Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The $15.50 Chinese Dinner

Craving fast food, having no car, and having 2 miles to travel (either walking or waiting for a bus) to get either a Whataburger or Taco Bell meal, sometimes I just have to go with the menus that have been delivered to the doorknobs of my apartment, mainly national pizza places (Domino's, Gatti's) and local Chinese joints (China Palace, China Kitchen, Oriental Express).

Last night I settled on "China Kitchen." It, unlike the two others, only had a $10 instead of $15 minimum order. All had a $3 delivery fee.

So I called for a $7.50 dinner (Lemon chicken, deep-fried, with two scoops of rice, two egg-rolls, and soup -- egg-drop). And ordered two extra egg-rolls for $2.50 to meet the $10 minimum.

Let me just start with: In NYC, some Chinese places also offered burritos and other Mexican food. NO. Chinese and Mexican food don't mix. And at Austin's Dobie Mall, a Chinese place is called "Oma's Kitchen" --- it doesn't offer German food, but does offer burgers along with the Chinese food. NO.

Similarly, tonight when I called "China Kitchen" for the first time... A deep male BLACK voice answered, "Yeah?" From a couple of years up north, I just gave him the number off the menu: "Can I have the #3. Egg-drop soup. For delivery."

"I don't have the menu in front of me. What do you want?"

So, because he didn't have a menu, I then had to explain about the lemon chicken and how it's deep-fried, and about the rice, and about the egg-rolls, and about the soup... and about how I wanted an extra $2.50 order of egg-rolls to make everything add up to $10.

Did I want some crab-cakes? "If they're free crab-cakes, then sure, but otherwise, no..." "Heh-heh-heh. $15.50."

OK, the meal was $10. Tax on $10 is less than 10% here. The stated delivery fee was $3. The whole thing should have been under $14. When he said "$15.50" I spent the next 45 minutes worrying about whether to give a tip or not. Absolutely did not want to, and ended up not giving because the total amount was so much.

When the meal arrived, it was a huge amount of food. Minus the extra $2.50 egg-rolls that I'd ordered, though. In NYC, you'd get the same ton of stuff for $7. In Austin, it was $15.50.

I'm going to try to stretch it out for 3 or 4 meals, and can probably do so, so it won't be such a waste. But still... $15.50 was a big fucking waste of money. I could have gone to a decent restaurant for that price.

Main Lesson: Don't order Mexican or burgers from a Chinese joint. And don't order Chinese from an African-American joint. It just doesn't work out well.

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