The San Jose Mercury News did a nice profile on Chef Chu and its namesake, Chef Lawrence Chu on the Los Altos, California-based (bordering Mountain View and Palo Alto) Chinese restaurant. The eater is considered an institution and has been around forever years – and is located less than 2 miles from where I live:
“Chef Chu’s, which has masqueraded as a family restaurant for more than four decades, is actually one of Silicon Valley’s longest-running power restaurants. The valley’s elite as well as many among its masses know Chef Chu’s as a great place to get delicious sit-down or takeout Chinese food.
They also know it as an institution run by a quirky owner who packs as much passion into his creations as any tech entrepreneur puts into cutting-edge designs. And among valley deal-makers and tech innovators, Chef Chu’s is as much a networkers’ paradise as the famed Buck’s of Woodside…Chu has often had a front-row view of Silicon Valley’s famed business leaders. He catered an event at the house of Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang when Terry Semel was appointed CEO in 2001. He served up dishes to Steve Jobs before he was the Steve Jobs.”
There were definitely not many Asians or Asian Americans living in Silicon Valley back in the 1970s so I am sure Chef Chu’s was one of the few Chinese restaurants in the area, so the restaurant has been quite an institution where many passing by the busy El Camino Real street that stretches from San Jose almost San Francisco have seen the restaurant at one point in their lives, if not dined there regularly.
I have only eaten there once and I recall the food to be somewhat Americanized – probably due to its roots serving a mostly white crowd in its early days. But whenever I drive by, the parking lot always seems to be full and the place busy, which is one reason why I don’t drop by (they have limited parking). If you ever dine there, check out the countless photos of Chef Chu and others with many past dignitaries, including former Secretary of State George Schultz, in the entrance area.