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 Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls?

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Hepcat

  • Total Posts: 374
  • Joined: 10/6/2003
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario
Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Wed, 02/6/13 5:00 PM (permalink)
I recently learned that neither chop suey nor sweet & sour chicken balls are often found in Chinese restaurants in the States. This surprised me since both of these dishes are very popular staples in Chinese restaurants here in Canada. In fact, I've always considered chop suey to be the quintessential Chinese dish.
 
 
 
Are chop suey and sweet & sour chicken balls commonly found on the menus of Chinese restaurants in your area? 
  
 
 
 
 
 
<message edited by Hepcat on Wed, 02/6/13 8:08 PM>
 
#1
    Poverty Pete

    • Total Posts: 2266
    • Joined: 8/16/2003
    • Location: Nashville, TN
    Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Wed, 02/6/13 5:07 PM (permalink)
    The only place I see chop suey is St. Louis.  I don't know that I have ever seen sweet and sour chicken balls.
     
    #2
      EdSails

      • Total Posts: 3588
      • Joined: 5/9/2003
      • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
      Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Wed, 02/6/13 5:22 PM (permalink)
      Not very often any more here in California. Chop suey was created in the US and is not even found in China. You can still find it in some old style places that make Chinese-American food, but for the most part we have a much more authentic range of places, partially due to the large amount of Chinese people in certain areas of California. We do have sweet and sour chicken, but it is made from chunks of chicken and not shaped into balls. Again, it is a dish oriented towards the non-Chinese diners. 
       
      #3
        CCinNJ

        • Total Posts: 7762
        • Joined: 7/24/2008
        • Location: Bayonne, NJ
        Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Wed, 02/6/13 5:37 PM (permalink)
        Wing HIng does have Chop Suey!

        http://www.winghingaberdeen.com/menu.html


        I'll have to be on alert for sweet & sour chicken "balls". The menus here are very extensive. I've seen lobster balls that are not sweet & sour.
         
        #4
          mar52

          • Total Posts: 7608
          • Joined: 4/17/2005
          • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
          Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Wed, 02/6/13 10:32 PM (permalink)
          We used to call that New York Chinese food.
           
          Bring back Pressed Duck!
           
          #5
            bartl

            • Total Posts: 1209
            • Joined: 7/6/2004
            • Location: New Milford, NJ
            Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Wed, 02/6/13 10:47 PM (permalink)
            EdSails
            Chop suey was created in the US and is not even found in China.

            Well, when I was living in the Netherlands, Indonesian restaurants had a dish called "Tjap Tjoi", which was very similar.
             
            Bart
             
            #6
              CCinNJ

              • Total Posts: 7762
              • Joined: 7/24/2008
              • Location: Bayonne, NJ
              Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Wed, 02/6/13 11:41 PM (permalink)
              We still call it NY Chinese!

              Pre$$ed Duck is sometimes found in NY French these days.
               
              #7
                billyboy

                • Total Posts: 2363
                • Joined: 1/23/2005
                • Location: New York City, NY
                Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Wed, 02/6/13 11:42 PM (permalink)
                Chop suey turns up on some menus in various parts of NYC and on a number of them in Manhattan's Chinatown. 
                If you ever travel to New England, there is a completely different version known as "American Chop Suey" (aka "goulash") that appear on the menus of many diners: and was something that I ate in the school cafeteria when I was a kid.
                A restaurant in Maine featuring it on the menu:  http://www.roadfood.com/R...w/340/cole-farms 
                And of of my New England favorites, the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH, also has it on their menu:  http://www.redarrowdiner.com/MainMenu.pdf
                 
                #8
                  EdSails

                  • Total Posts: 3588
                  • Joined: 5/9/2003
                  • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                  Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Thu, 02/7/13 4:00 AM (permalink)
                  Marlene,
                  Through extensive research, I have found two places that make pressed duck. The best one is Fu Wing Low in Fountain Valley. It's not on the menu but they will make it if you ask. Join me there for a plate sometime!
                   
                  mar52


                  We used to call that New York Chinese food.

                  Bring back Pressed Duck!


                   
                  #9
                    HDtravlr1

                    Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Thu, 02/7/13 8:30 AM (permalink)
                    My family and I loved the chicken balls in Ottawa when we would visit years ago. I have never seen chicken balls like that except in Canada. Ate some rooster balls in Nashville. But that is another story!
                     
                    #10
                      chefbuba

                      • Total Posts: 1955
                      • Joined: 6/22/2009
                      • Location: Near You, WA
                      Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Thu, 02/7/13 4:50 PM (permalink)
                      I had chop suey at my local Chinese a couple of weeks ago, very similar to your photo.
                       
                      #11
                        Phildelmar

                        • Total Posts: 792
                        • Joined: 3/19/2006
                        • Location: Newark, DE
                        Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Thu, 02/7/13 7:05 PM (permalink)
                        I usually see it on the menus of the sort of place I don't frequent anymore. You know, the place near the workplace that represents 20 minutes for lunch and few options. When I worked in Wilmington, my then13 year old son and I used to refer the local such establishment as the Wok of Death
                         
                        #12
                          DawnT

                          • Total Posts: 1286
                          • Joined: 11/29/2005
                          • Location: South FL
                          Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 3:29 AM (permalink)
                          Chop Suey is on the menu of most of the Chinese restaurants down here in Miami. However, the lineage of Chinese is different down here as most are several generations removed from China and were naturalized citizens of Latin American countries. Cuba for example has a population that's over 100 years old and post Castrto/Revolution expats represents most of Miami's Chinese restaurants.
                          Chop Suey use to mean some sort of gravy slush served over deep fried noodles that for decades used to be served in cafeterias and restaurants in the states during the 50's and 60's that bore no relation to what's stir fried and sold in Chinese restaurants under the same name. Our local restaurant differentiates Chop Suey and Chow Mein by the difference of snow pea pods and tomatoes from what I could tell when my dad ordered it.
                           
                           
                          #13
                            HDtravlr1

                            Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 7:36 AM (permalink)
                            My favorite chicken balls were pineapple chicken balls. 
                             
                            #14
                              bartl

                              • Total Posts: 1209
                              • Joined: 7/6/2004
                              • Location: New Milford, NJ
                              Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 8:57 AM (permalink)
                              Are the best chicken balls from capons?
                               
                              (apologies, I just had to say it....)
                               
                              Bart
                               
                              #15
                                SeamusD

                                • Total Posts: 942
                                • Joined: 4/1/2008
                                • Location: Syracuse, NY
                                Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 9:25 AM (permalink)
                                I haven't seen chop suey on any menus around here, but judging from the picture, it's about the same thing I make when I do stir fry at home. Vegetables, chicken or beef, and either some hoisin and soy, or teriyaki, over either lo mein style noodles, or bean threads.
                                 
                                #16
                                  kevincad

                                  • Total Posts: 399
                                  • Joined: 1/23/2008
                                  • Location: Snellville, GA
                                  Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 9:47 AM (permalink)
                                  EdSails


                                  Not very often any more here in California. Chop suey was created in the US and is not even found in China. You can still find it in some old style places that make Chinese-American food, but for the most part we have a much more authentic range of places, partially due to the large amount of Chinese people in certain areas of California. We do have sweet and sour chicken, but it is made from chunks of chicken and not shaped into balls. Again, it is a dish oriented towards the non-Chinese diners. 

                                  Many, many "chinese dishes" that appear in the U.S. aren't available in China! General Tsao's Chicken, the egg rolls that appear here, and yes, even sweet and sour chicken!! Oh, and fortune cookies. They are Japanese!!
                                   
                                  #17
                                    Hepcat

                                    • Total Posts: 374
                                    • Joined: 10/6/2003
                                    • Location: Toronto, Ontario
                                    Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 2:20 PM (permalink)
                                    DawnT
                                    Our local restaurant differentiates Chop Suey and Chow Mein by the difference of snow pea pods and tomatoes from what I could tell when my dad ordered it.

                                     
                                    Adding dried noodles to chop suey in Canadian "Chinese" restaurants creates chow mein. Here's a picture of these noodles:
                                     

                                     
                                    Let me quote from the menu of Ho-Lee-Chow, the big takeout and delivery Chinese food chain in Toronto:
                                     
                                    Ho-Lee-Chow
                                    Chop Suey and Chow Mein are both made with bean sprouts, but Chow Mein comes with dried noodles on top. Ho-Lee-Chow includes the dried noodles on the side, so you decide. To sprinkle on top - or not. Made with the freshest sweet peppers, onions, celery, mushrooms, water chestnuts and gently stir-fried.

                                     
                                     
                                    The absence or presence of dried noodles (and the twenty cents extra for chow mein in most places) is the only difference between the two dishes in Canada.
                                     

                                    <message edited by Hepcat on Thu, 02/14/13 1:54 PM>
                                     
                                    #18
                                      Hepcat

                                      • Total Posts: 374
                                      • Joined: 10/6/2003
                                      • Location: Toronto, Ontario
                                      Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 2:26 PM (permalink)
                                      kevincad
                                      Many, many "chinese dishes" that appear in the U.S. aren't available in China! General Tsao's Chicken, the egg rolls that appear here, and yes, even sweet and sour chicken!!

                                       
                                      American and Canadian "Chinese" food is nothing like any served in any region of China. It's a cuisine created by Chinese immigrants here in North American to serve to the white devils that made up the majority of the population here. But evidently it developed slightly differently in Canada than it did in the United States.
                                       

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      #19
                                        HDtravlr1

                                        Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 2:39 PM (permalink)
                                        Hepcat- You Canadians got the balls. USA got the chicken chunks 
                                         
                                        #20
                                          EdSails

                                          • Total Posts: 3588
                                          • Joined: 5/9/2003
                                          • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                                          Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 4:02 PM (permalink)
                                          Right you are! Growing up, my family always loved Chinese food and we would go out a lot for it. Chop suey, almond pressed duck, sweet and sour dishes were our favorites. When I got old enough to drive down to Chinatown and go to places like Mon Kee, I was surprised how many dishes I knew were not on the menu. As things developed here, the regional places pretty much eliminated the mom and pop Chinese-American places. In a bid for nostalgia, last year I went on a search for the pressed duck. Finally, I found on Yelp comments about a place that did not have it on the menu but made it upon request. I have been a few times now and it is great. However, I still go to my favorite places, the latest being a Taiwanese noodle shop. I also have a great place for Hong Kong style dim sum, with carts that go round the dining room. The Chinese for years were very adept in catering to the non-Asians, coming up with dishes they could call "Chinese" but, like General Tso's chicken and egg foo young, basically pandering to American tastes. You have to hand it to them------they were great at creating dishes in the US, passing them off as "Chinese", and making them something that most Americans thought was authentic. This thread is proof of that----a lot of us might not have had those dishes for a while, but I bet everyone thinks fondly of them when they are mentioned.
                                          kevincad


                                          EdSails


                                          Not very often any more here in California. Chop suey was created in the US and is not even found in China. You can still find it in some old style places that make Chinese-American food, but for the most part we have a much more authentic range of places, partially due to the large amount of Chinese people in certain areas of California. We do have sweet and sour chicken, but it is made from chunks of chicken and not shaped into balls. Again, it is a dish oriented towards the non-Chinese diners. 

                                          Many, many "chinese dishes" that appear in the U.S. aren't available in China! General Tsao's Chicken, the egg rolls that appear here, and yes, even sweet and sour chicken!! Oh, and fortune cookies. They are Japanese!!

                                          PS-------if you have a chance, everyone should look up the history of the fortune cookie. It's a really interesting story and a tribute to some enterprising immigrants.
                                          <message edited by EdSails on Fri, 02/8/13 4:04 PM>
                                           
                                          #21
                                            Jennifer_4

                                            • Total Posts: 1508
                                            • Joined: 9/19/2000
                                            • Location: Fresno, CA
                                            Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 9:21 PM (permalink)
                                            EdSails


                                            Not very often any more here in California. Chop suey was created in the US and is not even found in China. You can still find it in some old style places that make Chinese-American food, but for the most part we have a much more authentic range of places, partially due to the large amount of Chinese people in certain areas of California. We do have sweet and sour chicken, but it is made from chunks of chicken and not shaped into balls. Again, it is a dish oriented towards the non-Chinese diners. 

                                            Actually, here in the San Joaquin Valley of California, particularly Fresno, you can't find a Chinese place that DOESN"T have chop suey.. and I've seen sweet and sour or orange chicken that looks alot like those "chicken balls".. personally I'm not a fan, but luckily most of the old school restaurants  also offer a "traditional" menu of the items that the Chinese people enjoy in their own homes.
                                             
                                            #22
                                              Phildelmar

                                              • Total Posts: 792
                                              • Joined: 3/19/2006
                                              • Location: Newark, DE
                                              Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 9:40 PM (permalink)
                                              I was introduced to American chop suey in the cafeteria of Fels Junior High in Philadelphia in the early 60s. It was pretty awful, as I recall.
                                               
                                              #23
                                                Hepcat

                                                • Total Posts: 374
                                                • Joined: 10/6/2003
                                                • Location: Toronto, Ontario
                                                Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Fri, 02/8/13 11:25 PM (permalink)
                                                HDtravlr1


                                                My favorite chicken balls were pineapple chicken balls. 

                                                Oh those are truly excellent!
                                                 

                                                 
                                                In Canadian "Chinese" restaurants they're usually listed one line below sweet and sour chicken balls, but priced at a $1 or $2 premium.
                                                 

                                                 
                                                #24
                                                  EdSails

                                                  • Total Posts: 3588
                                                  • Joined: 5/9/2003
                                                  • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                                                  Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Sat, 02/9/13 12:37 AM (permalink)
                                                  Wow, I stand corrected. I know it's a lot different in the San Joaquin Valley. Any place that has almond pressed duck that you can think of next time I take the 99 to Bass Lake?
                                                  Jennifer_4


                                                  EdSails


                                                  Not very often any more here in California. Chop suey was created in the US and is not even found in China. You can still find it in some old style places that make Chinese-American food, but for the most part we have a much more authentic range of places, partially due to the large amount of Chinese people in certain areas of California. We do have sweet and sour chicken, but it is made from chunks of chicken and not shaped into balls. Again, it is a dish oriented towards the non-Chinese diners. 

                                                  Actually, here in the San Joaquin Valley of California, particularly Fresno, you can't find a Chinese place that DOESN"T have chop suey.. and I've seen sweet and sour or orange chicken that looks alot like those "chicken balls".. personally I'm not a fan, but luckily most of the old school restaurants  also offer a "traditional" menu of the items that the Chinese people enjoy in their own homes.

                                                   
                                                  PS, Jennifer:
                                                  It's been a long time, but didn't we meet around 2002 or so at a Greek or Armenian place with our SO's in Fresno?
                                                  <message edited by EdSails on Sat, 02/9/13 12:40 AM>
                                                   
                                                  #25
                                                    bartl

                                                    • Total Posts: 1209
                                                    • Joined: 7/6/2004
                                                    • Location: New Milford, NJ
                                                    Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Mon, 02/11/13 11:50 AM (permalink)
                                                    Highly recommended (although it is also recommended that you try to get this book from a local bookstore or your public library):
                                                    http://www.amazon.com/For...eywords=fortune+cookie
                                                     
                                                    #26
                                                      Treetop Tom

                                                      • Total Posts: 322
                                                      • Joined: 7/20/2005
                                                      • Location: Baltimore, MD
                                                      Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Tue, 02/12/13 10:16 AM (permalink)
                                                      Getting harder to find these days, but the chop suey/chow  mein sandwich wrapped in wax paper on a soggy hamburger roll was a mainstay in the chop suey houses of eastern Massachusetts back in the day.  Messy, but delicious.
                                                       
                                                      #27
                                                        Treetop Tom

                                                        • Total Posts: 322
                                                        • Joined: 7/20/2005
                                                        • Location: Baltimore, MD
                                                        Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Tue, 02/12/13 10:21 AM (permalink)
                                                        Poverty Pete


                                                        The only place I see chop suey is St. Louis. 


                                                        Oh, I was eatin' some Chop Suey
                                                        With a lady in St. Looie,
                                                        When I sudden hears a knockin' at the door!
                                                        And that knocker, he said "Honey,
                                                        Roll this Rocker out some money
                                                        Or your Daddy shoots a baddie to the floor!"
                                                        - Churchy LaFemme
                                                         
                                                        I miss Pogo.
                                                         
                                                        #28
                                                          Tony Bad

                                                          Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Tue, 02/12/13 11:22 AM (permalink)
                                                          Treetop Tom


                                                          Getting harder to find these days, but the chop suey/chow  mein sandwich wrapped in wax paper on a soggy hamburger roll was a mainstay in the chop suey houses of eastern Massachusetts back in the day.  Messy, but delicious.

                                                           
                                                          Haven't checked in a couple of years, but they had a chow mein sandwich on menu at Nathan's in Coney Island for as long as I can remember. Had it once. Regretted it many times later that day and the next.
                                                           
                                                          #29
                                                            Michael Hoffman

                                                            • Total Posts: 17848
                                                            • Joined: 7/1/2000
                                                            • Location: Gahanna, OH
                                                            Re:Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls? Tue, 02/12/13 12:07 PM (permalink)
                                                            I used to love the chow mein sandwiches at Charle's Lunch on Church Street in New Haven. The place was known as Nickel Charlies to most regulars, and the chow mein sandwich was served on a hamburger bun with crispy noodles topped with the gooey chow mein.
                                                             
                                                            #30
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