A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 03, 2019
Chicken Lettuce Wrap (Yook Soong)

"Lettuce wraps” often contain minced chicken or pork placed in an iceberg lettuce leaf, but can also be made vegetarian. The Chinese dish was originally called “yook soong” or “yuk sung.” “It (yook soong—ed.) consists of chicken and pork minced with water chestnuts and topped by crisp rice noodles” was printed in the New York (NY) Herald Tribune on March 11, 1943, referring to Manhattan’s Lum Fong restaurant on West 52nd Street.

The dish became famous in the early 1970s at Pearl’s Chinese Restaurant, at 38 West 48th Street in Manhattan. “Everybody is into the yook soong craze. Out of the kitchen a steady stream of lettuce globes comes bowling by” was printed in New York magazine on July 26, 1971. ”Yook Soong ($3.50), minced pork with pieces of ginger and water chestnuts enveloped in lettuce leaves, with hoi-sin sauce” was printed in Town & Country in May 1972. ”Perfect summer food—N.Y.’s Pearl’s lemon chicken and Yuk Sung (pork with bamboo shoots and watercress to roll in a lettuce leaf)” was printed in Vogue in July 1973.

A recipe for “Minced Chicken in Lettuce Wraps” was printed in Harper’s Bazaar in June 1981. “Cantonese velvet chicken sung, a creamy mixture of white-meat chicken and pine nuts. The meat is spooned into lettuce leaves, rolled up, and eaten” was printed in the Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal on February 24, 1989. “The Chicken n’Lettuce Wrap (4 for 6.25) includes finely chopped white chicken mixed with onions, red peppers, and selected seasonings, nestled in a large lettuce leaf. A hint for beginners: this appetizer is meant to be picked up and eaten with your fingers (like a burrito)” was printed in the Palm Beach (FL) Post on March 26, 1993.

P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, an Asian-themed US casual dining restaurant chain founded in 1993, is well known for its chicken lettuce wraps and vegetarian lettuce wraps.


11 March 1943, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “Dining and Dancing” by Robert W. Dana, pg. 19:
Lum Fong’s Menu
(...)
Being adventurous at this point, we sampled some of the chow yook soong, which is the favorite Cantonese dish of the restaurant’s press agent, Phyllis Kraus. This is even better than the dish we had. It consists of chicken and pork minced with water chestnuts and topped by crisp rice noodles.

Google Books
26 July 1971, New York magazine, “Restaurants: The Scrutable Ouch” by Gael Greene, pg. 58, col. 2:
(Pearl’s Chinese Restaurant.—ed.)
Everybody is into the yook soong craze. Out of the kitchen a steady stream of lettuce globes comes bowling by.

May 1972, Town & Country (New York, NY), “Dining in the Theatre District—Restaurants” by Stephen R. Conn, pg. 16, col. 2:
PEARL’S CHINESE RESTAURANT
... the yook Soong ($3.50), minced pork with pieces of ginger and water chestnuts enveloped in lettuce leaves, with hoi-sin sauce; ...

July 1973, Vogue (New York, NY), pg. 33, col. 2:
Perfect summer food—N.Y.’s Pearl’s lemon chicken and Yuk Sung (pork with bamboo shoots and watercress to roll in a lettuce leaf).

8 July 1973, The Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser (Honolulu, HI), “Golden Dragon chef” by Woody Chock, TV-Aloha sec., pg. 14, cols. 2-3:
With an alert, innovative mind that leaps from topic to topic, he (Chef Dai Hoy Chang—ed.) describes his plans to introduce new dishes like nam buck yuk sung—a tasty hash wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves; or crab-fu-yong, each dish to be served on special modern china service imported from Hong Kong.

21 September 1973, Women’s Wear Daily (New York, NY), “At Table: The modern Pearl” by Doris Tobias, pg. 18, col. 2:
(Pearl’s Restaurant, 38 West 48th Street.—ed.)
... and the popular Yook Soong—hot, minced pork in an ice-cold lettuce leaf wrapping, to be savoured with hoisin sauce.

November 1978, Harper’s Bazaar (New York, NY), “New York’s Most Glamorous Restaurants” by Bruce Sinclair, pg. 196, col. 1:
PEARL’S
(...)
Pearl’s food is almost as famous as her customers. Dishes like yook soong (pork and water chestnuts wrapped in a lettuce leaf to be eaten with the fingers) ...

Google Books
The Restaurants of New York (1979-1980 edition)
By Seymour Britchky
New York, NY: Random House
1979
Pg. 215: 
Everybody starts off with Yook Soong (you’ll recognize it right away). You get a dish of lettuce leaves (crisp iceberg), a dish of hoisin sauce (thick, sweet and spicy), a dish of the stuff itself (an oily mixture of pork and crisp water chestnuts), and on request, a set of instructions from 215 Pearl’s.

Google Books
2 April 1979, New York magazine, “A Scrutable Guide to New York’s Chinese Restaurants” by Gael Green, pg. 48, col. 3:
(Pearl’s.Chinese Restaurant.—ed.)
Long ago at Pearl’s I acquired the yook soong habit ($6*)—tiny nubbins of chicken or pork or beef punctuated with chopped almonds and bits of water chestnut, to dab with hoisin sauce and roll in lettuce packages.

June 1979, Cosmopolitan (New York, NY), “How to Be a Lazy but Inspired Chinese Cook” by Elaine Louie, pg. 204, cols. 2-3:
Minced Pork and Vegetables Cradled in Lettuce (Yook Soong)
(...)
Pearl’s, the well-known, expensive Cantonese restaurant in New York, serves these little lettuce rolls to the likes of Andy Warhol and Diane von Furstenberg, but in my opinion the chef there is a bit skimpy with the mushroom and bamboo shoots.
(...)
Yook Soong is a delicate mixture of finely-diced pork, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and onion, lightly seasoned with soy and oyster sauces. A crisp leaf of iceberg lettuce makes the covering for this enchilada, which is eaten with the fingers. (A vegetarian Yook Soong can be prepared by substituting minced fresh shrimp for pork.)

4 November 1979, New York (NY) Times, “From Hunan to Canton to Sichuan” by Florence Fabricant, pg. LI21, col. 1:
(Woks, 665 West Jericho Turnpike, Huntington.—ed.)
The minced chicken sung wrapped in lettuce leaves, a dish that is so popular at Pearl’s in Manhattan, is excellent here.

June 1981, Harper’s Bazaar (New York, NY), “The Quick Wok Diet” by June Roth, pg. 159, col. 2:
MINCED CHICKEN IN LETTUCE WRAPS
1 breast of chicken, boned
1 tbsp. oil
1 cup each thinly sliced celery, thinly sliced Chinese cabbage (bok choy)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. each, rice wine, brown sugar
1 tbsp. chopped almonds
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3 tbsps. water
1 head Bibb lettuce, washed
Chop raw chicken meat or cut into fine slivers. Heat oil in wok; stir-fry chicken about 2 minutes. Add celery, cabbage, salt, pepper, rice wine, and brown sugar. Stir fry a few more minutes. Add chicken broth, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch, soy sauce, ginger and water into a smooth paste; blend into chicken mixture and continue to stir until liquid is thickened. Serve drained lettuce leaves with chicken mixture. To eat, place a spoonful of mixture in center of each leaf and roll up. Makes 2 servings.

9 June 1982, Trenton (NJ) Times, “The Wok Diet—It Works!” by June Roth, Weekend WOman (Magazine sec.,), pg. 8, col. 4:
MINCED CHICKEN IN LETTUCE WRAPS
1 breast of chicken, boned
1 tbsp. oil
1 cup each thinly sliced celery, thinly sliced Chinese cabbage (bok choy)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. each, rice wine, brown sugar
1 tbsp. chopped almonds
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3 tbsps. water
1 head Bibb lettuce, washed
Chop raw chicken meat or cut into fine slivers. Heat oil in wok; stir-fry chicken about 2 minutes. Add celery, cabbage, salt, pepper, rice wine, and brown sugar. Stir fry a few more minutes. Add chicken broth, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch, soy sauce, ginger and water into a smooth paste; blend into chicken mixture and continue to stir until liquid is thickened. Serve drained lettuce leaves with chicken mixture. To eat, place a spoonful of mixture in center of each leaf and roll up. Makes 2 servings.

26 March 1986, Honolulu (HI) Advertiser, pg. F-5, col. 2 ad:
Minced Chicken Lettuce Wrap
(Hee Hing Restaurant, 449 Kapahula Avenue, Honolulu, HI.—ed.)

24 February 1989, Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal, “Dining Out at the Mill House Panda” by Joseph C. Steiniger, pg. 5D, col. 2:
(The Mill House Panda, 289 Mill Street, Poughkeepsie.—ed.)
... and Cantonese velvet chicken sung, a creamy mixture of white-meat chicken and pine nuts. The meat is spooned into lettuce leaves, rolled up, and eaten. It’s one of those items I’ll order if I know my tie has to go to the cleaners.

24 November 1991, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Dining Out” by Peter M. Gianotti, pg. 28:
(Pearl East, 1191 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset .—ed.)
You may begin with another recollected item: yook soong. Made with either pork or chicken, it’s minced meat dabbed with hoisin, on a leaf of iceberg lettuce. No need for knife, fork, or chopsticks.

20 August 1992, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Chinet Is Patented in Irvine” by Max Jacobson, Orange County Live! sec., pg. 11, col. 2:
(Chinet, 3965 Alton Parkway, Irvine.—ed.)
Chicken lettuce wrap is a mixture of minced chicken, bamboo shoot and crisp rice noodles that you roll up in lettuce leaves smeared in plum sauce. Some restaurants call it Chinese burrito. This is a tasty version, though it could be a lot better. The original recipe calls for black mushroom and pine nuts, additions which would add both flavor and dimension to the mix.

26 March 1993, Palm Beach (FL) Post, “Dine Out in Orange County” by Richard J. Eanes, TGIF sec., pg. 36, col. 1 ad:
(Great Wall, North Beach Plaza.—ed.)
The Chicken n’Lettuce Wrap (4 for 6.25) includes finely chopped white chicken mixed with onions, red peppers, and selected seasonings, nestled in a large lettuce leaf. A hint for beginners: this appetizer is meant to be picked up and eaten with your fingers (like a burrito).

29 September 1994, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Attention shoppers: Chang’s bistro offers new Midday Selections menu,” Orange County Live! sec., pg. 31, col. 2:
(P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, 1145 Newport Center Drive, Fashion Island, Newport Beach.—ed.)
... Chang’s chicken in lettuce wrap ($5.25), ...
(Col. 3 ad for P. F. Chang’s.—ed.)
CHANG’S CHICKEN IN SOOTHING LETTUCE WRAP
Quickly-cooked spiced chicken served in cool lettuce cup.
$5.25

P. F. Chang’s
Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps
$9.95
660 Calories
A secret Chiang family recipe and our signature dish. Enough said.

P. F. Chang’s
Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
$9.95
570 Calories
A secret Chiang family recipe and our signature dish. Enough said.

16 October 1994, New York (NY) Times, “A Successor to the Original Pearl’s” by Joanne Starkey, pg. LI29, col. 2:
(Pearl’s, 1191 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset.—ed.)
Yook soong, lettuce packets stuffed with a savory mixture of minced pork and water chestnuts and a gloss of hoisin sauce, is prepared at tableside.

YouTube
#chefjulieyoon #lettucewrap #summerrecipes
Asian Lettuce Wraps Recipe : Season 3, Ep. 12 - Chef Julie Yoon
Chef Julie Yoon
Published on Aug 27, 2015
This is our Season Finale for Bits & Pieces SEASON 3. We hope you enjoyed “Simply Summer Fresh.” I thought it was fitting to end with a light, refreshing, and tasty lettuce wrap. Thanks for watching our entire season.  Hope you enjoyed it.  See you in Season 4!

Averie Cooks
P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps {Copycat Recipe}
updated on APRIL 26, 2017 by AVERIE SUNSHINE
I don’t go to P.F. Chang’s that often but when I do someone in my group or family will order their chicken lettuce wraps because they’re just so good.
(...)
There are so many layers of flavor from the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and green onions. The chili garlic sauce adds a perfect amount of heat that we enjoyed but if you’re sensitive to spices you can always reduce the amount.

Popsugar
Our Take on P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps
August 24, 2017
by BRANDI MILLOY
It’s the iconic dish you’ll see on almost every table at P.F. Chang’s. It’s layered with complex flavors, fun to eat, and surprisingly simple to make at home. What is it we’re talking about? It’s P.F. Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps, of course! Watch the video to see our take on this must-try appetizer, and then bust out your wok (or skillet).

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, February 03, 2019 • Permalink