Reflections on Stripmall Eating

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Garden of Good and Eh

Name: Yu Hsiang Garden
Location: 7630 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill
Personnel: Me
What I Ate: Chive Buns, Sesame Lamb, Sauteed Bean Curd, Complimentary Pickled Vegetables
Condiments: Soy sauce
Bill Total: $34
Observations: So I used to work at the TLA Video in this shopping center 10 years ago. What I remember from that time most vividly are the cold sesame noodles I would eat mid-shift, huddled in the back room of the store — a nightly treat only slightly tainted by the office decor of reject tapes, life-size cardboard cutouts of Jim Carrey and piles of the shrink-wrapped dirty movies that were (are?) the store's stock in trade. The other big memory is the clientele who called to ask if we could check on their dry cleaning next door. Anyway, in the present moment, Yu Hsiang Garden is under grumpy new management, and the vermicelli I once knew is long gone. Chive buns, which looked luscious and plump like golden pillows, were oddly sour and dense with grease. Lamb dotted with sesame seeds and stewed in a clay pot was an indistinguishable mush of flavors in a cloying brown sauce. Sauteed bean curd was about as delicate as floral foam. I was relieved, however, to see that Yu Hsiang was still offering free servings of pickled carrots and cabbage, which are a fresh antidote to its heavy, oily dishes. The experience has me missing the old days, back when Yu Hsiang was a friendly and consistently strong neighborhood restaurant. Then again, now that my video-peddling career is over, I no longer need those noodles quite so much.


Drew said...

My girlfriend also worked there awhile back, so I can attest that yes, shrink-wrapped dirty movies are still totally their stock in trade. She told me a story about this dude who had one account to rent stuff for his wife and kids, and another to rent gay porn. Uh, keep that on the hush.

bk said...

Best post title to date.