Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An Unexpected Reminder of a Past Trip--and Meal

In the fall of 1994 I attended what turned out to be my final training session for Kenneth Leventhal & Company before its merger the next spring with Ernst & Young. The training was held in Glen Cove on Long Island, and because we had been to Manhattan on vacation just a few weeks earlier, I had no intent of visiting Manhattan on this trip. There were just a couple of us from Los Angeles at the training, and the session ended too late to catch a flight back home the same day. At dinner in Flushing, Rick Schneider mentioned that he had never been to Manhattan, so I offered to drive him straight to Manhattan after dinner. In probably no more than an hour's time, we drove to Manhattan, saw the sights such as Central Park, Radio City, Times Square, and the World Trade Center, and drove back across the East River. I think Rick was especially impressed by my ability to drive the streets of Manhattan like a cab driver. While normally a laid back and courteous drive, I had learned that my old driving habits would have left me stationery as all of the other cars maneuvered by. My only driving slip up was when we drove into Brooklyn and somehow I got off the freeway into a suspcious looking part of town. Furthermore we had to pull into a gas station because Rick had to use the bathroom. It was much later that I discovered we had been cruising the streets of Bedford Stuyvesant, indeed not a particularly good neighborhood at the time. But Rick was impressed with my abilities as a tour guide and told everybody in the office about our adventure when we got back in L.A.

Having enjoyed my unplanned jaunt into Manhattan and not flying out until afternoon, I decided to drive back into Manhattan early the next morning to explore the expanded part of Chinatown that I had visited a few weeks previously. I can't say I remember much about that journey over 16 years ago, though since I do keep an Excel schedule of Chinese restaurants I have eaten at, I do have the names and addresses of every restaurant on this and other visits. All this leads up to a posting on the Chowhound New York message board where somebody asked for the name of the restaurant that was at 237 Grand St. in Chinatown in the early 1990s, and whether they served Chiu Chow style noodle soup. That location is currently occupied by Quikly Shabu Shabu, and since I make special note of addresses where I have eaten at multiple Chinese restaurants, I knew the restaurant that I had gone to that morning at that address was called Golden Statue. I didn't remember anything about my meal there, but I did find the business card I took from there, which described the restaurant as a bakery and restaurant. That led me to believe that it was one of those dim sum bakeries that are common on Grand St. and throughout New York Chinatown, and therefore had not been a Chiu Chow noodle house. But then, out of curiosity I did a Google search for Golden Statue on Grand, and voila. There was a New York Times article from 1997, 12 pages long, giving a detailed tour of a long stretch of Grand St. And included in the story was a short paragraph describing Golden Statue as a Southeast Asian and Chinese noodle restaurant. All of a sudden it came back. I had ordered the fish ball soup to go from Golden Statue, for something like $2. There were five large fish balls in the soup. I walked over a block and a half to Sara Roosevelt Park, sat at one of the park benches, and consumed my soup. Since then I've used that park many times as a dining area during my food crawls through Manhattan Chinatown, but until just now I had forgotten that fact.

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