It was a tough restaurant week for me. Not only did I find out that my favorite special occassion restaurant (Aquavit) closed, but I also found out that my favorite any occassion restaurant (Chan's Seafood)closed.
I was a little nervous when I stopped by Chan's about five weeks ago and they had put paper over the glass and the lights were off, but I trusted in the "closed for re-modeing" sign. However, I got a little more nervous when I called last week, and I got a message that their phone number was no longer in service.
It was time for me to do a little investigating. I drove by at lunch time on Wednesday and received confirmation that Chan's was in fact closing. There were two Chinese men in their 50s inside doing some work on the renovations. They told me that the restaurant was opening up again in a month (good news)....under new ownership (bad news).....and with a new chef (worse news). They told me that the new chef would be even better and that the new space would be fancier so I would be a lot more comfortable. I don't know, but I thought the old chef made the best Chinese food in the city and I felt pretty comfy in the old digs.
There were several things I loved about Chan's:
1) Watching them take fish out of the tanks by a net and knowing I was getting the freshest seafood in town for a fraction of the price of Oceannaire.
2) Hanging out with a group of friends on a Saturday afternoon. About 10 of my friends had a monthly dim sum date, and we always had the same table. It was the modern version of hanging out at the diner. In fact, I was pitching Barry Levinson on a movie idea called, "Dim Sum". Okay, not quite.
3) The delicious greens: Chinese broccoli or pea pod stems.
4) The fact it was always open late.
5) The friendly staff.
There are a couple things I am sorry I never did. Every time I went in there, I looked at the Chinese banquet menus and told my wife that we needed to come back with a group of ten and do a Chinese banquet so that we could try some new and unusual things.
Even more than that, I am sorry I never tried the giant clam sashimi. The last time I visited (about three weeks before they closed), I was in there getting take out. While I was waiting for my food one of the waiters told me I had to try the giant clam next time because the manager said I really like giant clam. I'll never know whether he was getting me confused with someone else who was a giant clam lover or if they just assumed that because I went pretty regularly and asked a lot of questions that I would like to experiment with giant clam.
So here is hoping that the guys working inside are right and the food is even better. I guess I am not holding my breath, but I will hope for the best, and hope to get an opportunity to try the giant clam sashimi from the new owners. In the meantime, my monthly dim sum date and my vote for best Chinese in the Twin Cities has moved to Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington.