I recently found out today on Yelp that our family’s go-to Chinese restaurant, which my family has been frequented since before I was born some 2+ decades ago, has closed its doors. A Yelper said that the property owner sold the building, which means that either the owners will shut their restaurant down for good or move to another location. Though I have no idea where the family who founded the restaurant went, I suspect that the restaurant will be shut for good.
It’s a little sad, seeing the end of something that has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. The staff has seen my brother and I grow up from infancy into adulthood, and my close and extended family has celebrated many a birthday and special event at their tables. I’ve practically memorized the Chinese background music they have on repeat.
One special mark of this restaurant was their sweet and sour soup. I’m not sure how our tradition started, but every time we came in, without needing to place an order we were served it as soon as we sat down. My brother and I were always, without fail, given extra large bowls (about 3x larger than a normal bowl) because they knew how much we liked it and mine always came without green onions because when I was little I would always pick them out.
My real entry into adulthood was the day they stopped giving me that extra large bowl of soup. I was seriously sad about it for a while. I didn’t ask for the larger bowl, I wanted to be given it. Asking was akin to admitting that I still wanted to be treated like a child, so I held my tongue and just jealously looked on as my brother continued to be served that large bowl. It was almost as traumatizing as the day I discovered I had grown too tall to play in the ball room at IKEA (the idea of shopping for furniture and kitchen utensils with my parents was deathly boring to the 8 year old me. Still is, to a certain extent. I have to be in a domestic mood to enjoy looking at displays of rooms that I have no intention of building and decorating.) Growing up sometimes is no fun.
They had a case of candy displayed by the hostess stand and I remember gazing longingly at all the treats my parents refused to buy me and vowed I would buy whatever I wanted when I was an adult (had yet to happen). Next to the case was a vertical aquarium where the world’s funniest looking fish with bulging foreheads lived. When we were younger and bored with adult conversation, my cousins and I would inevitably end up there, trying to make the goldfish follow our fingers. They served ice cream instead of oranges or red bean soup as dessert- what other Chinese restaurant does that, I ask you? If you know of one, please let me know.
As more and more of the landmarks and traditions from my youth vanish, it makes me realize regretfully that yes, I am an adult (though I still will deny this from time to time.) As much as I’d like to reminisce and wish that I was a carefree kid without responsibilities anymore, time stops for no one, and the most we can do is cherish our memories and move on.