NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Just like General Tso’s chicken was cooked up in the U.S., India put its own spin on Chinese cuisine.
“What we are serving to you has evolved over 100 years,” said Salil Mehta, who co-owns the Chinese Club with his wife Stacey. “The Chinese immigrants localized our ingredients, localized the food.”READ MORE: Racism Declared A Public Health Crisis In New York City
The Chinese Club, which opened in Williamsburg in 2016, now has a second location in Murray Hill.
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Salil is a native of New Delhi, while Stacey was born to Chinese parents in Darjeeling. Both grew up eating Indian-inflected Chinese food.
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The restaurant is named for the original Chinese Club in Darjeeling, India, which Stacey’s grandfather owned in 1914. Today, her family’s recipes are on the menu.
“As kids, we grew up eating something doused with chili powder, with turmeric, with all these different herbs and spices, and our palate is used to that,” Salil said. “Anything that’s made in India, whether it’s Italian food, whether it’s pizza, whether it’s McDonald’s, it has to have that extra kick.”READ MORE: Hip-Hop Improv Show 'Freestyle Love Supreme' Returns To Broadway
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Born in Calcutta, the cuisine evolved as it spread through Mumbai, Delhi, and the northeast of India, Salil explained.
“My chili-garlic noodle sauce has fennel, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, all these things in there, when I have chefs from China who look at me making my sauce, and they’re like, ‘This is not Chinese food. And I’m like, ‘It is not Chinese food. It’s Indian food.’ And it’s them making it, and they understand it, and now, they love it so much that they make themselves that food to eat for dinner,” Salil said.
Salil enjoys expanding common perceptions of Indian food.
“I hate it when people just say, ‘Okay, you want to go have Indian food?’ And all they think of is . . . a curry house. It bothers me because there’s so much more. There’s so much more.”
The Chinese Club
208 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
102 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
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