New York magazine, April 2, 1979, had a long feature article, "New York's Chinese Restaurants." I didn't spot the General anywhere else but on page 51, col. 1:
* & 1/2* PENG'S
...General Tso's chicken ($7.95*), in a crisp, sweet, garlic-studded coat with scallions and ginger, is wonderful.(...)(Col. 2--ed.) It's 2:40 now and for all I know it may be the number-four chef manning the wok, but General Tso's chicken is garlicked to transcendence.
Peng's, 219 East 44th Street, 682-8050.
It should be noted that there were other Chinese generals. Hunam, 845 Second Avenue, at 45th Street, in New York, April 2, 1979, page 48, col. 2, served "General Gau's duckling ($7.95*).
From Gourmet, October 1982, pg. 129, col. 3:
Q. Everything at the Peng Teng restaurant in New York City is delectable, but for me the outstanding dish is General Tso's chicken. Would you be so kind as to procure the recipe?
CENTERREACH, NEW YORK
A. Chef Peng gladly revealed one of the secrets of the Orient.
_General Tso's Chicken Peng Teng__
(Chicken with Red Peppers)_(...)
The dish was also popular in San Francisco.
Two Hundred Good Restaurants:
A Guide to Eating in San Francisco & the Bay Area
by Russell S. Riera and Chris Smith
Moss Publications, CA
1981(first edition 1980)
Pg. 22 (Tai Chi, 2031 Polk Street, near Broadway):
_Menu Specialties_...General Tsuo's Chicken (a country-style dish. Pieces of chicken encased in a golden crust, and served in a light, reddish sauce that looks like liquid jewels.)
Pg. 182 (The Royal Mandarin, 234 Northgate Shopping Center):
_Menu Specialties_...General Cho Chicken (the menu says it's "Diced Chicken Breast with Special Sauce." And the menu is very accurate--the dish's spicy sherry and ginger-scented sauce is special.)
Restaurants of San Francisco
by Patricia Unterman and Stan Sesser
Chronicle Books, San Francisco
Pg. 153 (Taiwan Restaurant):Another rich chicken dish is _General Tsuo chicken_, a dish from Hunan, described as "Mao Tse-Tung's hometown famous dish."
"The Real General Tso Was No Chicken," by Anthony Ramirez, is in the City section, New York Times, May 24, 1998, pg. 6, col. 1.
A good "General" introduction is in Flavor & Fortune, December 1996, volume 3, no. 4, pg. 5, col. 1:
GENERAL TSO--THE MYSTERY MAN
BY IRVING BEILIN CHANG
General Tso Tsung Tong (1812-1885) was born in Xiang Yin, thirty-five miles north of Changsa. He was a very famous General under the Manchu Dynasty and his military activities took him to many parts of CHina. He was a very active person and loved his food, especially meat. Everywhere he went, the local magistrates, in order to cultivate his favor, would prepare special feasts in his honor, perhaps to solicit favors and at least so that he would think kindly of them. He was a hard person to please, but try they did.(...)
Once he was sent to Xinjang on a military expedition. The people of this western border-province were mainly Muslims whose religion did not allow them to eat pork; so the general's diet was severely curtailed. Three months later when he got back, specifically to (Col. 2--ed.) Lanzhour, a big feast was served in celebration of his successful expedition. He told his associates that although he was not entertained with song and dance, this elaborate and bountiful meal more than made up for the very long and tough expedition where he had no pork to eat.
In 1875, the Dowager Tse Xi promoted him to the royal court. She held a banquest in his honor in the capital, Beijing. At that banquet, they made sure that he had double servings of all the entrees. The general would always finish his portion with one sweep of his chopsticks, as if to say, he was not impressed.
After the above banquet, one of his compatriots asked him "Old friend, at one seating you can devour so much meat. It is as the old saying goes: A general's fame is as big as his appetite. I hope that stomach of yours can live up to your fame." The general smiled and retorted: "Your people love to put words in other people's mouths. What do you know? Instead of meat you can only eat the roots of vegetables. I am lucky that I enjoy meat. Maybe one day I will be stigmatized and might even be called: The Meat Eating General."