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Saturday, January 28, 2006


Rarely and late at night, in desperation for something different and easy, I'll jot on down to Shan Indian/Pakistani restaurant for something quick.

It feels kinda like a last minute crack deal.

Shan has been around now for several years, but it use to be that the closest South Asian restaurant in our part of town was a place called Mehfil. Now there are three South Asian restaurants within just a few blocks of each other.

We've never been particularly fond of Shan's food, opting to spend a little more at Mehfil. Back in the day, Mehfil not only had excellent food, but excellent prices as well. Unfortunately, that changed around a year or two ago when they jacked up their prices, perhaps due to becoming better known in the SF foodie scene, or perhaps due to more foot traffic from the Marriott hotel across the street.

However, because Shan is logistically closer to where I live and cheap enough to make it more enticing, I sometimes opt for biting the bullet (or in Shan's case, big hunks of cardamom pods and whole cloves left in everything).

Actually, Shan's food isn't that bad, but it's also nothing to write Mumbai about. Still, when I use to read Chowhound, I was always astonished at the numerous folks who raved about the food at Shan.

"Were they insane", I asked? Were they on crack (it is that kind of neighborhood)?

I generally would reply as such, which of course ended up with my post *magically* deleted. Of course I was much nicer in other posts, which were also abruptly moved or deleted for no reason. So these days, I've made it my life's mission not to support unaccountable, food message board, Stalinists whose idea of democracy is a lot of people contributing their knowledge for free while one little guy gets paid for everyone else's work.

And, not to stray too far, but did I also happen to mention that the "Chowhound Team" sucks? Like, in a serious, ugly way? And whom I'd like to put a gypsy curse on that goes something like "may your tongue turn to stone in your mouth" or "may your gums bleed rivers of rancid pus"?

Ah! But I digress.

Getting back to Shan, there I found myself, late at night last Thursday, again; hardly a customer in the place. Instead, there's usually some relative or friend of the owners lurking around with nothing better to do than blabbing on his cell phone or making fun of the Mexicans working in the kitchen.

And I think this is what really irks me about Shan. It's not that the food is bad, it's not; but it just pisses me off seeing how these guys treat their fellow immigrants. Yeah, the young guys from Mexico are desperate for work, they're often from small villages, alone, "illegal", and have few skills other than stirring a pot or pushing a mop.

Oh, but far be it for the douche bags and their obsequious friends at Shan to take advantage of someone who's in a worse off position.

I'm serious. You should see how they talk down to these guys. Speaking either Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, or one of the other hundred languages that make up the Indian subcontinent, to each other, while obviously talking shit about the Mexican guys (because you'll here them say something in Spanish or refer to one of the guys and laugh about it).

And I can tell the laughter isn't both ways.

I shudder to think of all of the labor laws they're violating. And don't even get me started on how there is a whole other sweatshop industry in San Francisco that foodies, like the Chowhound Team, will never, ever, acknowledge.

It makes me wish I could speak Spanish fluently, that way I could "share" with these Mexican guys at Shan about how the head cook's eyebrows run together so much he looks like a fucking Neanderthal. Or how the old geezer who works the cash register probably can't get it up cause he's too lazy.

Ah well. "Push out the jive, bring in the love" as Monty Burns says.

Here's the food:

The "Express Combo".

Chicken Tikka Masala and Beef Jalfrazi over rice and with naan. Tasty and spicy, but most likely sitting in a big plastic tub for most of the day. I know. I've been there at 9 PM and seen them make it for the next day.

I'm moving on.



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