It was quite, surreal, actually. At work, I was told to go write a short review of a local restaurant for the monthly business magazine the newspaper puts out.
Me, a restaurant reviewer? Sure, I love to eat and enjoy food that's well-prepared and spicy, but I've never really thought of myself as someone to sit at a restaurant, sample some of the fare and write about it. But I was willing and it was easy: try their signature dishes and write what you liked about it.
"Which restaurant?" I asked the assistant publisher.
"Any of them," he replied.
My first choice was the local Thai restaurant since I've always wanted to try out Thai food. Unfortunately, the manager and I had a miscommunication and it didn't work out for this month. So, I tried the local Chinese restaurants. One of them fell through: the owner wasn't in to authorize it, and he didn't speak English. My Mandarin Chinese consists of a few phrases and a number of words and very rusty overall, so that was a no-go.
So, I tried out the other one in town.
The owners couldn't have been nicer, and I even conversed a few times--howbeit briefly--with them in Mandarin (they're from China's Canton Province and speak Cantonese primarily). Food was very wonderful. I dislike mushrooms and detest peas, but you know the food is good when the mushrooms and snowpeas (peas harvested when they're in the baby stage) taste great.
I was telling Dan, who works with me, that I'll have to go there a few times for lunch as a way of saying thank you for the free food they served for the review. Heck, not only did I get to take the Hunan Beef, Thai Chicken and General Tso's Chicken home, they also cooked up a quart of cashew chicken for my family to enjoy.
Wow. Hao ji le!
Few of the things I said to them in Chinese:
Li Xiao Long shi zai Jiu Jin Shan sheng de (Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco).
Suiran wo hen xi huan ya, ke shi wo bu xi huan chi ya! (Although I like ducks, I don't like to eat ducks).