Book to Come: Chinese Restaurants by Kayung Lai

Chinese restaurants are expected to provide an authentic eastern experience and the objects within these spaces are intended to secure the idea of cultural authenticity. However the resultant interiors are more often closer to Western fantasies of the East rather than any likeness to an ‘authentic’ China, as they exaggerate ideas of difference and exoticism, which echo colonial ideas about the distant Orient. However, the fact that Asian families own these restaurants demonstrates how these Orientalist myths about the Orient are being used to their advantage, which suggests that there is room for ambivalence in understanding the power relations between East and West within our postcolonial condition. Therefore these Chinese restaurant are neither eastern nor western, rather they are the hybrid product of two cultures meeting.

Kayung Lai

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