Archive for June 15th, 2010

Back when The Cat was still a kitten, she remembers her father taking the family out to dinner only once (at that time, times were really tough in China).  He took them to a restaurant that served Cantonese-style food.  

During this last visit, she mentioned that it would be nice to revisit that restaurant to remember her father.  One busy afternoon, after walking quite far, I wanted sit and rest a bit.  We were in the area of the restaurant.  Since the restaurant had an afternoon tea menu, we decided to try it.  The Cat ordered an herbal blend with goji berries and chrysanthemum flowers.  I ordered jasmine tea.  I also ordered one baked manapua (char siu bao) and one “French” style mocha sponge cake. 

Baked Char Siu Bao and Sponge Cake

Baked Char Siu Bao Interior

The Cat ordered a green tea mochi roll with mango (it was supposed to be one of their specialties). 

Green Tea Mochi Roll with Mango

The little snacks I ordered were not bad.  The mocha sponge cake was not overly sweet and went well with the tea.  The baked char siu bao was acceptable.  It didn’t knock my socks off but it did satisfy the munchies. 

The Cat didn’t care too much for her order of green tea mochi roll.  

We were scheduled to meet with The Cat’s brother and nephew the next night for dinner.  I suggested we eat at the same restaurant in memory of their father and grandfather.  This is what we ordered: 

Deep-Fried Tofu with Vegetables

Steamed Chicken

Shanghai Cabbage with Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots

Sizzling "Mongolian Beef"

"Chow Mein" with Shrimp

There was too much oil in the dishes (either cooked with or poured on before serving).  The dishes did not make it on our list of outstanding dishes.  They were just so-so. 

Another restaurant that has been on the mind of The Cat for awhile is a French-style restaurant that The Cat passed by frequently (again when she was just a kitten).  Eating there was unreachable when she was growing up.  She has talked about that restaurant ever since I met her.  At the front of the restaurant, stood a well-dressed host that ushered us into an elevator to the second floor.  We started with vegetable soup for The Cat and oxtail soup for me. 

"Oxtail Soup"

The Cat’s vegetable soup looked like it came from a can.  My oxtail soup tasted like a cross between canned beef bullion soup and canned tomato soup. 

For our dinners, The Cat chose pan-fried fish in an egg batter.  I chose pork chops. 

Pan-Fried Fish in an Egg Batter

Pork Chops

The dishes looked like and tasted like they came from a 1950’s diner.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not disparaging 1950’s diner food, but we were supposed to be eating French food.  The best thing about the dinner was the bread that accompanied the soup.  Needless to say, the dinner did not meet expectations. 

When we told our friend D, about the two restaurants, she said the two restaurants are state-owned restaurants and only tourists (from other parts of China) go to those restaurants.  D also said there are better Cantonese and french restaurants in town.  

In later reflection, we both agreed that the two meals have to be eaten with the mentality and palate of the time when The Cat was growing up.  In the eyes of a girl under ten years old, the meals would be something special and exotic (using a fork and knife instead of chopsticks in the case of the French restaurant). 

Would we go back to those two restaurants?  Definitely no.  Are we glad we ate at them? Definitely yes.  Food is judged not only on looks and taste but the memories, dreams, and wishes they evoke.

The Cat thinks that sometimes dreams should be left alone and unrealized.  She’s still thinking.

The Mouse is now a philosopher (yeah right). 😉 


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