Customer Reviews for

Kitchen Chinese: A Novel about Food, Family, and Finding Yourself

Average Rating 5
( 8 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014


    Wonderful tale of a young woman reclaiming her life with food, travel, and love!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget Jones goes to China

    Isabelle Lee, Iz, has just been fired from her job as a fact checker for a magazine. Encouraged by her friends she decides she needs an adventure and moves from Manhattan to Beijing, where her older sister Claire, a high-powered attorney, lives. Iz is determined to have an adventure but not to find her Chinese roots as if she were in "an Amy Tan novel". Iz considers herself American at heart, not Chinese. Claire gets her a job at a magazine for expats, Beijing NOW, where she ends up as the food critic. Her Mandarin is limited and she is unfamiliar with a lot of Chinese culture but she has lots of help from her new friends. Claire, the older, successful, introverted sister is a new person in Beijing, but Iz doesn't think she is really happy and is determined to be there for her sister.

    my review:
    First things first. Don't read on an empty stomach. This book made me so hungry as Iz made the rounds of restaurants that I think I gained 5 lbs just reading this book. Okay, not from reading, but from getting a snack to keep me from drooling all over the book. If I was reading this on my Kindle, I would have shorted it out.
    This is a pretty light-hearted, Bridget Jones in China type book; very fun and clever. Isabelle was very likable as were most of the characters. She bumbles around town while trying to get the hang of things.
    The only thing I didn't like was the obligatory romance part. I felt like shoving Iz off of a cliff during some parts and the ending was just too pat. Must there be romance or can't there just be fun and dating? No matter what happens to girls in these books, the author always needs them to find Mr Right by the end.
    Does this speak to the readers or is this the only way to market these books? This is why these are considered chick-lit and lose some credibility from otherwise enjoyable novels and Kitchen Chinese suffers the same fate. And we have a decent read instead of a really good one. Mildly disappointed once again! Except for the food. Yummy!

    my rating 3.75/5

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2010

    loved this!

    couldnt have asked for a better book! was very sad when it was over because now i have to find a new one

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2010

    A delicious debut!!

    As an author, I receive lots of requests to write quotes for books. This one jumped to the front of the pack. Ann writes beautifully and has a sharp eye and a fresh perspective. She also has a great blog at

    Here's my quote: "Ann Mah's Kitchen Chines is a delicious debut novel, seasoned with just the right balance of humor and heart, and sprinkled with fascinating cultural tidbits. Read thoroughly. Share with friends."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2010

    This book...

    made me obsessed with Chinese food. I am still obsessed. I have some in front of me right now- spicy tofu....yummmm. Obsession aside, I really did enjoy this book- it was truly an enjoyable read. Ann set the atmosphere so well that you felt you were right there with the main character. An interesting peek into modern Chinese life from a Chinese-American's perspective. I think I read the book in 2 nights.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is a terrific contemporary tale

    Isabelle Lee grew up on Chinese-American cuisine though she never cooked any as her mom was the family chef. However, she can talks a good game as she grew up listening to her mom discuss food. However, her career in New York tanks so she heads to Beijing where her sister Claire practices law.

    She and Claire are not bosom sisters. However, Isabelle feels good about seeking her roots when she obtains work writing about Kitchen Chinese cuisine to the western expatriate population. Still the transition is not smooth as she struggles with adjustment since the cultures in New York and Beijing are a zillion light years apart and she begins to learn Claire's secret. However after considering going back to the States, the siblings warm up to one another and soon Isabelle finds she likes life in Beijing.

    This is a terrific contemporary tale starring a fascinating lead character who feels like a fresh water fish in the ocean. Roots aside, Isabelle realizes her racial classification is backwards as American comes way before Chinese. Even the language she speaks is 99% English and a few Kitchen (and bathroom) Chinese words. As she struggles to adapt in order to connect with her sister and her heritage, fans who take the journey with Isabelle will appreciate the trip.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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