and stir-fried with green onions, garlic, and a savory sauce made from soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and brown sugar.
The dish is often garnished with sesame seeds, adding an extra layer of flavor and crunch. Mongolian Beef is a popular choice for its tender and flavorful beef.
Mu Shu Pork
Mu Shu Pork is a dish that originated from Northern China and is loved for its unique flavors and presentation. It consists of shredded pork that is stir-fried with mushrooms, cabbage, and scrambled eggs in a savory sauce. The mixture is then wrapped in thin pancakes and served with hoisin sauce.
Mu Shu Pork is a great choice for those who enjoy a flavorful and interactive dining experience.
Cashew Chicken is a dish that is loved for its combination of tender chicken, crunchy cashews, and flavorful sauce. It features diced chicken stir-fried with cashews, vegetables, and a savory sauce made from soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hoisin sauce.
The dish is often garnished with green onions, adding a fresh and aromatic touch. Cashew Chicken is a popular choice for its delightful texture and taste.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken is a classic Chinese dish that is loved for its balance of sweet and tangy flavors. It features battered and deep-fried chicken pieces that are coated in a sticky sauce made from sugar, vinegar, and ketchup.
The dish is often stir-fried with bell peppers, onions, and pineapple chunks, adding a burst of freshness. Sweet and Sour Chicken is a great choice for those who enjoy a vibrant and flavorful dish.
Noodles and Rice
When it comes to Chinese cuisine, noodles and rice are staple dishes that shouldn’t be missed. Chinese restaurants offer a wide variety of noodle and rice dishes, each with its own unique flavors and ingredients.
Whether you prefer something saucy or fried, there’s a noodle or rice dish to satisfy your cravings.
Lo Mein is a popular Chinese dish consisting of wheat noodles stir-fried with a variety of vegetables and meats. It is often seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and other flavorful sauces. The noodles are cooked until they are soft and chewy, making them a perfect base for the savory toppings.
Lo Mein is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit your taste preferences, so don’t hesitate to ask for your favorite ingredients.
Chow Mein is another delicious noodle dish that you should try at a Chinese restaurant. Unlike Lo Mein, Chow Mein noodles are crispy and slightly fried, giving them a unique texture. The noodles are usually topped with stir-fried vegetables and your choice of meat or seafood.
The combination of crunchy noodles and flavorful toppings creates a satisfying and delightful dish that will leave you craving for more.
No visit to a Chinese restaurant is complete without ordering a plate of Fried Rice. This classic dish is made by stir-frying cooked rice with vegetables, meat, and eggs. The rice is seasoned with soy sauce and other spices, giving it a savory and aromatic taste.
Fried Rice is a versatile dish that can be customized with your favorite ingredients, such as shrimp, chicken, or vegetables. It is a perfect accompaniment to any Chinese meal.
Dan Dan Noodles
Originating from the Sichuan province of China, Dan Dan Noodles are a spicy and flavorful dish that will awaken your taste buds. The noodles are served in a spicy sauce made from chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and minced pork.
The dish is garnished with green onions and peanuts, adding a crunchy texture to the dish. If you enjoy spicy food, don’t miss out on trying Dan Dan Noodles.
Sesame Noodles are a popular dish in Chinese-American cuisine. The noodles are cooked until they are tender and then tossed in a sauce made from sesame paste, soy sauce, and other seasonings. The dish is often garnished with cucumber slices and sesame seeds, adding a refreshing and nutty flavor to the noodles.
Sesame Noodles are a great option for those who prefer a milder and nuttier taste.
Despite its name, Singapore Noodles are not actually from Singapore. This dish is a popular item on Chinese restaurant menus and features rice vermicelli noodles stir-fried with a variety of vegetables, meats, and curry powder.
The noodles are seasoned with a combination of spices and sauces, giving them a distinct flavor. If you’re looking for a flavorful and aromatic noodle dish, give Singapore Noodles a try.
Spring rolls are a classic Chinese appetizer that are sure to impress. These crispy, golden rolls are filled with a delicious combination of vegetables and sometimes meat. They are typically served with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce that perfectly complements their savory filling.
Spring rolls make for a great starter or a tasty addition to any meal.
If you’re a fan of dumplings, then vegetable dumplings are a must-try at a Chinese restaurant. These bite-sized delights are filled with a mixture of finely chopped vegetables and often seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices.
Whether steamed or pan-fried, vegetable dumplings are a delightful and satisfying side dish that can also be enjoyed as a main course.
For those looking for a lighter option, steamed vegetables are a fantastic choice. Chinese cuisine is known for its emphasis on fresh and vibrant ingredients, and steamed vegetables perfectly showcase this.
Whether it’s broccoli, bok choy, or mixed vegetables, steaming helps retain the nutrients and natural flavors of the vegetables. It’s a great way to add some healthy greens to your meal.
Stir-Fried Bok Choy
Bok choy, a type of Chinese cabbage, is a popular vegetable that is often stir-fried to perfection. The tender leaves and crunchy stalks of bok choy are stir-fried with garlic, soy sauce, and other seasonings, creating a dish that is both flavorful and nutritious.
The slight bitterness of the bok choy is balanced by the savory and aromatic flavors of the stir-fry sauce, making it a delicious and satisfying side dish.
Garlic Green Beans
Garlic green beans are a simple yet delicious side dish that pairs perfectly with many Chinese main courses. Fresh green beans are stir-fried with garlic, soy sauce, and a touch of chili for a burst of flavor.
The beans maintain their crispness while absorbing the savory and aromatic flavors of the sauce. Garlic green beans add a vibrant and tasty element to any meal.
Fortune cookies are a staple in Chinese restaurants, and they are a must-try dessert. These crisp and sweet cookies are typically served at the end of the meal and come with a small slip of paper inside containing a fortune or a piece of wisdom.
It’s always fun to crack open a fortune cookie and see what message awaits you! While fortune cookies may not have originated in China, they have become synonymous with Chinese cuisine in the Western world.
Fried Sesame Balls
If you’re looking for a dessert with a delightful crunch and a sweet surprise inside, fried sesame balls are the way to go. These small, round pastries are made from glutinous rice flour and filled with a sweet paste, usually made from red bean or lotus seed.
The balls are then deep-fried until they turn golden brown and develop a crispy outer shell. The combination of the crispy exterior and the chewy, sweet interior makes fried sesame balls a truly addictive treat.
Egg Custard Tarts
Egg custard tarts are a popular dessert in Chinese cuisine, and they are reminiscent of the Portuguese egg tarts that were introduced to China during the colonial era. These tarts have a flaky pastry crust and a smooth, creamy filling made from egg, milk, and sugar.
They are often served warm, allowing the custard to melt in your mouth. The contrast between the buttery crust and the sweet custard filling is simply heavenly.
Almond cookies are a classic Chinese dessert that are not to be missed. These delicate, crumbly cookies are made with almond flour and have a subtle almond flavor. They are often topped with a whole almond for added visual appeal.
Almond cookies are perfect for those who prefer a less sweet dessert option, as they are not overly sugary. They make a great accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee.
Red Bean Buns
Red bean buns, also known as “dou sha bao” in Chinese, are a popular dessert in many Asian countries. These steamed buns have a soft and fluffy texture and are filled with a sweet red bean paste. Red bean paste is made from cooked adzuki beans that are mashed and sweetened.
The combination of the tender bun and the sweet, earthy filling is a match made in dessert heaven. Red bean buns are often enjoyed as a snack or as a dessert after a meal.
With this guide, you now have a solid grasp of the most popular and delicious dishes to order at a Chinese restaurant. From crunchy appetizers and warming soups to savory main entrees and sweet desserts, you can craft the perfect meal. Just don’t forget to save room for leftovers!