|"How about 'Good Food?' Too vague? Well, how about 'Pretty Good Food?' No?"|
Kansas City has had a long history of restaurants with names that sort of say it all. In the first half of the 20th century, most of the restaurants in town -- according to the City Directories of the period -- didn't even have names: most were listed simply by the names of the owners. This tradition continued well into the late 1930s, when Mrs. Fairie Myers -- whatever happened to her? -- ran her namesake restaurant at 924 Winchester. In the 1930s, a lot more little eateries and diners had names that said a lot about the cuisine in three words or less: Sanitary Lunch, One-Minute Lunch, Nifty and Dandy, Jolly Made Shop and my own favorite, the Roasty Toasty Sandwich Shop, which once served roasty toasty sandwiches at 2456 Troost. I wish it was still there, but it's long gone -- like most of this neighborhood, actually.
The sign, above, for Nice Food, a Chinese take-out restaurant at 7557 State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas is short and to the point. The joint, which is tiny, serves nice food. Cheap too. The menu features 22 different combination plates, all including an egg roll and pork fried rice, for $6.50. For big appetites, the place sells most of its dishes by the quart: a quart of Kung Pao Shrimp sells for $9. There are also Chief's Specialties. That's right, Chief's, not Chef's. Those are the costly specials here, like Seafood and Beef for $10.95.
One of the nice things about Nice Food is that it still serves classic Chinese-American dishes that have been dropped from a lot of modern Chinese restaurants: Chow Mai Fun, Egg Foo Young, and Chow Mein -- and a Pu-Pu Platter that includes one egg roll, one spring roll, two crab rangoon, two pieces of teriyaki chicken, two fried chicken strips and two pieces of shrimp toast for $7. The appetizer selection also includes buttermilk biscuits and French fries. That sounds nifty and dandy to me.