I had worked all morning, and the hunger pangs had started making it hard to concentrate. Where to do lunch? Based on my lunch budget, it couldn’t be anything over $10.00. That’s when I decided. I would go to Ho’s.
Mr. Ho’s Chinese Restaurant (affectionately called Ho’s for years) stands on one of the busier streets in Troy, Alabama. Ho’s is not located in a fancy building. Once customers walk in they are greeted with a hello by the owner – Victor – who calls them by first names and remembers what they normally drink. He knows what they will order. Although the 35-item buffet is the normal order for most visitors to Mr. Ho’s, some customers want something from the menu. Victor assesses all of this while moving like lightning through the crowded dining room carrying drinks to other customers.
Once seated, first time visitors to Mr. Ho’s Chinese Restaurant may notice the low lighting, which can cause a slight problem if anyone wants to read while dining. The visitor will also notice the huge fish tank stocked with really big fish.
The visitor may want to start out with Mr. Hos’ appetizers although he is getting the buffet. He starts out with a Hot and Sour Soup, Chicken on a Stick, a Spring Roll, and Hot Wing. It’s a buffet, and the visitor can get as many chicken sticks and wings as he wants, but he wants to save most of his appetite for the main meal.
As he dips the ladle into the cauldron of brimming hot soup, he notices the mushrooms floating on top. The visitor then sprinkles some green onions on top. The test of any Chinese restaurant is the soup. Hot and Sour soup can be a big disappointment. But not today. The cook at Mr. Ho’s Chinese Restaurant gets an A+. The dark brown broth chocked full of miso and wonton is both hot and spicy. Our visitor can feel the soup going down. The Chicken on a Stick has the cooked over a fire texture. The wings were more mild than hot.
The visitor to Mr. Ho’s decides his buffet meal will consist of Pepper Chicken, Pork and Cabbage, Mixed Chinese Vegetables, Singapore Rice Noodles with Curry and a fried dumpling with dipping sauce. His other side choices included Cucumber Salad and one Cream Cheese Wonton.
When he sits down to eat his lunch at Mr. Ho’s Chinese Restaurant, he is happy that chopsticks are not required. The restaurant has only one attendant other than Victor. She moves as fast as he does making sure that customers had everything they needed for the meal. Already, she’s re-filled the visitors glass full of water.
He overhears men at the next table talking. They eat lunch at Ho’s every Wednesday. He notices that the Pepper Chicken and Pork and Cabbage are sweet and spicy. He likes the way the cook has combined colors and textures in the Pork and Cabbage using carrots, cabbage, green peppers and onions. Everything tastes fresh and hot. The Singapore Rice Noodles with Curry would pair very well with Shrimp. And the dumpling is wrapped tightly around ground chicken. The visitor dips it into the sauce before biting into it.
There are three other Chinese restaurants in Troy. Somehow the visitor doesn’t think that any of them could be friendlier than Mr. Ho’s. The buffet at the competition may even be bigger. This food he had today was delicious, and for him, that’s what counts.
As he prepares to leave Mr. Ho’s Chinese Restaurant, he breaks open the fortune cookie the attendant had given him when she brought him the check. It reads: “The stars of riches is shining upon you.” Then it lists the lucky numbers and a web site URL to visit for more good fortune. The visitor to Mr. Ho’s chuckled to himself as he pulled out his wallet to pay. He had no use for the lucky numbers since he didn’t gamble. But he could sure use some rich stars to shine on him.
On the way out of Mr Ho’s Chinese Restaurant, he pays $6.53 for his all-he-could-eat meal. Victor sends him off with a “goodbye” and a “say hello to wife.”