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Have You Eaten Yet

Stories from Chinese Restaurants Around the World

Published by Pegasus Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

An eye-opening and soul-nourishing journey through Chinese food around the world.

From Cape Town, South Africa, to small-town Saskatchewan, family-run Chinese restaurants are global icons of immigration, community and delicious food. The cultural outposts of far-flung settlers, bringers of dim sum, Peking duck and creative culinary hybrids, Chinese restaurants are a microcosm of greater social forces. They are an insight into time, history, and place.

Author and film-maker Cheuk Kwan, a self-described “card-carrying member of the Chinese diaspora,” weaves a global narrative by linking the myriad personal stories of chefs, entrepreneurs, labourers and dreamers who populate Chinese kitchens worldwide. Behind these kitchen doors lies an intriguing paradox which characterizes many of these communities: how Chinese immigrants have resisted—or have often been prevented from—complete assimilation into the social fabric of their
new homes. In both instances, the engine of their economic survival—the Chinese restaurant and its food—has become seamlessly woven into towns and cities all around the world.

An intrepid travelogue of grand vistas, adventure and serendipity, Have You Eaten Yet? charts a living atlas of global migration, ultimately revealing how an excellent meal always tells an even better story.

About The Author

Cheuk Kwan was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. He has also lived in the US, Saudi Arabia and Canada, and speaks English, Japanese, French and several Chinese dialects. Kwan is the co-founder of The Asianadian, a magazine dedicated to promoting Asian Canadian arts, culture and politics, and a film production company, Tissa Films. His cinematic works—Song of the Exile, Latin Passions and Beyond Frontiers—braid his personal experiences with his love of travel and appreciation for Chinese culture worldwide. He now resides in Toronto, ON.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (January 3, 2023)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781639363353

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Raves and Reviews

“An intimate yet sweeping lens on the Chinese diaspora through the institution of the family-run restaurant all around the world. From the jungles of the Amazon, to the heights of the Himalayas, to tropical islands of the Caribbean, to the fjords of Scandinavia, Kwan explores how, as immigrants, all our stories are all different yet all our stories are the same.”

– Jennifer 8. Lee, journalist, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles and producer of The Search for General Tso

'A fantastic and important book. The social history and personal individual stories that Kwan shares brings to life what it means to be a Chinese immigrant navigating life in a foreign land. He highlights the strong sense of identity that so many Chinese immigrants possess, consciously or unconsciously, connecting them to their Chinese heritage, through food, so that no matter how disconnected or displaced, whether in Trinidad, Cuba, or Madagascar, one can draw from it, be nourished by it and share it. Kwan brings us closer to understanding our human experience, whether Chinese or non-Chinese, immigrant or non-immigrant, so that we may take away the human stories that ultimately bind, connect and inspire us all.”

– Ching He Huang, Emmy-nominated television broadcaster, host of Ching’s Amazing Asia and bestselling cookbook author

In my many decades of traveling across continents and oceans, I’ve come across many enclaves of Chinese immigrants. “Have you eaten yet?” is a phrase I hear often in communities populated by those who came from Canton, the province of my family. More than a casual social greeting, the question conveys to me a sense of familiarity, of culture, history, tradition and of home. It took the keen eye of a great storyteller like Kwan to spin all that to a most enjoyable and meaningful book. Have you read the book yet? If not, what are you waiting for?”

– Martin Yan, host of Yan Can Cook on public television, chef-owner of M.Y. China Restaurant, San Francisco

“This book is aptly titled. 'Have you eaten yet?' is a colloquial Cantonese greeting akin to “You are well?” Just as food is quintessential to Chinese culture, these stories nourish the soul and warm the heart. With a masterful blending of rich textures, contours and flavours, Kwan takes us on a lively journey of the omnipresent Chinese restaurant capturing the enduring spirit of the Chinese diaspora. I hear their voices jumping off the pages. This is how history should be told!”

– Dora Nipp, historian, lawyer and CEO of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario

“Once in a lifetime, a book comes along that pulls all the strands of social history, migration, world politics and food into a comprehensive, entertaining book that is both enlightening and thoughtful. Have You Eaten Yet? arrives at a perfect time and is more relevant than ever. A must for anyone interested in how politics, culture, family and food merge together to create a most unique global phenomenon.”

– Ken Hom, OBE, author, chef and BBC-TV presenter

“Kwan was ahead of his time in taking the form of the culinary travel documentary but merging it with a deep sense of community histories and the vast networks of diaspora. Chinese food may be everywhere, yet through Kwan’s research and storytelling, we realize that in each niche it finds itself, it acquires something unique in its translation."

– Oliver Wang, sociology professor, California State University, Long Beach

“An amazing first-person New Yorker–style global ethnography of quiet emotional intensity that I could not put down. As a Chinese restaurant kid, Kwan's words made me tear up, as he really gets those interstitial moments between local patron and diasporic Chinese restaurant worker. Kwan nails the agony of what it’s like to be a part of and apart from China/Chinese people.”

– Jenny Banh, Asian American studies and anthropology professor, California State University, Fresno

“Seeing the world of the Chinese diaspora through the restaurants they created is brilliant. The stories shared are about adaptiveness and resilience, but also about innovation and invention and the creation of new flavours and culinary experiences that have shaped the history of the world. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the kinds of restaurants that Kwan describes were the model for small family-run businesses as a portable technology of the Chinese migrant networks that transformed the globe. If who we are is a product of what we eat, then the invention of Chinese restaurants as a worldwide phenomenon that spanned every ocean and continent has shaped all of us.”

– Henry Yu, history professor, University of British Columbia

“Travel the globe in this fabulous memoir with the author, eating your way from Saskatchewan to Madagascar, and savour the stories, flavours, sounds and culinary adventures of Chinese restaurateurs as he brings you into their kitchens, replete with savoury welcome. Kwan has a unique gift for creating meaningful intimate connections with everyone he meets, for reading their history alongside his own, and honours the restaurant workers with his heartfelt storytelling. All readers will find something here that rings true for them.”

– Glenn Deer, Asian North American studies and English professor, University of British Columbia

“Before Anthony Bourdain, there was Cheuk Kwan.”

South China Morning Post

"Have You Eaten Yet? is a charming book that weaves its profiles together into an extended meditation on identity, belonging and a sense of home.”

The Economist 

"Across more than a dozen countries, Kwan searches for flavors that remind him of home as he samples the best Chinese food that Havana, Darjeeling, Mombasa and other locales have to offer. Interspersed between these accounts and Kwan’s forays into his own background are history lessons to flesh out the sociopolitical context behind each story of global migration, offering a compelling vantage on the lives of those who fill its pages. Many of the subjects’ stories are astonishing, and each is unique, even if the forces that shaped them — hardship, war, familial ties — are not. It is these stories that bring “Have You Eaten Yet?” to life."

Washington Post

"This delicious and delightful tour of Chinese food around the world blends sharp journalism and tender memoir."


"At its best, Kwan’s book reveals the ways in which diasporic Chinese restaurants are like test kitchens experimenting in opportunities for a better life, however nebulous that pursuit might be...Kwan’s book is a kind of love letter to his varied homes and a memorial to his journey through them, as refracted through the lives of far-flung strangers."

New York Times Book Review

"These narratives give insight into the relationship between food, ethnicity, and identity—and show that a dish can be much more than just dinner."

Travel + Leisure

"With marvelous insights into how Chinese people have amalgamated so firmly into so many diverse societies, Kwan’s book is more sociological study than culinary guide."


"Flavorful descriptions of foods mix with adventuresome travel mishaps. The stories of women in particular are resounding, encompassing both vulnerability and stalwart resolve. Have You Eaten Yet? is a fascinating, inquisitive global search for Chinese tastes that evoke home in any corner of the world."

Foreword Reviews

“A heartfelt and entertaining culinary and historical survey of the Chinese diaspora.”

Kirkus Reviews

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