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The reign of General Tso’s chicken, beef and broccoli, and other Chinese takeout standards could be coming to an end.

For more than 100 years, Chinese food in America has mostly been thought of as something quick, cheap, and filling. But with China’s economic boom, the image of its people has changed—and Chinese cuisine has developed along with it. Today, New York City is seeing a proliferation of upscale Chinese restaurants that prioritize ingredients, ambience, and authenticity over catering to American palates.

Earlier waves of Chinese immigrants opened restaurants as a way of getting by; their lower socioeconomic status placed Chinese cuisine at the bottom of what food studies scholars refer to as the “hierarchy of taste.” But the young, upwardly mobile restaurateurs behind these newly-opened eateries are more concerned with self-expression than survival. It’s changing how Chinese food is perceived in America, and ultimately may reshape Americans’ ideas about taste

Quartz News is a weekly video series bringing you in-depth reporting from around the world. Each episode investigates one story, breaking down the often unseen economic and technological forces shaping our future.

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