Sunday, February 27, 2005

North China Barfet

Today, I agreed to meet my mother and two siblings for a sit down lunch. It has been the first time in months since we have seen or spoke to one another, much less be in the same building at the same time. Sounds like a perfectly plausible way to spend a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon, does it not? So at my mother’s suggestion we all met at the new ‘North China Buffet’ All-U-Can Eat restaurant.

What’s with people inviting me to All-U-Can Eat buffets lately? Does this provide them with some cheap form of entertainment at they watch on mystified as the ‘Man with the Bottomless Stomach’ sets to work at gorging himself ashamedly at the buffet counter? But I digress…

Upon arrival, I can’t help but notice that this new marvel of All-U-Can Oriental Cuisine is sandwiched directly between the local Goodwill used clothing store, and a No-Frills supermarket. Hows that for ambiance? It was a good thing that at that point, I immediately abandoned any notions of high expectations for our meal at the door, since they would inevitably have just come crashing down like the World Trade Center towers upon the first serving.

Judging by the hordes of quietly chewing patrons that occupied every square inch of this enormous restaurant, I have discovered where death goes on vacation. It’s like somebody unrolled out a shag carpet of senior citizens from the front door all the way to the back; where also happened to be seated. I swear, we almost needed a compass and map in order to simply find our way back to our table!

I also noticed from the buffet spread itself that the North Chinese have a very peculiar taste in cuisine. Among the standard Chinese menu staples of sweet & sour chicken balls, moo goo pork, spiced beef with almonds, and pan-fried noodles, there were also huge pans of strip bacon, Spanish omelettes, chocolate pudding, onion rings and French fries, mashed potatoes, barbeque wings, and other buffet options that didn’t exactly fit the nomral formulated “Chinese Food” mold.

To me, this was nothing more than an ordinary greasy spoon of enormous proportions disguising its low-value slop under the fancy moniker of “All-U-Can Eat Chinese Buffet” and then just raking in the pension dollars! I’d hate to see the kitchen in this place, with all the immigrant employees shackled to their kitchen prep stations with leg irons for the duration of their sixteen-hour work day at minimum wage is over.

Of course, this didn’t stop my mother from stepping in to help organize the staff. “Excuse me, can you bring me out some more ‘General Tao Chicken’ and ‘Stir-fried Twinkies a la Orange’?” Like the kitchen staff didn’t already have enough on their hands continually refilling the slop troughs for the plaque of welfare recipients still lined up to get in the door, mandibles twitching like anxious grasshoppers.

“Eh, wee-a need mo’ numba one, spicy beef & veget’abo, for the Dragon Woman. CHOP-CHOP!”


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