American Chinese cuisine


By 1850, there were five Chinese restaurants in San Francisco.


Pekin Noodle Parlor, established in 1911, is the oldest operating Chinese restaurant in the country.


The Chinese Exclusion Act allowed merchants to enter the country, and in 1915, restaurant owners became eligible for merchant visas.


By the 1920s, this cuisine, particularly chop suey, became popular among middle-class Americans.


Chinese American restaurants were among the first restaurants to use picture menus. Beginning in the 1950s Taiwanese immigrants replaced Cantonese immigrants as the primary labor force in American Chinese restaurants.


These immigrants expanded American-Chinese cuisine beyond Cantonese cuisine to encompass dishes from many different regions of China as well as Japanese-inspired dishes. In 1955 the Republic of China evacuated the Dachen Islands in the face of the encroaching Communists.


Chinese-American restaurants played a key role in ushering in the era of take-out and delivery food in America. In New York City delivery was pioneered in the 1970s by Empire Szechuan Gourmet Franchise which hired Taiwanese students studying at Columbia University to do the work.


There has been a consequential component of Chinese emigration of illegal origin, most notably Fuzhou people from Fujian Province and Wenzhounese from Zhejiang Province in Mainland China, specifically destined to work in Chinese restaurants in New York City, beginning in the 1980s. Adapting Chinese cooking techniques to local produce and tastes has led to the development of American Chinese cuisine.


Chefs from the Dachen Islands had a strong influence on American Chinese food. Taiwanese immigration largely ended in the 1990s due to an economic boom and democratization in Taiwan.

From the 1990s onward immigrants from China once again made up the majority of cooks in American Chinese restaurants.

This dish usually does not appear on the English-language menu. Dau miu () is a Chinese vegetable that has become popular since the early 1990s, and now not only appears on English-language menus, usually as "pea shoots", but is often served by upscale non-Asian restaurants as well.


(New York: William Morrow, 1999).


(1914; reprinted, Bedford, MA: Applewood Books, 2006).

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