In San Francisco, Cecilia is food royalty. She has sprinted gracefully into old age after a legendary career that revolutionized the way Americans eat Chinese food. It started in 1959, when as a new immigrant from Shanghai by way of Beijing and Tokyo, she opened the restaurant Mandarin in the city's Russian Hill neighborhood. There she introduced a full-flavored Northern Chinese menu, including then-novelties such as hot-and-sour soup and pot stickers, to a public who had known only a bland, Americanized version of Cantonese. Other dishes, such as Peking duck and delicate shredded abalone with bean sprouts, put forth the idea of Chinese food as an upscale cuisine, as did the restaurant's opulent interior.