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China Doesn't Understand the Concept of American Chinese Food

Meet Fung and Dave, two Americans who opened up a Chinese-American restaurant in Shanghai, where the cooks shake their heads at dishes like crab rangoon and orange chicken and the customers don't understand the point of fortune cookies.

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in May 2014.

If you're a Westerner, even if the closest you've got to Asian culture is stumbling across the Great Wall on Google Earth, you know that Chinese people don't crack open fortune cookies after every meal. And as a Brit living in Shanghai since a year ago, I can confirm that rather than sweet and sour chicken, most Chinese people prefer a nice pile of crispy chicken feet.

In fact, as the wonderfully named former New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee pointed out in her 2008 TED Talk, most Chinese people don't even know what chop suey actually is. Since Chinese food first began being served in the USA in the 19th century, it has had generations to evolve and suit US tastes, so much so that it's completely disconnected to traditional dishes served in China, both now and then.

Given that most Chinese people wouldn't recognize a plate of sticky orange chicken if it was splattered in their face, it seems an odd move to open an eatery almost exclusively serving American-style Chinese food in the middle of Shanghai. But that's what New Yorker Fung Lam and California-born Dave Rossi have done in the shape of Fortune Cookie, which opened ten months ago.

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