Many Chinese restaurants in the United States serve dishes that have been modified for the American palate. Orange chicken, beef with broccoli, and lo mein are a few of these dishes. This style of Chinese food is delicious, and many people enjoy it. However, you may find yourself wondering what more traditional Chinese food is like. If you visit a Mandarin Chinese restaurant, look at the menu for one of these dishes, which are more traditional.
The name may not sound appetizing, but stinky tofu is a delicious option if you're someone who likes tofu. Essentially, it is tofu that has been fermented, which gives it a potent scent. After being fermented with vegetables and aromatics, the tofu is generally deep-fried. It is served with soy sauce, or sometimes a variety of sauces, for dipping. A bowl of stinky tofu and some white rice can make a lovely, vegetarian meal at a Chinese restaurant.
If you're in the mood for meat, then char siu is a great dish to try. This is pork that has been marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce before being roasted over the fire. The sauce is traditionally hoisin, but it's seasoned with honey, five spice, and bean curd to give it a balanced flavor. Char siu is served in small, bite-size pieces. You pick up some rice and some pork with your chopsticks and enjoy each bite.
Jiaozi are a specific type of Chinese dumpling. They're harder to find than the more popular dim sum dumplings but well worth trying if you do come across them. Jiaozi are made with very thin dumpling wrappers. They're filled with a mixture of meat and vegetable, which varies somewhat between restaurants. Some places steam them, but they are more often deep-fried.
If you're used to Chinese dishes with heavy sauces and flavorings, this one will be a nice departure. Hainan chicken is seasoned with aromatics like scallions and garlic before being poached and served over rice. Most restaurants add a drizzle of chile oil to the dish for some heat, but you can ask for this to be left off.
If you come across any of the above dishes on a Chinese restaurant menu, give them a try. It's nice to try more traditional Chinese food now and then. You may really enjoy the way that the flavors and textures combine.