Chinese restaurants are irreplaceable fixtures of Chinatowns and Chinese communities across the world. When my family first immigrated to Canada, these restaurants welcomed us with the taste of home and helped us find footholds in a foreign country.

Grace Young snapped a picture of Chinatown while New York City was under lockdown. She told TODAY that she had never seen Chinatown “without pedestrians (or) bumper-to-bumper car traffic.” However, these immigrant-owned, mom-and-pop restaurants are suffering under COVID-19. Many are shunned because of anti-Asian sentiments. In addition, these restaurants are often ill-equipped to advertise to an online audience, pivot to a delivery-only model, or apply for financial resources.

In response, Award-winning cookbook author and cooking teacher Grace Young launched #SaveChineseRestaurants. In partnership with the James Beard Foundation, the social media campaign draws attention to the culture, delicious food, and family stories we risk losing if we don’t save Chinese restaurants.

To participate, all you need to do is order Chinese food, take a picture of your dish, and share on social media with the hashtag #SaveChineseRestaurants! Here at Chinosity, Chinese restaurants are an indispensable part of our life.

And if you’re reading this, Chinese food is likely a part of your life—so here are three ways you can help #SaveChineseRestaurants while celebrating Chinese New Year:

1. Download and order from Chinese specialty food apps

While many Chinese restaurants rely on foot traffic, many have also partnered with specialized Chinese food delivery apps like Fantuan or Chowbus. In addition to offering special discounts, Chinese food delivery apps will officially make you a Chinese foodie!

Look out for these delivery stickers on the windows of Chinese restaurants! Photo by Nancy Guan for L.A. Taco

  • Fantuan: This service is easily recognizable for the cute rice sticker plastered across the windows of available Asian restaurants throughout most of Canada and the U.S. Fantuan is an easy go-to for every craving, from lamb skewers to bubble tea. The app offers both English and Chinese and provides a discount for most restaurants.

  • Chowbus: Available in major cities in Canada, U.S., and Australia, Chowbus was founded to provide authentic Asian food and “empower local independent restaurants.” Chowbus currently offers everything from Chinese New Year groceries to Xinjiang BBQ. The app’s English version lists the names of dishes in both English and Chinese—perfect for learning Chinese while ordering!  

Other alternatives are Ricepo and Hungry Panda—find out more in our guide to Asian food apps

2. Support organizations that help Chinatowns or multicultural restaurants

Grassroots initiatives like Save Our Chinatowns (@saveourchinatowns on Instagram) and Good Good Eatz (@goodgoodeatz on Instagram) are creating communities around beloved restaurants. They provide financial resources to directly help these restaurants pivot and stay open. 

Send Chinatown Love (@sendchinatownlove on Instagram) has created a Lunar New Year Crawl that takes you to Chinese restaurants across the New York area. You can track your progress with their custom Google map and Passport to Lunar New Year

These initiatives emphasize the importance and cultural significance of immigrant-owned businesses survive. They offer ways for you to get involved in their movement, from donation and dining to art.

Save Our Chinatowns and Good Good Eatz released a limited edition zine and red envelope bundle as their Lunar New Year fundraiser.In addition, follow and support your local Chinatown page! 

Vancouver's Chinatown @chinatownfoundation on Instagram

3. Engage with Chinese restaurants on social media

Lastly, engage with Chinese restaurants on their social media accounts! You can help them reach more people and potential diners.

Make sure to both tag the Chinese restaurant and geotag their location. You can also mention your favorite dishes or, in the case of the brutally honest Aunt Dai menus, memefy your dining experience! 

Always remember to use the hashtag #SaveChineseRestaurants to spread awareness—let’s keep the fire going.

The Lucky Creation Vegetarian Restaurant's fish nian gao

As a Chinese-Canadian immigrant, Chinese restaurants are a symbol of home. Until now, I’ve always taken them for granted. 

As racism against Chinese people persists, I am answering Grace Young’s call to action: “All the [Chinese restaurants] that are closing, they are a link to our past, and when we lose our past, we lose a part of ourselves.”

I urge you to help make Chinese restaurants an enduring part of our future too.

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Angelina Li

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