A Tale of Two Restaurants – Part 1

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This is a story of two restaurants.  There is a moral embedded in these two stories.  Perhaps it will be obvious, perhaps it will not be.  The first tale happened long ago.  The second, very recently, in fact, one week ago.  You may think that between the first tale and the second that the author of these stories would have learned his lesson.  Sadly, he did not.  History repeated itself both times.  That old adage that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” proved itself once again.

imagesThe first tale begins with a trip back from Duluth, Minnesota over thirty years ago.  Karen and I were returning from a scenic ride up the North Shore to our home in White Bear Lake.  It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July.  We decided that we were hungry.  We were nearing the Cloquet exit on Interstate 35.  Not seeing anything near the exit, we decided to pull off the freeway and try to find a place to eat in Cloquet.

Cloquet was a quiet little town this Sunday.  It almost appeared deserted.  We drove around the streets not finding any open restaurants other than fast food ones.  Suddenly, in a rather isolated area of town, we spied a Chinese restaurant with a sign in the window that said “Open.”  Somewhat skeptical of a Chinese restaurant in Cloquet, we succumbed to the rule that “beggars can’t be choosers.” We parked in front of the restaurant and cautiously entered.

Downtown_Cloquet (1)

We were greeted by a young Caucasian girl.  Looking around we saw only two other non-Chinese diners.  Two strikes already.  I figured we would be lucky to get Chinese food from a Chung King Chop Suey can.  The young girl (mid-teens) brought a standard Chinese menu.  We gave our orders to the same young girl who was our greeter and settled back for a less than desirable dinner.

Chinese_mealThe quantity of food when it came was plentiful, but the quality of the food was a big surprise.  We have been to many a good Chinese restaurant in Shanghai, Huangshan, Nanjing, Suzhou, and several other Asian cities including American cities with large Chinese populations.  The food here was wonderful.  It was tasty, spicy, and as good as we have eaten anywhere in the world.  We were beyond surprised.  I could not believe our good fortune.  How could this be?  A diamond in the rough where diamonds were not supposed to exist.

When we had finished eating, our server came over with the check.  I told her how good the food was and asked if it would be possible to speak to the chef.  She replied, “Probably not.”  Thinking it was not to busy, I inquired as to why I could not speak to the cook.  I was curious concerning how he learned to cook Chinese food so well.  She then told me, “He does not speak any English.”  I asked her where he was from and how he had been selected to cook there.

Chinese Lantern - matchbookShe advised me that Mr. Huie (who started the well-respected Chinese Lantern restaurant in Duluth) had decided that Cloquet would be a good place for a small take-out style Chinese restaurant.  He placed an ad in a San Francisco paper which found its way to mainland China.  Mr. Huie (son of the founder of one of the first Chinese restaurants in Duluth) reviewed a number of applicants who answered his ad.  The present cook was selected for the job.  Who would believe a genuine Chinese food restaurant in Cloquet Minnesota?

Next Week:  Part 2

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linlokfei
    Jun 18, 2021 @ 15:44:28

    waiting for Part 2 or did I miss it? 🙂

    Like

    Reply

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