Pork in a storm

Torn among dumplings and a visit with Kayday to T-28


CHEAP EATS Kayday came here from Seattle. She tenor guitars my band and, being the opposite of a Luddite, helps me think about the future in terms of publishing, recording, and having things. Her car isn't just red. It's a Honda Fit. What else: she looks cute in a raincoat, which is important if you come from Seattle.

It was raining so hard in the Mission, we decided to go to the Outer Sunset to eat. A "double down," she called it. I call it fighting water with water.

In spite of her rain gear couture, Kayday does not like precipitation. Every time it rains two days in a row, I get nervous she's going to move to Baja and I'm going to have to find a new tenor guitar player with a red Fit.

"How you holding out?" I asked her in the car, on our way to food.

"I think I reached my lifetime rain quota while I was in Seattle," she said. "But I don't know what to do. I don't want to move to Arizona."

"Nor am I suggesting that you should," I said. "It's just that Tucson is not, in my opinion, all that half-bad of a city."

She told me about the botched Biosphere 2 experiment conducted near there in the early 1990s, and I started to cry because I thought about how the people living in that bubble for two years were not likely to have had access to really good dim sum, let alone Dim Sum.

Then again, a lot of people, including most of my very own relatives, live in Ohio and, as such, don't even know what dim sum is.

Anyway, the place we were aiming for was somewhere Kayday had heard and heard about, and had tried several times to go there, but: closed. So this time she called first and they said, "Open! Until 2:30!"

We arrived at 1:30, many hours late for brunch, on a rainy rainy Sunday, and they were closed — not closed because they were closed, but closed because the wait for a table was longer than an hour.

At least I got to sneak a look at their food, which did look pretty good and fluffy, and the atmosphere, which was so nice and wooden and cozy, I almost passed out. Does anyone know the name of this place? I can't remember, and anyway it wasn't where we ate.

We decided to cross the park to go to Shanghai Dumpling Something on Balboa Street, but then, 1/32 of the way there, I realized that Kingdom of Dumpling was on the Sunset side of the park, and therefore closer.

Did I mention how hungry I was? Pretty damn.

I still keep chicken farmerly hours, see, whereas Kayday is of course a rock 'n' roller, so her brunch is my late lunch.

And wouldn't you know it, there was a line out the door of Kingdom of, too. We stood in it for a little too long, because there was only one group ahead of us, and the smells and warmth coming out the doorway were just too good to leave.

Then I poked my head inside, realized it was a tiny, tiny place, that four of the dozen or so tables had just gotten their menus, and that no one else looked even close to finished, and still — it looked and smelled so good, and the warmth in there was so warm compared to the rain and wind on the sidewalk — we waited a couple minutes longer before Kayday pulled me away to T-28 down on the corner.

We ordered mackerel fried rice, chicken steak noodle soup, green onion pancakes, and (my favorite name ever for a thing) Pork Chop Porky Bun.

What a rip! It was just a regular old bun, only with a pork chop in it. Like a Vietnamese sandwich only without all the fun stuff, and even the pork chop was thin and dry.

There are 10 of these Macau-style "porky buns" listed, including peanut butter, Spam, and spicy sardine. Not for me.

The soup was boring. I never thought I'd see the day when a Chinese meal was saved by fried rice and green onion pancakes. Well, this was that day.


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