Seinfeld (1989–1998)
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The Chinese Restaurant 

Jerry, George and Elaine wait for a table at a Chinese restaurant.



(created by), (created by) | 3 more credits »


Airs Fri. Oct. 28, 7:00 PM on TBS



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Episode complete credited cast:
Kramer (credit only)
David Tress ...
Mr. Cohen
Kate Benton ...
Woman on Phone
Michael Mitz ...
Phone Guy
Kendall McCarthy ...


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 hogs the pay phone. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

23 May 1991 (USA)  »

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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, George, and Elaine and Jerry 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 »


[repeated line]
Bruce: Five, ten minutes.
See more »


References Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

A real-time treat
30 January 2008 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

Ten years before 24 was created, Seinfeld experimented with the real-time format, facing negative reactions from NBC and an increasing risk of cancellation. However, the choice eventually paid off, and The Chinese Restaurant should qualify as one of the show's Top 10 episodes on the sole basis of sheer, groundbreaking creativity.

As already mentioned, this episode plays in real time. How is that possible? Easy: Jerry, George and Elaine are about to go to the movies and see Plan 9 From Outer Space (Jerry claims the worst movie ever produced deserves to be watched on a big screen) and enter a Chinese restaurant for a quick dinner. Unfortunately, they made no reservation, so they will have to wait for five, ten minutes, or at least that's what the owner of the place says. The result is 23 minutes of waiting, with Jerry and Elaine trying not to get bored and George desperately looking for a phone so that he can call his latest girlfriend. As for Kramer, he is nowhere to be seen.

What, no Kramer? Yes, but before the screaming starts, one should consider this: in a storyline that involves staticity and repetition (Bruce, the waiter, keeps saying:"Five, ten minutes..."), what use could there have been for the show's king of unpredictable physical comedy? Of course, he is an integral part of the series (and was never written out of an episode again, except for one time in Season 3), but in this case the sole presence of Jerry, George and Elaine is more than enough. That and the real-time gimmick, which gives the viewer the impression of really being there with the characters, struggling to get a meal (as Elaine wisely notes, restaurants should serve you based on who's the hungriest).

All in all, a great episode, from start to perfectly timed finish, and one of the finest treats Seinfeld's second year has to offer.

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