Along the way, cooks adapted southern Chinese dishes such as chop suey and developed a style of Chinese food not found in China.
Restaurants (along with Chinese laundries) provided an ethnic niche for small businesses at a time when the Chinese people were excluded from most jobs in the wage economy by ethnic discrimination or lack of language fluency.
As the large groups of Chinese immigrants arrived, laws were put in place preventing them from owning land.
They mostly lived together in ghettos, individually referred to as a Chinatown.
Here the immigrants started their own small businesses, including restaurants and laundry services.
By the 19th century, the Chinese community in San Francisco operated sophisticated and sometimes luxurious restaurants patronised mainly by Chinese.
American Chinese cuisine is a style of Chinese cuisine developed by Americans of Chinese descent.
The dishes served in many North American Chinese restaurants are adapted to American tastes and differ significantly from those found in China.
Many of these small-town restaurant owners were self-taught family cooks who improvised on different cooking methods and ingredients.
Of the various regional cuisines in China, Cantonese cuisine has been the most influential in the development of American Chinese food, especially that of Toisan, the origin of most early immigrants.
Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States to work as miners and railroad workers.
By the 1920s, this cuisine, particularly chop suey, became popular among middle-class Americans, however after World War II, it began to be dismissed for not being "authentic." Late 20th century tastes have been more accommodating.
These smaller restaurants were responsible for developing American Chinese cuisine, where the food was modified to suit a more American palate.
First catering to miners and railroad workers, they established new eateries in towns where Chinese food was completely unknown, adapting local ingredients and catering to their customers' tastes.