Browsing Archive: January, 2011

A Century of Fads and Fashions in Chinese Food

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, January 6, 2011, In : Chinese restaurants 



hop Suey had a meteoric rise (blue line) in popularity from 1900 to about 1940, after which it drops rapidly and leveled off after 1960. In contrast, during the 1960s dim sum (red line) was 'discovered' and became rapidly trendy and is still increasingly popular. These differences are mirrored in the frequency with which each of them is mentioned in word counts by Google based on their millions of scanned books. If you;d like to play with this tool by entering other year spans or other food...
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Joy Young Restaurant, Birmingham

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, January 6, 2011, In : Chinese restaurants 
There were few Chinese in the Deep South during most of the last century so it is not surprising that there were few Chinese restaurants there, and those that did exist did not serve the same Chinese dishes found in New York or San Francisco Chinese restaurants.  Perhaps the Joy Young Restaurant, in Birmingham, Ala. was the best known and largest Chinese restaurant in the South until it closed sometime in the 1970s.  Its fried chicken (this was the South) was one of its most popular items alo...
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A 5 Star Chinese Restaurant in rural Hanford, Ca.

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, January 6, 2011, In : Chinese restaurants 
    One of the most unusual success stories among Chinese restaurants is that of the Imperial Dynasty restaurant opened by Richard Wing after WW II in a most unlikely place, Hanford, Ca., which is about half way between Los Angeles and Sacramento and not even located on the main north-south highway.  It was not your typical chop suey joint; in fact, some would say it wasn't really a Chinese restaurant so much as it was a forerunner of 'Chinoise" cuisine, Chinese food with a French accent.
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Far East Cafe in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, January 6, 2011, In : Chinese restaurants 
The original Far East Cafe in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles no longer exists although a restaurant by the same name occupies its premises currently but serves a different fare. It's classic neon sign, which prominently displays the words, "Chop Suey," pays homage to its heritage from when four Chinese laundrymen left Mason City, Iowa to come open this restaurant in L. A. back in the 1930s when chop suey was at its peak of popularity, and "defined" Chinese food in the minds, and stom...
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The high cost of Anglo humor re: a Chinese restaurant name

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, January 6, 2011, In : Chinese restaurants 
Red flowers such as peonies are popular among Chinese so it is not surprising that some Chinese used it for their restaurant name, which when transliterated becomes "Hung (red) Far (flower) Low" (building) or HUNG FAR LOW.  The Anglo perception, however, is that the name has sexual connotations related to the male sexual anatomy.  When the neon sign that proclaimed this restaurant name in Portland for almost a century was removed a few years ago, Portlanders felt a deep sense of loss and camp...
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Chinese restaurant from "A Christmas Story"

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, January 6, 2011,
 
 A Christmas Story, the classic movie, based on Jean Shepard's story of the same name includes many unforgettable scenes.  The family Christmas dinner in the 'Bo Ling" Chop Suey Palace (so named because one of the assistant directors mistook a neon sign for a bowling alley with the letter W burned out to be a sign for a Chinese restaurant because it sounded Chinese-y... BO LING, is definitely one of them even though it mocks the Chinese waiters' inability to pronounce English words correctly...

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About Me


John Jung After retiring from a 40-year career as a psychology professor, I published 4 books about Chinese immigrants that detail the history of their laundries, grocery stores, and family restaurants in the U. S. and Canada.
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