Iâ€™m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Lebanon, Indiana.
Greetings from Lebanon, Indiana
N 40Â° 03.962â€™ W 086Â° 28.396â€™ Elev. 820 ft.
The crew of the SS Me So Hungry ended up spending Xmas day here in one of the USAâ€™s many Lebanons. We were very thankful to be here for a couple of reasons.
First was that, despite Indiana being a remarkably retarded state, it was a far sight better than being stuck in Pennsylvaniaâ€™s Lebanon. Secondly, we were fortunate enough to find a restaurant that was open that didnâ€™t have a sign outside that read Dennyâ€™s or McDonaldâ€™s or Huddle House.
Indeed, we ended up having sort of a traditional Jewish Xmas feast: Chinese food. And considering that the restaurant choices numbered in a single digit (1), it wasnâ€™t too bad.
China Wok is a franchise with locations all over the country. I was surprised not only that the place was open, but that it was offering its â€œLunch Specialâ€ menu on Xmas. The specials are offered every day between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and consist of an entree, served with Fried or White Rice, with prices ranging from $4.55 to $4.95.
Because we knew there was a nasty storm system coming in and didnâ€™t want to be caught short of provisions â€” the only other places open were gas stations and, curiously, drug stores â€” we went a little further overboard than normal on the selections. But what the hell, it was Xmas.
For entrees we selected Sweet & Sour Pork, Roast Pork Lo Mein, and Beef Hunan Style, all with Fried Rice, which we know from experience is much better than White Rice when eaten cold.
The Sweet & Sour Pork ($4.75) was breathtakingly bogus. While the Sweet & Sour sauce was fairly decent, the morsels of pork were basically batter-balls with a little Pinto bean-sized piece of pork in it. And although the pork was tender there just wasnâ€™t enough of it to get any flavor from. I donâ€™t know how to say Pork Grinch in Mandarin but they sure were stingy with it.
But the cardinal sin they committed with the Sweet & Sour Pork was that it contained no pineapple or bell pepper. I never ever order Sweet & Sour anything because I generally consider it to be kind of silly. The only reason I did this time was because I really wanted the pineapple. After all, it showed big chunks of pineapple and bell pepper in the picture on the menu!
Skippy wanted to go back and, doing our best impersonations of Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski, burst in and yell â€œShenanigans!â€ â€™til we got pineapple. But it wouldâ€™ve been just too much of a hassle. Besides, such an action probably wouldnâ€™t work anyway. After all, the place is called China Wok not City Wok.
The Roast Pork Lo Mein ($4.75) however was great. It had a generous portion of big strips of tender roast pork, along with green and white onion, cabbage, and slivers of carrots and celery. That the Lo Mein was served with rice was kind of baffling though. But hey, it was a Lunch Special. Besides, you simply canâ€™t go wrong with Lo Mein noodles.
But the shining star of our Jewish Xmas feast surely was the Beef Hunan Style ($4.95). It had a generous amount of tender sliced beef, along with big chunks of broccoli, bell pepper, baby corn, snow peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and carrots. Although itâ€™s billed as being â€œin chefâ€™s spicy Hunan sauce,â€ I thought it couldâ€™ve been a little hotter. But this is Indiana, and it was great nonetheless.
Besides the minor Xmas Miracle that the China Wok, being located in the middle of the buckle of the Bible Belt, was open on a Christian High Holy Holiday, it had a few other things going for it. The Fried Rice was actually pretty good, and the price was more than reasonable. But the containers the food came in were awesome.
These things are so far superior to both the classic Chinese Take Out boxes and the despicable, un-degradable styrofoam containers. They seal really tight and keep the food warm for a really long time. So tight is the seal, in fact, that they even keep rice moist after itâ€™s refrigerated.
Heck, weâ€™re so impressed with the little plastic bowls and lids that weâ€™re going to wash them out and keep them for future use.
And so we roll.
China Wok, 2218 N. Lebanon St., Lebanon, Indiana, and nationwide
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.