Food connects people and transports them. The power of food is undeniable. Would you be willing to go to great lengths in search of the perfect taste of food? David R Chan has been searching for authentic Chinese food for nearly four decades. During his search, he visited nearly 8000 restaurants in the United States. In a spreadsheet, Chan, a retired tax lawyer from Los Angeles, has detailed each of his visits.
In the 1960s, Chan began his odyssey as a search for identity as a third-generation Chinese American. During his college years, he was inspired by the American civil rights movement and wanted to explore his heritage. As his interest in the Chinese in America grew, he became curious to learn more about the cuisine. Prior to this, he had no idea how diverse it could be. However, he cannot use chopsticks.
When Chan was a child, he did not eat Chinese food and was not impressed when he tried it for the first time. The 72-year-old recalled his first Chinese meals from the 1950s, saying, ‘The food was not sophisticated’. He would eat soy sauce on rice, and nothing else. On his business trips to America, Canada and Asia, Chan would sample the cuisine.
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Chan, not a typical food critic, gave up the tea to avoid caffeine and followed a low cholesterol, low sugar diet. This Chinese restaurant ‘collector’ regularly posts his food tastings on his social media accounts, including pork belly, tea-smoked duck, and pineapple buns. For a wide variety of authentic Chinese foods in America, Chan recommends the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles.
Dim sum is a San Francisco specialty. As opposed to popular belief, Chan has no set number of restaurants he would like to visit. He does hope to try as many as possible. After retiring, he has continued to visit new restaurants. His Chinese wife is skeptical about Chan’s expertise. Her husband is the chef in the house, so she is bemused when people ask about Chinese food.
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