Food for Thought: The healing power of Chuong Garden


Hannah Agpoon

Graphic by Hannah Agpoon.

Gabby Hernandez, Contributing Writer

The number of tissues I have gone through in the past few days is unreal; even the lotion ones feel like sandpaper rubbing against my nose. I have been sick with something I will call the “Roommate Cold,” and no Dining Hall soup has been appealing enough for me to eat. So, I of course turned to Chuong Garden. Today I will write to you about their egg drop soup, sesame chicken and steamed rice. 

I took a spoonful of the egg drop soup and, finding that it was more drop than egg, let it trickle back into the bowl. The hot yellow soup that I hoped would soothe my throat was, in reality, a muted golden brown. I took my first spoonful and the drifting pieces of egg tasted as expected, though their texture was slightly firmer than I hoped, since I do not enjoy chewing things that I should not have to chew. 

If you can imagine swallowing the feeling of a good hug, you can imagine the way it felt for me to drink this soup. 

Besides the eggs, the broth was so watery that I struggled to pick up any flavor. Back home in San Antonio, Texas, my father and I love to try the egg drop soup each time we visit a different Chinese restaurant. The best soups we have tasted have hints of garlic powder, salt and pepper in them, and the creamy egg flavor is the star of the dish. With Chuong’s soup, even adding salt and pepper did not help the components of the soup blend together in a favorable way. 

One thing the egg drop soup did succeed, however, was  in soothing my sore throat. Its heat and consistency worked together to satisfy the itch in my throat in a way that cough drops and honey simply could not; this soup was more soothing than a hot mug of tea. If you can imagine swallowing the feeling of a good hug, you can imagine the way it felt for me to drink this soup. 

I have been playing a lot of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” lately as I lay in bed surrounded by discarded tissues. One of my favorite things about this game is the flower gardening feature, and one of my least favorite things about it is that there is no easy way to lie down peacefully in the flowers you have planted. I imagine that the calm sweetness that would surround me as I lay in a field of hyacinths would rival that of Chuong Garden’s sesame chicken. 

The sweetness of the sauce made me want to bathe in it; I was jealous of the way the sauce mingled with the steamed rice. I wished I was that rice, if only for a moment. It reminded me of Barry B. Benson’s luxurious honey pool in “Bee Movie.” I longed to dive into that saucy rice mixture and swim further and further away from the duties and deadlines of the coming week. The warmth and flavor of this entree made my nose stop running. 

I wished I was that rice, if only for a moment.

Just as satisfying as the flavor of the chicken, rice, and sauce were the textures. The chicken was so soft that it felt as though I was biting through gently cooked lamb. Furthermore, the outside was crisped lightly to a perfection that is difficult for even the most talented chefs on Cutthroat Kitchen to achieve. Balancing the textures on a dish is essential, lest the consumer’s attention be brought away from the masterful flavors. It is very common for Chinese restaurants to sprinkle sesame seeds onto their sesame chicken; however, I am grateful for the absence of sesame seeds on Chuong’s chicken. Sesame seeds in such a dish are purely decorative, and therefore not worth the effort required to chew through them nor the floss required to pick them out of my teeth.

The pleasant flavors of their sesame chicken and rice were my greatest consolation through my battle against the so-called Roommate Cold. After finishing my meal, I cracked open my fortune cookie and there was no fortune inside. I ate the cookie, taking it as a sign that I must eat at Chuong Garden again.