Everything Chow, Baby tried on was either two sizes too small, ridiculously overpriced, or mass-manufactured from a snoozingly generic pattern.

Shopping to lift the spirits after a lousy dating week? No, that was the lousy dating week: a series of depressingly bad fits. It was so bad that Chow, Baby skipped the usual panacea of the shoe warehouse and went directly to the cure-all of Sweet Basil, conveniently nestled against North East Mall at 977 Melbourne Rd. in Hurst.

Sweet Basil is full of man-I’m-glad-I’m-single dining moments. Adorable little fried Thai dumplings ($5.95) were too delicious to share, especially after a dunking in the fresh-ginger sauce, and there were an indivisible seven of them anyway. And Chow, Baby didn’t have to surrender a single bite of its enough-for-two mus-sa-man curry ($9.95), a mild red curry with chunks of simmered potatoes, carrots, and meat-of-choice. Unlike dating, the heat level for most dishes is adjustable; Chow, Baby chose “mild” for its Thai salad ($8.95), yet the chili/lime/fish sauce dressing over the slivered meat and veggies was still the spiciest thing it’d had on its lips all week.

All right, Chow, Baby will stop wallowing now. Really, except for the piped-in pablum of lite-rock KVIL, Sweet Basil has a romantic air. Instead of the usual travel posters, the cozy dining room is decorated with gorgeous imported wall hangings, and service is quietly attentive. It would be a fine place to take a worthwhile date, if there is such a thing. Meanwhile, the sweet custard over sticky rice ($3.95) gave Chow, Baby enough sugar-bomb energy to try shopping again. No more loafers and trainers, now; Chow, Baby’s looking for cool, smart, funky tie-ups. Preferably on sale.

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Chef Pants in the Family

Chow, Baby would ask Nancy Schaadt out in a heartbeat, except that among other irreconcilable differences, she lives in Dallas. Byline-readers (we call them “parents”) may recall Nancy’s name attached to Weekly restaurant reviews, but a while back she refuted the usual jab that’s hurled at critics, enrolled in culinary school, and is now a cook at fancy-pants Nana. Traitor.

Luckily Nancy hasn’t lost her finding-great-little-places nose, and at her suggestion we met at King Chinese B.B.Q. (907 E. Pioneer Pkwy., Arlington), in a former fast-food building that has housed three Asian restaurants just within Chow, Baby’s limited memory. The décor is minimalist at best, with one striking feature: a large glass case of hanging, heads-on cooked chicken, ducks, and an entire half a pig. The squeamish will want to face the street. The menu lists too many items to count, from stuff suburban kids will eat to stuff Chow, Baby would rather not think about. If you want marinated stomach, ear, and tongue all in one dish, here’s your place.

For the less adventurous, which on this day included Chow, Baby, there’s the incredible Chinese BBQ. We ate huge quantities of octopus ($6.95), pork ($6.75), duck ($7.50), and the leaner and highly recommended Pe-Pa duck ($8.95), and still had tons of take-home. The only downside: noticing that a 6-inch-square section was now missing from the carcass-case pig … because it was in Chow, Baby’s suddenly guilt-ridden tummy. But a good-bye hug from chef-pantsed Nancy (newer readers can search the Chow, Baby archives for “fetish”) made the world bright again.

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