Mon Lay Won was an upscale Chinese restaurant at 24 Pell Street in New York, popular at the turn of the last century.
Its owner, whose name was unpronounceable to most Americans and who was called Jimmy, shrewdly called it The Chinese Delmonico's as part of a marketing strategy to attract non-Chinese customers.
It must have been an exotic place to visit. The ceilings were adorned with lanterns, there were carved dragons on the walls and people sat on stools at tables inlaid with mother of pearl.
On the menu was Plain Fried Sharks Fins for a dollar and a half, Chow Min (not Mein) for 35 cents and raw Chinese Water Chestnuts for 15 cents. Long Suey and Suey Shin tea cost 15 cents a pot.
Mon Lay won means "ten thousand miles cloud." For Chinese people, the number ten thousand symbolizes abundance.
With its banquet hall, this was no ordinary chop suey joint and it became a destination restaurant.
Courtesy Harley Spiller Collection.
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