The Search for General Tso

Directed by Ian Cheney

From New York City to the farmlands of the Midwest, there are 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the U.S., yet one dish in particular has conquered the American culinary landscape with a force befitting its military moniker—“General Tso’s Chicken.” But who was General Tso and how did this dish become so ubiquitous? Ian Cheney’s delightfully insightful documentary charts the history of Chinese Americans through the surprising origins of this sticky, sweet, just-spicy-enough dish that we’ve adopted as our own.

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Reviews

  • ★★★★ review by MrJago on Letterboxd

    Fascinating and fun documentary about the history of Chinese Food and Chinese Immigration in the United States.

    I really want some General Tso's Chicken now!

  • ★★★½ review by Robert Saucedo on Letterboxd

    Fantastic documentary that's strength is in its structure and narrative flow. Also, I should eat Chinese food more often.

  • ★★★★ review by Chris Brown on Letterboxd

    This excellent doc isn't so much about General Tso (the dish and the person... though both are discussed of course), but about all of the questions and stories it brings up. From the initial Chinese immigration stories (I thought it was a really nice tidbit to hear that the reason Chinese immigrants spread out over America was so that they wouldn't compete with one another) to how food/culture melds and how both cultures influence one another.

    Plus, it brought back to mind growing up in a small town and how special it was when the family and I would venture out for Chinese food.

    A wonderful doc.

  • ★★★★ review by Dan Gorman on Letterboxd

    Maybe it's because I expected this to be an extremely fluffy piece with a hyper focus on the titular dish, but I was surprised that this offered such a good overview of the history behind American Chinese restaurants and history.

    Sure, it's probably American Chinese Food 101, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • ★★★★½ review by Mike Scholtz on Letterboxd

    Traveling around the world eating Chinese food? Damn. I wish I would've made this documentary.

    It's almost as much fun to watch as it must have been to make. Which is always the trick with travelogues.

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