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For whatever reason, I have the occasional desire for General Tso's Chicken, kind of like an occasional desire for a greasy hamburger or a good old fashioned meatloaf.

I tried to do a little research and found out that there really was a 19th century Chinese general from Hunan named TSO T'sung-t'ang (1812-1885), but this Web site connects him with chicken in no way, and suggests that the chicken dish was invented in New York by Chef Peng in the 1970s....

http://www.echonyc.com/~erich/tso.htm

I would like to throw this out to the throngs of experts who frequent this site to see if any of you have any alternative thoughts to offer. It doesn't appear to be genuinely Chinese cuisine, but even at genuine Chinese restaurants they offer it on the list of "specials" that Americans gravitate toward....at a local Chinese restaurant that is so awful I never eat there anymore, they offer "Mrs. Tso's Chicken" which is chunks of white meat sauteed in a brown sauce. Yawn....!

Anyone know of any particularly excellent renditions out there?

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For whatever reason, I have the occasional desire for General Tso's Chicken, kind of like an occasional desire for a greasy hamburger or a good old fashioned meatloaf.

I tried to do a little research and found out that there really was a 19th century Chinese general from Hunan named TSO T'sung-t'ang (1812-1885), but this Web site connects him with chicken in no way, and suggests that the chicken dish was invented in New York by Chef Peng in the 1970s....

http://www.echonyc.com/~erich/tso.htm

I would like to throw this out to the throngs of experts who frequent this site to see if any of you have any alternative thoughts to offer. It doesn't appear to be genuinely Chinese cuisine, but even at genuine Chinese restaurants they offer it on the list of "specials" that Americans gravitate toward....at a local Chinese restaurant that is so awful I never eat there anymore, they offer "Mrs. Tso's Chicken" which is chunks of white meat sauteed in a brown sauce. Yawn....!

Anyone know of any particularly excellent renditions out there?

There's a fairly long discussion of this subject in The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.

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http://www.salon.com/food/francis_lam/2010/01/05/history_of_general_tsos_chicken/index.html?source=newsletter

This one is pretty good, from Salon Magazine.

And Fortune Cookie Chronicles grabs a collage of different General Tso's dishes from Maxim:

http://www.fortunecookiechronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/maximgeneraltso.jpg

So where have you had the best General Tso's Chicken in the DC Metropolitan Area?

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http://www.salon.com/food/francis_lam/2010/01/05/history_of_general_tsos_chicken/index.html?source=newsletter

This one is pretty good, from Salon Magazine.

And Fortune Cookie Chronicles grabs a collage of different General Tso's dishes from Maxim:

http://www.fortunecookiechronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/maximgeneraltso.jpg

So where have you had the best General Tso's Chicken in the DC Metropolitan Area?

In the NoVa area, give House of Dynasty a try. They do dine-in and take-out. No delivery.

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In the NoVa area, give House of Dynasty a try. They do dine-in and take-out. No delivery.

I have had it there, and it was good. Among the best, actually. Ho's Dynasty in Burke gets another thumbs up.

[Oddly, I don't recommend the Chinese-American places on a Sunday afternoon after the brunch rush. The food appears to be warmed over from lunch, and only barely so. I have had this experience at too many Chinese-American restaurants to single one out.]

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I have had it there, and it was good. Among the best, actually. Ho's Dynasty in Burke gets another thumbs up.

[Oddly, I don't recommend the Chinese-American places on a Sunday afternoon after the brunch rush. The food appears to be warmed over from lunch, and only barely so. I have had this experience at too many Chinese-American restaurants to single one out.]

Oh fantastic! I adore House of Dynasty, but I'm a Chinese-American food lover and get a little afraid to post because I don't do tongues or feet (feel free to post me into the Food Likes etc thread!).

My test of a Chinese resto is Hot and Sour soup. My gawd, elixir of the gawds. Oh, and they do it....

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In Fuchsia Dunlop's Hunan cookbook, "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook" (W.W. Norton: 2006), the author devotes a special section to the origins of this dish, and I think you're unlikely to find anything more authoritative in view of the author's background as a Cambridge sinologist and pioneering explorer of Chinese cuisine. I think her remarks are those that informed the "Taiwan Claim" and "New York Claim" sections of the Wikipedia article mentioned above. She also has two recipes for the dish, one a Taiwan version, the other Hunanese, both of which are excellent.

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Okay, so I'm Chinese...love REAL Chinese food as my favorite cuisine...(best shared with my family).

But...

I grew up on the Americanese (what I call it) stuff since my parents worked in Chinese take-out restaurants ever since they moved here (and moved the kids here), and I basically could have whatever was on the menu for dinner every night until they finally got jobs working for other people. Even though nothing will beat my dad's cooking, I still crave Americanese food like crazy sometimes because it's just got all the "so bad for you it's good" elements in it.

General Tso's is the dish I always get a biggest craving for, and I must try it at any new Americanese place I order from.

Heck, my parents were visiting me a couple months ago and I brought them to Full Kee (they only eat REAL Chinese food) and while they ordered off the real menu, I couldn't help but satisfy my need for General Tso's because I honed in on the lunch specials and it was branded into my brain that I must have it.

You know what? Because it was so hot (temperature-wise) and freshly-made, the version at Full Kee was pretty damn tasty. Maybe a couple of notches below my dad's (biased, I know :)).

The version at Chinatown Express was way too sweet and sticky for me, but it would definitely do in a pinch (and the price is right).

Yeah, definitely recommend reading THE FORTUNE COOKIE CHRONICLES by Jennifer 8. Lee. Went to her lecture at the American History Museum a couple months ago and got her autograph in my book. It was a bit repetitive, but a lot of the people at the lecture had never read the book, so it was still interesting, and she had a lot to add to what was in the book as well.

Edited a bit because I realized I start way too many sentences with the word "and"!!

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<snip> but I'm a Chinese-American food lover and get a little afraid to post because I don't do tongues or feet

Heck, I'm Chinese and I don't do feet (at least Chicken feet -- too lazy -- didn't want to keep spiting out little bones). Not a tongue person, except for duck tongue, but give me a good marinated pork ear any day, though. Also not a tripe person. You like what you like.

I am in the same camp -- hot and sour soup is one of my tests. This dish is also another.

Dish is definitely not known in China, but General Tso is very famous, especially for his war tactics, as the links point out. Revered actually, with a temper, so I wonder if it's a pun of some sort. A bit of spicy, a bit of sour and a hint of sweet.

Okay, so I'm Chinese...love REAL Chinese food as my favorite cuisine...(best shared with my family).

Really hard to find REAL Chinese food in this area. There are too many regions for any one place to be real-ly represented. Genuinely for that matter. Complete disagreement because the ingredients offered here are just too different to make it taste the same.

But, in a similar vein, having grown up in Chinese-American restaurants, this is one of my crave dishes, as well as Sesame Chicken. Except it's a complete fail if the restaurant makes it with white meat.

Because I'm so darn picky about this, I haven't found a Chinese restaurant that I like really. Must try the two mentioned-above, I guess.

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Really hard to find REAL Chinese food in this area. There are too many regions for any one place to be real-ly represented. Genuinely for that matter. Complete disagreement because the ingredients offered here are just too different to make it taste the same.

I don't get what we're supposed to be in disagreement about, but okay.

I was just saying American Chinese and what people actually eat in China (whatever region) are two different things, that's all?

::confused::

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Dish is definitely not known in China, but General Tso is very famous, especially for his war tactics, as the links point out. Revered actually, with a temper, so I wonder if it's a pun of some sort. A bit of spicy, a bit of sour and a hint of sweet.

there's a very funny passage in the Fortune Cookie Chronicles where the author goes to General Tso's home province and looks for the dish. everyone is so excited when they hear what she's looking for--they think that the general is revered here as he is there, that he's a hero even in america. If i remember correctly, she kindly did not burst their bubble. i think she also showed them a picture of the dish and they didn't even recognize it as chicken because of the breading. Not that i'm dissing Americanese (great word!) food at all--i often have a fierce craving for lo mein, and indian chinese food may be my favorite cuisine...

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But, in a similar vein, having grown up in Chinese-American restaurants, this is one of my crave dishes, as well as Sesame Chicken. Except it's a complete fail if the restaurant makes it with white meat.

For the first time ever, I went to my usual work lunch Chinese spot and ordered something other than the kung pao chicken - thanks to this thread, I got the General Tso's Chicken (plus the usual hot and sour soup, the only place in the area that I've found that makes hot and sour soup that I like).

I think it was all dark meat and the breading was minimal if existent. It was good but...

...not quite what I wanted. I'd gone imagining big fluffy white balls of meat.

oh dear god that sounds wrong

I just realized that I like my General Tso's to be nice round pieces of white meat covered in enough batter to be noticed, but not too much - is that so wrong? :)

Almost the more generic, the better.

This is an investigation I could like a lot! Of course, for checking out area variations, I'll probably have to get back on it in about two weeks.

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Here's why I love this site....because I love this thread.

I'm not Chinese, but I love tongues and feet. And I love genuine, spicy Chinese food that doesn't usually land on the English menu.

But I'm with monavano and a few others....I really love Americanized Chinese too. Like the red spare ribs! Pork fried rice! Floppy egg rolls! Yum. Like Anthony Bourdain, I like how the Chinese American food gets shinier as it moves west. Like Kramer in the episode where they all order Chinese food, I want "extra MSG" on my snow peas.

Yes, I'm a sucker for China Star and Joe's Noodle House and even Mark's Duck House. But a feast of big floppy egg rolls, egg drop soup (so thick your spoon can stand up in it), red spare ribs, pork fried rice and The General's Chicken (not that sorry old Colonel from Kentucky) will likely be my death row meal....along with Kibbee Nayee....

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I do want to point out that fried rice, fried lo mein, and egg rolls aren't really Chinese-American dishes, per se. It is, to borrow yfunk3's term, real Chinese food.

Except that it's not as pretty as banquet food. In other words, fried rice and lo mein is generally cooked at home as a way to consume leftovers and not waste food. The most popular style of fried rice is Yangzhou fried rice. My favorite is golden fried rice - I can't make it very well, but it's so yummy. Do a google search.

As for egg rolls, well, I sometimes make it with leftover stuff, some people say it's an off-shoot of won tons, while others say it's a Cantonese way of celebrating the new year, but really with spring rolls, where the difference between the two is in the wrapper (one has egg, the other doesn't - same as in Cantonese vs. Northern style wonton wrappers). But you can find mentions of egg rolls/spring rolls in early Chinese history.

Sigh - and now I am craving all of the above & General Tso's. Sounds like a $20 tuesday adventure somewhere. Kibbee - you want to set something up? Chinese- American night?

ETA: Thick egg drop soup reminds me more of chawamushi, but there's a Chinese version of that too.

Edited by goodeats
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The old thread made me want to chime in. I am not generally a fan of Americanized Chinese food (it's fine and can be tasty, I just prefer closer to real Chinese food. That said, my wife's sister's family joined us for a dinner at Grace Garden once (since then quite a few more times) and my brother-in-law(-in-law?) commented that the General Tso's chicken he got was indeed the best representation of the dish he has ever experienced - by a wide, wide margin.

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Back when Szechuan Jin was really turning out fabulous food full of flavor, one of the best dishes on the specials board was "The Real Kung Pao Chicken."  Barely any sauce, tons of sliced red peppers, pungent with ginger & scallions, it was a superb dish.  At the same restaurant, ordering the Kung Pao Chicken off the menu, and forgetting to say that  I wanted to real one off the specials board resulted in a plate as forgettable as any semi decent strip mall chinese would turn out.  A few days later, a return visit, I pointed to the special board and got the treat once again!

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14 hours ago, TheMatt said:

As we have all heard by now, the inventor of General Tso's chicken, Peng Chang Keui, died a couple days ago. So, that got me wondering: what is the best General Tso's in DC? Fair warning, I've never actually had General Tso's, authentic or not, but I'm thinking it's time to have some in his honor.

ETA: This was my post number 666!

In 2010 (above in this thread) I nominated House of Dynasty on Telegraph Rd in Alexandria, and Ho's Dynasty in Burke. Darren Ho has since moved over to Asian Grill in West Springfield, and their version is pretty darned good.

You might get quite a list from this community....!

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