The accounts of the month-long journeys of Chinese immigrants sailing from Hong Kong by steamers to North American ports in the late 19th century tell of crowded quarters in steerage but do not give much detail about what food was provided, or its quality and quantity. One article reprinted in the Louisiana Democrat in 1889 was revealing in a steamship company's description on this matter, although it may not be entirely truthful.
A spokesman for the Trans-Pacific steamers described the meals as consisting mostly of rice, a variety of beans, some orange peel as a relish, dried fish, occasional dried abalone as a dessert, and "chow-chows" defined as different sauces. For a trip of 30 days, the estimated cost to feed one passenger was $1.18. He bragged that "immigrants get as good food on ship board as they get at home."