While I was visiting Indianapolis this week, my younger brother wanted to go out for dim sum. "It's served in this dumpy little restaurant on the west side of town," my brother said, "but the food is really good."
I was game, so we drove to the dumpy little restaurant, Shen Yang, out near one of those dying suburban malls. The building didn't look familiar to me, but the faux Colonial-style doors and the spartan interior of the restaurant looked vaguely familiar. As I bit into a shrimp dumpling, I wondered if I had eaten there in the past.
The dim sum selection was very good, although not as varied or
delicious as the dim sum served at Kansas City's Bo Lings restaurant on
the Country Club Plaza. But something about this restaurant nagged at
my memory. Had I once broken up with someone in this dining room?
Gotten drunk and broken a teapot or something?
"Did this restaurant used to be called something else?" I finally asked one of the servers.
Yes, she told me: It used to be called the Golden Phoenix. Aha!
in 1979, as a newly minted graduate of the International Bartending
School, my first "official" bartending job had been in the tiny,
claustrophobic service bar of the Golden Phoenix where, for several
months, I prepared Boo Loo Bowls, Singapore Slings and a surprising
number of Pina Coledas.
When I wasn't mixing drinks, I read magazines, smoked cigarettes and
ate hundreds of fortune cookies. I quit when I landed a more lucrative
bartending job in a busier restaurant in a more glamorous neighborhood.
It's just a dim (sum) memory now.
-- Charles Ferruzza