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  1. #1

    Default Cass Corridor / Chinatown / Chung's

    Hi, everyone. Former Detroit. New to the list. I look forward to being part of this community.

    My family owned Chung's Restaurant in the Cass Corridor. Founded by great-grandfather in 1939/40, the restaurant sat on the corner of Cass and Peterboro, across from Burton International. We were famous for our egg rolls, almond boneless chicken and wor dip harr. I had great memories of growing up there and in the general neighborhood.

    I'm doing some research on my family's history and wanted to see if anyone on this list could share memories of:

    1.) eating at our restaurant (what were your favorite dishes, any favorite stories or routine, like my mom said Opening Day for the Tigers were always busy, as was Christmas)
    2.) did you ever come down for the Moon Festival or the Lunar New Year parade?
    3.) Any memories of how the neighborhood, in general, changed over time, particularly in the 70's and 80's? I remember a vibrant gay and lesbian community that was in the area, too (Gold Dollar Bar, Birdtown Petshop, etc.)

    Anything you can share would be greatly appreciated. I've talked with many family members already. Now I want to hear what others have to say.

    Thanks!

    Curtis

  2. #2

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    A hearty welcome, Curtis! I expect that you'll get strong response to this thread.

    It still breaks my heart to drive by your family's restaurant building, we had many good memories made there.

    I cannot remember the exact dishes I enjoyed, but if you've got an old menu available to scan and upload...I'm sure I can pick 'em out.

    My time there was in the mid- to late-80's.

    May I ask why you are gathering this information? Is it time to reopen?!


    Cheers!

  3. #3

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    Many Friday evenings my mother would drive us downtown to pick up my father from work and we all go out to dinner. Our usual destination was your family's restaurant or the Golden Dragon on the other side of Cass. It was the treat of the week when it happened, and something my sister and I looked forward to. Even my mother kicking us under the table when our manners would slip was OK, because were out eating Chinese food!

    I can still taste certain dishes, like the wonton soup, egg rolls, egg foo yung, and my personal favorite, almond chicken. I learned to use chopsticks in those restaurants, taught by a couple of kindly waiters. This early training served me in good stead later in my life when I spent several years living and traveling in Asia.

    My parents, and my grandparents, were longtime customers of Chung's. In fact here's how they would probably remember the restaurant, as seen on the left in this 1940s photo from WSU's Virtual Motor City site, in its original location on Third between Howard and Abbott in Detroit's original Chinatown.


  4. #4

    Default Greetings Curtis

    Pic is just toooo cool...thanks for posting it
    Oh, and welcome Curtis...
    Last edited by SDCC; December-12-13 at 08:11 AM. Reason: adding a hello

  5. #5

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    We'd go to Chung's for lunch a lot when I worked downtown in the 70s. I am not sure which dishes were my favorites, but I remember for sure the almond boneless chicken. The egg rolls took second place to the ones at Sun Ya (Grand River and Southfield) for me, but they were very good and not just the same as many other places.

    For Chung's and the Gold Dollar, I remember the neighborhood around them gradually disappearing through the 80s. We were so sad when Chung's closed.

  6. #6

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    My favorite dish was dinner for two. Back in those days I could really eat!

  7. #7

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    Image from Ebay.

  8. #8

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    It would be interesting to consider whether Detroit's Chinatown could have survived had it never moved. Within the context of downtown, perhaps it could have held on until the present day.

  9. #9

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    Best egg rolls I've ever had.

    Didn't the business move to the Waterford area, at least for a while?

  10. #10

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    The Chinatown on Michigan Ave. was removed for being a "Slum" and while the original skid row WAS there, it was Not a Slum. So...they moved to the Corridor, and the displaced winos, etc., moved to the Corridor and the near west side. I never ate at Chung's, but ate at a small chinese place (converted White Castle??) across from Old Main when attending WSU. I believe the drug reps brought stuff from Chung's or ?Forbidden City for lunch at my small inner city hospital.

  11. #11

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    Wasn't the Chung's building re-opened for the shooting of a movie a few years ago? I seem to remember reading the newspaper article at the time.

    I never ate there, but it was certainly open during my time on the Wayne State campus...early 1980's.

    C

  12. #12

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    Thought that was the Chin Tiki, for something Eminem...probably 8 Mile.

  13. #13

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    Wong's, in the foreground of the picture posted by Detroit Signal, was apparently the place to go for shrimp dishes, especially fried shrimp. My parents used to go there often during the time they were dating and as young marrieds, as they also did to the nearby Chung's. I don't think Wong's made the move north to the new Chinatown.

  14. #14

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    I posted this before but taken during 2013 Nain Rogue

  15. #15

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    As soon as I saw the title of this thread I started drooling for a Chungs egg roll.

    Hello Curtis, you are a welcome new forumer. I hope you pick your elders heads for info we would all love to read about. I am so glad I had the chance to eat there before they closed. I was truly sad when they did close.

  16. #16

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    Somewhere deep within my files here I do have an original Chung's menu. I'll see if I can fetch it, take a picture of it and post it.

  17. #17

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    Wow, thanks for all the replies. Yes, our family opened up another location in Waterford, but after my dad died in 2005, we sold it. Chin Tiki was the location for the Eminem movie. That place belonged to my grandfather's younger brother. Any memorabilia would be great. We found a picture of my dad on ebay, as well. Is that current picture still for sale? (Sorry, don't really use ebay.)

  18. #18

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    One brief memory: I lived at Third & Prentis, then at Forest Arms on Second, in the late sixties. Paid many late night visits to the Ho Ho Inn, at Second near Canfield. One night, during a conversation with a neighbor, she told me that the ONLY place to get egg rolls was at Chungs.
    Sure enough: I had some a few days later, and to this day have not had a better egg roll.

  19. #19

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    FYI: There is new(ish) content on the Reuther Library website:

    http://www.reuther.wayne.edu/search/...nese%2C+ethnic

  20. #20

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    If you have a half million you can buy most of Chinatown.
    http://detroit.curbed.com/archives/2...-asks-500k.php

    Prior to this being Chinatown, my Grandmother lived on this block when her family moved down from Flint. She later taught at Burton.
    Last edited by DetroitPlanner; December-13-13 at 09:58 AM.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chungs View Post
    Wow, thanks for all the replies. Yes, our family opened up another location in Waterford, but after my dad died in 2005, we sold it. Chin Tiki was the location for the Eminem movie. That place belonged to my grandfather's younger brother. Any memorabilia would be great. We found a picture of my dad on ebay, as well. Is that current picture still for sale? (Sorry, don't really use ebay.)
    Here's a story. Your Dad and I had a mutual friend, (unknown to me @ the time). One night we were dining @ the Cass location, and you Dad came up to our table to say Hi. They started discussing something we were eating, that escalated to an exchange of opinions. You Dad locked the front door, (it was during the week, cold out, and we were the only customers). He walked us back into the kitchen, and the two of them started cooking and trying to out do each other. They were dead serious, but it was all in fun. One of my best memories of Detroit living. We also ate a couple of times @ the Waterford location, but it didn't have that Cass Corridor charm. I also remember sometime in the mid 60's being taken to a Chinese celebration, (New Year?) on Cass and seeing the parade for the first time. It was SO cool! I had no idea about Detroit's Chinese population. I still think about how that area has vaporized over the years. A real loss for the City.

  22. #22

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    I'm not old enough to have ever eaten at the original Chung's, but we used to be regulars at the Waterford location. Best egg rolls ever and the food was always fresh and hot. It's never been the same after your family sold the place, unfortunately. Welcome to the Forum, Mr. Chung, and thank you for all the joy your family brought to the Detroit area over the years.

  23. #23

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    The Original Detroit's Chinatown was at 3rd street from W. Fort St to Plum St since the 1850s to 1960s. The Chins, Chungs and Moy families came to Detroit from Chicago to make their presence known. The Detroit Housing Commission (which was mostly white Detroit city workers at the time) want to put a Lodge FWY in the area. They told the Chinese to pack up their things and vacant the area. The DHC relocated them to Cass Corridor area on Cass St. and Peterboro St. thus the 2nd Chinatown was made. By the 1980s Detroit's Chinatown began to slowly died out due to these problems:

    1. Fewer Chinese immigrants was came to Cass Corridor area to apply for Wayne State University spoke Mandarin. The Chins, Chungs and Moy families only speak Cantonese There are no Chinese cultural or social services center to relieve language issues.

    2. The crack epidemic spread like wildfire from Brush Park to Cass Corridor area and it worried them.

    3. The death of Vincent Chin ( in Highland Park, MI.) was the last straw and started to pack their bags and leave Detroit. The Chinese move into suburban areas from Canton, TWP to Troy, MI. Most of them move to Madison Hieghts, MI. and set up shop along John R. Rd. from 11 Mile to 14 Mile Rd. An Asian-town like Chinatown was sprouting in those areas.

    Today there are only a handful of Chinese families live in Cass Corridor area. The growth is slow. If Detroit gets plenty of regional base and reduce violent crime, then more Chinese or Asian families can move to Detroit not only to set up shop, but to stay.
    Last edited by Danny; December-13-13 at 03:56 PM.

  24. #24

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    Chung's was the only restaurant in chinatown for me. The egg rolls were my favorite. When I worked in the area that was the place to eat. For me it was the benchmark, any other Chinese food was compared to the food at Chungs. One of my sisters went to school at Cass Tech and one of the girls she graduated with was related to the Chung family. What a place! Great food and service!

  25. #25

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stinger4me View Post
    Chung's was the only restaurant in chinatown for me. The egg rolls were my favorite. When I worked in the area that was the place to eat. For me it was the benchmark, any other Chinese food was compared to the food at Chungs. One of my sisters went to school at Cass Tech and one of the girls she graduated with was related to the Chung family. What a place! Great food and service!
    memory jog: I'm thinking it was 1974. Took me mum downtown to matinee opera (La Traviata). Parked across the street in lot next to Burton. We had late lunch/early dinner. Came out to find my Dad's '72 Torino no longer parked where we left it. Was found 3 days later on the westside. Dummies did not find the cash in my Dad's mileage book he kept in the glovebox. Only time our car was ever stolen in Detroit.

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