When my dad, my older brother, and I arrived in Beijing, China, we had no idea what we were going to eat. We cannot speak or read Chinese, so we had extreme difficulty whenever we went to a restaurant. Around the sixteenth day of the trip, we trekked to Yonghegong Lama Temple. After we were finished visiting the temple, our group had become extremely hungry. During the return trip to our hotel, we stopped at a local restaurant on one of Beijing’s renowned “hutongs,” or alleys, and we were not ready for what we would find inside of that local restaurant.
Before we even sat down at the restaurant, we perused the menu, looking for items in Chinese and English. Once we decided that the food looked edible, we were led to the back end of the restaurant to a room that was too small. My father and my brother and I looked at each other and became suspicious as to why we were partitioned to a back room of the restaurant. It was probably hotter in that back room than it was outside the front door of the restaurant, but we were, in fact, provided with a meager amount of air conditioning from a unit in the wall. Our outlook was very bleak, sitting there trying to decide what to order.
To start, we all drank bottled water because we were not confident enough to drink anything else from their storage room. For the most part, we were happy just to sit down and rest, but we eventually came to a conclusion on what to order. We ordered ham fried rice, chicken fried rice, and Kung-Pao chicken, a spicy dish, because those items were the only things that we knew what they looked like. After about fifteen to twenty minutes, the food was served.
The ham fried rice and the chicken fried rice were the better of the three dishes. The Kung-Pao chicken was too spicy for us, and the fact that it had peanuts and a lot of other stuff was unappetizing. Since we did not care for the Kung-Pao chicken, we shared the rest of the fried rice among us. After we were finished eating, we just sat and talked and relaxed in the back room of that crazy restaurant because it finally started to cool down. We had nowhere to be so we sat and talked after the meal in the Chinese style. On our way out of the restaurant, we saw what the rest of the dining room looked like, and we considered ourselves lucky to sit in the back room away from all the commotion. After we left that restaurant, we promised ourselves that we would never eat in a Chinese-speaking restaurant again without the assistance of a Chinese friend.
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