Chinese dishes are some magical dishes to eat. Like most Americans, I grew up eating the Americanized “take-out” stuff, which I enjoyed as a treat when I was a kid but quickly grew out of. Just hadn’t known better. And also it’s not like I grew up in the boonies with nothing but Panda and PF Chang either. Additionally, it’s just that most of the Chinese food available to me as a kid was the “take-out” stuff.
Then, maybe 13 years ago, I was visiting my sister in the Bay Area. We went to some hole-in-the-wall place in downtown Oakland where nothing was written in English, and no one spoke English. We just simply pointed to a scroll of Chinese on the menu.
Chinese Dishes And Some Memories
Then, 10 years ago I wound up moving out to LA for a job. My place of work just happens to be adjacent to the largest Chinese-American (but more first-gen Chinese than anything) community in the US (simply known as SGV). Whenever we hosted a speaker in our department, we’d take them out for Chinese. My colleagues, none of whom are Asian, definitely knew more about Chinese than I (especially my Jewish colleague, as you might expect; FYI, American Jews would mostly starve without Chinese).
Then I started dating a Chinese-American woman, and—between these two factors—have gotten to learn a lot about Chinese food. It’s really the best! I mean, having grown up Korean, I am obviously biased towards Korean food. But I’ll openly admit that Chinese, in terms of variety and sheer deliciousness, just is the best in the world and Universally accessible.
Ten years ago, these spots were Chinese-language only just about, and kinda shabby in terms of decor. But in the past few years, they’ve gotten the message that if you speak English you can multiply your revenue. Also, in the past few years, rich Mainlanders have been pouring into the SGV; so a lot of the places have gone really upscale as well.
Some More About The Magic
Currently, there is some kind of Sichuan arms race going on in SGV, so I’ve become a regular at Chengdu Taste, Sichuan Impression—and, my current favorite—Legendary Restaurant. (Check them out at Yelp!) I go to one of these spots once a week after work, get like $40–50 worth of food, take the leftovers and get three to four more meals out of it. That’s a good deal in LA. Chinese now literally constitutes around 50% of my weekly diet.
And, at least for me, the service has usually been great. When I walk into a new place, they think I’m Chinese and snap at me in Chinese with what sounds like, “What do you want?”. However, as soon as I tell them I’m not Chinese, they change in tone right away and speak with almost bashful bemusement. Also, they’re really nice.