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Diners Describe the first Chinese Restaurants in America (with text supports)

The first Chinese restaurants in America sprang up in 1850s California and catered to Cantonese miners and railroad laborers. Known as "chow chows" (Chinese slang for anything edible), they were identified by yellow triangle signs. By the 1880s San Francisco's Chinatown community supported several high-class Chinese dining establishments. Reviews from non-Chinese diners were mixed. Some enjoyed the food, which was usually an Americanized version of traditional Chinese cooking, while others found the strange smells and textures distasteful. In the first excerpt, Chinese immigrant Lee Chew gives a Chinese perspective on Chinese food. In the second two excerpts, non-Chinese diners describe eating in Chinese restaurants.


Source | Lee Chew, "The Biography of a Chinaman," Independent, 15 (19 February 1903), 417-423; Charles M. Taylor, Vacation Days in Hawaii and Japan (Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs, 1898), 27-28; Mary H. Wills, A Winter in California (Norristown, PA: Morgan R. Wills, 1889), 113-114.
Creator | Lee Chew; Charles M. Taylor; Mary H. Wills
Item Type | Book (excerpt)
Cite This document | Lee Chew; Charles M. Taylor; Mary H. Wills, “Diners Describe the first Chinese Restaurants in America (with text supports),” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed May 20, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1933.

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