Don’t just read Rent a Boyfriend…Experience it!
I read Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao, shortly after finishing her book American Panda. I’d recently finished a manuscript draft that incorporated fake dating, so this title in particular caught my attention.
Here we go, no spoilers: All Chloe wants is to find a way out of the marriage arranged by her traditional Asian parents with the “perfect” boy—who is actually a scumbag. All Drew wants is to make enough money to pursue his love of art after his traditional Asian parents have disowned him. So when a little lie leaves Chloe scrambling to a reputable company that rents Asian boys to girls for family occasions, she spends Thanksgiving with her parents and her fake boyfriend, Drew. But the fibs keep piling up, and soon Chloe needs Drew for more holidays. When the two of them begin struggling to separate the truths from the lies, that’s when things get really interesting.
Of all the things I enjoyed about this book, reading about the food Chloe ate was one. When Chloe is particularly stressed, Drew takes her to eat lamb hot pot, a meal where you cook your food in boiling water at your table. They discuss whether their families use gōng kuài, a separate chopstick to handle the raw meat. While their preference in this area varies, the two bond over their love of similar food. Drew even introduces Chloe to the first fishball that she actually likes.
I’ve always loved to try new food, so after reading Rent a Boyfriend, I quickly set about searching for a Taiwanese restaurant. I found one in Olivette, MO, Tai Ke Shabu Shabu. I wasn’t able to try hot pot there, but I was able to try Spicy Mapo Tofu and—my favorite—Gua Bao, delectable pork belly pieces on a steamed bun. The bun was soft and chewy, and the pork belly was just the right amount of sweet. Adding flavor inside the bun was pickled mustard green and a house sauce. I split an order of two with the husband, but I would have been more than happy to eat both.
As we ate, I kept seeing people go in and out of another place next door with colorful drinks. We headed over for dessert and were happily surprised once we entered Share Sweet an Asian Bubble Tea and dessert shop. There, I was able to try a refreshing strawberry grapefruit yogurt drink with pop boba. My husband got oreo cream cocoa cream tea. We both enjoyed our drinks. We already know we’d like to go back to try their honey toast desserts and the shaved ice/bingsu. They had flavors like melon heaven and mango tango. Unfortunately, after eating dinner, we just didn’t think we could get through one dessert, even together, after spying some other patrons sharing.
There you have it. As you read Rent a Boyfriend, take note of the many foods that are a part of Chloe’s day to day meals. Earmark the ones that sound appealing, and find a way to try them for yourself. Your taste buds will thank you.
If you haven’t already read Rent a Boyfriend, what are you waiting for? If you already have, why not pick it up again? Either way, take my advice when you do—don’t just read it, experience it!