Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Big Sadness and Random Musings

I've been very sad. My heart is hurting. A very tragic thing happened to some dear people I know -- my brother-in-law's brother's family. If you are in the Northern Utah area, you have probably seen this story in the news. I want to spill my guts and share my feelings, but I want to respect the privacy of the family, so I will say no more. I know prayers are needed an appreciated, though, so please remember them when you kneel to pray.

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Amidst the sadness, I didn't feel up to making dinner last night. We wanted Chinese takeout, but there is nowhere to get good Chinese food in Logan. There are more Chinese restaurants from Smithfield to Hyrum than there are McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendys combined, but no GOOD ones. Boo! You will get my point when I say that I honestly consider Panda Express the best Chinese food in town. We decided to get food from the one closest to our house (Wok on Wheels), where Tyson had never eaten, and where I hadn't eaten since before we were married.

Well, it was fine. It tasted exactly like every fast-food Chinese everywhere, always, forever. Why does it all taste the same? Not just similar, but The. Exact. Same. Same fried rice with same pieces of ham and carrots and same weirdly smoky aftertaste. Same goopy General Tso's chicken. Same sweet and sour pork with same red sauce. Same looking menu. Same condiments. They ARE all the same, aren't they? So far, my Googling hasn't unearthed a Chinese-restaurant conspiracy, but I'm pretty sure it's out there. Someone is selling a template for how to have a Chinese-American takeout restaurant, and every Chinese restaurant in America is following the template and buying the same pre-made frozen food from the same vendor.

There are only a few exceptions I've been to. #1 - The Mandarin in Bountiful, Utah. They make all their own food there. While it is still Americanized compared to what people eat in China, it is different than all the other Chinese food here, and it is delicious. It is owned by a Greek family who probably was not aware of the Chinese restaurant template. #2 - There was a good, unique Chinese restaurant in Payson, Utah, of all places. Surprised? I was! I don't remember the name. It is in a strip mall over by the Walmart. It is a slightly nicer, more upscale place. Not just your typical takeout joint. #3 - A restaurant I went to in Chinatown in San Francisco. I'm sure there are good Chinese restaurants in Chinatowns all over the country. #4 - P.F. Changs. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's a chain, so it has its *own* supplier of its *own* pre-made food, and the food at every P.F. Changs tastes the same as the food at every other P.F. Changs. But it ALL tastes a heck of a lot better than any Chinese food in Cache Valley. #5 - Pei Wei, which is just P.F. Changs little brother in the fast food business. See above. #6 - Panda Express, like #4 and #5, has its own template and own pre-made food. It tastes better than the pre-made food at the other Chinese restaurants in town here.

There are also a few exceptions in Utah I haven't been to, but are worth noting. #1 - Little World on State Street in Salt Lake City. Has an "authentic" Chinese menu that I guess grosses out some American palates. #2 - Hong Kong Tea House (also in Salt Lake, west of the Gateway), which is a dim sum parlor and Chinese restaurant.

Are you with me here, people? Do you think (almost) all Chinese restaurants taste the same?

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The second part of this post is so trivial compared to the first part, but it felt good to vent about something trivial and not think about something terrible.

8 comments:

  1. I am so with you on the Chinese food. Guess that there is a reason to looking forward to leaving Cache valley.

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  2. I would pray for them, but I dont know whats going on? News link me or something?

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  3. I agree that all Chinese tastes the same and I really liked how you spelled.it.out, that is why we are friends because punctuation intrigues and delight us.

    I will keep the family in my prayers.

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  4. I wondered if they were related. It's so awful, I can't even imagine.

    As for chinese food, there really aren't a lot of good options. I remember getting takeout from wok on wheels when I was at USU. Sometimes I like bad chinese food (as long as it doesn't make me sick), but not very often. It's been years since I wanted bad chinese food....

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  5. I wondered when I saw the name. So terrible. Please send our condolences.

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  6. Lisa I agree with you on the whole Chinese food thing and how there are so many crappy places around. Of course I have been tainted in my Chinese food experiences. One of my friends from college went away for a year to teach English in China and came back with a wife and they or I lived with them for about a year. I will tell you that was the best year of eating Chinese food ever. My place did smell a little bit but not too bad. They gave me the tip finding good places to eat befriend a Chinese person and find out where all the Chinese people go out to eat and there you will find some good take. This theory work for me in boulder, co where I came across this whole in the ground place but it was the best Chinese food in all of Boulder. It also works with Koreans too. I used to work for a Korean couple and became very close friends with them and they always recommend great Chinese, Japanese and Korean restaurants. In general I am disappointed with Utah’s gastronomical choices and looking forward to the possibility of a move to Northern New Jersey sitting across from NYC

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  7. Kev and I love Panda!!! It is bomb! BUT I am surprised you didn't mention the Mandarin Garden...i think that's what it is called. The one on Main Street near 400? My roommates and i would always go there and it wasn't too bad!! btw i hope everything is okay with your family. i'll be thinking about you guys! love you!

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  8. I'm so sorry for the sadness you are all experiencing. I think about it everyday and I'm grateful for the grace and faith you all exhibit under these trying experiences. The experience of mourning as a family has been life-shaping for all of us and I'm so very sorry you have another lesson of it.

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