New discovery: The third season of Family Restaurant

I think we were just talking about the evening’s UFC match and NPY said to me, “You’ll like this,” as he settled on a television programme after some channel surfing. I saw some Asian faces and thought it was a back-story piece on one of the upcoming fighters and got perplexed as it did not follow the usual fanfare. You see, we had tuned into the middle of the fifth episode of season three of Food Network’s Family Restaurant, the wedding episode set in Beijing titled “Love’s Companion is Sacrifice”. I turned away from the show to not spoil the “plot” while investigating how this show aired in January 2009 and escaped my attention (quite easily, actually).

Chinese Restaurants, Family Restaurant, what have you. I don’t watch the Food Network, nor end up on Global which re-broadcasts Family Restaurant. The first two seasons of Family Restaurant featured a Greek family restaurant and in early 2009 I was probably not yet following some Asian-Canadian/American blogs that would have notified me. I’ll just be rectifying the situation and getting caught up somehow to the five episodes that have re-broadcast so far, although I can’t find episodes at my usual sources, it being really Canadian and all.

The Quons now run The Lingnan, a Chinese restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta with 64 years of history. The Quon family has run the establishment for nearly 63 and oversaw the move to its present location. Thinking for a moment, that is really quite a legacy to be proud of for the current manager, Miles Quon, who is the third generation to run the restaurant.

The Quon’s Family Restaurant season is a mere 10 half-hour episodes long and based on the five minutes we watched in shock and horror of the Beijing episode (the wedding was so gaudy) and reading the restaurant website and looking at the photo gallery (every square inch of wall covered with gold and red “Imperial Palace” decor), I can already get an idea of the family–overbearing mother with no idea how loud she is and the product of her upbringing, a doofus sounding son. I hope to stand corrected.

With my family’s 20-year foray into own their own business also in a smaller Canadian city thus having to cling to serving dishes covered in flourescent red sweet and sauce, I simply have to watch this whole season and hopefully report back sooner rather than later.

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4 thoughts on “New discovery: The third season of Family Restaurant

  • March 22, 2011 at 12:05 am

    More info here

    If you haven’t watched it, good for you. In a way, the show is borderline a train wreck… Oh, their restaurant has survived that long because, well, there aren’t that many Chinese restaurant and they cater to people who might not necessarily know better. In fact, when I went to Chicken for Lunch, their food court stand in Scotia Place… Well, you can have better here in Vancouver. Then again, in Edmonton, where their Chinatown is more on the lines of Little Vietnam… Are there good Chinese restaurants in Edmonton? They have decent ones and are a workable solution while in a hurry; just that Vancouver’s are way better.

  • March 22, 2011 at 8:52 am

    KimHo, thanks for the link. I used that one to figure out how many episodes I am behind since the show has not made it into IMDB, my usual go-to website for television episode guides.

    Although the five minutes I caught looked kind of annoying (mom and son), I will watch as much of the season as my PVR can pick up. I guess it’s a common reason people watch reality shows, just somehow attracted to trainwrecks on a screen.

    I’m trying to explore Chinese family restaurants in depth this year (seems to have been a theme in the past couple of years with Jen 8. Lee’s book a couple years ago, John Jung’s book last year, Lily Cho’s Eating Chinese this year, the Chinese Restaurants documentary). The Quons is the most assessible format, i.e., more than niche books so I have to put myself through the ordeal :)

    The fascinating thing about these restaurants in small towns is how they have the side that presents the Americanized food that they feel/know they need to serve up to satisfy western palates. You hardly need to be a trained chef to copy these recipes when it is a matter of survival for an immigrant and the customers will eat nothing else. At the same time, as one of only a few good restaurants, as being the biggest one with the most “auspicious” decor, it is the site of really Chinese celebrations for the small Chinese community, like wedding banquets and first month dinners.

  • March 22, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I am reading Lily Cho’s Eating Chinese and, darn, that book is dense! It feels more on the lines of an academic book than a general reading one…. I am digressing…

    Are you referring to the restaurant in Halifax or in Edmonton? If it is in Edmonton, nah, there are other restaurants. Regardless of where it is, regarding palates, check this clip:

    (The particular segment starts at 1:30 and the “key” conversation starts at 5:50)

  • March 23, 2011 at 12:25 am

    I think I was referring to Halifax restaurants, given I’ve never been to Edmonton. But I’ve been to small cities around the country and it’s a similar situation. Halifax, unfortunately, is still mostly in the stage of “tricking gwei lo” and most claims of truly authentic and tasty fare are overrated. High quality is possible and available, but somewhat sparse both from being biased for my family and having tried a lot of places for “market research.”

    Earlier this year, I borrowed Eating Chinese and just couldn’t bring myself to read it after one bout and then had to return it. It most certainly reminded me of university days taking an arts elective and wondering what the heck I got myself into it–Eating Chinese is most certainly an academic tome. Not only that, at least the first chapter was definitely not what I thought it would be. Rather than talking about food (which cannot get that cerebral?) it was all about diaspora. I got the Kindle edition of John Jung’s Sweet & Sour but haven’t settled down to read it properly.

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