A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 27, 2010
Hot and Sour Soup

“Hot and sour soup” is a popular Chinese restaurant menu item that’s been cited in print since at least 1961. Joyce Chen (1917-1994) is often given credit for popularizing hot and sour soup to American palates from her Cambridge (MA) restaurant in 1958, but there is no recorded evidence that it was served at that time and called “hot and sour soup.”
New York (NY) Times food writer Craig Claiborne described the ingredients of hot and sour soup in a 1980 article about tree ears: “The soup is made with, among other things, chicken broth, bean curd, dried black mushrooms, vinegar (which makes the soup sour), ground pepper (which makes it hot or spicy), tiger lily stems and the tree ears.”
Wikipedia: Hot and sour soup
Hot and sour soup can refer to soups from several Asian culinary traditions. In all cases the soup contains ingredients to make it both spicy and sour.
North America
United States

Soup preparation may use chicken or pork broth, or may be meat-free. Common key ingredients in the American Chinese version include bamboo shoots, toasted sesame oil, wood ear, cloud ear fungus, day lily buds, vinegar, egg, corn starch, and white pepper. Other ingredients include button mushrooms and small slices of tofu skin. It is comparatively thicker than the Chinese cuisine versions due to the addition of cornstarch.
East Asia

“Hot and sour soup” is a Chinese soup claimed variously by the regional cuisines of Beijing and Sichuan as a regional dish. The Chinese hot and sour soup is usually meat-based, and often contains ingredients such as day lily buds, wood ear fungus, bamboo shoots, and tofu, in a broth that is sometimes flavored with pork blood. It is typically made hot (spicy) by red peppers or white pepper, and sour by vinegar.
hot-and-sour soup (hät′ən so̵ur′)
a spicy Chinese soup made with pork, chicken, beans, vinegar, etc., served hot
29 March 1961, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “Lessons to Spruce Up Your Spring Cooking” by Isabel A. McGovern, pg. 16, cols. 1-2:
They will maser twenty-four dishes of which Princess Chicken from Yanchow (recipe below), Hot and Sour Soup and Lady in Cabbage are the first lessons delicacies.
(Workshops held in the Mandarin House, 133 West 13th Street.—ed.)
Google Books
Cue’s New York
By Emory Lewis
Duell, Sloan and Pearce
Pg. 149:
The hot and sour soup is magnificent, and there are memorable boiled dumplings.
June 1964, Harper’s Bazaar, “International Dining in New York” by Myra Waldo, pg. 86, col. 3”
Shun Lee: 119 East 23 Street (GR3-4447). Simple and informal, but really good food. Try the hot and sour soup; the fried dumplings; and the lobster dishes.
12 December 1965, New York (NY) Times, “Feasting, Chinese Style” by Craig Claiborne, pg. SM90:
2 tablespoons (about four or five) dried Chinese fungi (tree ears)
3 to four medium-sized dried Chinese mushrooms
8 dried tiger-lily buds
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup bamboo shoots shredded
1/2 cup pork shreds, lean, boneless
1/2 cake fresh bean curd, cut into slices one by one-quarter by one-quarter inch
1 teaspoon imported soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon sesame oil.

25 November 1966, New York (NY) Times, “Dining Out in the City” by Craig Claiborne, pg. 43:
Lotus Eaters Fifth, 182 Fifth Avenue (between 22d and 23d Streets), 929-4800. Anyone who is fascinated by Chinese cooking that is far from run-of-the-mill should find much to admire in this relatively new Chinese restaurant. There are numerous insidiously good dishes such as a delectable pork ball and spinach soup; hot and sour soup;...
17 March 1967, New York (NY) Times, “Directory to Dining Out: Visits to 3 Restaurants” by Craig Claiborne, pg. 45:
Shanghai Garden, 140 West Fourth Street, 982-7670.
On one occasion the hot and sour soup, the fried dumplings and chicken in hot sauce all had special merit.
Google News Archive
5 July 1967, Miami (FL) News, “Adventures in Fine Dining - Chinese,” pg. 2B, col. 5:
Starring with surprise Hot and Sour Soup (spicy, golden and chickeny),...
Google Books
The Underground Gourmet
By Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
Pg. 92:
On our last visit the proprietor presented us with a delicious hot and sour soup laden with strips of bean curd, sliced pork and tiger-lily buds.
Google News Archive
26 January 1968, Miami (FL) News, “Adventures in Fine Dining - Chinese,” pg. 2B, col. 8:
Then the fantastic Hot and Sour Soup, the elborate menu with elegant gourmet foods from the three outstanding regions Szechuen, Shanghai and Peking.
Google News Archive
17 July 1968, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “Honorable Doc DIzzy Over Won Ton Soup?,” pg. D1, col. 6:
PLUCKILY, Schaumburg ate until the research was narrowed to Won Ton soup and hot and sour soup, both of which made him lightheaded and all.
29 August 1969, Valley News (Van Nuys, CA), “Cafe Ramblings with Larry Lipson,” pg. 28A, col. 6:
Try the hot and sour soup and the Mandarin spicy chicken.
Google Books
27 September 1971, New York magazine, pg. 70, col. 2:
The hot and sour soup (85 cents) — at its best a piquant egg-thickened sea of bitter, tart, and silky bland, with bean curd, strips of fleshy black mushroom, wicked tree ears, fresh bean sprouts and pork — had a single urgent and unpleasant taste.
10 September 1980, New York (NY) Times, “Tree Ears: Healthful Fungus” by Craig Claiborne, pg. C1:
Hot and sour soup and moo-shu-ro are undoubtedly the two best-known dishes in which tree ears are used. The soup is made with, among other things, chicken broth, bean curd, dried black mushrooms, vinegar (which makes the soup sour), ground pepper (which makes it hot or spicy), tiger lily stems and the tree ears.
New York (NY) Times
Joyce Chen, 76, U.S. Popularizer Of Mandarin Cuisine
Published: August 26, 1994
LEXINGTON, Mass., Aug. 25— Joyce Chen, who popularized Mandarin cuisine in America with her restaurants, cookbooks and television programs, died on Tuesday in the Fairlawn Nursing Home in Lexington. She was 76.
She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Mrs. Chen opened New England’s first Mandarin Chinese restaurant in 1958 in Cambridge, Mass., introducing dishes like Peking duck, moo shu pork and hot-and-sour soup. Her regular patrons included John Kenneth Galbraith, James Beard, Julia Child and Henry A. Kissinger.
She later wrote “The Joyce Chen Cookbook” and was host of the nationally broadcast PBS program “Joyce Chen Cooks.”
Joyce Chen. (Joyce Chen Inc. founder and first to introduce authentic Chinese cooking to U.S. restaurants)
Nation’s Restaurant News| February 01, 1996 | Weiland, Jeanne
Chow mein, chop suey and French bread. Believe it or not, these foods have something in common. All three of them were staples in Chinese restaurants in the 1950s, yet none of them—not even the French bread—is an authentic Chinese dish.
So when Chinese-born Joyce Chen launched her namesake restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., in the late ‘50s, her mission, first and foremost, was to introduce the American palate to real Chinese cuisine. And when one of her early customers stormed from the restaurant, grumbling, “What kind of Chinese restaurant is this that doesn’t serve French bred?” Chen did not surrender her vision. Instead, she came up with the idea of launching a Chinese buffet—with a twist.
At the beginning of the food line, she offered all the familiar Western comfort foods—turkey, ham, roast beef. But by the time customers reached the end of the line, the authentic Chinese dishes, such as hot and sour soup and moo shu pork, were on hand to tempt wary diners to risk a taste

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, September 27, 2010 • Permalink

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