Select one of the keywords
Number One Chinese Restaurant    by Lillian Li order for
Number One Chinese Restaurant
by Lillian Li
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is a popular Chinese restaurant, but it's been around for a long time and the neighborhood where it is located has become run-down. Bobby Han started the restaurant after he emigrated to the U.S. from China, and now that Bobby has died and his widow is old, their son, Jimmy Han, is running things with the help of his older brother, Johnny.

However, Johnny is in China teaching a class and Jimmy has big ambitions. He has purchased a restaurant in nearby Washington, D.C. with the help of Uncle Pang, who isn't really his uncle, but has helped the family greatly in the past. Jimmy doesn't like the terms of his present help, though, and after confronting Uncle Pang about these terms, tells him that he, Jimmy, will manage this new purchase without Uncle Pang's help. Uncle Pang becomes enraged and threatens to ruin Jimmy and the new restaurant.

We meet the whole Han family, along with some of the employees at the Beijing Duck House, and the plot takes us into each of their thoughts as things progress. Jimmy's mother turns out to be much more capable than he thinks she is, and when she learns of his plans, she enlists Uncle Pang's help in her own vision for the restaurant. Johnny comes back and becomes involved, and we meet the employees who will be most affected by the change.

There's a lot of eating going on, and the descriptions of the food might make the reader want to order out a Chinese meal. We are propelled along with the characters as the various nefarious schemes and shocking events lead to the book's conclusion. I, for one, was left wondering what exactly Uncle Pang got out of his involvement.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews