Wok This Way These restaurants are redefining American Chinese food
Wok This Way
These restaurants are redefining American Chinese food
Brandon Jew, the chef and owner of Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco’s Chinatown, has one mission: to “define San Francisco Chinese food.” And he’s doing that with a new approach to a cuisine most associated with takeout. “All the dishes [at my restaurant] have a story of a farm or a place within the Bay Area that I think is exceptional, and then we mix that with something that is steeped in Chinese tradition,” often from the local Chinese American immigrant community he grew up in.
From this intersection come dishes like scallion pancakes reimagined with San Francisco sourdough and local scallions and quails from Wolfe Ranch, a Bay Area purveyor popular with fellow chefs, like the team from State Bird Provisions. For Chinese New Year, Jew stuffs the boutique birds with a blend of sticky and jasmine rices, dried shrimp, and mushrooms, then lacquers the skin with sugar and ginger (see the recipe), a play on a dish his family used to eat for Thanksgiving.
“Just how American chefs have been putting a lot into defining American food, I think the next generation of Chinese American chefs will start to express their region as well,” he says. And he’s not talking about regions of China, but rather, regions of the U.S. Jew isn’t alone here. Following in the footsteps of places like Mission Chinese Food and Red Farm, a select group of chefs and restaurant owners (both of Chinese descent and otherwise) are opening restaurants across the country that reflect their neighborhoods, regional food traditions and what’s being grown nearby.