Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Unorthodox Restaurant Review

I’d like to think that here in Small-Town, USA we have a Zagat’s Rating guide just for Provo that rates all the fabulous restaurants. Alas, if you do a search for “Provo” only two restaurants come up. Pathetic. So I’d like you to humor me and consider this blog entry my very own restaurant review. It may be a bit unorthodox, but here goes.

Chinatown Restaurant
300 S. 700 E.
Provo, UT 84604

We discovered this restaurant about a year and half ago. We had been in mourning for some time for the closing of our other beloved Mandarin restaurant—Taiwan Café—but felt it was time to move on and find a new love. Red Lantern in Orem made me puke—literally. And Panda Express is for people who also love McDonalds and TGI Fridays. Chinatown Restaurant is a pretty dang good substitute for Taiwan Cafe. Aside from the delicious food served there are many things about this quirky establishment that humor me each time I go.

Décor: All four walls of this dining establishment are paneled with very rustic splintery, knotty paneling. It seriously looks like they have a termite problem. I don’t know about you but the first thing I think about when I think of Chinese food is really bad wood paneled walls. I asked the owner once about the walls. She mentioned that the building used to be a steak house. 20 years ago. “Oh, that explains it”, is all I could say. But that doesn’t explain it. They’ve had 20 years to update the walls. Do you see what I mean by quirky? That must be how prices are kept low.

Music: Each time we go to Chinatown Restaurant we eagerly await to hear what goofball music they are playing this time. The first time we went it was something akin to the William Tell Overture. It wasn’t that, but close. It was really fast classical music that is played during movies when someone has just fallen off of a cliff. Simply not good for digestion. And it was loud. I thought maybe we were on Candid Camera or something because it was simply that humorous. I can’t believe I didn’t complain to them about the music. Tonight when we went it was really bad instrumental themes of really bad movies—Evita, Titanic, Pocahontas, etc. Paul and I would try to guess each song. The only theme we could come up with was that all of these movies sucked.

No Crowds: Tonight we were the only ones eating there. Granted, it was 5:05pm, but still. This made for a pleasant dinner because the service was faster than usual and because we could listen in on the Chinese conversation of the owners’ family at a nearby table. There were 4 of them and it seemed like very interesting conversation. Of course I had no idea what they were saying but it must have been about politics or maybe family gossip. It sounded like one of the two. Each word was enunciated and they made no effort to keep their voices down even though there were customers (just us) eating at the time. I like that. I like that we carry no airs about us so that others feel free being themselves in our presence. Or maybe it was the fact that Hallie wouldn’t stay in her high chair and was screaming and they really wanted us to leave. Nah.

Booths: If you do go, make sure you sit in the booths by the window. Those booths offer an extra bonus. When huge semi-trucks are at the stop light on 7th East your table vibrates as do your innards. Kind of fun in a weird sort of way.

Food suggestions: Wor Wonton soup and Hot and Sour soup. You’ll also love the Orange Beef (filled with lots of strings of orange zest), Pork Fried Rice, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and Chicken with Snow Peas.

Please patronize this restaurant. I don’t see why anyone would go to P.F. Changs, which is over-priced and over-Americanized, when they could have way better food cheaper and the privilege of eating in a log-cabin type building where weirdo music is played and you can actually hear Chinese being spoken. Love it.


paulw_cpa said...

The two Zagat's rated establishments in Provo are Bombay House (I've seen the sign) and either Chef's Table or The Tree Room at Sundance.

Chef's Table is probably it and The Tree Room may not be considered Provo.

Chinatown Restaurant is yummy. The other great thing about it is the restrooms. Having three kids--two out of diapers--means you can't go out to eat without visiting the restroom. In order to use the restroom you actually have to walk into part of the kitchen! I think Nathan has to "go potty" just so he can see the stainless steel tables and steaming pots of soup!

The music selection tonight needs to be better portrayed. The soundtrack music was being played using "oriental instruments". You know what I mean--the sounds make you say 'chong' and 'ching' to describe them.

For those of you who don't think you would like this restaurant--they have lettuce wraps like that overpriced, trendy place at University Mall (No I am not talking about California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) although they have that on their menu to entice those waiting for a table across the way).

Carolyn said...

Cynthia, the word is AIRS not HEIRS. I'm starting to worry about you...

Hey, can we go to this place when I come visit next week??!!

Patricia (the sister!) said...

Ha ha! This is way too funny. Ok, I have to add my own Zagat's review here for us Salt Lake people who live in the ghetto.
Ok, there are two or three noteworthy Mexican food restaurants here in ghetto Taylorsville where I live. I can't even remember their names because the restaurants are so dang authentic, that the whole restaurant title is in Spanish. I think one of them is "La Taqueria del something." More than you can utter in the same breath. I gave up trying to memorize the names of these restaurants because "yo no hablamos espanol" thanks to my parents. One thing I need to mention is the three things these restaurants have in common, and are a sure sign the restaurant will serve YUMMY Mexican food.
1) Telemundo is ALWAYS blasting at at least 300 decibals from a television set hung up on the wall.Ok, maybe it's not actually 300 decibals, but something in the neighborhood. Your poor ears will think it is 300 decibals. Anyway, I digress. I swear this is a tale-tale sign that the food will be good if this characteristic is present in ANY Mexican food joint you patronize.
2) The restaurant benches are always a bright 70's psychedelic orange or poopy brown with numerous spots duct taped. You sit on these benches, and immediately it sounds as if you have eaten the beans already because of the
"whoooosh" of air that escapes from the duct taped areas of the bench. How embarassing!
3) These restaurants ALWAYS smell like someone found a good bargain at the dollar store on generic Pine Sol, because the smell eminating from the restaurant can be detected from the street, even with the doors closed.
Yep, generic Pine Sol overkill, Telemundo blasting, and gassy orange and poo brown benches are are key indicators that a Mexican restaurant will serve some killer food. Oh, and did I mention that Mexicans actually wait on you and cook your food, too? You don't find this at ANY mainstream Mexican joint. Hey, this wasn't exactly a Zagat rating, but what can you expect from someone who lives in ghetto Taylorsville?

abelnap said...

Carolyn is right, the only heirs you carry around with you are Nathan, Ilene, and Hallie. Well, only Nathan if you subscribe to the archaic custom of only giving sons an inheritance. In which case Dean and I are completely out of luck and will have to leave what is sure to be an astounding inheritance to some fortunate charitable organization. Unless we humor folks around us and "try for a boy." (Gag) (Not the trying--just the comment)

Patty--what a crack up! I still can't believe that none of you speak Spanish. Hilarious. What I really love is when people assume that Cynthia SHOULD speak Spanish and either look at her expecting her to catch a joke or continue to ask, "You speak Spanish, right?" Sort of like, "Sister Belnap, you served a mission, didn't you?"

Ching-chong-chong-ching-choo-choo to you, Paul. That's really the only way you could describe the music? LOL

Cynthia, if it weren't you talking, there would be no way in this life or the next that I would EVER try this restaurant. I am disgusted by termite infested wood and bathrooms in the kitchen of an eating establishment. However, since Dean is so fond of Chinese food, I MAY (perhaps) try it.

cyn the win said...

Carolyn--you are an English grammar Nazi. So I changed my ignorant use of the "heirs" to "airs."

Patty--too funny on the bean joke. Hee hee. We're still Harrington!

Allison--live on the edge and try this restaurant, you won't be disappointed. The panelling is merely hideous to look at and I'm sure is not a violation of the health code. And the bathrooms are always clean.

Paul--what can I say except that I have dragged you along on the road to becoming a food snob. You too now look down on chain restaurants and prefer the obscure establishments. My work is done.


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