Monday, March 28, 2005

Charlie Chan / Panda

There used to be a fast food Chinese place at the Ohio Valley Mall called Charlie Chan. They closed down for a few months and reopened as "Panda". Oddly enough, the menu and the set-up remained exactly the same. Panda closed down a few years ago and I'm not sure what it is these days. It might be a pretzel shop or something.
Charlie Chan was notorious for bringing bad Chinese food to the people of Belmont County. Fortunately, the good people of Eastern Ohio are not able to discern what constitutes good or bad "Americanized-Chinese food" - a blessing in disguise. Spring rolls and egg rolls are the same thing. Those little fried noodles that accompany Wonton soup are properly referred to as Fritos. Over half the patrons do not understand the term MSG. If you ask, most will stare blankly and say uhhh, Madison Square Garden.
One of my biggest gripes about any Chinese restaurant are the placemats. They all have that Chinese zodiac which dates all the way up to 2060 - just in case you're big on advance planning and don't want your future daughter Shameka to be labeled a turtle. OOOOhhhh, you are friends with the rabbit, your enemy is the dog. Do not trust the rooster. I think this is where George Bush derives his diplomatic skills when dealing with foreign leaders. I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to bet that Osama is a snake.
Anyway, the menu had some really dumb names. The combos were all called, Number One Son, Number Two Son, Number Three Son, etc. As if saying those names is not humiliating enough, you could always say "Mmmmm, I'll have the Chicken Chan." This was a some of the whitest chicken breast meat I have ever seen. Served on a stick, it probably had more steroids pumped into it than Barry Bonds.
The seating was interesting. There was a triangle table in the middle which sat 3. Then, there were 5 stools on the side. The strange thing was that you had to eat facing the wall with your back turned to everything. You were forced to sit and stare directly into the wall. You rarely see a restaurant with maximum seating of 8. Makes you wonder what the maximum occupancy for the firecode would have been.
Another thing, none of the cooks (there was only one "cook") were Asian. You'd place your order at the counter and then you'd hear somoeone dumping the crap into a deep fryer. There was none of the traditional Chinese music in the background. Instead, you get the Rick Dees American countdown. Coming in at Number 3 was Nu Shoes... I Can't Wait.

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