Monday, May 7, 2012

Shanghai River

Look I love my friends. I mean I only have two (don’t worry, you’re one of them) it’s not like they’re this huge crush on my social calendar, but I mean sometimes I just want to go out by myself and have a Catherine date, treat myself well, buy myself a drink and see how far I can get (sometimes I’m pretty frigid usually I don’t even make it to first base.) So the other day I figured, I need to get away but my planner is too full of stuff to just hang out alone – eureka! I’ll review a restaurant, it’ll be work, I won’t have any fun at all, just straight work, but at least that b word Melissa won’t be trying to talk to me. Anyway so I was driving around town and then I passed Shanghai River at 2407 Westheimer and it hit me – I was craving Chinese food! Look this has literally never happened before. I crave a lot of foods, and I’d say I eat a decent amount of Chinese foods, but I NEVER crave Chinese. It’s just something that kind of happens, just a food that I eat because it’s tasty and China Star is right there on campus. Maybe I crave Jack in the Box’s eggrolls, but nobody would try to say that’s actual Chinese food, I mean come on guys, let’s be serious. So since this is the first time it’s happened I wasn’t going to say no, I swang right into the parking lot.

Here’s the thing. It’s a huge restaurant. Every Chinese restaurant has the same menu, and I hate to be so callous, but every Chinese restaurant tastes the same, too. There was no way they were ever going to fill that whole dining room, I mean people just eat the Chinese food that’s closest, that’s just how it works. Either way they have this huge, like, four part dining room. I say a table for one and they take me into this little alcove and plop me down next to this other guy who’s eating by himself. The whole dining room available, and they sit me down next to the only other table for one. It wasn’t an alcove, it was a stable. A table for one stable. To hide all of us embarrassments. +9 Because the thing is I think they were just being friendly! Oh, here’s this old guy here all by himself, I wonder who’ll want to sit next to him... we’ll put this twenty one year old girl in the table next door! They’ll get along spiffy! It’ll be the romance of the ages!! I mean I didn’t talk to the guy he looked kind of creepy and I’d specifically come here to eat by myself, but guys it’s the thought that counts.

Here’s the thing. I have this really huge purse and it is so heavy because it’s chock full of things to read. I have magazines, the book section of the New York Times from over a month ago, newspapers, Melissa’s diary, twelve or so books.... I mean I’m going to have serious back problems one of these days, but it’s just for times like these. So I’m sitting there eating my foods, reading The Headhunters by Jo Nesbo, enjoying myself, when suddenly I’m sucked into the conversation of the girls in front of me.

“Are you really worried about what kind of mother I’m going to be?” the pregnant one shrieks.

The other one – her sister? Her friend? Replies, “I’m just not sure how you’re going to be able to do all the things you want to do with a kid.”

She responsibly retorts, “Well, when I have a second, they can kind of take care of each other, right?”

Her friend replies, “I thought you said you were only going to have one!” in a really dismayed tone. Like that was what she should be upset about! That her friend was being inconsistent, rather than the fact that her friend was only popping out kids to alleviate her parental responsibility! -8

I obviously put my book down. I mean don’t get me wrong, Mr. Nesbo is a wonderful writer, but it wasn’t his best work and this was way more interesting. Shortly after, another pair of women appear with a young child. The non-pregnant girl obviously knows them, they chat about boring things, and then they get on the topic of Facebook. Mrs. Non-Pregnant is complaining about how she should take a lot of stuff off her Facebook, because she’s afraid it’s unprofessional.

I obviously zone out for a moment, drunk on this information. What does Mrs. Non-Pregnant have on her Facebook that’s so unprofessional? She seemed so matronly, so staid. I don’t know what that word means, but she definitely seemed so. Pictures of her snorting coke off a strippers butt? Status updates about Satanism? Proof of the affair she had with John Edwards? But the drama continued, my flight of fancy had to end. I come back into the conversation only to hear one of the new women, the one with the accompanying young child, say, “I go on there an awful lot for a grown up.” She paused a moment, as if just as horrified as I about what she’d just said. “I go on there an awful lot for a grown up,” she repeated, louder, more frantic, as if repeating it would make it go away. For a grown up? I’m not sure what was happening here! I’m just saying, there are only two types of people who say “grown up” – actual ADULTS who’d spent far too much time cooped up with their kids, their hair smelling of Crayola’s, their elbows stained with craft paint and glitter glue (who certainly should be at their local bar drinking straight shots rather than at a Chinese place with their kid) and children, who say grown up because they don’t know that adult is the same number of syllables. The horrified tone to her voice suggested she’d never considered herself to be a member of the first category, had always considered herself a hip, cool mom, who made time for herself and read trashy romance novels in the bathtub. The tone of her voice suggested that she was calculating when she last painted her toenails, and the answer was not satisfactory.

Look I’m just saying maybe that’s why they put us in the table for one stable. So we could witness the drama of the young mothers in front of us. +98

My only point is that you should certainly go to Shanghai River but go by yourself in the middle of a school day so you can eavesdrop most productively; email me with your best gossip at

Shanghai River on Urbanspoon


  1. Did you notice on their lunch menu is an item dedicated to Marvin Zindler!

    1. You know I did notice that! I actually made a note of it in my research book but the baby drama was so compelling I felt I didn't have space for it.

  2. Have you done a review of Chinese Star yet?

    And what about the food I didn't hear anything about it so I just assume tastes like every other chinese restaurant, except I know chinese star tastes different and has a different texture too with the msg crystals

    1. I hope you did not just call China Star Chinese Star! Also yes it did just taste like every other Chinese restaurant in existence