Through a combination of poor choices and bad luck, I’ve been striking out at some tried and true restaurants. I much prefer to post about great meals and delicious eats, but in an attempt to exorcise my luck and end this streak, here goes:
Day after Christmas- Cha Yen, Watertown- Having loved everything we’d had here before, we decided to branch out. Pad thai for the sprouts was good as usual but seemed like a small portion. The wings were fine but the sauce (which we’d requested on the side) was really gloppy and seemed like jarred duck sauce with a few chili flakes thrown in. The calamari was burnt at the edges- to me, it went beyond a slight char- and really quite tough. The Ka Pow was punishingly salty. The roasted duck breast was fine, but it really didn’t blow me away and I wouldn’t order it again. They were out of green papaya so we didn’t get to try the salad. I do think the chef/owner was in the kitchen, but something was just not quite right. Next time we’ll stick with our favorites: curry brisket, kee mao, mushroom larb.
New Year’s Eve- Fuloon, Malden- this one is mostly on us. We went with a big group including a friend’s older Chinese father. As a younger caucasian woman, I didn’t feel comfortable taking charge and we asked our friend’s father if he would just order for the group. Bad move. I don’t really know exactly what the exchange was that took place since it was in Chinese, and the owner was not present (just about the only time we’ve been there when she wasn’t over 7 years time or so), but instead of conveying “We have 8 adults who are adventurous eaters and love spicy food, please send us an assortment of your best best authentic dishes” it seems the message was “We are 40 people of poor tastes, please recreate a Panda Express banquet from a midwestern mall court of your choosing.” Dear lord, did we end up with a lot of crappy food! Platter upon platter of crab rangoon (that travesty of Americanized fryolater invention), fried rice, some sort of noodle which I swear was linguini with a dash a soy sauce. No seafood unless you count the tiny shrimp in the fried rice, and not a hint of mala anywhere. Honestly, the only edible dish was a plate of greens with a ton of garlic. To make matters worse, for 8 adults and 4 small children we were given 12 appetizers and 12 entrees- 24 dishes for 8 adults! The bill was $70 per couple, which is about 2-3 times as much as we normally pay. The take out containers of linguini are still moldering in my fridge.
Finally, a couple of nights ago, we were at a friend’s house in Cambridge and they decided to order from Basta Pasta near Central. Ordering pasta is not something I generally get on board with, but it’s a name I’d seen on CH before and figured, what the heck, at least it’s healthier than pizza, right? In an attempt to be healthy, I ordered “baked stuffed eggplant” with whole wheat pasta. It turned out to be breaded, deep-fried eggplant cutlets between which they’d sandwiched spinach and cheese. To me, that’s a distinction of note. The whole wheat pasta had the texture of wet newspaper. I know you don’t get the same al dente consistency, but this was something else. I cook whole wheat pasta at home all the time and this was clearly put in a pressure cooker or boiled for hours. My kids wouldn’t touch it and they’re noodle fanatics. The other dishes were better, but to me a single-adult size portion of a measly few pieces each of chicken and broccoli with pasta is not worth $14 (up charge for house-made noodles).
Thus is my eating story of woe. Our restaurant budget is small, and opportunities to eat out few. Each one of these tales pangs me greatly and I write that others may learn from my errors, and those of the establishments listed above.