I met a Chinese born Doctor (he was my anesthesist when I went in recently for wrist surgery), and we were discussing local restaurants (near Lowell, MA). He turned me onto a place I'm going to try in Nashua, and I'll report on that separately. But when the discussion turned to Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica, we agreed that it was great food, and that the chicken soup used to be the best, but that it had gone downhill significantly. But - he said that this is normal for Chinese restaurants. He chuckled and said that this is virtually a tradition - they all start out serving the highest grade chicken soup to begin with, to attract customers, and then in about 3 months or so, they stop serving it and serve the more "normal" thinned down stuff.
Is it true that this is a common phenomenon? Is this a mainland thing? Hong Kong? Taiwan? I haven't been around the opening of enough real Chinese places to know. I assume that we're talking about the places that Chinese folks would go to - the dime-a-dozen American-Chinese places around here wouldn't bother, I'm sure. There have been plenty of those opened in the area and I never thought their soups (or anything else) were worth much of anything - first three months or last three months.
The irony is that I would gladly pay extra for the good stuff if they had it. Even twice as much.