I like Chinese food. Specifically, I like the Chinese food at Mister Lee’s Express. Sure, it’s not authentic Chinese food and, yes, maybe it’s more fast-food Chinese food than Chinese-Chinese food, but I still like it.
Mister Lee’s. Mmmmmmm.
Last evening, my friends Anna and Ryan and their son Heath and my brother Justin and sister-in-law Erica gathered there for dinner.
We’ve been going to Mister Lee’s for a long, long time now. Anna introduced me to the restaurant—and Mr. Lee and his family—when I was a senior in college, sometime during the fall of 2002. Anna herself had been a regular for years prior. Like since her sophomore year of high school. It was THAT GOOD, she told me then.
And, good it was. In college, we’d go maybe once or twice or—OK, yes, I admit—three times a week. Hey, we were somewhat athletic; we thought we’d be OK devouring that many calories. Anna would always, always, always order No. 6. Chicken fried rice. Erin and I would order No. 5. General Tso’s chicken. Somewhere between years three and four, I switched from General Tso’s to chicken fried rice. And, while I played around with No. 11 spicy chicken from time to time, I always returned to chicken fried rice.
Every so often, the Lees would go on vacation, closing the shop for weeks on end, and We The Faithful would drown our sorrows in soup at Panera Bread hoping the family would soon return. We dare not be seen at another Chinese food-serving establishment in town, less we be deemed traitors.
More often than not, boyfriends and friends would join us. And family members. Hence Justin’s introduction. And Erica’s, too. The Lees knew us by name. And, they always knew our orders. They knew about our schooling and trips and sports. They came to know our boyfriends and, after college, our fiancés and husbands. And now our kids. They love the kids. How can anyone not love the kids? They’re adorable!
Last night, Anna, Ryan, Heath and I strolled in, and Mrs. Lee waved at Heath, trying very hard to resist running up and grabbing him out of Anna’s arms. Her daughter walked up to the cash register and said, “No. 5, No. 6 and No. 6?” Absolutely, sister! She then asked if Heath was walking yet (Oh, yes! Running actually), how life in Canada is (Fantastic, thank you!), and if my brother and sister-in-law were going to join us (Oh, they just pulled into the parking lot).
If one person wants Chinese, you can bet we’ll attempt to gather as many of us Mister Lee lovers as possible. We’re always more than ready for some fast, hot Chinese. Well, after 11 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays that is.
Mister Lee’s. Mmmmmmm.