Scouting NY Explains Why Every Chinese Food in TV Shows and Movies Looks the Same

  • Photo: MIB III via Scouting NYC
  • Photo: MIB III via Scouting NYC
  • (mage: Seinfeld/NBC via Igor Bubis

It isn’t your imagination that whenever there’s a Chinese restaurant featured in films and TV shows, it looks just like that one from Seinfeld, complete with ambient lighting from paper lanterns, dark wood paneling circa Qing Dynasty, and the color red as a major design accent. When it comes to Hollywood’s vision of the archetypal Chinese restaurant, Nick Carr of Scouting NY says that directors go straight for the stereotype every time. All you have to do is check out Men in Black III for the quintessential look that they request from location scouts.

Literally every time I get asked to find a Chinese restaurant, it’s the same description. “I want a place with really over-the-top Chinese decor,” our director will say. “Remember that one in Seinfeld? That’d be great.”

In MIB III‘s case, the fictional Wu’s Diamond Garden Sea Food Restaurant exhibited all of features above and then some, with rows of roasted ducks hanging by a storefront window. Carr says he’ll try to get directors to reconsider, knowing that actual NYC Chinese restaurants don’t look like that. But he’s always confronted with the same reaction: “people assume NYC has EVERYTHING, and when you tell them it doesn’t, they think you’re 1) wrong, and 2) not doing your job.”

That said, Carr eventually convinces them that Chinese restaurants are no longer designed with “crazy decor…to convince New Yorkers that the cuisine is worthwhile.”

He must not have been to Hurricane Club yet…

[via Scouting NY]

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