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When I first tried American Chinese food in New York last year, I remember standing in front of the ordering counter feeling a little indignant.

I’ve heard a lot about the cuisine, from TV, movies and popular culture, and as someone with more than two decades of experience eating Chinese food, albeit it being more Singaporean or Malaysian Chinese than anything, I thought that the takeout boxes weren’t going to be any good. “It’s fake Chinese food, isn’t it?” I thought to myself. You know, how authentic can it be when the recipes are edited to suit the American palette?

After my first bite, all my preconceived opinions of American-Chinese food were thrown out of the window. Never mind the authenticity. The food was delicious. Every bite left me wanting for more. I had no complaints, only compliments.

Months after returning to Asia, I still crave for American-Chinese food. If you’ve never tried American-Chinese food, here are 5 pretty authentic dishes and places to try them in Singapore.

General Tso’s Chicken

Named after Zuo Zongtang, a general in the Qing Dynasty who fought many revolts and wars, General Tso’s Chicken is the poster child of all American-Chinese dishes. But don’t be fooled; the General himself, who came from the Hunan province in China, has never tasted this saucy, broccoli and cubed chicken recipe.

If you are interested, you could even watch The Search for General Tso, a documentary film detailing the origins of this tasty chicken dish, to find out more about how it came to be so popular.

Those who have tried this dish would probably liken it to the sweet and sour meat dishes one can find in most Singaporean eateries, even though General Tso’s Chicken is unique enough to get imported onto the menu in China.

Where to try: 

Seletar Hill Restaurant
Address: 16 Jln Selaseh, Singapore 808440
Tel: +65 6483 0348
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 11.30 AM – 2.30 PM, 5.30 PM – 10 PM

Chop Suey

Literally meaning ‘a mix of broken pieces’, Chop Suey may not seem like the most appealing dish on the menu. Its origins, shrouded in fog, are not yet determined, but some say that it’s the result of a Chinese guest’s kitchen improvisation after an unsatisfying meal while others maintain that it came from Chinese miners putting together leftovers to make themselves a good meal. It is also rumoured to have originated from coastal city Taishan in China, although we can never be too sure.

But if you’re looking to hit that vegetable quota of yours, look to this colourful, diverse plate for some answers.

Where to try:

Chopsuey Cafe
Address: 10 Dempsey Road #01-23, Singapore 247700
Tel: +65 9224 6611
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 11.30 AM – 12 AM, Friday 11.30 AM – 2 AM, Saturday 10.30 AM – 2 AM, Sunday 10.30 AM – 12 AM

Mushu Pork

Like Chop Suey, Mushu Pork may not look glamorous, but it is still a good mix of stir-fry pork, black fungus, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and zucchini. The Shandong dish has now become a star in America’s Chinese food industry, where it is eaten in the style of a taco or burrito where the pork and vegetables are placed in a pancake with some sauce. Think Peking Duck or Popiah but pork — wrapped and fragrant.

Where to try:

Address: #03-01 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, Singapore 238839
Tel: +65 6884 4566
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 11 AM – 3 PM, 5.30 PM – 10 PM

Crab Rangoon

It’s a little harder to find Crab Rangoons in Singapore – oh, so cripsy! – but you’re in luck. W Singapore at Sentosa Cove’s latest promotion will see to it that you eat all the crabs you want. The hotel’s restaurant, The Kitchen Table, will be serving all things crabby every Saturday from 2 April 2016 to 25 June 2016, so you better hurry. More information here.

Now, you might wonder: wait, what makes crab rangoons so American-Chinese? They’re basically fried crab wantons! Well, we’d say so too if we didn’t know better. As it turns out, these take-away worthy snacks are often filled with a cream cheese filling that oozes out when you bite down.

Where to try:

The Kitchen Table, W Singapore – Sentosa Cove
Address: 21 Ocean Way, Singapore 098374
Tel: +65 6808 7288
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 6 AM – 11 PM

Fortune Cookie

One of the best things about eating American-Chinese food is that at the end of the meal, you get to crack open a fortune cookie, which is technically not even Chinese. The fortune cookie was said to be invented in Japan, but was made popular in America’s Chinese restaurants. Think Kinder Surprise eggs but crunchier, and sans chocolate.

Depending on where you go for food, your cookie may be suggestive, extremely positive like a motivational speaker and therapist roped into one, or just downright vague.

Oh, how we wish we could get a fortune cookie every time we finish dinner at the nearby hawker centre’s Economical Rice stall!

Where to try:

Address: #03-01 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, Singapore 238839
Tel: +65 6884 4566
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 11 AM – 3 PM, 5.30 PM – 10 PM

If you do visit any of the above-mentioned restaurants to try American-Chinese styled foods, it’s best to keep an open mind and avoid comparing it to similar dishes, especially if you’re of Chinese descent. Some of the restaurants highlighted also sell other popular American-Chinese dishes, so do check out their menu before calling them up!

Did we miss out any of your favourite American-Chinese dishes? Drop us a tip to let us know where in Singapore we can try them out!

(Header credit: savenewport)