“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Life Mystery #653-GV
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why is it so hard to find good Chinese food outside of New York and San Francisco? Granted, there are some exceptions to this rule -- oddly enough, some of the best Chinese food I've had was last summer in Minot, North Dakota -- but, in general, I am disappointed with the quality most places I go. And I am eternally optimistic; anytime I see a new Chinese takeout open up in some strip mall I always give it a try ... and I almost always come away disappointed. It's bland ... and there's NEVER enough ginger or garlic. I'll even go out of my way and say something like, "I like BIG BOLD FLAVORS! Just cook me the same thing that YOU eat after closing, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it."

But, alas, I am given a concoction that tastes like something from a steam table of some benign cafeteria. WHY!?!?!?! I don't have this problem in Thai or Vietnamese or Korean restaurants ... only Chinese. The food just seems to be dumbed down to a middle-school palate. And I believe that somewhere out there is a factory, hidden in some back alley in Rapid City or Fresno or some place, and on its door is written Gloppy, Salty, Bland Brown Sauce for American Chinese Food Inc.

Is there some secret word or phrase I don't know of? Something that I'm supposed to say to the wait staff of a Chinese restaurant that lets them know I want the REAL stuff and that I won't send it back to the kitchen?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ho Ho Choy in Tampa on Fletcher Avenue has Chinese food authentic enough for me. (Okay, I don't know how authentic, but they serve chicken feet and have rosted ducks hanging up in what looks like it used to be one of those heat lamp ovens they keep pizza warm in at the fair.)

January 20, 2009 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Ad Hudler said...

Oh, yeah, Wendy....I'll follow chicken feet ANYWHERE! Thanks for the lead. Wish I would have known about it when I was a guest lecturer last year at USF-Tampa.

January 20, 2009 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Kathy Grey said...

Have you tried E.L. Chinese in Fort Myers? The onion cakes on their extensive dim sum menu are to die for. And they have chicken feet in a lovely black bean sauce!

Bon appetit!

January 21, 2009 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Ad Hudler said...

Yeah, i have tried it, Kathy....One meal was fantastic and authentic...and every other time I went in it sucked. The latter times I had teenagers with me....hence, my thought that they dumb down meals according to the cook/waiter's visual perception of the diner.

January 22, 2009 at 6:15 AM  

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