Most Saturdays, the three of us eat lunch at a fairly unassuming Chinese buffet imaginatively called “Asian Buffet” located in a strip mall. It is certainly not haute cuisine, but the vast majority of offerings are created from scratch (including the hot chili sauce which Mr. Annie would eat by the tablespoon were such a thing decent in polite buffet society). They make beautiful little dim sum, and delicious soups as well as creditable versions of American buffet standards like General Tsao’s chicken, Chicken with Cashews, eggrolls, Crab Rangoons, and (my personal favorite) chicken-on-a-stick. There is also an assortment of multicultural bizarreness including macaroni and cheese, meatballs, Bourbon Chicken and (made from scratch) California rolls. We know that the food is made by human hands because we often see an employee sitting at a table in the back, tipping and tailing gigantic piles of fresh green beans, and because we’ve asked where we can purchase the much-loved chili sauce, only to be told that they make it fresh daily from dried hot peppers. We spend $20.00 on a Saturday lunch for three, we all get exactly what we want, and we are supporting a local restaurant.
During our lunch yesterday, Mr. Annie’s face took on a strange expression mid-eggroll. Reaching delicately into his mouth, he produced a small screw. Having recently had the experience of finding a staple in a steak, we were uncertain. As you may recall, the staple appeared at an alleged “fine dining” restaurant, where the discovery was not sufficiently interesting to warrant either an apology from the owner/manager on the premises or any attempt to rectify the situation. We debated briefly, and decided that we needed to tell the manager not to secure an apology, but to make him aware that there might be an issue in his kitchen.
The young man managing that day could not have been more sorry or more gracious. He explained that they usually made their own eggrolls, but sometimes bought them from a vendor; in this case the eggrolls were from a purchased batch. Within five minutes of our discussion he was at our table apologizing again, with a gift certificate for a free lunch in his hand.
The moral of this story is that, as my mother always said, “pretty is as pretty does.” The restaurant with the fancy decor and the upscale menu items could not be bothered to respond to a potentially dangerous foreign object in food served to customers and, although I know that at least one reader forwarded my post about the experience to their management, I have never heard from them. On the other hand, the bare-bones strip mall restaurant decorated with curling travel posters was quick to take responsibility and to make things right. (It’s also worth mentioning that their food is really infinitely better).
If you live in my neck of the woods. eat here:
4920 Marsh Rd
Okemos, MI 48864
Hershey’s Steak & Seafood
2682 East Grand River
East Lansing, Michigan 48823
If you don’t live here, give the little guy a chance.