The Chinese menu format -- "one from column A, one from column B" -- has evolved into fixed-price meals and more a la carte options, but most menus still offer the old favorites. Dishes are arranged by course, and sometimes also grouped by regional cuisine, hot and spicy, vegetarian or rice and noodle dishes. Buffet menus may also be available.
Soup and Appetizers
Perennial favorites include egg drop, wonton and hot and sour soups, egg rolls, Chinese barbecued ribs and pan fried dumplings.
Entrees are usually listed by type of protein, including fish (typically shrimp), meat (beef and pork), poultry (chicken and duck) and vegetarian. Egg foo yung might be included here or in a separate section.
A menu might offer several cuisines, such as Szechuan, Cantonese, Peking, Mongolian or Mandarin. Menus often describe the distinguishing characteristics of each: Szechuan dishes are hot and spicy, for example.
Rice and Noodles
Stir fried rice often has its own section, although most entrees are served with white rice. Dishes served with noodles -- lo mein (soft), chow mein (crispy or pan fried) -- may also be listed separately.
Beverages and Desserts
Chinese menus often don't include desserts. Instead, guests are served a fortune cookie or almond cookie at the end of the meal. Beverages are usually limited to soda, alcoholic drinks and tea, which is often included with the meal.
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