Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants

Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants

In 2016, Globe and Mail reporter Ann Hui drove across Canada, from Victoria to Fogo Island, to write about small-town Chinese restaurants and the families who run them. It was only after the story was published that she discovered her own family could have been included—her parents had run their own Chinese restaurant, The Legion Cafe, before she was born. This discovery,...

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Title:Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants
Author:Ann Hui
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Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants Reviews

  • Rachel

    This was fantastic! A really thoughtful and engaging look at the past and present of Chinese restaurants across Canada.

  • Alex Mulligan

    Chop Suey nation is one of those special books where the author manages to weave in a personal story with the primary focus of the book. In fact Hui’s story of her own fathers arrival in Canada serves as an excellent anecdote to the story of “Chinese” restaurants, their faux-Chinese cuisine, and why they are scattered across the nation. The narrative moves masterfully between time and location and focuses on the owners of these restaurants as a means to explain the rise of Chinese restaurants in

    Chop Suey nation is one of those special books where the author manages to weave in a personal story with the primary focus of the book. In fact Hui’s story of her own fathers arrival in Canada serves as an excellent anecdote to the story of “Chinese” restaurants, their faux-Chinese cuisine, and why they are scattered across the nation. The narrative moves masterfully between time and location and focuses on the owners of these restaurants as a means to explain the rise of Chinese restaurants in small town Canada. While Hui’s narrative includes important historical facts about Chinese immigration to Canada, she avoids citing historical studies or common tropisms and uses restaurant owners personal narratives to elaborate on Chinese immigration history.

    Hui’s cross Canada road trip answered many of the questions she set out to answer, while generating new questions she didn’t think of. Not only does the reader get a taste of all the restaurants she visited, one feels as if they are going along on the adventure.

    The conclusions Ann Hui reaches in chapter 19 and 21 are nothing short of powerful, and beautifully well written! Overall this is an excellent book that sheds light on a unique aspect of Canada and our food scene, while illuminating many aspects of Canadian and Chinese history. It’s a entertaining, surprising, personal and gorgeous read!

  • Renee

    Lovely shorter chapters, but heavy with impact. Yes it's about food, but a larger story is being told about family, culture, identity, and the lengths people will go to make a better life for their loved ones.

  • Simone

    Completely charming. As much about Chinese-Canadian food as it is about the perils and adventure of immigration, the determination people find to make a new life for themselves and their families, the love for family and friends, all the hope and heart and food that bring people together and that sometimes tear them apart.

    Canada has made some mistakes, out of racism and xenophobia and fear. We’re still making those mistakes. Stories like the ones in this book give me hope that we’re learning fro

    Completely charming. As much about Chinese-Canadian food as it is about the perils and adventure of immigration, the determination people find to make a new life for themselves and their families, the love for family and friends, all the hope and heart and food that bring people together and that sometimes tear them apart.

    Canada has made some mistakes, out of racism and xenophobia and fear. We’re still making those mistakes. Stories like the ones in this book give me hope that we’re learning from these mistakes and getting better.

    Now I’m craving sweet & sour pork ...

  • Dna

    I really enjoyed the first quarter of the book, but got to about 50% and stalled. I didn’t feel compelled to continue reading whenever I’d set the book down for a while, and I think it’s because the alternating chapters started to feel too repetitive. I carefully read the remaining chapters where Anna delves into her family history, but mostly ignored the rest of the stops she made at Chinese restaurants across Canada. The visits were mostly shallow, simple, revealing nothing complex or intrigui

    I really enjoyed the first quarter of the book, but got to about 50% and stalled. I didn’t feel compelled to continue reading whenever I’d set the book down for a while, and I think it’s because the alternating chapters started to feel too repetitive. I carefully read the remaining chapters where Anna delves into her family history, but mostly ignored the rest of the stops she made at Chinese restaurants across Canada. The visits were mostly shallow, simple, revealing nothing complex or intriguing about the owners she met...what’s the point? She describes a couple of facial expressions of of a woman who’s shop she stops at and then...nothing. OK. No delving of any kind into the resistance she faces from some Chinese Canadians. She just notes these interactions rather shallowly and moves on. It’s so boring. And the book is getting tons of buzz, but it’s not the sparkly adventure across Canada you think it’s going to be. It feels like a National Post weekend article that’s been padded and bloated to fit the size of a publishable book. I feel like I wasted three weeks trying to crawl through this book.

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