Saturday, February 6, 2010
Last weekend, my boyfriend MJ had a massive craving for Chinese. Being a chef, he comes in contact with foodies from all over the city. A chef that he works with had told him about this phenomenal hole in the wall place right down the street from our new apartment. Possibly the "best" Chinese in Kansas City. On that recommendation, how we could we pass it up? After a long search online, we had narrowed it down to a place 2 blocks from our apartment. As we parked, it was inevitable that we eat there, it being "famous" and all (the sign swears it)...Unfortunately, my brilliant, talented mister, has a few issues with retention of names and directions.
In retrospect, the bars on the door and the curtained/blacked out glass door should have tipped us off that something was amiss. Our neighborhood, Westport, however is an interesting mix of hipster, bohemian, yuppie, gay, and criminal, so bars on windows are a pretty common sight. We figured maybe the rather dark entry way and tiny 80's kung fu crime movie waiting area would lead us to some truly amazing, authentic food. Instead, we were led by a boy of about 10 into a dining room right out of some 80's Asian massage parlor envisioned by John Waters. Peeling wallpaper hovered over labia pink paneling. The lighting was entirely early 1980's home interior party brass and frosted glass fixtures. Each one missing 2 to 3 light bulbs. There was a long buffet that dead ended in an aged pepsi fountain dispenser sitting on a sawhorse and a piece of plywood.
Each table had a lovely mural straight out of some Nagel goes nature nail salon. For some reason ours looked like it was lifted out of John Wayne's bathhouse.
As we were seated, a very very large black woman was filling take out containers from the buffet, while screaming at her mother to shut the hell up, that she wasn't paying for damned nothing, so she should shut her damned mouth, and that she was acting ignorant. The containers were so full that she couldn't get them closed, which was obviously a cause of much distress for her. With an exasperated sigh, she gathered up her heaving, leaking containers and headed out the door. Apparently, on her way out, she dropped one in the parking lot. This was evident by her obviously annoyed and very angry sounding mother who was ordered back in to see if they could fill a "recplacement" container, no charge, since they hadn't made it out of the parking lot yet. From out of nowhere, this slight, but very intense, angry looking Chinese woman, whom we later concluded was the owner, came barreling out, shaking her finger, loudly proclaiming, "NO, NO, WE DON'T DO THAT!"
MJ bravely exploring the buffet...
The 10 year old boy was, of course, our waiter. After dropping off our drink order, he disappeared behind a curtain to not be seen again until the end of our meal. I glanced up from my plate of what can only be truly described as middle American Chinese cuisine, to see the boy appear from behind another curtain with the owner hot on his trail. She screeched at him in Mandarin and with a look of mortal terror, he wandered over to our table to inquire if I needed a refill. I told him no thank you, as MJ pulled a whole chicken foot out of his low mein with a puzzled, but amused chuckle.
I had no more than pulled my wallet out to find my debit card, when I heard the owner shouting at the boy in Mandarin. As he paused for a breath, the very browbeaten kid visibly mustered up enough courage to bellow, "HE SAID NO!!!". The glare she gave him was enough to make me feel like pissing my own pants. She then whirled around and disappeared behind yet another curtain. The boy looked over at us with a look of utter defeat, then shuffled off, head down to sit next to the rickety front counter. I'm still feel guilty for not taking the damned refill and keeping the poor child from the caning we're pretty sure he was getting as we started the car.
We're still not sure what the curtain behind me was hiding, but we both swear we saw it move a few times...
We paid our $14 and actually made it to the car before we both lost our shit. As we idled at a stoplight a couple of blocks down, MJ glances over at the neon lit storefronts next to us. He then matter of factly points out the glowing "PEKING" on the front of one of them. Through the window, we can see what looks like a beautifully decorated, charming Chinese restaurant. MJ grins at me sheepishly, and mumbles, "Oh yeah, Peking...that's the place I meant."
Though the food was entirely mediocre, we both agreed that if we'd gone anywhere else, the food would probably have been much better, but we'd never have had the absolutely surreal and hilarious dining experience we were just presented with. If John Waters ever needs a location, this is the spot. I honestly expected Divine to come out from behind one of those fucking curtains that were everywhere and start shoving low mein up his dress. Sometimes it really is the company that makes the experience...