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, Contemporary, 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...
  • Tori (InToriLex)
    Actual Rating 3.5Content Warning: Cancer, Alcoholism, Mental Illness, Organized CrimeA refreshing view into the lives of people through their association with The Beijing Duck House and the people who run it. The book switches between three main point of views, Jimmy Han the owner of The Beijing Duck House, Nan the manager of the restaurant and Ah-Jack an aging waiter who is struggling to support his sick wife. The author does a great job of crea...
  • 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...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    I didn't know much about this book before I started, but the little I knew ended up giving me a totally wrong impression. Yes, there's a lot in this book about family, the family you make, and the complicated lives of immigrants. But to me this is a book about dysfunctional families and insurance fraud, not quite what I expected.I connected with Li's writing right away, I liked her style and her voice. What I liked most about the novel was the de...
  • 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 ...
  • ☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆
    I liked this book but don't think this would be a story that I would read again. I like the cover and I like the characters but don't like how none of the characters really understand each other.and I feel there is too much going on at once. I worked at a Chinese Restaurant for years and I still felt that it was lacking something. The book was likable enough and I do feel that some will enjoy this very much so they could learn how things work in ...
  • Brittany
    I wanted this to be so much more than it was. I was very excited about it. And then I was let down spectacularly.
  • 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...
  • David Yoon
    You've got Jimmy Han, resenting the small and windowless Chinese restaurant his father once ran.Jimmy's partnered with a hustling real estate agent to sell his mother's home and open a fancier fusion joint downtown. But his mother thinks otherwise and his not-quite-Uncle Pang is making moves of his own that involve the son of one of Jimmy's long standing waitresses of 30 years who is trying to unravel the nature of her relationship with her aged,...
  • 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...
  • Pam
    Thank you NetGalley for a digital advanced copy. Sadly, I did not like this book at all. I had considered DNF at 25 percent in but persisted. There was nothing about the main family to like at all. I don’t mind flawed characters, but I need to also like the characters and I did not. There were two secondary characters Nan and Jack, and Nan’s son that I had some empathy for their story. But all these characters were just sad and some of them m...
  • ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀
    3.5 StarsIt’s taken me a while to write this review because although I thought the book was well written and perceptive, it was also painful to read.Characters struggle with addiction, toxic family members, ungrateful children and unrequited love. It’s hard to get through so many misunderstandings, unspoken emotions, and unfulfilled dreams. The strong point with this one is it’s well drawn characters and their true to life emotional reactio...
  • 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
  • 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...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    I’m feeling slightly too underwhelmed to write a review of this sadly. It wasn’t for me and I found myself feeling bored which I never feel with fiction and I’m not sure where this went so wrong for me.
  • Ming
    Thanks to Henry Holt & Company and NetGalley for this advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. Its general description is amply available on GoodReads, on Amazon and elsewhere.I truly enjoyed this book. Initially, I had some reservations that it would be another immigrant tale populated by immigrants fumbling along to achieve “the” American dream. Instead, it’s about dreams and hopes and how they change you by having them.T...
  • ns510
    3.5 stars.This book read like a Chinese serial. All the drama and soap opera-esque antics set within a Chinese family restaurant in the US, complete with a Godfather-like peripheral figure no one likes but everyone fears. Amidst all this is a more nuanced depiction of what it means to be a family, a dynasty, to be immigrants, and the stories we tell the world about ourselves. I liked how it showed the different ways one can be Chinese American/Am...
  • 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!
  • Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
    2.5 starsThe Han's own The Duck House restaurant in Rockville, Maryland. The Duck House is a Chinese restaurant that has been a staple in the community for decades. Most of the employees have worked there since the beginning. Jimmy Han is not happy running his father's restaurant, though. He's ready to step out on his own, so when a fire destroys The Duck House, he sees his as a perfect opportunity to go through with his plan. But, will the cause...
  • Janelle • She Reads with Cats
    Many thanks to Henry Holt for providing my free copy of NUMBER ONE CHINESE RESTAURANT by Lillian Li - all opinions are my own.I’m not going to lie...the cover totally got me on this one. And oh my goodness, THE FOOD. I immediately ate tons of Chinese food after finishing this book. Set in Rockville, Maryland in the Washington DC area, the Beijing Duck House was made famous by Jimmy’s late father, Bobby Han, but Jimmy hasn’t been too interes...
    I'm so happy to finish this amazing psychological drama, I really want to thank the publishers Henry Holt Books and the Author Lillian Li for writing such an epic novel!.The sorting of the family was really well written, I really enjoyed the family working in the restaurant it amazed me in every aspect!It's true that we are humans and we are not supposed to absorb every feeling that comes through our life but I wanted to capture everything the au...
  • Lata
    This book could have been subtitled "The quest for happiness" as each character at the start of this book is not in a place that they like and is looking for some kind of change for the better. There's Jimmy Han, co-owner of the restaurant Beijing Duck House, who is desperate to escape, and is beholden to his family and feeling trapped by the humdrum and routine of the restaurant's menu, patrons and demands. There's Nan, restaurant manager, who i...
  • 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...
  • Andrea
    I expected to like this book. Quite a bit. Didn't. 2.5 but cannot round up as the boredom factor predominated.I live near Rockville, Maryland, where the Number One Chinese Restaurant/Beijing Duck House is situated. I like books set in my area. And I like books with an ethnic flavor; potentially 2 for 2. But this was MEH. Did. Not. Care.Setting: A "[restaurant inhabits its]...own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting...
  • Jan
    From the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize long list, this book gives us a nice look at multi-generational characters who own, manage or work at an old-school Chinese restaurant in the DC suburbs. While it's a promising debut, it felt like it needed a few more rounds of polish to smooth out some overly abrupt and implausible plot turns, make some of the characters more believable and let us understand them (and, yes, relate to them) more ful...
  • 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
  • Peebee
    I wanted to like this book more, but ultimately it just didn’t work for me. I certainly liked the idea of the multigenerational Chinese family running a restaurant in the Washington, DC Maryland suburbs (where I live), and the characters and plot were well-developed and reasonably realistic. I think where it failed for me is that I could not develop an attachment to any of the characters: I just didn’t care about what happened to them. It too...