The kaleidoscope of wares in the Chinatown Food Market reminds me of Barbra Streisand's 1963 recording "Come to the Supermarket (In Old Peking)": They have bird-nest soup, seaweed soup, noodle soup, poodle soup ...
I didn't see bird-nest soup, but I did find a chilled can of Wonderfarm brand White Fungus Bird Nest soda, which has pale slivers of white fungus floating in a liquid that tastes vaguely like cream soda mixed with melted tapioca pudding. It's not bad for washing down a handful of black-pepper chicken Pop Pop crackers and a couple of Ego Swiss Pies (Twinkie-like mounds filled with blueberry cream that looks somewhat radioactive).
I nearly bought some frozen mochi bonbons from the freezer case and a couple of live blue crabs and flash-frozen squid bits. But instead, I bought a lottery ticket and a packet of coconut-cream wafers.
Then, for lunch, I impulsively decided to drive through China Feast at 200 Linwood. I have a friend who swears by the place (he's notoriously cheap) and insists that it's one of the few Chinese-American spots in the city that still serves the delicacy known as Springfield cashew chicken: chicken bits, heavily breaded, deep-fried and drenched in a brown sauce sprinkled with scallions and cashews.
It wasn't the best version I'd ever tasted, but at $4.99 (including rice and a soggy crab rangoon), it was one of the cheapest. I had to call the restaurant later to ask what was in the fried egg rolls; I'd bitten into a bland stuffing that was completely unrecognizable. "It's chicken and cabbage," said the voice on the phone.
But it needed something. White fungus, maybe?