Hua Seng Hong Restaurant
We worked up an appetite before, roaming the hot and congested streets of Chinatown. I'm lucky I didn't get hit by a tuk tuk or bike. My eyes were so busy taking in the sights and smells surrounding me.
Smiles and Green Aprons
It wasn't obvious where we were supposed to go, since the whole entrance was blocked with kitchen excitement, that spilled right onto the sidewalk. We avoided touching huge metal pots, steaming over flames. We carefully made our way past the hanging food-critters and through the cluster of servers and cooks.
To the Back
The middle room was crowded with shoppers and diners and staff. We were ushered back further, past the shelves of wrapped foods and bottles. Don had to stoop over to step through the low threshold into the back room.
Little Red Oasis
Suddenly we were in a small room that at least looked like a restaurant. Whew. Even though we were with our daughter-in-law who has spent many of her years in Bangkok, it had been a little stressful navigating the streets of Chinatown. Finding ourselves in an air-conditioned, fairly quiet room, decorated with a lit up shrine of sorts, was a nice treat.
Shark's Fin Restaurant, Since 1973
I wish I knew the history of this place. The menu displayed the restaurant's curious name in English, but that's about it.
As we studied the menu, I peeked around at all the serious diners. It was January, peek tourist season in Thailand, but all the diners appeared to be locals on a lunch break. Then I noticed a blond couple sit down right next to us. Did those tourists follow us in?
We were starved and thirsty. The Lazy Suzan spun around quite a bit, with the 4 of us grabbing for food. Then we began to slow down.
Dim Sum, Cashew Chicken and Sweet & Sour Pork
We weren't too daring with our ordering. After walking by so many curious food stalls with not so appetizing smells, we just went for the basics. We got pleasantly full, using up a lot of the Kleenex thin napkins. Maybe next time we'll check out the Shark Fin Soup!
Tiki Time in February!
It was chilly when Don and I visited the California capital, early this year. Our son and daughter-in-law had just moved from New Orleans and their blood was as thin as our Texan blood. Surrounding ourselves in tropical decor, sounded like a good idea.
Scott and Chali had heard about the Tiki Bar in Sacramento's Midtown. We arrived on a Sunday night to check it out. For a moment, the dark windows made us think the place might be closed. But evidently the windows are kept dark on purpose.
The first thing we saw was a corner bar, under a thatched roof.
The bamboo stools were mostly taken, but luckily there were more options for seating.
There were birds hanging from the ceiling, but also a wall covered in bird prints. Don and I love a tiki theme, but this additional bird theme should have pleased our son the most.
As a little boy, Scott was obsessed with birds. He had as much bird decor at his 4-year-old "Bird-Day Party" as the well decorated tiki bar.
Where to Sit?
The 4 of us were hungry and cold and ready to cozy up with food & drink in the jungle atmosphere.
Luckily it was early and it wasn't crowded. The wicker chairs would have been nice, if it had just been Don and me. One corner had a nice little palapa roof and some carved masks.
Dining in Back
We found a nice table in the back with some interesting art work above our heads. I'm pretty sure there is a good story behind every collected piece in the bar/restaurant.
I wanted to ask a ton of questions, but our server was a little rushed. She clearly was not up for chit chat, about all the tiki decor surrounding us.
Festive Drink Menu!
I've never been in a tiki bar that was bright enough to read a menu. My cell phone light was helpful, though.
There were lots of delicious drink ingredients to choose from, but I basically chose my drink because of the vessel it was served in.
We hadn't even had more than a sip or two, when we snapped these photos. But these drinks made us very cheery.
Our drinks came with fruit garnishes and umbrellas, curly straws and lots of alcohol. I'm lightweight, so I took my time.
Tabar Island Toucan
All the drinking containers were mighty fine, but I was the only one who had to hand over my credit card for collateral.
My 10-dollar drink with vodka, syrup, mint and lime was worth it. Evidently, my credit card would have been charged $100. if my 4-pound copper bird had accidentally slipped into my large purse.
Our Tiki Gang
The youngin's were good sports when I asked our, not so friendly server to take our photo.
But after 3 sips of tiki drinks, none of us were too concerned about looking touristy.
Pu Pu Platter
Having a flame at the table added a little more drama, but we didn't really use it. The food was satisfying, but mostly Jungle Bird is about the drinks.
After enjoying ourselves a while, the vibe suddenly changed at Jungle Bird. Early on, we'd enjoyed sipping our drinks, to the Faux-Polynesian Exotica tunes of Arthur Lyman.
There is no better music for Tiki! Suddenly at 9 pm, the volume was cranked up and sounds of Metallica, replaced marimba and bird sounds. Ugh. Our little escape to paradise, lost its magic. We finished up and ordered an Uber.
The next day I called up Jungle Bird. I had to find out what the deal was. Maybe they turned on that music to get the Oldsters out. It turns out, we were experiencing Savage Sunday. Every Sunday at 9 pm, the tropical music haters get to enjoy a little heavy metal. Good to know.
Burger Adventure in April
When my sister and I stayed in Springfield last April, we rewarded ourselves with lunch at Taylor's. We were in town, sorting through our Dad's apartment after his move. After 5 days of working and reminiscing over Springfield memories, Jennifer and I worked up a good appetite for burgers.
No So Easy
There were a few people finishing up that day and I pleaded with the owner Darlene, to let us have a quick bite. She assured me the kitchen was closed. Darlene was sitting in a booth, checking a few people out with her adding machine. I could see staff peering through the kitchen window. They looked relieved that I wasn't able to convince Darlene to re-open the kitchen.
Last Taylor's Meal in 1969?
I remember practically sulking that day, when I realized I was not going to be able to give Don the Taylor's Experience. Actually I needed the experience as much as he did. It had been over 45 years since I'd eaten at Taylor's, so my memories were pretty vague. In fact, I don't even remember the very odd drive-up-order-area in back. I wonder if that still works?
Open 15 Hours a Week!
The cozy square-shaped diner was packed. I recognized Darlene bustling about in a pink "70th Anniversary" tee shirt. She pointed towards an open booth and tossed a couple menus our way.
I chuckled over the abrupt greeting and reminded Jennifer how Darlene had refused to budge with their closing time, 2 years earlier. We took a quick glance at our menus and made sure we were prepared to order when Darlene came with her pad and pen.
Sharing the Booth
What I wasn't prepared for, was the surprise of sharing my side of the booth with Darlene. Without hesitation, she plopped herself right down to take our order. "I'm too old for this!" Darlene shook her head. She told us that one of her girls had quit and she was having to wait tables. I'm sure she was extra glad that Taylor's is only open from 11 to 2.
But she did seem pretty relaxed and rejuvenated after being off her feet for 3 minutes. Suddenly she got up and hurried off to turn in our order.
The burgers were flat and crispy around the edges, like Steak-N-Shake, which was another Springfield favorite when we were kids. I ate way more than I should have!
We finished up and headed to the back corner, where Darlene was winding down in her special booth. Luckily we had cash, since Taylor's will remind you they do things the old fashioned way. We thanked Darlene with smiles and food compliments. I told her I hoped she could find a new server soon. She laughed that it wasn't easy finding someone who wanted to work just 3 hours a day.
However, I hope she hangs in there a while longer, so I can get back with Don... and get my Dad over to Taylor's for a burger and shake!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.