|Lee's Kitchen, Santa Clara, CA
||[Sep. 23rd, 2010|06:49 pm]
So there I was, sitting in my hotel room, hungry, trying to work up the gumption to finish yesterday's leftover pizza. (I have a refrigerator, so we're not talking about day-old room-temperature cheese. Stop worrying!) Problem was, the pizza was OK yesterday, but no better than that, and I knew it wouldn't be good tonight.|
"Chinese" is what my stomach kept hinting at me, because it's the main cuisine I haven't hit yet this trip, but all the interesting-looking places were too far away o walk, and I was not in the mood to do a bunch of driving.
Yelp to the rescue--turns out there's a very popular Chinese place about one big block away from my hotel.
I'd already walked past the place twice this trip, and if it registered at all, it was as a place to avoid like the plague. Maybe not like the plague. "Shabby" would be a charitable way to describe the place's appearance. The building looks like, in more prosperous times, it was the office of a sleazy used car lot. It's tucked behind a Wienerschnitzel brand walk-up hot dog stand, and the first time I walked by it, I selected the Wienerschnitzel as less scary-looking.
But tonight I wanted Chinese, and Yelp assured me that I should check it out.
Inside was almost as worrisome as the outside. White walls, pink door, baby blue trim around the door and windows. Twelve total chairs, the kind you find in the meeting rooms of cheap motels. The place is clean, though, and the lady who runs it is friendly. I sat down and ordered hot-and-sour soup (medium hot) and kung pao chicken (medium*). I barely had a chance to start a game of Scramble (3 words, 4 points) before the soup was there. And it was only a couple of minutes later that the entree arrived.
Let me tell you, these folks get absolutely no points for presentation. The soup's in a big, fairly plain bowl, and the kung pao came piled on top of a heap of rice on a cheap white plate, all on a paper placemat. But damn, it was all really good. Not fancy, and not the best Chinese food I've ever had, but if you want basic, stick-to-your-ribs food the way 奶奶 used to make it, this is the place to go.
Because of the portion sizes (see below), I ended up with more food than I could eat, by a fair margin. And I only drank water, because I didn't want caffeinated tea that close to bedtime (I have an early plane to catch), but when the bill came, the whole shebang was only $10.16 tax included.
If I have a quibble, it is that they won't sell you a cup of soup, and the bowls are huge. I could easily have made a meal of the hot-and-sour soup all on its own (for under five bucks!), and if I'm ever fortunate enough to be in the area again, I might just do that.
Today's lesson: Books, covers, and value-to-price ratios. Also, thank you, Yelp!
If I do too many more restaurant reviews, I probably better find a food icon. For this one, though, I'm happy with Kamina, my generic "awesome!" icon. :)
*Standard practice on trying a new place that offers variable spiciness is to start in the middle of the spectrum and work my way up to the point where I'm comfortable. But hot-and-sour should be hot, you know? It's right there in the name.
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