Pea Tips and Spicy Pig's Ear
Middle-aged eaters order "Szechuan" and "Hunan" dishes. "When we opened our restaurant in 1992, things like kung pao chicken were popular. It's Chinese food, but with lots of changing." Strict health regulations and the unavailability of true Chinese produce explains some of it, but also: "Chinese food is salt-based--it doesn't have much sugar. Recipes here add sugar" for the American sweet tooth.
About five years ago, Greg started to see a third wave of customers: "When we opened twenty years ago, there weren't many Chinese students, and those who were here couldn't afford to eat in restaurants." Now Chinese students form enough of a constituency to make real Chinese cooking worthwhile, and it's easier to provide because American farmers are now growing Chinese produce. Though, paradoxically, the new Chinese generation is so worldly that "they want not only Chinese, but food from Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan."