labor day shenanigans, our style

From Hello Kitty’s Facebook page —

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Hope everyone had a terrific Labor Day! Just wanted to share what my family did yesterday on our day off — as many of you know, Mondays are our family’s only day off — speaking of which . . . my sister found this the other day on Facebook from one of her old server friends at (gasp!) another restaurant: Image

(No idea why it is a picture of a picture, but never mind.)

I digress. Anyway, my boyfriend Anthony had been asking my mom to teach him how to prepare live fish (i.e., fresh-picked while still alive) for ages, so we finally figured that Labor Day would be the perfect opportunity for her to take him “fishing” at Chinatown (her preferred spot for live fish) and teach him her kitchen skillz at home. (We have a townhouse in the city near the restaurant, but since the ’rents spend most of their time there at Mei Shung, the kitchen at the townhouse isn’t fully equipped for cooking.)

To our surprise, my sister opted to join us for the outing, which she is currently writing for on her own blog, The Naked Canvas. (I will re-post her article on Thursday.)

When we got to Chinatown, we of course got distracted by shiny things — gift shops, kitchen wares, and wound up shopping around for a good hour or so before we even managed to pick out our fish.

ImageMoose and I started a mini-collection of kitty mugs and cups. Not too sure of the significance of cats in Chinese culture, but they’re fairly prevalent — turns out, though, that that golden cat with the moving arm? The one you see in tons of Chinese restaurants? It’s actually Japanese, called the Maneki-neko. I found this photo on Google images —

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. . . which is why we don’t have one in our restaurant!

But I do have to confess one guilty pleasure: Hello Kitty! She’s Japanese, too, but too cute for us to ignore. More on this later.

For some reason, the first two supermarkets that carry live fish were out of the fish my mom prefers (big-mouth bass), but third time was the charm — managed to get hold of two medium-sized fishies, at my request, because I love live fish so much I can have an entire one on my own.

At home, Anthony promptly put on my black Cucina Italiana apron (I know, it’s blasphemous — but the only food I know how to make is Italian from all my time in the country ;)) and vigorously took notes of my mom’s instruction.

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The result? DELICIOUSNESS. If you’re curious, this is one of the savory delights off our upcoming Super Secret Authentic Taiwanese menu that you can order. My mom will most likely not be the one personally cooking it for you, but I assure you it is just as tasty. (And, by the way, you can order it even before we release the Super Secret Menu! Just make sure you give her ample time to go buy your fish.)

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Moose also randomly asked her to teach her how to make miso soup, so my kitchen-goddess mom also decided to whip up some spicy sushi (maki).

. . . So this is extremely clear, Mei Shung is NOT an Asian fusion restaurant — it is strictly Mandarin and Taiwanese cuisine. This means no Pad Thai, no sushi, no sake.

But I can’t say the same for what goes on under our roof. 😉

A glimpse of the feast that ensued:

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And just for fun, since we love to give things away, and since we apparently have such an affinity for Japanese fare —

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This Hello Kitty coffee tumbler (double-porcelain walled) is up for grabs! One lucky winner of our newest contest will win this eco-friendly alternative to to-go cups, detailed here:

Hello New Dish Contest

Come in to Mei Shung in the month of September (or get delivery), order something you have never tried before off our menu (perhaps off our upcoming Super Secret Authentic Taiwanese menu!), and write us a short review covering:

-what you ordered & what was in it

-comparison to what you normally order

-how you liked it

We have TONS of stuff to choose from, even if you’re not adventurous enough to try something you can’t pronounce. 😉

Entries will be posted to our Facebook page as well as the blog for a voting contest — the review with the most “likes” will win the Hello Kitty tumbler! (While you’re at it, be sure to “like” the page, too, for our ongoing Facebook Likes Us contest.)

Contest ends Sunday, 30 September at 11.59pm. (This gives you about two hours after we close!)

I’ve been diligently working to convince my parents to go green with the restaurant, but alas, old habits die hard (especially for old-school immigrants from Taiwan). So . . . instead, I can ensure giveaways will be environmentally friendly, when possible.

Good luck!

Stay tuned for my sister’s guest post on Thursday!

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patience is a virtue

Have you heard of Indian-Canadian comedian Russell Peters? He’s hysterical, and his angle is basically making (harmless) fun of any and all races of the world — with the greatest emphasis on his own Indian background, of course.

One of my favorite jokes of his is his “Be a man” rant:

I bring this up because this past Monday (the only day off), I went shopping with my parents. Nothing too glamorous, just the usual pickup of restaurant ingredients and supplies, but little did I know that we’d get stalled for no less than an hour at the Costco customer service counter applying for a new American Express card. (And in honor of upcoming Mother’s Day, I suppose, is this Mom story.)

The service rep, a very patient woman whose accent reflects that of the above video (i.e., Cantonese), walked my mom through the different, and new, benefits of the card she was applying for and the old one she currently has. As she continued explaining the point system for the new Amex card as compared to the old, she also threw in some personal suggestions: “When you get the new one, put the old one in a drawer and don’t cancel until you get the check from Costco. That way you get three check: one from Costco, one from old card — because if you cancel you lose your benefit — and one from new one.”

Part of the reason why the conversation went on for so long is because, very much like Russell’s story, she was very “teachy” about the whole thing, drawing out every possible monetary scenario (I suppose a lesson in being a woman?). And if you know Chinese and Taiwanese people, they like to go off on tangents. These two yakked about the Chicago postal system (untrustworthy), joining lines of credit across cards (prior to cancelation), and somewhere after maybe forty minutes in, after I came back from the dining tables (there’s only so much credit card talk I can take . . . especially with my extremely talkative mother) I attempted to get my mom to wrap things up.

By this time, the two of them had apparently realized they could communicate better in Mandarin (which is interesting, given my mom speaks Mandarin or Taiwanese about 95% of the time, and she was all “Do for me” when it came to filling out the paperwork). “Can you hurry up?” I prodded. (I had things to do!)

“Yeah yeah yeah,” she muttered, and asked another five questions. All of which the patient lady had already answered at least twice before I’d wandered off to the dining tables.

After reiterating every last detail just one more time, I finally pried my mom away from the counter and thanked the representative again. She smiled and said it was no problem — after all, I suppose this is the Chinese way.

eyewitness reports from the children of fobby parents

the book cover

I’m a huge advocate of sharing the love for the entertaining or informative via social media — so, get ready for some cross-promotion (and no, I’m not paid for this): One of the funniest blogs addressing the awkward and often hilarious cultural divide between Asian parents and their American children is mymomisafob.com, and its partner mydadisafob.com (it’s loving, not judgmental). I just found out that My Mom is a Fob has been published as a book (!! So envious), with a foreword by Margaret Cho(!!!) so of course I had to claim a copy for the restaurant.

Some cute entries so far include:

Me: So Nini has a new boyfriend.

Mom: Ooooh? What is he?

Me: Um, Vietnamese . . .

Mom: Oh! That good, very good.

Me: And Mexican.

Mom: So he a tamale eggroll.

~

Mom: Keep play basketball. You will grow taller!

Me: I’m 29 years old. I think I’ve stopped growing by now.

Mom: No, you can growing! Everyone growing all the time!
Me: . . .

Mom: Also, keep jumping!

. . . and my personal favorite, from mydadisafob.com:

I sent my dad a video of me skydiving. He emailed me back the following . . .

oh my god,

rona, it is really danger game, pls stop it !

think about ur mom, when she 85 years old, who will cook for her, and who will wash her diapers ?

i am too old at that time . pls stop any danger game now .

peace / safe / health .

b.rgds

After I finish chuckling at (and relating to) the book, it’ll find a permanent home at the restaurant at the checkout counter, alongside $#*! My Dad Says, for you to flip through in case you’re waiting for takeout . . . or even not. [Update: I finished the book the same day I got it. So both books are now there for you to enjoy.]

Do you have any endearing parental fob stories to share? Post ’em to Facebook or comment on this post (do I smell a new contest opportunity . . . ?).

And rest assured, our own parents-are-fobs stories from Stephanie’s and my end will definitely be broadcast as they come. [Update: Of course, the moment my mom sees the book cover on this post, she warns: “Careful, if they see this, they could sue you.” . . . Who needs a book, after all, when you’ve got the living thing right in front of you? :P]

[Update no. 2: After I placed the books at the counter, ten minutes later I found them back in front of me at the table. “Yours?” my dad asked, and when I put them back, he called me crazy.]

gonna party like it’s duanwu festival . . . just kidding

Here’s a fun story.

The Dragon Boat Festival, celebrated in China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, is coming up. . . . My mom suggested I research the holiday last week to tell you about, but apart from telling me it involved boat races in long boats that looked like dragons, I was once again left with the instructions to look it up myself and report to you guys.

She told me it was on 4 April, but as it turns out that is just her crude way of saying “fourth day of the fourth month,” which apparently isn’t even the case. HAHAHA. Apparently also known as the Double Fifth, the Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month on, naturally, the lunar calendar. (Incidentally, the fourth of the fourth is a different holiday — a Taiwanese one — celebrating children. I’m sure you’ll hear about it next year.)

Anyway, after I clarified just now that the Duanwu Festival (as it’s known in Mandarin) is actually the Double Fifth, we realized it’s a bit premature to start yapping about it now, since it isn’t until 25 MAY. (“Oh, I can’t keep my Chinese holidays straight,” she says. “I’ve lived here too long.”)

Thanks, Mom. Now I can go get ready to go to my other job. 😉

Rest assured, though, that I’ll be back with timely Duanwu Festival information in May.