“I’ll have a large General Tso’s Chicken,” I said into the phone.
There was silence on the other end and then: “Chicken? What kind?”
“General Tso’s,” I repeated, looking at the menu for Curry King that advertised Halal Chinese food. I was excited. I wanted to see if there was any difference between the standard Chinese rendition of General Tso’s as opposed to the Indo-Pak Halal version that Curry King was promoting. Besides the halal meats, what made Halal Chinese food unique? Would Indo/Pak/Bangladeshi Chinese automatically be spicier? I wanted to know.
“Chicken curry?” the voice on the other end of the line asked.
“No, General Tso’s chicken,” I asked again. “From the Chinese section of your menu.”
“Oh, that’s no more,” the voice said.
“What do you mean?” I asked, the deflation apparent in my voice.
“We don’t make the Chinese food anymore,” he said.
“No one wants it.”
I wanted it, but I didn’t tell him that. Would it have done any good?
“What about the hot and sour soup?”
“Yes, the hot and sour soup.”
“I have that,” he said.
I was puzzled that the hot and sour soup was available but no General Tso’s.
“I’ll have it,” I said. And then I went on to order a number of either Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi items—I wasn’t sure what distinguished one from the other.
When I arrived to pick up my order, I glanced at the Indian/Pakistani and/or Bangladeshi items in the steam trays behind the counter.
Pakistani? Indian? or Bangladeshi?
“Is that the soup?” I asked, pointing to what looked like chicken soup.
“Yes, chicken soup,” the woman behind the counter told me.
“Hot and sour?”
“Chicken soup,” she repeated. “It’s fresh and very good.”
I had no doubt of that. “But it’s not hot and sour?”
Chicken soup on far left.
“We can make it hot,” she said.
I nodded, but didn’t ask if she could make it sour.