From street food to mu­se­ums, Chi­nese food hot in the US

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - Con­tact the writer at williamhen­nelly@ chi­nadai­

It seems you can’t go a week without read­ing about the glo­ries of Chi­nese food in Amer­ica. From baozi in Boston to jian­bing in New York, tra­di­tional Chi­nese street food is en­tic­ing Amer­i­cans.

It’s not just food trucks or old school Chi­nese restau­rants, some of which have got­ten away from the typ­i­cal fare they’ve of­fered for more than 100 years. But dishes that can be found on the main­land are pop­ping up in the US.

Meizhou Dongpo opened its first US res­tau­rant in Bev­erly Hills, Cal­i­for­nia, in 2013, with of­fer­ings from its menu in China. Lo­cally hired chefs were sent to China for train­ing.

Next spring, Bei­jing’s Dadong, known for its Pek­ing Duck and chef Dong Zhenx­i­ang, will open a flag­ship US res­tau­rant in Man­hat­tan in an 18,000 square-foot, glass-walled space.

Xi’an Fa­mous Foods last month opened its 12th lo­ca­tion in New York near the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art. Xi’an started as a 200-square foot base­ment stall in the Golden Shop­ping Mall in Flush­ing, Queens.

The orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion, es­tab­lished in 2005, was the first res­tau­rant to bring Xi’an cui­sine to the US, fea­tur­ing hand-ripped noo­dles, se­cret spices and burg­ers on flat­bread.

A cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mu­seum of Chi­nese in Amer­ica in New York called Sour, Sweet, Bit­ter, Spicy: Sto­ries of Chi­nese Food and Iden­tity in Amer­ica raises the food to an art form, lit­er­ally. Var­i­ous chefs and home cooks talk about their craft — with each one’s spe­cialty dish pre­sented in ce­ramic.

On a re­cent Oc­to­ber af­ter­noon, peo­ple stood on line for the of­fer­ings of Hangzhou-based Gan Qi Shi’s first over­seas baozi shop, in Har­vard Square in Cam­bridge, Mas­sachusetts, China Daily’s Hezi Jiang re­ported. The US chain adopted the English name of Tom’s BaoBao.

“I used to grab burg­ers and Korean tofu soup when I needed a quick bite,” said Wang Na, a Chi­nese grad stu­dent at Har­vard. “Now I get two baozi. They are health­ier, and taste like home.”

A fist-sized baozi costs about $3, with the ex­cep­tion of the $6 lob­ster bun, a nod to New Eng­lan­ders’ love of seafood.

The bam­boo steam­ers were made of bam­boo from the Yangtze River Delta re­gion and the flour shipped from China.

Tom Tong, founder of the 200-store chain, is plan­ning to ex­pand “even to the West Coast”, he said, “and we may fran­chise”.

In New York, Mr Bing, a food stand serv­ing Bei­jing jian­bing, was named “Rookie of the Year” at the 2016 Vendy Awards, which rec­og­nizes the city’s best food carts, Xiao­tian Zhang re­ported.

Mr Bing is Brian Gold­berg, a New York na­tive who fell in love with jian­bing in 1998 as a stu­dent in Bei­jing. There was a ven­dor parked out­side his dorm, so he ate the pan­cakes for break­fast ev­ery morn­ing.

After tast­ing 40 dif­fer­ent street crepes in Bei­jing and Harbin, Gold­berg set­tled on his fa­vorite and pur­chased the recipe from a street ven­dor. He then flew the ven­dor to Hong Kong, where the first Mr Bing booth opened in 2012, so the mas­ter could teach his em­ploy­ees how to make the real deal.

In Oc­to­ber 2015, a food truck called The Fly­ing Pig parked in Man­hat­tan, serv­ing jian­bing to Columbia Univer­sity stu­dents and Up­per West Siders. Jian Bing Com­pany, started by a cou­ple of Amer­i­cans fond of Shan­dong-style crepes, de­buted at Brook­lyn’s Smor­gas­burg in April.

And if din­ers are look­ing to wash that tasty food down, they can visit one of the many bub­ble tea shops now in the US.

NEWYORK JOUR­NAL Wil­liam Hen­nelly

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