i had my first day at work today, which was mainly comprised of a facility inspection. the place looks pretty good here, it’s fascinating to see what people do differently (but still very much within the standards), and the vet here got me the holy grail of all anatomy textbooks at my request. i am beyond giddy about the last, and everything else will have a very tough trick to beat this book as my prized acquisition in China. but that stuff isn’t as exciting as chinese dinner theater.
our hosts made reservations for us at the mansion restaurant, a neon-splashed, be-foo-dog’d block on a busy street corner. the food was all really good – highlights included a whole broiled mandarinfish in ginger soy, some baked lightly breaded scallops served on the shell with rice noodles,
a delicious but viciously spicy frog leg dish, some vinegary little wood ear mushrooms, and (possibly my favorite) these little dense sweet rice balls wrapped in slivers of date. yum!
the meal was served in the traditional chinese style, where dishes are ordered for the group as a whole, and everyone dips in. while the food arrived in waves, different performers took to the stage up front. it was an incredibly diverse mix of traditional chinese performing arts, with each person’s gig lasting about 15 minutes or so. some of the shows were very quiet and formal (the woman singing chinese opera, the pair of women playing stringed instruments), while others were fast-paced feats set to techno beats. a girl laid back on a slanted bench and juggled a vase with her feet before moving up to a huge flowerpot, and finally tossing the flowerpot filled with a restaurant guest:
a trio did a leaping kung-fu demo with swords & spears, then passed a sqare pane of glass around the audience to prove its solidity before having one of the troop throw a straight pin through it to pop a baloon on the other side. only the smallest and most precise of bullet holes marred the glass afterward. the funnest act of the night was an exuberantly happy guy in a chef hat & apron juggling bottles & pots, and spinning plates on sticks. at one point, he went out into the audience to give them a shot at plate-spinning, which all the amateurs failed to do without sending the plate tumbling to the floor. my steady-handed surgery tech, though, could twirl a plate like a pro: