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?
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.