I might know what's missing...
I had struggled with this too. And, in fact, it was also fried rice that I kept trying to perfect too! I feel your pain, truly.
Every recipe that I could find in books or on the internet was overly simplistic and didn't come close to the flavor that I found in restaurants. However, after much, MUCH research, I finally found the missing links in my cooking. It was the SEASONING! While so many of the generic recipes would merely say, "add some soy," the truth is, so much more goes into the final flavor.
So below, are a few tips that really helped mine along, and I hope you get the same good results, or at least get closer to what you want. From these seasoning tips, I got my rice AND my pan fried noodles to really taste like the restaurants' version, but it took a few attempts to get it just right. Yet, from the very first attempt at seasoning with the new ingredients, I could tell that I was well on my way to nailing the flavor I wanted.
First, take your bottle of Kikoman or Lee Kum Kee soy sauce and throw it in the garbage.
Second, go to a legit Asian grocery store and buy two different soy sauces...BLACK SOY and THIN SOY. You will not find these in an American grocery store. You may find something similar in American grocery stores, but I have never found them to be the correct flavor. While in the Asian grocery store, you may also find the soy listed as DARK SOY and LIGHT SOY. These should be fine, but be careful as some of the more Americanized soy makers use the terms "Light Soy" to signify less calories or less salt. Those are NOT what we are looking for. You want the black soy (which is really dark) and thin soy (which is almost an amber color).
Third, be sure to buy white pepper (sometimes called white powder at asian markets).
Fourth, be sure to buy some sesame oil.
Fifth, to round off the seasonings, you will need salt, pepper, AND sugar. Yes sugar! I know...I was surprised too!
As for making it, use a heavy gauge pan that holds its heat really well. Depending on how much rice I am making, I use either my cast iron pan, or my 12 quart cast iron crockpot/dutch oven. You really need to retain high heat throughout the process, and only my outdoor stove has powerful enough BTUs to really compensate for the thinness of a wok.
As for the rice, I have used rice that was refrigerated overnight, I have used rice that was straight from the fridge but brought to room temperature first, AND FRESH COOKED STEAMED RICE. They all work, and even in the restaurants, you will see the cooks scoop directly from the rice steamer. They all work, and they all make little difference in the final flavor. Your final TEXTURE may vary somewhat, but the taste will vary very little. But if you use fresh cooked rice, make sure it is cooked right...fluffy, distinct grains, etc....not sticky and clumpy.
From here, it really depends on what you like in your rice. Assuming you already have a good idea of what you want in your rice, the rest is pretty simple.
1) Fry up your beaten egg, remove from pan and set aside.
2) Since chicken fried rice is what you want, I suggest making the chicken a little in advance. Most home stoves cannot mimic the high temps produced by the flames of Chinese wok stoves. So to make sure everything gets cooked evenly and thoroughly, I say pan fry the chicken in small batches in advance and set it aside. For really moist chicken, velvet the chicken pieces (velvet=toss with some oil and corn starch before cooking.)
3) To hot oil, add a good amount of minced garlic (and some fresh minced ginger too if desired.) Stir briefly and do NOT let it start browning. You could also add chopped white onions at this point if desired. If after a few attempts, the garlic just browns too quickly for you, simply add it later….no problem.
4) Add your rice. Stir and break up the rice with your spoon or spatula.
5) Add your chicken and egg. Continue stirring for a few more moments.
6) Add your green onion. Continue stirring. And now its time to season your rice. You can stop stirring for a minute as you quickly add the following seasonings. Start stirring once you have added everything.
7) Around the perimeter of the pan add your black soy. This will give your rice a hearty soy flavor and a great color. With both soy sauces, do not pour directly over the rice. Doing so will require you to stir A LOT MORE than necessary…which is really hard with home pans. Rice will be flying all over the place. As best as possible, pour it around the edges of the pan.
8) Add your thin soy….this will give you a somewhat salty soy flavor, but helps balance the more potent black soy.
9) Add your sesame oil around the edges of the pan. Sesame oil is rather potent in most dishes. But here, it isn’t as overpowering. Depending on the amount of rice you are making, and with practice, you will determine how much flavor you want.
10) Add some sugar. Not too much, but it does help mellow the soy.
11) Add some white pepper.
12). Add some salt (and I like to add black pepper too)
13) Now, start stirring again to mix in the flavors AND to even out the color.
It really all depends on the flavor you are looking for. However, if you are like me, I really wanted to get the restaurant flavor. The black soy helped immensely. From there, it is mixing and matching until you get the flavor you want.
Here are some links to YouTube videos that sort of shows you how the restaurants do it. They helped me get an idea for the amounts of each item to use, but you'll figure out what proportions you like best. Good luck!!! YouTube - Crazy Hmong Fried Rice (Resturant style)
and YouTube - Ham Fried Rice
and YouTube - peter691107's Channel