Monday 14 October 2013

Day 2 - The dinner adventure

So after a nice afternoon rest, we started flipping through the guidebook for a place to have dinner. One of the highest recommended restaurants ("possibly the best Chinese food outside of China") also happened to be located close to our hotel - Madam Chang's. So after getting cleaned up and with the location firmly fixed in mind, off we headed on foot.

We were assured that downtown Panama City where we were staying was perfectly safe to walk around in even at night. This proved to be perfectly true - at least safe from the dangers presented by other people. The sidewalks were rather intermittent and at times had the pedestrian equivalent of potholes in random places (which of course were full of water seeing as how it had rained for a good two hours that afternoon). So as we picked our way to the restaurant, we were walking under a series of low hanging ornamental trees when I felt something brush the back of my neck and felt a huge whoosh of air go past my head. I probably jumped 10 feet at the same moment that Stephen said "hey, look! A bat!". Yes, I had been clipped by a bat walking in the middle of the city. Welcome to the tropics.

After that little bit of excitement, we started getting close to where we thought the restaurant must be, made the turn on what we thought was the right street (Panama City is not well endowed with street signs, we discovered) and after walking a good 4 blocks, found no restaurant. Hmmm maybe it was a block too early.

So we turned around, went back to where we turned off, and turned at the following block. This time we asked a security guard for the street name (Calle 49) and were told it was the next street over - keep going and turn right.

So we did and found quite a few other restaurants - including another recommended Lebanse place and the French fusion place - but no Madam Chang's. So we stopped into Le Meridien and asked their concierge. Our first hint that we might be on the wrong trail was when she didn't know the name and so had to look it up - but she found the address in Master Google and sent us off back the way we came. Just two more blocks over.

This continued on for the better part of an hour, giving us a path that looked something like this. . .


And still no Madam Chang's. By this time properly hungry and having exhausted all possible locations for it with the address provided, we called it a loss and instead went over and had Lebanese at Habib's. A shared mezzo plate and two local lagers (not outstanding, not terrible, perfectly serviceable) set us up for the night. But what happened to Madam Chang's? Our guidebook isn't that old and I found references to it in several places online including check-ins as recently as September on foursquare. Asking the desk staff at our hotel, however, also yielded blank stares. So the rational explanation is that it must have closed . . .or perhaps it's the Chinese restaurant that can only be found by those who already know where it is.

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