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Q&A: How do Chinese restaurants have 140 different menu items?

Question by RickT: How do Chinese restaurants have 140 different menu items?
I am curious about this. How do Chinese restaurants have so many different dishes to offer? I know they have a variety of beef, chicken, shrimp etc, sauces and seasonings, and vegetables. I am just amazed by how quickly they can make up whatever you order. Do they prepare a bunch and freeze it in small batches then microwave it before serving it to you?
I just can’t imagine a chef whipping up each dish from scratch every time.
Anybody ever actually work in a Chinese restaurant?

Best answer:

Answer by Acreame
They have a lot of menu items because China has 1.7 billion people in their making food. Theres gonna be a huge variety of food if you have that many people.

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9 thoughts on “Q&A: How do Chinese restaurants have 140 different menu items?”

  1. For gosh sakes, they have all thats needed to cook the way they cook,,,they don’t buy junk like we do!

  2. They pre-prep large batches or the basics: rice, noodles,and deep fried items.
    When you place your order, they add the final ingredients to it.
    You’d be waiting an hour if they had to boil your rice for your order alone.

  3. If you think about it most of the dishes are made with similar ingredients, they are creative with the sauces and seasonings. So there are many items, but as long as they have fresh meat and seafood, a variety of vegetables, and their pantry of seasonings they can make many permutations. And it is almost always made fresh.

  4. preparation is the key, the ingredients are ready to go, and the sauces are prepared in advance, in addition, the entire menu is usualy comprised of combinations of the basic ingredients. that way they have chicken, beef pork shrimp and duck, and a few vegetables which cobine to make many many dishes.

  5. They actually do. It’s easy in a commercial restaurant. They just prep all their stuff ahead of time, and they use many short cuts, like they use yesterday’s steamed rice for today’s fried rice, and they have all their sauces in bottles, and they blanche their veggies in a fryer. If you have 8 recipes that use chicken, you just prep all your chicken the same way. If you pay much attention, most of their recipes have similar bases and change just a few ingredients.

    It’s much easier to do a bunch of different entrees in a commercial kitchen, as one has the space to do it. It’s like any restaurant, they prep ahead and have their stuff ready to go.

  6. Chinese cuisine is more than sauces and ingredients. But, for a chinese cook or chef to make up so many dishes from a list of regular ingredients is quite simple. Take for exampla all the dishes you can make using hamburger, relish, cheese, mustard, and bread. Hamburger sandwiches come first but how many ways can a hamburger be made? 100’s to 1,000’s or what about baked beans or chili, how about beef stew or meat loaf?
    The Chinese can take a few basic ingredients from their cultural staples and easily make 100’s of variations of dishes just like any other culture. Give me 2 meats, several vegetables, and some basic sauces and seasonings and I can stir fry up many dishes for you to enjoy. If you look at the dishes very closely on a Chinese menu most are the same dish with a vegetable or meat change. The Chinese are masters in their cusine just like you and I are masters of our culture and cuisine.

    Just a note: Did you know most dishes at an Chinese Restaurant in Western Countries (America, Canada, etc.) are variations that began in America? Sweet and Sour is a perfect example and Fortune Cookies are another.

  7. it is mainly in the sauces… as mentioned above, they have a couple of basic items on the menu, say pork, and then you can have it with ginger, sweet & sour, with honey, with black sauce, with pepper etc… add stir fry, steam or broil to it… and each of your basic meat can be served in a multitude of ways. Just have those basic items and your sauces ready and there you go…

  8. Those are all good answers. Let me add this:

    The dimsum dishes are mostly steamed or deep fried. All the dimsums are assembled overnight (for brunch) and the whole morning (for dinner). It takes only a few minutes to steam or fry them. There are, literally, hundreds of dimsum varieties.

    The sir-fried dishes (inclding chow mien, sweet-sour) cook in a couple of minutes. All the veggies and meats are pre-sliced, and all the sauces are ready to pour in. The woks are all super-hot.

    The other dishes are stews which could be microwaved, and roasts, which are served at room temperature.

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