The history of the Chinese takeaway: “Can’t we just take the food home, please?”


When you think of takeaway food, you usually think of convenience. No time to shop, no time to cook, no energy left after an exhausting day at work.

But the history of food delivery tells another story. In Britain, Chinese restaurants became very popular after World War II. One place was so popular that people got tired of waiting for a table. They wanted the food delivered and a new industry was born.

The first Chinese takeaway, The Lotus House, opened by John Koon in London’s Queensway in 1958, proved so popular that punters who were unable to get a table asked whether they could take the food home with them. Ever the entrepreneur, Koon agreed. The London sophisticate was well catered for, then, by the late 1950s, but chicken chow mein had not yet then impinged on the life of the Barnsley housewife or the Lancashire coal miner. That came only when Billy Butlin introduced chop suey and chips to his holiday camps. The odd-couple combination persisted right through to the 1970s, when people became more responsive to Cantonese noodle dishes.

By the early 70s, Chinese restaurants and takeaways had been established all over Britain, and totalled about 1,000. Today, Chinese restaurants are a staple of British towns.

“After the war, I left the merchant navy and, in 1953, settled in east London. England was still a powerful country and it was difficult for foreigners to become naturalised. I got a recommendation from a colonial minister who could speak Chinese. After coming ashore, I worked in catering, at a takeaway restaurant as a chef. At that time, the Chinese community was still located in Poplar, east London. There were only a few Chinese restaurants and grocery stores mixed with some Indian restaurants.

From chow mein and chips to Michelin-starred mu shu pork, Chinese food has become part of British life.

“I am thankful to my wife who, over 30 years, has helped me run the takeaway restaurant and care for the children, always without complaining. I keep my hand in with cooking demonstrations promoting Chinese cuisine, and I do charity and community work.”

Read more about the history of Chinese restaurants in the source articles here and here.

You can order Chinese takeaway via the Hungr app here.

In The Press: Former Just Eat kingpin looks to take bite out of takeaway market


International Business Times writes:

Former Just Eat executive Rasmus Wolff’s new food delivery service is set to hit London later this year.

Dubbed Hungr, the firm is aiming to revolutionise the way people order food by becoming a “premium club for the best restaurants”.

IBTimes UK caught up with Wolff to talk about the new business and whether it can replicate the success of Just Eat.

“Consumers just want three things: an easy way to order, good food, delivered on time. With something like Just Eat, the customer has to do all the work, they have to go through all the restaurants and it’s a complex and time-consuming task to order takeaway, especially on mobile. With us, the user picks the dish first and then we cherry pick the best restaurants based on rating, distance and price,” Wolff said.

Hungr turns the order process on its head and has users first pick their food first. They are then presented with a choice of three hand-picked restaurants to receive their food from.

Read the full article here.