Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Number One Chinese Restaurant

Lillian Li

There is plenty to savour in this captivating family saga. Insurance scams, arson, a menacing fixer ‘uncle', sibling rivalry and star-crossed lovers are just some of the plot ingredients simmering behind the scenes of a Chinese restaurant, with all the usual kitchen histrionics and melodramas. The sensual imagery is so vivid that you can smell the spicy aromas and taste the food being prepared – especially if you love Chinese cuisine, as I do!


At the mouth of the hallway, a current of Duck House staff buffeted Jimmy along. The Chinese and Spanish he'd banned from the dining room filled this narrow space, echoing off the walls. Waiters blocked traffic to grab beer from the lower fridge ... busboys huddled against the main waiter station, pouring leftovers into paper cartons with hasty precision .... Behind the stainless-steel divider, flames whooshed up to embrace giant woks, each cook casually stir-frying as fire sprang, volcanic, from the deep, blackened burners.

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