How Local Businesses Help Homesick Chinese Students Local Businesses Bring Home to Chinese Students

Local businesses around the area are bringing China to Central New York

TYLER SCHIFF: A household favorite, pork fried rice sizzles in a wok at Chinese restaurant Red Chili. With China’s mandatory 21-day quarantine still in play, this upcoming summer marks the second straight where the pandemic has stopped SU’s Chinese students from going home.

TYLER SCHIFF: Manager Amy Qing says Red Chili is trying hard to help students feel better by spicing things up.


TYLER SCHIFF: Qing told me that Red Chili has introduced a new Chinese-style breakfast so students aren’t getting tired of the regular Sichuan dishes.

TYLER SCHIFF: Chinese restaurant JiangHu Cafe is another favorite among students. Owner Jenny Cheng says her customers come for the atmosphere.


TYLER SCHIFF: Cheng told me that her regulars like JiangHu because it creates an environment similar to their hometowns. The good food is just a bonus.

TYLER SCHIFF: Because of China’s restrictions, Cheng says the earliest return for students would be the summer of 2023 … Tyler Schiff… NCC News.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – It’s been almost two years since Syracuse University’s Chinese students returned home. According to China’s strict quarantine rules, all travelers must quarantine in a government facility for 14 days before another week’s self-quarantine.

Unwilling to spend almost a month of their summer vacation behind closed doors, most SU Chinese students are opting to stay in the Salt City, and they aren’t alone. Many local Asian businesses are open throughout the summer, hoping to create a familiar atmosphere and help students feel more at home.

Red Chili is one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in the area. Specializing in spicy Sichuan-style dishes, the restaurant has long been helping out the Syracuse community. Manager Amy Qing has worked at Red Chili since 2013. She said that she used to throw in two extra masks for regulars who ordered takeout during the height of the pandemic.

“We felt responsible for taking care of students whenever they were sick,” Qing said. “At the time, we wanted to give students whatever they needed. For some, I liked to include some Chinese herbal medicine to keep them healthy.”

Barber Ryan Zheng replicates Qing’s willingness to help. Zheng moved to Syracuse from New York City six years ago because of the high demand for a hairdresser experienced in handling ‘Asian hair.’ Now, the owner of the Men’s and Women’s Barbershop (男生女生) on Comstock Avenue spends his summers helping Chinese students prepare for the upcoming school year.

“Whenever we encounter students who have trouble with anything, we try to help them,” Zheng said. “I’ll recommend to them the best places to rent from or where to buy a car.”

JiangHu Cafe is another Chinese restaurant around a block away from Marshall Street. Opened in August of last year, the cafe isn’t even a year old. However, its barbecue skewers have already gained notoriety. Owner Jenny Cheng said that she originally planned to keep the menu strictly Chengdu-style, a type of Chinese food known for its generous use of numbing peppercorns, but decided that catering to her customers’ demands was far more important.

“We have everyone’s go-to’s like fried rice and stir-fry,” Cheng said. “But during certain seasons, Chinese people like to eat certain dishes that go along with the weather or celebrations at that time. That’s why I added hot-pot to JiangHu.”

While there’s still no definite answer on when Chinese students can go home, Cheng predicts that the summer of 2023 holds promise. In the meantime, she’s focused on doing the best she can to bring China to Central New York.

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