The Chef Wins
857 Bell Road
I got to talk to Suzanne, the owner, and she said her family has owned the China Chef for about 5 years now. She is from the Canton region of China, but doesn't speak Cantonese, rather she is fluent in English and Mandarin. I know some Cantonese food words, so asked her if she has a few ingredients in the kitchen in Cantonese, and she did understand what I said. I said to her, "Ah ha! You do know Cantonese!" Well she knows at least the important food words. I am at a loss because I don't know any Mandarin food translations, so I can only hope people understand what I am saying in Cantonese, or it sounds similar enough to the Mandarin word. At any rate, Suzanne confirmed that she did not have chow fun with fermented black bean sauce because there isn't the client base for that. I was slightly sad, as that is one of my favorites. I guess the next time I am in NYC or Boston, it is on my to-do list. I spend a small amount of time asking Suzanne about more traditional Chinese dishes, and she said she really had to balance making a living by serving average dishes to the taste of the Nashvillians that go to China Chef and not alienating that client base with food that is too different and that may not appeal to them, with wanting to serve up more traditional dishes that represent China.
Since I got the tip off from the secret informant about the paper menu that have some authentic Chinese dishes, I asked Suzanne for the paper menu. She brought it to me, and I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted Kung Po Squid. Kung Po involves some red chili peppers, garlic, scallions, ginger and salt as the basic ingredients. It is supposed to be hot and spicy. I also wanted squid, I love squid made in both Chinese and Italian traditions, and I just can't much of it here in landlocked Nashville because we don't have ocean near by. I was told that squid is a fairly easy and less destructive to the ocean environment when harvesting them. The low amount of ocean life dies per pound of squid harvested. In contrast, wild shrimp dredged from the gulf kills about 5 lbs of sea life for each 1 lb of shrimp harvested, making it one of the worst by-catch (aka sea life destruction) seafoods.
I guess every time I want to go see what the Bitten line has new to offer, or if I need a new pair of Starbury's fabulous basketball shoes at Steve and Barry's (this is located at the Hickory Hollow Mall) I will make sure I go during lunch or dinner time and hit up China Chef for a meal off of the paper menu.
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Labels: Nashville Eats