The Chinese buffet landed in the United States in the mid-2000s, bringing with it an array of Asian flavors.
It was, at the time, a welcome addition to the U’s dining scene and, like the rest of the buffet, a cultural touchstone for Asian Americans.
But the Chinese food has since been a source of controversy.
The menu changes frequently and is rife with racial stereotypes, with dishes such as “chicken fried rice” and “chinese egg rolls” — which are actually white and not Chinese.
The Chinese were originally a largely Christian religion in China.
Their descendants still practice a version of Islam called Han Chinese, which means “people of the East.”
In the U., they are a largely minority.
At the Chinese restaurant in Washington, they have been an important part of the Chinese community, but they’re also not the only ones.
As the Washington Post reported in 2016, the Chinese in the area “have had a tough time adapting to their new surroundings and the expectations of being accepted as Americans by their new peers.”
Some Asian American activists and policymakers have called for a boycott of Chinese-themed businesses, while some Chinese have suggested boycotting all Chinese restaurants and bars.
In the past year, the U was rocked by a deadly attack in New York City by a Somali refugee who pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.
In response, Chinese tourists have been barred from entering the U and some Chinese-owned restaurants have closed their doors.
The Washington Chinese Restaurant Association has called for Chinese-American businesses to boycott Chinese-centric food for the first time.
“We don’t want to be a victim of Chinese stereotypes,” said Zhang Zhihui, a Chinese-Chinese consultant who serves as the organization’s executive director.
“I think people are aware of the issues, but we don’t feel we have a voice because we’re not Asian American,” he said.
The controversy over the Chinese cuisine has prompted an investigation by the Department of Justice into how the buffet got into the U, as well as other restaurant scandals.
“It’s not the first or last time that we have encountered this type of food,” said Rachelle Chan, a lawyer who specializes in Asian American and Pacific Islander issues.
“But it’s a new kind of issue.”
A recent report by the Washington Asian Pacific American Center found that, despite the heightened scrutiny of Chinese food in the past few years, Chinese restaurants in the D.C. area still remain popular among Asian Americans, especially those who are seeking to get their own restaurants up and running.
Chinese-related restaurants, like those at the Chinese Restaurant at 7th and L streets NW, have been especially popular, said Chan, who also represents the Chinese-Asian community.
They’re more of a gateway into the restaurant world for people from other Asian countries, she said.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found Chinese-Americans’ average annual household income was just over $45,000.
Chan said many Chinese- Americans who are American citizens or legal residents are wary of opening up their home to Chinese visitors.
“A lot of them are afraid of having the Chinese influence come in and be influenced by their culture,” she said, adding that Chinese tourists are especially concerned about being recognized by the restaurant chain as a “foreigner.”
Some Chinese-inspired restaurants in D.D.C., such as the Chinese Steak House on Capitol Hill, have faced complaints and boycotts from the Asian community.
The owners of the D Chinese Steakhouses, a D.U.-based chain that opened its D.J. Chinatown location in the city’s Chinatown, declined to comment for this story.
The restaurant’s owner, Li Zhenzhong, said in a statement that he did not know of any instances of discrimination against Chinese customers.
“Our restaurant has always been a welcoming environment, and we’ve been very successful with attracting new customers,” he wrote.
“The D Chinese restaurants are not necessarily associated with the Chinese ethnic group, but because we offer a Chinese style dining experience and we are a Chinese restaurant, we have always been the face of Chinese restaurants.”
Chinese-based businesses and bars are among the most popular dining options for Chinese Americans, said Andrew Wu, an Asian American activist and professor at Georgetown University.
“Many of these businesses are based on the Chinese immigrant experience, and many of them serve up Chinese food,” Wu said.
Wu is a member of the advocacy group Asian American Law and Policy Institute, which focuses on the rights of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The groups report that more than half of Asian-American voters support a boycott in response to the buffet.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which has worked to defend the rights and livelihoods of Asian immigrants, has also pushed for the boycott.
“These businesses are providing a welcome, safe environment to immigrant Chinese Americans,” said Lee Chan, the group’s executive vice president.
“There’s a very strong sense of being part of something bigger