about us.

the restaurant.

Mei Shung is located on the North Side of Chicago across the street from St. Ita Church (Bryn Mawr Red Line stop) at 5511 N. Broadway in Edgewater. It is owned by Cindy and Charles Hsieh, a married couple originally from Taiwan. Mei Shung boasts several accolades by Chicago magazine (including “best Chinese food” in their Best of Chicago issue) and numerous Best of Edgewater Awards given by the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce as voted by its residents and businesses. Also rated by WBBM News Radio as the “Best Taiwanese & Mandarin Cuisine in the town,” Mei Shung remains one of Chicago’s best kept local secrets — modest and traditional, the restaurant offers generous helpings of its mei (beautiful) and shung (aromatic) cuisine on platters made to share.

the family.

Technically, the restaurant is owned by both Charles and Cindy, but let’s be honest: The real boss is the woman of the house. She cooks, she cleans, and she’s raised two headstrong American children. Don’t be fooled by her petite appearance; she’s a veritable matriarch and possesses the internal strength of a thousand . . . dragons? (I guess that’s appropriate.) Wise and artistic, Cindy has been known to speak in metaphors, but you may lose the meaning, unless you understand broken English.

Charles is a character. I suspect he may become a star in this blog, as there are endless stories that illustrate (but can’t by any means paint an entire picture of) the essence of his very odd personality. In all my years of exposure to him (that is to say, all my life — since 1983), I still can’t quite say I understand him. I challenge any of you to try, and so does he.

moi

First of the headstrong American chilluns was I. I am Pamela, and I’ll be the primary author of this here forum. Much to my father’s dismay, I spend much of my free time exercising the first two Rs (reading, ’riting) and neglecting the third (you all know it: ’rithmetic). My mental prowess is largely derived from my mom’s side of the gene pool, so I spent my years in education strengthening my knowledge and skills in the arts and foreign languages. (Probably also in rebellion against my very traditional and opinionated “Be a doctor; be a lawyer!” father, who until we acquired the restaurant used to be an engineer.) If you do a little prodding into my personal history, you’ll also find that at age 19 I sustained a sudden traumatic injury to the brain and suffered a life-altering stroke that paralyzed my entire left side. Not to be deterred, I managed to study abroad in Italy twice within the next four years and complete a major in Italian (yeah, I know) and a degree in creative  writing. (Despite all his scoffing about my chosen majors, I think Dad was proud to see me walk in two University of Illinois ceremonies.) I now focus most of my time on physical rehabilitation and personal development — to know more about me, check out my other blogs at rehabrevolution.blogspot.com and www.pamelahsieh.com.

Moosecakes. In her very interior decorated room.

Second and presumably last of the two chilluns is Stephanie. Personally I call her “Moose,” so do excuse the occasional (or constant) slip. Stephanie is younger than I am by a ghastly 6 1/2 years, a gap made smaller only by the passing of time: Now that she’s a legal adult and about to embark on a “real adult life” and stuff, she recently (i.e., as of December 2011) quit her regular position as a restaurant  workhorse to focus on other endeavors, like school and her future. She began undergrad at UIC to study urban planning, which was her compromise to my father who crapped his pants when she told him she wanted to go into interior design. It took three years and a summer study abroad session in London for her to quit ignoring that Psst! You don’t even like urban planning! voice in her head and transfer to DePaul where she now studies public relations and event planning. It is her dream to become a wedding planner. (We can only assume by her recent internship at Vera Wang and all the wedding lookbooks/lists/volumes in her bedroom. The alternative would be a bit unsettling.)

Both Moose and I are somewhat removed from the Chinese/Taiwanese community, so please, give me kudos for doing the research to share “our culture” with you, because it WILL require frequent trips to the library/Barnes & Noble/Wikipedia.

Disclaimer: The stories I tell in this blog are meant for your amusement and never as a way to antagonize or cast a negative light on my family members, whom I begrudgingly and irrevocably love because they’re the weirdos I was born to coincide with for life. I see this as an exercise in writing and hope my message translates as “Here’s mah crazy family; embrace it and laugh with us” rather than anything else. Admittedly, this is also in hopes that you will get to know us as a real bunch of flawed human beings rather than an anonymous and personality-less group of employees at an ethnic food joint. We’re just like you and your family — only weirder and kind of Asian.

Mei Shung

Mei Shung on Urbanspoon

 

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