Takeaways From Chinese America
I wasn’t the only solo diner — in fact, I was surrounded by many solo diners. Why did I feel particularly ashamed about eating alone?
And yet, as I reflected on my affinity for “Restaurant: Impossible,” I began to consider Irvine’s pigeonholed definition of a “successful” restaurant. The transformations all seemed to follow a particular formula — and look a certain way. Classy, sharp interiors. Pristine service. Short menus. His restaurant revamps suggested that only 12-item menus could embody the next trendy restaurant, and that there was something inherently wrong with long menus that provided over 100 options for customers. I looked down at the multi-page Dumpling House menu, which had initially given me pause. The distinctions between Irvine’s idea of culinary success and the Chinese restaurants that I grew up loving, the cultural enclaves that I called home, upset me. Could Chinese restaurants ever fit the mold of a successful business, or would they, much like the rest of Chinese culture in America, continue to be typified as “other”?