I'm always intrigued by the inner workings of an entity; in part, wondering 'how they do that' landed me in the world of journalism.
Chinese restaurants aren't a complete mystery. Reading "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles" by Jennifer 8. Lee and "A Free Life" by Ha Jin have given me non-fictional and fictional insight. Now there's "Family Restaurant" (WeTV, 10 tonight), which this season focuses on the Quan's, a Chinese family who run a successful 60-year-old restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta.
Apparently, the show was a hit in Canada, which makes sense. There's plenty of wackiness in the Quan clan and, thank goodness, no real nastiness. It basically focuses on the culture clash between the westernized kids and the immigrant parents.
Father Kinman is mostly relaxed, as one of his sons says, he lets the restaurant run itself. That bugs oldest son Miles, who wants to add modern touches to the restaurant and take it to a new level. He's devoted to the business, even telling his fiance that he loves the business more than he loves her. She seems resigned. Daughter Mandy also is devoted to the business, even insisting that her South Asian boyfriend spend time working there. Youngest son Marty is deemed a slacker; he's a business student and doesn't spend all his time there.
But the star is the outgoing, bossy, coquettish mother Amy. Although a hostess extraordinaire at the restaurant, Amy also has a kiosk cafe at the mall and, she says, she loves her customers more than her kids. That attitude has helped business; there's always a long line. Amy's the kind of mother that forces her son to change his wedding date, because it's an ominous time on the Chinese calendar, under threat that she won't attend, and her son obeys. She has a ridiculous number of vases and a fine selection of traditional dresses to impress her guests. There's an undercurrent of sadness, though. It's clear Amy would like a little more affection from her husband, whose not interested in that sort of thing. Although Amy objects to Mandy's non-Chinese boyfriend, the objection seems half-hearted. I kind of think she admires her daughter's spirit.
There's lot of moments to chuckle in "Family Restaurant" with the Quans, and you won't have that feeling of shame some reality shows leave you with. Plus, I guarantee that you'll find yourself longing for Chinese food as you watch them fill orders in the kitchen.