Chinese Restaurants - History

History

Chinese restaurants in the United States began during the California gold rush, which brought twenty to thirty thousand immigrants across from the Canton (Guangdong) region of China. By 1850, there were 5 restaurants in San Francisco. Soon after, significant amounts of food were being imported from China to America's west coast. The trend spread eastward, with the growth of the American railways, particularly to New York City. There has additionally 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. Quantification of the magnitude of this modality of emigration is imprecise and varies over time, but it appears to continue unabated on a significant basis. Adapting Chinese cooking techniques to local produce and tastes has led to the development of American Chinese cuisine.

In 1907, the first recorded Chinese restaurant in London, England was opened. The rise in the number of Chinese restaurants in the UK only began after the Second World War, and has been attributed to returning service personnel. In 2003, the first British Chinese restaurant achieved a Michelin star. In the United Kingdom, the business employs a large percentage of Chinese immigrants (90% in 1985). Opening a restaurant or takeway gave a relatively low capital cost entry for Chinese families into self-employment, many takeaways served a pseudo-Chinese cuisine based around western tastes, and the limited cooking skills and experience of the shop owners.

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