The Chinese Cafe

Newspaper accounts said that the cafe in the Chinese building sold Chinese food.  However, the menu shown here emphasizes American dishes such as ham sandwiches and oatmeal, although it also includes lychee nuts, “Longsoy” and “Syie Seen” tea, and “Chinese style” rice.

It was one of the earliest Chinese restaurants in the Midwest to be aimed at non-Chinese diners.

In February the organizers announced that the chef would be Low Luck, “the best cook in Hong Kong,” that he would have “a big force of expert cooks to assist him,” and that the manager, H. Sling of Ogden, Utah, “has had considerable experience” in running restaurants.  Even before the Exposition opened, however, the organizers seem to have recognized that an all-Chinese menu might be too much for Midwestern Fair-goers.  Knives and forks would be available even though 2000 pairs of ivory chopsticks were to be imported, and the only Chinese foods mentioned were side dishes of Chinese preserves, fruit, and vegetables as well as expensive Chinese tea.  The rest of the menu would consist of “American meals at reasonable prices.”
The talents of Low Luck and his sous-chefs seem to have been displayed mainly on banquets for VIP visitors.  At one such banquet, “a feast was spread which demonstrated much perfection in the art of cookery … all sorts of Chinese delicacies were served with American soups and meats, as well as some strong rice wines and brandies and whiskies …”

Chicago Daily Tribune, Feb 18, p 10; May 20 1893, p 3.