Many people have some kind of biological imperative to seek out Chinese food. I’m one of them. Wherever I go, it’s just a matter of days before I must find a Chinese restaurant. Some of them have ranged from very good to almost passable, even in Argentina and Turkey. Even the strangest – in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where I was asked if I wanted Texas toast to accompany the meal – have had a quaint appeal. Even the microwaved flour tortillas which have masqueraded as mu shu pancakes were an honest effort. Only the week before, when I was in Philadelphia, I turned down invitations to eat at famed city restaurants, just so I could have some Chinese at the Sang Kee Peking Duck House. (Go there, if you’re ever in Philadelphia, because it was a fabulous find.)
In my cookbook collection are several old cookbooks dating from the 1930’s, kept mostly for their humorous renditions of recipes. In those books are recipes for Chinese Chop Suey which call for cooking everything, including the canned bean sprouts, for not less than 35 minutes. But then I can fondly recall how excited we became over my grandmother’s idea of home cooking: twin cans of Chung King. All of that rose to the same culinary expectations of the school cafeteria. We didn’t know any better.
Morelia’s Chinese restaurants take the concept to new levels. The waiter at one insisted that the notable lack of seasoning, save sugar, in the Szechwan was “the way Morelianos liked it.” Figuring that a new Chinese restaurant in town just might be the local version of P.F. Chang’s or Big Bowl, mostly because it offered valet parking, we decided to give it a try. Retro-Chinese food! Who would’ve guessed? The place was packed, and the best we could determine was that the patrons had never visited the place before – or harbored a passion for La Choy. Even the odd place in Ardmore couldn’t compete with this place.
We quickly decamped to Starbuck’s, where the food and beverage is always reliably decent.