By Adam Wong ’17
It was a crazy idea, and one that was unlikely to come to fruition: my freshmen roommates and I would taste and critique General Gau’s chicken from every Chinese restaurant in the Greater Boston area.
Why General Gau’s? Well, we love it, every respectable Faux Chinese restaurant serves it, and with a calorie count upwards of 1300, it is a better nutritional deal than a big mac. For us the choice was obvious (especially for Tim– he’s an economist).
Unconcerned with fickle municipal boundaries, we decided to start off our culinary quest in our figurative backyard: The Hong Kong. Located directly outside our freshman dorm, its golden sign beckoned us to consume animal proteins and simple carbohydrates when the time for worrying about such simple matters of nutrition was naught (2am).
As I walked in, the owner looked up, and gave me a warm smile as he patted my back and sat me down at a window table as far away from the bar as possible. (I had a bit of a reputation). After being given chopsticks, playing drums with my chopsticks, and having the waiter take away my chopsticks, I was joined by my compatriots. Tim: rowing extraordinare, economics degenerate. Greg: six pack, piercing green eyes. And me, Adam Wong, waggish cavalier conspiracy inventor.
Team assembled, we quickly named our project: THE SEARCH FOR THE GREATER GAU. As fledging food bloggers, we observed our surroundings to judge the full experience of the Kong and its general Gau’s chicken.
(But first, the bathroom. It is calm, quiet, and the gentle Lysol massages your senses into catharsis. It is a pentagon– a very strong choice. As a unisex bathroom, it unfortunately lacks the convenient urinal and fortunately lacks passive aggressive sharpie graffiti.)
The water came out early and judging from the ice, condensation on the outside of the glass, and the way my teeth hurt while drinking it, the water was cold. Check plus! Knowing the importance of hydration on a crazy Friday night we downed our complimentary waters. Noticing our desperation for hydration, our waiter left a pitcher at our table, showing conscientiousness to our plight. The ice, not quite toothsome, was none the less chewable.
The ambiance is familiar: a painted relief of a Chinese mystic flying on a dragon, her hand formed in a Buddhist symbol, or more likely (judging from the tasteful Steve Miller Band playing in the background) the symbol for “rock on”.
About five minutes after we placed our fateful order, the General ambushed.
Marmalade heaps of deep-fried chicken floated onto our table. The feeling of seeing an old crush fluttered into our respective hearts. Bite-sized pieces glazed in a sweet-and-sour chili orange sauce, sprinkled with creamy white sesame seeds, and broccoli (because we are dignified, thank you very much). Each man mercilessly stabbed a piece and flung it into his gaping mouth. As the chicken came near, the characteristic sweet-and-sour smell wafted into our noses and ticked our sinuses. We put it in our mouth. It was sexy. I fully embraced the hot, sticky chicken, delighting as my teeth cut easily through the sweet, succulent meat. As the tangy orange sauce dribbled down the corner of my mouth, the sour vinegar gave way to the sweet of the sauce, and finally the savory of the chicken. I swallowed, and kept the mouth party going with a subsequent mouthful. I looked up from my mouth meditating, and saw Tim, slumped over his chair in bliss, and Greg, staring comatose into the ceiling. How could so much satisfaction come at the low price of $10.95?
Once we went into beast mode, it didn’t take long to finish the plate. There was a significant amount of the sauce left-over, which went well with the non-sticky, long-grain rice that came with the Gernal Gau’s combination plate.
The check was delivered soon after and we all received fortune cookies of the Lucky Panda brand. To our delight, the fortune cookies were delivered uncracked, unopened, and most definitely containing fortunes. Cracking the two, golden-yellowish sides in half, we put them in our mouths in such a way to avoid ingesting the paper. The cookies themselves –mildly sweet but otherwise flavorless — fragmented like chips in our mouths as we bit down on them. To our surprise, the papers had words, and to our amazement, the papers told us our fortunes. Realizing the terrible nature of predetermination, we busted the heck ‘outta there, but only after leaving a generous 20% tip.