About The Chinese Club
Despite its recent pedigree in New York, The Chinese Club has an astonishingly detailed history.
- In 1914, Lo Fung Shu established the first iteration of the club as a refuge for his fellow Hakka-Chinese immigrants in Darjeeling, India. It was a place for food, conversation, and games of mahjong and dominos.
- Generations later, his great-granddaughter, Stacey Lo, was born in Darjeeling. She later met and married Salil Mehta, a chef and Delhi native; together they cultivated their love of Hakka-Chinese and Indo-Chinese cuisine.
- Riding the wave of hyperfocused regional cooking, the pair converted their Malaysian eatery in Williamsburg into The Chinese Club in 2016. (They also own the Michelin-starred Laut in Manhattan.)
The charmingly ramshackle restaurant has a bit of the can-do attitude of the original club. "We want to promote different Chinese cuisine, one that’s being lost here and in India," Mehta told the Village Voice. "We have a beer-battered General Tso’s and Taiwanese noodles printed on our menu to get people through the door. But once they’re in, they see Ganesh in the window, there’s Bollywood music playing, our waiters are in Indian dress, and they get a bit confused."
That's exactly what the couple wants to invite before The Chinese Club introduces diners to the cuisine. Here's what tends to be popular among the newly initiated:
- Butter salt-and-pepper tempura mushrooms
- Chinese bhel salad, an amalgam of crispy rice noodles tossed with Sichuan chutney
- Hot and sour soup ( “A hot and sour soup in Indian-Chinese cuisine is different because the hot is really hot and the sour _really) sour,” Mehta told the Bedford + Bowery blog)
- Hakka chili chicken, a kung pao–esque dish of crispy bites
- Manchurian vegetable, or falafel-like fritters in a spicy brown sauce
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