I made these and all sorts of other cat noises while clawing empty air with my hands. The very old Chinese lady shop keeper looked at me as if I were insane — or, to borrow a term from the British, “a bit mental.” I didn’t blame her. I did look a bit silly. Only, this is what you resort to when you Chinese is terrible, and Baidu Translate can’t render “scratching post” in Chinese. When all else fails when you’re a foreigner, you resort to hand signals and bad pantomime.
At the time, I was in a tiny pet shop on Chaohu Road 巢湖路 — which runs between Hohai University and Wanda Plaza in Xinbei. My cat had been missing for a week, and he had just been rescued and I wanted to buy him a “welcome home” gift. There was a practical desire too, before Spock went missing, he was waging war on all the furniture in my apartment. I wanted give him something acceptable to destroy. Eventually, I spotted a scratching post in the corner and simply pointed. She grabbed it, I paid, and I left. As soon as I got home, I presented my gift to my kitty, and he promptly ignored it and started scratching an armchair.
This is just one example of the challenge of having a cat in Changzhou. My assumption is that the locals love birds and dogs more. I base this assumption solely on my shopping experience. Toys and products for dogs are easy to find in supermarkets and pet stores, and merchandise for cats are harder to locate. So, my search is ongoing.
Sometimes, simplicity is best, and all you need for a good meal is just two ingredients. Cheese and chicken sometimes go perfectly together. In New Jersey, for example, something magical happens when you put tomato sauce and mozzarella on a breaded and pan-fried cutlet. Then, there is always cordon blue, which is essentially just Swiss cheese and ham inside a breaded cutlet that’s been folded over. There is a place in Xinbei that has simplified this even more.
Don Chicken on Chaohu Road 巢湖路 serves baked chicken with cheese on top. It’s that simple. The chicken was cooked perfectly so that it was both tender and juicy. The cheese, on the other hand, tasted like a bland mozzarella, but it was good none the less. My only complaint was that the waiting time between ordering and eating seemed a bit long. However, as my first dish at this place, it was good enough to lead to a return visit. Don Chicken is a Korean chain with spicier items and some Korean specialties on the menu, and if you go there at night, they have Tiger beer on tap. My university students might find the place a bit pricey; the plate cost 55 RMB. The menu is in Chinese, Korean, and English with illustrative photos.
For me, personally, the location is extremely convenient. I can walk there, because Chaohu Road runs from Hohai University’s west gate to Wanda Plaza. As such, the place is getting added to my rotation of convenient places to eat in Changzhou. Hopefully, next time, the wait time for food will be a little bit better.