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Everything posted by DylanK

  1. Yep, you can slice pork loin thin, marinate it for a sec in soy sauce, black pepper, bit of starch. But I like it with fattier pork, too, like pork shoulder.
  2. Simplest thing is cándòu chǎoròu 蚕豆炒肉, fava beans with pork. Kinda like the picture above, but I prefer it with slices of pork. I've also eaten them boiled like you'd boil máodòu 毛豆 (except peeled) in a broth of dark soy sauce, anise, Sichuan peppercorn, black pepper, chile, whatever else. Then served cold or lukewarm.
  3. Yeah, Huaxi is impressive and deserves more burn, on the level that places like Tony's get. This place is still mostly under the radar, isn't it? It's the kind of place that makes it worth grinding out to Burnaby.
  4. Latest to most recent: Shanghai Village on Cambie, KN Pizza Souvlaki on 3 Road, Hue Cafe on 3 Road.
  5. Haha, well... if you can stand food blogs with no pictures and lots of rambling personal anecdotes: http://jiaoqu.blogspot.com/
  6. I'd love to be proven wrong, but good Vancouver-centric Chinese-language food blogs seem to be rare. Fmed linked to one that has some decent reviews on it, and some dope food photography. If you root through Chinese-language web forums, like Westca 北美中文网, for example, you can find some okay stuff, but a lot of it is people posting pictures of meals at Cactus Club--this is revenge for all of the Canadians that go to China and post about hotel Chinese food on their blogs ("Hey, guys, you gotta check out the Xi'an Sofitel for authentic and delicious cumin lamb!")-- and stuff like food court meals get treated pretty rudely (ie. a chorus of people saying, "Steer clear of food courts! I ate some noodles there once and got sick!"-- rich Mainland kids). So, nobody is writing about street-level Vancouver Chinese food in a serious way, in English or Chinese, as far as I can see. In general, when it comes to food blogs, I'm sorta sick of food reviews. I think a lot of food blogs are glorified Yelp reviews, these days. There are some bright spots out there, but it's generally pretty formulaic and boring: This is what I ate; it tasted good/it tasted bad; service was good/bad. Then a big glossy picture of the thing. But, like, no attempt to communicate beyond that. There are two options, I think. 1) Give me some emotion, some personality, some feeeeeling. Tell me about the experience, how it made you feel, what it reminded you of. Shoot, tell me who you are, even. This is why I dig Chowtimes. It has a face. Don't be a food review robot. Or, 2) if you can, give me some information: what's the history of the place? What's the history of the food? Who's cooking it? What does that mean? I read lots of local blogs. There's lots of good stuff. But those are the things that tend to bug me. I'll single out foodosophy, which I think is the most consistently satisfying local food blog, whether it's gastronomydomine talking about Chinatown favorites or doing a scientific banh mi comparison, or shokotsu on Korean and Japanese places.
  7. I love 粉蒸排骨 and I also recommend the 粉蒸肉 at Xi'an Cuisine in the Richmond Public Market, if you've never tried it, for a completely different 粉蒸 experience with a completely different flavor, a big clod of pork steamed with rice meal, and it comes with big puffy bread 馍馍 to stuff it inside. Only available on weekends, unfortunately.
  8. Well, I've had a couple of dead-on meals at Chuan Xiang Ge and one less-than-inspiring meal. I think the less-than-inspiring performance was the result of, as another review put it, "考虑到非川籍食客的口味" "paying attention to the tastes of non-Sichuanese." I'll also note that, as you go thru various pictures of Chuan Xiang Ge's dishes, there's a pretty serious variety in how it comes out of the kitchen, even on basic things like the type of dish it's served in. The first time I went to Chuan Xiang Ge, the 渝州鸡条 Yuzhou chicken strips (see fmed's first picture) were swimming in a reddish sauce (but not oil, like 口水鸡 "mouthwatering" chicken). The dish was wall-to-wall pickled chilis and the flavor was deeply pungent, really spicy. Last time, pretty good but not quite the same. But, damn, I've eaten lots of good food there and seen lots of pretty pictures, and the menu is deep, and I haven't given up on it. If you can read Chinese and/or like beautiful pictures of Sichuan food, I recommend the following blog posts: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/blackrumba/15747184 and http://www.wretch.cc/blog/blackrumba/15884546
  9. Jeez, this is kinda embarrassing to admit but... I had no idea that Tony's Beef Noodle was the same place as the Brother Wang Beef Noodle 王哥牛肉面 that I kept going on about-- I guess I never saw Tony's Beef Noodle on the sign. I've been wondering how everyone was missing the boat on my favorite place, while constantly talking about Tony's Beef Noodle. Okay, they're the same. I still have to try a few of the other places mentioned, but this place is pretty great.
  10. I think shuizhu yu 水煮鱼 is on the menu, since they do a ton of fish dishes. I'll check for that the next time I go. I love shuizhu yu. I haven't tried the mapo doufu there. I'm weird about mapo doufu. Even in China, I rarely get the version of it I want. Even in Sichuan! In Canada, I find the sauce is usually too mild, or even sweet, and it doesn't have any real punch. In China, I find it's usually drowned in oil. The plate of mapo doufu that I measure all others against: I think someone was asking about Sichuan hot pot and I was kinda curious about that, too.
  11. I dig Chuan Xiang Ge 川香阁 in Richmond. First, they're consistent, from dish to dish and visit to visit. I'd drop the name of the chef if I didn't forget it. He's got a deep knowledge of Sichuan food and prepared some really interesting off-the-menu requests that my girl and I have made. The daily specials are good and so are the rustic dishes. The last time I went there I had Northern Sichuan liangfen (北川凉粉), Yuzhou chicken, and an off-menu-request, very authentic kaishui baicai 开水白菜, and a big ol' fish head. A good Sichuan place, you can order four spicy dishes and they're all spicy in different ways: the liangfen was served ice cold, heavy on the huajiao, left the mouth buzzing... the Yuzhou chicken was a perfect rustic dish, full of pickled peppers and dried chili... the fish head was made with chopped chilis 剁辣椒 sauce which worked well with the fattiness of the fish head. Good place. I haven't tried enough Sichuan places in town, because I'm so often disappointed, but I like this one.
  12. Chef Hung makes a good bowl of noodles. But noodle quality to price ratio isn't quite right. Side dishes are bunk, too, as a poster above noted. I ordered fried fish (you know, those tiny little fish, deepfried?) and what came was a bowl of noodles with a few stray fish sprinkled on top, and a sprig of cilantro. Bunk, bunk, bunk. Can't recommend enough: Brother Wang Beef Noodle 王哥牛肉面. Address is 5754 Cambie, directly across from the Oakridge Shopping Centre, easy Skytrain stop. It's a dive--and I mean that in the nicest way--that seats about 20 and is usually packed. Their braised beef noodle 红烧牛肉面 is the best in town, with a rich soup that's not punched up with MSG or overly salted. Spicy beef noodle 麻辣牛肉面 is the other attraction. Very nice. The beef is braised to the perfect texture and there's a great combination of chewy lean meat, sticky-as-toffee tendon, and creamy-as-ice-cream fat. Side dishes are respectable, too-- I love the pork in garlic sauce 蒜泥白肉 and the cold dressed 凉拌 dishes. Price is also a plus, especially when compared to joints like Chef Hung's. Atmosphere is dope, too. Feels like a neighborhood noodle place in a Chinese 小区. Beijing Noodle House 北京面馆 (#190-6451 Buswell St.) also does a decent braised beef noodle 红烧牛肉面. They also have good zhajiang mian 炸酱面, too, if you're into that. My favorite place, though, shut down. I only got a chance to eat there twice. It was a little Sichuan place in the Yaohan food court, where they made the best pickled garlic. Damn. Anyone know the name of the place or if it moved? It closed and was quickly replaced with a Thai joint. R.I.P. And... if you want to stretch the definition of beef noodle, there are some places in town that make a good beef lamian 牛肉拉面, too.
  13. Chili oil douru. I love it on mantou, still warm from underneath the ayi's blanket-covered basket, so it melts just a bit as you spread it with a spoon. Giant Tree brand is the best. Warm spiciness and super pungent, the texture of cream cheese. 玫瑰, rose doufu ru: burnt sugar sweetness and deep red from red rice and rose (in what form?). Big pieces, firm, almost crumbly. Good stirred into plain boiled noodles.
  14. 豆腐乳. The fermented soybean condiment. I always thought it was a Shanghai/Jiangsu/Zhejiang thing but Guilin has a famous variety and Guangzhou people use it to fry with greens. How do you eat it? What's your favorite? Etc.
  15. 川陴牌 is my brand. It comes in a cute little bucket with a handle and it's pungent as heck. Best thing: cook 鸡蛋炒西红柿 (tomato n' egg) with it, add the bean paste right after the eggs get solid, right before you put the tomato in.
  16. Beautiful, right? I think it's some kind of perch. It was a gift from a friend that caught and salted it himself. I like tiny dried fish fried with dried tofu, with lots of chili. But this thing is big! Give me some ideas. What do you like to do with dried fish?
  17. No radish in the cake! Just the leaves from the tops of little red radishes, chopped up and mixed with flour and egg and water and fried. Liang ban (凉拌). 凉 means "cool" and 拌 means "mix." It's a way of serving food. You whatever up relatively uniformly and toss it with light soy sauce, sesame oil, and a bit of vinegar, and white pepper and green onion go on top. But you could change the mixture and the ratios and even drop chili oil and sesame seeds on it, whatever you like. Just a cold dish mixed with stuff. This liang ban tofu is just a block of nice fresh tofu stirred up with black pepper, a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onion. It has a texture like cottage cheese, almost. Perfect summer dish. 万能小菜——凉拌豆腐 That blog post has better pictures of it. And she makes it with a half a tablespoon of chili oil and some sugar.
  18. Fried radish leaf cake: Eggs and green pepper: Liang ban doufu:
  19. I find the best time to get them is during Miao Hui (庙会), when everyone comes in from the countryside to sell things like this. Cured or just raw wood, massive pieces of tree trunk, the ideal cutting board.
  20. Big stock pot, five or six dried chilis, a half handful of hua jiao, some white pepper, a few stars of anise, a lot of dark soy sauce, a stick of cassia, a few cardamom pods, big pinch of cheap green tea. They start boiling at around 6 am, then go out on tin plates when people come in for lunch.
  21. Lianyungang is two hours away on the train. Sort of a budget-budget-budget Qingdao, maybe even a budget Weihai. Really cheap, lots of good food. My friends and I used to take the train down in the winter a lot. We could stay in a hotel room that we could never afford during the summer's high tourist season and we'd drink too much at fancy seafood restaurants and take a taxi out to the ocean and stroll on the sea wall and freeze. The first time we ever went was the first snowfall of the year, big fat flakes falling as overnight and all morning. In Lianyungang, we ate big fat red strawberries coated in hot, hard sugar and purple-black fermented tofu deepfried and covered with chili sauce and California rolls from a place on the street with actual genuine Miracle Whip. We found a restaurant that looked old enough, full full full of aquariums. We got toasted on bai jiu and ate razor clams and black beans, skinny, spiny crabs, squid. Halfway through the meal, the door flew open and a big, almost fat man pushed his way across the restaurant, knocking over tables and chairs and people. He barged into the kitchen and came out with a massive cleaver, which he held above his head and went back outside again. Everyone in the restaurant followed. We stood on the steps of the place and watched the big man with the cleaver take off running, swinging with the knife, until he was out of sight. We went back to eating and drinking. An hour or so later, a little boy pushed open the doors of the restaurant and brought back the cleaver. I love Lianyungang. The city is divided into three areas, the old city, the new city and the island. The old city is standard coastal Jiangsu, big wide streets and everything built in the last five years, etc. The new city is resorts and conference centers and apartments being built. The island is beaches and ruins. Breakfast every morning. Advertised as North Korean noodles but sorta basic summery fen noodles like everywhere, cold and sweet and sour and spicy, dressed with crushed chili and vinegar and sugar and MSG and seaweed and cucumber. Lunch is transparent potato starch noodles in a greasy, spicy, sour soup. Or more cold, spicy noodles with bean curd sponges and a bottle of Sprite. In the new city, we went to eat at the seafood market. It's a long, skinny barn lined with aquariums, selling everything in the ocean: crabs and oysters and scallops and prawns and squid and octopus and sea urchin and sea guts and big ugly fish. Restaurants are set up behind each bank of aquariums. Not really restaurants: a room with two chairs, perfectly tableclothed and napkined and chaired, beautiful. Hawkers stand in front of each block, yelling for you, in Mandarin, Russian, English ("Come and eat lunch! Come and eat lunch!") to eat at their joint, ready to negotiate the price on a couple scallops, calling you over to show you something special, unique. The island off of Lianyungang is half bright shiny beach resort and half decay. Around the beaches, everything fresh and scrubbed and then, as you take the road around, smashed, destroyed fishing villages on land now owned by developers waiting to have hotels and apartments and condos built. That island is one of my favorite places in the world. Like the coast of Spain, when I was a kid. That kind of feel to everything. Rundown, shitty, beautiful resort, where everything, everything, everything was colored faded butterscotch. Everything set aside for a long time. The little room full of worn furniture. A dry, cracked up cement swimming pool, where every day we checked on the progress of a baby bird being devoured by big red ants in the wading pool. Vacationing British sitting on lawnchairs outside the English-style pub, translucent skin sizzling. Sun, sand, surf. The stucco painted with the same butterscotch pudding, faded and faded. The beds that smell like mildew, seafood, detergent. Bootleg satellite-fed TV with six channels, mostly in Cantonese. The only staff we meet a woman from Guangzhou with almost no voice, soft, deep inside her throat, and an oily sheen of make-up and sweat on her face. Deep grooves, softly rounded chips in most of her front teeth, from cracking sunflower seeds. She asks us when we check where we're from and tells us that she once had a Japanese boyfriend and later comes to bring us a Thermos of boiled water. The island's small enough that you can walk around it in an hour. There's nothing on it but strange tower of sideways, diagonally stacked rock strata, wild trees with naked roots grasping thin air, reaching down cliffs, a few faded resort hotels built forty years ago, beige, a few fishing villages, still healthy, full of dramatic stone houses built like a game of Jenga on a bare, absolute sheet of rock that runs straight into the sea, brown boats bobbing with their red People's Republic flapping. There are a few fishing villages, abandoned, the same collections of brick and red tile roof houses between cliff and ocean, crumbling, except for the occasional holdout with its minor signs of life, some shirts drying on a line or a half-herd of skinny goats or a green fishing net laid out, And the public beach where three million people sit under rented umbrellas, eating watermelon and grilled squid, listening to radios, putting on suntan lotion, little kids escorted by their moms to get their ankles wet, And the private beach, where the staff sit under unrented umbrellas, half-heartedly trying to sell the oxygen bar and Jetski rides, watching a young couple in garish yellow and red tuxedo and huge white wedding gown as they're photographed running across the sand or staring out at the ocean from a big grey rock. On the road around the island, there are simple restaurants owned by families that still make a living on the island. They have touts out on the road with signs to flag down the tourists and buses. We chose an ugly square block that had the freshest seafood relaxing in styrofoam boxes outside. Everything is cheap, cheaper than in the seafood market, for sure, or in the old city. A little combo seafood restaurant/guest house run by a family that said they'd lived in Lianyungang forever. Everything was covered in white tile. We were alone except for a couple families from Xuzhou, the men getting shirtless and wasted, crunching up shrimp shells and heads and collapsing in an adjoining bedroom, the kids gleefully reporting, "He threw up! It's a big mess! He threw up!" We ate mountains of clams and oysters, all just steamed, a bowl of chili oil and a bowl of vinegar and ginger on the table beside us. When we left, we asked for two crabs steamed to go and ate them in our hotel bed, watching Seinfeld on Phoenix TV.
  22. I still find most hua jiao you can find in North America has a great, peppery floral aroma but the numbing part just isn't there. I've been able to find a bag or two but it's a lot of work.
  23. Zhua fan and a roasted quail from a fancy, purple-tablecloth Xinjiang restaurant in Xuzhou.
  24. 抓饭. It's rice pilaf! From ancient Persia to everywhere in Central Asia and everything that touches its borders.
  25. Right at the intersection I used to work at, there's a branch of Minzhu Lu Ba Zi Rou (民主路把子肉). They serve ba zi rou for lunch (a local thing: a giant cauldron of pork belly, bean curd, greens and pork ribs), but they serve porridge and la tang (辣汤) in the morning. La tang is another Xuzhou-only thing. It's old la, old-school spicy, pre-chili spicy, ginger and black pepper spicy. It's thick, thick black pepper, egg, and chicken soup. I'd eat a bowl every morning that I worked up the street from that intersection. By the time I arrived, the pot would be almost done and some mornings I'd only have baozi and sweet black porridge. The last bit of the soup was almost as thick as the porridge and full of the meat that had settled at the bottom of the pot. There were always a couple chicken hearts hiding in there. Chicken hearts boiled all morning, since 5 a.m. in chicken and black pepper soup, still firm and deep red, a chicken in half a mouthful, the whole taste and texture of the chicken condensed into the 鸡心. I love chicken hearts. Kind of expensive in China but we can get them for like two bucks for a bunch at Superstore, right where they keep the livers and gizzards and backs. We usually just fry them with black pepper and cumin. But this is a recipe that's good. It's very good when you do it right, with a rich brown sauce full of chewy hearts. 爆烧鸡心. Flash-fried chicken hearts. Get a bunch of chicken hearts, Chinese cooking wine, garlic, ginger, star anise, hua jiao, some cumin seeds, black pepper, sugar, dark soy sauce and brined tofu (豆腐乳). Smash up all the spices and such in a mortar and pestle. Slice the hearts in half and let them marinate in the alcohol until you're ready. Get a pan with just a bit of oil in it, just enough. Drop your spices and such in. Dump the booze out of the bowl and drop the hearts into the oil, followed by soy sauce, a pinch and a half of sugar, and a few cubes of brined tofu. Pour a bowl of water over top and let it cook real hot until it's dry and the blood and tofu thicken it up (when you put the tofu in, it's sorta like monte au beurre). The sauce is great to soak up with shaobing.
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