Sometimes you'll drink homemade moonshine just to make Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck taste good.
Other times, you'll condition yourself to eating styrofoam because you've got a box of rice cakes at home that's just taking up space in the pantry about to go stale.
And there are times like these, where you'll actually find a place that makes you long, no yearn, well actually CRAVE, something -- nay, anything -- from PF Changs.
Fellow 'Hounds, I present to you ... Jasmine Cafe in San Marino.
It bills itself as a "substitute for 'mom's home cooking'". Well, ok, but only if Mom was from Pluto.
This place doesn't serve up Chinese food, as much as it serves up an imposter impostering fake Chinese food.
I could swear the potstickers were the ones I saw at Costco's freezer section the other day as I was sampling the mooncakes.
And the Lemon Chicken was so sticky sweet I was tempted to add some sugar to temper the flavor.
The Kung Po [sic] Chicken, on the other hand, was anything but sweet. In fact, it wasn't really anything. It was so bland that it made my ice water seem savory by comparison.
I know that I may be embellishing, but I could swear that the sauteed spinach we ordered was made from frozen spinach. I have no proof of this, but then I have no proof that it was made from fresh greens either.
Prices here don't seem that bad printed on black and white. But like everything else in life, context is everything. Once you get your food you begin to wonder if these are dim sum portions at full entree prices.
Go, if you must. But if you do, know that at the end of the meal you'll have this undeniable hankering for something better, like PF Changs.