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[Eat It]: The Number Twelve
By Oct 13, 2009 Dining


When mulling over lunch options I look for three things:

1. Maximum caloric intake for under 35rmb

2. Minimal human contact with waiters, co-workers, friends, family, and people in general

3. Something that won't make my insides feel like angry death within an hour of consuming it

Alas, often is the case in which one of these three criteria is sacrificed to satisfy the other two. Fast food, while a cheap and happily solitary experience -- I like the point-order system in lieu of the rigors of conversation and love the politics of it -- unfortunately ends up making one feel quite like shite in the 4pm-6pm death march.

These days, the more I eat Big Macs and KFC "Spice, No Spice? No Spice." Chicken Sandwiches, the more I've really come to taste the pain and misery from which they are engendered. You can really taste the suffering; you really can. It's like a hot, congealed, blood-and-mayonaise kind of flavor. Look for it.

So there's this place called El Mexicano -- maybe you know about it, maybe you don't. They meet all the aforementioned criteria. More specifically, the Number 12 from their menu meets all the criteria. (Ed note: Due to a menu re-design, the Number 12 is actually the Number 15 these days.) El Mexicano is like a Mexican restaurant, which I gather is a pretty popular thing to be these days. I have no background in Mexican food nor do I care to develop one. Authentic? Inauthentic? Californian style? Tex Mex? Traditional? Contemporary? I don't know. I don't give a shit. It's not in the criteria.

Is it cheap? Yes. Do you have to deal with lots of people? No. Just one guy on the phone. (I don't make eye contact with the delivery guy.) Will it make you feel like you've just ingested raccoon meat marinated in toxic waste?

No. It's pretty alright actually.

The Number 12, I don't even know what the name of this thing is anymore. It's the Number 12. It's like a... well, it comes in three sections, with your main course thing being like a... a chicken burrito-taco-whatever-wrap type thing. There's chicken in it and a taco-like breaded layering wrap thing. Then it's covered in melted cheese, tomato paste, and there's some sour cream on top. It's quite good. The next compartment has like... Mexican rice or whatever and a dollop of re-fried beans. Very nice. Then the last compartment is like a salad with a ranch dressing or whatever.

The salad kind of tastes like they've been buying it in bulk, leftover from a Thanksgiving dinner at an old folk's home but it's still pretty good. I still eat it. To keep healthy.

Total damage with their absurdly minimal delivery is under 40rmb.

Here's an important, extra-special tip: extra sour cream is 5rmb. Get it. It's worth it.

There you go. The Number 12 from El Mexicano. Here's the full menu. Here's the ordering number: 400 820 1336. Eat it.


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  • Crumpets

    Oh wow! That\'s a MUCH better deal than the one I ordered (and wrote a user review about). The beef fajita meal (# 7 I believe) came with beef in the tiniest compartment, and the giant compartment on the left was all just rice.

    Thanks for the photos. Clearly, the #12 is the way to go!

  • psinology

    \"You can really taste the suffering; you really can. It\'s like a hot, congealed, blood-and-mayonaise kind of flavor.\"

    some vomit just came up while reading that...I also think you\'ve managed the impossible; put me of mayonnaise, at least temporarily.

  • jdn


  • flyswatter

    does this beat out Fire&Ice\'s burrito combo meal? (beef or chicken burrito, soft drink and chili cheese fries for 21 kuai)

  • SamuelGreen

    The Red Enchiladas are awesome too, come in the same 3 compartment container with rice and salad. The Beef Cheese Burrito probably doesn\'t fit your healthy criteria, but god it tastes nice.

  • morgan

    In my opinion the buritos are a bit hit and miss. Some days they\'re the shit, others they come just packed and packed with onions. I guess some people like them like that, but I\'m not much of an onions guy. Haven\'t tried Fire and Ice, but am fucking intrigued by the words \"combo meal\", \"chili cheese fries\" and \"21 kuai\".

    Do they deliver?

  • flyswatter

    Yeah they do deliver, but only within a distance the delivery guy is prepared to bike to. It\'s kind of arbitrary. 6431 2378 (or 136 1182 6497 for more fluent English) is the number to call if you want to try and sweet talk them into making it out your way.

    The place itself is a little window on Gao\'an Lu between Jianguo and Zhaojiabang Lus. Last night my chili cheese fries had a blue cheese flavoured sauce with them (though that might just have been a mistake). They\'ve just introduced chili hot dogs too. I don\'t work for them by the way, it just happens to be smack bang across the road from my flat so, by conservative estimates, I go at least twice a week. It\'s always good.

    It\'s the same guy who opened Togo down in Tianzifang with the main differences being the price, the fact that at the Gao\'an Lu branch you don\'t have to go looking for the staff and that there\'s fewer faux-artsy types pushing past you while you wait.

  • morgan

    Thanks for the tip flyswatter. Got the chili cheese dog today for de-fuckin-livery and it was fantastic. Will write extensive report on the place in a week or so.

    Expat media: baggin\' clicks, cashin\' checks.

  • Nawash

    I just oredered number 12 today. after reading your article, I thought it would be perfect as a hangover lunch...but it was wack! the rice is dry and untasty and the enchilada is actually filled with the same stupid rice! what\'s the point? its really the worst mexican meal i had since i\'m in yeah you probably really don\'t know and don\'t give a shit about good food so next time just don\'t write about it

  • morgan

    hey fuck YOU, \"nawash\".

  • Nawash

    That\'s a really constructive answer. Cursing when you get critisized... El Mexicano does have good food, just not number 12.

  • shabi

    Funny coming across this paean to #12... I order El Numero Doce for lunch at least 2-3 times a week. Wash it down with horchata and it comes in at under 50rmb!

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