Forbidden City – “Taste The Rainbow”

Friday, January 4, 2013 - by Willie Mae

Call me old-fashioned or just call me old, but I like knowing what it is that I am eating. I think for an opinionated ol’ stick in the mud that I am pretty adventurous when it comes to trying something unfamiliar; but when things don’t look natural, I question it.

When I came to Forbidden City on Gunbarrel Road, I was not sure what it was. It was an ornate building that looked Asian, so I assumed it would be a Chinese or Japanese restaurant. When I was seated, the server asked what I wanted to drink.

She was Asian, sweet and slight with very little knowledge of English. That’s okay; I have learned how to communicate at Chinese restaurants fairly well, but after she took my drink order she said, “You can go to bar.”

I didn’t know I wanted the “bar.” I was never asked. I looked around and I saw several “bars” full of buffet food. Land sakes! I walked into a buffet place and not a ‘menu restaurant’.

Since I apparently had no choice but to eat from the bar, I walked around to each one to see what was offered. One counter had sushi so I decided on that. I went to get me a plate and when I came back, the chef had disappeared. I waited.

When it didn’t look as though he would return to his station, I asked a staff person passing by, “Do we serve ourselves?” He nodded his head yes. I picked up the tongs and selected different sorts of sushi that I had never tried before. None of the trays had the names of what it was. I always wanted to try seaweed salad and they had it in some sort of a ‘food envelope’. There was also a green cone with imitation crab in it and something with tempura batter.

I took my assortments to my booth table to try each one. I had my wasabi so I was set! I had never seen yellow sushi …but with sushi there is a lot I haven’t seen and I am willing to try anything once. It was simple enough with crab, a cucumber-rice mixture and a yellow food-paper wrapped around it (I assumed it was some sort of rice paper concoction, but I wasn’t sure). It was not bad, but it also was nothing special to make me yell, “I love yellow sushi!”

The next piece I tried had a silvery skin on the fish. It was a bit too fishy for me. The skin just sort of slithered its way down my throat. The next color I picked up was pink with seaweed wrapped around it.

It tasted pink.

I don’t know how to describe what pink tastes like, but I tasted pink. I tried the seaweed salad and I liked that part, but the brown food-envelope that it came in was soggy.

When I tried the cone thing I couldn’t chew it. The food paper it was wrapped in was too much like paper. Maybe it was paper, I don’t know. It looked like the rest of their rice or seaweed-based food wrappings, but it tasted and felt like paper. I pretended that I knew I wasn’t supposed to eat ‘the paper’ and stuck my chopsticks down into the cone to dig out the edible part, but it wouldn’t come out. I think maybe I was supposed to eat the paper, but my dentures just wouldn’t do it.

Lastly, I picked up the fried piece of sushi. After eating all of those colors and papers I decided that I needed to know what was inside. I took my chopsticks and opened it up. It had rice inside and in the center it looked like a ball of tar! As I examined it further and realized it had that seaweed wrapping, but it was wrapped around a mushy meat that looked like cat food (or maybe it was the cat). I said that I would try anything once but I decided to leave that one alone.

These smidgen bites of trying sushi left me feeling as if I hadn’t even eaten, so I went to the bar and found mushrooms in brown sauce and I got me an eggroll with spicy mustard.

The mustard was the hottest that I have ever tried at a Chinese place and I liked that! My eyes watered and my nose was running; it did its job! The mushrooms were good and I am sure this place is just as good as the other buffets if you like Chinese buffet food.

When the sweet girl brought me my check, she also had a tiny wrapped mint on the card folder. How nice - I liked the idea of a mint after eating all that paper, but I kind of wanted the expected fortune cookie.

When I looked at the wrapper, it was not a mint. It had a picture of some sort of fruit on it that was green. Hoo boy… more colors. I couldn’t make out the picture because this wrapped piece of hard something was so very tiny. I asked the server what it was and she said, “Is Gwawa”.

 I know the look on my face must have been all wrinkled up with a confused snarl because she repeated herself, “Gwawa… Gwawa” as if that made it better. I thanked her and, after I got to my car, I had to open it up to see what was inside. It was a hard candy shaped bright green pea. No, thank you.

If you are a buffet eater who enjoys the Chinese bars of food, you will probably like it. It was very clean and spacious with many bars of food, but I just left there feeling like I had eaten a bag of skittles… with the bag.


Rhonda On The Prowl: Mojo Burrito, The Fresh Tex-Mex Go-To

A favorite go-to spot for Flash and me is Mojo Burrito in Red Bank. It’s the perfect late night dinner hangout, with its funky local art, hip overhead music, and fresh Tex-Mex concoctions. When I go, I usually stick with the signature Mojo Burrito. “St. Elmo’s Fire chicken, Spanish rice, black beans, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and red onion, please.” That’s how I order ... (click for more)

Rhonda On The Prowl: Main Street Meats - The Best Burger In Town

I had been in meetings all day for work and hadn’t had a bite to eat. My next meeting was in an hour at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. I was already in the area and decided to pop into Main Street Meats. Some neighbors told me the other day they go there at least twice a week. They said the burger there is the best in town—better, even, than Tremont Tavern’s. It was just before ... (click for more)

Criminal Defense Attorneys Seek Chest X-Ray, Barrel As Evidence In 34-Year-Old Murder Case

In the 34-year-old unsolved murder case that recently spotlighted Billy Hawk as the prime suspect, criminal offense attorneys are seeking forensic proof, which does not change with time, to prove Hawk’s innocence. During Monday’s discovery motion, filed on behalf of the defense to obtain certain evidence, defense attorney Jim Logan requested the victim’s chest X-ray be submitted ... (click for more)

Brandon Bettis, 25, Arrested For Home Invasion; 2 Other Suspects Being Sought

Brandon Bettis, 25, was arrested after a home invasion early Monday morning, and two other suspects are being sought. Chattanooga Police responded to the 1100 block of Thomas Lane at 6:30 a.m. on the report of a home invasion robbery.  The suspects entered the home of the victims, James Shrum, 47, and Hillary Schooley, 25.   The victims were wakened and threatened ... (click for more)

The City Failed To Watch The Chattanooga History Museum Dollars - And Response

The tell tale signs of the History Museum's folly have been evident for years. When I was a former member of City Council I interviewed Dr. Daryl Black, Ph.D. to determine if I should argue for or against the annual funding of his organization. His interview, the multi-year history of administrative non-performance (despite consistent repetitive funding), and a review of the organizational ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Greenholtz: A No-Brainer

I am going to make this as simple as I possibly can. There are three fine lawyers now running for Criminal Court Judge and anywhere you go there will be people who like and admire Tom Greenholtz, Boyd Patterson and Mike Little. But when we select a judge, it should never be based on popularity. That’s why Gov. Haslam picked Greenholtz over both Little and Patterson this summer to ... (click for more)