Your Culinary Rosebud
This came up on the Boston Board.
Myamily legend has it that the first place I ever ate at as a two year old was the Shanghai Cafe in NYC.
Amazing old school Cantonese place actually.
As we discussed it on the Boston board I realized that essentially my entire life has been a quest to refind the lost: Hot and Sour Soup, Beef with Black Bean Sauce, and Shrimp with Lobster Sauce of my lost childhood.
The place was amazing, and the 70 something year old waiters sweet as could be.
Another hound on the Boston Board chimed in that her father used to drive from CT to eat at the long lost Shanghai Cafe.
But for me, the Shanghai Cafe will always be my culinary Rosebud.
Please chime in with you own...
Mine was Hong Kong Kitchen in Rancho Park, just south of Westwood in California. I ate there as a little kid and loved it forever and compared it to all Chinese food forever.
One day, I decided to see if it was still there. It was and it was awful. I have no idea if that was due to changes over the years (ownership, cooks, chefs) or if it was never all that good or if it was just a change in my tastes.
My other rosebuds (all from LA) were and still are:India's Oven, which used to be on Pico but burned down, relocated then changed, Junior's Deli (no potato pancake or blintz can or will be able to compare!), Royal Thai Cuisine on Pico somewhere near Overland. All the Thai food I've had since then just tastes of a lessor quality and flavor. Anna's Trattoria on Pico near Westwood has always been my favourite. It was my first Italian restaurant and I STILL find it to be the best I've ever had.
Later, from when I was about eight until I was 35, The House of Lee on Sunset became my second favourite Chinese restaurant. It was the second Chinese restaurant I'd eaten at and I kept comparing it to Hong Kong Kitchen. Ya know what, it was better! Then, I lost interest in greasy Chinese food and switched over to lighter Chinese food so it is not really a rosebud anymore.
Weird how things follow us like this!
Here are a couple of special food memories for me...
1. Being taken to one of the earliest Japanese restaurants in NYC - the Miyako - where they brought a brasier to your table and made sukiyaki right in front of you. I was about 12 (it was the late '50s) and it was delicious and I was smitten by it all. My great aunt brought me there and I remember feeling so grown up and elegant and I remember the silky, whiteness of the hand-made tofu.
2. One of the early very special destination restaurants of my youth was when my parents took us to La Fonda del Sol in NYC (owned by Restaurant Associates, I think - who also owned Windows on the World I think) for some of the most delicious paella ever. Gorgeous Mexican artwork tucked into brightly colored, lit little alcoves in the walls right next to the table. Again, I was probably only 11 or so, but I still have a deep sensory memory of the look and feel of that place.
Thanks for reminding me of these great memories.
re: Jenny Ondioline
You just conjured the memory of mine: the cheeseburger at Murphy's Steak House in Bartlesville, OK. On any Sunday there'd be a line of hungry people stretching clear around the little concrete-block restaurant, mostly there for the steaks. Whole families would sneak out of church halfway through the sermon. And when I Googled it, it's still there! Murphy himself couldn't possibly be; he was old in 1960, and smoked constantly, but someone is obviously carrying the torch reasonably well.
Mine are fish sandwiches with their secret tartar sauce recipe and homemade coleslaw on the side from "The Fence", a little seasonal drive-in by the river near Lewisburg, PA. That's Rosebud-I.
Rosebud-II is the home-made pasta, sauce, and all the trimmings a friend's Italian mother always made for a celebration dinner after my high school's Homecoming football game. We'd eat ourselves into a stupor, wake up the next morning and have the leftovers for breakfast! Better than Thanksgiving!