- Entertainment Weekly: "Li’s talent for human tragicomedy grows more evident by the page. Her characters — Nan, the venerable restaurant manager on the brink of disaster, especially — come alive... By the climax, Li generously realizes the dreams, the regrets, and the resilience of a family holding on to its American dream, hoping it doesn’t slip away."
- The Wall Street Journal: "So expertly does first-time novelist Lillian Li conjure the Beijing Duck House, a gaudy, tatterdemalion restaurant in Rockville, Md., that readers ... can almost taste its signature dish and feel the heat of its woks."
- USA Today: "Number One Chinese Restaurant rewards readers with a compelling family story about love, work and what it means to serve."
- The New York Times Book Review: "Evocative. . . . Li's novel revolves around the tangled inner workings of the family-owned Beijing Duck House . . . Chinese-born family members and workers [for whom] the Beijing Duck House has displaced Beijing itself as 'the heart-center of the universe.' . . . [Li's writing] engrosses."
- Kirkus: "With its deliciously depicted restaurant setting and knowing perspective on Chinese-American culture, this novel is two-thirds cultural comedy. The other third is something deeper and sadder. A writer to watch."
- Publisher Weekly: "With echoes of Stewart O’Nan’s Last Night at the Lobster, Li’s insightful debut takes readers behind the scenes of a Chinese restaurant, the Beijing Duck House, in Rockville, MD."
- Shelf Awareness: "A smart combination of Chinese American life, service industry travails and the ups and downs of belonging to a family, Number One Chinese Restaurant will make great discussion fare for book clubs." [STARRED REVIEW]
- Book List: "Li ... distinctly showcases her literary pedigree in this raucous, bittersweet non-love story across cultures, generations, morals, and other seemingly impossible divides."
- The Village Voice: "Li humanizes cruelty. Where another would look away, she dives under a microscope, determined to see it clearly. The result is a wonderfully honest portrait of what it takes to make it in America."
- Asian Review of Books: "Li is successful in bringing depth and shape to the lives of those often found behind the scenes."
- South China Morning Post: "Li’s complex characters may remind readers of those in the acclaimed short stories of Flannery O’Connor, one of America’s greatest fiction writers. And Li is the kind of author who, to quote O’Connor, is 'interested in what we don’t understand rather than in what we do'."
- Book Page: "There is a wild fierceness to Li’s writing, as she likens characters to an 'agitated collie,' a 'trapped rat' and 'demon dogs,' both as comic relief and as a clue to the characters’ barely contained energies. This energy explodes, literally and figuratively, in a rousing climax that proves both curse and blessing."
- Book Reporter: "Li expertly crafts a deeply felt and beautifully evoked multigenerational narrative. She ensures that her readers see the wit and humor of these characters while also acknowledging the restlessness, isolation and ache..."
- New York Journal of Books: "The writing here is thoughtful and accessible. And if you’ve ever wondered even remotely after the lives of all those Chinese workers who’ve served you over the years, this novel brings them to life."