The first day we were here we ate at a place I liked. I wanted to go back, but my daughter had not seemed thrilled with the place. So, this evening, when she was too bushed to get up for dinner, I decided to go there on my own.
During my earlier walk around the block, I had figured out where this restaurant must be. Now, I put some money in my pocket and headed down there. Like many restaurants it had chichens in cages outside and fish swmming in tanks. I now know the answer to whether these animals are just for show. A young man with a net caught two of the fish, to be used for eating, while I watched.
I stepped inside and tried to ask to see the menu...it had pictures, so I thought I could point at what I wanted. The pripriatoress did not understand. So she left me standing there and ran off to help other customers. It was very busy. I stood there quite a while.
Eventually, I figured out where the menus were and found one. I then discovered my next problem. One of the two dishes I wanted was not pictured. Ping-Ping had just asked for it. After contemplating how to ask for it, I decided just to pick something else.
Eventually, I was seated. A pretty quick waitress set a table for me. This place gave you the cups and saucers in plastic wrap, but they also gave you a bowl and tea for rinsing. In many Chinese restaurants, you rince you bowls and cups etc with hot tea before you use them.
So, I rinsed and then poured more tea to drink. I showed them what I wanted. Then I waited a long, long time, because it was so busy. A nice man who was getting a bowl of salted peanuts for himself brought me one, too. I practiced eating the peanuts with my chopsticks...which was not all that hard.
The food eventually came. A plate of slices of really good pork...not as good as the pork at YiYi's boyfriend's place, but close. Only, in China, food just comes when it is ready. There are no appetizers and dessert--though occasionally there has been fruit at the very end. They just bring the dishes when they are ready, haphazardly. the advantage is you get some food pretty soon in and it just keeps coming. The disadvantage is that if you ordered meat and vegetables, you might get one ten or fifteen minutes before the other one.
I orded a plate of pork and a green bean, Chinese eggplant and unknown-bitter- pulpy-vegetable-that-I-ate-last-night-bu
At one point, the perky waitress came and said what sounded like "Yu-mmy food?" I looked puzzled and repeated the same thing I'd been saying since I arrived at the restaurant "wo bu mingbi" (I don't understand) The propriatoress told her that I didn't understand and to do it anywhere. That's when I realized that she had said: "Yao meifan?" which means "Do you want rice?" (I may be spelling the pinyin incorrectly on these.) So, I had rice, too, which went nicely with the vegetables.
I practiced picking up a single grain of rice with my chopsticks. This was not so hard. Keeping a group of rice grains from dropping. That was harder.
The problem of not knowing how to ask for a to go box was solved by eating all the pork and much of the veggies.
The problem of how do you indicate that you want to pay was eventually solved, if a bit awkwardly.
So...I found the place, I ordered, I ate, I paid. I went home very, very full!
Not a bad evening.