Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pho and Scary Chinese Lady

Laura's post mentioning a hangover and Slade's post about Asian women and nails reminded me of Scary Chinese Lady, an infamous female version of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi.

Now, not everyone knows what Pho is so I'll explain. It's simply a Vietnamese noodle soup cooked with beef broth and magic. It's so magic, that it was the very first meal my buddy ordered when he got out of Huntsville. He called it "healing." I've never been to prison, so I'll take his word for it. I just know that if you have either a bad stomach or a hang-over, order a bowl of Pho and you'll be cherry.

I talked about Ramona, the smart girl who played down her intelligence to attract men, awhile ago. See, I have a problem. I don't know what is strange to people when it comes to food.

I hate brains. They have a horribly bitter aftertaste that beer will only make worse. The only way to get the taste of brains out of your mouth is to eat something like ginger candy that is strong in the opposite way.

I hate bile. It's almost as bitter. Why people cook with bile I have no idea.

I won't eat genitals. So if you order Rocky Mountain oysters or anything like that, I'll watch you eat them, but I won't partake myself.

Beef tongue is delicious if cooked right. Earthworms look gross, so I never even bothered trying them. They're what I put on my fishing hook. Why would I eat them?

I used to love octopus until I found out how intelligent those goofy looking dudes are. Sea snails are delicious, but jellyfish and sea cucumber are both horrible. Imagine chewing on a tire coated with sugar and you have jellyfish. Sea cucumbers are easier to chew, but taste like jellyfish without the sugar.

Tripe to me though isn't weird. It's normal. So I take Ramona to a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant in Santa Barbara and order Pho for her. She looks into her food and says, "Zombieslayer, I'm never going to let you order for me again."

That restaurant that I took her to was the only place in Santa Barbara you could buy Pho from. Hey Thom, ever been to Saigon City in Bellevue? Best Pho I've ever had.

Anyways, it was run by Scary Chinese Lady. If you run into anyone who's been in Santa Barbara for more than five years, ask them about Scary Chinese Lady. She's a legend here.

She's the one who ran the Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant. Just like Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, you better know your order right away. If you don't, she screams at you. Don't stutter either. That's no excuse. If you stutter, have your buddy order for you.

She's so scary that sometimes you mess up your order, even though you practiced in advance. She has a way of doing that to people. She makes you nervous. She senses weakness and exploits it. And if you screw up, she screams at you. That's the price you had to pay if you wanted Pho in Santa Barbara.

But not anymore. Ha ha. Sygyzy discovered a new restaurant in the next town down (actually up - Goleta). It not only serves Pho, it's better than Scary Chinese Lady's place.

It's also clean. See, that's one thing that a lot of Asian restaurants don't understand. Americans like clean. A lot of Americans don't care if the food is authentic or not. We'd rather eat in a place that's clean than a place that's authentic. That's why when you walk into Sammy Wo's in San Francisco, you rarely see non-Asians. Excellent Chinese food, but it looks like a Third World country in there.

So goodbye Scary Chinese Lady. I'm never going to buy pho from you again, for thanks to Sygyzy, you're no longer the pho monopoly. Ha ha. The joke's on you now, Scary Chinese Lady.


Blogger tenxinchoden said...


10/04/2005 11:15 PM  
Blogger tenxinchoden said...

Well! you'll be happy to know...i got brain but i don't use them much!! hehe

beef tounge....yuck!! comon tell me you're only kiddin'

10/04/2005 11:21 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

TC - It was goat's brain and pig's brain. Both yuck.

As for beef tongue, it's really good. It looks like a skinny slab of beef. I bet if the average person was served beef tongue and didn't know it was tongue, they'd take a bite and think it was delicious. It doesn't look like a tongue either when cooked.

10/04/2005 11:31 PM  
Blogger Miranda said...

his is why I love McDonalds. If there's bile in the food, you can't tell!

I shall now leave the blog before I get sick ;) *shakes a fist*

10/04/2005 11:50 PM  
Blogger Mybrid said...

ZS, I used to love beef tongue. Haven't had it in years though. I've moved on to beef liver.

My rule with food is that I don't eat any animal that's cute. So that's how chicken and cows are fair game, but dogs, horses and bambi are not.

10/05/2005 2:34 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yes I agree that Asian restaurants tend to be a little below "code" in terms of cleanliness. There was one in Chinatown here that was closed down after they health inspectors found the roasted ducks hanging in the window weren't being kept heated (eeeew).

There's only two decent Chinese/Thai places in the Loop (downtown) - I still maintain that's why you never see stray cats in the Loop.

There's some good Vietnamese restaurants on the north side (the non-chinese asian ethnic neighborhood - chicago is very segregated). I'll have to try it sometime.

10/05/2005 4:57 AM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

So many thoughts running through my head - I thought Scary Chinese Lady was my fiance's mother. I see there are now two. I can relate to the clean restaurant comment. H always wants to take me to authentic Asian restaurants, but I can't get past the looks of them. I have to have at least an illusion of clean...

10/05/2005 6:37 AM  
Blogger snavy said...

I've never had Pho - wouldn't know where to find it here! I do love escargot, oysters on the half shell, littleneck clams and sushi. Udon noodles are great too - is pho like that?

10/05/2005 6:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That also reminded me of this flash movie. It's too funny

10/05/2005 6:49 AM  
Blogger Thomcat said...

i haven't been to the saigon garden ... i'll make a trip to bellevue to check it out ... i went to some local thai place, and they had a soup called thom yukk soup ... of course i had to order it ... it was super spicy and, was yukky ...

10/05/2005 8:00 AM  
Blogger thephoenixnyc said...

All my friends and colleaugues in China know my only food rule is:

No innards. Ever.

10/05/2005 8:22 AM  
Blogger bsoholic said...

We have a Chinese lady here that is hilarious, the resteraunt is not huge, so she'll take your order from half way across the room while delivering another patrons dish and at the same time shouting someone else's order to her husband the cook in the back. Then she'll shout to her husband to hurry up an quit being a lazy bum! It's quite intertaining really, and even though she does all these things at once, she never screws up an order.

10/05/2005 9:05 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Miranda - McDonalds' meat portions are so small. Their burgers are just bun. We're lucky we have In & Out and Hamburger Habit here, real burgers.

Mybrid - But Bambi tastes so good. Don't like liver, but tongue, yummy.

Laura - There was one in Chinatown here that was closed down after they health inspectors found the roasted ducks hanging in the window weren't being kept heated (eeeew).

Classic. Speaking of Chicago, you know what I'd love to see? I'd love to see you do a write-up about some aspects of Chicago. I left that area as a small child and have no memories of it except for visiting relatives afterwards.

I'll have to check out that flash piece. :)

Notta - See, that's where Asian restaurants are screwing up in America. They don't understand the importance of keeping their places immaculate. The Vietnamese place I go to now is spotless, and I bet within the next few years, it will be a favorite local restaurant. It's brand new.

Snavylyn - Udon noodles are great too - is pho like that?

Yeah, sort of. Udon noodles are thicker and udon soup is saltier and more seafood tasting.

Thom - You have pretty good Thai food in Seattle, better than what we have here in Santa Barbara. Saigon City is on 140th in Bellevue if I remember correctly.

Phoenix - Tripe if done right is flavorless and you'll never know you're eating tripe.

Bsoholic - That's awesome. I love to see characters. See, it's people like that that you throw in a book, not as a main character, but as decoration to flesh out your story. You have the protagonist meet the either his future lover or the guy who wants to kill him in that restaurant.

My fiction often involves real people like that.

10/05/2005 9:27 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Yeah, "hole-in-the-wall" joints may not be clean, but if you're lucky you'll get the best authentic food around.

If you like to try some really good 'hole-in-the-wall' pho you MUST stop in downtown San Jose and eat at "Dalat Cafe". Incredible seafood pho, and you know it's legit because only Vietnamese people eat there.
Also try a sandwich or some grilled pork with rice at "Dakao."
Both hole-in-the-walls, both deeeelicious.

If you're ever in Mountain View, stop by downtown and treat yourself to a meal at "Queen House, chinese restaurant." This hole-in-the-wall serves up the best deep fried pork chop over rice, I've ever had. My GF LOVES their deep fried tofu and the garlic stir-fried string beans.
Consider the spicy beef noodle soup (damn good).

They might look a bit dirty from the outside, but the food is pure heaven.

10/05/2005 10:18 AM  
Blogger Shawn said...

ZS - In some books it's even the same person...

There used to be great little Thai place up in Grass Valley. It was just a guy and his wife and the food took forever because it was fresh...We used to grab something to eat before we went there.

The husband took the orders and the end of the process was almost always this...

"How you wan that? Not too spicey, medium..."

"I'll take it spicey."

He looks you up and down and says, "I give you that medium..."

He was usually right too.

I love the spices they use. For some reason they seem to cleanse the bloodstream. Sounds a bit woo woo I know, but it worked. If I had a cold, I always asked for extra hot and usually got it.

How did that guy know?

10/05/2005 10:23 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Good for you for being so ecclectic in your tastes. I wouldn't try brains or balls for any amount of money--unless of course I were starving.

In San Francisco, I discovered that many Asians don't care much for personal hygiene much less keeping a clean restaurant. I was at a Barnes and Noble, or Borders, and some Asian "gentleman" bent over to get a book off a shelf. His ass couldn't have been three feet from my face. People were sitting all around me in every available spot. This guy passes a gas like a grape shot cannon. I could excuse it once, but he did it three times; the third blast he had to work for a little to get out. Nobody even looked up.

10/05/2005 1:10 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Scott - Farting is not seen as a bad thing in most Asian countries. They pass gas without guilt. In America, if one absolutely has to pass gas, one does it in a way that either:
1) nobody will notice,
2) they'll be another person who he could blame it on

Shawn - I swear some of these people have powers.

As for writings, if I ever write about Santa Barbara, I'm putting Scary Chinese Lady in there.

Joe - I need to hook up with you when I come up north. I don't know San Jose/Mountain View at all. I love Asian food, especially Vietnamese, Thai, Korean Bar-Be-Que, and Sushi.

10/05/2005 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Michele said...

My Aunt Chene was the Scary Mexican Lady. When we took over her restaurant, years ago, people would meekly order a second beer. When we'd write it down, their face would brighten, and they'd say, "Is it OK now, to have a second beer? The other lady never let us."
Good descriptions of foods I'll never try.

10/05/2005 1:49 PM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I hate bile. It's almost as bitter. Why people cook with bile I have no idea.

Who in their right mind would cook with bile? That's what I'm sayin'.
My Papa ordered me brain tacos once without telling me. I didn't think it was gross until he told me. (with a smile on his face)

He also had pickled pig's feet in his fridge and somehow tricked my sister into eating some.
Evil man.
I miss him.

10/05/2005 2:54 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

I've never tried brains except headcheese; my Grandma made terrific headcheese! The only organ food I really like is heart.

It seems like every ethnicity has it's own "gross" food. With Norwegians it's "blood club(kloob)". This is a sausage made with steel cut oats and blood. You slice it, fry it in butter, and serve it with butter and syrup. Delicious!

10/05/2005 3:31 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Tshsmom - Funny, people might read your reply and think "heart, gross, I'll never eat heart."

The proper response - "You like Slim Jims?"

"Uh, yes. Why?"

"Then you like heart."

Sadie - Who in their right mind would cook with bile?

That would be the Filipinos. There's no coincidence that Filipino food hasn't taken off in America. It's too weird.

Pigs feet. Yum.

Michele - Doesn't Scary Mexican Lady realize that the more folks drink, the more they tip? ;)

10/05/2005 4:21 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

No wonder I like SlimJims!

10/05/2005 4:32 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Joe, I got to Mountainview all the time - it's where they have the quilt shop I'm addicted to on Castro Street. I'll have to try your recommendations - we're only a short drive from San Jose.

10/05/2005 4:36 PM  
Blogger bsoholic said...

Trying new things at resteraunts takes a huge amount of encouragment from the people I am with. I would hate to order something I am not sure if I'd like or not and have it turn out I don't like it. Seems so risky. I know I should live on the wild side a bit more, but I am pretty much set in my ways. Hell, I do accounting for crying out loud, if that doesn't say boring, nothing does! ;)

10/05/2005 4:43 PM  
Blogger Bridget Jones said...

No way I'm ever eating organs. Know way too much about what they do. Won't even go into bugs etc.

If it was even partly healthy to eat only pizza, would definitely do it.

Like Vietnamese/thai food but only if I can recognize what's in it. Have a few friends, including M, who used to work for Chinese restaurants. They won't eat at them anymore and neither will I.

Soup should be safe tho....glad you got away from SCL.

You are very brave, Zomb!!


10/05/2005 9:38 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Bridget - I won't eat bugs unless I absolutely had to. They seem pointless.

As for pizza, I delivered pizza for too long. I can only eat it once a month at the most.

Bsoholic - You heard the one about the wild and crazy accountant? He took his tie off at a party once.

Notta - We'll have to get Joe to give us a tour of that area's restaurants. :)

Tshsmom - I just had one. Yummy. :)

10/05/2005 10:06 PM  
Blogger SME said...

OMG, I think the Scary Chinese Lady is somehow related to the Scary Chinese Man who used to run the Chinese buffet next door to a liquor store where I worked. He'd wander in at odd hours wearing a blonde wig, lightly balanced on his head like a hat, and buy two huge bottles of Windsor. The sole time I ate in his establishment, he stood practically on top of my table yakking on his cel while I was trying to eat, and when I paid he yelled, "Why you no married?! Where you husband?!" Actually he was less SCARY than he was tragically comical.

10/06/2005 12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SME - Me thinks Scary Chinese Man wanted SME as his wife.

10/06/2005 9:33 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Just pick a type of cuisine and I'm sure we'll find something good to grub.

The cool thing about being chinese at a chinese restaurant is that there is an entire menu in chinese that westerners would never know existed. This is true at almost all legit chinese restaurants. The next time you go eat chinese, look at the walls, there'll be entire menus of specials written in chinese characters on them. They aren't on the "American" menu.

10/06/2005 5:18 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

HONG KONG.This outpost of the British Empire was greatly favored by our family, we especially appreciated its social and recreational facilities. The consumption of Chinese food was minimal by our family due to the unhygienic methods used for its preparation, like 'Peking duck' hanging out in the sun with flies buzzing around.
There were also other unseen culinary activities and the mystery ingredients in oriental cooking.
It has often been said that MALTA was the island of wells bells and smells, but it pales when compared to the smells floating around Hong Kong's streets. There are some smells you can live with and others that strike deep fear into you. The most horrendous for me was the Jordan Road Pig Market on a hot day. excerpt from JLS's Waving G B T A T FLIES. Daily Gaggle.

10/06/2005 6:01 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Vest - In my only visit to Asia, I came back with a bad case of intestinal worms. The ideas of refridgeration and keeping the flies away from the meat I guess are foreign to many Asians. So as fun as Asians are as people, I've learned to be weary of what I eat when there.

Joe - The cool thing about being chinese at a chinese restaurant is that there is an entire menu in chinese that westerners would never know existed.

So true. I used to love going to restaurants with one of my Chinese friends. They'd never bother to even look at the menu. They'd just say something in Chinese and it was all good.

I'll definitely have to hook up with you when I come up. Looking forward to it.

SME - I was the Anonymous. I'm not sure why it didn't show up as me. Weird.

10/06/2005 6:07 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

ZL. I have just received a reply from the Prime Minister's Office, Re- medallion, will explain on my post soon.

10/06/2005 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is this tiny restaurant in downtown l.a. that serves THE best tongue sandwiches. It's either called anna's snack shop or sandwich shop. The entire building eats there so it's busy at lunchtime but well worth it.

10/07/2005 1:04 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

The Spanish restaurant adjacent to the Bull fight Arena (RING) served delicious Bullnuts 'Testes'.
The American diner complained that the bullnuts were much smaller than those he had eaten the day before, the waiter explained
"Senor, today all the bulls won".

10/08/2005 3:05 PM  
Blogger dusty said...

the ball and chain and I are going over to your neck of the woods soon and I want to try Pho..having graduated high school in..of all places..Lompoc..i am familiar with Goleta..

10/09/2005 3:32 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Dusty - Off of 101, it's the Storke/Glenn Annie exit. If you're coming from the South, you'd take a left.

On your left, you'll see K-Mart. It's on the corner of Hollister. Right by K-Mart is the Vietnamese restaurant.

Vest - Ah, an old joke, but a good one.

Anonymous - You wouldn't happen to know the streets, would you?

10/10/2005 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tongue sandwich place is on hill street between 7 & 8th. It is on the second floor I don't know the exact address but the # is (213)488-0000. Good luck!

10/12/2005 1:25 PM  

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