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My Recurring Restaurant Dream

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My Recurring Restaurant Dream

Dennis | Mar 8, 2003 01:22 PM

Greetings Chowhounds:

I have this recurring restaurant dream that I have been having for years.

First, some background.

Back in 1973, a new Chinese restaurant opened in my city of Norfolk, Virginia. This was a family run restuarant, with its members having just moved from Washington D.C., where they worked and trained in various Chinese restaurants there.

The name of this restaurant was "The Shanghai Restaurant." The owner went by the name of Z.Y. Wong.
His entire family, including his wife and three chilren, were activly involved in the operation of this restaurant.

This was the first Chinese restaurant in our area to break the Cantonese mold by offering menu items representing the Hunan, Mandarin, and the Szechuan styles of Chinese cuisine. It was here where I first sampled such delicasies as Hot & Sour Soup and Chicken & Pork Szechuan Style.

Never again would my menu selections in Chinese restaurants be confined to Sweet & Sour Pork or Almond Guy Ding. My palate for Chinese food was beginning to open and expand to new horizons.

Within a year, The Shanghai became the most popular Chinese restaurant in the entire area. People would drive from miles around, even from North Carolina, just to enjoy the delicasies this restaurant had to offer.

The family members who operated this restuarant pulled out all stops to give all of their menu items the highest level of quality and preparation. They took a tremendous amount of pride in their food.

Even such seemingly ordinary items as Egg Rolls and a small bowl of Wonton Soup were outstanding. You could not find a better Egg Roll or bowl of Wonton Soup anywhere.

The Wonton Soup was made of real chicken stock. I know this for a fact because the owner gave me a tour of his kitchen and showed me whole chickens boiling away in his vat of chicken stock.

Unfortunately, this restaurant closed down about fifteen years ago. The owner's wife became ill - so he decided to retire, so he could devote his time to her care.

There has yet to be a new Chinese restuarant emerge in our area whose staff could even begin to match the home spun charm of the Wong family - or offer a quality of cuisine that even approaches that of The Shanghai.

P. F. Chang's? What a joke. It can't touch the quality and authenticity offered by the legendary Shanghai Restaurant.

But wait! I have good news!

The Shanghai Restaurant still exists!!

There is this little side street in my city of Norfolk, Virginia, that hardly anybody knows about. What you have to do is find this street, drive down a couple of blocks, make a right turn here, then a left turn there, and voila! There it is!

It is still run by the charming Wong family, with all of its members now in a state of renewed and vibrant health. And its cuisine is every bit as outstanding as it was before!

Of course, this is the recurring dream I was referring to. However, this dream enables me to revisit this restaurant and enjoy its wonderful cuisine once again, as well as the camreaderie of the Wong family who nurtured this restaurant to the height of its popularity.

So, there is my dream. Has anybody here ever had a similar dream about a beloved restaurant in your area that had to close down?

Dennis

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