Poetry / December 2017 (Issue 38)

Ode to Hong Kong Noodle Houses

by Dorothy Chan

Every top hotel in Las Vegas
has an Asian noodle house,
a dim sum street fare of five stars
for Asian food, red all over
lanterns, Year of the Dragon making
love to the phoenix ambiance
of birds of paradise flying
over the hills of ancient China:
secret lovers and concubines and firecrackers
all bundled into a set dinner menu
opening with Mandarin Orange Martinis,
closing with a volcano of raspberry
chocolate erupting over Asia on a plate,
when we'd really prefer a dish of lychee,
longan, dragon fruit, starfruit, cherries,
just like our grandparents would,
but alas that's an ocean away—
an ocean away that wouldn't understand
the Strip's overpriced udon in miso
with flowers on top, because apparently
this is Hawaii, and lo mein on a hot plate,
and eating Cantonese lobster overlooking
Greek and Roman statues surrounding a pool,
or how Chinese restaurants on the Strip feature
the number nine, when eight's really the lucky
number, the way my grandmother in Kowloon
orders eight dishes of dim sum,
and certainly not seven, when I come visit,
washing the teacups in hot water
at the breakfast table,
me with the entire dim sum sampler,
and this is how we start our days an ocean away,
of Hong Kongers reading newspapers over
xiao long bao, over lotus leaf rice and taro
buns, until it's lunchtime and Grandma
buys me a bowl of noodles bigger than my head,
we feast on tripe, we eat with our mouths,
we eat with our eyes—the noodle houses of Hong Kong.
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
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