Bringing a Taste of China to Germany – Lin’s Story

December, Frankfurt train station. It was a typical early afternoon in a pre-Christmas Germany city. On the small Christmas market next to the train station, some people were standing around a little wood cabin selling heart-shaped ginger bread, drinking mulled wine. Not far from the Christmas market, steam was coming out from the ground floor of a building. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except for Sundays, the steam doesn’t stop.

The steam comes out from the famous “Lukas’ Noodle Shop”. Opened in early 2015, the shop quickly became the hit in the Chinese community in Frankfurt. Its owner, Lin, a small woman with short hair who always wears a smile on her face, works almost every day in the restaurant.

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Originally from a small village in Zhejiang Province, China, Lin is the youngest daughter in a family of six. After high school, Lin couldn’t afford going to university. To make a living, she left her home village and started working at different restaurants in the next big city at the age of eighteen. Five years later, her newly wedded husband moved to Germany for a better professional opportunity. A few months later, Lin came along.

Lin had no idea what she could do when she arrived in the foreign country. She didn’t know the language nor the culture. Helping out in some Chinese restaurants in Frankfurt, she was soon tired of the so-called “Chinese food” that were mostly just fried things with rice on the side. “Way too much fat in dishes.” She said. Like many Chinese people living in Western countries, Lin was unhappy with the restaurants there. “Many places are so overprized!” She thought about opening her own restaurant to fill the gap between people’s expectation on Chinese cuisine and the disappointing local businesses. “My idea was to open a Chinese food-street model restaurant. It offers snacks from different regions in China, ideally in a fast-food style.” She said.

Just when the preparation was going well, one day, the local police called her up with a terrible news — her husband passed away in a car accident. “It was the darkest year in my life,” Lin said, “I went home to China and stayed with my family for some months, couldn’t bear to go anywhere else.” Her family wanted to persuade her to stay in China. But she believed that something unfinished was still waiting for her in Germany. “My life had to go on. And my life is no longer in China.”

A year later, Lin came back to Germany after mourning her husband. With the support from friends and the local community, she decided to invest her savings to open her restaurant. “It has been my dream since I moved to Germany — running a restaurant where Chinese people, especially students, can enjoy something that reminds them of the taste of home without paying too much money.”

She didn’t have enough money to open the food street restaurant. “‘What if there’s a type of food that exists almost in every city in China?’ I asked myself. Then it came to me — hand-pulled beef noodles from Lanzhou! It’s a type of food that is so popular in China that almost every town has some places selling noodles like that.” To ensure the food is authentic Lanzhou flavor as she would promise to the customers, Lin sent a friend, Lukas, to Lanzhou, to attend a noodle-making academy in order to master the craft and art. After several months’ training, Lukas returned to Germany, became the noodle master of the restaurant.

woman standing in front of building
Photo by Tiff Ng on

“Our customers are not only from mainland China, but also from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Many Germans like to come to us too.” Lin explained proudly, “still, we had to adjust the flavor and ingredients a little bit. The original taste is very aromatic but also too spicy for many people here. Of course, the soup itself is guaranteed to be authentic. We’ve given our best.”

The restaurant has only ten tables, with a big open kitchen next to the door. Every customer coming in and even every person walking by can see how Lukas pulling noodles as if it was martial art. Lukas’ Noodle Shop is attracting more and more home-taste-seeking Chinese people and curious non-Chinese taste buds. “Tasty but fair price” is the most comment Lin receives. “Business has just taken off, I realized that I have grey hair now. But I’m feeling better than ever.” Lin said, her smiling face glowing hope and happiness, “because I’m living my dream.”


Still Buzzing 20150123 Transculturality and Translatability

I have been wondering how to translate our beloved concept of Transuclturality into Chinese. After discussing with a Professor focusing on Sinology, and getting even more confusion and a sentence our of a devoted Sinologist (“But YOU ARE Chinese! You should have a better idea of creating a new name for our new concept than I could!”), I grew more desperate than ever. How to introduce transculturality and transcultural studies to China, if we don’t even have a proper, and better classy and elegant name for it? (Ok I am a perfectionist!) Anything I can say in Chinese, which are in fact able to describe transcultruality include:




These mean the following:

Everything in this world has similarities and differences. It searches for the similarities among the differences.

Everything in this world is still and also in motion. It observes the motion through the still.

Well, translation can be a hardcore work. This is already the best I can do, for now.

Buzzing 20150108: The Unchallengeable Freedom of Speech

What happened in Paris at Charlie Hebdo is an absolutely horrible terrorist attack. Violence is a brutal way to defend Islamic holiness. The al-Qaida terrorist cell in Yemen, according to British media, is involved. This bloody attack has been condemned by the international. Not only the western media is reporting the ruthless murder, they are somehow also conveying additional sentiments to the public. Something provocative, radical, hateful, and worse.

By reading through Weibo feed, I noticed Chinese people’s attitude towards Islam. Some show their fury and some show their fear. What is even more shocking to me is that, some well-educated and renowned journalists/writers, who advocate for well-spread western values (democracy, human right, equality and freedom), all voicing from the same and only term “press freedom”, as the same in almost all western media. Not ANYTHING ELSE. Is this really only another tragic conflict of terrorism and freedom of speech? In China, people never say ill of the dead. (逝者為大) Because they are, well, dead already. What’s the point to talk about if there’s anything that they have done are questionable. But it seems that, since I have devoted to train myself as a qualified journalist from western training, I should of course take the responsibility to tell THE TRUTH, of mine, which is to say of their misbehaviour.

pencils symbol

Have Islam ever enjoyed sarcasm on their holiness?


Why not?

Modern Communist-trained Chinese people all know the following: I won’t offend others, if they don’t offend me; if they do, I will offend them too. (人不犯我,我不犯人;人若犯我,我必犯人。) The words from Mao has become a principle of Chinese diplomatic behaviour. The West has tried for many decades to understand it, and tried to deal with the Communist China.

The West are quick learners in terms of dealing with China. However, dealing with Islam from the beginning of seventh century, the West seems to hardly learned. Learning not how to submit, but to understand, and further, respect, if possible.

If someone has fatal allergy to nuts, another person, who’s playful and is aware of this person’s condition, comes and gives him a nut to eat. He would be furious and think if this guy is trying to kill him and “better kill him before he manages to kill me with nuts”…

image of islam in the west

What can be laughed about, and what should remain serious? Is there a limit of this so-called “absolute and holy” freedom of speech?