Chinese students’ true love in Athens
By: Yumin Zhang
In Athens, there are many Chinese Restaurants including Dynasty, Peking Express, China King, China Fortune Restaurant, China Panda, Ginger, Grand China Buffet, Lam’s Garden and Fusion Noodle Company. It seems like Chinese students should be never afraid that they cannot eat transitional Chinese food in Athens. For them, however, it is not exactly.
I have been to all Chinese restaurants in Athens and have eaten most of their dishes except Lam’s Garden. The reason is after I tried most Chinese dishes of these restaurants, I found most of them are not real Chinese dishes, and my friends told me if I want to try “sweet Chinese food” that I should go to Lam’s Garden. The fact is Chinese traditional dishes will never let you feel sweet! Unless they are snacks. There is only salt Tomato Scrambled Eggs in China.
All of my friends and I are foodies, we know further on different Chinese cuisines such as the real flavor of Cantonese cuisine, and the different spicy flavor between Sichuan cuisine and Xiang cuisine.
We make some interesting comments about these restaurants. China King almost makes all spicy fried dishes in the same taste. The best food we have eaten in Grand China Buffet is Sweet Chicken. Is it a Japanese dish? As for China Panda, my friends highly recommend me to be its chef. Zhixin Zheng, from China, a senior student of OU, said, “ I almost don’t go to Panda, it’s ‘mixed vision’. Mixed Chinese dishes and American food, it’s not my cup of tea.” China Fortune is a dark horse since it has kept a new chef. It is a good choice if you are tired with Dynasty and Peking Express.
We found most Chinese restaurants in town cannot make traditional Chinese food because of the wrong materials. For example, the American hot pepper has huge different from the Chinese native hot pepper so we cannot make real Sichuan cuisine or Xiang cuisine without the Chinese native hot pepper.
Many non-Chinese people in Athens believe the Dynasty is the best Chinese restaurant. But in Chinese students’ eyes, it is not really. Chinese students of Ohio University, prefer to go to Peking Express, the authentic Chinese restaurant in Athens which has much Chinese native spice and two Chinese chefs with abundant experience. Xin Su, a senior student of OU from China, said, “Peking Express is the best (Chinese restaurant) in Athens, although we usually have the birthday party in Dynasty. The decoration of Dynasty is the best, but the taste may be not.”
Non-Chinese people tend to try the buffets of Peking Express. However, the buffets usually make people depressed and labeled food here with “terrible”. It is really worth to try the food on Peking Express’s menu. Only these à la carte dishes can show the real Chinese dishes thoroughly. People can explore real Chinese food culture by these veritable Chinese dishes. People should know more about why Chinese students like this restaurant.
Many Chinese students from South China think Dynasty has a milder taste of dishes compared with Peking Express, they think these dishes with mild taste are non-characteristic. For these students, Peking Express has the most native Chinese hot pepper which can make them find Chinese flavors. The owner brings these hot pepper from his hometown—Hunan, China. Hunan cuisine (also called Xiang cuisine) is well-known for being dry hot, and it is difficult to be made without the Chinese native hot pepper. The owner, Chao Yu, from Hunan, China, said, “We know what is the real Hunan cuisine, so we know kind of hot pepper we really need.”
One of the chefs of Peking Express comes from Northeast China. He is good at making Northeastern Chinese cuisine, which is hot pepper free. Northeastern Chinese cuisine usually requires using Northeast Suancai, a kind of pickled Chinese cabbage. This chef is a veteran on making Suancai. His cooking attracts many Chinese students from North China.
It is helpful to check how Chinese students order and eat in Peking Express when people explore deserving eating dishes in Peking Express.