Friday, September 01, 2006

"I've Been To Shanghai, To Bluefield, To New York, and L.A..."

"A Chinese kingdom for a DECENT Chinese restaurant!"

Ever since my family and I moved over a year ago, as of just a week or so ago, I have constantly uttered the above sentence AND been on a painstaking search for a good Chinese eatery. And unlike finding great Mexican and Italian restaurants, it's not been that easy...the two I tried before this evening were both mediocre, especially the Lotus Garden between Bluefield and Princeton. That one most certainly proved that just because the restaurant has a neat name doesn't mean the food rocks. A couple of weeks ago, I got to sample the other Chinese place (as far as I then knew), the East Garden Chinese Buffet, in the shopping center with the Wal-Mart and UPS Store in Bluefield. That one was the Crab Rangoon I daringly tried. Bleeech. Another one for my list of Chinese menu items to avoid.

Speaking of the UPS was the clerk there that tipped my family off on a great Chinese restaurant to try: Tray King. It's in another shopping center, where there is a Tuesday Morning and Dollar General Market. I found that odd, 'cause I had never spotted a Chinese place out there when I browsed around at Tuesday Morning, and I usually have a wonderful nose for such restaurants. Well, it turns out that if you looked up "hole in the wall", this restaurant would be next to that...the only indication of its being a restaurant is a neon sign that notes that you can "Eat in or take out.". That said, something I have learned in Raleigh that can apply very well to this sleepy little mountain town, and really anywhere for that matter: Sometimes, hole in wall restaurants are the best damn ones you can discover, period. That certainly applied to Tray King...and here's why it is my new absolute favorite Chinese eatery:

- Their crispy noodles are the best ones I've ever tasted, and that includes the noodles at Hunan, a Chinese restaurant that used to exist in Raleigh and I *still* heavily miss.

- In addition to the usual chicken, beef, pork, and seafood dishes...they also offered DUCK! And at reasonable (I.E. like normal entrees!) prices too! Needless to say, I took high advantage of this for my very first meal at Tray King this evening.

- The spare ribs are some of the most delicious pork I have ever had in this lifetime!! I swear they were glazed with honey...and who cares if the meat wasn't on the bone? Sure it's more fun to eat that way, but it is not as much fun when you are dealing with a honey sauce.

- Like the crispy noodles, the hot tea was some of the best I have ever had at ANY Chinese place too.

- The pictures on the walls were awesome...especially loved the ones of a wild horse stampede, an ambush/streak of tigers drinking from a water hole, and a stunning picture of mountains, a waterfall, and stork-like birds.

- And last but certainly not least: You get fortune cookies with your meal! Even if they weren't an actual Chinese invention (American, to be precise...and by someone simply trying to keep a long line of waiting patrons entertained sometime during the 1900's or 1910's), they're still too fun to get at the end of a meal.

After a simply scrumptious dinner at a restaurant I most certainly will be returning to, I went on a mini-adventure at the General Dollar Market, since I had never ventured into there before. And got a couple of awesome deals: Jovan Musk for $1 (That's right, ONE DOLLAR for Jovan someone who LOVES that perfume, trust me boys and girls, there are not enough words to describe what an incredible deal that is.) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Uncut for $10 (as someone who's been wanting to own this movie, I could not pass that up).

Being a good girl and not having dessert can have its advantages...particularly later on, when you can fix yourself dessert at home. I did that very thing while watching the U.S. Open Agassi vs. Baghdatis match replay. Speaking of that...even though I know it's the dude's last ever tournament, I am already sick of the Agassi hype. I was always more of a Pete Sampras fan...and really, still am. (sighs)

Anyway, yes, that dessert...

Brown Derby

Fill glass with ice.
2 oz. Vodka
Fill with Cola.

Basically a Vodka version of the traditional Rum 'N Coke. Quick, simple, versatile, (Doesn't matter if the Cola you use is Pepsi or Coca-Cola, and Regular or Diet...I used Diet Pepsi Jazz Black Cherry and Vanilla. Yum...) and perfect for dessert with its sweetness. Have no idea if it is named after the Hollywood restaurant where the Cobb Salad is said to have been invented, but it is certainly not a bad way to bet...

Current Music: "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" by Marvin Gaye (The far superior album version...I ADORE the last minute and a half, particularly that haunting piano bridge before the acapella part.)