Cuidado! Fridays Are Now Under Construction:
For the next month of Fridays, I am departing from the Pink Floyd theme - it's a test (of sorts). I do not necessarily want to be a food blogger, but I do LOVE to talk about food prep, cooking food, eating food and just plain FOOD. So! I am going to use the next month of Fridays to test this out by talking about cooking, sharing some recipes, maybe even talking about how Manoj and I have had to compromise in this all important area of Food. No joke, it has been one of the most difficult aspects of our marriage. Oh, and I dedicated Fridays to the topic so that folks who are not interested in food can just scoot right past these posts.
Updated! The name of the restaurant is Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica, MA
My two favorite Chinese meals are distinctly memorable to me. The first happened in 1993, in Karachi, Pakistan of all places. It was a very fancy Chinese restaurant and the meal was to DIE FOR. I was stunned by the meal, in particular, because it was nothing like Chinese I had ever had in all of my 22 years.
Of course it wasn't! After all, it was Chinese food made for Pakistani folks. It was rich, creamy, spicy and exploding in flavor. More importantly, it was my first realization that Chinese folks adapted their food according to the tastes of the people among whom they were living.
My Second Memorable Chinese Meal was in Boston in 2007. Manoj and I were staying with our Indian friends, Ajay and Shravanthi, who simply RAVED about this place. We walked into the restaurant and immediately, I suspected we were in for a treat. I was the only White Person and Manoj, Ajay and Shravanthi were the only Indians. And the rest of the patrons were Chinese, sitting around huge, circular tables piled with food. Seriously - it was CHINESE PEOPLE EATING CHINESE FOOD.
It was amazing to me to have THIS kind of Chinese food. Super spicy, non-fried, non-crispy, and most decidedly, NOT SWEET. It was savory and sour. Not too heavy.
And no, I was not hungry two hours later.
Okay...okay... this is not some boring recount of two amazing Chinese meals I had, but rather it is the start to an important lesson I learned about a month ago. After the experiences in Boston, instead of thinking "Whoa. How can I get this sort of meal in Kansas City?", I just assumed that we were too Backwater Hillbilly Redneck for Authentic Chinese even though I live in freaking OLATHE which is some sort of a Mecca for Chinese folks in Kansas City.
Oh sure, I had heard awhile back that Bo Lings, a popular restaurant here in Kansas City, has Authentic Chinese Menus, but I have never been a big fan of their food. It was not helped by the fact that last year, we approached them with one of our business ideas and they literally STOLE THE IDEA, even to the extent of copying word for stinking WORD from our website. So, a menu from Bo Steal-ings is not going to hold much water with me. Grudges? I got 'em.
Anyway!! A month ago, I learned that yes, you can actually ask for Authentic Chinese menus at restaurants around here and it has rocked our world. So far, we have tried Lucky Fortune in Overland Park/Leawood (95th and Nall) and Szechuan Dynasty here in Olathe at 119th and Strangline (next to Oklahoma Joe's). We do love Lucky Fortune, but they are a hike, so we will stick mostly with Szechuan Dynasty.
With both restaurants, I had to push back a little when I asked for the Authentic Menus - they both were hesitant to hand them over and I do not blame them. They perhaps assumed I wanted what is considered "Chinese" here in America - sugary and deep-fried stuff. Now that the gal at the Szechuan Dynasty knows us, she is very friendly and laughs when I pick up our order. Last time, she excitedly said to me "I wish more Americans would try the real Chinese."
However, I am not here to recommend specific restaurants in a specific city because this can probably be done anywhere in the United States.
So, am I crazy? Did you know that you can walk into Chinese restaurants and ask for a different menu than what is normally served? Have you done this before? Is it only Chinese restaurants that have this thing going on?
Now, if only Indian restaurants would get on board with this concept.
Let's start a movement, folks.