Seinfeld (1989–1998)
5 user 2 critic

The Chinese Restaurant 

Jerry, Elaine and George stop for a quick Chinese dinner before seeing "Plan 9 From Outer Space," but circumstances at the eatery make them miss the movie.


Tom Cherones


Larry David (created by), Jerry Seinfeld (created by) | 3 more credits »




Episode complete credited cast:
Jerry Seinfeld ... Jerry Seinfeld
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ... Elaine Benes
Michael Richards ... Kramer (credit only)
Jason Alexander ... George Costanza
James Hong ... Bruce
David Tress ... Mr. Cohen
Judy Kain ... Lorraine
Kate Benton Kate Benton ... Woman on Phone
Michael Mitz Michael Mitz ... Phone Guy
Kendall McCarthy Kendall McCarthy ... Man


Waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant where they've been told it'll be 5 or 10 minutes, Elaine, George and Jerry find people arriving after them being seated ahead of them. Elaine is starving and Jerry dares her to walk to a table and eat someone's food. He also sees someone who he can't place. George meanwhile is desperate to call Tatiana and gets upset when others in the restaurant lobby hog the pay phone. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

23 May 1991 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The original script had Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), George (Jason Alexander), and Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) picking their least favorite holiday as they enter the restaurant. Jerry picked New Year's Eve, George picked Halloween, and Elaine picked the Fourth of July. See more »


When Jerry says, "How much longer is this going to take?" Bruce's hands are raised. In the next shot, they are resting on the podium. See more »


Elaine: Remember when you first went out to eat with your parents? Remember, it was such a treat to go and they serve you this different food that you never saw before, and they put it in front of you, and it is such a delicious and exciting adventure? And now I just feel like a big sweaty hog waiting for them to fill up the trough.
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References It (1990) See more »


Seinfeld Theme Song
Written by Jonathan Wolff
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User Reviews

The best episode yet, a huge landmark of both television and the series, and definitely an early classic even if it may not hold up as well as later 'Seinfeld'.
5 February 2018 | by SLionsCricketreviewsSee all my reviews

"The Chinese Restaurant" is all that. It is the first really great 'Seinfeld' episode that happens to be a landmark episode in television given its bold intentions of creating an entire episode around an utterly mundane scenario, confined to a single setting. 'Seinfeld' would time and time, particularly in the two subsequent seasons, re-create the 'characters trapped in a confined setting for the duration of the episode' formula and in my opinion, often to greater effect in episodes like "The Parking Garage" and "The Limo" but that really defies the purpose and legacy of "The Chinese Restaurant.

This is the first episode that is mostly littered with a more classic 'Seinfeld' sense of humour. It begins with the gang, bar Kramer (whose absence is arguably one of the slightly diminishing factors in how this episode is viewed today in slightly lesser light) arriving at the titular Chinese restaurant, discussing the need for greater local law enforcement and garbage collectors. Jerry then proposes the idea of a dual cop/garbage man whose job it would be to clean the rubbish off the street when he's not doing his police work (i.e: often cleaning the rubbish off the street). It's a funny, natural and intriguing little conversation that quickly thereafter is concluded and "The Chinese Restaurant" has begun.

Bar a few moments that don't really work for me, notably Elaine's attempt to go through with Jerry's 'dare' of stealing food off from someone's plate (I especially dislike the 'effect' of Elaine whispering to the people at the table), this episode is endlessly fascinating and fun. It perhaps does not stand the test of time, at least in my opinion, as one of the show's funniest episodes but is nevertheless a mostly funny and impressive episode for the time, not just in terms of the television sitcom but also 'Seinfeld' as a series, which even in its second year, did not demonstrate particular confidence about itself.

"The Chinese Restaurant" is one of the earliest episodes that is befitting of Seinfeld's legacy as "the show about nothing" since so much of the episode is based around the utterly mundane and everyday happenstances that one could expect in social circumstances, be it people selfishly hogging public payphones or the seemingly endless wait in queues or recognizing someone in a public place that looks familiar, but one you may not necessarily know by name.

George's entire situation is particularly amusing to me, especially his ranting and exasperation at the people in front of him at the payphones and it provides 'Seinfeld' with some early vintage George Costanza. His entire complication that arose with the girl he was dating is also particularly amusing, notably in terms of Jason Alexander's fantastic performance and the writing, and how it to great comedic effect attempts to add an aura of dignity to George's precarious situation. The entire dialogue in that scene is particularly funny to me.

"The Chinese Restaurant" is certainly a classic, both of 'Seinfeld' and arguably the sitcom genre in television. It did something quite remarkable by staging its main characters into an extremely confined space and creating an episode's worth of comedy and depth out of something so trivial. In my opinion, there are better episodes that reuse this device in the coming seasons and it largely has to do with 'Seinfeld' finding a clearer voice for itself by then but "The Chinese Restaurant" is an admirably, funny and all-round entertaining early episode. Perhaps a little dated in instances, but an iconic classic of both the series and the medium of television.

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