Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday night date nite

Someone at work either threw away or ate my half-eaten burrito from yesterday. I intended to eat the remaining half today but it was gone by lunch time. I purposely put it in the clean 'fridge, where people actually label their things and keep perishables at a minimum, thinking my food would be safe. I was wrong. I should have stuck with the icky gross 'fridge, the one people are afraid to open because it may never close again and may unleash some biological hazard out into the office.

I didn't have any money and I only have a half hour for lunch. I already spent 15 minutes of it screwing around on the net (thinking I'd nuke and eat for the remaining 15 minutes). But there was simply no time to get to the ATM, get new food, and eat. I was determined to find my leftovers but gave up when I only had 5 minutes left before I had to 'clock' back in. I usually pack a breakfast bar but I was rushing out this morning so I didn't have anything to eat in the morning either.

I was delirious by 3:30PM. The hunger headache set it. I was trying to hide my irritability, trying to stay productive and helpful but it was getting really tough. Every question was stupid (in my head) and I took on several 'unsolved mysteries' just to get people away from my desk.

Too proud to ask people around me for money, (I couldn't even buy a candy bar - I left my coin purse at home!) I toughed it out until dinner. An early dinner. Eric met up with me after work and we walked over to Beale Street, where a few of our Friday night dates have begun (happy hour!) but tonight, it was packed. We thought about eating at Schroeder's, Perry's, Tadich, Chevy's, Fuzio, anything nearby really because I could have eaten pigeon at that point. Bocce Cafe in North Beach was the choice... at least for 10 minutes. After tramping through the Transamerica Redwood Park to visit the froggy fountain and creepy bronze children, we saw the House of Nanking and decided to give it a try.

I don't know anyone who's actually eaten there, but we ate at Chef Jia's once (next door) many many moons ago and that was hilariously disgusting. Not that the food was gross, it was so-so, the orange chicken was bitter with orange pith-bitterness but everything else was a not out of the ordinary for Chinese food. We did, however, see rats scurry up exposed plumbing pipes and a seemingly chronic, hacking cough was getting louder and louder from the kitchen. There were only 3 other people in there with us, while a crowd, in the rain, continued to queue up for House of Nanking.

We were promptly seated, our drink orders taken immediately. We peruse the well-worn plastic-covered menus. Everything seemed straight forward. We're not the kind of diners to make ordering an ordeal so if we do have questions, we normally don't ask. We just surprise ourselves when the food comes out, hoping to remember the ingredients on the menu so we can identify what we're eating. On tonight's menu: beef with string beans, combo fried rice, Nanking sesame pork, an order of fried pot stickers as an appetizer, hot tea and a can of Sprite.

My hot tea was pretty, it looked like potpourri floating on top with the tea leaves at the bottom. It was served in a clear glass stein-shaped mug. The string beans were snappy and a nice shade of green, the beef, tender. The basil was a pleasant and unexpected flavor. The fried rice was nice, with shrimp, beef and chicken as the main stars of the combo. The pot stickers with peanut sauce was nice too, mainly for the peanut sauce, which was just right - not goopy or sweet or salty.

The Nanking sesame pork was the interesting dish - thinly sliced fried & sauced sweet potatoes on one side of the platter, hunks of some unidentified green squash/melon in the middle and the pork on the other side, sprinkled with sesame seeds. From what I can tell, the pork was thrown around in cornstarch and quickly fried, forming a mound of intertwined ribbons of meat. Eric remarked at it's flavor, porky in that pork rind way, nice and crisp. It wasn't until we were half way through the dish, we realized it was bacon. BACON. I like bacon, and I've eaten all kinds of pork parts, but it was completely unexpected. It was tasty, but hell, it's BACON. It'd have to be boiled or burned to be gross. Deep fried-battered bacon - a first for us.

The table was too small for our food and the platters overflowed onto a neighboring (empty) table. I thought it was neat that there weren't any soy sauce bottles on the tables. The chef must be confident that everything is going out perfectly seasoned. Or the tables are simply too small to accommodate condiments. I certainly had no complaints. The other odd thing, we noticed a lot of the tourist folk eating straight from the platters, forgoing the individual plates. It's family style, right? And rice, some tables had no rice! But I think that's just me. I need rice. I miss rice and get sad if I go more than 3 days without it. Some people are potato people, others are bread or pasta. I'm a rice girl.

If there is a next time, the appetizer will be left off. It was quite a bit of food. Our server asked if we wanted to take home the leftovers but we declined, to make room for dessert (macarons) and tea at home. We walked over to Tower Records to bid farewell (and buy some CDs) before taking the bus home.

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