Experts estimate that there are more than 40,000 Chinese restaurants in the US now, a number that outstrips the total number of McDonald’s outlets in the world, estimated at 36,000.
The menu for the Port Arthur restaurant in New York, circa 1920s. Source: coolculinaria.com
Chinese food has been around in the US since the mid-1800s, when a huge influx of Chinese immigrants came to California during the Gold Rush.
The newcomers started opening restaurants and eventually began settling elsewhere thanks to the railroad expansion. That resulted in the establishment of Chinatowns all over the place.
For decades, Chinese food was considered exotic and available only if you ventured to a predominantly Chinese neighborhood. But today, you can walk almost anywhere in the US and you're likely to come across not just one, but multiple Chinese restaurants.
More Chinese restaurants in US than McDonald’s stores worldwide
Yong Chen, Authur of the book “Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food In America,” found that the reason for the growth of Chinese restaurants in the US primarily economic and not culinary.
As wages rose in the early 20th century, Chen found that the middle class wanted the same perks as the wealthy – including the privilege of eating food cooked by others.
Meanwhile, Chinese food came in the US when there was no “take-out” culture. Chinese immigrants, barred from most jobs by virulent discrimination, found work in the cities primarily by opening restaurants that offered delivery and take-out food.
Soon Americans began embracing their new neighborhood Chinese restaurants as special places where they could be treated to a meal they didn’t have to cook, and gradually, they began appreciating the flavors of the exotic cuisine.
Today, almost all regions of China are represented in restaurants across the US - clear indication that Chinese cuisine has earned a permanent place on American palates and plates.
(Edited by Pan Mengchen, Source - CCTV news)
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