Jade Dragon – Thank You For 50 Amazing Years

We went out to eat last week at a Chinese restaurant for my mom’s birthday dinner. It reminded me that we haven’t ate at Jade Dragon in a really long time. I mentioned that we should go to Jade Dragon soon for the sake of memories, and even made a mental note of it for when it’s my turn to treat the family out to dinner. It was on my mental list of places I should order from on Sundays.

For anyone that has grew up in Daly City, the restaurant, Jade Dragon, rings a thousand bells. For me, Jade Dragon has been at the center of my family’s milestones. From 1st birthdays, to baptism receptions, to birthday dinners, to birthday parties, to retirement parties, to debuts, to catering family events, to many eventless weekend dinners, we basically grew up at that restaurant eating their food. To this day, I still have fond memories of my family and I eating at Jade Dragon. Hence why I wanted to go back after a few years of not eating in the dine-in restaurant area or the reserved party rooms. With the pandemic going on its 2 year anniversary, going to a familiar place that housed great memories from your childhood would be a great comfort. I looked forward to taking my family there again.

Last night, my family and I ordered take-out from a Vietnamese spot on Ocean. I have been on my satay pho obsession for a couple months now, and it was time to have my sisters join in on the craze. Especially since the Bay Area was freezing cold this last week, a nice warm bowl of pho was definitely appreciated. We stood around the kitchen table, putting together our bowls of pho. Anyone who has ever taken pho to-go knows the struggle of assembling your meal to your liking. My eyes grew wide as I watched my little sister take her first bite.

She agreed. The satay pho was really that good. My sisters and I sat in the living room, devouring our steaming bowls of that peanut broth goodness. My dad joined us to watch another episode of 90 Day FiancĂ©: Before the 90 Days, a Sunday night tradition for the last 2 years. And by 7:40 pm, we were stuffed and ready for a food coma. I was so full that I couldn’t even finish the extra noodles I had added to my order. I called it satay quits and went on my phone.

Justine messaged on our group chat a screenshot of one of her Facebook friend’s posts. The pictures on the post were very familiar to me. It was Peggy standing in front of her restaurant, Jade Dragon. I remembered her familiar face in an instant. Up until reading that Facebook post, it dawned on me that I never knew her name. However, her face was such a familiar and inviting face from my childhood. I read the caption above the pictures and gasped.

“Jade Dragon is closing?!?!” I blurted out.

Gasps filled the room, “Whaaaaaaat!?”

Quickly I remembered that I wanted to take the family there to eat. Now, my chance was almost gone. The post said that they were closing their doors for good tomorrow (Monday). I had no idea if that meant that their last day was that night, Sunday, or their last day in service was the next day, Monday. I frantically tried to find their website online, seeing if the rumor was true. I couldn’t find a website or any social media pages for the restaurant. Google said that they were closing at 8 PM, which was in 8 minutes. As full as I was, I knew it would be foolish not to at least attempt to place an order for the last time. So, I called in, hoping that 8 minutes until closing wouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

“Jade Dragon.”

“Hi, are you guys closing at 8?”

“Yes, you can place your order now and it will be ready in 15 minutes.”

“Uh, will you guys be open tomorrow?” I said, already dreading the answer.

“No, we are closing. Last day is today.”

At that point, I knew it was about 5 minutes until they closed. So I did what anyone else would do… I placed an order for fried chicken. I got off the phone and my dad was flabbergasted. He couldn’t believe I ordered more food after we gorged ourselves 5 minutes prior. But I had to. There were too many memories made at Jade Dragon not to! And I knew I would regret not getting 1 last opportunity to bite into the tastiest, crispiest, best chicken skin of all time, Jade Dragon chicken.

Had this been for any other take-out, my dad would be annoyed as hell. But Jade Dragon also held a special place in his heart too, and he was equally as shocked that they were closing. So my dad, little sister, and I headed for the car to pick up our last order from the restaurant we so very loved. I didn’t have much expectations, because I knew that seeing Peggy there would be a very slim chance. But I hoped anyways.

We parked the car in front of Jade Dragon. We have been to this parking lot many times before. It was dark outside, the “open” sign was no longer on, and something about seeing the restaurant’s sign in the dark made me sad. We walked in, and there were still people at the bar section to the left. The huge Buddha statue that I rubbed every time I left the restaurant growing up sat in it’s same position in front of the door. We turned to the right towards the dinning area. Everything looked exactly the same. It smelled exactly the same as it did 20 years ago. And then from behind the restaurant, slowly walking and emerging from behind the paneled divider, came Peggy.

Seeing Peggy’s smiling face took me back 2 decades ago. Suddenly, I was 7 years old, walking into Jade Dragon with my family. The smell in the restaurant was the same, the furniture was the same, the decorations untouched, the tables were set up exactly as it was 20 years prior. I had flashbacks of my older sister and I pouring tea into our teacups, only so we could add way too much sugar. We wouldn’t stir the sugar into the tea, we would let it sink to the bottom so the last couple sips were sugary, grainy, and delicious. I remembered picking out the peas in my fried rice and lining them up on the side of my plate, pretending they were audience members.

I remembered the circle table at the very back of the restaurant where we had my dad’s surprise 40th birthday dinner with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I remembered all the events that took place in that restaurant – my uncle’s retirement party, my goddaughter’s birthday party, my 1st birthday that I don’t remember but have pictures from… the list went on. I remember running to the Buddha statue to rub his belly. “Rub for good luck,” my mom would tell me. And oh how I believed it. And I remembered Peggy’s smiling face greeting us at the back of the restaurant, “Oh they’re so big now!” she would tell my parents.

And there she was, in the same part of the restaurant, greeting us into Jade Dragon for the last time. She looked exactly the same. Her friendly face is one I could pick out from a crowd. It was such a surprise because I don’t think any of us expected to actually see a familiar face. I expected to not see anyone I recognize, pick up our chicken, and say silent goodbyes in our head. But there she was. The woman whose face I’ve associated with Jade Dragon and great family memories. The most welcoming face to be greeted with.

“Sorry, we’re closed. The cooks are going home,” she said kindly with a sympathetic smile. We had our masks on, but we let her know that we had placed an order already. “Oh, the fried chicken!” she said happily.

We talked a bit while we waited for our fried chicken order. We let her know that even though she may not remember us, that we definitely remembered her and cherished the family memories we made at Jade Dragon. Peggy said that she somewhat remembered our faces, but I really didn’t expect her to. She knew me since I was like 4, I doubt she could recognize 27 year old me. However, she was still very kind about it and insisted that she remembers people’s faces.

We reminded her that we were regulars way back when. Peggy let us know that it was just finally time for her to retire. “50 years in February,” she said tenderly. I couldn’t believe it – Jade Dragon was closing its doors after 50 years. She updated us on her husband’s health and the passing of her sister-in-law 4 years prior, another familiar face at Jade Dragon. She told us that they sold the restaurant space to Kukje, and they’d be remodeling it soon. Standing there talking with Peggy, I couldn’t believe how much time had passed. Instead of her being in awe at how much my sisters and I have grown, we were now in the middle of her restaurant on it’s last day – probably their last order. Yes, we were the assholes that ordered 5 minutes till closing… but I’m glad we did.

Peggy went to the back to check on our order, and we walked around the restaurant. Everything looked the same. In my memories, I recall it being so much bigger. It was sad looking around knowing that this restaurant wouldn’t be around anymore. It was a very nostalgic moment, especially since a couple weeks ago we learned that Tanforan Mall would be permanently closing as well. It feels like so many major things from my childhood are quickly fading. So many places that housed so many great memories are soon to be a thing of the past. It hit me.

Peggy came out with our chicken, and we headed to the cash register. I was so glad that we got to see her that night, and that we got to say our thank you’s and give her our best wishes. I handed her a generous tip, which she refused to take. We encouraged her to take it, and let her know that we would miss the restaurant.

“I need to give you a souvenir then. Something to remember by.” She headed to the back of the restaurant. She gifted us 2 embroidered animals that were framed separately – a horse and a cat. We were honored to take a piece of Jade Dragon with us.

After that, I asked if we could have a picture with all of us and the Buddha. Peggy was thrilled to do so. We took our masks off and smiled for the camera. The Buddha that we rubbed every time we came into Jade Dragon, and every time we walked out. When she saw my dad with his mask down she said, “I remember your face now! Now that you don’t have a mask, yes, I remember your dad.”

So we said our goodbyes, our thank yous, and our well wishes for her retirement. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. But as I ate the leftover Jade Dragon chicken today for dinner, I remembered all the great memories of family, food, and great service.

Jade Dragon gave Daly City 50 amazing years. I’m grateful that my family and I got to talk to Peggy before they finally closed their doors. This one definitely hurt because Jade Dragon was a big part of the community. However, I will always remember the many happy memories I have of Jade Dragon over the years. And that’s the definition of a successful business – when people keep coming back because your food is great, but also because of the happy memories and great hospitality.

Today, Monday, February 28, 2022 Jade Dragon closed their doors. Thank you, Jade Dragon, for 50 great years!

Congrats On Adulting

By now, I bet it’s safe to say that my consistent readers know how I feel about change and how I handle it. I’m so sentimental about everything. And the more I think about it, I’ve come to realize that the things that make me sad are just … a part of life. I get so sad over certain things – some might even say I can think myself into a deep depression. I get frustrated with myself at times because I feel everything so deeply, I analyze everything, and overthink myself to the point where I’m exhausted. But what exactly gets me so melancholy?

Change as a whole. I’ve written so many blog posts about different scenarios and topics. I put a lot of my fears and anxiety filled thoughts out there into the world, and a common factor is how stubborn I am with change. And it’s crazy, because I am all for growth and improvement. I’m completely aware that there’s no growth without change, and you can only excel so much in a certain environment. And up until recently, I would’ve described myself as a go with the flow laid back type of person. I believe it’s due to the fact that from preschool until you graduate college, it’s pretty much a set path. Of course, not everyone’s journey is the same, but education wise it’s kind’ve the same route. Once I graduated from the school environment, I felt lost, and change seemed scary.

And to some, I bet I sound mad childish and pathetic. Why is this bitch so sad about change? It’s normal… Trust me, sometimes after posting a blog post I wonder why I get overly emo about normal shit that people go through. But, I know I can’t be the only person in the world who feels an enormous sense of sadness, gets mad sentimental, and nostalgic when things begin to shift. That feeling of “nothing lasts forever,” gets me every time, and I feel myself desperately clinging onto the present day and not wanting things to change. I try to fight and resist it, even though deep down I know that this is just another part of growing up.

It’s funny because when I was younger all I wanted to do was be “grown.” I dreamed of my house, my future family, my life. The yearning to be an adult as a child is something we all go through. What’s even more cringe is the fact that I thought I was grown at 16 – 18 years old… L M F A O. At that age, I thought I could handle everything and anything. I was ballsy and would take the chance in any situation. What happened to that invincible feeling? I mean, I’m 25. I’m not that old, some might even say I’m not even “grown” yet. But somewhere along the line, that ballsy “I’ll do whatever I want, when I want, I can do anything and everything, don’t tell me otherwise,” feeling faded.

Well, maybe not faded, if you catch me in the right mood, probably after listening to my encouraging music – aka J.Cole’s The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights, you can find me with confidence and motivation. Which for the most part, I am. I’m a dreamer, and I have my ups and downs when it comes to achieving my goals and dreams. But then I have those days when I’m hesitant, anxious, and unmotivated. When did I become so calculated with my next move? What happened with going with the flow?

I guess a part of that can be because I’m an adult now. I realized that spontaneously doing whatever I want at the time can have consequences. I started to realize that some decisions are irreversible in this game called life, and I wasn’t about to make a foolish misguided calculation. And that’s kind’ve the position I’m in. I’m so focused on making the right “move” and right decision that making change to get to a better place is hard. I fear choosing the wrong path.

But I know being stubborn with change will only stunt my growth. Out of nowhere I went from a college student to a graduate who is now in the real world. And being in the “real world” is a little overwhelming. Now is the time to do all the things I’ve hoped to do, all the things I’ve dreamed of. Nobody talks about the hurt that comes along with growing up. People move away, people get busy, people start new lives, and suddenly, all the good memories are a thing of the past. I even catch myself living in the present moment and soaking in everything around me, and getting sad that it won’t “be like this” forever.

I think about how I grew up, being around my whole extended family from both my mom and dad’s side. I was telling my little sister how it’s crazy to think that I can remember being 3-4 years old, hanging out with my aunt and her now husband, thinking that they were grown as shit. Now, I’m that aunt with the boyfriend that kicks it with the nieces and nephews.

It’s all a part of growing up. And I’m not on some Peter Pan shit where I don’t want to grow up. But, I do get very nostalgic and sad when I think of things changing and never going back to how it “was.” Knowing that everyday, little changes happen, and then one day you wake up and realize shit is completely different. I guess the main thing about “growing up” and having things change is the fact that I know just like times and memories, people don’t last forever.

One day I was talking to one of my best friends about this concept. That I’m afraid to make moves and changes because I fear I’ll miss out on family events and I’ll feel guilty if someone passes away. “That’s such a toxic way of thinking,” he told me. He explained that of course we want to be there for big moments, and deep down we all know nobody lives forever, but that’s no way to live your life. And it’s true, and I’m aware of the fact that I get sad about things not being like how it was in the past, for example : meeting at my grandparents’ house every Sunday after church for lunch and hanging out with all of my cousins. They’re nice little reminiscent memories that make you feel like “awww, I miss those days.” But even in the present day I trip off things I can’t control. Like the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and we haven’t hungout at our 97 year old Tatay’s place in months with the whole family…

As much as things and memories give me happy-sad memories, I know it’s all a part of adulting and going through life. This is literally nothing new, and I finally get the saying “that’s life.” When I vent to some friends and those close to me, sometimes I feel foolish because it’s like, dude… you’re just sad about “adulting.” It’s just the journey of life and becoming more independent. I never knew adulting could bring up so many emotions. For me, it’s anxiety, nostalgia, being sentimental, scared, with a hint of excitement. I know there are people out there that are the total opposite of me, and crave change and welcome the unknown with open arms. But this post is dedicated to the people who want that growth and want to charge forward with life, but still get sad and wrapped up in their feels. It’s okay to feel this way. Nobody really brings up the emotional side of growing up. It’s okay to want change but feel sad about it…