Most American “Chinese” food comes from the Cantonese branch of Chinese cooking, indigenous to the south of China and not easy to find elsewhere. In Chengdu, I’ve been craving “Chinese food” because Sichuan cooking is very, very different (and proudly über-spicy). My first trip to Shanghai offered a glimpse of more familiar fare — Shanghai’s cooking leans heavily on sugar rather than spice — but the real stuff waited in Hong Kong.
My colleague Aki and I made a point of finding some true Cantonese cooking. Here we have garlic shrimp and broccoli with a tangy sweet & sour pork that tasted almost like sweet barbecue, topped off with local beer, iced tea, and news of Barack Obama (!) on the TV behind us.
The next day, I spotted a restaurantgoer digging into something that looked suspiciously like sweet & sour chicken … you know, the actual stuff like we get in America, what with the orange sauce, the green peppers, the onions, and even the pineapple. Mmm so good. I brought our waitress out to the patio and pointed at the man’s food (he gave me a strange look), and I got to eat some sweet & sour chicken just like back home. The whole trip was worth it just to eat Chinese food like we have in America … in Hong Kong.