“A Journey to Unforgetting”, Amy Chin

Amy Chin gave an informative two hour talk at the OHS Genealogy Seminar on March 26. Her family was featured in the NYC Exhibition. She is an engaging speaker, and drew material from the comprehensive classroom study material:  [large PDF file] (which includes the graphic novel of her family’s immigration experience).

She screened this video of about her family history: [click here]

Some notes:

One reason for the Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was to allow direct trade with China. As a colony, Americans were not allow to trade directly, but were required to purchase product (porcelain, silk, and tea) from English traders.  The Boston Tea Party was about Chinese tea.

California was barren until Chinese workers transformed major areas of the state into agricultural land.  Bing cherry was created by a Chinese, Ah Bing, in Oregon.  Lue Gim Gong is credited with creating frost resistant oranges in Florida, and allowing hearty, juicy oranges to be transported around the country.

During the Exclusion Period, two Chinese lawsuits reached the Supreme Court and established milestone legal precedents:  the Yick Wo case in 1886 established “Equal Protection Under Law”, and the Wong Kim Ark case established “Birthright Citizenship” (which is in the news today).

Amy also talked about her own genealogy search that started with searching information about her father and grandfather,  and ended up with a 700+ page, 23 generation book from her grandfather’s village.  The last lines in the book had her grandfather’s and father’s name.  Since then, she has helped them add an American branch to the book;  and include names of female descendants to what had been traditionally a patriarchal and patrilineal book.  She advises the audience (mostly Chinese Americans) to make use of the “Overseas Chinese Affairs Office” in Taishan if traveling there.

She also mentioned that villages had a “generational poem”, where each subsequent character in the poem would render a middle name to each son of a particular generation.  These common names help trace family and village connections.

She offered Chinese Americans tips on tracing their ancestral roots.  A good place to start is requesting an “index search” (Form G-1041) here: http://www.uscis.gov/genealogy

Chinese Genealogy Seminar

Oregon Historical Society:  Chinese Genealogy Seminar
Presented by Amy Chin, Trish Hackett Nicola, and Hannah Z. Allan,

$40 / $25 for Members
Saturday, March 26, 2016   10AM – 3PM

A Journey to Unforgetting: Finding Chinese American Roots
By Amy Chin | 10am – 12pm

For decades, Amy Chin’s family carefully saved records, objects, and other personal artifacts. Part of her family’s story is recreated in a 12-panel graphic novel inside the Chinese American Exclusion/Inclusion exhibit now on view at the Oregon Historical Society. In piecing it together for the exhibition, Amy delved deeply into government archives and other repositories in the U.S. and China to find out more about her family’s past (going back nearly 5,000 years). Amy will talk about that research, the journey, and some of the secrets uncovered along the way. She will also provide an overview and reveal tips and tricks to researching Chinese American genealogy.

Bio:  Amy Chin is an arts management consultant working with non-profit companies, government agencies, foundations, and individual artists. She has been researching Chinese American history and genealogy since childhood and beginning in 2011, in addition to her own research, has provided select genealogy consultation services to private clients. Amy holds a B.A. in East Asian studies from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Break | 12pm – 1pm

Chinese Exclusion Act Files: A Treasure Trove of Original Documents and Information
By Trish Hackett Nicola | 1pm – 2:30pm

Thousands of lives were impacted by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. In this talk, Trish Hackett Nicola will discuss why the Act was created, as well as the many records that were created as a result, as well as how to find these records. Many of these records contain photographs, Chinese village maps, U.S. birth and marriage certificates, witness affidavits, court documents, and pages of interrogations. See examples of the unique documents that can be uncovered in these files, and learn about the rich details of the lives of Chinese in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Bio:  Trish Hackett Nicola is a volunteer at the National Archives – Seattle and has worked with the Chinese Exclusion Act case files for fourteen years. She is a retired CPA and librarian and is a Certified Genealogist. Though she is semi-retired, she is still actively working with the Chinese records.

Chinese and Genealogy Resources at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library
By Hannah Z. Allan | 2:30pm – 3pm

The Oregon Historical Society Research Library has a wealth of resources including newspapers, business papers, books, and photographs that can help you fill in the gaps to your ancestors’ histories. In the final segment of the seminar, learn how to access these historical treasures and use them to enrich and expand your story.

Bio:  Hannah Z. Allan, a BYU Family History and Genealogy graduate, is the genealogist for the Oregon Historical Society and a popular family history speaker who has spoken at venues across the nation. She is the Vice Chair for the Portland Metro Cemetery Advisory Committee and the Director for the BYU myFamily History Youth Camp.

Chinese Films: a curated list

Curated by Katherine Chu and Kaitlin Solimine from a course taught by USC Professor Stan Rosen.

University of Southern California Professor Stan Rosen is a specialist on Chinese film. He has shared some of his introductory required viewings and readings for students of Chinese cinema. This list includes the more mainstream Chinese productions as well as those from the Chinese “underground” (a term scholar Paul Pickowicz explains in From Underground to Independent: Alternative Film Culture in Contemporary China).

Consider this list a jumping off point into a much deeper engagement with the diversity and complexities of historical and contemporary Chinese film.  These films bring the individual and national problems that China faced to the fore—doing so in dramatic, comedic, romantic, and, as always, poignant ways.

Pre-1949 China on Film

Recommended Readings:

The Mao Years (Post-1949) and The Cultural Revolution

  • Hibiscus Town” (1986) [Fourth Generation Representative Film by Xie Jin]
  • The Blue Kite” (1993) [Fifth Generation Representative Film by Tian Zhuangzhuang]
  • Farewell My Concubine” (1993) [Fifth Generation Representative Film by Chen Kaige]
  • To Live” (1994) [Fifth Generation Representative Film by Zhang Yimou]
  • The Red Lantern” (1970) [Revolutionary Model Opera]
  • Serfs” (1963) [Chinese view of the Liberation of Tibet]

Recommended Readings:

China under Reform, including negative consequences of the post-1978 reforms:

Recent Box Office Blockbusters

Recommended Readings:

Original source:  [from Hippo]


Portland Dining Month 2016 — the best

Portland Dining Month includes more than 120 restaurants offering three-course $29 meals in March.  One might comb through the list, to find where $29 might yield an exceptional dining experience. Fortunately, Portland Monthly and The Oregonian have done that for us:

Portland Monthly Magazine’s top ten  [here]

The Oregonian’s top fifteen [here].  This is hard to read!

Common to both lists are six:  Aviary, Laurelhurst Market, Little Bird, Paley’s Place, St. Jack’s, and Xico.  Not on either list, but one I visited and wrote about is the Japanese influenced Pono Farm Soul Kitchen.

Review: Pono Farm Soul Kitchen

Pono Farm Soul Kitchen, in Hollywood district, serves Japanese influence comfort food in manageable portions.  Our group of six ordered the Portland Dining Month “3 Courses for $29” dinner [Dining Month Menu]

My first course, Kakuni (braised pork belly) was flavorful and so tender, that I could break it up into pieces and eat with my chopsticks.  Each small piece was deliciously satisfying infused with a sweet soy flavor.  It was served with half a soft-boiled egg, and apple/miner’s lettuce salad:


The other appetizer selected was Tempura soft-shell crab, with shaved fennel salad, grapefruit, and orange vinaigrette.  Ling says it was “nicely mixed flavors, crab was well cooked: tender under a crunchy not soggy crust, might have been nice to have the glaze as a dipping sauce rather than on the bottom of the bowl”:


My main course, pork chop, was a bit dry, and the “pea & foie gras sauce” failed to elevate it into a memorable dish.  It was served with garlic mashed potatoes and pea shoots:

2016 pork-chop

Note: others who ordered the Braised Black Cod served with bowl of steamed rice were much happier with their choice. The kumquat puree sauce was a great complement to the tender soy and sake braised cod:


The dessert: tropical fruits, pomegranate seeds, and yuzu cream over a sake jelly was another hit.  It was not overly sweet. The six of us all enjoyed it.  It was the only dessert option:


7:30pm on a Saturday night was quite busy, and the bar was backlogged. The drinks arrived after the food. Despite the backlog, we had excellent service.  The noisy acoustics was not the best for conversation, but we all enjoyed the evening.


Review: Marukin Ramen

Marukin Ramen, a new restaurant with headquarters in Tokyo, opened in S.E. Portland a couple of weeks ago.  They’re still going through their soft opening with limited menu selection, with Grand Opening on April 1, 2016. Xue and I visited them yesterday for lunch.  We arrived at 11:40am, and were about fifth in line to order, with lots of available seating.  By the time we left, the line was stretched long, and seating was becoming scarce.  All ramen was $10.00 a bowl.  Xue ordered the Miso, because it didn’t have shoyu listed in the soup base, and she wanted to skip the extra sodium. Broth: “Miso in chicken and Carlton Farms pork bones base”.


I ordered the Tokyo Shoyu.  Broth: “Clear chicken and Carlton Farms pork bone broth base with shoyu”.


Xue was envious of the soft-center egg and two cuts of chashu pork.  We sampled each other’s, and both prefer the clear Tokyo Shoyu broth. The spinach and menma (bamboo shoots) were fresh tasting. The egg has nice, runny yolk.  The chashu was okay.  I also ordered a side of chicken karaage for $8.  The nuggets were crunchy on outside, and moist and tender inside with garlic added to the batter for taste.

A view from the entrance, as we left:


I can see how Marukin wold work in Tokyo to get salaryman in and out quickly during a lunch break.  No time to linger as efficient staff is there to whisk away your ramen bowl (even though you haven’t slurped the last drop of broth).

Bottom line:  Good, but we prefer Mirakutei (around the block).  We need to come back to try the Tonkotsu Shoyu (John) and Marukin Red (Xue – Tonkotsu made spicy).  Probably after the Grand Opening.  That may level the playing field.

Recipe: Columbia River Steelhead Trout

Columbia River steelhead trout is delicious.  In Portland, you can get fresh (never frozen) filet from Safeway or Freddy’s.  Baked it at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, with just sea salt, lemon pepper, and oil on top;  and it is perfect.  Delicious — moist, buttery, similar in taste to salmon, but more delicate. Certainly better than the sockeye salmon I had yesterday, which wasn’t bad.  Easy to cook.  Regular price at Safeway is $11.99/lb. and Freddy’s is $8.99;  but both run sales at $5.99/lb.



Review: Yama Sushi (on S.E. Clinton)

Xue and I went on Saturday night, and enjoyed it.  I liked that we could make reservations on-line for prime time (7:15pm) on the same day.  It has attractive decor;  acoustics were good;  the tables were not as squeezed as the Pearl location;  and the staff busy but efficient.  Since it was an izakawa, I thought I’d order the house hot sake, which was good.   I was eager to try the hamachi collar, but alas, they were out;  so I order the whole quail instead:

Thinking quail wasn’t going to be enough, I also order a salmon nigiri, and chawanmushi (Egg Custard w/ Shrimp, Crab, Shitake Mushroom, Chicken, Greens:

Xue ordered the Sunrise roll (salmon, spicy tuna, mango, avocado):

with cold spinach and sesame paste salad:

We finished with the coffee jelly & cream dessert, which was delicious:

​For me, the highlight of the meal was the coffee jelly dessert, followed by the chawanmushi, with its delicate egg custard, crab, and shrimp.  Too Yama was out of hamachi collar;  the grilled quail was not a good substitute.  But a reason for another visit.