New Yorker article!

My piece about a restaurant in Hangzhou appears in this weeks New Yorker Food Issue. It’s the first time I’ve written for the magazine.

Below are some of the photographs I took while researching the piece;



This is one of the private rooms at the Dragon Well Manor restaurant








The owner, A Dai (a.k.a. Dai Jianjun), with me on a fishing boat 







 One of the restaurant’s many small-scale suppliers









 Another supplier, with some aubergines (eggplants)









Bao Laichun, on the way back from a foraging trip to gather wild kiwi fruits





This is me, with some fishermen on a VERY unstable fishing boat, just before the deluge… still scribbling away in my notebook, which was getting damper by the minute… 






 A delivery of chickens







A few hours later…








Stir-fried freshwater shrimp (yum yum)







Qian Lu in the garden

18 Responses to “New Yorker article!”

  1. Steve Rasin


    I loved the article. My Korean novelist mother in law was similarly worried about the demise of traditional Korean cuisine as landed, extended families break up and move into cities. She ended up writing a fantastic memoir/cookbook explaining how she and her five sisters worked away in the kitchen and served her six brothers and father.

    Next week I’m headed to Hangzhou for the first time in around 10 years and would love to have a meal at the Dragon Well Manor. In fact I am taking my parents to Shanghai and then a side trip to Hangzhou. The last time they were in China was when I took them around in 1984! Can’t wait to see their reactions.

    Anyway, if it is convenient and appropriate, would you mind passing on the telephone number and address for Mr. Dai’s place? I can’t seem to find it on the web.

    Thanks and congratulations on your first article for the New Yorker.

    All the Best,

    Steve Rasin

  2. Sima Qian

    You should do more of these magazine-length features as you write wonderfully and with great sympathy for the nuances of Chinese food. I’ve never even heard of Yuan Mei or Yi Ya before reading your piece but they add an intriguing glimpse of colour to China’s opaque culinary history (has anyone written a scholarly history of Chinese food yet?). Dai is doing something culturally important here.

    Some food historians think that the great calamity that befell British food had much to do with Britain’s rapid urbanization during the age of industry. A similar phenomenon may very well be what’s happening in China today. You’ve chronicled a small preserve of tradition against overweening change. I feel it is laudable work.

    The artful use of pinyin is great btw. It gives a sense (to us native speakers at least) of what Dai is saying in the original. I always get a laugh out of how Chinese is translated because it is such an inexact science, and the pinyin helps me appreciate good, mellifluous translations.

  3. Carla Guerra

    Congratulations, fantastic article!
    I would like to know how the telephone in order to make a reservation.
    Can you help?
    Thank you in advance for the information you will be willing to share.
    With kind regards,

  4. admin

    Thanks very much for all your comments!

    And thanks, Anthony, for pointing me towards the Guardian post on MSG. You might like to read an op-ed I wrote on MSG for the New York Times last year

    Or this piece on umami for the FT

    I have to say that the Dragon Well Manor’s stance on MSG is unusual – most Chinese chefs use it, even superb chefs using fine ingredients. But several have told me that they think MSG is a phase, and that its use will gradually decrease as people demand more natural flavours.

    P.S. Anthony – how did you manage to put a link into your comment post?! (Ms Technologically Inept here…)

  5. Andy

    I liked your article in the NYer a great deal, to the extent that I googled your name and came to this site.

    Looking at your scrapbook, I can only wonder why the NYer did not use one of your drawings (or of your photographs) for the article, I think they are fabulous.

    Best regards


  6. admin

    Thanks for your compliments Andy! I’m happy that you like my drawings. It has never occurred to me to suggest that anyone use them for publication! It’s just something I do for fun.


  7. VinnieR

    Great article. Inspiring, even. But I have one question: Recipes?(!)

  8. admin

    Hi VinnieR
    I don’t think the New Yorker run recipes!

    But if the article had included recipes, they might have been a little daunting: e.g.

    One young chicken, reared on grain and household scraps on a Zhejiang hillside, alive

    Some young chestnuts harvested on Mr Chen’s farm during the two weeks of the Xth solar term.

    A dash of Shaoxing wine made by a family firm in Shaoxing and matured for ten years

    Some ginger grown without chemicals by Mrs Liu of X village


    1. Slit the throat of your chicken and drain its blood… scald in hot water and then pluck and draw the bird…

    2. Remove the chestnuts from their prickly shells and then, taking care not to damage them, peel off their skins…


    Quite hard to reproduce anywhere else!!

  9. Anthony Silverbrow

    Ok, just seen that trying to include the html code in the body of the email didn’t work in my previous comment. If you do want to know feel free to me email me silverbrowATgmailDOTcom.

  10. VinnieR

    Thanks for the cooking tips. I can swing the ginger from up here in the Ozarks; some hillbilly wine will have to do.

    I’ll use the chicken blood to consecrate the stove, I guess.

    Fat hens down the hill.

    Anyway, sounds delish. I’ll save up for a trip over.

  11. Anthony Wing Kosner

    we visited hangzhou a decade ago to adopt our oldest daughter and we had tea at the dragon well, so it was a nice surprise to see your article. are you going to do a book about the cooking of zhejaing province?

  12. Yung

    Thanks for the excellent article. I would definitely visit the restaurant next time when I’m in Hangzhou. I understand Dragon Well is “LongJing” but “Manor”? What is the specific character in Madarin? Do you have contact information for the restaurant?

  13. Elyane

    I really enjoyed your talk at the Yin Yang Center on Saturday and articles posted on this website, including the one about the Dragon Well Manor.
    I echo some of the previous comments in asking you for the contact number or address of the Dragon Well Manor (if appropriate). elyanepalmerAThotmailDOTcom
    Thank you

  14. diane wolkstein

    I read your article in the New Yorker and enjoyed it and thought one day, one day, I would love to eat there, not imagining that it might be within the year! It turns out I am going this summer to Hunaghou because of my research on Journey to the West.
    Do you have the phone number so I can make a reservation for July?
    Many thanks Diane

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