Era of Opulence: Chinese Fine Dining

Picture postcard from the Chinese American Museum of Chicago Archives

Curator’s Tour

Those who attend will have first priority for the exhibit tour next year.
Any cancellations require one-day notice to allow someone else to attend.
No shows deprive someone else a chance, just don’t do it.
Four spots available

The Chinese American Museum of Chicago (CAMOC) kicks off a new exhibition with its ‘Era of Opulence: Chinese Fine Dining.’ In 2022, there will be an expanded exhibit ‘Chinese Cuisine in America: Stories, Struggles and Successes,’ which we will visit next year.

To whet your appetite, this mini exhibit ‘Era of Opulence: Chinese Fine Dining’ will focus on local area exquisite Chinese restaurants. It will highlight the immigrant struggles spurred on by the Long Depression (1873 -1896) leading to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and the success story of restaurateur, Chin F. Foin. In 1906, Foin with two non-Chinese partners, Baohuanghui (Emperor Protection Association) backing and a string of restaurants, reportedly invested $100,000 (worth nearly $3 million today) in King Joy Lo, which was considered the most upscale Chinese restaurant at the time complete with a live orchestra and dance floor. Early 20th century artifacts from the Museum’s collection such as King Joy Lo’s menu and lacquer food basket will be on display. Louis Armstrong’s tune ‘Cornet Chop Suey’ and Margaret Johnson’s ‘Who’ll Chop Your Chop Suey (When I’m Gone)’ will transport the visitor back to that era. 

The expanded exhibition in 2022 will delve into the unique, historical aspects of the Chinese diaspora told through the successful acculturation of Chinese cuisine in America. Chinese Americans achieved successes despite early targeted legislative, legal and labor union barriers, and even media scrutiny. Starting with the extraordinary popularity of chop suey to more authentic regional cuisines and delicacies, the exhibit explores the proliferation of Chinese restaurants in the United States. 

The exhibition also acknowledges the plight of the current pandemic which has taken its toll on the restaurant industry, especially Chinese restaurants, along with drawing parallels to the recent rise in hate crimes against the Asian community.

*Just want to let you know our current face mask policy:

  • Face masks are optional for those who are *fully vaccinated (please show proof) but encouraged.
  • Face masks are required for those who are NOT fully vaccinated.

*According to CDC, in general, people are considered fully vaccinated: 

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
  • If you don’t meet these requirements, regardless of your age, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.

Cathy here: Plan on bringing a mask, because it is likely it is needed. If they do want it, please comply and not argue.

Saturday, August 21, 2021 at 10:00 AM Central Time

*Limit: 30 people (there are seven spots available)
Chinese American Museum of Chicago
238 West 23rd StreetChicago, Illinois

Plan to arrive early to look for parking.
Fee to museum: $5, $3 for those 65 or older
Reserve to