It's Friday night at Wok To Go and the drizzle outside is pulling a light but steady stream of customers over to the take out counter. One of the tables is occupied by two elementary school children who mind their business as we wander to our usual spot. The sushi chef greets us, and an unfamiliar white boy is behind the counter.
There was some discussion about dinner on the drive over, and after a cursory glance at the menu we are ready to order. The sushi chef speaks to one of the children in his staccato dialect and she runs back to the counter, returning with the white boy. He dutifully takes our order, tells the sushi chef to put on the kettle for our tea (which we find somewhat shocking) and then disappears. We begin to suspect that he is actually a delivery driver and that he may not be a permanent employee.
A familiar voice is raised in the kitchen, audible to us and a small family who have joined us in the dining room. We recognize it as belonging to one of our usual waitresses. We imagine she is keeping everyone in line. As our food begins to emerge from the back - one item at a time but delivered by one of the other regular waitresses - the children continue in their activities and the hollering continues.
As we eat, we see her charge out of the kitchen, her decisive and deliberate stride bring her toward us. The sushi chef says something to her that we do not understand, but it stops her cold, turning her around and moving her back to the kitchen where her displeasure continues.
She does eventually make it into the small dining room to help deliver food, frighteningly efficient tonight and sincerely apologetic. We are amused as any issues she is seeing in the kitchen have been barely noticed by us beyond the sporadic delivery of our dinner. She is our favorite server. We smile and tell her that everything is wonderful. Which it is.
The food is very good as always. Gareth has the shredded chicken in chili sauce and has to wipe his forehead and nose. It is in an aromatic brown sauce with peppers and onions and I can smell it from across the table but do not try it for myself. I get the clear broth with mushrooms - a sweet onion soup that is lighter than my usual miso. I also order the shomai but no entree as I overindulged on ribs for lunch. Even Gareth's order of Crab Rangoon does not tempt me. He tries it with the plum sauce and agrees that it is a definite enhancement.
We linger over dinner and discuss our plans for the weekend that stretches in front of us like an empty beach in the sun. I look at the bare feet of the baby at the next table over and wonder at how all baby feet look so similar before they are misshapen by shoes, a stray thought that Gareth finds completely random.
Even though we did not get anything from the sushi bar this time, I drop a tip in the sushi chef's fish bowl as I know he has been taking care of us this evening. The flow of take out has not abated as I read my fortune: A new friend helps you break out of an old routine.