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researching Chinese restaurant menus from 1960's LA


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researching Chinese restaurant menus from 1960's LA

Claire Raffel | Oct 28, 2005 05:30 PM

Dear Chowhounds,

I am a graduate student at UCLA writing a paper on a historic Chinese menu from the LA Public Library's menu collection. The menu is from 1965, from New Moon restaurant on San Pedro. I am trying to find out more information about this restaurant in particular, but also the history of the Chinese restaurant in LA, and in general, the phenomenon of the Chinese restaurant menu: how to interpret it on many levels, literary, socially, historically, institutionally, and of course, culinarily.

Some of the questions I am trying to answer about this menu/restaurant are:

1. (If you were from LA in the 60's) Who exactly was the restaurant catering to? Who was the intended clientele?
2. The food seems fairly "Americanized"...i.e. their famous Chinese Chicken Salad, and Sweet and Sour Chicken Sticks. However, one of the primary questions I have about this and other seemingly Americanized Chinese restaurants is: how authentic is the food really? Are these dishes based on traditional Chinese preparations and only changed for the American palate (especially that of the 1965 restaurant goer who would not have been exposed to the range of ethnic food that abounds today)? Or are they entirely made up for an American audience?
3. Was there another all-Chinese menu for the restaurant? Is that common practice? (It certainly is an urban myth.) If so, how would the food differ?

I would truly appreciate any thoughts you have on these questions, or other ideas you have about Chinese restaurants in America, the idea of authenticity in ethnic restaurants, ethnic restaurant menus, or whatever else comes to mind regarding this topic.

I am new to this website, so thank you in advance for your thoughts!


p.s. I have included the URL for the menu for further reference on menu items that people may want to weigh in on.


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