Friday, May 11, 2007

I'll have the Chow Mein, hold the trendy, please.

Tonight was date night. There's this Chinese restaurant that I've been wanting to go to in a nearby neighboring town. I see commercials for it all the time on TV and I've been wanting a nostalgic taste of my childhood upbringing in heavily Asian populated Southern California. The commercials have enticing scenes of happy people eating delicious authentic food in a great atmosphere. What more could you want? So we got there and the place was nicely decked out in ornate Asian decor. The patrons looked happy and experienced. We sat down at a nice table with cloth napkins folded like a fan, non disposable wooden chopsticks held together by a pretty, red embroidered flower, and two large, puffy, leather clad, multi page, heavy duty cardstock menus. I was excited. It took a moment to decipher the mei fun, ho fun, dim sun, etc. The Caucasian waiter brought David a Diet Coke and me a water with a nicely cut slice of lemon on the rim. I asked him to give us a few more moments and I politely requested a straw. I diligently searched the menu for a dish that I recognized, but couldn't find the traditional dishes that I remembered as a child at the Mandarin Wok. When he returned he brought one straw and we placed our orders. When he asked me if I wanted Joy White Rice or (something) fried rice, I became confused at the trendiness and changed my order to an entree called Pineapple Fried Rice (no options.) The meal came quickly and was garnished with a cleverly sliced section of cucumber. David's had a cleverly twisted slice of carrot. But when I looked at the mound of rice, vegetables and pineapple tidbits I had a difficult time enjoying my $9 meal knowing I could have made the same thing on my electric smooth cooktop range for about $0.79. However, my last few fork bites did reveal a nice Dragon Palace emblem in the center of the plate, a pleasure I would not have experienced at home. I didn't bother with chopsticks because they looked completely cosmetic. When our plates appeared to be licked clean, a Caucasian waitress took away our plates and our waiter brought the bill tray void of almond and fortune cookies. He said, "Do you care for any dessert such as fried ice cream?" Fried ice cream? How about some churros? We generously left him a 14.25% tip (he neglected to offer a beverage refill.) I was a bit disappointed with the lack of fulfillment to my commercial induced expectations. As we grabbed our free fortune cookies from the big jar on the way out, I thought to myself, our part of the country definitely needs a larger dose of Chinese immigrants to bring in some MSG laden beef and brocolli, cashew chicken, and almond cookies wrapped in wax paper. Now that's Chinese!

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