Remember that post I wrote a few months ago about not having chinese food in a long time and about how Thai food is a lot like having bad chinese food without the promise of a fortune cookie at the end? Oh you don’t? Well don’t worry you didn’t really miss anything. But anyways, on Valentine’s Day my husband and I set out on a mission to get good chinese food. Yes I’m well aware that Valentine’s Day was almost two weeks ago, but I’ve been busy putting myself into debt with school and such.
Just so were on the same page here let me explain that my husband is the kind of person who looks up everything on his phone. I promise you he can’t get anywhere without it. Flashlight, level, maps, instagram, bar code scanner thingy, and if ever you’re thinking about going somewhere new, or anywhere at all actually, you better believe he’s gonna Yelp it and tell you precisely how many stars, what kind of service and read you multiple reviews about said place. Now since I’m not the kind of person who gives a crap what Debby from Smithtown thinks about the egg rolls or how crunchy they are, I just let him do his thing and pick the place, nodding with feigned interest as he reads me reviews.
So the first place we pull up to looks pretty decent from the outside. Not necessarily like your standard chinese joint but definitely like a place that gets regular business. We walk in and the place is apparently very deceiving in size from the outside because what looked like at least a medium-sized restaurant had three tables inside. The lady who greeted us (one of those you can’t tell if she’s speaking chinese or english types) sits us at a table and then disappears into the back of the restaurant. We start looking through the one page menus that are lying on our table.
Me: They don’t have lo mein.
Him: What? They must.
Me: How do they not have lo mein?
We exchange a doubtful look about this place deserving any of those three and a half stars at all.
Him: Should we just go?
Me: We can’t just go, aren’t there rules about being seated in a restaurant and not being able to just leave?
Him: Their aren’t any rules like that. She hasn’t even brought us water yet, we can just go.
Me: Oh God she’s probably getting us water right now!
Him: Let’s get out of here!
He grabs my hand and we dash out the front door, before the dreaded water receival forces us into settling for chow mein.
The next place we pulled up to looked more like a chinese buffet from the outside. Which at this point I’m totally okay with because I’m starving. We pulled up on the side of the building so as we’re walking around the corner to get to the front door we see a homeless man sitting on the bench right beside the entrance. A homeless man who’s cussing loudly at the fresh air beside him while flailing his body to and fro. He was literally so close if you didn’t skirt around him when you entered one of his flailing arms might hit you. He reminded me of this homeless man who used to come into Chuck E. Cheese when I was a manager there, steal a salad off the salad bar and fall asleep with his swollen face and hands dug into the salad, every time. And every time I had to call the cops who would come drag him out of my child filled restaurant. As we enter the chinese place my husband makes a comment that they should probably call the cops, homeless men greeting your customers with a friendly smack is probably bad for business.
We’re seated and have our water within minutes, damn no leaving this time, it better be good. The waiter comes to take our order and we have a lengthy discussion about whether or not he knows what lo mein is (lengthy because he was hard to understand and because again no lo mein on the menu!). In the end he was very helpful and we ordered a plate of lo mein and a plate of chicken fried rice.
As we’re sitting an older guy comes barging in through the side door from outside, waving a handful of papers and yelling at the man behind the counter. The man behind the counter didn’t take this lightly and started clearly reprimanding the older fellow in front of everyone. They move it to the back but don’t go much farther than the swinging door because everyone can still hear them. From a large group of chinese people who moments ago you might have thought were enjoying a nice meal with the family, a few men get up (then you notice the aprons around their waists) and push their way into the back. I love every minute of this drama. After a few moments where there are very little workers present and we have time to look around and realize all the people sitting around us, first of all, are all male but most of them have vanished or are staring around wondering if they should pull out their guns yet, this of course is what I assume they’re thinking. A young girl comes out from the back and while never looking up from the ground asks us if we want more water. Nuh-uh lady just some popcorn and a Pepsi.
Obviously we chose to dine at the chinese mafia house for lunch but the lo mein was delicious and the entertainment was an unexpected bonus. So if you’re ever in the Modesto area and are looking for a good meal and don’t mind the threat of random gunfire make sure to check out the Golden Dumpling (I have no idea what the actual name of the place was, but I figured I couldn’t be that far off if I just followed a chinese word noun with an adjective), just don’t be alarmed by the gang of small chinese men or the overly handsy guy out front, I promise they’re a good time.
P.S. On my way back from the bathroom I saw through the front windows the homeless man being taken away by the cops in an ambulance, in case you were wondering how his life turned out.