I’m Poor With Chopsticks: Chinese Food in Edinburgh

I went to a wonderful Chinese restaurant the other day. I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s the kind of place that you take your girlfriend on your 6-month anniversary, trying to be cute and funny instead of romantic. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s still your and her favorite restaurant because it’s cheap, and it’s delicious, and it’s awesome. If a politcian were trying to appeal to the Hong Kong population as an egalitarian, he/she would be seen at Yum Yum Hong Kong Diner, eating Pak Choi with children. But, this isn’t why I cant wait for another Chinese Food craving. My affinity for Yum Yum Hong Kong Diner keeps its foundation in a something much more fundamental than the physical nourishment that it gives me; emotion(al nourishment)*.

Here’s a secret my handsome readers, I’m really bad with chopsticks. Everyone who I’ve ever eaten Asian food with though thinks I’m amazing with them, but I’m a liar. They don’t think I’m a golden god because they’ve seen me use Chopsticks. They think such things because I’ve told them that I’m good with the sticks. This point was never better expressed in my life than when I went with my flat-mate Glenn to Yum Yum Hong Kong diner on Sunday night.

I had been running behind because a very cute little French stranger had asked me if she could use my computer to charge her iPod. Naturally I said yes, and preceded to fill the remaining space of her iPod with They Might be Giants, The Aquabats, and some of our other finer American exports. Based on her precious French face and her inaptitude with the English Language, I figured that she would appreciate Ska. I had also recently gotten William Shatner’s spoken word/punk rock album Has Been, which I also put on the Pod. If that’s not a way to perpetuate ethnocentric stereotypes, I don’t know what is.

I met up with my friend Glenn who was smoking a cigarette outside of the restaurant. YYHKD, as I like to call it is slightly hidden off of one of South Clark Street’s many arteries. It’s a very small, unrecognizable Chinese restaurant, while at the same time, hard to miss with it’s entire menu plastered on it’s window and a large sign that looks like it was designed by a fourth grade art class.

It was my first time at the YYHKD, but apparently Glenn was a regular. The small Asian/Scottish man named Tim had our order on the table within seconds of our arrival. Though our food was indeed hastily placed on our table, the relative time that it took for our food to arrive was lessened by my captivated with the Chinese game show, broadcasting on the television in the middle of the restaurant. With the amazing display of colors, movement, and excitement, it’s hard not to be captivated by Chinese television. I do not know how epileptics could possibly survive in that culture. Seizures must be hourly.

Glenn’s “usual” consists of some sort of beef in barbeque sauce, noodles in oyster sauce, and other such small, evasive foods. This was when the trouble began. Remember, I am NOT good with chopsticks, but I have too much pride to admit such an imperfection. I asked Glenn why there weren’t forks on the table. His obvious and appropriate response was, “why would there be?”. I told him that it’s weird that they wouldn’t have a fork for those people who aren’t good with chopsticks. He said “can you not use chopsticks?” I reacted offended – like I had blown my cover. I yelled “I cut my thumb, Glenn!” with more enthusiasm than I probably should have. People stared, and rightfully so. That’s a strange thing to yell under any circumstance, especially in such a small venue like the YYHKD.
I looked at the chopsticks, then looked at my food, then looked at Glenn, who at this point was eating, but also staring at me in the face, waiting to see how I handled the chopsticks with my “injured” thumb.

“Hmmm, it smells good” I said, trying to shift the focus, which yielded little to no results. I looked at the television and said, “Man, Chinese game shows are crazy”. Glenn looked at the TV, so I took a dive at the barbeque beef. I pierced it with one stick and sideswiped it with the other. I attacked it like a mountaineer hunting fish. I let out a victorious “hah!” like I had just proved an arduous theorem to the entire YYHKD viewing audience and went for my mouth.

No less than an inch from my face, I lost grip and the beef flew from the chopsticks towards the nearest table, which seated a family of three. It landed on the plate of the daughter, who couldn’t have been older than 5. She was eating something that was especially juicy, or she was just finishing soup, because something splashed into her face. For a second, there was silence, and I was hopeful that I had gotten away with it, but then she started crying. I’m not sure what for. If she was eating soup, it couldn’t have been too hot since she was almost finished with it. The mother tried to calm the daughter while the father aggressively searched around the restaurant for tomfoolery. I looked at the TV, pretending to be oblivious to the situation. I had been so attentive to the Chinese game show thus far that it seemed to be a fairly good cover up.

Glenn stared at me. We looked at each other with a moment of silence. I was pretending that I didn’t know why he was staring at me. He was pretending that I hadn’t just ruined the entire meal. Both of our thoughts were being drowned out by the wailing toddler. After about 10 seconds of impenetrable tension, Glenn took initiative and asked our waitress for some to-go boxes.

With empty stomachs, we raced home in silence. We arrived at our flat and, like it had been our plan all along, I went straight for the DVD player while Glenn went into the kitchen with our lukewarm Chinese food. He arrived with a pair of forks, and two plates. We watched the rest of The Fellowship of the Ring from where we had left it the day before and pretended that I hadn’t just ruined someone else’s family supper at YYHKD. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more content in my entire life. Glenn was right, it was the best Chinese Food I have ever had.

Yum Yum Hong Kong Diner
13 West Richmond Street
Edinburgh
EH8 9EF
Phone: 0131 667 8263

*I added this entire paragraph to make note of the fact that YYHKD is actually a brilliantly tasty and cheap Chinese restaurant since I wrote the entire essay without ever mentioning my opinion on the matter whatsoever. Welcome to maximalism. Look it up.

By: Ben Majoy

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