SD#4: Sing along with me: When the Middle Eastern place is dead, eat at the Chinese Pun instead.

Happy New Year!  Over the holidays, we didn’t have much of a chance to dine out in Woodside together because of the traditional family obligations and travel.  But now it’s 2010, and we’re hungry for food and adventure, so we’re serial dining once again.  This week’s destination:  Abraham’s Natural Foods.  Or so we thought.

First of all, let me give a shoutout to my Uncle Felix, whose Christmas gift financed this evening’s culinary adventure.  Uncle Felix, if you’re reading this, you’re the best!

Next, let me say this:  If you’re a way-below-average Chinese takeout joint, you might want to sort through your bought-by-the-gross fortune cookies to weed out the ones whose “Learn Chinese” word is “disease.”  I’m just sayin’.  (Note to Microsoft:  Didn’t you know before you launched your new search engine that “bing” means “disease” in Chinese?)

Anyway, about the dining.  It has become clear to me– and remember, we’re not even out of the A’s yet– that the Yahoo Yellow Pages use an exceptionally flexible definition of the word “restaurant.”  I suspected that Abraham’s Natural Foods might be more along the lines of a specialty grocer than a restaurant.  As it turns out, it is neither.  Or at least, it was neither.  Now, it looks like this:

RIP, Abraham's Natural Foods

Abraham’s Natural Foods, like Jacob Marley, is dead as a doornail.  And from the looks of things, while it was alive it was a distributor of hummos and babaganoush with the brand of the same name. Nice one, Yahoo Yellow Pages.

So off we went to the next restaurant on the list:  Allaudin’s Curry Kabab & Sweets.  The name alone makes me hungry.  After all, it has three of my favorite things:  curry, kebabs (albeit with an odd spelling), and sweets.  As it happens, the address is right around the corner from my boyfriend Allan’s old apartment, and we wound up parking right in front of the laundromat he used to use.  But when we looked for Allaudin’s we found this instead:

Weiside China Station. Get it? Weiside? It's a Chinese takeout pun!

The rules of Serial Dining Woodside specify that if we get to the restaurant and it’s gone, but another restaurant has taken its place, we have to try it.  So we did.

You know not to take Weiside Chinese Station seriously because the name itself is a pun, and a silly one at that.

This is true takeout– the dining area is roughly the size of our apartment’s balcony, and clearly meant to be used only in case of extreme emergency.  They had the standard-issue tri-fold takeout menu, printed in the traditional green and red.  The menu consists of standard American Chinese takeout fare:  the soups include eggdrog and wonton, the main dishes include fried rice, lo mein, chow mein, beef with brocolli, crispy duck, and all of the things you would find on a Chinese takeout menu in any neighborhood in the U.S.  I can’t even count bubble tea as being particularly outside the box anymore, it has become so popular.  It did have one thing that we really weren’t expecting from a Chinese takeout joint, though.  See if you can spot it:

Fried plantains at a Chinese joint? Srsly??

Yes, that dish in the top center is fried chicken with fried plantains.  Woodside folks definitely eat plantains, but if that’s what you were in the mood for, would you really call the Chinese takeout joint?

We ordered some soup, an order of fried pork dumplings, crab rangoon, and pork lo mein.  This order was enough to net is not one, but two free cans of soda.  Or “Freecan Soda” as they used to say at my favorite Chinese takeout place from when I lived in Elmont a few years back.

The staff were friendly and efficient, and they had our order ready in no time.  With this in mind, I really wanted to like this food.  But when we got it home and tasted it, we were forced to conclude it is below average at best.

First of all, if you’re a restaurant within a two mile radius of Lao Bei Feng in Elmhurst, don’t even bother to put pork dumplings on your menu if they aren’t spectacular.  But if your pork dumplings are as pasty and lackluster as these, then you have caused a brave pig to give its life for no reason, and that’s just wrong.

Now, I know I take a risk when I try to eat crab rangoon.  It has such potential, but it always seems to show up at takeout places and buffets, and so the deck is stacked against it from the outset, because by the time you get to eat it, it’s past its peak even if it started out good.  Why doesn’t it show up in nicer restaurants than these?  Because it’s not actually Chinese food.  It was invented in San Francisco.  I mean, it’s basically fried pastry dough stuffed with cream cheese.  Does that sound Chinese to you?  The thing is, in this case they seemed to be stuffed ONLY with cream cheese.  There was absolutely no trace of crab in either the taste or the texture.  They tasted fine; they just weren’t really crab rangoon.

I didn’t have any of the pork lo mein or the wonton soup, but according to Allan, they were “extraordinarily average at best.”  In fact, when I first asked him for a quote, he laughed.

This brings me to the eggdrop soup.  It is no secret that I adore eggrdop soup, and my standards for it aren’t even all that high.  If it’s reasonably good, I will love it.  I did not love this.  The one good thing I will say about it is that it was light on the cornstarch.  A lot of eggdrop soup is way too thick because the cook got a little crazy with the cornstarch.  This was light on the cornstarch.  Unfortunately, it was also light on taste.

When we finished our meal, we broke out the fortune cookies (which, like the crab rangoon, were invented in San Francisco and aren’t Chinese at all).  My fortune was a perfectly nice one about the importance of saving money.  But when I flipped it over to the “Learn Chinese” side, the word was “bing,” which apparently means “disease.”  Um, yuck.

All told, we dropped just under $22, so at least it was relatively cheap.  I do feel bad panning Weiside so badly, because as I said, the guys there really were friendly and efficient, and the place is still relatively new.  They may get better, and the other items on their menu may actually be pretty good for all we know.  So try them out if you’re nearby.  Just don’t order the eggdrop soup.

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One Response to “SD#4: Sing along with me: When the Middle Eastern place is dead, eat at the Chinese Pun instead.”

  1. SD#7: Multiple Layers of Fail « The Fat Chick Diaries Says:

    […] to go out prepared with the addresses of at least a handful of places, as we often encounter surprises.  According to our Yahoo Yellow Pages list, these were the next few […]

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