Tips for Making Healthy Choices at Asian Restaurants

Whether you’re on the run and picking up take-out or sitting down to enjoy your food with family, friends and real chopsticks, Chinese food and the cuisines of other cultures, like Japanese, Korean, and Thai, can be a tasty and satisfying choice if you know what to look for:

  • Tea is always a good start.  Rich in antioxidants, hot tea will also help fill you up while you look over the menu to make your choices.
  • Broth-based soups are the standard.  In general, soup will come with your sit down or take-out meal and will be a broth-based choice, such as Miso or Hot and Sour.  These soups, like tea, are often a nonfat or low fat, low calorie choice to help fill you up.  However, these soups can be high in sodium.  If this is a concern, see the Sodium Savvy section on for other suggestions.
  • Choose dishes with plenty of vegetables.  Many traditional Asian dishes are loaded with vegetables such as broccoli, sprouts, bok choy, bell peppers, zucchini and carrots.  These foods add flavor, texture and a wide variety of nutrients to any dish.
  • Ask questions about preparation.  If you’re not familiar with a dish, ask how it’s cooked before ordering.  Some Chinese food is stir-fried with little oil, and some is breaded and fried to a golden brown.  Some Japanese food, like sushi, is not cooked at all, and some is battered and fried.
  • Request sauces on the side.  This simple request gives you control over how much or how little of the often higher calorie sauce you add.  This is also a good strategy for those watching their sodium intake.
  • Choose brown rice.  This is a delicious way to get a serving of whole grains complete with fiber, protein and vital nutrients.  If brown rice isn’t available, choose a smaller serving of steamed white rice, or fill up on the main dish and skip the rice all together.  If you’re doing take-out, make your own brown rice at home to round out the meal.

What to order:

  • Edamame
  • Veggie Spring Rolls
  • Chicken Satay Appetizer
  • Buddha’s Feast
  • Stir-fried Chicken and Veggies (Kung Pao Chicken, Cashew Chicken)
  • Chicken or Veggie Lettuce Wraps
  • Green Papaya Salad

What to skip:

  • Egg Rolls (deep fried, often include unhealthy cuts of pork)
  • Crab Rangoons (deep fried and filled with cream cheese)
  • Tempura..anything (battered and fried)
  • Beef or Duck Curry (high saturated fat)

Take the work out of eating out with Healthy Dining choices at Chinese restaurants and other Asian restaurants found on