laugardagur, janúar 21, 2006


There is something very comforting about going for dinner at the Chinese Restaurant that Time Forgot. Or so we call the place. Its actual name is both classic and forgettable, something House or Garden or Palace. Eating there is like a miraculous journey to the 1960s on the East Coast of the United States, before Szechuan cuisine got big in its Americanized form, when you might, in some places, be offered dinner rolls with your meal.

There are wooden screens decorated with axis deer and Chinese maidens. The light fixtures are vaguely Charlie Chan, faintly nautical lanterns. The wallpaper gives the impression of scales, some repeating, keyed pattern in golds and greens and browns. The menu is printed in black on yellowish-cream paper, several tabbed pages in a folder. Many of the dishes, most of them even, are the standards: wonton soup, things with oyster sauce, Mongolian beef, steamed dumplings, chicken associated with that general who seems always to be changing his name for some reason. The teapots are plain silver metal and the tea a slightly fruity black. The chopsticks are the slick, square, plastic ones with the letters wearing off the grips, the kind that make you as clumsy as you were as a five-year-old when your meals at the Chinese restaurant consisted only of an eggroll and a thimble-sized cup of eggdrop soup.

It is an ideal experience for a rainy night, for any night when the soul cries out for comfort food in the form of gummy starch, panfried to crispiness, and hopes, at the close of the meal, to be presented with some slip of optimistic prediction wrapped in an almond cookie.

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