First time on this blog? Beijing Traffic Lesson: Left Turn is probably a good place to start.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

America, Olé!

Went out for lunch with my Scottish coworker today. He’s heading to Shanghai tomorrow and then on to Bangkok for a long weekend, so we wanted to catch a meal before I take off.

Since it was a special occasion, I simply HAD to go to the American-themed restaurant I’d heard about at Lido Place a mile or so away.

Two words: Cowboy hats.

To be fair, it fit the overall theme, which was really more Tex-Mex than straight-up American. But it was still a little strange seeing the entirely Chinese staff wearing cowboy hats, boots, checked shirts (fringed shirts for the women) and jeans. The walls were decorated with serapés and sombreros. The music was, I actually don’t know how to describe it, but maybe romantic Country? Very low energy and as bland as a doughy tortilla.

Speaking of which, the enchilada was a bit substandard – stringy beef in the aforementioned doughy tortilla, topped with – well, imagine if you could somehow melt a carton of cottage cheese. And I mean the WHOLE CARTON, plastic and all. Kinda like that, but greasier.

The salad bar was a bit odd, too. It was made to look like an old chuck wagon, and while it had iceburg lettuce and salad dressing, there wasn’t much else there with which to construct a salad. There was a pasta salad that had what looked like strips of luncheon ham in it (ran into that in some noodles once before here, too) and what I think they thought was potato salad.

Deconstructing it at the table, it seemed to consist of large chunks of potato, salad dressing, pickles, bacon bits and paprika. (“What the heck IS this?” I asked my friend. “You tell me, you’re the American,” he replied, as if it were some national delicacy of ours.)

So not exactly a four-star meal, but I was amused by the décor. (Would have gotten pictures, but hey, no camera left.) I have to say, I bet that when Chinese tourists eat at many Chinese restaurants in America, they probably have a similar reaction. (“And where were the bones? It just creeps me out!”)