Spicy Village

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Spicy Village is Wendy Li's New York Chinatown restaurant, once a cult favourite, now suffering in the pandemic.

Spicy Village is a New York Chinatown restaurant, reputable all over for its hand-pulled noodles, meat-filled buns and famous “big tray chicken”, earning recognition from celebrity chefs, the Village Voice and Michelin Guide. Before the pandemic there was a queue outside the door almost every night. 

Spicy Village, made by Brooklyn-based documentary director Jia Li, speaks of the economic downturn and rampant racism threatening the survival of a restaurant run by Chinese immigrant Wendy Li and her husband and two children. The film emphasises on the abstract nature of moving to an unknown country and setting up shop, only to be devastatingly impacted by a mystifying pandemic forever proving itself to be uncompromised by time. Spicy Village is an account of one of the few days the restaurant isn’t open: Chinese New Year, a time for togetherness, undeniably hindered by the pandemic. 

Jia Li “Chinatown is not just a tourist destination. For decades it has been synonymous with struggle and eating bitterness. As an immigrant and the child of immigrants who also toiled in Chinatown’s kitchens, only recently has this landing ground for generations of us been anything more than threadbare.” 


Directed - DP - @j__.li

Camera by - @j__.li, @yiwei.mov, @StevieBorrello, @Kristoferios

Produced by - @J_88_f, Kristoferios

Edited by - Jia Li, Yiwei Chen

Sound mix by - Kristofer Rios

Special thanks - @Crvrrrrr