Sunday, July 9, 2017

(UPDATE) NEWARK - May You Eat Interesting Food, or, What's on at Moy Jim Kee's?

Yeah, yeah, I know this post is about Newark, but Rev. Moy Jim Kee got his start in the City. And I'm feeling like a sinophile with a nostalgia for interesting times.

Pardon my poor translation.
"jau ceoi si kei zoi wut"

"That versatile and Christianized Chinaman, Moy Jim Kee, whose evangelizing efforts in New York and Newark have been duly chronicled, last week opened the first Chinese hotel and restaurant for the convenience of his fellow countrymen in Newark ever established in New Jersey. It is modeled after the famous Wo Kee hotel, in New York. A reporter received an invitation to be present at a repast..."* And here is what he had to say about what he saw: 

1.) "Among the esteemed choicest of luxuries were 'infant's eyes,' called in Chinese 'Ha Pan Lan,' declared by the partakers to make the most delicious stew." 

These were said to be the eyes of a fish having extraordinarily large eyes.  Maybe some kind of shrimp?  Ha, (haa) means shrimp.  But pan (paa) could be a loquat...who knows what it actually was.

2.) "The repast included also the 'Maaguee," another fish, rather like a flounder, having its white meat dried and salted. 

3.) "Another strange-looking dried fish was the 'Low-Wee." 

4.) "Another singular-looking article of Chinese food shown was the 'Haer-mai,' which looked like a handful of desiccated maggots or meal-worms....'They are stewed in milk,' exclaimed Mr. Kee*, 'and make a beautiful soup.'" 

haa mai (蝦米 ) dried small shrimp 
*Mr. Kee was actually probably Mr. Moy, according to Chinese naming standards.

5.) "Then there were disclosed various quantities of 'Tong-Ken' --preserved ginger..." 
saang goeng (生薑) fresh ginger? 

6.) "'Sune Tsue'--very fine vermicelli made of rice..." 
Maybe some kind of sour noodle dish?  Sune (syun) means sour.  Tsue (ceoi) means brittle.  I can't make much out of this.

7.) "'Foo-Sok'--something of the nature of maccaroni [sic]..."  The only similar thing I can find is dou soek min, or hand shaved noodles. 

8.) "Bok-Mai,' or rice..." 
baak mai (白米) white rice

9.) "'Crun-Quoit,'--or small green berries, candied..." 
gam gwat (金橘) kumquat 

10.) "'Tu-Pocuee,'--a little fish smelling like sardines and put similarly in oil..." 

11.) "The 'Lap-Chong,' or Chinese sausage..." was made of a meat much sweeter than horse meat, which Mr. Kee had just extolled, it was made of cat meat. "Now, have you ever noticed that you can not find a cat around a Chinese laundry?" Kee asked. 

laap coeng (臘腸) Cantonese pork sausage 

12.) "There was also seen the 'La-Chee," a singularly formed and really delicious tasting nut..." 
lai zi (荔枝) lychee 

13.) "Yin-Wa" 
jin wo (燕窩) edible swallow's nest 

14.) "Suee-Chee" ??

* The Topeka Daily Capital, February 6, 1885.  This article ran in several papers until 1886.


The earliest mention I can find of Mr. Moy (Moy was his last name, and Jim Kee his given name. According to New York's Chinatown: An Historical Presentation of Its People and Places, by Louis Joseph Beck, he had a brother, Dr. Jin Fuey Moy who used Moy as his surname.) is in the Weekly Star of Wilmington, North Carolina, March 28, 1879:

From Burk's New York's Chinatown
"The curious spectacle of a Chinaman addressing a Sunday school was witnessed in New York on Sunday last.  Moy Jim Kee, a Christianized Chinaman, was the speaker."

According to the Beck book, Moy established the Chinese Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church at 14 Mott Street in 1878.

By May 1879, Moy was in prison for theft.  "The worst part of it is that the Mongolian preacher was found in possession of the stolen goods."  (The Cincinnati Daily Star, May 19, 1879 and The Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, May 24, 1879)  I can not find anything publicizing his guilt or innocence.

The next mention of Moy is the abovementioned article in which he opened a hotel for Chinese.

The following is the final article I can find on Moy.

Click image to enlarge
The Akron Daily Democrat, March 9, 1901