NYCDOH restaurant inspection scores for Chinese restaurants are nearly identical to those for restaurants in general. In fact, there are now nine Chinatowns in New York City, all at different stages of development, but worthy in their own right. Chinese restaurants are very vulnerable to this evolution, since many of these restaurants are privately owned, so they do not meet the standards that a major restaurant chain could meet. This collection of photographs originally began as a project in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) class at Hunter College and explored the question of where highly detailed spatial patterns could be observed in the location of the city's Chinese restaurants.
A survey conducted by the organization known as Restaurant Opportunities Center United (or ROC) even found more specific details about some of the deplorable aspects of the restaurant industry. A list of all restaurants was downloaded from the New York City Department of Health (NYCDOH) restaurant inspection information website. The average score for New York Chinese restaurants was around 15.7, compared to 14.4 for all restaurants. The density of restaurants largely reflects the density of restaurants in general, with notable groups in the Chinatories of Lower Manhattan, Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Fieldwork was used to validate the data and obtain additional information about Chinese restaurants in the city. The exploitation of restaurant workers is an unfortunate side effect of the expansion of the restaurant business not only in New York City, but throughout the United States. The National Resource Center on Human Trafficking explains how in highly populated states such as Texas, California, Ohio, Florida and New York, restaurant exploitation is difficult to prove. The ubiquity of Chinese restaurants in the city and across the country indicates that Chinese food has lost much of its ethnic identity to become a Native American cuisine.
The fairly limited range of prices across the city provides an affordable dining option for nearly every resident of the city and indicates that Chinese restaurants may have reached a point of market saturation in New York City. While some Chinese restaurants can look pretty scary, on average they're no dirtier than restaurants in general. A random sample was taken of 110 restaurants from the five counties in the list of 2300 restaurants. And there was a fairly strong correlation with the density of all types of restaurants: where there are more restaurants, there are more Chinese restaurants.