Dec 29, 2010

A Chinese Shabbat by Andrea Mann

For most Jews, Chinese food is a Christmas ritual. We look forward to Christmas 364 days a year. Not necessarily for the same reasons as those who observe the holiday, but rather, we are counting down the days until we can happily stuff ourselves with wonton soup, chop suey, chicken lo mein, and vegetable fried rice. Why do all jews (at least in America) flock to the local Chinese establishments on December 25? Finding a nice jewish husband might be part of it... but more likely it's to kvetch to other Jews about how every restaurant and every store in town is closed. There's not much else to do on Christmas day.

Well, this year I experienced my first christmas in Israel. There were no bright lights illuminating the Tel Aviv palm trees to forwarn me of the approaching holiday and the lack of snow definitely didn't help alert me either. Every store and every restaurant in Tel Aviv remained open. And it wasn't until a friend pointed out that it was, in fact, Christmas that I realized I actually missed the festive music blaring from the speakers of every store in town. So, since I wasn't limited to chinese cuisine on Christmas, I decided to break tradition. Instead, I instated a new Friday night ritual: Chinese Shabbat.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Every Friday evening as the sun starts to set, restaurants and shops quickly begin ushering out their last customers, sweeping up the remnants of the day, and locking up their storefronts. This past Friday as the city began to quiet down, my friends and I took it as our cue to head over to Long Sang for a Chinese feast. Apparently, we weren't the only ones with this idea. As we approached the entrance of the restaurant, located on Allenby near the intersection of Ben Yehuda, we noticed several other hungry patrons waiting to devour their own Chinese Shabbat dinner. When selecting a restaurant, I take a large crowd as a sign that the food must be worth the wait. Thus, we waited.

The restaurant is pretty small, without a proper entrance or waiting area. So, after standing outside on the sidewalk of Allenby for twenty minutes, staring through the large glass windows at everyone else's plates piled high with typical Chinese fare, we were finally called to our table. We immediately ordered some soups and appetizers to quell our hunger. I enjoyed the tangy Hot and Sour soup with chicken and mushrooms, which had just the right amount of kick to it. After wishing we could order every item on the menu, but knowing that we would never be able to evenly divide the leftovers among the five of us, we settled on a few Chinese classics like eggrolls, sweet and sour chicken, lo mein, vegetable fried rice and then added a chicken and cashew dish to even out our table of heavenly fried chinese deliciousness.
Vegetable Lo Mein
I'm not sure why I was surprised to find such authentic Chinese in Tel Aviv, nestled among the Falafal and Shwarma stands. Israel is, afterall, pretty damn close to Asia. Apparently, Long Sang offers two menus to it's customers. One for more "westernized" Chinese cuisine and one that contains more traditional Chinese items. 

My only disappointment? No fortune cookies came with our bill!
Well, and that there weren't any leftovers...

1 comment: