MALL FOOD COURT CHINESE FOOD CHALLENGE

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 7.17.55 PMAbout a month or so ago, I got an invite from some of the coolest webmasters I know to take part in a multi-blog challenge. The challenge was to go to our local malls and test the Chinese cuisine and post it here on our little slices of the internet. Of course, I am beyond flattered to be included in this project and while many don’t take this to be a challenge, I do. I hate eating alone in public places and hate eating in food courts even more.

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This is my mall. There are many others like it but this is mine. The name is Haynes, like the underwear. That’s all you need to know about it. Well, besides the fact that if you were to travel back to 1984, the only real difference would be a lack of cellphone stores and toy helicopter kiosks. Other than that, Haynes mall is one giant time capsule.

I make every effort in life to avoid going to the mall. From the hundreds of similar stores to the confusion on walking traffic patterns,  I can honestly go my whole life without ever stepping foot in a mall again. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I disdain the mall so bad but if I was to guess, it might be the time when I was eleven and saw an old lady with dementia pull down her pants in a Walden Books. Yeah, that might have something to do with it.

Regardless of scars, this challenge needed to be met so with my enlisted help of a co-worker, we set off to Haynes Mall to eat exotic dishes from the Orient while still in a football throw distance from both Belk and Macy’s. Like I said, I hate to eat alone in a public place.

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The food court at Haynes mall has three Asian style restaurants which cover China, Japan and Thailand. Since there were two of us, I decided that we try a different restaurant to compare dishes. I figured it would put some depth into the post or at least be more than, “I got rice and chicken. Tasted like rice and chicken.”.

Right away we wrote off the Japanese place called Saporosan. I’m kidding, I don’t remember what the fuck it was called. All I know is I watched the guy giving out samples eat every other one. While amusing, I couldn’t help but wonder what atrocities where happening in the kitchen if their marketing guy could answer what really was eating Gilbert Grape. (I know that might not make sense but…work with me.)

So that left two place; ThaiMax and Mandarin Express. I went with ThaiMax because the green and white bright colors attracted me. I’m serious, I am a sucker for contemporary looking food joints. If it has stainless steel and solid bright colors, most likely I will buy something from you. My partner decided to stick to the more traditional food court Chinese food and went to Mandarin Express.

We will start with my choice from ThaiMax. (I had the theme to Title Max in my head all day after this adventure)

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I chose the spice chicken/Teriyaki Thai chicken with steamed vegetables and basil rice all for $8.00. And it was pretty damn awesome. In fact, I was so impressed with this mall food court dish I think I told my coworker if I wasn’t in a mall and she wasn’t present I would take off my shirt and paint murals of horses to the music Schubert out of pure food inspiration. She said nothing. In fact, her face was a bit contorted and rightly so. I saw what she got from…

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..Mandarin Express. Good lord, the staple of modern Chinese food in any mall of America. It looks inviting and smells alluring but what my coworker got was nothing less than terrifying.

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So apparently this is sweet and sour chicken with fried rice and steamed vegetables. I am guessing that what it was supposed to be. But judging the twenty-two year old guy on the frier named Jeff, he may have had the cookbook upside-down. And backwards.

Where do I begin? Let’s start with the sweet and sour chicken. First off, there was no visible sign chicken was ever there. It was as if they fried refried…fried. Just a big ol’ ball of fried gob dipped in sweet and sour sauce. Everytime I took a bite, it literally fought me from chewing it completely. I don’t know what they fried in there but I am hoping it doesn’t end up being a channel 14 exclusive story.

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What about the vegetables, you ask? They couldn’t even steam vegetables right but instead cooked them in some clear glop. I can take a lot of things but what I can’t take is clear glop. For obvious reasons. Also, they were as flaccid as a dude on a three-day whiskey bender. (This post is headed south fast, no?)

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I would eat that over Mandarin Express. Andrew agrees.

I felt terrible she was stuck with such a tragic lunch. Seriously, Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods would probably take issue with Mandarin Express. I demanded we trade and she ate the awesome TaiMax food and I ate shitty fried rice that was fucked up too. I couldn’t believe it! I swear, I think they get fried rice from a can.

So, in conclusion, it was a nice break from the office with tons of people watching and I was able to return some pants to Banana Republic. Since Banana Republics live in malls, I guess I am forced to venture in once in a while. This was a great excuse. And at leaset I was able to eat in the basking glow of this amazing stained glass art.

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ThaiMax: The spicy chicken/Terriyaki Thai with steamed veggies and basil rice was pretty damn awesome. Ingredients were fresh, the dude serving gave me a ton and I found no hairs in my food. All around I give it an A. If I was about to be executed for running over Michael Bay with a dump truck and this was my last meal, I would not protest.  I wasn’t expecting mall food court food to be like that. You’ve come a long way baby.

Mandarin Express: The fried nuggets in sweet and sour sauce, veggies covered in duck sperm with canned fried rice, I would say you are a disgrace to Chinese food. I know this is an American version of Chinese food but come on, you got to put some effort into it. I had to work the rest of the day close to the community defibrillator. Just in case. I grade it a G for “GOOD GOD WHAT THE FUCK?”

That is my adventure and want to thank Matt and Brian for the awesome joint project idea! You are all awesome. Please now check out the other peeps who have taken part in this journey. Click their pics and get whisked away to better reviews.

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Jay from The Sexy Armpit. He is awesome.
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Long time buddy, Brian, and the guy who is the pro at these types of reviews.
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Matt from Dinosaur Dracula. If you don’t know who he is please ring the attendant call button and someone will be by to hit you on the head with a tack hammer.
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The newest member to the blog family and awesome person, Molly from Swagger Mom Tales.

Oh Man…

It is Saturday and I sit here behind my computer just struggling to come up with a great topic to write about and I can’t. I think creativity has been stripped from me and I really want it back. So, instead of writing about one thing, I am going to brain dump a lot on you and the randomness will be like something you have never seen. So put your lap-belt on.

I really miss the Halloween season and I know that is a huge nerd thing to say at age 32  but it is true. I found myself cruising old X-E Halloween articles this morning and I was yearning for cider, pumpkins, John Carpenter, and amazing K-Mart retail gold. But it is only March and to wish Halloween here means I would want 6 months to skip by and that’s another step closer to 33. So, perhaps I will have my own private Halloween in April. Even David Bowie day is still months off. Mother!

If you are ever bored or want some feel-good time killers I can not recommend strongly enough to cruise over to Review the World and hit up Brian’s articles and videos. It’s a really fun place that makes you appreciate all the little things. My favorites videos are these three. I just love how positive life is for Brian and I’ll say it. It’s inspirational.Plus, I write for him from time to time. I might have another one on the way there soon. I’ll let you know.

I had a dream last night that my car’s engine caught fire and I was stranded at a youth’s church lock-in. I can’t decide which would be worse now that I think about it. I will say, it was nice to wake up and look out the window to see my car was still all together. What the Hell is going on in my life that I dream that shit?

I am about to order Chinese food and that makes me so happy I will do a dance of joy. Please wait.

Alright, I am back. About Chinese food. I think I might break the norm and not go Kung Pao tonight even though I love it. No, I think tonight I will go crazy and get something completely different. But I am not sure what. Oooo, this is so crazy! I need to get out more, huh?

*2 Hours later*

Got the Spicy Beef. Not so great and not so spicy. I would say C minus. What are you going to do? At least my fortune said people where talking about me in a good way. Thanks everyone!

Off to watch Drag Me To Hell! I have heard good things and as a Sam Raimi fan, I have high hopes. Have a great night. I’ll be here, just messing with my cat. She’s a good sport.

Ida-NOOOOOOO!

I do apologize for the week plus hiatus. Getting situated and orientated really has left me no time to update. But I can promise you I have much to tell. So be a dear and put the tea kettle on; I have stories. Actually those will have to wait a day. For now, I want to share some observations I have about Idaho.

  1. There are far more bars than churches. There was even a bar next to the exit of my street that had a place out front where people can tie up their horse. Let me say that again. They have designated horse parking.
  2. Just because it says that the restaurant is Chinese doesn’t mean that the people working there are. My waitress from last night was Claire and she lived in Idaho her whole life. Steven was her husband. He was the cook.
  3. Every Wednesday night is “No Smoking Night” at the local bowling alley. Any other night, smoke ’em if you got ’em!
  4. Past Coeur d Alene, the driving rules turn to “what is deemed acceptable” which means, there isn’t very much that is enforced. I suppose what Idahoans deem acceptable is to turn around in the seat, bend over and put their face on the backseat and drive with their feet. Because that is the only way I can rationalize some of the maneuvers I have witnessed on 95.
  5. I haven’t seen a minority in weeks and I am beginning to freak out.
  6. Common health notions like smoking is bad for your health, chewing tobacco causes cancer, eating more than 15 bean and cheese burritos a day can increase risk of heart disease and deodorant hasn’t quite made it here yet.
  7. The moustache hasn’t died here. It’s alive and well.
  8. Neither has the mullet.
  9. Being from Georgia I am always shocked when I am talking with a “country” looking fellow and he has no southern accent. It’s the weirdest thing.
  10. I often sit next to some guy who has dirty, grimy hands but he took the time to put on enough cologne for the two of us. And by “enough for the two of us” I mean I smelled like “Midnight Cowboy” from Walmart for the rest of the night.

I love it here. I was starting to run dry of material in Atlanta and now the cup runith over. Or something like that. Fitnessmacabre will be rocking, I pray, by Friday. It’s all up to Northface as to the sponsor regulations. Not my fault I swear! Blame Sarah. She can take the heat. J/K Sarah. Keep a look out because Cristunity has a great article when it launches.

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