Chinese food in America is very different from Chinese food in China. American Asian restaurants have adapted to suit American palates. Many American-Asian cuisines offer fried foods, which is not customary in Asian countries. So if you’re not bothered by the authenticity of your Chinese food (because let’s face it, it’s still delicious), you may not realize the cultural differences of your local Asian restaurant. One of those variances happens to be between the spring roll and egg roll.
Spring rolls have a thin, flakey flour wrapper and are not usually fried. In American cuisine, they are filled with julienned vegetables like carrots and bamboo and can have bits of minced meat or be solely vegetarian. They are truer to Chinese cuisine and are smaller in size.
Egg rolls have a thicker wrapper, are typically deep-fried, and are much larger in size. They are usually filled with meat (commonly pork), cabbage, and bean shoots, and may or may not actually contain egg in the filling (however, egg is used in the dough or has an egg wash before frying). They are Americanized rolls and are not a traditional food in China.
Either roll tastes great with dipping sauces. Use soy sauce, chili sauce, hot mustard, sweet and sour sauce, or any other sauce the restaurant may offer.
Whichever you choose to whet your appetite, you can be sure to get a delicious combination of flavors.