Happy Meal 吃饭

No one can be happier than me
Happier than me, happier than me
Happier than me
-The Cardigans

This last year I developed a bad attitude-- a bad attitude about Chinese food. It’s oily with a side of greasy. It’s so loaded with MSG and salt that I have to drink a gallon of water. Every restaurant serves the exact same dishes. I can only eat so many noodle bowls.

I guess I was like a Chinese person living in the USA who only eats at Denny’s and McDonald’s. What would he conclude about American food? It’s oily with a side of greasy. It’s so loaded with salt that he has to drink a gallon of tea. Every restaurant serves the same thing. He can only eat so many hamburgers.

Thanks to my generous Chinese friend, my food attitude has been renewed.

She told us where to go and what time to arrive. We rode our bikes to the specified Chinese restaurant. I’ve passed by this particular roast duck restaurant a thousand times and never looked twice. It looks like every other Chinese restaurant-- the exterior beams embellished red, green, blue, and gold looking distinctly like a Chinese restaurant. It's just another Chinese restaurant dishing up kung pao chicken (宫保鸡丁) and xiangyu pork (香鱼丝肉). But this evening proved to be anything but ordinary.

Can I just say... the food was AMAZING. The plates kept coming. Sizzling spicy cauliflower. Salt crusted spicy green beans. Steamed bamboo stalks. Fresh soybeans. A salad made of colorful succulent leaves drizzled with a light and tangy dressing. Then there was the meat. Beijing roast duck eaten like a taco: slivers of fatty meat folded into a paper thin tortilla along with hoisin sauce, scallions, and cucumber. Barbecued fish with a sweet and sour sauce. Beijing style dry beef. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth roasted lamb. Kung pao chicken (a Chinese meal would not be complete without kung pao chicken). And the star of the meal (in my opinion): cumin lamb ribs. Those cumin lamb ribs were the BOMB. I drooled and dreamed about them for weeks afterward.

The company was just as good as the food. Our small dinner party represented all different parts of the globe- we were from England, Germany, Japan, United States, and of course, China. Do you know how amazing that is? All of us speaking Chinese, all of us laughing uproariously. Somehow we all ended up in a small dining room feasting on lamb ribs, roast duck, and sharing our stories-- stories about growing up, learning life-changing knowledge, and how we ended up in a huge, sprawling city speaking one of the most difficult languages to learn.

An amazing evening.

Go ahead ask me, is Chinese food good? Yes! Just stay out of the Chinese fast food joints and eat a meal with me before you judge.

Chinese word of the blog: 吃饭 Chīfàn
English translation: eat

Vegan friendly salad

More lamb ribs puh-lease

Roast duck carved to order