Monday, August 31, 2009

Food for Thought

During a humid and rainy week in July, I traveled around Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn to try kosher Chinese restaurants. The amount of work and dedication some of these restaurant owners put in is very impressive, given none are Jewish themselves.

Mike Mo, the owner of Cho-Sen Garden in Flushing, Queens is someone who has given his professional life to the Jewish people. We visited him on July 30, 2009, the last day of Tishah Beav, or “Av 9,” which commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem. I arrived at 8 p.m. and was told they cold not serve me until 9 p.m. because the restaurant was under the strict supervision of The Rabbinical Association of Queens. Mo and his staff have to abide by all rules including: keeping the Sabbath, having someone on premise to inspect the food and keeping seafood off of the menu.

Mo has worked in non-kosher Chinese restaurants before so I asked him why he chose to run a kosher establishment. His answer? It’s actually more comfortable and easier to keep a kosher restaurant than a regular one. The Jews have more holidays, he never has to work on Saturdays and the menu selection is smaller so they can better control the quality. Also, there is less competition because not many restaurant owners are willing to put in the extra effort to follow all the rules.

Growing up, he was always told if you want to open up a Chinese restaurant, you should do it in a Jewish neighborhood. We’ve also heard this from Jimmy Chin, owner of Chin Chin restaurant on the Upper East Side.
Jackie Ho, 50 from Eden Wok has a different take. He says having a kosher Chinese restaurant has allowed him to experiment and be more creative with his food. For example, he has a Pastrami egg roll on his menu for $3.25.

Ho says it is sometimes hard because he has to turn away customers who come in with coffee or ice cream from the neighboring Dunkin’ Donut. He is not Jewish himself and does not keep kosher, but he respects his customers and can’t think of a better career or restaurant choice.

If you know of other kosher Chinese restaurants or have been to one that we missed on our Keepin' Kosher map, please let us know!

-Candy Cheng


  1. Pastrami egg roll on his menu for $3.25!!

    cross cultural at it's finest...

    deep fried pastrami? omg.

  2. I enjoyed reading this blog!
    You guys forgot a restaurant:

    Annie Chan's
    190-11 Union Turnpike
    Flushing (Fresh Meadows), NY 11366-1863
    (718) 740-1675