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Q&A with our very own Chandavkl (aka "David Chan")

As many of you may have heard or read about, one of our very own LA-based Chowhounds, Chandavkl, has received some recent and well-deserved press regarding his rather amazing culinary exploits.

These include, a write-up in the LA times and Chowhound post found here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/899273

As well as a previous write-up in the LA Weekly (by our own ClarissaW), which you can read about here, http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

Given all of this recent interest in Chandavkl, I thought it might be worthwhile to have him participate in a Q&A session with the fellow 'Hounds on the LA Board. And despite his busy schedule, Chandavkl has graciously agreed to participate.

Chandavkl is one of the most intrepid and well-versed 'Hounds on Chinese cuisine, both historically and culturally, that you will come across on these boards. In many ways, he epitomizes what the spirit and quiddity of being a Chowhound is all about.

And while you can read his blog (http://chandavkl.blogspot.com/ ) or follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/chandavkl ), this is your opportunity to ask the man who, as ClarissaW so eloquently and aptly put it, "Has Eaten at 6,000 + Chinese Restaurants" and is "impressively thorough" your most burning culinary questions.

So without further ado ...

Cheers.

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  1. Awesome idea, ipse!

    Chandavkl, it's been mentioned in the write-ups about you that you do not speak Chinese. However, I'm wondering if your Chinese vocabulary may actually be quite large, even if it only consists of names of dishes.

    I would not claim to have learned Japanese by eating sushi, but I know a heck of a lot of Japanese words because of my proclivities.

    12 Replies
    1. re: PeterCC

      I speak what might be called "pidgin Toishanese" which doesn't get you very far.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          Thanks for responding. Do you order dishes by their English names even if you know their Chinese (be it Mandarin, Cantonese, etc.) names?

          Also, this may have been answered in one of the media interviews, but since your goal is to try as many restaurants as you can, I'm assuming you might make fewer return visits to places than the average Chowhound. What specific restaurants in L.A. do you repeatedly dine at most frequently?

          1. re: PeterCC

            Will use Chinese names if necessary. Repeat visitor to Qingdao Bread Food, Tasty Garden, Seafood Village, but most often to Union Buffet in WLA because I need to gain weight so I go there once a week.

            1. re: Chandavkl

              Which raises the question: how do you eat so much and stay so thin?

              1. re: mc michael

                Portion control, carb control and exercise

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Thanks. Which branch of Seafood Village do you favor?

                  1. re: mc michael

                    Monterey Park because it's closer to me.

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      You are a practical man. Thank you.

              2. re: Chandavkl

                Union buffet, really ?

                I've never been able to set foot in the place. But someone did mention that they had Fujianese (sp?) fish balls ?

            2. re: Chandavkl

              Chandavkl, like you I don't speak Chinese. I probably know even less than you. I find I don't get much respect in restaurants by the servers. Do you have that problem?

              1. re: granadafan

                Only until the point when I order something no tourist would eat.

          2. I'm wondering if there were different regions represented in the SGV in 1979 when I first began my expoits there. I remember eating pretty much exclusively Cantonese at that time and wondered if it was because of whom I was going out to eat with or if that was the only good Chinese available at that time.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JAB

              Mostly Cantonese back then, though I notice that workers at the newest branch of Yi Mei in Monrovia are wearing company shirts that say "since 1979". That was probably the little location on Atlantic next to Di Ho Market. I think 1979 was the initial beginnings of non-Cantonese Chinese in Los Angeles, strangely most obviously in Chinatown when Great Shanghai and Szechwan Palace opened up in the Food Center in 1979. The SGV did not supplant Chinatown as LA's primary Chinese food area until the mid to late 1980s.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                Interesting in that we were in Pasadena and rarely went into Chinatown. I do remember going to Monterey Park though as Arcadia and Valley Blvd weren't established yet.

              1. Chandavkl you are my chowhound hero.

                  1. First, thanks for the updates on restaurant openings or presence in a certain area. They have come in handy in Miami and most recently in finding Four Seas Irvine.

                    If it's not too intrusive, what does the "kl" stand for?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Porthos

                      Kenneth Leventhal & Company, the firm that I worked at for many years, now part of Ernst & Young LLP

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        Ha! For years I seriously thought you were from Kuala Lumpur!

                        1. re: J.L.

                          I always presume others did too.

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            I always thought your name was just one whole name. Not like a mash up.

                      2. re: Porthos

                        haha nice i didnt even know that was there..must try next time im home

                      3. Chandavkl, do you even have the time or the interest to eat at other restaurants besides Chinese? If so, what would it be, American, Japanese, Korean, Italian?
                        Many thanks.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: selfportrait93

                          Yes. Most recent meal was a Japanese place on Sawtelle. I don't comment too much on those kinds of visits, though, as I don't feel particularly qualified.

                            1. re: mc michael

                              Yes, more often at home than not. I don't live anywhere near the San Gabriel Valley (OK, well 15 miles) and almost never eat out close to home. Not like people I know in the SGV who eat out a dozen or more meals weekly.

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                I hope those dozen or more people are posting here.

                        2. Chandavkl, remember Lime House, Tai Hong, and Golden Palace in Chinatown from the old days? How did they rate as restaurants for their era?

                          Also, remember New Moon on San Pedro? How did that survive for as long as it did? Was the Chinese population in that area big enough to support that restaurant at that time?

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: raytamsgv

                            Wow... I didn't think many knew those restos these days. My dad was the architect who designed Several Chinatown restaurants back in the 60's and 70's including Golden Dragon, Golden Palace, ABC Seafood, I think Grand Star as well as United Foods for the Moy's. They were "Chinese Aunt & Uncle" to us though not related by blood. We dined out a lot at the restaurants he designed as many of them owed himfor his fees so he would bring all of us and we'd eat for free as a way for the restaurants to pay him for his fees. So we ate out several times a week usually. As a family of six or with my dad's bro and family then a party of 9, we often dined banquet style and enjoyed a variety of dishes at the restaurants. I didn't realize how good I had it back then.

                            1. re: darrelll

                              One of my relatives was a cook at Limehouse. One of our family friends was a part owner of Tai Hong. In fact, a large number of my family friends and relatives worked in restaurants. The food was always very good at family gatherings. :-)

                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                Also, "good" was relative. Back in that day, those restaurants served what we considered good Chinese food. Our family stuck largely to the City Market area aside from banquets. Places like Man Fook Low, Paul's Kitchen, Paul's Cafe, Li Wah Cafe, Modern Cafe, On Luck and New Moon.

                                I guess I should also mention New Hung Far on Spring St. for banquets.

                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  glad you mentioned man fook low and i think ive mentioned to u before but my grandfather was a cook and waiter there, so i have some nostalgia for that place

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    In the 70's I discovered Man Fook Low and dined there all the time. Would often see May West in her corner dining with her all male entourage.

                                    Here is a quote from Governor Jerry Brown "For the inaugural dinner, we went to Man Fook Lo, a Chinese restaurant in the produce district of Los Angeles. It was once a favorite of Mae West."

                                    1. re: wienermobile

                                      wow very cool i didnt know that, mae west died i think before i was born, but thats very cool no idea celebrities etc went there

                                      maybe u met my grandfather, im trying to remember what his english name was, i think it was paul (i never knew he had an english name til i got way older)

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Hollywood has always had "go-to" Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately these days it's Mr. Chow. Mae West lived on Rossmore Ave., so I guess Man Fook Low was relatively convenient.

                                  2. re: Chandavkl

                                    Btw, is Tommy LaSorda's favorite Paul's Chinese Restaurant still around ?

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      Still there. I took the reporter there to show him what Chinese food was really like in the old days.

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        Has anyone had their Roast Duck and famous BBQ Pork? Both used to be outstanding but for the last couple of years, the duck has become "bleh." The BBQ Pork is a hit & miss these days as well, but the last time I've been was a year ago...

                                        I also remember Lime House. It was a little kid at the time and enjoyed walking around the interior courtyard (I hope I'm remembering the right one. It was on Ord, no?)

                                        My family fell in love with the first real HK Cafe style restaurant in Chinatown called Orchid Cafe. We would always go there for the red bean crushed iced desserts.

                                        1. re: TripleAxel

                                          Lime House was on Ord and New High, which is now ABC. Don't recall if there was an interior courtyard. Not familiar with Orchid Cafe. When and where were they around?

                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                            Where did you guys say to hit up if we happen to be in Chinatown, of course if we happen to be there, and want some dim sum since Empress Pavillon is now closed ?

                                            Was the place called Ocean Star ?

                                            Thanks.

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              Ocean Seafood is considered the best place for dim sum now in Chinatown, but go only during peak hours...otherwise, the dim sum carts would have been sittting around awhile and you may end up with luke warm to cold dim sum. :-P

                                            2. re: Chandavkl

                                              They were around in the mid-to-late 1980s and 1990s, inside the Best Western Motel on Hill St. The USPS now resides in that space.

                              2. One of my earliest and fondest memories is going to eat Chinese food at the old "Moongate" restaurant http://thatfoodguy.blogspot.com/2009/... that was on Van Nuys Blvd. and was owned by Philip Ahn the Korean actor. We went there in the 1950's and 60's, and I can still recall seeing Mr. Ahn come by and chat with my mom and dad. Those were the days when paper wrapped chicken and sweet and sour spareribs were the height of Chinese cooking, at least to my way of thinking then.

                                What was the first Chinese restaurant you went to as a child, David (that you can recall)?

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Servorg

                                  New China Cafe, 47th and Broadway, in the 'hood. (Chinese in LA were confined to quarters back then.) I remember two dishes there--chow mein and pig stomach marinated in soy sauce. I find the latter interesting since one associates early 1950s Chinese food with chow mein, fried rice, fried shrimp, chashu, spare ribs, etc., and yet we had a dish then that you don't see anymore.

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    For their era those three restaurants were the primary alternatives in town, along with Hong Kong Low if you wanted to have a wedding or birthday banquet. That was also the only time we went to any of them. Back then the N. Spring St. district, where Lime House was, and the places on Broadway were separate and distinct districts, as the lower part of Broadway was not Chinese.

                                    The reason why New Moon lasted so long was that from the early 1940s until the 1960s, San Pedro St. was the main commercial street of the Los Angeles Chinese community. The original LA Chinatown was torn down in the early 1930s to make way for Union Station. The civic response was the creation of New Chinatown on Broadway and China City on N. Spring St. But what happened is both of those became commercial tourist districts only. Chinese residents moved their homes near the City Market Produce Terminal on 9th St., or just east of USC, so San Pedro St. was where the Chinese had their own stores and restaurants.

                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                      I only remember Hong Kong Low for their takeout dim sum... They used to make the best and biggest char siu baos in Chinatown or anywhere for that matter. They were huge and so loaded with filling. And cheap too! Sadly they're now gone...

                                    2. re: Servorg

                                      You have to be careful at time warp restaurants, because they've snuck in some non-Cantonese dishes in some of them, like orange chicken or kung pao shrimp. Stay with the Cantonese dishes.

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        The Cantonese restaurant I mostly recall going to in the Valley, now long gone, was Ho Toy's on Van Nuys Blvd. very close to the 101 Freeway (just barely south of it). on the east side of the street.

                                        http://shermanoaks.patch.com/articles...

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Servorg...That too was my childhood Chinese restaurant. In the 60's we ate there at least twice a week.

                                    3. Thank you for chronicling your dining adventures. How would you suggest ordering at a restaurant that seems to be stuck in a 'time warp'- go w/ the chef's specialties, ask the wait staff? Or just take the 'throwing darts' approach, & order a bunch of oddball stuff? I am thinking about the Peking Duck restaurant in Alexandria, VA.

                                      1. I often find that, even though I would really like to return, I have realistically zero chance of going back to a certain restaurant a second or third time in order to further review the depth of its menu.

                                        Therefore, I use the one visit I have at some eateries and order basically a huge swath of its menu (even though I'm often a solo diner). Many a times I get strange looks from my server when ordering ("That's too much food for one person" - I get that a lot). Such is the reality of Chowhounding.

                                        I guess what I'm trying to ask is: Do you approach a new eatery (assuming it has an extensive menu) and try to conquer its menu in one sitting, or do you simply go back again and again, if need be?

                                        Or do you have a Chow Posse? And if you do have a Chow Posse, how can I join?

                                        Thanks!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          I would like to join as well. We'll call ourselves Chandavkl's Army!

                                          1. re: PeterCC

                                            I'd like to join this chow posse too.

                                          2. re: J.L.

                                            First choice is to see if there's something different. If it's really good or there are more interesting items, then I may return. Most of my meals are solo simply because the majority are out of town when travelling by myself. (And obviously I'm less likely to return to a place in NY, SF, Toronto etc.) Aside from my family, I do have one friend who has been to a few hundred restaurants with me. They interviewed him extensively for the article but was not mentioned by name.

                                          3. Here's another question: How do you pronounce "Chandavkl"?

                                            I have fits of dyslexia occasionally, so I pronounce it in my head chan-dal-vick even though of course the v comes before the k which comes before the l.

                                            3 Replies
                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                That was exactly how I was reading it until you explained it in the other post!

                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                  The problem is the pronunciation of the "A" in DAV

                                                  Is the "A" pronounced like the vowel sound in:
                                                  "Dave"?
                                                  "avid"?
                                                  "odd"?
                                                  or something else?

                                                  My vote is for "odd" (Nothing personal intended, Mr. Chan!)

                                                  I'm delighted to see someone in the limelight who is down to earth for just being themselves, and doing what they do. It wrinkles my blubber when I see "foodies" who put on airs of various degrees and types of excess in order to mug for the virtual (and/or literal) camera.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                              2. Where in St. Paul MN did you have the egg foo young burger? Did you like it? (Wikipedia describes a Missouri specialty called a St. Paul sandwich--same thing? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Paul...)

                                                Do you post much to regional boards (other than LA) about the food you encounter during your travels?

                                                ~TDQ

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  haha wow never heard or seen this before...is it good?

                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                      haha wow never seen this either

                                                      i want to try these things although not sure when i would ever be in st paul, mn.

                                                      although maybe id be close to fall river if i went back to martha's vineyard. i can imagine the look my gf would give me if i dragged her out of the way to go try this chow mein sandwich haha

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          With those fries on the side you have a complete meal!

                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Maybe David is confusing St. Louis with St. Paul! I've never seen nor heard of this dish in the Twin Cities.

                                                      1. re: scoopG

                                                        That's why I'm curious! I can't say I've been looking for it all over the Twin CIties, but I know the Blue Door Pub in St. Paul has one (or used to anyway, I just looked at their online menu and don't see it.) But, BDP is pretty new, so David would have had to have been here relatively recently to have tried it.

                                                        This reminds of a time my husband visited a Chinese-American restaurant in MN a number of years ago where he ordered a cheeseburger (don't ask me why a person would order such a thing, curiousity, I think) and they brought him a thick slab of cheddar cheese on a hamburger bun. Now, there's truth in advertising!

                                                        David, do you run any graphs or charts in Excel off of your restaurant database?

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        The thing about the St. Paul sandwich is mixed up in the story. It is a specialty in St. Louis. Legend is that it was so named because the Chinese restauranteur was originally from St. Paul.

                                                        http://www.menuism.com/blog/chinese-a...

                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                          Ah, okay. It's amazing how inaccurate the press can be. Once you're directly involved in a story that's reported in the press, you become aware of how many details they get wrong. Hopefully they get the big picture right though!

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                      3. David- I saw you are unable to use chopsticks, or a pencil confortably for that matter. Curious if you were diagnosed with dysgraphia?

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                          No, it's the result of being a stubborn first grader.

                                                        2. Chandavkl - Do you still work, or are you retired?

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                            Still work full time. That's why I ended up in places like New York and Washington DC so often.

                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                              Any comment on NY vs LA chinese food? :)

                                                              (not including NY egg rolls)

                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                You want me to get pilloried again? I 'll let my past words speak for themselves.

                                                                http://www.menuism.com/blog/best-chin...

                                                          2. Will you begin (or continue?) the study of chinese?

                                                            Which dialects interest you?

                                                            Do you think that the lack of being able to speak/read chinese affects your ability to pick out local specialties vs. a native chinese speaker?

                                                            Thank You.

                                                            24 Replies
                                                            1. re: blimpbinge

                                                              I'm too old for that. Clearly it's a hindrance since I'm not able to look behind the menu. Best example was when I went to Beijing Duck House in Temple City and asked them about their Haichang Dumplings. I asked them what it was and they said it was "like leek". Fortunately I passed on them because as I believe JThur01 eventually discovered, they were dumplings made out of sea worms.

                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                They may have been trying to say "like leech" and not leek...(g)

                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                  Real sea worms or "worm grass", the very expensive yellow strands seen in high end Cantonese soups?

                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                    Real sea worms or "worm grass", the very expensive yellow strands seen in high end Cantonese soups?
                                                                    __________________

                                                                    Sea cucumbers

                                                                    "Haichang" is a (rough) phonetic of the mandarin words for sea cucumber.

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      Makes more sense. Thanks.

                                                                      I was picturing some horrific aquatic nematode

                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                        You'd be right Porthos. The "Haichang" served at Beijing Duck House is this:

                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2_H_m...

                                                                        Jonathan Gold mentioned it on his visit (sixth paragraph):
                                                                        http://www.laweekly.com/2011-03-24/ea...

                                                                        And, Robert Sietsema, with some more video on page 2:
                                                                        http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

                                                                        1. re: JThur01

                                                                          From our 6 month backpacking trip through Asia in 2006. (We found this at a fish market in Seoul)

                                                                          http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-phot...

                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                          1. re: JThur01

                                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...

                                                                            Yep that's the creature, hai chang (sea intestine

                                                                            )

                                                                            海腸

                                                                            Also known as ahem... 陰莖魚 in some circles (penis fish). (Or Peter North Fish....)

                                                                            1. re: JThur01

                                                                              Sietsema was late to the scene in New York in writing about a favorite Qingdao specialty!
                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6404...

                                                                              1. re: JThur01

                                                                                The dish with chives doesn't look so bad. I'd give it a shot.

                                                                                1. re: JThur01

                                                                                  Thanks David, but the credit for figuring out exactly what "Haichang" was should go to our very own Raytamsgv. He was first to successfully point out what the heck it was.

                                                                                  1. re: JThur01

                                                                                    Try them sashimi-ed the next time you dine at a Korean Live Seafood & Sushi restaurant in K-town. I had mine at Hwal Uh Kwang Jang.

                                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                                        I posted a L M G T F Y link but the mod said it's snarky so here's a very uninteresting and un-snarky way for me to relate information:

                                                                                        https://www.google.com/search?q=%E6%B...

                                                                                        1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                                          I thought it was an affirmative answer to a Chinese person by a Japanese person...

                                                                                            1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                                              Dude, that should come with a disclaimer, as in "Not necessarily work safe"

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                it was actually a lot worse than i had pictured

                                                                                                1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                                                  So you're not running for the Mayor of NYC then?

                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                    "I'm huge, I can help you" - Anthony Haichang.

                                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                                      I understand that the "Girthers" want to see his pre bris evidence...

                                                                                  2. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                    idk i'd recommend trying to pick up basic food chinese, i dont think you're too old to learn some of the basics (i dont think anyone is too old). i find it beyond helpful at alot of places where id probably be ordering all the wrong stuff otherwise. i have alot of non-chinese friends who are big chinese food fans who have picked up enough to be somewhat competent and they all told me its helpful as well

                                                                                    i had to teach myself to read most food characters in chinese and its proved itself to be a very useful endeavor although it took me a while

                                                                                    But i guess im looking from the outside in a bit, so hard for me to say how hard it would be to pick up exactly and obviously it would require some sacrifice of time

                                                                                2. And now, the unauthorized video, "Dude where's my restaurant?"

                                                                                  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xzbz...

                                                                                  1. chandavkl:

                                                                                    to what do you attribute your refusal to join in on the "can you top this in the authenticity sweepstakes" and "i know more than you" kind of dick measuring that seems to take over most if not all of the chinese food threads on chowhound?
                                                                                    is it your lack of chinese language skills, or something else?

                                                                                    thanks.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: linus

                                                                                      It's because I'm not a foodie. I just eat at a lot of restaurants.

                                                                                      http://chandavkl.blogspot.com/2012/06...

                                                                                    2. Chandavkl, a few questions about family.

                                                                                      First, if it's not too personal, did you marry someone of Chinese descent? Does your wife enjoy Chinese food as much as you do?* Just curious as my wife is Irish-American and sometimes tires of my Chinese/Japanese/Korean food binges.

                                                                                      Second, the LAT article has a passage about your son not really being aware of this quest you were on when growing up. I know you mentioned going mostly solo, but any fun stories of taking the family to try a new place?

                                                                                      (*Related, do you enjoy Chinese food more than other cuisines, or is it more quest/mission-based by now? If you really didn't feel like eating Chinese food on a certain day but saw a new Chinese restaurant that you could try, would you go there anyway?)

                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: PeterCC

                                                                                        My wife is Toishanese and since she came over from there when she was 5 years,old she is actually much more conversant than I am when it comes to knowledge about Chinese food itself. She is also intolerant of any food that is less than delicious, plus she has the typical Cantonese taste buds which disdains much of what is found in other regional Chinese cuisines. So about 10 years ago I take her to Chung King and she was so appalled she still complains about that meal today. She also views the episode as my taking her to an inferior restaurant, as opposed to it being a good restaurant aimed at people having different tastes in food.

                                                                                        Nah, the quest trumps anything else.

                                                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                          Love it! You captured the Cantonese taste buds perfectly. :)

                                                                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                            It seems a lot of the original Chinese immigrants in the SGV were Toishanese. One of our neighbors who is from the SGV is of Toishanese heritage as well (I think she's third generation). Do you know the what were the reasons for the Toishanese to come here when they did?

                                                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                Chinese merchants and sailors began arriving in America in 1784 but usually did not stay. The earliest known Chinese living in America are fixed in New York by 1808 and by the 1820’s Chinese sailors were living in Manhattan, when California was called Californios and San Francisco was known as Yerba Buena.

                                                                                                Within one month of the accidental discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma on January 24, 1848, two Chinese servants of one Charles Gillespie deserted him went to Coloma. Soon people from around the world were arriving in California to try to strike it rich. The experience of the first Chinese there was no different than other Europeans or new Americans. Because the early Chinese immigrants were from the southern rice growing of China, they were quite familiar with sluices, irrigation and dams and were well suited to gold mining.

                                                                                                Census data from the west taken between 1860-1880 shows that Chinese were listed as miners, merchants, gamblers, laundrymen, cooks, servants and restaurant owners. They also brought with them their cuisine and by 1849 there were three Chinese restaurants in San Francisco.

                                                                                                For an excellent overview see "Chinese America: The Untold Story of America's Oldest New Community," by Peter Kwong and Dusanka Miscevic. The New Press: New York, 2005.

                                                                                                Edit:
                                                                                                The vast majority of Chinese immigrants were from eight counties in Guangdong province near the Pearl River Delta and the largest portion (approximately 45% by 1876) were from just one of these eight counties – Toishan or Taishan which was the poorest county in an otherwise wealthy province. For some perspective Guangdong province has 98 counties in an area the size of Missouri while Toishan is about half the size of Rhode Island. By the time of the Opium Wars (1839-1842) Chinese began to leave for the USA and by the end of the 1850’s about 25% of all miners in California were Chinese.

                                                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                  You tell 'em, scoopG! Probably 95 percent of the Chinese in the US in the first century after the Gold Rush were Toishanese. While most Chinese immigration to the US was banned between 1882 and the 1950s, there was substantial illegal immigration during that period (such as most of my family), but exclusively of Toishanese friends and relatives of Chinese already in the US. Consequently, what is known as old time Chinese food over here is derived from what the Toishanese immigrants brought over.

                                                                                                  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Menuism...

                                                                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                    Thanks for that nice summary, ScoopG. My ancestors first arrived in the 1880s and settled in Marysville up north because it was a hub for the Gold Rush seekers. They came from the Guangdong region as stated above. I believe they are mentioned in that book. I can't remember.

                                                                                                2. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                  Wow, I'm Toishanese as well and my wife is HongKong Cantonese and we were both appalled by Chung King, thinking people who ate there regularly were plumb loco.

                                                                                                  1. re: cfylong

                                                                                                    To this day, I have no idea why *anyone* -- Toishanese, Taiwanese, Sichuanese or Martian -- would find Chung King anything more than merely passable.

                                                                                                    I lost what little respect I had for JGold's Chinese food cred after his overflowing love for this place way back when.

                                                                                              2. Thanks again Chandavkl for answering all these questions for the chow-parazzi. On that note, have any strangers approached you--in flagrante delicto--at a restaurant to see if you were you? :-)

                                                                                                What do your friends and family think of your new-found fame? Why do you think you've been getting the media coverage now, rather than 5 years ago or 10 years ago? Do you attribute it to your participation in CH and the fact that other rising foodie stars like Clarissa are singing your praises?

                                                                                                (Wow, sorry for the rapid-fire...)

                                                                                                16 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: PeterCC

                                                                                                  Fortunately I've never been accosted by strangers in public. Many have contacted me by email or on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

                                                                                                  My kids are foodies and think it's great. My wife thinks it's silly. The catalyst was Clarissa who found me on this board and finding out about my spreadsheet, ran with it. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on. I was particularly puzzled last year when Clarissa's feature was picked up by People.com, from which it jumped to dozens of entertainment blogs with my story following a story about Britney Spears or somebody like that. I would now attribute that to the original source, i.e., People.com. This time there is no entertainment coverage because it's a hard news source (LA Times and ABC News). But it was my nephew Lucas Chan who put it all in perspective when he observed that the story garnered interest because "Food is the in thing these days." So 5 or 10 years ago nobody would have cared, but today it's big news.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                    Your feats were a consistent featured story on my Yahoo! home page's news feed this past week. Time to get yourself an agent or representation. :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                        I once was approached by a well-meaning fellow Chowhound who had followed my travel blog. Unfortunately, being recognized in public at a restaurant caught me so off guard that I think my reaction must have been rather off-putting. I always felt a little bad about that. I also thought about how it must be for celebs who have strangers approaching them all the time at restaurants. There's a skill involved there somewhere, in managing these sorts of unusual social situations with grace.

                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                          If I ever see you in a restaurant, I'll do my best not to startle you. Heck, I might even try some Toisanese to break the ice.

                                                                                                          1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                            I think I did a bad job of expressing myself there. To be recognized by strangers is not an ordinary, everyday occurrence for most non-celebrity peoples. It's never happened to me before and I wished I had handled it with a little more grace. If it happens again, hopefully I'll have learned from my prior experience :)

                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                              Now that is quite interesting...do you remember the hound? The restaurant? Could it have been, um, me? The original Umami? Probably not. And you probably weren't as off-putting as you think.

                                                                                                        2. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                          I'm surprised no one wrote about you earlier. If anyone else out there has a epic stash of Chinese food related spreadsheets.... let me know.

                                                                                                          1. re: ClarissaW

                                                                                                            That would make food journalism too easy now, wouldn't it? :-)

                                                                                                            1. re: ClarissaW

                                                                                                              TonyC was going to do it, though with no particular time line. So when you broached the subject I checked with him to see if he had any objections, which he didn't.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                Chandavkl, TonyC was going to do the interview for the Times ?

                                                                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                  I must have my old spreadsheet for sushi bars. But it's worthless now since its over 5 years out of date.

                                                                                                                2. re: ClarissaW

                                                                                                                  Yes. I'm with the rest on this one.

                                                                                                                  Absolutely no free publicity.

                                                                                                                  You have to earn it. :)

                                                                                                            2. Always enjoy reading your posts!

                                                                                                              BTW, the side bar on you blog really tripped me out.

                                                                                                              1. So as a complete novice who likes eggs rolls with meat in them, Kung pao chicken, sweet n sour pork etc... What place should I try in San gabriel valley?

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                                                                                                                  You'll probably want to review this recent thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/890355 and see if you can't hit something more in your comfort zone (ironically it was Dave that asked the question that began that thread).

                                                                                                                2. First, I wholeheartedly thank you for your contributions to Chowhound. Even before knowing about your "obsessive" hobby, I always considered you as part of the elite group of posters on the SGV food scene.

                                                                                                                  Second, if you were to pick a lineup of places that you would recommend that would give one a good profile of what the SGV food culture is about, what would they be?

                                                                                                                  Third, carbs are everywhere in various Chinese dishes. Yet you are able to limit your carb intake. I admire your ability to do so. And Qingdao Breadfood is one of your favorite places? How do you do it?

                                                                                                                  And lastly, Go Bruins!

                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                    Well, I try to limit myself to outright noodle dishes to once a week, and I stopped eating rice. At noodle places, I zero in on things like dumplings which are more protein the carb.

                                                                                                                    Here was my listing of places to go to in the SGV. Unfortunately they truncated the list alphabetically, leaving off the bottom 10 names. So a few of your obvious favorites are missing. I did put the full list on my blog last July.

                                                                                                                    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT..., 117.989576&spn=0.439494,0.31159&t=m&source=embed

                                                                                                                    And you can find me on the UCLA message boards as UCLAW.

                                                                                                                            1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                              U! - C! - L! - A!

                                                                                                                              UCLA!

                                                                                                                              Fight, fight!

                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                  It's no wonder I flunked out of UCLA.

                                                                                                                      1. If you had to choose only 5 Chinese restaurants from the SGV from I guess Monterey Park to San Gabriel to Temple City to El Monte, what would choose and what would be a couple singular dishes for each ?