Tuesday, September 2, 2008

MSG for You and Me!

There are so many ideas and inventions that I wish I woulda come up with. The film House of Yes starring Parker Posey (and Tori Spelling, but could ya just hush up about it)?

"Dammit!" I cursed, shaking my fist as the credits rolled up the screen, "Why didn't I pen that script?"

Bacon? Already invented! Hoods on sweatshirts? Done. Mail order brides? Trazillion dollar industry. All the good ideas have already been claimed, and I find it absolutely maddening!

But the true, gut wrenching, "Why didn't I think of that?" pain came when I stumbled across another Seattle food blog: MSG150. The brave knights behind this blog have embarked on a truly delicious quest: they have 365 days to eat at every single restaurant in the International District. They will tackle tofu, joust with ginger, mingle with MSG and their veins will run salty with soy sauce. It's a dream come true for Asian food fanatics.

Normally I would pout and cry, then viciously egg the homes of the inventors who have stolen the ideas that I might have eventually come up with. But in this situation I took the high road. I decided to use this "Why didn't I come up with that?" blog to navigate my way through the ID.

You see, I have scraped my chopsticks across many a Seattle plate, but have yet to find my favorite Chinese restaurant.

Growing up, my family exhibited a fierce and unflappable loyalty for the First Hunan Chef Wong. Tucked into a shopping center, in a tree-lined Bay Area suburb, we spent decades gorging ourselves on double mushroom chicken with bok choy and slippery chow mein noodles; always brought to the table by the perpetually peppy, suspiciously straight, wife-owner who sported a butchy bowl cut and called my dad "Boss."

Now, every time I open a Chinese menu, I think "This will be the one! My new favorite place!" But alas, the soup will be bland, the chow fun too greasy, and the garlicky Chinese greens nonexistent.

But thanks to the good folks at MSG150, I was lead to Shanghai Garden. It was a weeknight, but every table was crowded, and a hungry mob was not-so-patiently waiting in the small lobby. As the waitress lead us to our table, I noticed that nearly everyone was eating the same dish: green fettuccine-shaped noodles that turned out to be a house specialty: barleygreen hand shaved noodles.

My Partner-In-Asian-Food-Crime (PIAFC? There has got to be a better acronym!) and I share a passionate love for cushy hand shaved noodles, so we eagerly ordered this dish, along with a surprisingly pricey veggie dish that I have been craving ever since. Sixteen bucks will get you a platter of stunningly green and toothsome pea vines, a scattering of hearty shitake mushrooms and thin, silky sheets of bean curd. It's a celebration of textures, and my very first encounter with a bean curd sheet.

A thick soup packed with seafood, chicken, veggies and more shitakes introduced my PIAFC and I to yet another new item: additively squishy, disc shaped, rice noodles that look exactly like water chestnuts.

As for those hand shaved noodles, I've had better (Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan's are dreamy) . These were green, but they lacked the requisite cushy and comforting qualities that keep me up at night.

But, the good news is, Shanghai Garden has renewed my faith in Seattle Chinese food. AND, even more exciting, my giant brain has finally thought up an amazing idea of its own:

Those adorably American Lil Smokies that I am too snobby to buy, but will eat the shit out of if you serve them in a crock pot at your House Warming party? Hows about I invent some Lil Smokies BUNS? Teeny tiny little buns, in which to tuck your teeny tiny wieners! I'm tellin' you. This time next year? Lil Smokies buns will be the next bacon.