Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Number One Chinese Restaurant

An exuberant and wise multigenerational debut novel about the complicated lives and loves of people working in everyone’s favorite Chinese restaurant.The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades. When disaster strikes, this working family’s c...

Details Number One Chinese Restaurant

TitleNumber One Chinese Restaurant
Release DateJun 19th, 2018
PublisherHenry Holt & Company
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction

Reviews Number One Chinese Restaurant

  • Larry H
    Growing up in the New Jersey suburbs in the mid-1980s, my family ate dinner out nearly every Sunday evening, and more often than not, we ate Chinese food, as did many other families in my town. (I used to joke that there were classmates I saw more regularly at the Chinese restaurant than I did in high school!) While there were several different Chinese restaurants in our area, and everyone had a favorite, we frequently ate at one particular resta...
  • Kasa Cotugno
    Although restaurants provide centerpieces of the novel, there are other invitations for potential life changing confrontations framed by the food, and the way in which that food is prepared and offered gives scenes immediacy as well as normalization of what could be explosive situations. This is true of almost every culture. Discordant exchanges are either enhanced or softened by the sharing of a meal, and Lillian Li slyly incorporates such pract...
  • Alex
    This novel is a feast to me in many respects. First, it is full of psychological dramas in multiple main characters, not only about the conflicts in their minds as they act, but also including sketches of the psychological development in their lives. These owners and workers of the Chinese restaurant confess and tell their life stories, in addition to the restaurant scene as seen from a narrator. As a bonus a work scene of cooks of a non-Chinese ...
  • James
    if you've read "tiger mom", "everything i never told you", and "crazy rich asians", THIS is the next book you HAVE to readLove how you see asian immigrants vs. their children born in america (both contained in the umbrella term "asian american" despite being so different)
  • Jenny
    I used to work at a Chinese restaurant many years ago. This book brought back so many of my memories. It made all those people I used to work with alive again. The love, expectations, frustrations, conflicts and struggles between the two generations (first generation of immigrant Chinese parents and second generation of American born Chinese) also touched me deeply, like Nan and her son Pat, Johnny and his daughter Annie, Jimmy and his strong min...
  • Chris W
    interesting analysis of the many roles of food and sharing meals togetherpushes the concept of what constitutes a "family" - definitely not your stereotypical or boring "love you no matter what" kind of family you see so often in american literatureenjoyed seeing the dramatic business side of the industry, not just the food, as wellfantastic read! consumed it in one sitting; couldn't stop myself
  • Kayo
    Delightful book. Characters that make you want to read the next page. So much going on, but exactly how you'd like to spend an afternoon reading. Thank you to Henry, Holt and Company, NetGalley and author for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
  • Fey Fan
    beautiful moments of poetry so well inserted into each chapter I found myself re-reading entire paragraphs over and over just to make sure I fully-appreciated the full effect of Lillian Li's words; no idea how she manages to be so subtle yet so powerful, but she does it wellthe multi-faceted storyline also has plenty to be enjoyed for the more casual readers as well!
  • ❀⊱Rory⊰❀
    3.5 Stars. Review to follow.
  • Donna
    Agitated. That’s how I felt reading Number One Chinese Restaurant. I felt agitated and unsettled throughout the entire book. The characters agitated me on almost every page, as they argued with and annoyed each other on a constant basis. This is the story of a Chinese family, the Hans, and the restaurant dynasty they’ve struggled to maintain for several decades. Alongside the Hans are their employees, friends, and business acquaintances, some...
  • Anita
    Wow, this book really makes you feel . The characters are complex and all have a myriad of personalities. The language is so creative and expressive. The pain the characters feel, whether physical or emotional, isn't just an abstract concept in this book. Through Li's painstakingly honest descriptions, my heart genuinely felt pain and anger for each character. The concepts of love and family are also thoroughly explored in this novel through the...
  • Topher G
    dark humor intermingled with lighthearted themes:
  • Wendi Lee
    *3.75 stars*There’s a lot of good things to say about this book about a Chinese restaurant and the people who work there. Brothers Jimmy and Johnny Han own the business, but that’s where all similarities end. There’s also Nan and Ah-Jack, employees who have been there since the very beginning, still struggling to make ends meet and untangle their complicated feelings for one another. It was a compelling read, with lots of soap-operaesque tw...
  • Kevin Hu
    I received this book from NetGalley and was excited to dive into a fiction that dealt with themes surrounding the Chinese restaurant life. I personally grew up as a product of this very niche subculture. I think that Li does some things well here. She illuminates the generational barrier that disallows a conventionally intimate relationship between 1st gen parents, who toil endlessly to pave the way for their progeny, and the 2nd gen children who...
  • Kate Olson
    I was given an opportunity to read an early copy of this title with the agreement that I would hold my full review until publication date. With that being said, I highly recommend this to the following types of readers:1) Fans of family/domestic fiction2) Fans of foodie fiction3) Fans of books about the immigrant experience in America4) Readers looking to expand their cultural experiences
  • Annie Wang
    In the first half of the book, it took some patience for me to follow the story—the life and dream of Jimmy, his brother Johnny, his mother Feng Fei, his father’s friend, Uncle Pang, the restaurant manager Nan, and waiters, busboys, … . I was completed attracted in the second half of the book. At the end, I suddenly realized, there are some much deeper meanings in the story. Jimmy, who has worked for 30 years in his father’s restaurant, j...
  • Mary
    I received an ARC from NetGalley. I had a rough start with this book. It was difficult for me to get pulled in, and I nearly put it aside permanently...But, I kept on, and I'm really happy that I did. Once I got to know each superbly done character it was effortless. The story unfolded and carried me right along. A family story, but with elements of a greasy dark underworld, favors and payoffs... It almost reminded me of Goodfellas, only with Chi...
  • Ashley
    This amazing debut novel will leave you with permanent impressions on what family can be as Lillian Li excels in character creation, particularly that of older generations. I found myself in disbelief that someone so young could encapsulate the wisdom of relationships aged forty years so well without having lived them. More than this, however, is the representation of dual-cultured people, particularly immigrants and the inner and outer conflicts...
  • Anthony Martinez
    Shines light on the world of the high-class chinese restaurant industry, a cuisine that is almost never regarded as high-class
  • Brian Hu
    I found this book to be incredibly relatable and am thankful to know I am not alone in my experiences
  • James Garth
    Simply beautiful language throughout - bravo!
  • AnisaAnne
    You can also read my reviews of WP: stars rounded to 4Number One Chinese Restaurant is a truly original tale of the innermost secrets of a Chinese family-owned restaurant. Behind the accents and the shuffling of Asian flavors is a poignant look at the relationships that build a microcosm of love, loyalty, and interconnection. And the dark side of doing business.Jimmy Han has his eye on opening a restaur...
  • Andre
    3.5⭐Stars. The Beijing Duck House is the Han family restaurant and the centerpiece of this novel about a dysfunctional family. Although dysfunction reigns humor is never far from the page and the crazy mysterious Uncle Pang is a shadowy gangster type who seemingly has in hand in everything as the ultimate puppet master. Bobby Han is the patriarch of the family and his dream of a Chinese restaurant in America comes to fruition in Rockville, MD. ...
  • Jane
    Thanks to LibraryThing and Holt publishing for this ARC.I really enjoyed this book about a Chinese restaurant in Rockville, MD (where I live coincidentally, though it never mentions the name) and it's quirky characters working in the restaurant and the family dynamics of Jimmy and Johnny the two brothers who own it. I really liked the blending of the employees and the close camaraderie of the Chinese community in the restaurant.
  • Cindy
    I thought this book was a superb debut emphasizing family loyalty between two generations. Taking place in a Chinese Restaurant and told with dark humor Li brings to life characters that love, hate, and make sacrifices that keep their families together. The story started out slow but but due to great character development the plot became interesting and involved. Lillian Li is an author I plan on following. I received this ARC from Librarything a...
  • Diane Payne
    At times, I felt like this was more a made-for-TV movie more than a novel because the characters weren't fleshed out more so they seemed a bit cliche. It was somewhat entertaining, but without adding spoiler alerts, I expected more to happen with our two youngest characters in the novel. We get to the end of the novel and are faced with a Six Months Later notice to avoid having the characterschange or reveal any self-discovery.
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    Via my blog:'Uncle Pang was always picking something apart.'Uncle Pang is more than picking everything apart, he is the master controlling his puppets. Between the workers and the owners, the real action takes place behind the scenes, not with the patrons. Jimmy Han doesn’t want to work under his deceased father’s shadow anymore, he longs for an edgier more modern restaurant and no one is going to stop h...
  • Vivek Tejuja
    A dysfunctional family to the core and their story set against the backdrop of a Chinese restaurant, which of course belongs to them. Nothing in this genre could get better. I couldn’t wait to read this book and now I know why. It is the book that has the right amount of funny and tragedy with so much going on with various people. At times, it was difficult to keep track even, but once you get to know the characters (as it would happen in every...
  • Leanne
    I liked parts of this book and some of the characters. They were some funny moments, intense situations, and vivid characters all set against the backdrop of the family restaurant.
  • amanda eve
    I don't believe that characters have to be particularly likable, but they do have to be interesting. There wasn't a single character I cared about; some were outright obnoxious but most were just mildly irritating. There were a few really lovely turns of phrase; unfortunately, I was bored by the story over all.