Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Tucson is a wasteland when it comes to Chinese restaurants

I love the intracies of good Chinese food — the amazing sauces that plateau my tastebuds to another level, the rich spices that define Mandarin, Szchewuan, Cantonese, and Hunan.

Tucson is one big vapid hole when it comes to Chinese food. Eat it elsewhere because there are no good Chinese restaurants here.

You know there’s a problem when the chain P.F. Chang or it’s little sister Pei Wei Diner always win best Chinese restaurant. P.F. stands for Paul Fleming as in Fleming’s Steakhouse and Wine Bar.

I guess being from Los Angeles has me spoiled. There were so many Chinatowns in Los Angeles. There was the Chinatown which was downtown and the Chinese enclave in Monterey Park and of course San Gabriel. Even strip malls on the Westside had better sleeper Chinese joints.

Tonight I went to Target to pick up a few things and came out famished so walked across the parking lot and gave my order at Pei Wei. I brought home a Korean dish with spicy tofu and vegetables in some kind of sauce with brown rice. It was boring. I was hungry so I ate a small bowl but maybe the flavors will commingle and by tomorrow it might taste better. I will never go back to Pei Wei no matter how convenient it is.

I wonder why some cities just buzz with good Chinese food while others flop. Tucson has a small Chinese population but all it takes is one or two good Chinese restaurants.

Cafe Pacific on Prince just west of Campbell has about the best Chinese food but the service is odd.

I’ll just sign off with this thought — I am seriously jonesing for some moo shu pancakes and onion pancakes with spicy chile sauce and memorable stir fry beef with lots of onion and garlic. I wish the Mandarette which is on Beverly Blvd in L.A. (is it still there?) had a sister restaurant here — it would be packed all the time.

What’s your favorite Chinese dish?

    Leave a Reply