Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pork Chops and Noodles

The service was terrible, the decor was absent, and the atmosphere was a perfect shade of crowded cafeteria with too few seats for too many bottoms. But how ingenious of the proprietors! All this time I had never realized the simple truth that a restaurant's capacity could be doubled if one counted both seating and (here's the trick) standing space. One might be forgiven for thinking the little shack of restaurant space was really meant as an aviary given all the vultures hovering over the tables. After ordering my food at the cash register at the front of the shack, I joined the kettle of my scavenging brethren and hovered over my prey. Their four minutes with a bowl of noodles and a fried pork chop were surely coming to an end.

Two hundred forty seconds may seem like a short time to inhale the best MaJian noodles in Shanghai, to say nothing of the glorious pork chops accompanied by Shanghainese spicy soy sauce. And it is. With a grace period of about two minutes, you'll have at most three bucks and change to shovel all of that home cooked goodness into your face. Stomach distension is par for the course and the more enthusiastic patrons routinely pop a few capillaries in their forehead.

This is all fine and good because it is food that wants to be eaten quickly in a burst of culinary delight and, afterwards, gastric distress. It is cafeteria food at its best and most appropriate. The chops are fried crispy so that the spicy soy sauce will not soak through and make the dough soggy. The noodles are solid yet flexible and cling (not stick) to each other only because of the sauce, which is suitably heavy, fragrant, and wears coronary sleeve ornaments. After one mouthful they will sink to the bottom of your stomach and reach the very depths of the pleasure parts of your brain that are triggered when you are beatifically stuffed.

Get in, order, hover for three minutes, eat for five, and leave in a hurry with a big stomach and a huge grin on your face. Who cares about the service, the decor, and the atmosphere?

1 comment:

g33kchic said...


I want piccies! :D *slurp*