As much as I love to eat Chinese food, I had never really been into the kitchen of a big restaurant. Small restaurants, sure, you can hardly not see the kitchen. I joke with my students (with a serious undertone), to not look back into the kitchen at a Chinese restaurant. Just enjoy the food and don’t worry about where it came from. Chinese kitchens may not be the model of sanitary practices.
Last year I was visiting with an old friend in Nanjing, and as usual he and his wife invited me out to eat. He is a 23rd generation Chinese Muslim and is very well connected with the Muslim community in Nanjing. He knows all the best Muslim restaurants and has a personal relationship with all the owners. On this occasion we ate at the excellent 奇芳阁 qífānggé restaurant at Fuzi Miao fūzi miào in the southern part of the city. This restaurant has a long history and offers excellent Muslim Chinese food. (More on Muslim food in China in another post).
Knowing my interest in Chinese food and culinary culture, my friend introduced me to the head manager of the restaurant as well as the head chef. They then gave me a tour of the kitchen and graciously allowed me to take photos. The lighting was not good, and I struggled to get good exposures, so the photos are not great. But I think they are interesting. I suppose the kitchen was not too different from any restaurant kitchen—busy, loud, and a bit chaotic at times with waiters and waitresses coming and going.
Very interesting! I’d be curious to hear about halal Chinese cuisine.
Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote
the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive
the message home a little bit, but other than that, this
is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.
Chinese chefs often use Woks to prepare food.
One thing I’ve thought was interesting about Chinese cooking is the cook ware and the level of heat used to cook most things. It’s visible in the pictures that there’s a high level of heat and that the cookware is large (woks are a prime example of this). In Western cooking things tend to be smaller, and require less heat.
Chinese Muslim food is amazing. The photos of the quail look great and I wonder what spices or sauces they would use for it. Your comment about smaller kitchens in China made me chuckle because a lot of my peers were often criticizing the sanitary practices of restaurants. It didn’t bother me too much though because the food was always delicious.
From the pictures, the kitchen didn’t seem as dirty as I was expecting from how you described it. I think I would definitely want to try the quail though! I have never had that and I am from Arizona where there are quail all over the place.
This article makes a good point to show that Chinese kitchens may not have the best sanitary practices, however the food is still delicious. It is really interesting to actually get a peak into the preparation of food in authentic Chinese restaurants, and how much work it really takes to prepare the food well for people to enjoy. I have had the chance to work in a restaurant and I know how chaotic it can get in the back. I have never had the chance to eat Muslim Chinese food, but it looks like you went to a great place! I like to see the different cooking utensils that are specifically used to cook different varieties of food.