Wednesday, May 31, 2006

621 & me (or "why I should have stayed home and cooked")

Tonight was the night I was sure I’d make the McKeith smoked tofu and bean burgers. I’ve been thinking about it for 3 months and even with the end of the shopping week denuded fridge I knew I had everything, bar the parsley. However when I was about to leave work, the urge for congee overcame me. One phone call and 15 minutes later, I rendezvoused half a block from my favourite Chinese restaurant. Correction, the only genuine Chinese restaurant I like. No, not the pretentious Flower Drum. This is the other one in China Town that foodies flock to, even if you have to wait on the ugly stairs for what seems like hours to get a seat at a formica table, so you can chow down to what is arguably the best of the cuisine in the city.

Congee combines my love for porridge with my on going steady relationship with rice. One day I will get the patience to make my own. But for $5.50 a bowl, why bother? Within minutes of ordering, the medium size ubiquitous blue and white soup bowl, full to the brim of rice porridge, chunks of fish, spring onions and ginger arrives. This is a functional food, where medicine and cooking collide. Invalid food in other words. You don’t need to be sick to enjoy it, but I’m sure it qualifies as preventative medicine.

I also ordered Asian broccoli and fresh shitake mushrooms, the sauce tasted like sweet soy. With the entrée it made a rather neat, complete healthy meal. But after this I went off the rails. I just had to have some of what my partner was having and this for sure had a good dollop of the dreaded MSG in it – that’s why it tasted so darn good.

By the end of the meal I had a raging thirst (bring the water dammit waiter!), a headache and a really nasty temper brewing. This is the thing that they don’t tell you about 621 – it is the maker of foul moods. My advise to those looking for love – never, ever have a first date at an Asian restaurant, it’ll end in tears.

Fortunately this was the 220th date, so it didn’t get too messy. But it has put my relationship with my favourite Chinese restaurant on rather shaky ground.



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