Hubby and I went out to lunch yesterday at a new Asian restaurant here in town. It. was. goooooood…..
It’s a Mongolian buffet. For the uninitiated, diners get a bowl or bowls, Proceed to the buffet where you choose your noodles or rice, veggies, protein, and choice of sauce. Hand it over to the cook at the griddle and let her stir-fry it to perfection, then enjoy. This place had a couple of differences: little wooden paddles to indicate that you wanted tofu or a scrambled egg, and they brought your meal to you instead of having you wait at the counter.
I had chicken, veg, and a cheat on the no grain thing in the noodles with coconut curry sauce. Had we not been in the middle of the dining area, I would have licked the bowl to catch the last drops of sauce.
Before this place, there was another Asian restaurant down the road. Predominantly Thai, but a few Chinese and Vietnamese dishes were offered. The owner had a smile for everyone, embraced everyone’s nutritional quirks, and greeted her favorite customers with hugs. She was doing well enough to get past the red zone from buildouts and equipment purchases when her rent was raised $500.
She had no choice but to let the restaurant go. I choked up with her.
There are two Chinese places that have survived the test of time. One is a sit-down/takeout place that’s pleasant, but not very exciting; the other a buffet that tries to be all things to all people. Alongside the lo mein and General Tso’s chicken are pizza, mac and cheese, and a salad bar.
As in iceburg lettuce and shredded carrots salad bar. With dressing from the local discount grocery store.
Disclaimer: I can be very snobby about food. Hubby’s in the tech sector, and his local physical office is in a suburb with many other tech companies. The diversity in those corporations has allowed restaurants that offer authentic dining experiences to flourish.
Out here, not so much. Breakfast places abound. Really good, unpretentious places where you can fuel up for a good day’s work. But the brave souls who have tried to raise the bar of quality have been smacked down by the hand of quantity. The number of places offering something a little less basic for just a buck or two more that came and went like a shooting star out here reads like lists of war casualties. Some of the posters on Yelp were complaining about parking (it’s smack in the middle of town and dead center in the way overdue widening of the main road through town so it’s going to be a growth experience for a while) and the lack of a salad bar like the one described above.
However, my hope is that this-not-so-small-anymore town is ready to grow a little bit and embrace a bit more diversity in the restaurant department. Yes, our Mongolian buffet’s prices are more in line with places in the suburbs further towards Chicago, but if it means a higher quality meal, I have no qualms about turning over sofa cushions and going out less often.