There is nothing but adventure in the extensive menu at Lao's, 2172 S. Archer Ave. Kung pao kidneys. Tofu and pork blood cake home style. Stir-fried liver.
But on this frigid afternoon, I decided that adventure would have to wait. At least until after I had thawed out a bit and had the orange beef tenderloin -- deep fried slices of meat in a sweet and spicy red sauce. I held on to the menu; Surely I would find something a little more on the wild side that could be a to-go order. And that's when the tug-of-war between my server and I started. She had already put in my beef tenderloin order, but when I asked her about the items under the "Very Chinese Special" section, she steered me away from the the pork stomach in garlic sauce. "I don't think Americans like that much." Her response was the same about the sour pickle and pork kidney soup. Finally, she talked me in to a shrimp in mayonnaise sauce. It happened so fast, I forgot how much Ioathe mayonnaise. I mean, I put extra dollops of sour cream in my egg salad so I can't taste the mayo.
I ate the tenderloin, savored the tea and caught a little Jeopardy on the diningroom flat screen, just above the women snapping the ends off a bag full of fresh green beans. As I ate my final bites, the server came over with my bill and it was clear she had forgotten about the shrimp-mayo order. Lucky me. Now I'm sitting here at my computer, picking through the container of sliced pig ear, Szechuan style. Served cold, the small, fat-striped meat is like nothing I've ever had before. With its flakes of red pepper and endless chew, I probably never will again.
While I'm sure it's amazing -- and amazingly spicy -- I'm just glad I didn't surrender to my standby at many Asian restaurants: Cashew Chicken.