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Everything posted by jokhm

  1. My cooking oil of choice for all chinese food is almost always a blend of pork fat and peanut oil. I do love combining pork fat and tea oil though for some dishes... Fantastic. Though in my opinion in an ideal world of fun and happiness, we'd have far more dead ducks! Cause duck fat 100% reigns supreme as far as cooking grease of choice goes! The french we're always onto something with that. mmm.. In the mood for some of that TingZaiZhou... with slivers of fish and duck fat/skin.. ohh,, ygaisdhfkjldf precious rendered duck
  2. Actually I'd guess that you are correct about Lhasa's supreme dominance in food culture over the rest of China. anyway My friends in Guangzhou always say how in that city you can without a doubt find the best Sichuan and Hunan food in China outside of their original locations, and the same goes obviously for the local food (.... ?) One of the reasons I feel that this may be, is due to some other regions like Shanghai and Beijing's local tastes interfere with the original region's flavours too much. So many sichuan, hunan, dongbei restos in Shanghai are sweetened up, and the ones in beijing all come in a gloppy and oily sauce (grossly generalizing here). Guangzhou's local taste only has the effect of potentially making something like Sichuan or Hunan food less spicy... but from my experience there they still nicely blow my head off. Shanghai has far superior western restaurants than Beijing overall. But I still think most of them would go under within 1 month in my hometown of Montreal. Or maybe its simply that I've become too accustomed to chinese 'Style' food, so non asian food doesn't satisfy the same way? Doubtful... but it is a possiblity. I know I always eat beyond well upon each visit home. Ahh.. cheese.. bagels.. mm
  3. this part is true.... on dianping.com the be all and end all of food web sites, Beijing has quite a few restaurants listed... try over 11 thousand.. !*(#$! But my guess is the site begun in Beijing and has had more support from beijingers to increase the listings and push the site along. Guangzhou and Shanghai have been catching up fast. I wonder does a site like Dianping.com exist anywhere else? For chinese food in China this is my daily resource and I've never seen anything so vast before. Chinese love food !!!!
  4. I've never had the taipei DTF, but the ones at DTF in Shanghai do have their own style and they are up there as the best or close to it in Shanghai. I think as Fiore said, it is very typical in all the big Chinese cities for the large tourist-driven 'famous' restaurants to diminish into worthlessness over time. Though I'd say Quanjude is still great and expensive duck. The same cant be said for Nanxiang Xiaolongbao. Terrible terrible. Its too bad, I kind of enjoy the area lot too. But seeing 50 million people lining up endlessly to have thick-skinned xiaolongbao and get the wrong idea about it just bring a tear to my eyes. In my opinion the best xiaolongbao to compete with DTF are scattered throughout the city at nameless little holes-in-the-wall. Too bad that I never documented them properly. A good xiaolongbao IS one of the top snacks for me in China. But as hzrt8w said, the best are in HK!! Anyway I should stop this far before I continue ranting about the ill effects of nanxiang.. Anyone ever been to YiYuan gardens? way outside of the main districts of Shanghai. I never went back there after my first day in shanghai so I don't even recall the full name or exact location, but it was similar to nanxiang in reputation, and busloads came in droves to pick up red boxes of xiaolongbao. They were decent of course, but no better.
  5. Hah, maybe so. A few things about xiaolongbao though... When I first passed through Shanghai they really tipped the scale in favor of the place and each time I returned I HAD to have some. Then I went to Tianjin and had the goubuli, which happened to be quite similar, but I was still big on the xiaolongbao.. enough that it was in my top 5 steamed bun-style snacks. BUT, then I went to Xi'an and was treated to another soup-style bun, the guantangbao with beef and also ones with lamb. This killed any advantage xiaolongbao previously had. And lastly, the best so-called xiaolongbao I've ever had was in HK. I'd say most of the ones in Shanghai that I tried were rarely 'fantastic', and many were downright bad! Thick skin, fatty liquid, too salty, dried up skin on the tops.. blech. OK enough insanity about that. But really.. xi'an is fantastic and although star of anise occasionally finds its way into food, I never found it to be excessive or worse than chengdu. Shanghai sugar.... well... I admit that it definitely has its place and can be excellent in the food, but more often than not it is a disguise for bad cooking. I think if you want to taste cooking with sugar done right, you go to Hangzhou. At least there there is a great food culture, though it still doesn't make my top of list. However, in the end I would still say that the mere fact that xiaolongbao exists definitely knocks shanghai up one notch, and I think it along with other streetside steamed buns allows it to hold a huge advantage over Beijing for cheapy local snacks. But that's where the good things end. I think one interesting thing is how the food discussions go when you have a bunch of mainland chinese in one room discussing regional food. Nearly everyone always loves cantonese, while a bunch will always say it is too bland, nearly everyone will also say hunan food is at or near the top, many love sichuan, but some find it too spicy and many find it way too oily, hubei - no one is sure what that is really and some confuse it with hunan, ... Food in beijing? meh... Shanghai, downright bad. Its true though that people love to sh*t on shanghai with every chance they get. I still enjoy the place a lot... just for other reasons.
  6. ahhhh ahahah I'm sorry.. I love eating in Beijing. And I must say that to live in Beijing or probably most parts of China, this type of discussion comes up a lot!! And there are always the same comments had by almost all. Namely: Shanghai food is probably the worst local food you can find in China.. by far. And on the opposite side, one can find the best of every regional cuisine (especially local) in Guangzhou.. by far. As for me personally... this is what I do here. I hop on planes and trains to cover as much as I can so that I can taste as much as I can. I lived here in beijing for a short while, with an even shorter while in Shanghai. I honestly could rarely find a decent meal in Shanghai. Most of the places looked nice, tasted like sugary drivel. There were some bright moments, but the infrequency and inconsistency killed the whole experience for me. At this moment, I'd have to say Guangzhou is absolutely the best place I've ever been for food.... but a close seconds would go to Xi'an, Chengdu, Changsha. But Beijing?? that's gross incompetence as a reporter to call it the capital of food in China. .... though you'd sometimes think otherwise --- like yesterday when I was told that the BBQ chicken wing place I was standing in front of needed me to book at least a week in advance... this is for 25 cent wings!! Yet I've heard of Guangzhou food critics having trouble getting a table at somewhat new local places without success for 7 months !!! Ok enough... Anyone else with qualifiers..? -- oh and for my opinion of Guangzhou, or for all of these places.. it's hard for me to limit things to the 'regional/local cuisine'. Xi'an has one, Guangzhou has one, Chengdu for sure... But Beijing certainly does not, neither does Shanghai really. And you can't base the 'food capital of china' on something as trivial as Kaoya... I've had it better in Toronto than in many of the large Beijing Kaoya places. And LaoBeijingCai.... nothing to write home about. I sat next to a 65+ year old tourist from Nanjing while tasting some, like douzher... She spit it all back in the bowl and left with this disgusting sour look on her face. THAT's real Beijing food. Therefore I think its best to look at what a city offers as a whole. And for that, its possible that Shanghai outdoes Beijing in many respects, but I still prefer Beijing since a quick stop into a random fast-food shop here will still always yield safer results than Shanghai. That being said, in total food not counting regional offerings Guangzhou still tops both cities. oh jeez.. you got me started.
  7. Yes it makes sense that if we want to look at the root of the cause we would look to the kids and see how they overcome the more acquired tastes. Unfortunately I can't get a single good read out of anyone here on the stinky tofu bit. People just tell me that 'when they were young, we tried it and loved it. And that's that'. And I even pushed cheese into the same question and got the same answer (these were younger chinese though). I'm sure some people on this board have much better experiences and details to tell on this issue. So how does everyone get into eating chinese food? I think the scope of Chinese food in general means that it is still something for many Chinese to overcome as well. I suppose we have that with certain foods in canada/US, but not to the same extent - i think.
  8. A lot of muslim restaurants that I've been to in Xi'an serve beer only if they are in more of the busy areas that allow them to get plenty of customers off the street. The rest serve ice cold plum juice (suanmeitang) by the glass at 0.5RMB. I don't know if UE saw this, but a lot of the beer-serving halal restaurants have signs on the walls that say 'No drinking games!'.. in Chinese at least. The point being that it should not be flaunted by the non-muslims that they are consuming alcohol.
  9. To follow up on myself there.. When I lived in Beijing last year I had many many visitors stay with me from all over.. and I had set up a rough system of restaurants and specific dishes that would gradually immerse the non-adjusted visitors or the tangcu/gulaorou-addicted north americans to the real greats in Beijing. Each meal would delight, impress, and juuuussst slightly freak the person out; all the while expanding their comfort level by ever so much. Usually by the end of a two week period i had the sanitary-obsessed guest eating chuanr on a stool outside surrounded by sticks and bones in the middle of the night. This is all about reformation. Or the best is having someone who previously did not eat fish, was oil-conscious (many of these guests), so-called allergic to spices.. and digging into a shuizhuyu with delight. I figure these assisted/forced changes are only a little bit bad - part asshole-like, but think about the good! When that person returns to canada/us/anywhere-else, they have completely reformed horizons. When they walk into any restaurant it's like the menu just tripled in size!
  10. Oh yes... these tours.. they make me cry. This happened during a halong bay tour in vietnam.. 2 days cruise. No fish sauce. "so what will you eat?" we ask the staff, while we try to consume our horrid westernacized crud. .. Random confusion and vietnamese yelling ensues. But this doesn't have to be foreigner-focused. Some of the worst food I had in China was during an 'international' (because myself and two other whites where there) photography competition in Shandong province. We stayed at supposedly fancy hotels and after every superbly large and excessive meal I had to run out to the dapaidang for some streat eats. It was horrifying. And it was geared to the chinese exclusively. And I think we should focus this discussion more on the actual inherent differences in taste... and more appropriately, our egulleter strategies for fooling these people into eating what we show them. -- .. yes... beef.... exactly -- MSG? no msg in the fake chicken powder at all.
  11. The fish in question from you photos is a very typical way of preparing it in Shanghai.. its usually described as boneless fish, even though there are usually still the odd bones hanging around. Also I'm pretty sure it does not go by the sweet and sour name (tangcu), though the name escapes me now. Like Ulterior said, TangCu preparation is usually a simple mix of a dark sugar and a black vinegar along with some dark soy. Sometimes they add bits of fruit-related product. The best kinds that I've had like this were in Hangzhou but usually it's actually unimpressive to me and tastes more like a poorer version of what we are used to in north american chinese restaurants. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ones you've tried. I've had the same Tangcu pork in beijing and it was anything but dark, so maybe they do things differently there sometimes. Also the fish that is reaaally famous in Hangzhou is the sour fish. It is in a brown sauce and is slightly sweet but really sour! A strange taste at first. I'm not sure if thats like what you tried there? ahh I like Hangzhou food quite a lot. ... And there's always something fun about sending home shots of a tangcu dish on my table and immediately hearing confusion all around me "but that's like Chinese food here !! ??" Its as though the people that travel a lot assume it can't exist in China and the rest expect every Chinese person to go through a kilo each and every day. I can remember all the times at the montreal chinese restos where someone would say "chinese food is great, but there's no way I could eat this sugar+deepfried meat every single day like the Chinese". Great stuff!
  12. ah wow, I wasnt' around here back then, but a lot of friends were, and they make it sound like a widespread party for expats (in beijing at least). Well when you do finally get here, you'll be far more prepared now with eGullet here. I did the same thing right before I came and a few comments in particular really helped focus and satisfy my concerns ....and infatuations with certain foods.
  13. more good pics! Nice. I'm usually a fan of some of the steamed varieties of lettuce.. particularly the ones in a thin slightly sweet soy-based sauce or the ones with a slab of bacon on top. But this one just look... gross! Echk too much thick sauce in that photo! Your description of it sounds spot on. Docsconz: That's a big opinion topic to get into, and one that interests me VERY much. Part of what I seem to get myself involved with in China often has me trying to tour around and introduce other westerners to good chinese food, after they have explicitely given me their 'do-not-eat' list. The list varies in length from person to person, but all people share one thing in common... they are NOT foodies by any stretch and you'll never find them on Egullet. So i can rant away. So what all this has really done is forced me to 'somewhat' figure out which elements in Chinese food are approachable to westerners, and to what level.. and in what order. Big topic, maybe it deserves its own thread! Anyway through doing all this one sort of gets a clearer view of the specific points where all of our palates are shared and which other aspects require more 'openness' to get. One thing that comes out of this that I find strange and amusing is that most westerners can get around and enjoy the food in Shanghai most of all, whereas most Chinese despise it most of all! Mostly this has to do with them cooking with tons of sugar here. In fact I find that a LOT of food here is similar in many ways to what you can find at those very unspectacular Chinese restaurants in north America. Meat rolled in sugar and deep fried. Anyway, no need to hijack the thread any further... but there's this subtle balance between taste and oh-my-god-what-is-that that determines palatability(?) for non-chinese. eGulleters have the second part usually figured out quite well. So if you come to China you'll find yourself quickly liking nearly everything! Ulterior: Do you remember where exactly that restaurant was? It looks so familiar... haven't been back to beijing in a while .. and heading there tomorrow. But it looks like something I've passed (and laughed at) a million times and yet I have no concrete recollection. Your description of the duck sounds excellent, and on the rare occasions that I have Beijing Duck I like having it good! So thanks for not going to QuanJuDe. Their duck is quite excellent just as many places are, but we need more reviews of non-QuanJuDe duck restos.
  14. Good. I'll mix it up a bit and show you guys photos of my smoked meat sandwich I ate today while walking towards the bund!
  15. Chinese text doesn't seem to be popping up on my end, anyone got a fix for that ^^?
  16. Hey Nice shots. I think we should all be sharing our photo-taking-during-meal-time-tips around threads like these. I'd take a lot more but it always feels out of place! And those mushrooms are always awesome. Not sure of the english name but they are literally called Tea Tree Mushrooms (chashugu/???). I always love them in braised or dry-hot-pot dishes.
  17. Yeah I'm no longer using firefox at the moment... maybe when the new version 3 is out since i'm hearing good things. Got anything for safari? Must be some other good ways out there but I'm quite lazy. Anyway most of my gripes were with blogspot, but thats suddenly no longer a concern! As for beijing duck.. Makes sense, and definitely all forms of duck that I've had in the south easily beat out beijing duck! But I still enjoy one every once in a while. I instigated some guys from Shandong into a real shouting match over its origins being lucai. Was news to me as well. I also am enjoying some of wikipedia's china food entries. I suppose if I were really concerned I'd edit them, but too lazy again. I should go add the Hunan peanut butter dumplings onto the Hunan food subpage Or perhaps add the most significant and widespread chinese foods, like KFC's spicy wings.
  18. Yeah, have a look for the dry-pot stuff. It is a fairly normal thing all over here, sometimes our table will have two fires going; though that's rare. But great potential to semi-slow-cook certain parts of the dish while having last minute freshness added in. Usually by the end of the meal the taste of the dish has changed quite a bit and developed nicely. Also, concerning the claypots, I wouldn't give them too much thought. They are cheap in china ($2 max for the big ones), so i never worry about them cracking, but actually after using one several times a week I think it took at least 6 months for one of them to crack; and this is with no attention towards any real care given. If you find a good deal buy a pair of them. I actually frequently use two for a meal... many uses, even if just to keep one dish warm for a longer time.
  19. Just on the topic of how to prepare a multitude of chinese-style dishes in a small (or even medium size) kitchen.. I always think about these things and marvel at how a real home-cooked chinese meal is so well thought-out. Besides the diversifying to clay pots, which are beyond fantastic, the use of dry-pot(ganguo, ???is quite prevalent. The idea for those is that you prepare a basic stir fry using some chilies, meats, fats and other items like bamboo that can use a bit more cooking, and then you leave it aside. When it comes time to eat you place it in a small shallow iron/metal bowl with a flame underneath and toss in all the fresh herb-like ingredients, like additional garlic, green onions, coriander etc. Guaranteed this isn't news to most here, but its one whole other category of how to move away from the high-traffic wok during cooking time.
  20. I had this recently deep in the middle of nowhere in Zhejiang, the only very big difference was that instead of using pork with the eggplant they included some onions (to add some natural sweetness) and some sliced squid. It was actually quite a delicious version. I usually like ordering this dish when I need to invoke some 'sweet' into a meal that would normally avoid it.. and yuxiang eggplant seems to usually agree with almost everyone. Dishes like these are particularly interesting because they have been adopted and modified all across china (and the world i suppose). So each region or even restaurant will have a different interpretation of what to do with it.
  21. ah the mirror is working now. I was having lots of problems with it from Shanghai before. Seems that internet blockage occurs far more in shanghai than anywhere else I've been in china. You wouldn't think so.. but.. yeah. Didn't know anonymouse was working again too!! Finally.. And blogspot is back... ! I think we're getting somewhere now. Oh i should shutup quick.
  22. hmm I can't get there.. since wikipedia is blocked in china.. but that list seems to ignore more northern cuisine or muslim cuisines of the north or especially the west. I do think Shandong cuisine has made a lot of impact on the food in beijing (beijing duck...!) but still there is quite a bit of Dongbei food there that is very different. This list, aside from sichuan/shandong, is more likely a list of renowned southern cuisines. Anyway, I don't know why we bother doing this! China's a very diverse place.. and one thing that is inherently common here is that the longer you are here visiting/living... the less you are able to say for certain!! Food is no exception. Trying to simplify Chinese cuisine into a few odd categories will invariably lead to several provinces of 60 million or more people losing out! Try simplifying the food of Europe in 4 categories and you come to a similar problem
  23. when you walk by a guy frying the stinky tofu, you realize that 'stinky' exists on a whole new level. You can't begin to compare it to a bad smelling cheese. The taste however... that's a lot closer to the perception of cheese as a whole.
  24. i used to buy some vacuum sealed stinky tofu in beijing.. Always made in changsha.. But usually they were nearly 100% black and lighter on the inside.. also thin -- But not smelly at ALL. Really great snack! I brought them on some trips out of china and everyone i gave them to loved them. Such a big difference from the real stuff though. A lot 'easier' to take. Look around for it in the numerous MSG snack shops you can find near all train/bus stations.
  25. I'd put it that many of the info-documents floating around concerning chinese culture (lonely planet comes to mind) take great pains in dumbing down china's food to 4 main groups, exactly as was just described. I've seen this written in many places. Though I have often heard the number 8 within China. At the same time even though I think I've seen the 4 groups IN china, most Chinese would not get how things could be dumbed down so much. As for the OP, I'd love to more more about what the post was really concerning, and whether it was connected much to the post subject. I'm not particularly interested in school placement in china, but my old cooking school would love to send some of their chefs here. And if you are actually inquiring about a culinary database in china.... woah... I've had dreams of putting together something similar. Quite close to it too..
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