Speaking of culinary delights, this old timey menu is an absolute gem of a find. Printed circa 1935 for Shanghai’s Sun Ya Restaurant, it’s not just a menu – it’s also a tutorial on Chinese food for uninitiated foreigners back in the jazz age. As Gary Soup explains:
Whether you were a Westerner living in the International Settlement or the French Concession or a well-heeled local, if you went out for a big Chinese dinner in the 1930’s, you probably headed for Sun Ya. Sun Ya, now known as Xinya, is a mammoth four-floor establishment which served the best in Cantonese cuisine. Although the quality of the food has suffered in the intervening years, Xinya remains a popular establishment for large gatherings, especially wedding parties. The seafood “hot pot” meals and the “dim sum” are still worth a visit, as is the fact that Sun Ya/Xinya is somewhat of a culinary shrine. Because Shanghai had for so long been the primary point of contact with China for resident and visiting Westerners, and because Sun Ya was the restaurant they were most likely to know, it played a large part in establishing expectations for Cantonese food throughout the Western world.
Our favorite find in that menu? Apparently foreigners have always loved sweet and sour pork. Go figure.