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Working up...I think

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm getting my own little area to run. The chinese food place in our caf is being bought out and we're keeping the whole concept. There will be very few changes made but basically the menu will be the same.

Heres what is normally served:
Burbon Chicken
S&S Chicken
Beef Stir-fry
Tofu Vegetable Stir-fry
Deep fried Chicken balls, Wings, and Veg Spring Rolls.
Steamed rice, Fried rice, stir-fry noodles, stir-fry veg.

Some items may be changed based on what we can get our hands on and the price. There is 1 spot opened for something like a daily special or chef's choice sorta concept. I sometimes see Singapore noodles, Shanghai noodles, Pad Thai, some fish tempura. Now yes, I'm Chinese and thats most likely the major reason why the bosses chose me, that and I know how to do just about everything else already. But I didn't exactly train for this. They will be bringing in some people to train me on the woks and the original menu. But I've got only a few ideas for the specials.
Chicken in Schezcuan Peanut Sauce - made it once, sold great
Mapao Tofu - tofu stewed with minced meat (beef)
Cantonese Chow Mein - use leftovered burbon chicken, small salad shrimps, and sliced of beef with some asian veg.
Ban Lahm - deep fried cod fish and tofu with oyster sauce
Shanghai noodles and Pad Thai.
Don't be too quick to point out that theres no pork, the school is very anti-pork, it never sells unless its in the form of a pepperoni, bacon, or debrazzini...once they see the word pork, they all cringe so I intentionally avoided it. Just wondering what any others here might serve, your thoughts. It can't be too expensive though, each meal is around $5(can) and they are college students.

I'm totally stoked about doing this once September hits. Wish my grandparents were still around for advice though.
post #2 of 7

chinese Food

Why not do a little bit of General Tso chicken or pepper chicken? are you able to do do seafood style items? if so, shrimp chow mein is an easy one that would probably meet under your budget. there are tons of options and ideas you could come up with. Dont forget within the specials section you could always work with a spin of your own tastes. Take some food that you have a lot of and create something. just the .02 from me.

post #3 of 7
You're going to love commercial wok cooking. It's like running the egg line while on fire. And you're fighting ninjas. And the ninjas are on fire.

But seriously its a lot of fun.

Best way to practice is to with flipping dry rice in the wok. It's a lot like the sautee motion. Cooking is also different because the wok is much hotter in the center then in the sides. I prefer the round bottem woks with a pan handle. If you are really hard core, you can get one with only loop handles.

I am curious if you are doing made to order or steam table style stuff. Also if you have an exibition kitchen.

Remember, the major strength of American style chinese cooking is versitility and custamization. You should be able to turn the menu around on a dime. (This is good because it can allow you to sell off-menu items to regulars, which will increase participation).

I'll dig up my note book from the chinese restaurant. It's got some pretty good master sauce recipies. Check out both of Barbara Tropp's cookbooks they are written with a professional kitchen prospective here and here. Also get a copy of Bruce Cost's Asian Ingredients

As for some menu items off the top of my head:
-No soup?
-Chicken: You'll probally be using white meat right? See if you can order the scraps from when they cut portion control chicken breasts. Its good for a bargain menu, and most of the cutting is done.
-Tofu: Have you checked out the fried tofus? They have a nice meaty chew. You should also check out seitan, tempeh, and wheat gluten for the veg heads.
- Orange chicken/beef. There are two schools of thought. The orange peel school and the OJ concentrate school. Go with the orange peel. I prefer the preserved tangerine peel that you get from the chinese herbalist. I have also seen versions made with sections of fresh orange peel and all.
-California Spring Roll. Spring roll stuffed with surimi/crab and avocado. It sold well.
- Chicken Pahd Ped. Its a Thai dish. Chicken, GG&S, peanuts, lot of chile (usually cayenne powder, but you can sub), diced tomato, and oyster sauce. Finish with a generous amount of chopped mint. Served with rice.
Is this a made to order set up or is it steam table panda express type food? Bonus points for an open chicken.
- Chicken/Shrimp Forcemeat. If master this technique you can do a lot of things with minor variations. Paper-Wrapped Chicken (you can use foil), shrimp toast, angel wings (chicken wings stuffed with farce), dumplings et al, lumpia (skinny Phillapino spring rolls), and more.
- Brown rice- If it is in the budget see about getting a seperate cooker for brown rice. At the place I worked about 25 to 30% of steamed rice orders were for brown rice.
- Fried Rice: If you are doing fried rice for scratch, use day cooked rice that you have broken the clumps up with your hands. It cooks much easier then fresh hot rice. Don't limit your self to the brown-soy-sauce rice that passes for fried rice in most places.

There is a lot of ground to cover. More to come as I think about it.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Its exactly like a Panda Express. Everything is out for people to choose. I do however have 3 woks right behind the serving line so everyone will see me making everything.

The big bosses are calling up our suppliers for a full list of Asian food items we can get from them. I may end up buying a few items from Chinatown though, things I won't be able to get through our suppliers like the noodles for Pad Thai or stuff like that. I'm told we can get the soft tofu which is good because I hate that firm "guai lao" crap we're currently getting for our salads.

Their fried rice is basically just that, soy sauce with some frozen veg tossed in. I may do a different fried rice for the daily special like Yung Chow. I know to use day old rice, its 1 thing I do know about Chinese cooking.

Funny, when I went into this field, everyone would ask if I was going into Chinese cooking and I responded with a he11 no.
post #5 of 7
I am sitting in a Barnes & Noble while I am reading this line. I laughed out loud, while simultaneously spraying my computer screen and the table on which it rests with a mouthful of decaf. Great!!

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page


Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

post #6 of 7
Glad you liked it Jim!:cool: Sorry about the laptop...


It's funny the places we end up in the biz. When I started, I wanted to be the next Charlie Trotter. Now I'd be happy doing diner (from scratch, mind you) stuff...

Heh "guai lao." I've heard that word used like gringo.

Steam tables huh? Rice noodle dishes like Pad Thai or Rad Nah won't hold well. Stir frys with crispy meat are right out...

I want to tell you to fill the steamtable's with ice so you can keep your mise there so you can do stuff to order, but I don't think that would be practicle.

You might want to add some curries to the menu since they hold well and serve fast. Let me know if you need formula's.

Have you thought about cold noodle dishes? They can get really easy and they are better made ahead of time. We did one with wheat noodles, five-flavor oil, scallion, cilantro, bean sprouts, fresh veg, and cold slow-poach chicken. We also did one that was similar to don-don noodles with a peanut dressing.

Cream cheese won-tons sold very well. Very cheap too.

If you are selling lettuce based salads already, you could work lettuce cups into the rotation. Bulk it up with lots of fired rice stick or bean thread vermicelli and it gets surprisingly affordable.

How are the other vegetarian options at your school? If they suck, you could capture a big segment of the statements.

I hope your suppliers come through. The abundance of stuff here in Los Angeles has me spoiled. We've even got a HUGE cash and carry place dedicated to asian foods and supplies that has way better prices and variety then the main-line distributers.(Canton Food Co, its downtown near the wholesale produce market for any interested locals) Maybe they have something like that in Toronto.

I didn't mean anything about the rice thing. Honest!:talk: The place I worked at tended to use the fresh rice, and it created a bit of extra work.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Theres nothing worse then soggy Fried Rice...and I've had some.

The cold noodle idea sounds interesting, I may pass that on to our new salad bar station though, people expects hot food out of the my area.
I could do some curries, I'm looking for all my chinese cookbooks but I don't want to make any final plans until they've brought someone in to train me on whats already there and not before I get a list of everything I can get my hands on, the company is big so I can't deviate with suppliers. We use Summit for almost everything and Constantinos for our produce (I sooooo hate them, almost always late with bad produce once every 4 deliveries).

Yeah made to order won't work, it gets super busy with the previous crew there. I want to expand on the vegetarian options and take advantage of it in my area but again, hopefully I can get my hands on more asian vegetables.
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