Some of the survey
results are too good not to share right away. Here is an assortment of "earliest Chinese restaurant memories":
Jiannbin Lee Shiao:
The "Blue Hawaii" restaurant in Nashville, TN, whose owners were family friends and whose menu included flaming ice-cream.
Mrs. Abigail M. Harris:
My earliest memory is not of going to a Chinese restaurant, but of my parents getting dressed up and leaving me at home with a baby-sitter when they would go to Wing‚s Tea House in Lexington, KY. I liked all the excitement surrounding this special night out, and I knew that in the morning there would be a big orange Almond Cookie for me! I must have been 4 or 5 years old.
This was the neighborhood Chinese Food experience in West Philly. The first thing you see is the big black Iron security gate as you pass through the doorway. There was usually a plastic chair or two for you to sit in while you were waiting for your order. While I sat, my mother or grandmother would place the order and I would look around the tiny vestibular like room. The whole experience told me that this was a "grown up" thing. From the bars on the doors to the height of the walk up window. Ghetto Chinese is all about fortification. And I'm not speaking about nutritional value. You never eat in a Ghetto Chinese resturant, and most times, the ordering window looked like the banks of yesteryear. The ordering window was encased in some sort of glass or plastic like a bank teller window. Some of the resturants actually had carousels where you would place your money inside, and spin it around so that payment could be received. Minutes later, your food would be placed in the carousel with your change and spun back to you. My mom would give the food order and join me in the plastic chairs waiting patiently while strange sounds and smells wafted through and under the glass. When I was a little girl, I thought that Chinese food was a code name for shrimp. Because we only ordered, shrimp fried rice, shrimp with lobster sauce, shrimp Yak (sp?) (sounds like yock) or shrimp chow fun. No matter what it was, it started with shrimp.