Menuism Dining Blog
Dining education for foodies

Steamed lobster in supreme sauce. Photo by Szechwan Chinese Restaurant.

Even in good times, a restaurant operation can expect a net profit of about 3% on sales. Employee wages are often 25 percent or more of restaurant costs, so it doesn’t take much of a decline in restaurant revenue in such a low-margin industry to trigger labor cutbacks.

But Chinese restaurants have been hit by a triple whammy during this pandemic. Not only have they been buffeted by the general economic disaster, but they have suffered additionally for serving Chinese food. COVID-19 originated in China, and from the beginning has been associated with unfortunate terms such as “Chinese virus” and “kung flu.” Immediately as the virus spread through China, business at Chinese restaurants in the United States, and indeed throughout the world, began to sink — even before the rest of the world economy and other types of restaurants became impacted.

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Posted by on May 18th, 2020

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

A few years ago, I discussed the merits of ordering dim sum from a menu versus serving dim sum from heated carts. I argued that menu-driven dim sum is more conducive to creating new and better dishes, because offerings would not have to wheel around the dining room.

Carts have been dishing out longtime favorites like steamed barbecue pork buns, har gow, siu mai, cheung fun (rice noodle rolls), pineapple buns, turnip cake squares, lotus leaf sticky rice, and many others since arriving on the dim sum scene in the 1960s and 70s.

But America’s dim sum palaces are innovating all kinds of new, non-traditional dim sum items. Here are five ways they’re changing our expectations of Chinese brunch.

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Posted by on February 3rd, 2020

The Philly cheesesteak wrap at Bao Shoppe. Photos by David R. Chan

Since my first article for Menuism in 2012, I always wanted to discuss the difference between Chinese fusion and authentic Chinese food. I’ve heard traditionalists say they hate Chinese fusion since it means messing with a revered cuisine. But as I’ve often said, Chinese food in the United States continues to evolve into new and better forms. So, what’s fusion and what’s evolution?

A common definition of fusion cuisine is the introduction of nontraditional ingredients into a particular cuisine. On its face, this definition seems to be relatively straightforward to determine when a particular dish should be classified as Chinese fusion. Adding truffles to siu mai or foie gras to har gow would seemingly be classified as Chinese fusion. But when you see well-established dim sum restaurants serving these dishes, isn’t this just part of the continuous evolution of Chinese food?

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Posted by on December 9th, 2019

Dim sum at H.L. Peninsula. Photo: H.L. Peninsula / Facebook.
All other photos by David R. Chan

In the past decade, Chinese dining in the United States popularized “Mainlander food,” or non-Cantonese regional cuisines. The Mainland moniker distinguished it from food from Hong Kong and Taiwan. But Mainland food largely excluded Cantonese cuisine, even though Canton (now known as Guangzhou) sits squarely on the Chinese mainland.

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Posted by on October 28th, 2019

When my thoughts turn to my favorite Chinese dishes over the decades, my tastes seem to evolve just as Chinese food in America has.

The early years

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Posted by on September 23rd, 2019

Dave Jensen

Dave Jensen
Craft Beer

David R. Chan

David R. Chan
Chinese Restaurant

Nevin Barich

Nevin Barich
Fast Food

Justin Chen

Justin Chen
Menuism Co-Founder

John Li

John Li
Menuism Co-Founder

Kim Kohatsu

Kim Kohatsu
Managing Editor

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