The Roasted Meats Diaries
There must be an emptiness, and my mind latches onto things and grabs, grabs, grabs onto them, in the hope that the emptiness will be filled. I have indeed had many obsessions over the years: pants, fried chicken, creams, etc. Now I am obsessed with Chinese roasted meats. There are darker things the mind can pull towards, so in a way I am lucky. Yet obsession is intrinsically dark, so down these streets of roasted meats I walk.
Big Wong, a well-known Chinatown haunt, at lunchtime on a Saturday. Busy, hopeful patrons standing, sitting, waiting for tables. I tell the curt and efficient man at the front that I need - I mean really need - a table for two, and he hands me a slip of paper with a number on it. We wait. The place is bustling with plenty of Chinese patrons, although a decent number of White people are around. There are also a sizable number of tourists with travel books.
Around 5 minutes later our number is called and my friend and I are ordered to sit sit-by-side at a table for 4. Another party of two is seated, side-by-side, across from us. It is indeed a place of the Chinatown. As it turns out, the man in front of us served in the Chinese Navy and spent his career sailing the high seas. He is an intense, quiet man, and he wants his roasted meats. We call him Captain.
I order the roast pork and chicken combo. It arrives. The roast pork is succulent, and the chicken is flavorful and relatively moist but still rather boring. There is a lively garlic and scallion puree served alongside the meats and the rice. It's a nice feast of meats, although it does not stand out as being insanely fantastic.
The Captain eats his roast pork soup, quietly and deliberately slurping his noodles as if every noodle may be his last. I accidentally bump the table and he starts screaming. They drag him away. His friend, who speaks pretty good English, says the Captain cannot stand it when a bowl of soup splashes in his face - it reminds him of his time at sea.
The sea does strange things to men; so do roasted meats.
Mott Street, Chinatown