Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It's a Palace.

I don't make a habit of doing restaurant reviews. And for a very good reason.

If the food sucks I'm often too embarrassed to admit I ate there. And if the food is great, the last thing I want to do is tell the world and draw a crowd.

If there's one thing I hate --and as you know there are many things I hate -- it's waiting for a table at a restaurant. Sort of defeats the whole reason for eating out, doesn't it?

In any case, as my wife and I were driving home from our 5 mile hike along the beach, we drove by Playa Vista's Szechuan Palace, a place I love.

A place my wife won't set foot in.

"You should do a blog about that unappetizing hellhole, " she said.

Challenge accepted.

I'll be the first to admit the place lacks curb appeal. In fact the curb would appear to be saying, "don't even think about eating in this cement bunker." But the charm of Szechuan Palace lies elsewhere.

I first discovered SP 20 years ago, while in the steady employ of Chiat/Day, just a short jog down the road. My partner, John Shirley and I, would go there quite regularly. Maybe once a week. Our routine never varied, he would have the Mushu Pork and the Egg Drop Soup, I, having a more adventurous palate than my blond gentile friend, would opt for the Hot and Sour Soup and the Extra Spicy Kung Pao Chicken.

It never failed to impress John that I would eat those blazing red hot peppers that give the Kung Pao that extra Pow!

The price then (1998) was $6.95.
All in.
Including a huge tub of endless steamed white rice.

Times change, but the Palace doesn't.
Now I find myself going there with my partner Jean Robaire for the same lunch deal, price adjusted ever so slightly to $7.95.

The Kung Pao Chicken is still fiery hot. The soup is still watery. And the service is still gruff, terse and amazingly efficient. In other words, everything I look for in a Chinese Restaurant.

Let's be frank, I've had much better Chinese Food. I grew up in NYC and I come from a long line of Jewish Chinese Food aficionados. On the occasional Sunday night, my very-thrifty father would take us to an All You Can Eat Chinese Restaurant. My mother would literally line her purse with aluminum foil so that even after gorging ourselves and loosening our belts a notch or two, she could take home the extra egg roll. And, if it wasn't too wet, some Sweet & Sour Shrimp.

Like I said, the grub at the Palace is OK.

The service is unfriendly.

And the leatherette booths haven't smelt a whiff of Armor All since Reagan was president.

But if you take a seat at the back of restaurant, you can look out past the dirt parking lot onto the Ballona Wetlands.

And it makes for a great place for a bunch of 44 year old ad veterans to chow down, kibitz and rest our weary fat asses.

And sometimes that's enough.


Bob said...

You could get a Shack Burger right down the street you know. A truly great example of the hamburger. At least while you're eating it. A couple hours later, not so much.

Tricia Hoover said...

Ahhh I love that place.