Sing along with me, friends!
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my Jew-love gave to me:
Twelve Mu Shoo’s Porking
FIVE…SHRIMP FRIED RICE!
Four Hunan Beef
Three Crab Bun
Two Pork Lo Mein
and a Duck in a Black Bean Sauce!
That’s right, it’s Christmas Day. The most highly anticipated, least anticipated day of the year for Jews. While the Gentiles are opening presents, drinking Egg Nog,[1. Perhaps, and this says a lot, the most non-Jewish concoction ever invented. I’m past the point where I care what’s in it. It’s really gross, and every time I take a sip, for some reason, I feel an urge to read the Book of Revelation.] necking under the mistletoe,[2. Now this one is just inefficient, Christians. I think Jews are satisfied not having a make-out End Zone for the Holidays. See someone you like? Just go smooch ’em.] and re-watching A Christmas Story for the 38th time (this week),[3. I actually LOVE that movie. I move to make it an honorary Mel Brooks film.] we Chosen are sitting around like schmucks with nothing to do. Sure, it’s nice that it’s another Jew’s birthday (Happy 2014th, Jesus!), but is that reason enough to SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING?
For the Goyischtablishment,[4. It goes without saying, but COPYRIGHT, SUCKERS!] indeed it must be so. Fine. They get to be with their families, we have to be with ours. So what to do?
Part 1 of this series outlined the entertainment situation. Now, let’s deal with the second, and arguably more important variable: nourishment.
Bring on the Chinese Food.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I was joined by my longtime compatriot Josh Awend on a Twin Cities Chinese Adventure. From Lyn-Lake in Uptown, to Minnehaha Park, and finally Edina, we trekked the Metro in search of what your racially insensitive uncle used to call, “Oriental Fare.” For consistency, we chose three simple but popular dishes: Kung Pao Beef, Mu Shoo Chicken (I wanted to do pork, but Josh reminded me that this is TC Jewfolk*), and that most authentic of Far Eastern delicacies, Cream Cheese Wantons.
*[Editor’s Note: Don’t get me wrong… we love Kosher eating, but also, the guy who wrote this is a board member. So go ahead Max, eat your heart out!]
What we found was, while it is fun but ultimately futile to make a “Best-of”, it’s more practical to think about your Chinese Christmas as situational. I think we’ve all been there, but here’s how it can break down for you and yours:
For this one, we chose Szechuan Spice in Uptown. Sometimes, it’s all about what’s open, and when. Szechuan will be open on 12/25, and more importantly, will be making deliveries to the Uptown area late into the evening. Local improv comedians and fans will be intimately familiar with the place: located directly across from HUGE Improv Theater, it’s been a convenient stop for pre or post-show eats. Always dependable, Szechuan is all about classic menu options, quick and friendly service, and consistent satisfaction. The beef was a bit dry, the wontons slightly under-filled, but generally delicious.
What happened next is a classic story. Having schlepped all the way to St. Paul (and, true to form, hungry again only 20 minutes later), we were shocked to find our expected destination, Cleveland Wok, closed.[5. On a Sunday? Is it a Chinese liquor store or something?] Uh, oh. Emergency Mode. It’s Christmas, the kids are acting up, “The Interview” was canceled, and you’re hungry. Where do you go? Ah, thanks Yelp! Dynasty on 7th Street in St. Paul, right? Wrong! CLOSED. Now the pressure’s on. Sweat beads on the brow. Cool 108 angrily shut off. Must. Have. Chinese. Finally, after two phone-a-friends, we find ourselves at a small strip mall on Minnehaha. Crystal Garden here to save the day! Was it good? No. Was it terrible? No. The “buffet” tasted like last Christmas’ leftovers, but the fresh dishes were actually pretty good. For the Yule-time Jewish Emergency, this one came through big.[6. Ironically, Crystal Garden will be closed on Christmas.]
Great Wall in Edina. Just go to this one. The wontons were creamy and crispy, served with a delightful duo of mustard and sweet-and-sour sauces. The beef? More like Kung POW, right in the kisser of delicious. I was simply delighted by their Mu Shoo, served with the perfect sauce and those wonderfully warm Asian tortilla things. The ambiance was elegant, with impeccable window fixtures. Like its historic namesake, The Great Wall is a remarkable accomplishment of Chinese Cuisine in the decidedly-least Chinese place in the world. They’ll be open. You’ll be happy.
And so there you have it, dear readers. Armed with your Movie and Chinese recommendations, I wish all of you the Merriest of Christmases. Oh, and Happy Hannukah. And a Pleasant Kwanzaa. Whatever.
In the eternal words of the love of my life, All I Want for Christmas is…JEWS!
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