Back to All Events

Writing the Chinese American Restaurant with Lillian Li and Serena Dai

  • Museum of Food and Drink 62 Bayard Street Brooklyn, 11222 United States (map)

In Lillian Li’s multigenerational debut novel, Number One Chinese Restaurant, The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades.

Number One Chinese Restaurant looks beyond red tablecloths and silkscreen murals to share an unforgettable story about youth and aging, parents and children, and all the ways that our families destroy us while also keeping us grounded and alive.

Join Lillian Li in conversation with Serena Dai, Editor of Eater NY, for a conversation about Chinese American restaurants as sites of generational and cultural changes, the restaurant industry as a creative space both on and off the page, and Lillian’s process writing Number One Chinese Restaurant.

An informal reception with book signings and small bites inspired by Number One Chinese Restaurant will follow.

author photo 2019.jpg


Lillian Li is the author of the novel Number One Chinese Restaurant, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize, the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and an NPR Best Book of 2018. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Granta, One Story, Bon Appetit, and Jezebel. Originally from the D.C. metro area, she lives in Ann Arbor.



Serena Dai is the editor of Eater NY — a digital-only publication part of the national Eater network, covering restaurant news, where to eat, and everything else about the culture and business of dining out. In 2017, she oversaw the exclusive investigation about alleged sexual misconduct of celebrity chef Mario Batali and the culture at his restaurants. She also pitched and hosted the first two seasons of Cult Following, a multi-platform video series about restaurants that inspire obsession, and frequently writes about the intersection of identity and food. Previously, she worked as a local news reporter for DNAinfo. Her writing has appeared in New York,, the Atlantic’s former news blog, the Miami Herald, and papers across the country via the Associated Press.