Chop suey: New York’s homegrown Chinese dish

New Yorkers have been ordering chop suey since the turn of the century, when Chinese restaurants opened in large numbers and Chinese food became a trendy cuisine.

It was always a popular dish—and it may have been invented right here in 1896.

That’s when New York welcomed an official visit by Chinese premier Li Hongzhang.

Supposedly the personal chefs he brought with him from China created chop suey to win over American palates at formal dinners.

Another theory has it that chop suey is a bastardization of a Cantonese dish, and it became popular in the U.S. when Chinatowns sprang up in cities.

Whatever the story is, one thing’s for sure: It was always an inexpensive dish, as this 1960s menu, from The Rice Bowl Restaurant at 44 Mott Street, shows.

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5 Responses to “Chop suey: New York’s homegrown Chinese dish”

  1. Nabe News: May 5 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] Suey was allegedly invented in New York City, circa 1896 [Ephemeral […]

  2. modestine Says:

    Thought people might be interested in hearing William Grimes talk about Appetite City, a book about NYC restaurants in which he talks about the origins of Chinese restaurants here:


  3. Fashionable women at a Chop Suey restaurant « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Hopper’s 1929 painting Chop Suey is a reminder of a much older New York, when this dish was advertised in neon outside Chinese restaurants around the […]

  4. An old Chinese restaurant sign return to view | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Chinese restaurants have a long history in the city—chop suey was even invented in New York! Now, a previously hidden sign is back on […]

  5. A 19th century New Yorker invents toilet paper | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] existence to the inventors and developers of New York City, like Christmas tree lights, Oreos, chop suey, and […]

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