Go Bruins! Thanks Chandvkl, especially for the shout-out to First Szechuan Wok for its staying power…
Great article! That little factoid about there being three times as many boba shops as Starbucks in Iowa City is kinda mind blowing.
What’s the deal with the Top Leaf rebrand as L Kitchen? Looks like they added Korean-Chinese style sweet and sour pork (tangsuyuk) to the menu.
Don’t get the love for First Szechuan Wok. I’d heard the specials were authentic Sichuan and tried several a while back. All terrible.
Great article–and so happy to see the Asian students at UCLA bringing their food to the area. It’s much needed. I can’t wait to try some of these–I have been starved for chinese since I moved to the west side.
First I’ve heard of three-cup chicken. Now I"m hungry. ("Few follow the folk recipe that calls for making the sauce with a cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. ‘If you actually cook it that way,’ says Eddie Huang … ‘you’ll be in trouble.’”)
Love the article and I too was kind of shocked by the mention of specials at First Szechuan Wok as well.
I think First Szechuan Wok gets an “A” for effort. The Daily Bruin article that mentioned Top Leaf 's opening in reaction to the lack of alternatives to First Szechuan Wok also mentioned that First Szechuan failed to respond to 6 DB phone calls for comment. The adaptability of existing restaurants to the influx of mainland students is an interesting piece of the story. Perhaps the most extreme example is at Carnegie Mellon U in Pittsburgh where the Chinese owner of Sakura Teppanyaki and Sushi added Shaanxi and Sichuan dishes to its menu.
at first glance it may seem funny that a japanese restaurant would branch out to regional chinese cuisine, but the japanese restaurants here are also going after chinese clientele given how toyota, honda, et al left the area and took a lot of ethnic japanese customers with them. somebody even started some sort of publication for the japanese restaurants in the southland - printed in chinese. I don’t know if they’re tweaking their menus accordingly, but it’s still interesting to note.
as for pittsburgh, it’s probably like my hometown of cleveland where the chinatown is so small, the mayor is polish (not really, but he could be).
with pitt, CMU, duquesne et al in the greater PGH area, not so surprising. cleveland has only case & CSU (and maybe CIM) as a source for a chinese student population, and CSU, not so much since it’s largely a commuter school on the near east side.
and before i moved out here, circumstances led me to know most of the chinese in PGH back then. one such family (which like me relocated to the southland) actually ran a chinese restaurant called lee’s. their eldest already lived out here, and when their youngest went to USC, the family sold the restaurant and moved to s. pas.
Chinese ownership of Japanese restaurants is an interesting phenomenon covered by the Washington Post.
Pittsburgh original Chinatown has been reduced to a single remaining restaurant. I haven’t written up Cleveland’s Chinese food since there doesn’t seem to be a sufficient critical mass. But the current center is an area referred to Asiatown, triggered by the construction of Asia Plaza shopping center about a mile from the historic Chinatown. And old Chinatown even has a large Taiwanese style night market that attracted 20,000 people this summer.
100 years ago cleveland was still the 6th largest city in the US. now they’re down in the high 40’s. even so, cleveland’s original chinatown has always been one side of rockwell ave. between e 21st and e 24th with the other side of the street being a trucking depot. last time i was in town, 2-3 remaining storefronts on rockwell. about 10 blocks southeast, another small commerical center developed around e 30th & payne. there are more chinese businesses up there now than in chinatown,
and as i observed before, not likely to reach a critical mass of wealthy mainland students as you have only case western reserve & cleveland state in the area.
when i go back to NE ohio, my first thought is pierogis.
Din Tai Fung is coming to Century City!!
Just a personal observation I heard a lot of Mandarin on Sawtelle today.
Also hear a lot in Downtown, Chinatown, Observatory, LACMA, Hollywood, Santa Monica. Chinese tourism is huge in LA! Guess what they want to eat Chinese food not taco trucks, bacon wraps, and cheeseburgers. I am pretty chummy with the owner of Jade Wok in Chinatown (solid homestyle canto food, a great tofu dish, and one of the best Shanghai small ribs fyi). We both find it interesting that Mainlanders vacation here, but prefer to eat Chinese food.
So not only college students, but tourism.
Ethnic Chinese tourists will tolerate non-Chinese food, but overwhelmingly prefer Chinese cuisines where ever they visit.
If you ever want to see Panda Express highly regarded, follow a tour bus full of Chinese tourists sightseeing the Southwest for a few days. Food wise, it’s sheer torture to subject the Chinese palate to diners, burgers, pseudo Italian and Mexican food. After a few days of that, pulling into a Panda Express in Vegas left my Hokkien father-in-law proclaiming that Panda Express was quite good.
I discussed the issue of Chinese tourists impacting local Chinese food in a separate article earlier this year.
The phenomenon has been referred to in some quarters as the Chinese stomach. I tackled this in one of my earlier articles.
We reached Venice in the early afternoon, and people were hungry, urging Li to stop even if there wasn’t a Chinese restaurant. We had been in Europe for a week and had yet to sit down to a lunch or a dinner that was not Chinese. (Nearly half of all Chinese tourists in one market survey reported eating no more than one “European style” meal on a trip to the West.) But Li warned that Western food would take too long to serve, and he recalled a five-hour dinner in Spain. “If you eat Western food too fast, you’ll get an upset stomach,” he added. “Save it for your next trip.” Everyone consented, and we stopped for a twenty-minute lunch at La Pagoda Ristorante Cinese, on the outskirts of town.
Even many Chinese Americans who are intimately familiar with American food will avoid major categories of Western food items, such as dishes containing cheese, cream, or mayonnaise, or large slabs of meat.
What about that Hong Kong dish, honey-walnut prawns? That was the most revolting use of mayonnaise I’ve encountered.
If by revolting you mean awesome, I agree.