A Pan-Asian joint, dark with gently revolving fans overhead. The confidential murmur and craft of a sushi chef plying his blade.
On a Saturday night, while [The Man I Love] was off at some rubber-chicken dinner for work, I slipped through the moon-gate-shaped door of the Pearl Dragon Restaurant in Pacific Palisades, looking for a quiet getaway.
I should have known better.
It's Pacific Palisades!
When I arrived at 5:30, the place was almost empty, with a couple tables filled and a small clutch of people at the bar. I took a table, ordered a cocktail and a bowl of edamame, and browsed the menu for the rest of my dinner options.
Within 15 minutes, tables began to fill. And the first thing you noticed about the clientele was...half of them were small children.
Yes, this is Palisades. Affluent young professional families and their children go out to eat on Saturday night. There, at a four-top, a mother, father and their two young kids expertly wielded chopsticks. "She'll have an order of the chicken fingers," a Dad told the waiter while his seven-year-old nodded precociously. Little feet in blinking LED sneakers dangled from high chairs in the darkened dining room. Little girls in glittery hairbands traipsed between the booths, and little boys in soccer shirts sat on their dads' laps at the sushi bar. The din of childish voices rose in the air, louder and louder. The place is like a Chuck E. Cheese's - only with sushi.
As I sipped the last of my sake, a wee tot at a table across the room began to shriek in rage as her mother pleaded with her, then the child was snatched up and whisked to the ladies room, howls trailing from the hallway.
I paid my tab and got out of there faster than Marlene Dietrich fleeing on the Shanghai Express.