CHINESE RESTAURANTS IN CHINA AND ABROAD

RESTAURANTS IN CHINA

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Street restaurant
The first private restaurant in Beijing opened in 1980. Now there are over 20,000 dining establishments in the city. The “informal eating out” market in China, according to McDonald’s, is worth $300 billion a year and is expanding at a rate of 10 percent a year.

Before the Deng era, restaurants in China were often shabby, depressing places and foreign cuisine was hard to come by except at expensive hotels. These days Beijing is filled with outdoor cafes, jazz bars, pubs and restaurants, where foreigners and Chinese yuppies dine on mushroom-stuffed ravioli or salmon with caviar and dill. In the large cities there are food courts just like those in American shopping malls

Leading restaurant chains include Peking Quanjude, Tianjin Goubuli and Chongqing Cygnet Local restaurants have names like “Buy Cheap Eat Happy.” Themed and foreign restaurants include Brazilian restaurants where the staff dress up like cowboys and swing around long carving knives used to slice up the 28 kinds of meat.

Top chefs now can earn as much in Beijing and Shanghai as they can in New York City. Molecular cuisine---where machines using 170 degree C liquid nitrogen and other devises reshape, liquify and gasify foods into new forms---has found its way to China. Among the molecular cuisine dishes at the Shangri-La Beijing Blue Lobster restaurant are watermelon bisque served in test tubes, shark fin soup served in capsules, bird nest soup jam, and clear tomato soup with a beer-like foam.

Links in this Website: FOOD IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; MEAT, VEGETABLES, SWEETS AND FRUIT Factsanddetails.com/China ; RICE, TOFU, DUMPLINGS AND NOODLES Factsanddetails.com/China ; REGIONAL CHINESE FOOD Factsanddetails.com/China ; RESTAURANTS AND FAST FOOD Factsanddetails.com/China ; WEIRD FOODS IN CHINA NO. 1 Factsanddetails.com/China ; WEIRD FOODS IN CHINA NO. 2 Factsanddetails.com/China ; FOOD SAFETY IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; EATING AND DRINKING CUSTOMS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China

Dining Out in China

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David Sedaris wrote in The Guardian, “Most of the restaurants in China to me smelled dirty, though what I was smelling was likely some unfamiliar ingredient, and I was allowing the things I'd seen earlier in the day---the spitting and snot blowing, etc---to fill in the blanks. Then again, maybe not.” [Source: David Sedaris, The Guardian July 15, 2011]

While on our trip we ate at normal, everyday places, and sometimes bought food on the street. Our only expensive meal was in Beijing, where we went alone to a fancy restaurant recommended by an acquaintance. The place was located in an old warehouse and had been lavishly decorated. There was a wine expert and someone whose job it was to drop by every three minutes and refill your water glass. We had the Peking duck, which was expertly carved rather than hacked and was served with little pancakes. Towards the end of the meal, I stepped into the men's room to pee and there, disintegrating in the western-style toilet, was an unflushed turd, a little reminder saying, "See, you're still in China!"

I'll say that for China, though---offer to pay and before you can stab a rooster with a rusty screwdriver someone has taken you up on it. I think they want to catch you before you get sick, but whatever the reason, within minutes you're back on the street, searching the blighted horizon and wondering where your next meal might be coming from.

Restaurants in China with Supersize Menus

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Sometimes hundreds of dishes are offered at restaurant in China. Julie Makinen wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “The menus at Da Dong,” a high-end restaurant chain in Beijing, “ are heftier than a small gym dumbbell — 5 pounds, 4 ounces [about 2½ kilograms], to be exact. Measuring 20 inches tall, 15 inches wide and more than an inch thick, the 140-page menu outweighs National Geographic's Global Atlas. Packed with rich color photos, the volume is divided into chapters with sumptuous red-and-white calligraphy paper. The brown binding bears the restaurant's name, and a table of contents listing about 200 dishes runs four pages. And diners are handed two other menus: a selection of seasonal items (24 pages) and a wine list (a relatively svelte 19 pages). [Source: Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2014 /^]

“Da Dong's massive menu may be among the most eye-popping in town, but it's hardly alone in its heftiness or artistic ambition. Even as a trend toward in-season and locally grown food has helped shrink the list of dishes at many au courant establishments in the United States and Europe in recent years, transforming their bills of fare into single-sheet affairs printed daily on ordinary paper, high-end restaurateurs in China have been supersizing./^\

“Middle-8th in Beijing, specializing in dishes from Yunnan province, employs a 128-page, 3-pound carte. At Pure Lotus, a pricey vegetarian hideaway, customers contend with a golden-paged volume stretching 2 1/2 feet wide and weighing 4 pounds, 5 ounces; and if that isn't enough, the nine-course $133 tasting menu is carved into an inch-thick wooden plank, also 2 1/2 feet wide. Countless run-of-the-mill restaurants offer customers menus as large and colorful as American high school yearbooks. /^\

“China's penchant for magnum opus-style menus is even spilling over to Western eateries here. Mr and Mrs Bund, Paul Pairet's haute French bistro in Shanghai, rated the top restaurant in mainland China by the Miele Guide for several years running, has embraced the concept with gusto, presenting a 20-page offering of about 150 items ranging in price from $6 to more than $130, with photos of almost every dish. "We were inspired by these Chinese menus," Pairet said. "Western menus, they try to avoid repetition, and the price range is very narrow, but we wanted to open it up." /^\

“Just why Chinese menus are growing in girth is a complex question rooted in cuisine, culture and commerce. The Middle Kingdom has great culinary diversity, and whereas Western cooking often relies on time-intensive techniques such as baking and roasting, Chinese cuisine tends to utilize a relatively finite number of ingredients, with chefs producing a multitude of dishes just by switching from boiling to sauteing or using a slightly different sauce. In addition, low labor costs in comparison with the West make it easier to have more cooks in the kitchen. Family-style ordering feeds a desire for selection, as do cooks eager to cater to diverse parochial palates, from the spicy-loving Sichuanese to the more delicate-dining Shanghainese. A culture of entertaining, whereby hosts show their generosity by ordering lavishly, also pushes restaurateurs to expand their offerings. /^\

“Dong Zhenxiang, the chef behind the 600-seat Da Dong, says he started adding photos to his menu in the early 1990s after winning designation from the local government as a "tourist class" restaurant as the nation shed Communist canteens and embraced capitalism. He found that foreigners as well as Chinese alike appreciated the visual guide. "Chinese dishes sometimes are very abstract when it comes to their names. Even Chinese people, if they don't know the story behind it, they'll find it hard to understand," he said. "Take, for example, The Dragon and Tiger Fight. It's fish and chicken. But if you don't know that, you don't know what's in it. A picture will show you.... Even I, as a professional chef, it's taken me years to realize why some dishes have their names." /^\

“As his menu grew more elaborate, Dong found himself in a predicament: Customers were pinching them at a pace that made running his restaurants difficult. "Ordinary customers and competitors would steal them; they would put them in their bags or under their coats. Waitresses would ask if they had taken them, and they'd just say 'no,' and we couldn't just search them," Dong recalled. "We need about 200 menus for each restaurant, and we'd get down to 100 and there wouldn't be enough to allow people to order." /^\

Red Restaurants

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Kung Pao Chicken in London
The Daily Beast reported: “It’s a typical Saturday night at the Red Scene restaurant, which is packed with well-to-do Chinese diners. The younger ones clap in time to the music, while a gaggle of middle-aged patrons<many of them red-faced and tipsy---are on their feet, dancing and singing along with the stage performers. Tables groan under heaping platters of food. This could be any one of Beijing’s popular dinner shows, which draw audiences with the promise of Chinese opera or Western cabaret. But at Red Scene, the waiters and performers are all dressed as Red Army soldiers, Red Guards, workers, and peasants. And the skit is showcasing the persecution of an evil landlord, who is being beaten and forced to wear a pointed dunce cap---a scene straight out of China’s Cultural Revolution, one of the most tumultuous times in the nation’s history. The epoch remains controversial for a huge number of Chinese who were submitted to such “criticism sessions”---or even knew people who’d been “struggled” to death for being too bourgeois. [Source: The Daily Beast, February 19, 2011]

Such restaurants are part of a boom in Chinese tourism and entertainment venues catering to revolutionary nostalgia. To many, the idea of a Cultural Revolution’themed dining establishment is paradoxical, since tasty cuisine was certainly not that era’s strong suit. The first “Red restaurants” sprouted in Beijing in the “90s, offering little more than a few socialist-realist posters and food that was minimalist in the literal sense of the word. One served dandelion-leaf salad and raw cucumbers to symbolize the grass and bark that some poor Chinese ate during the hardscrabble “60s and “70s. Now Red-restaurant cuisine is more in line with middle-class tastes. In Mao’s hometown, “the Chairman’s Favorite”---roast fatty pork---is a must, while Red Scene offers a pricey shrimp dish for $27 alongside less-expensive cornmeal cakes and country-style bean curd. By Western standards, Red Scene’s clients aren’t big spenders---an average check is about $12 per person---but that isn’t mere peanuts for most Chinese, either.

The emergence of songs, dances, and vignettes evoking Cultural Revolution conflict is an equally significant change over the past decade. Before that, anything that exacerbated “class struggle,” or focused on the gap between the haves and the have-nots, was considered too sensitive for public airing. But Red Scene, which opened in 2005 and serves an average of 400 customers a night, is a good example of how many older Chinese have forgotten the dark side of that era<and how a younger generation never really knew it to begin with. During the skit vilifying an arrogant landlord, diners applauded and waved little red flags (conveniently provided by the wait staff).

This year, such “Red” venues are peaking in popularity because the Chinese Communist Party celebrated the 90th anniversary of its founding in July. Local governments are promoting “Red tours” to legendary sites along the Long March route, and organizers of a Red China Tourism Expo said such sites across the nation have received 1.35 billion visitors---or a fifth of all tourism traffic---in recent years. They expected a fivefold annual increase in 2011 over 2010 numbers.

Many of the Red-restaurant clientele were urban youths during the Cultural Revolution. In a nationwide campaign, they were sent to the countryside to reap the fruits of manual labor. These sojourns were often filled with long days of backbreaking work in the fields and lonely evenings. Still, many were inspired by communal life down on the farm. One such youth, Huang Zhen, decided to open Beijing’s Red Flag Fluttering restaurant in 2007, ‘so that people can remember the past,” he told Xinhua News Agency. Huang, now 58, instructed waiters to memorize Mao’s quotations and to dance the “loyalty dance” of the Cultural Revolution era, which involves a lot of fist-clenching to symbolize revolutionary ardor.

At Red Flag Fluttering, the majority of customers are in their 60s and 70s, usually arriving in groups to wallow in nostalgia for their years as youths “sent down” to the farm. “They like ... the revolutionary songs, dances, and pictures, [which] bring their memories back to their Cultural Revolution experiences,” explains one waiter. He says customers also like the Red-themed dishes, such as one called “A Revolutionary Big Family,” consisting of nearly a dozen types of seafood and meat, and “Warriors Who Dashed Over the Luding Bridge,” a dish of chicken named after the site of a famous Red Army victory. As for the skits on class struggle, the waiter shrugged. “We simply want our customers to be entertained and to recall their old experiences without thinking too deeply of these social issues.”

But the popularity of Red restaurants has also stirred controversy. One reader wrote in to a local paper to complain about Red Flag Fluttering. “The Red Guard uniforms are disgusting ... They remind me of the unpleasant past.” The reader said she’d gone to the restaurant with a dozen elderly friends, but “one of us who suffered a lot during the Cultural Revolution felt extremely uncomfortable. So we all left.” And how do authorities regard the restaurants? Although stage performances are subject to government censorship, there seems to be little official meddling so far. “We have nothing to do with the government, so we don’t care too much about its attitude,” says the waiter at Red Flag Fluttering. “As a matter of fact, we don’t even know the attitude of the government.”

Robot Restaurant in China

China's Dalu Robot restaurant, which opened in December 2010 in Jinan in the northern Shandong province, is touted as China's first robot hotpot eatery. Ken The of AP wrote: “Robots resembling Star Wars droids circle the room carrying trays of food in a conveyor belt-like system. More than a dozen robots operate in the restaurant as entertainers, servers, greeters and receptionists. Each robot has a motion sensor that tells it to stop when someone is in its path so customers can reach for dishes they want.” [Source:Ken Teh, AP, December 22, 2010]

Customers at the restaurant to praise the robots. "They have a better service attitude than humans," Li Xiaomei, 35, who was visiting the restaurant for the first time, told AP. "Humans can be temperamental or impatient, but they don't feel tired, they just keep working and moving round and round the restaurant all night." [Ibid]

Inspired by space exploration, robot technology and global innovation, the restaurant's owner, Zhang Yongpei, said he hoped his restaurant would show the world China was a serious competitor in developing technology. "I hope this new concept shows that China is forward-thinking and innovative," he said. Mr Zhang said he hoped to roll out 30 robots - which cost £3,870 each - in the coming months and eventually develop ones with human-like qualities that serve customers at their table and can walk up and down the stairs. [Ibid]

Chinese Restaurants in American

In the United States there are more Chinese restaurants than McDonald’s, Burger Kings and KFCs combined. The favorite Chinese restaurant of U.S. President George W. Bush and his father is the Peking Gourmet in Falls Church, which has installed bullet-proof glass in front of table N17 for their occasional visits.

The first Chinese restaurant in the United States opened in San Francisco in 1849. Chinese became cooks and cleaners in the 19th century because these jobs were considered “woman’s work” and thus were not regarded as a threat to white, male American workers. In 1885 there were six Chinese restaurant in New York City. Twenty years later there were more than 100.

Thanksgiving is the only slow day in the Chinese restaurant business in the United States, which is one reason why so many cooks and waiters chose that day to get married.

“Chinese food” found in the United States includes Sichuan alligator, chow mein sandwiches and soy vinegar crawfish. Kari-Out, the largest Chinese restaurant supplier used no soybeans in its soy sauce.

In New York Chinese not only run Chinese restaurants they also run many sushi bars and lots of Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants.

American Chinese Food and Fortune Cookies

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Things like chop suey, egg fu young, crispy noodles, chow mein, fortune cookies were all invented by Chinese in the United States for American tastes.

Chop suey was invented in the West Coast of the United States. It was made of kitchen scraps for drunken miners. Chop suey may mean "leftovers." Now some restaurants in Canton sell "Genuine American Chop Suey."

General Tso chicken is one of the most famous Chinese dishes in the West. It is named after General Zuo Zonong, a fierce warrior born in Wenjialong in Hunan in 1812 who was credited with crushing a number of rebellions that threatened the Qing dynasty. It is not clear how the chicken dish became named after him. There is a Hunan dish that bears his name but it is quite different from the sweet and spicy one offered at restaurants in the United States.

Fortune cookies are an American of Japanese invention not a Chinese one. They were invented sometime in the early 20th century, depending on the source, by a Japanese entrepreneur, a Japanese-American gardener in San Francisco, a Chinese-American cook in Los Angeles or a noodle maker who was reportedly inspired by tales of Chinese rebels who passed message to one another in steamed buns and moon cakes in the 14th century.

Fortune cookies remained primarily a West Coast phenomena until 1948 when a San Francisco truck driver named Edward Louise developed a machine that could make fortune cookies and aggressively sold the machines all over the United States. Describing a factory today, Michelle Locke of AP wrote: “Tucked into narrow Ross Alley, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory is the kind of place you smell before you see---the sweet, sugary scent of baking cookies floats out the door. It's a tiny place where workers fold cookies by hand. You can buy a bag of your own for a few dollars.

Many of the fortunes found in today’s cookies were penned by a bookkeeper from San Francisco named Russell Rowland, who was paid 70 cents a piece for the 700 or so "messages" he came up with. Others were taken from other sources such as The Bible, Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac and translated into "Confucius says" sayings.

Book: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer Lee

Western Chinese Food Versus Chinese Chinese Food

Victor Paul Borg wrote in the China Daily, “Throughout history, coastal provinces, especially Guangdong, have accounted for most of the migrant Chinese population in the West. As a result, Cantonese cuisine continues to dominate the Chinese restaurant scene in the West, although many now also serve dishes from other regions, particularly the ever-popular Peking Duck and some Sichuan fair such as mapo toufu and gongbao jiding. [Source: Victor Paul Borg, China Daily, July 12, 2014 |::|]

“A common feature of Chinese restaurants in the West is that their range of dishes tends to remain unchanged. Some of their perennial sauces and dishes, such as sweet-and-sour sauce and hoisin sauce, do not feature as pervasively in restaurants within China, where the restaurant scene is in rapid evolution. There are several good restaurants that have taken to fusing Cantonese and Sichuan dishes, and some in Chengdu concoct creative dishes that are inventive modernist takes on Sichuan classic techniques and ingredients. Therefore, for someone who eats out regularly in China, most of the Chinese restaurants in the West tend to be rather dull. The same can be said about the culture of tea drinking, something that Westerners hardly know anything about. |::|

“The point is, given the popularity of Chinese restaurants in the West, China can use its cuisine as a key element of its soft power. This endeavor, with the help of Chinese cultural institutes and private businesses, is not at all difficult, especially because awareness about and uptake of Chinese cuisine is growing in the West. For example, doujiang (soya milk) has become a popular food item in the West. Regressively, at least from me, there is also a concurrent expansion in American fast food outlets in China. But I think the popularity of American fast food is a fad; young people take to it out of curiosity and a warped sense of being trendy and global only to return to Chinese fast food - such as noodle soup and dumplings. I would never, for example, eat a mass-produced uniform burger when I can have fresh handmade noodles for the same price. |::|

“Yet another thing that the West can learn from China is how to acquire a taste for different parts of animals, fowls, plants and vegetables. For example, people in Sichuan eat the leaves of the pea plant, and use almost all the organs and parts of animals and fowls to prepare dishes - a commendable practice to prevent waste at a time when food production can hardly keep up with population growth. Perhaps when another eminent Westerner visits China, he or she will try one of my favorite dishes: fried duck's tongue, a premium dish in many upscale Sichuan restaurants, or even duck's brain, which tastes as good as foie gras.” |::|

6,297 American Chinese Restaurants and Counting

David Chan, an L.A. attorney, has tried thousands of Chinese restaurants across the United States and is regarded as an indispensable source for American food critics.Frank Shyong wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “The television cameras roll as... David Chan places the first forkful of cashew chicken in his mouth. The crowd at Leong's Asian Diner in Springfield, Mo., falls silent as he chews and squints in the glare of the lights. Springfield Cashew Chicken — a deep-fried, gravy-drenched version of the popular buffet item — is a local specialty and David Leong, the dish's 92-year-old inventor, was watching expectantly from across the table. Chan kept chewing. The silence grew uncomfortable. "How does it taste?" a reporter asked at last. Chan didn't answer. The chicken was overcooked. Finally, he spoke: "It's good," Chan mumbled diplomatically, and quickly grabbed seconds. [Source: Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2013 /*/]

“Chan, 64, has eaten at 6,297 Chinese restaurants (at press time) and he has documented the experiences on an Excel spreadsheet, a data-centric diary of a gastronomic journey that spans the United States and beyond.A lawyer and accountant by trade, the slim, bespectacled man can debate Toronto's dim sum and rate Chinese buffets in Nashville. Name any neighborhood in Los Angeles and Chan — with a few thoughtful blinks — will produce the name of a Chinese restaurant within a few miles. His expertise has brought him renown. Restaurant critics regularly ask him on Twitter for advice on where to eat. Food websites have sought him out to write about Chinese cuisine and its history. In Springfield, his lunch made the local news broadcasts — at 6, 9, and 10 p.m. /*/

“Scrolling to the top of his spreadsheet takes you to 1955 and a different era in Los Angeles. The only Chinese food was in Chinatown, and food was his sole connection to his culture....

2, 1955, soy sauce over white rice at Lime House, 708 New High St. A green-painted concrete square with crisscrossing telephone wires overhead. ... “As a child, Chan hated Chinese food. The few times his parents would drag him to Chinatown restaurants like Lime House for banquets, he'd sulk over a bowl of plain rice. Home-cooked dinners were American standbys like meatloaf and spaghetti.If Chan didn't feel Chinese, it was partly by design. "I think my parents wanted to protect me," Chan said. "I was pretty much raised as an American." /*/

“But Chinese food was always there, marking birthdays, weddings and graduations. While studying accounting and tax law at UCLA, Chan frequented a restaurant in a high-rise called Ah Fong's Westwood. It was the only Chinese restaurant in the area that he could recall....#28, 1972, fried rice at Ah Fong's Westwood at 1100 Glendon Avenue. A top floor high-rise restaurant space with ornate wooden chairs and chandeliers overhead. /*/

“One day they went to lunch and ordered a dish of fried boneless chicken with crispy skin, lightly touched with a sweet-and-savory lemon glaze. It was like nothing Chan had ever tasted....#215, 1984, dim sum and lemon chicken at ABC Seafood, 205 Ord St. Los Angeles, CA. A gray concrete corner lot with neon signage and faux-greek entrance columns...Lemon chicken was the product of a new wave of Chinese immigrants who flocked to the Southland in the 1970s, lured by promises of a Chinese Beverly Hills in Monterey Park. Lush banquet halls serving Hong Kong cuisine suddenly proliferated across the San Gabriel Valley. Chinatown boomed. /*/

“Chan and his co-workers launched a lunchtime campaign to try every Chinese restaurant as it opened, amassing a trove of menus and business cards. Chan checked phone books for new restaurants. Adding to his list became a growing obsession. "I've always been a collector. I collected stamps, and records," Chan said. As Chinese food spread across the Southland and the nation, Chan tried to keep pace, hitting more than 300 new Chinese restaurants a year at his peak. He kept meticulous records on a spreadsheet, which today numbers 6,297 - and counting. /*/

“If his friends gave a poor review to a restaurant, Chan would eat there anyway. Perhaps they ordered the wrong dish, or the cook was having a bad day. He had to see for himself. Chan was eating at new restaurants faster than they could open up. Soon there wasn't a single one in the area he hadn't tried, but still, he was unsatisfied. In 1985, he hit 86 restaurants in the Los Angeles area and around the country. The next year, 119. Before long he was trying more than 300 restaurants every year. In Toronto, he hit six dim sum restaurants in six hours. When he traveled for business in Florida, he zigzagged the state to sample 20 Chinese restaurants. /*/

“Chan had always wanted to travel to all 50 states, and Chinese food gave him an excuse. In places he would have never imagined, he found Chinese people with their own version of Chinese food. Chan had always wanted to travel to all 50 states, and Chinese food gave him an excuse. In New England, he encountered a chow mein sandwich topped with gravy. In St. Paul, Minn., he found a burger with egg foo young for a patty. Throughout the South, he came across a sweet, stir-fry dish called Honey Chicken. "It doesn't have to be authentic Chinese. If it's Chinese American, it's all the more interesting," Chan said. // “Chan slides into a booth at Shawn Cafe, one of the few Chinese restaurants in the Los Angeles area he hasn't tried. It's a modern Taiwanese eatery that opened in December. He glances over the menu with a bored look — there's little he hasn't seen before. "Rumor Has It" by Adele plays over the restaurant's speakers as Chan's hands curl around another trusty fork. He's tried to use chopsticks over the years, and a friend even bought him a spring-loaded pair as a gag birthday gift. The fork feels more natural, he said, as he stabbed a section of beef roll and took yet another bite of Chinese food.... #6,235, 2012, Shandong beef roll, stinky tofu, stir-fry rice cakes and mixed vegetables, Shawn Cafe, 1220 South Baldwin Ave in Arcadia. Flower patterned walls. Wall-mounted flatscreens showing Chinese-language news channels. //

California Cuisine in Beijing

Julie Makinen wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Li Beiqi, a Chinese immigrant who returned from California in the late 1980s, opened a string of eateries called California Beef Noodle King U.S.A. A host of imitators soon jumped on the bandwagon and nowadays, if you head to a train station or shopping center food court, you're almost bound to see one of Li's shops (now simply called Mr. Li), or a branch of an imitator with the words California Beef Noodle prominently featured. (To my California tongue, the taste is 100 percent China.) Beef noodles, though, aren't the only "California" cuisine in China. There's a California Barbecue south of Tiananmen Square, and a place called California Aromatic Chicken Ltd. A chain of cafes called Hollywood offers up everything from waffles to teriyaki chicken, and for dessert there was (until recently) a shop known as Hollywood Squirrel Yogurt.” [Source: Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2015 >>>]

In February 2014, “Southern California natives Michael Tsai and Christian Jensen opened what many Angelenos might recognize as a more "real" L.A. restaurant in Beijing. Situated in a hutong, or historic alleyway, Palms L.A. serves Mexican-Korean fusion cuisine — think kimchi quesadillas — pioneered in Los Angeles by chefs such as Roy Choi. Cocktails include a blue-and-brown mix called "L.A. Water" and another dubbed "El Immigrante," made with yerba mate-infused vodka. The duo initially thought of opening a hot-pot restaurant, but realized the city was already packed with them and they needed a more distinctive theme. L.A. food trucks came to mind, and Palms L.A. was born. >>>

“The restaurant has developed something of a cult following — Mayor Eric Garcetti and several City Council members paid a visit when they were in China in November. "The L.A. brand is a marquee brand here in China right now," Garcetti said. Tsai said he listens in on his Chinese customers' discussions of L.A. and how they view the city: a place with long, warm days, one that's romantic, idyllic and chic but laid-back. "We've been able to draw on that to strengthen our business," he said. "We want to make people feel like they're in L.A., whether it's the music or the food or the service, or just the overall experience of stepping out of the hutong and into Los Angeles, I think it's really a draw for a lot of people.">>>

Image Sources: Beifan.com , Perrechon blog, Nolls China website http://www.paulnoll.com/China/index.html ; Wiki commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated July 2015


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