By Lauren Gallagher

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, odds are we’ll get more out of the experience than just a meal.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, we’ll probably take at least 30 minutes deciding which one to try. We’ll typically weigh Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean options.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, it’s almost always after 8 PM on a weeknight. And with it being after 8 PM on a weeknight in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we’ll probably be the only people in the restaurant.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, we’ll request a booth, four waters, and a pot of tea.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, my dad will ask the waitress for recommendations. In broken English, she’ll suggest the classics: General Tso’s chicken, Lo Mein, Mongolian Beef. My dad will shake his head; he’ll ask what she really likes to eat. He finds out she likes the Jjamppong, or fish ball Pho, or tripe Ramen. He’ll order the large bowl.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, my brother will get cranky anytime someone tries to take something off his plate. He’ll attempt to use chopsticks, but will fail miserably. So the waitress will probably bring over a set meant for small children. His face will probably turn red.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, my dad’s large bowl of soup will be served, filled with some sort of sea creature that could have been moving five minutes ago. He’ll then pour copious amounts of Sriracha and fish sauce into it.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, someone will probably come over and ask how the food is, typically because she wants to meet the middle aged white guy who ordered Jjamppong. We’ll talk to her. We’ll find out her life story, where she’s from, when she came to America, and how she came to be working at an Asian restaurant in West Michigan.  We’ll find out her husband is the one in the kitchen, and he’ll come out and talk with us too.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant and we like it we’ll go back. We’ll become loyal customers and come in on a bi-weekly basis. We’ll talk to the owners every time, through the little window in the kitchen. They’ll ask me how school is going and about my dad’s new job. They’ll give us beers even though they can’t put them on the menu.. And a plate full of oranges and sugar cookies at the end of our meal instead of the fortune cookies everyone else gets. They’ll cater my graduation party when plans fall through at the last minute.

If my family goes to an Asian restaurant, odds are we’ll make lifelong friends and never leave. It may not be normal, but that’s just what happens if my family goes to an Asian restaurant.