I remember looking across the street at Mr. Chow’s restaurant from my local watering hole all the time, back when my office was near Tribeca and I’d pop over for an after-work drink. The place always looked so old – not in the sense of being rundown, but like it was a place out of time, colored by its past. My reaction to it was probably influenced by the fact that the only image I had in my head of Mr. Chow’s in New York was out of Basquiat – if I had ever wandered in, I would have half-expected to see Warhol himself, still surrounded by a cadre of the city’s art, film and fashion power elite.

Watching this Nowness clip featuring Mr. Chow himself brings it all back to Earth – in it, we see a man dedicated to the details, emphasizing that each detail should be a universe as he walks us through his kitchens, his workshops devoted to Chinese cuisine – a humble man unimpressed by celebrity, with a sharp sense of humor. This is why Mr. Chow’s restaurants remain as they are: not only monuments to their own history, but living, breathing institutions.

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