Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dumpling Festival

Driving along the highway about 5 in the evening I heard a terrible rumbling noise and thought - my goodness - what's wrong with the truck? Then I realized it was just my stomach and I hadn't eaten anything all day.

Right about then I passed a giant Mandarin restaurant looming at the side of the highway. In my emaciated state I was in no condition to fight its considerable gravitational pull and found myself exiting at the next interchange and eventually getting sucked through a maze of local streets and into the parking lot of the Mandarin - the behemoth king of bastardized Chinese food buffets.

Inside the lobby I was stunned at the hoard of people sitting and standing around. There had to be a hundred customers waiting.

"Two hours." I heard the team of greeters, each suited in red marching-band outfits, tell the folks in front of me. Heartbroken, I was about to walk out and go find another establishment when one of the band leaders asked, "How many?"

"One," I said.

"Oh, Come. We have tabew fo one!"

Wow! She led me down the wide passage toward the great buffetorium. Here I was jumping a two-hour queue! I presume they were fans of the FWG-bedroom candles hence the rock-star treatment. She pointed out the various neighborhoods within the beffetorium - the salad, dessert etc., and the path to the bathrooms and then led me into one of the four main dining rooms to a cosy table for two.

Considering the scope of my appetite and the modest size of the plates I forecasted a four-course event that would eventually play out as follows:

glazed salmon
shrimp and pea what-not
fresh shrimp w/ seafood sauce
oysters in the shell w/ black bean sauce

fried rice
Kung Foo pork (or something like that)
deep fried chicken in lemon sauce AND sweet'n'sour sauce
saucy ribs
egg roll w/ plum sauce

Chinese noodles
Teriyake meatballs
spicy sweet chicken
dumpling selection

waffles with vanilla sauce and maple syrup
creme brulet

In the middle of round 3 I watched a small kid - maybe three feet high - carry in his plate all by himself. I know it was his first plate because I'd just watched his family arrive and be seated moments earlier. This was his meal:

one tiny piece of broccoli
one small orange thing - a piece of carrot presumably
five STACKS of cookies.

STACKS! The King's ransom of cookies. The motherlode. I had to chuckle aloud. I loved this kid at once. This is a kid who knows what he wants. No messing around. I presume the tidbits of vegetation were intended to satisfy some condition negotiated with the parents. 'Way to stick it to the man,' I thought.

Unfortunately he was soon making another round and this time returned with a bowl containing 5 chicken balls under a heap of red goop. I'm not sure if that's any healthier than a mountain of cookies but clearly 'the man' had won out in the end.

That's when I broke tradition and decided to make my fourth round a dessert round - in honor of the fallen cookie hero.



Babs Gladhand said...

I've never seen a Chinese buffet that has creme brulée. One of the buffets here has tapioca for dessert, which I think is just disgusting.

How was the food?

nbiyi is iyibn backwards.

Kathleen said...

That was an impressive amount of food and considering I have yet to eat today and had only one slice of pizza yesterday, you've made me hungry.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

The food... was very yummy.