23 Food Things Only Chinese-American Kids Would Understand

You really just can't be a picky eater if you want to gain any respect from your elders. There are chicken feet on the table!

The Chinese culture in the United States has a very unique food scene, and if you're a kid who has grown up in a Chinese household, you know that things were kind of different for you growing up. Most families incorporate American traditions with longstanding Chinese ones to create a very interesting hybrid of customs.

However, there are some strong Chinese traditions that withstand. If you grew up in the U.S. with Chinese parents, you know that going out to banquet dinners is an experience only a seasoned Chinese-American could understand. And you know that you really just can't be a picky eater if you want to gain any respect from your elders. For goodness sake, there are chicken feet on the table. Here are the 23 food things that only Chinese-American kids would understand.

1. Baos make the best snack ever.

Specifically baos (steamed buns with meat or vegetable filling) packed with char siu (Chinese roasted barbecue pork).

2. Or you could just snack on some char siu all on its own.

In fact, you could probably eat a whole carton if nobody stops you...

3. The best sweet indulgence is an egg tart.

You may know them as "dan tats." Whatever you call them, these pastries filled with egg custard are baked to a creamy perfection.

4. Dim sum never ever ends.

The fun doesn't stop at this Chinese lunch until your family has grabbed every steamer basket full of every kind of dumplings ever.

5. You've had your tenth cup of tea already.

And don't forget: You always pour it for everyone else at the table before you pour it for yourself.

6. Knowing how to use chopsticks is essential to earn family approval.

From the moment you are able to talk, you should also know how to use chopsticks perfectly. No excuses.

7. You can't stop staring at the crazy fish tanks in the restaurant.

Yes, the lobster and eel you are eating right now were just in those tanks an hour ago...

8. You always have to sit at the kid's table at the restaurant.

Don't worry, you'll have more fun there... and you'll get more food!

10. When you grow up, you know to bring your own Tsing Tao beer to dinner.

It's BYOB at these restaurants.

10. It is very important to learn how to navigate the Lazy Susan.

Once the waiter brings the plate to the Lazy Susan, all hands are on deck. If you aren't fast, you may have to wait a long time before that food hits your plate.

11. You always put red rice vinegar in your cream corn soup.


If you don't, you're just doing it all wrong.

12. This is the best taco in the whole world.

Forget about Mexican tacos. You know that juicy Peking duck wrapped in a fluffy bun "taco shell" and doused with duck sauce is way better.

13. You get nervous when the whole fish arrives...

Because someone is going to eat the eye.

14. If you're a vegetarian, this bean curd roll is your best friend.

You gobble these up like your life depended on it. After all -- aside from rice -- there's not much else you can eat on the menu.

15. Someone always feels the need to order the sweet and sour pork...


And you then feel the need to roll your eyes (even though you'll definitely take a bite).

16. Bok choy is always an acceptable replacement for any green vegetable.

Have fun with your Brussels sprouts and kale, we'll take this delicious cabbage over those any day. Check out the recipe for this "Garlic Ginger Bok Choy" from Elana's Pantry.

17. Orange slices make the best palate cleanser.

There's nothing more refreshing than a few fresh slices after a big dinner.

18. If someone in your family just gave birth, she may have been told to eat pig's feet soup.

The Chinese believe pig's feet soup warms the body from the inside out and that the iron and calcium from the pig's feet mixed with the vinegar helps to purify a new mother's blood.

19. White rice serves as the main starch for most of your meals.

This is eaten instead of pasta, bread or any other carb. Always.

20. Oyster sauce can be used on anything.

You definitely know the simple pleasure of eating white rice and oyster sauce.

21. Your grandmother knows how to make the best jook.

No food ever goes to waste. In fact, your grandma used the Thanksgiving turkey to make the most delicious congee or jook (rice porridge).

22. If it's September, you're eating mooncakes.

These cakes are traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. They are stuffed with fillings that include five kernels: lotus seed paste, sweet bean paste, jujube paste and egg yolk. They are imprinted with the Chinese symbols for "longevity" and "harmony."

23. When someone thinks Chinese food is the same thing as takeout, you just shake your head.


They have a lot of learning to do. General Tso's chicken and beef and broccoli are NOT real Chinese dishes, thank you very much.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that the mooncakes shown here are made with red bean; they were made with lotus seed. The treat can be made with a variety of ingredients.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Turkey Pho

Asian-Style Soup Recipes