I met Charlie Huang in a limo on the way to the Diamond Cabaret — which sounds a lot sleazier than it really was. A friend and I were drinking at the Funky Buddha when we met up with a group of guy friends who had a limo for the night and asked if we wanted to go with them to hit the town's hot spots. I've always been a sucker for a posse of men — as well as for not having to worry about transportation — so we jumped into that limo before asking the obvious question of how they defined "hot spots." In the limo, I was introduced to Charlie, of Little Ollie's fame, and was immediately enthralled with his charm, love of restaurants/nightlife and hilarious sense of humor. Before I could say "strip club," we'd pulled up at the Diamond, where we were given VIP treatment since some of these gentlemen had been there maybe once or a thousand times before. I couldn't understand why my friends would take women to a strip club — it seemed like the proverbial taking sand to the beach — but the Diamond ended up being only the first stop on a fairly comical evening, and just meeting Charlie was worth the trip. So when I heard that he was opening a restaurant at the new Landmark development, I was eager to see the place. Charlie loves to travel and always goes to the best spots in whatever city he's in, so I imagined the place would be cool. And I wasn't disappointed: Jing has it all. From the beautiful purple-and-black lounge complete with crystal chandeliers to the double-sided water feature to the clear bathroom-stall doors that cloud when you lock them, Jing is all about heightened sensory awareness. When I ordered the Buddha Drop ($10), made with Hangar One Buddha's Hand Citron Vodka, limoncello and a seemingly innocuous floating "Sichuan Button," which the waitress showed me how to eat, I had an inkling that I was in for a surprise. After just a minuscule bite of the button, my tongue experienced a weird numbing sensation, followed by heat and the peculiar tingling you get when eating a Sour Patch Kid. Then the button moved on to produce a searing, numbing, peppery, lemony-metallic flavor that gave the feeling of a hallucinogenic — without any mental alteration (beyond that of the alcohol). The experience was both delightful and dreadful, and I wanted another drink immediately. If only I had a posse of men and a limo, I'd be at Jing right now.
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