When something like the coronavirus (COVID19) strikes, it probably doesn’t even occur to most of us that the outbreak will impact restaurants. However, as nationwide reports have begun to show, the coronavirus has incited unfounded fears and negative reactions from the dining public.
As "Grub Street" author Chris Crowley states: "The outbreak has provoked xenophobic and racist responses about the Chinese people and diaspora, including from those who push age-old and bigoted misperceptions of Chinese culinary habits."
These attitudes combined with strict travel guidelines that have drastically reduced the number of Chinese tourists visiting the U.S., have already had a major impact on American Chinese restaurants and Chinatowns across the U.S. In fact, restaurants as close as Chicago have seen as much as a 50 percent drop in business, according to this report in the Chicago Tribune last week.
That’s not OK.
What you should do
Now is not the time to put on your blinders and assume that this isn’t happening right now here in the Cream City. In fact, it’s a very good time to make the decision to offer even more support to as many Chinese-owned restaurants as you can muster.
Here are eight spots to get you started (with more in our Chinese restaurant guide).
Don’t be fooled by the name. This restaurant serves up some of the best Chinese food in the city from scallion pancakes to Sichuan-style cumin lamb.
Head to this Brady Street staple for classic ambiance and an expansive menu of comforting Chinese favorites from egg drop soup and crab rangoon to pow pow sha.
Delicious is the name of the game at Fortune, whether you opt for Chinese American staples like Mongolian beef and sesame chicken or consult the traditional Chinese menu for dishes like crispy skin chicken and duck feet with Chinese mushrooms.
This classic nestled right inside the Marshall Building in the Historic Third Ward is still a staple for great Chinese American dishes, but don’t sleep on the more traditional fare from owner Jing Wang’s native city of Shanghai.
Don’t overlook this little strip mall restaurant; there are big flavors coming out of their kitchen. Try the beef noodle soup, salt and pepper shrimp or braised chicken feet in black bean sauce. Don't neglect to sample a few of the dim sum options on the menu.
This simple carryout counter offers up a host of delights, including Chinese-sausage buns, steamed roast pork buns, steamed rice crepes and curry beef buns, along with traditional lightly sweetened Chinese desserts. But don't overlook the barbecue, including char siu (barbecued roast pork), siu aap (roast duck) or siu yuk (crispy pork belly).
For Szechuan fare that will warm both your body and soul, look no further than Sze Chuan in West Allis. You can’t go wrong with dishes like Szechuan pork dumplings, grilled Szechuan lamb and vegetable dishes like mustard greens with tofu skin.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.