Foreword by Maneet Chauhan
From acclaimed chef Chris Cheung comes a cookbook inspired by growing up in New York’s Chinatown—with a foreword by Maneet Chauhan, celebrity chef, author, and judge on The Food Network’s Chopped
There is a particular region in today’s renaissance of Chinese cooking that is often overlooked: the food of Chinatown.
Like many of his predecessors, chef Chris Cheung was inspired by the place where he grew up, lived, worked, and ate. From take-out orders at tiny hole-in-the wall teahouses to the lush green vegetables piled high at the markets, celebration dinners at colossal banquet halls to authentic home-cooked meals, Chinatown’s culinary treasures and culture laid the groundwork for his career as a chef and serve as the creative force behind this book.
In addition to learning the technique to make his widely revered dumplings, this cookbook includes fifty mouth-watering dishes that pay homage to the cooking traditions of Chinatown and celebrate this remarkable, resilient neighborhood. Cheung shares his thoughtful tour de force takes on timeless Chinese classics like potstickers, spring rolls, wonton soup, General Tso’s chicken, beef and broccoli, scallion pancakes, har gow (shrimp dumplings), chicken chow mein, salt-and-pepper shrimp, lobster Cantonese, egg cakes, congee, and dozens of other delicious, authentic recipes perfect for cooks of all skill levels.
Through personal insights, stories, and recipes, the author walks you through the markets, restaurants, and streets, providing a stunning portrait of this important cuisine and its countless contributions to American culture.
“Having burnished his culinary skills in the kitchens of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Nobu Matsuhisa, the chef Chris Cheung returned to the food of Manhattan’s Chinatown, where he was born and raised, to create his casual East Wind Snack Shops in Brooklyn. In ‘Damn Good Chinese Food,’ his first cookbook, Mr. Cheung is your guide to Chinatown (as he was for Anthony Bourdain) and its vibrant markets. His book outlines equipment and techniques, and gives 50 recipes for dishes from the Chinese American canon, many with refinements. These include pungent sweet and sour pork Peking style; three cups cauliflower, which cleverly swaps out the usual chicken for the vegetable; designer egg drop soup; briny black bean clams; pork belly bao buns; and many, many dumplings, explaining the Chinatown pedigree and his personal take. Be prepared to use MSG; Mr. Cheung makes a cultural argument for it.” —The New York Times
“With a love for Chinese ingredients, techniques, and flavors, Chris has rapidly established himself as one of the leading authorities on Chinese cuisine in the United States. . . . The recipes and techniques in this book are undoubtedly authentic, but also approachable and delicious. These dishes will excite you and quickly become family favorites. I am ready to dive into these mouthwatering recipes and look forward to cooking up a delicious, Chris-inspired storm in my own kitchen!” —Maneet Chauhan, judge, Chopped, winner, Tournament of Champions II, and author, Chaat
“Without wasting a word, Chris Cheung shares everything he knows—which is a lot—about shopping for, cooking, and eating Chinese food in the United States. His natural, engaging voice comes through on every page of Damn Good Chinese Food, a refreshingly honest, funny, insightful, and extremely useful book.” —Laurie Woolever, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor, Appetites and World Travel, with Anthony Bourdain; author, Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography
“The stories Cheung shares reflect his upbringing in New York’s Chinatown, and the recipes celebrate the flavors, techniques, and culture of this delicious neighborhood.” —Food & Wine
“Damn Good Chinese Food shines as a celebration of Chinese markets, the people who run them and shop in them, and the food and traditions that shape Chinese culture in America.” —Plate Magazine
“Chef Chris Cheung’s East Wind Snack Shop in Brooklyn is known for its superlative dumplings, but his Chinatown-inspired book goes beyond those favorites, offering recipes for salt-and-pepper shrimp, cold sesame noodles, char siu black cod, congee, and more.” —Epicurious
“When it comes to great pizza, people think of Di Fara. When it comes to great Chinese food, you better know about Chef Chris Cheung. Domenico DeMarco and the Di Fara family are big fans of his cooking. We are so excited about this book!” —Dom, Maggie, and the whole Di Fara Pizza family
“A look into a window of Chinatown that goes unsung—the people, the community, and the food! As the owner of one of the oldest restaurants in Chinatown, I’m totally inspired by Chris’s writing, and the recipes are spot on.” —Peter Lee, owner, Hop Kee Restaurant
“Chris Cheung is the most New York chef I’ve ever met. Listening to him speak about growing up in Chinatown is a study in descriptive, textured storytelling. I can instantly smell and taste the food that he’s talking about. Mott Street in the late 80s and 90s was where I spent Sunday mornings with my father. Chris’s recipes in Damn Good Chinese Food bring me back to the place and time that food became the most important thing in my life.” —Ilan Hall, winner, Top Chef; former host, Knife Fight
“My earliest dining memories come from wondrous meals at Chinese restaurants, where the ingredients, flavors, and aromas captivated me. Damn Good Chinese Food reminds me of the joy of discovery. Chris Cheung’s inventive and delectable recipes respect tradition while he adds his heartfelt personal touches. This is an engaging book to be treasured.” —Drew Nieporent, restauranteur, Nobu, Batard, Tribeca Grill
“Chris Cheung taps into that nostalgia of 1970s Chinatown in his cooking, while bringing a modern sensibility to his recipes. We’re both NYC kids of the 70s, and while our backgrounds may be different, we share a deep love for dumplings and buns. And Chris’s dumplings are divine! I have twice profiled Chris and his cooking for my weekly food segment, Neighborhood Eats, on WABC TV, and both times I ate my way through the shoot, gorging on his delicious creations. His cooking directions are so simple, now even I can recreate Cantonese classics in my own kitchen! Dumplings, here I come!” —Lauren Glassberg, WABC TV Anchor and Reporter
“Chef Chris Cheung has spent much of his career honoring his Chinese heritage by bringing the cuisine of his Chinatown childhood into the 21st Century. The flavors and techniques are traditional, but Chris has a way of adding his own finesse, learned from some of the country’s greatest chefs as well as his own decades of experience. This book reflects all of that and brings it to your kitchen.” —Brett Thorn, senior editor, Nation’s Restaurant News
“More than damn good! A beautifully written and photographed journey shared from the vault of Chris Cheung’s soul, where I dare to imagine his ancestors sit and sip tea, share snacks, and impart their gems of flavor, techniques, and stories. . . . This book captures Chris’s unique humor, love for eighties pop culture, admiration for great Chefs, Chinese traditions, family, community, and a genuine respect for food and the intersection of the human experience. You’ll smile, laugh, ohh, ahh, marvel, and be moved by his recipes, stories, and anecdotes. Should you add this to your cookbook collection? Damn skippy!” —Jameeale Arzeno, culinary director, James Beard Foundation 2018–2020
Praise for Chef Chris Cheung:
“Thanks for making it all make brilliant sense.” —Anthony Bourdain, on Chris Cheung’s knowledge of New York’s Chinatowns
“A skilled craftsman.” —The Village Voice
“I’ve come to know Chris as a custodian of Chinatown’s food traditions and Cantonese-American cooking. But he’s also a thoughtful interpreter of Chinese cuisine. (Have you tried his Incredible Har Gow? Why not?) There’s a reason I’m always happy to go out of my way to meet a good friend at the southern entrance to Prospect Park—because I can grab food from East Wind Snack Shop.” —Chris Crowley, writer, New York Magazine
“Many chefs claim Chinatown as a point of reference, but Chris Cheung was raised in its old diners, dim sum halls, fishmongers, and grocery stores. His faithful yet inventive cooking is an essential form of storytelling and historical recovery.” —Herb Tam, curator, The Museum of Chinese in America
Praise for East Wind Snack Shop
“The absolute best dumplings in New York.” —New York Magazine
“A homage to [Chinatown’s] bygone working-class coffeehouses, run by immigrants who, like Mr. Cheung’s grandparents, came from Taishan, in Guangdong Province.” —The New York Times
“I picked up my life and moved just to be closer to this Brooklyn dumpling spot. . . . I looked down at my table full of gorgeous stir-fried vegetables, plump dumplings, and pork belly bao, and knew: I was home.” —Bon Appétit
“Brooklyn’s best (Bao) buns.” —Brooklyn Magazine
“A dumpling destination.” —Grub Street
“Stellar dumplings . . . The pork dumplings and dry-aged beef potstickers are certainly fantastic, but it’s chef Chris Cheung’s gwa bao-style bun, which places caramelized pork belly on top of the bun rather than inside of it, that has earned the most street cred among in-the-know diners.” —Eater
“Dumplings aren’t just a lowbrow option for a quick bite—especially with a Nobu vet doing the steaming. That’s the story behind East Wind Snack Shop, a brand new chopsticks spot in Windsor Terrace specializing in dumplings, buns and other quickly inhaled Chinese foods.” —Gothamist