Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chinese Food Memory

Back in the day, the best chinese restaurant in town burned. I was on the nozzle when we attacked the kitchen blaze. When the lights came on, the floor and counter were moving with little critters on the run. A bucket of unrefrigerated shrimp stunk in the corner, and the grease trap was bubbling the most disgusting sludge you can imagine. It was years before I darkened another door of an asian food joint. Tonight we shadowed Panda, the best I've found. I don't like the name; a poor mass market chain shares it. I don't like the building; it's a recycled Dunkin Donuts with little effort to remodel. The parking lot is crumbling. I don't like the atmosphere or lighting; the booths are torn and the tapestries are faded, but clean. The service is everything you would ask from a family run restaurant that wants your business. They smile, they welcome and thank, they monitor without hovering, they cater any menu item to your preference, answer any question, and act genuinely pleased if you seem to enjoy your visit. The food is art, and the volume outrageously large for a modest price. They proudly display their awards, and Grandma waves from a sideroom as she snaps snow peas. I loved it. If the place catches on fire, I'm walking the other way. I don't want to know.

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