There are two groups in our San Francisco neighborhood whose animosity toward each other and diametrically opposed beliefs rival the Shiites and the Sunnis. They are the faction that declares Eric’s the best Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood and the group that evangelizes Alice’s. Fights have been known to break out in the streets between the two.

I mention this division as somehow we found ourselves in Eric’s last night — which is surprising, because I normally avoid Chinese food like salmonella-riddled egg salad. Just don’t like it. Even the real stuff in China. Food snobs are always telling me: “Well, you’d like Chinese food if you had the real thing. Of course, you can’t find that in America.” Well, I tagged along on one of Andy’s trips to Beijing. And I still wasn’t wild about it. Well, it was okay. Besides the time someone served me a whole boiled chicken foot with the toes and all. Actually Northern Chinese food was quite good. But once we got to Hong Kong, it was back to the gluey sauces and greasy aftertaste that I associate with neighborhood take-out.

So I’m not the best to judge this fight. I’ve been to Alice’s a few times. Now I’ve been to Eric’s. I guess my vote would be with Eric’s. For the unscientific reason that I heard and saw a lot of Chinese being spoken in there. Which leads me to believe it has some authenticity.

But I think I’m with the third faction, the Noe Valley equivalent to the Kurds. We’re the people who would rather go to the Korean barbeque or any of the great Italian restaurants around here than either Eric’s or Alice’s.

Is there something I’m just not getting here?

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