Saturday, November 10th, 2007
8:02 am - Country Life...  
There's a strip mall a few miles down Rt. 2 from me in Exeter. It was only built three or four years ago, one of the newish sort where there are clusters of buildings surrounding convoluted parking lots, all masquerading as some sort of town center. Exeter has no town center of its own, so perhaps the developers are hoping that this will step into the void. If so, it's an odd choice of location, because although Rt. 2 is a main road, it's also very much a country road at this point. Not many houses or even nearby developments. The Agway is just a mile further south, as is Allen's Seed.

The first tenant was a gas station/convenience store; the second was Dunkin Donuts. Since then there has been a succession of the usual strip mall type shops, agencies, and restaurants. I've often wondered how they stay in business, since there are never many cars parked anywhere in the complex, even at Dunkies. There's one froo froo restaurant that seems to be doing all right, and a Subway, but the game shop has already relocated closer to URI, the deli has closed its doors, and so has the Italian bakery. The bakery was a branch of a Cranston establishment, and the baking was done up there rather than on-site. They had terrific pastries, but the only type of breads available were Italian and rustic Italian, as I discovered the first time I went in with a hankering for fresh rye bread. They also sold pizza strips, a quintessentially Rhode Island food that I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around even after living here for thirty-plus years. A pizza strip is an 8" x 2" strip of thick flatbread with pizza sauce on top. It keeps at room temperature for days, and is one of the most unappetizing foodstuffs I've ever seen. Pretty near every convenience store in the state has a box of these next to the register, because Rhode Islanders apparently will buy them on impulse. I tried one once. Once.

Anyway, I drive by this place every time I go to the bike path, which was a lot this summer. It was also usually around dinner time when I'd drive by, and for much of the summer I kept thinking wouldn't it be convenient if there was a Chinese restaurant here. I don't eat Chinese all that often, but this summer I kept getting a craving. The problem was that the nearest places aren't all that close, and are also annoying to get to. The good news is that apparently, my smaller wishes are occasionally granted, because not long ago a sign went up in front of the complex proclaiming "Chinese restaurant opening soon," and about two weeks ago it did.

Now I'm no expert, and I do know that it is the name of possibly the most important geographical feature of China, but there's no way on earth I would ever name a restaurant "Yellow River." Be that as it may, I decided to give them a try last night. First bad sign, they don't have sweet and sour pork on the menu. WTF? I'm a finicky white boy when it comes to asian cuisine. Give me meat and rice, hold the veggies. What kind of Chinese restaurant doesn't have sweet and sour pork? They have sweet and sour chicken, but that's not what I wanted. I chose BBQ spare ribs instead. Called up, placed my order, and was told to drop by in 35 minutes to pick it up. Waited the 35 minutes, and then headed on down.

The parking lot was jammed. Cars were parked on various bits of lawn. And all of the people from those cars appeared to be in Yellow River. Apparently I wasn't the only one who'd wished for a Chinese restaurant. Maybe I should've tried to get us all to wish for world peace next. Anyway, the staff was overwhelmed by the turnout. The poor girl running the register kept apologizing, that they'd never been so busy before. I didn't get my order until an hour and ten minutes after I'd phoned it in.

The food was fine. Hopefully this satisfies my craving for awhile so I won't have to go back until after the novelty of the place wears off.