People using chopsticks to eat food. Asian/Chinese Food concept
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
April 18, 2024 ·  4 min read

14 Items You Should Order Less Often At Chinese Restaurants

Chinese food has become a staple in the Western world. With its vast array of flavors and dishes, some options may not be as nutritious or authentic as others. In this guide, we’ll take a look at 14 items that you should approach with caution or avoid altogether when dining at a Chinese restaurant. From high-calorie favorites to an overbearing amount of sodium and unhealthy fats, these menu items may not be what you’re looking for once you know what’s happening beneath that delicious smell or taste.

General Tso’s Chicken

general tso’s chicken With rice ,Chinese food
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While General Tso’s chicken is a popular favorite in an American Chinese restaurant, its deep-fried preparation and sugary sauce make it a nutritional minefield. With an insane calorie count and sky-high sodium levels, this dish can derail even the most conscientious eater’s diet.1

Read More: 16 Worst Fast Food Chains to Avoid

Fried Rice

Chinese Asian Egg and Vegetable Fried Rice on a White Plate on the White Background.
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Despite its seemingly innocent appearance, fried rice often hides a calorie bomb beneath its delicious exterior. Loaded with oil and lacking in real nutritional value, this side dish should be carefully considered.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chinese Cuisine Sweet and Sour Pork
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A dish born from American-Chinese culinary fusion, sweet and sour pork may reward your taste buds, but it comes with a hefty dose of sugar and fat. Opting for stir-fried alternatives can provide a healthier alternative without compromising on flavor.

Crab Rangoon

chinese crab rangoon fried wontons on plate with red sauce
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A Chinese restaurant classic, these crispy and cream rangoons tempt diners with a blend of cream cheese and imitation crab meat. However, theiir deep-fried preparation and calorie-rich ingredients warrant caution.2

Barbecue Spare Ribs

Grilled pork ribs on a wooden cutting board on a brown background
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Succulent and savory, barbecue spare ribs offer a delight for all meat eaters. But they’re so high in fat and sodium content that they’re a less-than-ideal choice for health-conscious Chinese restaurant diners.

Szechuan Shrimp

Takeout Chinese kung pao chicken and shrimp with peanuts and side of pork fried rice
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Spicy and flavorful, Szechuan shrimp promises a great taste every time. However, its oil-laden sauce and excessive sodium levels may overshadow its culinary appeal if this isn’t a cheat meal.

Read More: 10 Superfoods to Add to Your Breakfast for More Energy

Milk Tea

Bubble milk tea ads with delicious tapioca and splashing milk in 3d illustration
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While milk tea holds the promise of creamy texture and delicious flavors, the hidden sugar content within can rival that of Coke. Choosing an alternative with lower sugar levels can help reduce its impact on your dietary goals.


Fugu sashimi and fugu's entrails are in the green plate
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Delicately prepared yet inherently risky, fugu (pufferfish) poses a real health hazard due to its toxic components. Chinese restaurants proceed with caution when making it, as should you – or simply opt for safer alternatives.

Egg Rolls

Fried Chinese Traditional Spring rolls food in ceramic plate (beautiful shape) on white background
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Crispy and savory, this Chinese restaurant classic offers a delicious appetizer option. But being deep-fried and calorie-dense warrants moderation when indulging.

Orange Beef

Asian Orange Chicken with Green Onions for Dinner
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A close Chinese restaurant cousin to General Tso’s chicken, orange beef entices with a sticky-sweet glaze. Despite its savory nature, it’s loaded with calories and fat which should give pause to diners.3

Lemon Chicken

Bright and zesty, lemon chicken flies off the shelves with its citrusy tang. But because it’s fried and its sauce is teeming with sugar, it may undermine what little nutritional appeal it has.

Read More: Senior Citizens Are Replacing Teenagers as Fast-Food Workers

Shrimp Toast

Close up shot of sesame orange chicken on a plate
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Crispy and flavorful, shrimp toast offers a satisfying blend of textures and delivers exactly what you expect. But that’s where the deliverables end. It’s deep-fried and heavy in calories, warranting mindful consumption.

Anything with Crab

japan surimi artificial crab isolated background
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While crab dishes may seem like an easy choice, imitation crab meat in certain Chinese restaurant preparation tactics may take away from their nutritional value. Opt for authentic crab options or explore seafood alternatives whenever possible.

Chow Fun

Beef Chow Fun a staple Cantonese dish, made from stir-frying beef, wide rice noodles and vegetables closeup on the plate on the wooden table. Horizontal top view from above
Credit: Shutterstock

Hearty and flavorful, chow fun offers a savory noodle and tender beef 1-2 duo. But despite its name, its high-calorie and high-sodium profile may overshadow its culinary appeal.

The Bottom Line

Happy multi-generation family gathering around dining table and having fun during a lunch.
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Navigating a Chinese restaurant menu can be a culinary adventure. But like all adventures, there are traps and pitfalls along the way. It’s important to approach certain dishes with caution and be mindful of the nutritional value and preparation methods of popular menu items. Diners should be able to make informed choices that meet their dietary goals and preferences. Whether opting for lighter fare or having an occasional treat, a balanced approach to eating can enhance the enjoyment of your Chinese restaurant experiences while supporting overall health and well-being. Bon appétit!

Read More: 5 of The Best (and Worst) Foods For Heart Failure


  1. 15 Unhealthy Chinese Restaurant Foods You Should Always Avoid.” Health Digest. Brian Good and Lauren Cahn. January 25, 2023.
  2. 14 Items You Should Never Order In a Chinese Restaurant.” MSN. Nandor Barta. March 2024.
  3. Things You Should Never Order From A Chinese Restaurant.” Mashed. Albert Lakey and Alex darus. July 21, 2022.