Food symbolizes a lot in the Chinese culture. When a family is celebrating the birth of a child, they throw a red egg and ginger party. When a couple gets married, the most important part of the festivities is the wedding banquet. When the elderly reach milestone birthdays, their families give them a birthday banquet.
My dad is turning 70 and his favorite place is Reno, Nevada, known as the biggest little city in the world. The entire family celebrated with him there this past weekend. We took him to Chi, one of the finest Chinese restaurants in the area. Typically, you can order set menus at Chinese restaurants to celebrate a birthday, but it was not offered at Chi so we ordered a la carte. The food was decent, but I couldn’t help feeling at the end that it wasn’t quite right. I think part of it is that when you order from a set menu, things come out one at a time and there is order and planning to how the entrees come out. The restaurant did do a few things very well and the highlights for me included the seafood and tofu soup, the peking duck, and the sweet and sour fried striped bass.
One of my oldest and dearest friends threw her father a milestone birthday banquet earlier this year at Koi Garden in Dublin. The food is amazing there and one of the best restaurants in the Bay Area so you can’t compare it anything in Nevada. When I look at the photos, I can’t help but drool.
Although food is an important part of Chinese culture, a much stronger element is family. We all traveled to Reno to spend time together and I think my dad appreciated that. And it doesn’t hurt that my mom the great cook will be cooking up a great feast for him later this week.