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Oyster Sauce Beef at Bruce Lee’s Favorite Restaurant — Cooking in America


– Hi Sheldon. – Hey! – Welcome here. – I’m excited to get warmed up with some Chinese food. – You’re at the right place to come then. – I heard that Tai Tung is the oldest Chinese restaurant here in Seattle. – Yeah we are. Since 1935. – Yeah.
– 82 years now. (electronic music) – The international district in Seattle started off as the city’s
Chinatown in the 1800s. Harry Chan is a third generation owner of this iconic Seattle
culinary institution. What dish are we gonna be cooking first? – We are gonna cook Bruce
Lee’s favorite dishes. – Okay.
– Oyster sauce beef. – [Sheldon] So we use flank– – [Harry] Yeah, we use a flank steak. – Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. (electronic pop music) This cutting board is amazing. Pure wood, I can see that
it’s been used for many years. – [Harry] Oh yeah… (laughing) We have been here a long time.
– Yeah. – We use that every day. We marinate the beef… – [Sheldon] Salt, little bit of magic… (laughing) – [Harry] White pepper, sesame seed oil, little bit baking soda. – And then a little bit of corn starch, little bit of margarita mix– – There we go. (laughing) – Showing me the secrets, huh? – Oh yeah. (laughing) – [Sheldon] And that goes
right into the flank steak. (sizzling) – Hey, you’re doing good Sheldon. – All right. (laughing) (electronic pop music) – Hey, that looks beautiful! Wow. (clapping) High five! All right, yeah. – Is it good? (laughing) I got approval from the team. Whew.
(laughing) That was one of my best
experiences right there, serious. Everyone’s been working here a long time. – Oh yeah, how long you been work here? – 38.
– 38 years. – 38 years.
– Yep. – 12 years.
– 12 years. – Huh? – 32.
– 32 years. – 32 years? (laughing) Good boss? – Yeah, good boss. – Yeah! – [Harry] That’s why one thing
good about our dishes here. It’s consistency. (pop music) – [Sheldon] Chop suey, egg foo young… – A squid Chinese style, that’s Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. (pop music) Bruce Lee, when he was in Seattle, this corner, the corner
table he always liked to sit. – Well I am honored.
(laughing) Hopefully I get some of those moves after I finish up some of these dishes. (pop music) – Hey. – You’re here usually every single day. – Every day. (laughing) You know, I like what I’m doing and my hobby is working. – [Sheldon] Oh yeah! – When it’s snowing out
there, sleeping bag, I will be here. – So you sleep here? – I sleep here. Because I want to make
sure the door’s open. – Tell me about this, where the restaurant is
located in this district. – We are located in Chinatown. Early 30s that’s when we first opened. They used to have a lot
of Chinese community. Because the people,
they come here to work. And most of them are men and single so they live here and they
eat here and they work here. – You’ve never laid off an employee here? – No, we never lay off people.
– Yeah. – That’s why we may have
an employee work here more than 50 years. Some of them, later on, to
open their own business, open their own restaurant, you know? – Chinese restaurant
classic, always to have this. The chop suey, oyster sauce beef, so simple yet so, so delicious. Your grandfather came here from– – South China. He’s called Canton. – How did he come to Seattle? – That time is hard to find work in China. So he come over America. After the gold rush, he
have to look for a job so he started in 1935. Then later on my father and my brother they came over from China. Yeah, I came over here when I was 20. So I started with the dishwashers. That work, you know how
hard to peel the pea pod? (laughing)
One by one – wow! You gotta know the whole kitchen. Now I have my nephew, also
helping out the restaurant. My grandson he start working
at the restaurant now. Fifth generation working here. – Here in Tai Tung, that is… That is a testament to
your family right there. – Yeah. – Did Bruce Lee live in Seattle? – Yes.
– Okay. – Back in the early 60s. And he go to school here, you know, hung around within Chinatown. – Yeah.
– One of my friends who had been
work in the kitchen before– – Mhmm. – And he was a roommate with
Bruce Lee for two years. – What kind of person was Bruce Lee? – Well, don’t make him mad! (laughing) Otherwise you’d get in trouble. – Get the food on the table, quick! – Ha, yep. All the waiters, they know–
– They know. – What he want. So all he do, he come in, he sit here, and then they keep him with a tea, water, and a bowl of soup, you know? And then oyster sauce if he likes it. And of course they give him a bill. Make sure he pay. (laughing) – So you came here when
you was just 22 years. Tell me how the city has
changed from back then to now. – Seattle used to be a quiet city. The last five, 10 years,
Seattle is growing a lot. But one thing, Tai Tung never change. We’re still at the same location, same family operated, and same recipe from the beginning. – Where do you see the future of Tai Tung? – I have to take care of my employees. And I have to take care of the customer that they love the Tai Tung food. So I have a lot of customers tell me, “Don’t close it!” – Yeah. – You know and I said, don’t worry. – Don’t worry– – Don’t worry. – I will be here. As long as I’m here, the door is open. – Sheldon I hope you brought your knives. – I brought everything from my star chef. (laughing) – We’re cooking bo tai chanh, a cured beef salad… (fading rock music)

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