Foodie Remorse

As I landed back on the East Coast, I was met with the usual feelings of excitement and giddiness. I would be on “vacation” from the grueling schedule of a summer show contract (4-show Saturdays – ARGH!). I would have plenty of time to do nothing for a few days or even weeks (such is the life of a freelancer/show skater). Nothing to regret, right? But leaving Los Angeles means I no longer have amazingly authentic food, particularly of the Asian distinction, at my fingertips. At any point this summer, I could pop over to a Chipotle-style restaurant called Gogi Grill, but instead of getting Mexican prepared to my specification, it was Korean barbeque with fresh sides such as kimchi, pickled ginger, and pasta & potato salads. It was Korean barbeque without the sweatiness of having to cook it yourself. Another regular dining spot was Pokinometry. It was a poke bowl (sashimi over rice), but so much more. You had an endless array of decisions to make: white rice, brown rice, salad, chips or half and half? Then you added crab salad, avocado, white onions or any combination of those three. Then how many types of fish do you want (tuna, spicy tuna, scallops, octopus, salmon, etc.)? What sauce do you want your fish mixed with? Do you want sesame seeds, ginger, masago, wasabi, or spicy mayo? The choices were endless. Every bowl could be different and every bowl just as delicious as the one before it. (I obviously spent most of my time here.) Or if I was in the mood for soup dumplings, a Taiwanese delicacy? No problem. There were several Din Tai Fungs you could go to – the beautifully-crafted soup dumplings were always available, as long as you were willing to wait for a table. And if you were patient, you were eventually rewarded with the chewiness of a gentle dumpling wrapper holding a succulent ball of meat and soup inside. The top of the dumpling was always swirled so perfectly, I couldn’t help but think of a pretty bun on the top of someone’s head. (Of course, my hair never looked that neat.) My friend Mary was so enamored with these soup dumplings that she dropped her chopsticks three times and that still didn’t stop her. Towards the end of the summer, I hit a couple dim sum places: tapas, if you will, for Asian people. I realized after awhile, the various dumplings or shu mai tended to have the same glutinous flavor and lumpy consistency. But as the waitress opens tray after tray of food, you can’t help but order more. And the cool part about dim sum on the West Coast? You didn’t have to travel far. For my friend Nina, it was in her backyard. For me in Greensboro, NC, there just isn’t a dim sum place (that I know of). Sure, you can get gyoza or dumplings (generic kinds) at sushi restaurants or Chinese take-out spots. But it isn’t the same as getting dim sum in East LA. And in Cary, NC, there is ONE dim sum place. But I know not to fret. For a nomad like myself, it is only a matter of time before I’ll be reunited with some authentic Asian food. I’m not worried. A necessity to travel (for work or pleasure) will soon afford me the opportunity to get my Asian on.

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