Legendary Dinner

Category: , By Christian
I love memorable meals. Some are planned to be memorable, but then others include surprise experiences that breakthrough and demand a space in the archives of my memory. Last week we had a memorable family dinner at Stix. (It's an Asian eatery out at The Legends, which is a large shopping and entertainment district on the outskirts of Kansas City, KS. We try to do a lot of our shopping out there because it supports our county and state economies, and because for some reason it just feels comfortable when we are out there.)

My expectations for the meal were low. We have enjoyed the sushi and entrees at Stix, but this time we were trying out the Hibachi. We have been to other Hibachi's before, and they are always a good time. 8-10 people sit around a huge grill and a chef comes out and does comedic performance cooking. Tricks with the food. Light ribbing of the customers. Convincing eaters to catch shrimp in their mouths. Lots of funny hahas.

But we have found that most of the Hibachi's in KC are adequate. Not nasty, but not great either. And we had never seen anyone in the Hibachi at Stix, as we usually eat there during off-peak hours. Thus, the low expectations.

Well, the first thing I need to proclaim about the dinner was that it included the tenderest meat I've ever had the pleasure of eating. I went with the filet instead of the KC Strip, and I'm never going back to the strip at a Hibachi. Halfway through the meal I leaned over and told Stacy it was the tenderest steak I'd ever had. She assumed the statement to be either a joke or hyperbole. And then she tried it. It melted in her mouth. She was sold. I don't know what they do to the meat at Stix. They could very well use some kind of illegal meat tenderizing techniques. Perhaps it's some of that meat sacrificed to idols that they are always talking about in the New Testament. Whatever it is, it's the bomb.

In addition to the culinary memory that was forged that night, I also found the sociology of the Hibachi that night to be fascinating. It was very well the most racially diverse place I have ever been since moving to Kansas City. I would venture to say it was close to a 40-40-20 breakdown of white, black and Hispanic customers. (There were also a lot of Asian employees, but no Asian customers. As if. I've been to restraints that have high Asian populations, and they are not this gimmicky/touristy. Just like you aren't going to find any Hispanic folks looking forward to dinner at Carlos O'Kellys).

So one of the cool and sometimes comedic aspects of a Hibachi is that there is a lot of mixing of customers. They try to fill all of the seats around each grill, so unless you are rolling deep there is a good chance you are going to be sitting with strangers. We had 6 in our group and got to eat with a lady and her middle school son.

In a hilarious display of forced segregation, the table across from us had quite the mix of people. There were three Hispanic couples who looked to be pretty urban. Lots of tats. Gold chains. Baggy clothing. Drinking bottles of Bud Light. The works.

After they had been seated for a few minutes, the greeter brings another couple back. They are White. They are clearly suburban. As they grab their seats, one of the Hispanic dudes gives a head nod to the White guy. He uncomfortably nods back.

So it's clearly an unnerving situation for these two. They go out for a date, and the next thing they know they are, perhaps for the first time in their lives, put in a situation where they are the minority. And they are struggling. I'm pretty sure the lady looked down at her food the entire time. All the while, the Hispanic group is just enjoying each other's company. They are telling stories. Laughing.

Finally, the entire table has their food. But the Hispanic group is requesting hot sauce before they will eat. Lots of it. Like a whole bottle. Finally it comes. They pass it around the table and everyone is using generous amounts. When the sixth person gets done with it, he looks at the White guy and holds the bottle up. Dude looks for a second. Takes the bottle. Proceeds to follow the example of his eating neighbors and applies a generous amount to his food.

Now I'm cracking up. No way this guy is going to be able to handle that plate of food now. But he handles it like a pro.

I'm always going to remember that whole exchange. I'll remember it because the white couple didn't get up and leave. I'll remember it because the guys in the group were making efforts to be kind and neighborly to each other, even though it didn't seem like they had much in common. And I'll remember it because I saw a person who before that night didn't know what it felt like to be a minority, handle his first experience of minority with as much grace and dignity as he could muster even though he didn't have any time to prepare himself for the experience.

Renew and Restore

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