When visiting Shanghai as tourists, Fung [Lam] and Dave [Rossi] missed their usual versions of noodles and stir-fried classics, and thought others might too.
They decided to open what they believe is Shanghai's first American Chinese restaurant, featuring specialties served in Fung's family restaurants for 40 years: orange chicken, kung pao chicken and sesame shrimp. Dave describes the menu as "really American". ...
One of the biggest challenges was finding the right ingredients to use in the kitchen.
"As weird as it sounds, we actually import a lot of ingredients to make authentic American Chinese food in China," Fung says.
Items like Philadelphia cream cheese, Skippy peanut butter, cornflakes and English mustard powder must all be brought in from outside China. Even the soy sauce must be imported from Hong Kong, because that's what the first Chinese immigrants to the US used in their cooking.
The extra effort appears to be worth the trouble. The restaurant is usually packed on week nights and on the weekends, long lines of customers can stretch out of the door.
Dave and Fung have learned to predict whether first-time customers will approve of their food.
"If you're an expat, 99% of the time you're going to be happy. When it's a younger local person, we have maybe a 70% success rate," Fung explains.
Some locals come into the restaurant and ask for their food to be served in American-style white cardboard takeaway containers, mimicking meals they've seen on sitcoms like Friends and the Big Bang Theory. ...
Westernised Chinese food certainly has its critics. Some say the food is too sweet, its sauces too thick and gloopy, even too orange - a world away from the complex flavours of the vast array of foods found across mainland China.
--Celia Hatton, BBC, on the prodigal culinary son returning. HT: PW