Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Want It All

Are delicious and cheap Chinese food contradictions in terms? It seems there used to be such a thing and I thought the new Pan Asian mega restaurant in the strip mall by my house was going to be it. They have a yoooge laminated spiral bound menu with little photos of each dish that make each of the gobjillion offerings look more delicious than the next. Most for under 8 bucks!

Here is the chicken fried rice, served up on a plate at my house.

Mmmm, brown—my favorite flavor. The red splotch is not a pepper, it's an arrow pointing out a green onion, the sole non-brown in the dish. Some of the other green specks are actually the pattern on the plate showing through, not more green onions. And didn't fried rice used to come with egg and sprouts ? When did this change? This dish tastes better than it looks and the large ($6.20) is enough for three meals, so if I could get it together to keep green onions and sprouts around the house to toss in, I think I've got a cheap delicious Chinese meal.

Emboldened by the idea that I'd found my yummy take out, the next time I ordered Thai fried spring rolls. What do you picture when you order Thai fried spring rolls? Spring: sprouts maybe, tofu, cellophane noodles, a lite spicy dipping sauce, cilantro? WTF is this?

It looks like the goop I scrape out of my drain after washing dishes. I didn't have my glasses on when I popped the first bite into my mouth, so I had no visual cues to prepare my brain for what taste it should expect, and my taste buds entirely failed on this one. Texture, they said. I put my glasses on, scraped the filling out, and spread it across the counter. My eyes were no help either. This thing could be filled with anything from sawdust to meatloaf.

As usual, lessons learned were things I already know.
You get what you pay for.
You can't have your cake and eat it, too.
Of quality, speed and cost, you can only ever get two out of three.
But so sad—the little menu photos are so gorgeous.

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