餐廳: How Chinese Restaurants Saved Us in Europe (or, These Are the Chinese Restaurants I Know, I Know)

When I was in college, I was a fan of Kids in the Halla weekly sketch comedy show that aired on HBO. One of the actors, Bruce McCulloch, sang a song called “The Daves I Know,” with the chorus of, “These are the Daves I know, I know; these are the Daves I know.”

Since I had about 400 friends named Dave at the time, the catchy little tune was often stuck in my head.

Which brings me to Chinese restaurants.

Angela and I love spicy food. The bigger the flavors, the better. And we struggled in Europe, where the local cuisine in many regions tends to feature meat, fish, potatoes, bread, and not much else.

Additionally, our travel schedule often has trains, planes, and buses depositing us in a new locale late at night, when many restaurants are closed.

So what do you do when you roll into town an hour before midnight in need of a dish that will make your face sweat? Why, you find a Chinese restaurant, of course.

Tired of Scottish haggis and British pub food, we found the fantastic, tiny Mr. Chong Chinese restaurant in Walton-on-Thames, England, where Ben made friends with the owners. Everything we devoured was delicious, from the sesame prawn toast drizzled with chili oil to the Kung Pao chicken with garlic.

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Ben with Mr. and Mrs. Chong of Mr. Chong Restaurant in Walton-on-Thames, England

Our first night in France? A Chinese buffet, which was the only place in Narbonne-Sud that was open on a Sunday. (We’ll excuse them the cheese section of the dessert buffet since it was France, after all.)

Further along our European road trip, Soleil d’Asie in Libourne, France, was so good that we ate there two nights in a row, the first time savoring their soy beef and rice, and the second visit scraping up every morsel of caramel pork.

No. 27 Sichuan Restaurant in Vienna, Austria, saw us for lunch and dinner in the same day, both times for their flaming hot poached ​​beef in chili oil. (The second time, we sat closer to the fan.)

Toronto, Canada? Pork soup dumplings and shrimp potstickers at Asian Legend. And that was even before we made it to Europe.

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So, these are the Chinese restaurants I know, I know. And you know there will be many more to come on our around-the-world adventure.

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