Showing category "Chinese restaurants" (Show all posts)

Racism And The Growth of Chinese Restaurants in Early 1900s?

Posted by John Jung on Sunday, July 16, 2017, In : Chinese restaurants 
 In 1882, the U.S. passed the Chinese Exclusion Act and other laws that barred Chinese laborers from immigrating or becoming U.S. citizen. 

MIT legal historian 
Heather Lee discovered an important exception to these laws: Some
Chinese business owners in the U.S. could get special merchant visas that allowed them to travel to China, and bring back employees. Only a few types of businesses qualified for this status. In 1915, a federal court added restaurants to that list, leading to a Chinese rest...

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What's In A Name?

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, April 14, 2016, In : Chinese restaurants 
How do Chinese choose names for restaurants?  Although they change over time most of them seem to consist of a limited combination of a few terms.  Thus, Golden, Silver, Jade, Imperial, Panda, China, Hong Kong might be combined with terms like Palace, Dragon, House, City, Wok.

One empirical study by Frank Shyong and David Chan based on close to 7,000 restaurant names gathered from several decades confirmed this impression as they found a high repetitiveness of Chinese restaurant names.

Why?  Th...

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Origin of the Chinese Restaurant Container for Leftovers?

Posted by John Jung on Saturday, February 13, 2016, In : Chinese restaurants 
Although it is rapidly being replaced by boring plain styrofoam or other plasticky rectangular boxes, for many years Chinese restaurants provided a distinctive trapezoidal-shaped paper 'pail' for patrons to take leftover food home.
 

What were the origins of this iconic object that characterized Chinese restaurants, second only to the fortune cookie?  I stumbled upon the following explanation.  In 1894 Frederick Weeks Wilcox patented containers he created by folding a single sheet of paper to ...

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Joy Young Restaurant, Augusta, Georgia

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, In : Chinese restaurants 


There were few Chinese restaurants in the American South until the last half of the past century.  Most Chinese in the region operated laundries and small grocery stores.   There were not enough Chinese in most cities to support a Chinese restaurant. Moreover, Chinese immigrants did not dine out at restaurants of any type but did their own cooking at home. Finally, Chinese food was initially disparaged by many nonChinese who were unacquainted with Chinese foods, and some feared that Chinese a...
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The Sun Is Setting on Mom and Pop Chinese restaurants

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, September 17, 2015, In : Chinese restaurants 


Mom and pop family-run Chinese restaurants across Canada, as elsewhere, are fast vanishing from the landscape and often replaced by larger and trendier partnered or chain eateries. My friend Connie Tsang, a Chinese Canadian photographer grew up in the Sunshine Restaurant of her immigrant parents in rural Ontario. She became galvanized to record the stories and images of these once ubiquitous eateries when her parents closed their restaurant a few years ago. She gave me permission to include i...
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Imperial Dynasty, China Alley, Hanford, CA.

Posted by John Jung on Friday, September 4, 2015, In : Chinese restaurants 

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Eating His Way Through Chinatowns of America

Posted by John Jung on Friday, October 25, 2013, In : Chinese restaurants 
Chinese food today, comes in almost as many varieties as the Heinz 57 food products, and isn't the same as it used to be. It is indeed an enviable pastime to try them all, but somebody had to do it, and David Chan, a third generation Chinese American living in Los Angeles has the stomach (claims to have eaten in over 6200 Chinese restaurants so far), and the brains, for finding and reporting on great places for all types of Chinese cuisine.  He has several appetizing culinary posts on this fa...
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Who Ate What in Early Chinatown Cafes?

Posted by John Jung on Sunday, October 20, 2013, In : Chinese restaurants 
The early Chinese cafes were quite different from what Chinese restaurants have become today. They served working class Chinese immigrants who, due to exclusionary laws, lived in bachelor societies. They did not cater to the tourist trade, although they did attract and serve non-Chinese as well. A brief glimpse into one New York Chinese eating hole in 1892 shows that the patronage were varied.



The dining area was a large room dimly lit by oil lamps mounted along the walls. Chinese waiters, wit...

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Cleveland Chinese Restaurants of the First Half of the 20th Century

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, In : Chinese restaurants 


Cleveland, Ohio never had a large Chinese immigrant population.  The 1920 U. S. Census records show there were about 240 Chinese there, the highest number in the early 20th century.  That total includes children, so the number of adults was even smaller.  Yet, there were many Chinese restaurants, as shown in the montage above, that operated there from around the 1920s to 1960s for the most part. The 12 restaurants shown above from picture postcards were rather large and nicely decorated.  Man...
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Hung Far Low Restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI

Posted by John Jung on Monday, July 30, 2012, In : Chinese restaurants 
A radio reading about an opening of a new Chinese restaurant , Hung Far Low,  in 1902 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This city has done a commendable project in celebrating its history with this and similar recordings by the Grand Rapids Historical Commission.

(Note: The link will not automatically play the audiofile. The easiest method is to click one of the STREAMING options such as MP3 via M3U  in the column on the far left of the screen under LISTEN TO AUDIO)

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Memories of Chinese Canadian Restaurant Food 1940s-50s

Posted by John Jung on Monday, July 2, 2012, In : Chinese restaurants 

       Chinese Canadian historian Larry Wong reminisced about favorite Chinatown restaurant dishes he had while growing up in Vancouver in his blog, "Ask Larry."

Cho San

As can be expected, in the 40s and 50s, no matter where you go in Chinatown, the cuisine was Cantonese. And the meals were cheap. My older brother used to tell me lunch was twenty-five cents when he was growing up. Lunch was a bowl of rice, soup and some meat and vegetable.

In a 1950s issue of the Chinatown News, there was an ad...


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Chinese Restaurants: Boxed In By Low Prices?

Posted by John Jung on Friday, June 29, 2012, In : Chinese restaurants 
    Chinese restaurants grew in popularity over the past century for many reasons ranging from their novelty, exotic appeal, good taste, and presumed positive impact on health.  Not to be overlooked is the lower price of meals at most Chinese restaurants, which gave them a competitive edge made possible by low overhead.  Located often in low-rent areas and staffed by no-wage family members who worked together over long days to enable the survival of their restaurants, they used low prices to ...
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Chop Suey in Augusta, Georgia 1905

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, In : Chinese restaurants 

        The Augusta Chronicle in 1905 proudly announced the impending arrival in Augusta of two "celestials," the popular term for describing Chinese a century ago, who were coming all the way from New York to open a "genuine" Chinese restaurant.  It isn't known whether this one,  to be on the 800 block of some unmentioned street, was to be the first, or the first genuine, Chinese restaurant in this southern city.  Augusta had perhaps the largest Chinese population in the Deep South at the tu...
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Study of Chinese Impact on Small Town Canadian Culture Via Chinese Cafe Menus

Posted by John Jung on Saturday, March 31, 2012, In : Chinese restaurants 
  

A recent book published by Lily Cho, a Chinese Canadian professor of English, Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada, examines the impact of Chinese Canadian cafes across the small prairie towns on their communities by analyzing the content of their menus! The fact that her father opened such a cafe in the Yukon despite never having previously worked as a cook led her to analyze the role that these community gathering places played in their communities. Despite decades of ...
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Chinese restaurants in Israel

Posted by John Jung on Tuesday, February 15, 2011, In : Chinese restaurants 
Does the Jewish love of Chinese food in America extend to say, Israel?
 
Apparently not, according to this writer, Elizabeth Greenberg, for website China Insight. She also quotes a Chinese  in Cheuk Kwan's documentary on Chinese restaurants around the world who went to Israel from Vietnam but without any knowledge of how to cook Chinese food and had to learn from Israeli friends,  "I told them I didn't know how to cook," Wong said. "They said they will teach me. I asked them, 'You're teaching m...

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Life at a Chinese take-out order counter

Posted by John Jung on Tuesday, February 8, 2011, In : Chinese restaurants 
The long day of hard work in a Charleston, West Virginia Chinese take-out business. Owner Carina Kwok  knows the names of many repeat customers when they walk through the door of Main Kwong Restaurant or when they order over the phone. Caller ID helps, of course, but she also  remembers their favorites and customary substitutions... 
   

She typically arrives at Main Kwong at about 9 a.m., and organizes deliveries, supervises food preparation and early deliveries.... The chaotic pace starts alm...


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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 restaurants spring up everywhere in the 1920s

Posted by John Jung on Friday, March 12, 2010, In : Chinese restaurants 
As the hostility and violence toward Chinese on the west coast escalated during the later part of the 19th century, more Chinese moved toward the middle of the country toward safety.  For a while, many of them opened laundry businesses but by the 1920s, they found it more attractive to start family-run restaurants.  Although they were run by Chinese, most of these restaurants beyond Chinese communities served mostly American dishes and only a few Chinese-like dishes such as chop suey, egg foo...
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What Led to this Book

Posted by John Jung on Friday, March 12, 2010, In : Chinese restaurants 
     For someone who never ate in a Chinese restaurant until he was 15, mainly because he grew up in the 1940s in a place where not a single Chinese restaurant existed for over a 100 miles, it is odd that I would find myself writing about this ubiquitous and widely popular 'institution' for eating all across the world.
    Had it not been for the fact that a retired Chinese restaurateur in attendance at a talk I was giving about Mississippi Delta Chinese grocery store families approached me af...

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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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