Happy Valley Chinese Kitchen

Recently I received a menu in the mail from the Happy Valley Chinese Kitchen. It offered all your basic Chinese-Canadian fare as well as a few other interesting choices. All told, about eighty items.  Nothing too spectacular. The part of the menu that caught my eye was the “Combo’s for 1”. For $7.95 you could pick any three items on the menu.  That’s “ANY” three items! Now, I’ve worked in quite a few kitchens. If you were to tell me that the customer can choose “any three items” and I had to downsize them onto a combo plate, I would hand you my apron and go away.

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The logistics of this in a regular, fully-staffed kitchen with several customers would be mind-boggling. The four of us arrived shortly before noon to put it to the test. Aside from a solo diner, the room was empty. There was one cook and four diners ordering four different combos. I assumed some of the items would already be made. I was wrong. Everything was made to order.

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We started with the obligatory Hot & Sour Soup. This took about twenty minutes. When it arrived in a large, plastic bowl, there was a simultaneous eyebrow-raising. It was actually quite tasty…very hot, vinegary and a good blast of chile. Why plastic? Everything here is disposable! Even the tea and water glasses!

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The only thing we could come up with is maybe the china hadn’t arrived yet. Very bizarre to open without plates and glasses, no?

After thirty more minutes went by, the meals arrived…in plastic.

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My dish consisted of the Crispy Ginger Beef, Szechuan Spicy Chicken w/Veggies and buried underneath, Pan Fried Rice Noodle w/Beef. Again, quite tasty. Although, about halfway through eating, it all blends together due to the lack of space. Oh, and BTW, there’s a clear, plastic lid under the bowl! Very convenient.

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Lunch Combo ‘B’.

This has got to be one the oddest restaurant experiences I’ve had. The room is quite nice with some beautiful furniture that I think was left over from the Indian restaurant that occupied it previously. The food was fresh, plentiful and cheap. I just can’t get my head around serving it all in paper and plastic. Hopefully, if I decide to go back, there might be some actual dinnerware.

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