The alleged "unknown." It elicits fear and anxiety in the hearts of many self-proclaimed recluses, myself not exempted. For those who are unfamiliar, a recluse is a creature of habit and isolation; finding comfort in habituation and those which are known to it. Unpredictable, irrational, and ridiculous things can almost definitely ensue when the great hand of Life picks up, and moves a recluse to a completely novel environment. This is what has happened to me, and this is only one of what might be many of my documented adventures.
July 31, 2015. Ordering Chinese food from a restaurant you've never been to before, in a Canadian city dominated by those who do not speak English.
After spending more time than I would like to admit on choosing a place to order from, I spent even more time choosing what I would like to get. Once I had chosen and written down my potential order, I mustered up the courage to call. Once the ringing stopped, I was introduced to the first voice of the restaurant "Congee Queen." Needless to say, this man hardly spoke English and placing my order took well over 35 minutes. That phone call set the tone for my entire experience with Congee Queen.
I waited 2 hours for my food to arrive, but it was well worth it. Here is what I ordered.
1) Sliced Beef Congee with Beignet Sticks
Of course I couldn't order from Congee Queen without getting one of their congees. While it is a simple dish, almost like a rice porridge of sorts, it was relatively adequate in terms of its price, portion size, and taste. The slices of beef were few, and almost rubbery, but very much needed to give the congee its flavor. The beignets were used as dipping tools for the dish. It was, like I said earlier, adequate for its price.
2) Braised Beef Lo Mein
This dish caught me off guard. I am not well versed in Chinese cuisine and thus always have to Google the difference between lo and chow mein. Yet, even after knowing what I'm getting myself into, the finished product is always something I did not expect. This dish came with the slices of braised beef, noodles, and greens, but it also came with a container of beef broth. Once these ingredients were combined into a big bowl, the dish literally came together. The aroma of this dish was intoxicating but then again, it was generic. As well, having the beef and noodles sit in the broth for an added time increased its taste exponentially (as per expected), but still fell short in luster. This dish, if anything, can be described as beef flavored Mr. Noodles with fresh ingredients. Or, better yet, the inspiration of beef flavored Mr. Noodles.
3) BBQ pork with Honey
I simply needed to get this dish. There is just something I cannot explain about Chinese BBQ pork that captures my heart, wraps it in cholesterol and slowly squeezes it into submission with its deathly delicious love. I am supremely glad I ordered this dish. The pork was so moist on the inside of the slices and the outsides were crisp and sweet. Layered delicately on a bed of steamed rice and accompanied by a few vegetables (which I immediately threw out), I can honestly say I will be ordering this again.
4) Golden Milk Pudding
Dessert for me, is always a must. So I had narrowed my options down to three choices: 1) golden milk pudding, 2) fresh mango pudding, and 3) special house dessert. Afraid and unable to understand what the special house dessert was from when I asked the individual on the phone, I went on to flip a coin to decide which of the remaining two I would get. As fortune would have it, I ordered the golden milk pudding, and I'm glad I did.
The golden milk pudding was creamy and thick, while simultaneously layered with a sweet bread crumb topping that gave it its much needed texture. It jiggled as any pudding should, but it left me wanting more, much more. I have ultimately added golden milk pudding onto my list of foods I wouldn't mind getting type 2 adult onset diabetes from.