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Representing Asian Cuisine in Greater Philadelphia.
When we first approached Bamboo, the restaurant was empty because it was a mid-afternoon on a Sunday. Several employees were sitting near the entrance, on their phones or chatting in (presumably) Mandarin. After asking for an interview, two of the employees squabbled over whose English was better until Tim agreed to his voice being recorded. We were surprised to discover that, while the employees of Bamboo were from the Philadelphia Chinatown area, the restaurant was intended to present Americanized-Asian food and atmosphere.
Asian as an Umbrella Term for Chinese Cuisine.
Reflecting on this, we realized that Bamboo is marketing itself to the expectations of the Swarthmore community -- the Americanized idea of a “Chinese” restaurant. We then returned to Bamboo Bistro to document the aesthetic aspects of the restaurant, from the “Asian” art on the walls to the Western design and layout of the restaurant.
White America Imagines Asian Cuisine.
Through our own experiences with Bamboo Bistro and our work for this project, we’ve realized that Bamboo Bistro will continue to provide an Americanized Asian food experience in order to thrive as a business in the Swarthmore borough. We also witnessed the dialectic between consumption and reinterpretation of one culture for the sake of another, especially through the ways in which the restaurant presents itself both aesthetically and discursively.