Wang, Oliver. “Live at the China Royal: A Funky Ode to Fall River’s Chow Mein Sandwich.” In American Chinese Restaurants, pp. 105-120. Routledge, 2019.
Anthology chapter (solicited, refereed)
Discusses the dual histories behind the chow mein sandwich as a uniquely, regional Chinese American dish and the Pacific Islander band that recorded a tribute song to the sandwich in the mid-1970s.
Background: The chow mein sandwich is a hyper-regional dish, popularized during the 1920s in/around southeastern Massachusetts cities, especially Fall River. In the 1970s, a popular Fall River restaurant, China Royal, hired a house band — Alika and the Happy Samoans — who were part of what I describe as the “Polynesian pop circuit” of Pacific Islander performers catering to the decades-old fascination of the “South Pacific” within American popular culture. The essay traces the histories of both the sandwich and the group and how the two intersect through Alika and the Happy Samoans’ song, “Chow Mein Sandwich.”