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  #151  
Old 01-08-2019, 12:19 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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Here's the link. (You just linked it to the name of the title.)

Man, that young guy in the middle was annoying as all get-out. Loved the parents/elders. Pretty much how I expected it to go.
Thanks for fixing the link.

BTW, I can't figure out how the guy with the glasses is with that girl! Gives hope to us nerdgeeks.
  #152  
Old 01-08-2019, 12:34 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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My ex's Mom was Hakka, I believe her parents or grandparents were from Guangdong and she would take us to Hakka restaurant here in Hawaii. She said it was the only authentic Hakka restaurant in Hawaii and the food was definitely different (and delicious!) from any Chinese food I've had anywhere else.

Also, when I took a Cantonese language course (just a short intro), the instructor took us to what he said was the only authentic dim sum restaurant serving authentic Hong Kong style dim sum. Again, different from anywhere else I've ever been. Note I didn't say Guangdong style, which I understand is different.
  #153  
Old 01-08-2019, 02:32 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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BTW, yes I know Hong Kong is historically part of Guangdong province, but since it and Macau were under British rule for so long, it's developed it's own unique culture and style, so much so that even mainland China recognizes it as a Special Administrative Region.
  #154  
Old 01-08-2019, 02:41 PM
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Decades ago, a new Chinese restaurant opened near to where I used to live. I don't know where the owners were from, but the style of cooking was different (there was a distinct taste of Chinese wine) from that I was used to and I liked it. Gradually, over the years, I noticed the taste changed to be more generic and closer to what I could get in other restaurants.

On of my favorite places to eat was a hole-in-the-wall place, next door to another hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. They both served almost identical menu items, but they were distinctly different. The owners of the place I liked spoke Cantonese (I believe Hong Kong accent), so I'm assuming they served Hong Kong style cuisine.
  #155  
Old 01-08-2019, 07:21 PM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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As I stated earlier, the issue with "authentic Chinese food" is that there's multiple (100's of millions if you count home cooking) of cuisine in China. Someone from Mainland China may never have had Southern cuisine, even dim sum and vice-versa. Taking a Chinese person to your local Chinese restaurant would be like someone in a foreign country taking you for chitlins and collard greens just because you're from America. Delicious for those from the South who grew up with it, but completely foreign to most Americans, myself included.

Note that in this YouTube video, "Chinese People Try Panda Express For The First Time", that the two older ladies are speaking Mandarin, so likely not from Southern China and I'm 99% sure the husband and wife are speaking Cantonese, so likely from Southern China. Again, two completely different sets of taste. Chinese People Try Panda Express For The First Time

Edit: There are numerous videos of people trying the Americanized versions of their ethnic cuisine, usually with the same results "This isn't real xxx food!"
Well, people sometimes talk about "American food" even though we have 50 states and many variations on food based upon locality. But the term has a meaning, so I'm unsure why we cannot use the term "Chinese food" an attribute a similar meaning.

I wouldn't describe chitlins and collard greens as "American food" even though for the semantic language lawyers out there, it is a dish eaten in some parts of the United States. If someone in France, for example, advertised "authentic American food" and I looked at the menu at it had meatloaf, roast, hamburgers, etc., then I would expect that such food be prepared and taste as it does in Anywhere, USA, even though I understand that those dishes might taste different in different regions of the country.
  #156  
Old 01-09-2019, 07:53 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Here is a YouTube by a guy who was ten years in China and an ex-pat talking about the 'secret menu' I alluded to earlier and how to get more authentic versions of American favorites like egg roll and General Tsao's chicken.
  #157  
Old 01-09-2019, 09:06 AM
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Man, that young guy in the middle was annoying as all get-out. Loved the parents/elders. Pretty much how I expected it to go.
Felt like the older people were politely trying the food and giving their thoughts whereas the younger people were "We're gonna be on the internet gotta make this look good!" and dramatically overreacting.
  #158  
Old 01-09-2019, 10:45 AM
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Korean-owned sushi places are actually pretty standard around here, so I’m not surprised.
My favorite sushi place is Korean-run and definitely not traditional japanese style. Their pieces are garishly festooned with every manner of inappropriate garnish and sauce imaginable piled with center of gravity so high that the table wobbles when you lift it to your mouth. I love every nontraditional bite of it.
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  #159  
Old 01-09-2019, 11:16 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Here is a YouTube by a guy who was ten years in China and an ex-pat talking about the 'secret menu' I alluded to earlier and how to get more authentic versions of American favorites like egg roll and General Tsao's chicken.
There is some truth to that (there are definitely restaurants here in Chicago that have two menus) but I doubt this is anywhere near universal or even common. Reading through the comments on the video, that does seem to be the case. If you live somewhere with a strong Chinese community (or other cultures also sometimes have a separate menu--there's a few Thai restaurants around here that have menus only in Thai that have different items on them than the English menu) this will be more common, but I would doubt this would work in a majority of a random sampling of ma & pop Chinese joints, if simply because a lot of times you will need to have different ingredients on hand, and if you don't have a strong local ethnic clientele, it just doesn't make economic sense to carry those ingredients.

And something just irks me about that guy.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-09-2019 at 11:16 AM.
  #160  
Old 01-09-2019, 12:10 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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Well, people sometimes talk about "American food" even though we have 50 states and many variations on food based upon locality. But the term has a meaning, so I'm unsure why we cannot use the term "Chinese food" an attribute a similar meaning.

I wouldn't describe chitlins and collard greens as "American food" even though for the semantic language lawyers out there, it is a dish eaten in some parts of the United States. If someone in France, for example, advertised "authentic American food" and I looked at the menu at it had meatloaf, roast, hamburgers, etc., then I would expect that such food be prepared and taste as it does in Anywhere, USA, even though I understand that those dishes might taste different in different regions of the country.
Meatloaf, roast and hamburgers are prepared in the majority of households and restaurants throughout the U.S., differing in seasonings and prep. But they're still easily recognizable as American staples.

With the possible exception of mein (noodles), fried or boiled, the ingredients of "Chinese food" differs greatly according to region. It's only when you get to to the basics, meat or poultry (seafood is largely limited to the coastlines, no supermarkets in rural areas) and vegetables is there a commonality in "Chinese food". And since these are basic ingredients, it's the sauces, seasoning and prep that gives it, its unique flavor.

In the YouTube video I posted above, the old man (who BTW is speaking Cantonese and likely from Southern China) says "Chinese people don't have egg rolls", doesn't mean it's not made somewhere in China, just that he hasn't had one prepared the way Panda Express did. And of course as has been discussed, Panda Express, PF Chang's and apparently Zimmern's restaurant are a mish-mash of foods from different regions of China. Is it "authentic" Chinese food, possibly (yes, possibly even Panda Express) in the sense that it's sauced, seasoned and prepared in the same way as the food in that region. Is it "authentic" Chinese food in the sense that if you walk into a restaurant in say Shanghai, you'll get the same variety and selection? No.

I have a question for those who say the "Chinese food" they had in a regional restaurant was bad. Was it because it didn't meet your expectation of "Chinese food"? Could the food have truly been "authentic" and just not to your taste?

I'm not poo-pooing the the fusion of ethnic foods (though I draw the line at cold wasabi mash potatoes!), but I wish people would recognize that "Chinese food" is too generic for the multiple regional cuisines in China. This is just as true for any other ethic cuisine (I don't count American food as ethic since it's a mish-mash of multiple cultures and ethic foods). I'm even fine with "American Chinese Food" which more accurately describes what the majority of Chinese restaurants serve.
  #161  
Old 01-09-2019, 12:21 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
There is some truth to that (there are definitely restaurants here in Chicago that have two menus) but I doubt this is anywhere near universal or even common. Reading through the comments on the video, that does seem to be the case. If you live somewhere with a strong Chinese community (or other cultures also sometimes have a separate menu--there's a few Thai restaurants around here that have menus only in Thai that have different items on them than the English menu) this will be more common, but I would doubt this would work in a majority of a random sampling of ma & pop Chinese joints, if simply because a lot of times you will need to have different ingredients on hand, and if you don't have a strong local ethnic clientele, it just doesn't make economic sense to carry those ingredients.

And something just irks me about that guy.
There may not always be two menus, but as I mentioned when I order steamed pork hash with extra harm ha, you can often request changes or additions that aren't offered on the menu.

As for extra ingredients, particularly sauces, oils and spices, there are maybe a dozen of those that goes into the majority of "Chinese" (I put it in quotes to emphasize the numerous variations of Chinese cuisine) cooking. Watch a show featuring a Chinese chef and you'll see about a dozen containers of sauces, oils and spices. It's the combination and quantities of these ingredients that makes the dishes taste different.

See, I learned something from my thread about 'layering flavors'!
  #162  
Old 01-09-2019, 12:48 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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There may not always be two menus, but as I mentioned when I order steamed pork hash with extra harm ha, you can often request changes or additions that aren't offered on the menu.

As for extra ingredients, particularly sauces, oils and spices, there are maybe a dozen of those that goes into the majority of "Chinese" (I put it in quotes to emphasize the numerous variations of Chinese cuisine) cooking. Watch a show featuring a Chinese chef and you'll see about a dozen containers of sauces, oils and spices. It's the combination and quantities of these ingredients that makes the dishes taste different.

See, I learned something from my thread about 'layering flavors'!
Yeah, but the guy there is ordering stuff like "sour cabbage fish soup." I really, really doubt that my down-the-block American-Chinese place is going to have the ingredients for that.

I mean, just read the comments. People have tried this "hack" and been left mostly disappointed. Yes, if you ask for a rearrangement of ingredients, they'll accomodate you. I've done this in Italian and Mexican restaurants, not just Chinese. One day I was in the mood for a puttanesca, and the restaurant didn't have it on the menu. So I asked them. They obliged. There's nothing odd about that. But I think the Youtuber is overselling it a bit here at how much is possible.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-09-2019 at 12:53 PM.
  #163  
Old 01-09-2019, 12:49 PM
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For a very long time, due to racist anti-Chinese immigration policies, one of the very few ways for Chinese to immigrate to the USA (at all) was to work in Chinese restaurants. To be successful, those restaurants had to make food that Americans would eat. No, the vast majority of it was NOT authentic Chinese food. It was bastardized, changed versions that Americans would eat and dishes invented in other American 'Chinese' restaurants.

Now we have "Chinese" food in America that is entirely American in nature and Chinese in name only. But you can't really explain that or sell it as such to your average person, so the labels remain.

Bashing the entire industry for not being "authentic" is epic stupid. It is authentic to what it is.

Edit: Just be glad there's good stuff out there today. In my youth and before, many were "chop suey restaurants" and horrible Americanized "Chop Suey" was about all you could buy in a store.
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  #164  
Old 01-09-2019, 01:39 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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LOL. I remember when Chun King chow mein (which is think is still around) in a can was Chinese food for a lot of people. And I suspect Chef Boy Ardee spaghetti is Italian food to some!
  #165  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:45 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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LOL. I remember when Chun King chow mein (which is think is still around) in a can was Chinese food for a lot of people.
Somehow, I never heard of it (La Choy is the brand I'm familiar with), and it looks like the brand was eventually phased out in the late 90s.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-09-2019 at 04:46 PM.
  #166  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:54 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Speaking of chow mein, I'm going to ask a really stupid question. I've never ordered chow mein at a Chinese-American place. Lo mein, yes. Chow mein, no. Part of it is because when I see the chow mein noodles in the store, they're these crispy deep-fried noodles.

Is that what chow mein is? Does it get cooked so the noodles get soft? It looks like something that is supposed to remain crispy. When I google pictures of "chow mein" it just looks like normal soft stir fried noodles, so what is this bag of La Choy stuff? Though, now looking a little more online, it does seem that chow mein is supposed to be cooked to the crispy stage. What's the deal here?
  #167  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:56 PM
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I think what irks me the most about Zimmern's comments was the slam against Philip Chiang:
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Originally Posted by Andrew Zimmern
Because, despite how he looks on the outside, he’s a rich, American kid on the inside, right?
I'm not offended that he's opened a Chinese style restaurant. I don't know if other Chinese Americans feel this way, but I get really annoyed when someone essentially calls me a banana.

If he had just put out a release saying how he had partnered with Alex Ong of Betelnut (awesome restaurant, I miss it) to create fusion/regional Chinese cuisine I doubt it would have created as much controversy.
  #168  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:22 PM
jayarrell jayarrell is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Speaking of chow mein, I'm going to ask a really stupid question. I've never ordered chow mein at a Chinese-American place. Lo mein, yes. Chow mein, no. Part of it is because when I see the chow mein noodles in the store, they're these crispy deep-fried noodles.

Is that what chow mein is? Does it get cooked so the noodles get soft? It looks like something that is supposed to remain crispy. When I google pictures of "chow mein" it just looks like normal soft stir fried noodles, so what is this bag of La Choy stuff? Though, now looking a little more online, it does seem that chow mein is supposed to be cooked to the crispy stage. What's the deal here?
I'm probably going to get this wrong, but it refers to different techniques
Lo Mein = Tossed Noodle
Chow Mein = Fried Noodle

Where I live (SF Bay Area), chow mein is noodles that are stir fried a bit first then the toppings are mixed in or layered on top. Lo mein is not often used here but technically I think it's a style where the noodles are mixed with the toppings at the end of the cooking process (not really stir fried).

The closest style I can think of to the La Choy stuff here on the West Coast would be Hong Kong Style Chow Mein where the noodles are deep fried first, then the topping is placed on top of the noodles.

Growing up my family would make the pan fried version of the noodle; kind of like making a noodle hash brown, then mixing the topping in.

Also, if you are in the US, there's a slight East Coast/West Coast regional difference between lo mein and chow mein.

This link kind of describes the difference between lo mein and chow mein: http://www.thespruceeats.com/lo-mein...ow-mein-694238

The chow mein wiki page also goes into the regional differences a bit.

Last edited by jayarrell; 01-09-2019 at 05:23 PM.
  #169  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:23 PM
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Somehow, I never heard of it (La Choy is the brand I'm familiar with), and it looks like the brand was eventually phased out in the late 90s.
The strange tale of Chun King Chow Mein.

It was invented by an American of Italian descent named Jeno Paulucci in the 1940's. He went to make Jeno's frozen pizza and pizza rolls!

https://culinarylore.com/food-histor...ing-chow-mein/

The Chun King brand was sold to R.J. Reynolds in 1966 and passed through a couple of mergers and buyouts until ending up at Hunt-Wesson who made La Choy products in 1995 who finally put the name to rest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chun_King
  #170  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:44 PM
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My ex's Dad would let me have honor of making chow mein during bai san (ching ming), the annual festival of honoring the ancestors. One year I put in too much broth and he joked that I was making lo mein instead of chow mein (which is supposed to dry). So yes, to my understanding chow mein is dry stir fried noodles and lo mein is usually dry or fried noodles with a gravy/sauce on it.

FWIW, the noodles at get at Panda Express and most fast food Chinese places if called chow mein.

I never had the puffed fried noodles like those in the Chun King / La Choy Chow Mein, though I've seen it in the market. I suspect it's an offshoot of the packaged ramen technique which is also lightly deep fried to give a longer shelf life. Fresh Chinese noodles go bad within days.

I think it was on Food TV's Unwrapped that featured the La Choy Chow Mein in one of the episodes.

The closet thing I've had to it is cake noodles, which I just found out is possibly unique to Hawaii, or at least not authentic Chinese from any province. It's really thin noodles (lo mein?) that is formed in a 1/2" circle and pan fried so the outside is crispy and the middle stays soft. It's always served with something that has a sauce or gravy as it's too dry and hard to eat alone.

Last edited by lingyi; 01-09-2019 at 05:46 PM.
  #171  
Old 01-09-2019, 06:06 PM
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I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the 'chow' in chow mein means to fry (in a wok). So chow mein = fried wheat noodles and chow funn = fried rice noodles. So if you go to Chinatown and ask a noodle shop for chow mein or chow funn you'll get an odd look, though chow mein noodles or chow funn noodles (though redundant) usually gets the point across.
  #172  
Old 01-10-2019, 08:05 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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For a very long time, due to racist anti-Chinese immigration policies, one of the very few ways for Chinese to immigrate to the USA (at all) was to work in Chinese restaurants. To be successful, those restaurants had to make food that Americans would eat. No, the vast majority of it was NOT authentic Chinese food. It was bastardized, changed versions that Americans would eat and dishes invented in other American 'Chinese' restaurants.
This reminds me, for some reason, of Chinese Lemon Chicken. You know, the quintessential Chinese-American dish that’s ubiquitous at Chinese carryouts and Chinese buffets. It’s batter-fried chicken, some veggies, and a lemon-starch sauce with a bit of sugar that gives a nice sweet and sour tang to the mouth. Definitely a type of “Chinese” food that the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t object to.

The best lemon chicken I’ve ever had in my life was a small restaurant at the bottom of the Yellow Mountain. It was completely authentic, well made, properly balanced, and delicious. The menu was only in Chinese, but my coworkers told me the name of the dish from the menu: “American Chicken.”
  #173  
Old 01-10-2019, 09:02 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
For a very long time, due to racist anti-Chinese immigration policies, one of the very few ways for Chinese to immigrate to the USA (at all) was to work in Chinese restaurants. To be successful, those restaurants had to make food that Americans would eat. No, the vast majority of it was NOT authentic Chinese food. It was bastardized, changed versions that Americans would eat and dishes invented in other American 'Chinese' restaurants.

Now we have "Chinese" food in America that is entirely American in nature and Chinese in name only. But you can't really explain that or sell it as such to your average person, so the labels remain.

Bashing the entire industry for not being "authentic" is epic stupid. It is authentic to what it is.

Edit: Just be glad there's good stuff out there today. In my youth and before, many were "chop suey restaurants" and horrible Americanized "Chop Suey" was about all you could buy in a store.
I think that is the point. American Chinese food resembles nothing that you would actually get in China, and there is nothing wrong with that.

So along comes a guy who opens a restaurant claiming that he will serve "authentic" Chinese food. Whether he has or will do so successfully, or even if the term cannot be defined because there is no generic "Chinese" food is not the point. It is also possible that very few Americans would enjoy dishes as they are prepared in China, but again that is not the point.

The point is that like many entrepreneurs, he has found what he believes to be a gap in the market and advertising that his food is the real deal---not like that fake shit you get everywhere else. Now you, or anyone else, are free to go to his restaurant and voice your disagreement by saying that this is not authentic Chinese food or that there is no such thing as authentic Chinese food. You can post a negative Yelp review and tell everyone to go to the American Chinese places. You can refuse to go or anything in between.

The term "authentic" is sufficiently vague enough to be puffery and have enough meanings to where nobody could really say his claim is false.

It seems to me that what he is doing is little different than any other person promoting his product, save perhaps that he is a bit more aggressive that others. Just like anyone else, he may fall flat on his ass and lose a bunch of money; or he might be successful. I don't understand why he is being excoriated for it.

Last edited by UltraVires; 01-10-2019 at 09:03 AM.
  #174  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:10 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Originally Posted by Balthisar View Post
This reminds me, for some reason, of Chinese Lemon Chicken. You know, the quintessential Chinese-American dish that’s ubiquitous at Chinese carryouts and Chinese buffets. It’s batter-fried chicken, some veggies, and a lemon-starch sauce with a bit of sugar that gives a nice sweet and sour tang to the mouth. Definitely a type of “Chinese” food that the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t object to.

The best lemon chicken I’ve ever had in my life was a small restaurant at the bottom of the Yellow Mountain. It was completely authentic, well made, properly balanced, and delicious. The menu was only in Chinese, but my coworkers told me the name of the dish from the menu: “American Chicken.”
Huh. Somehow, I have never heard of this lemon chicken. Will have to try next time. I looked, and of the four Chinese places in my neighborhood, two serve it, and two don't, so perhaps that's why I've never had it. Orange chicken, yes. Lemon chicken--this is new to me, and it sounds pretty good. (Yeah, and the place my parents order from -- which is when I usually have Chinese takeout food, doesn't have it, either.)'

I think even American Chinese food is somewhat regional. Is "kow" as in "vegetable kow" and "beef kow" ubiquitous in Chinese takeouts? Seems super common here, but I rarely hear references to it from people from the coasts.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-10-2019 at 11:14 AM.
  #175  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
I think even American Chinese food is somewhat regional. Is "kow" as in "vegetable kow" and "beef kow" ubiquitous in Chinese takeouts? Seems super common here, but I rarely hear references to it from people from the coasts.
I've never seen it (western Pennsylvania).
  #176  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:51 AM
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Another tale of a restaurant falling from authentic (at far as I know) to generic.

About 20 years ago, I found a Mexican restaurant close to where I worked. They had just opened a few weeks prior and when I walked in, I said to the owner "Wow, this place looks authentic.", to which she replied: "It is, I even have real Mexican cooks" and pointed to the two guys in the open kitchen. They smiled and waved at me and I smiled and waved back. I loved the food and ate there at least a couple of times a week for the few months I worked at that location.

I visited on and off for the next ten years when I was in the area and the food was great as always. I always saw the same two guys in the kitchen. Then the last time I visited about ten years ago, the decorations were the same, but the food was different and not in a good way. It was far more generic, closer to what I could get at a Del Taco and the kicker was the salsa had almost no flavor except for the ton of black pepper in it. I asked the waitress why there was so much black pepper (while thinking why it was even there in the first place) and she said that was what the new chef liked. I looked in the kitchen and there were still the two guys, but someone else also. That explained it. I've never been back there since.

Last edited by lingyi; 01-10-2019 at 11:53 AM.
  #177  
Old 01-11-2019, 12:22 AM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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There may or may not be a Chinese language menu that's different. I just talk with the waitstaff in Chinese if they have this, or can do that, or what they recommend. It may not always be on the English language menu.
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