My restaurant is bigger than yours.
The other day while we were walking home from dinner, we walked by a really, really big restaurant, which I happened to take a picture of, which ended up being a picture I like, and which you will now be forced to look at because this is my blog and I can do what I want with it. So there. Oh, here's the picture:
Yes, that entire building--all three stories--is the same restaurant. There are actually lots of restaurants this large around here--we've been to one that was four stories and held over a thousand people, which is the sort of thing you just don't find in America. Mostly, I would assume, because in America you have to pay your bus boys more than seventy-five cents an hour, making it cost prohibitative to hire the hundreds that would be necessary to keep a place that seats a thousand for dinner operating smoothly.
And just think of the dishwashers! Every time we've gone to the four story place, I end up sitting there thinking "I wonder how many people are washing dishes right at this very moment." That is, I admit, slightly weird, but Chinese restaurants generate a lot--A LOT--of dishes. More than Western restaurants, that's for sure. And not just because everything is served family style, which means more serving bowls and dishes than normal, but also because of the mid-meal plate change, something that--depending on what is being served--can occur anywhere from two to four times during a meal.
Yes, the plate change is just what you think: periodically, someone will come along to remove your dirty plate and give you a nice clean one. Why? Because Chinese meals seem to generate a lot of detritus. For example, say you have pork ribs, fish, and a chicken dish. After, your plate is not only littered with bones, but also with sauce--there's nowhere to put the new course that is undoubtedly coming, since every Chinese meal involves more food than you could ever possibly eat. Ergo, the plate change. It's funny, but now I've gotten kind of used to it and find myself getting cranky when I have a dirty plate and no one has come along to give me a new one. Is that wrong? No, I didn't think so, either ...