For many, a primary reminder that Asian restaurants tend to stay open on the most celebrated of Christian holidays comes from a scene in the 1980s cult comedy classic “A Christmas Story.”

The scene involves the father of young narrator Ralphie rounding up the family and taking them out to a Chinese restaurant after the bane of the father’s existence — the neighbor’s pack of unruly bloodhounds — breaks in and devours the family’s Christmas turkey. The scene pokes fun at the waiters at the restaurant as they struggle to perform traditional Christmas carols for the family.

Another tradition that resurfaces this time of year is that many members of the Jewish faith tend to gather in Chinese restaurants on Dec. 25 in what is often lightheartedly called a “Jewish Christmas.” As funny as that can sound, however, it is not only rooted in fact, it is also a tradition with deep-seated socioeconomic connections.

Rabbi Gerald Fox, president of the South Jersey Board of Rabbis and Cantors, and congregational leader of Temple Beth Shalom synagogue in Brigantine, explains the phenomenon further.

“In the late 19th century and early 20th century, there was a very high percentage of Jews gathering in major cities like New York, and local and institutionalized antisemitism was pretty common,” Fox says. “Jews were banned from certain places and would get into trouble if they went into neighborhoods that were not exclusively Jewish neighborhoods, that sort of thing.

“Frankly, discrimination between various ethnic groups was pretty common in general,” he adds, “and so there was a tendency toward these ethnic groups gathering in — or being thrust into — neighborhoods where they were among their own kind.”

Fox explains that Jewish neighborhoods formed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, right next to the huge New York City Chinese population that became known as Chinatown.

“There was a particular close proximity to each other, so they sort of mingled, if you will, and there were a large number of Chinese restaurants in the area that began to cater to Jews,” Fox says. “Some were even being opened in Jewish neighborhoods, and for Jews this was considered a special sort of dining experience.

“As a result, there was no sense of anti-Semitism coming from the Chinese shop owners. They sort of represented neutral turf. And back then, about 120 years ago, no Jews had any idea what Buddhism or Shintoism or Taoism was all about, so there was no baggage from past relationships.”

Fox adds that similarities in cooking styles factored into the amicable relationship as well. Dumplings or wontons are a Chinese staple, and very similar to the Jewish staple dish called kreplachs. Jewish cooking tradition also upholds that meat and milk are never to be combined — such as with Russian beef stroganoff or Italian chicken parmesan – and Chinese and other Asian ethnicities use practically no milk in anything they prepare.

Socioeconomics aside, many area residents — Christians included — simply enjoy going out to eat on holidays rather than spending a lot of time in the supermarket and kitchen. Still others get forced into the situation by domestic pets who assume the family dinner is their own.

For these folks, Atlantic City Weekly offers a few dining options of places that remain open on Christmas Day, and in many cases New Year’s Day as well.

In the casinos

Golden Dynasty

Tropicana Atlantic City, 2831 Boardwalk, A.C., located on second level of The Quarter.

Open from 6 p.m. on Christmas and New Year’s days

Large, newly renovated dining room serving traditional Mandarin cuisine, Cantonese specialties and exotic delicacies., 609-340-4207

Souzai Sushi & Sake

Playground Pier, off the Boardwalk adjacent to Caesars Atlantic City

Open noon to 8 p.m. Christmas Day; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. New Year’s Day.

Contemporary sushi and cocktail bar featuring hand-rolled sushi, fresh sashimi and traditional Japanese dishes., 609-348-4443.


Playground Pier, off the Boardwalk adjacent to Caesars Atlantic City

Open noon to 3:30 p.m., and 5 to 10 p.m. Christmas and New Year’s days.

Asian fusion restaurant with a Pan-Asian menu combining influences from China, Japan, Thailand and Korea., 609-674-0100

Noodles of the World

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, 1 Borgata Way, A.C.

Open noon to 2 a.m. Christmas and New Year’s days.

Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Korean dishes inspired from several regions., 609-317-1000


Hard Rock Casino & Hotel, 1000, Boardwalk, A.C.

Opens 5:30 p.m. for dinner on Christmas Day. Closed on New Year’s Day.

Japanese restaurant featuring contemporary artisan dishes using locally sourced and imported ingredients directly from Japan.

YouYu Noodle Bar

Hard Rock Casino & Hotel, 1000, Boardwalk, A.C.

Opens noon for lunch and dinner on Christmas and New Year’s days.

Casual fare focused on freshly made noodles and savory broths inspired by Asian street food.


Resorts Casino Hotel, 1133 Boardwalk, A.C.

Open noon to midnight Christmas Day, noon to 10 p.m. New Year’s Day.

Classically prepared Chinese appetizers, entrees and bowls of noodle soup., 609-340-6300


Resorts Casino Hotel, 1133 Boardwalk, A.C.

Open noon to midnight Christmas Day; noon to 10 p.m. New Year’s Day.

Traditional Japanese sushi and sashimi prepared in a centuries-old culinary tradition., 609-340-6300

Atlantic City and Brigantine

Com Ga Ninh Kieu

1124 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City

Open 11a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Christmas and New Year’s days.

Serving authentic Vietnamese cuisine for more than 20 years., 609-572-9211

Yuki Hana

3628 Atlantic-Brigantine Blvd., Brigantine

Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Christmas and New Year’s days.

Chinese and Japanese cuisine with modern interpretation of classic dishes using quality, fresh ingredients.


Yama Fusion Japanese

5305 Atlantic Ave., Ventnor

Open for dinner 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Christmas and New Year’s days.

Fresh sushi, sashimi, cooked Japanese fare, Thai-style curry and more., 609-822-8007

Miyako Sushi & Steakhouse

9210 Ventnor Ave., Margate

Open 1 to 10 p.m. Christmas and New Year’s days.

Serving sushi, steaks, soups, seafood and hibachi in a unique dining experience., 609-822-4759

Liang’s Imperial East

7800 Ventnor Ave., Margate

Open from 11:30 a.m. Christmas and New Year’s days.

Szechuan, Cantonese and Mandarin style dishes of poultry, beef, pork, seafood and vegetable options.


China Sea Restaurant

662 White Horse Pike, Absecon

Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Christman and New Year’s days.

A family owned and operated Chinese restaurant since 1995 specializing in Mandarin, Szechuan and Hunan cuisine., 609-569-1888

The Nizam’s

6725 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township

Open for dinner from 4:30 p.m. Christmas and New Year’s days.

Modern interpretations of classic Indian dishes using high-quality, fresh ingredients.

Cape May County

Asian Palace

3845 Bayshore Rd., North Cape May

Open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Christmas and New Year’s days

Asian fusion restaurant serving Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine, with sushi bar serving sushi and sashimi a la carte or in combination platters., 609-884-7977

Fai’s Chinese Restaurant

2518 Shore Rd., Ocean View

Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Christmas and New Year’s days.

Best known for its wonton soup, fried calamari, pan-fried dumpling and pad Thai, Fai’s also offers low sodium and dietary options too., 609-624-8000

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