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Mapping the spread of L.A.'s Chinese food via one man's appetite

April 22, 2013|By Frank Shyong | Los Angeles Times
  • David Chan knows Chinese food well, having documented eating in more than 6,200 Chinese restaurants. Despite trying over the years, he has never learned to use chopsticks. Above, he dines at Shawn Cafe in Arcadia.
David Chan knows Chinese food well, having documented eating in more than… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles attorney David Chan has eaten at more than 6,200 different Chinese restaurants, and he can prove it.

He studied accounting at UCLA and for about three decades he has kept track of each meal on an Excel spreadsheet with 6,297 entries. 

Scrolling to the beginning of the spreadsheet takes you not just to Chan's first meal, but a time when the only Chinese food in Los Angeles was in Chinatown and less than 1% of the city's population was Asian.

INTERACTIVE: The road to 6,200 Chinese restaurants

Each entry in Chan's spreadsheet has just a few data points -- the name of the restaurant, the year he ate there, and the restaurant's address. Chan shared his spreadsheet with the Los Angeles Times Data Desk. Times reporter and programmer Anthony Pesce created a time-lapse map showing Chan's eating patterns over the years.

Click play or drag the slider to see where Chan ate and when. The blue dots show restaurants that Chan has eaten at, and the red dots depict the restaurants where Chan ate in the year the slider is set to. 

In Chan's dining patterns, you can find a very rough approximation of Chinese food trends in Los Angeles -- beginning in Chinatown, spreading throughout the city, and eventually concentrating in the San Gabriel Valley.

Eight of Chan's top 10 Chinese restaurants are located in the San Gabriel Valley, and all 10 of them are in California. Check out Chan's picks here.

You can also follow Chan on Twitter as he tweets his meals. 


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