Forbidden City – “Taste The Rainbow”

Friday, January 04, 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.


Alpha Beta ESA Plans 27th Annual Taster’s Luncheon

Alpha Beta ESA’s 27th annual Taster’s Luncheon to benefit the Walter E. Boehm Birth Defect Center takes place on Saturday, Sept. 20, at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, 7111 Lee Highway. Organizers said, "This event not only provides delicious hors d’oeuvres, salads and desserts, but includes a fabulous fashion show with clothing by CATO, a $100 cash drawing, a Chinese auction ... (click for more)

The Egg & I Restaurant Opening In Chattanooga On Sept. 1

The Egg & I Restaurants announced the opening of its 105 th  restaurant on Monday, Sept. 1. The restaurant opens at 6 a.m., and is at 1825 Gunbarrel Road, a half mile Southwest of Hamilton Place Mall. On Sunday, the restaurant will donate 100% of all proceeds from its private, pre-opening training day to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.The food bank’s mission is to lead ... (click for more)

Plan Revived For 5-Story Boutique Hotel Next To The Walnut Street Bridge

Plans have been revived for a five-story boutique hotel next to the Walnut Street Bridge. Vision Hospitality Group said the yet-to-be named hotel will provide 90 rooms featuring high-end amenities and exemplary service in the city's art district. Plans for a similar hotel were announced in 2012, but the proposal was later withdrawn. The hotel is slated for 102 Walnut ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Says County Needs To Start "Immediately" On Funding A New County Jail

Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury said in a final report that the county needs to start "immediately" on funding a replacement for the Hamilton County Jail. The report, read by Foreman Robert Smith, says, "The Jail is near and/or over capacity and understaffed!  Hard-working corrections officers are in constant danger.  Being responsible for 80-100 inmates per ... (click for more)

Better Plan For Walnut Street Hotel

Mitch Patel and his Vision Hospitality Group have unveiled a revised plan for a hotel on Walnut Street. It is much better than the one proposed two years ago. By having no curb cuts on Walnut Street, it makes that special block near the bridge more inviting and safer for pedestrians. Deliveries would be off Riverfront Parkway and hotel access (valet parking) would be off Aquarium ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)