Lunchtime on Sundays in Chinatown is often a mob scene - scores of tourists lined up outside the grand dimsum emporiums near Mott St., and inside diners are crammed shoulder-to-shoulder that you can't help but eye the neighboring table's entree selections and overhear the sordid details of their chatter as you peruse the menu. Opting for a more sedate lunch away from the crowds, I strolled a few blocks towards the relative calm of Doyers St. and chanced upon Excellent Pork Chop House. Although I've walked past this restaurant since the 90s, for one reason or another haven't had occasion to sample their eponymous specialty, which borders on amazing considering how big a fan I am of pork chops. "Let's see if the pork chops here live up to their billing", I thought, amused at the restaurant's bold name.
Munching on a generous portion of pan-fried pork chop over rice with ground beef and veggies ($4.75), I surveyed the scene. Like most Chinatown restaurants, most tables were occupied, not by hip young people but by families with strangely obedient children; decor was at best minimal, though on the wall directly above my table was a glass display case containing a collection of Chinese statuettes and Precious Moments dolls dressed in gowns. The noise level was atypically muted - the scene reminded me of those lonely, depressing Edward Hopper paintings showing people sitting at the counter of all-night diners - in fact the only semblance of semi-loud conversation took place among three teenaged-girls at the next table eagerly discussing, from what I could surmise, their homework from Religion class. Something about the foregiveness of sins. A fitting topic on Easter Sunday, I chuckled to myself.