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Found 282 results

  1. An eG member recently asked me by private message about mushrooms in China, so I thought I'd share some information here. What follows is basically extracted from my blog and describes what is available in the markets and supermarkets in the winter months - i.e now. FRESH FUNGI December sees the arrival of what most westerners deem to be the standard mushroom – the button mushroom (小蘑菇 xiǎo mó gū). Unlike in the west where they are available year round, here they only appear when in season, which is now. The season is relatively short, so I get stuck in. The standard mushroom for the locals is the one known in the west by its Japanese name, shiitake. They are available year round in the dried form, but for much of the year as fresh mushrooms. Known in Chinese as 香菇 (xiāng gū), which literally means “tasty mushroom”, these meaty babies are used in many dishes ranging from stir fries to hot pots. Second most common are the many varieties of oyster mushroom. The name comes from the majority of the species’ supposed resemblance to oysters, but as we are about to see the resemblance ain’t necessarily so. The picture above is of the common oyster mushroom, but the local shops aren’t common, so they have a couple of other similar but different varieties. Pleurotus geesteranus, 秀珍菇 (xiù zhēn gū) (below) are a particularly delicate version of the oyster mushroom family and usually used in soups and hot pots. 凤尾菇 (fèng wěi gū), literally “Phoenix tail mushroom”, is a more robust, meaty variety which is more suitable for stir frying. Another member of the pleurotus family bears little resemblance to its cousins and even less to an oyster. This is pleurotus eryngii, known variously as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom or, in Chinese 杏鲍菇 (xìng bào gū). It is considerably larger and has little flavour or aroma when raw. When cooked, it develops typical mushroom flavours. This is one for longer cooking in hot pots or stews. One of my favourites, certainly for appearance are the clusters of shimeji mushrooms. Sometimes known in English as “brown beech mushrooms’ and in Chinese as 真姬菇 zhēn jī gū or 玉皇菇 yù huáng gū, these mushrooms should not be eaten raw as they have an unpleasantly bitter taste. This, however, largely disappears when they are cooked. They are used in stir fries and with seafood. Also, they can be used in soups and stews. When cooked alone, shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed whole, including the stem or stalk. There is also a white variety. Next up we have the needle mushrooms. Known in Japanese as enoki, these are tiny headed, long stemmed mushrooms which come in two varieties – gold (金針菇 jīn zhēn gū) and silver (银针菇 yín zhēn gū)). They are very delicate, both in appearance and taste, and are usually added to hot pots. Then we have these fellows – tea tree mushrooms (茶树菇 chá shù gū). These I like. They take a bit of cooking as the stems are quite tough, so they are mainly used in stews and soups. But their meaty texture and distinct taste is excellent. These are also available dried. Then there are the delightfully named 鸡腿菇 jī tuǐ gū or “chicken leg mushrooms”. These are known in English as "shaggy ink caps". Only the very young, still white mushrooms are eaten, as mature specimens have a tendency to auto-deliquesce very rapidly, turning to black ‘ink’, hence the English name. Not in season now, but while I’m here, let me mention a couple of other mushrooms often found in the supermarkets. First, straw mushrooms (草菇 cǎo gū). Usually only found canned in western countries, they are available here fresh in the summer months. These are another favourite – usually braised with soy sauce – delicious! When out of season, they are also available canned here. Then there are the curiously named Pig Stomach Mushrooms (猪肚菇 zhū dù gū). These are another favourite. They make a lovely mushroom omelette. Also, a summer find. And finally, not a mushroom, but certainly a fungus and available fresh is the wood ear (木耳 mù ěr). It tastes of almost nothing, but is prized in Chinese cuisine for its crunchy texture. More usually sold dried, it is available fresh in the supermarkets now. Please note that where I have given Chinese names, these are the names most commonly around this part of China, but many variations do exist. Coming up next - the dried varieties available.
  2. China Shopping

    I guess I do about half my food shopping in my local farmers' market and the other half in supermarkets. Today, I went to my favourite supermarket. They have lovely, very fresh vegetables, great fish and well... there isn't much they don't have. Here are a few pictures, beginning with the vegetable section:
  3. Moon Cakes

    Mid-Autumn festival is still a month away but mooncakes are starting to rear their ugly heads in SF Chinatown. I know people who actually like them, but I suspect most people view them as China's version of the fruitcake. They're for giving, not for eating, and you sort of know that whomever you give them to will give them to someone else. (At least that's my view.) Do you like mooncakes? If so, what style do you prefer, the Cantonese varieties that have everything but the kitchen sink in them, or the more spartan northern style? Meat-filled Jiangsu-style? Ice Cream mooncakes (I kid you not)? Any mooncake memories?
  4. Hi all, I'm sorry if this has already been asked, but I just couldn't find the answer to this from browsing this forum or googling (even in multiple language encodings). Does anyone know the actual recipe for these knife-shaven noodles? Googling only gives me restaurant reviews, and the closest my set of wei-chuan books get is a recipe on "cat ear" noodles. I know that these noodles can be cooked in pretty much whatever flavor of soup base it seems, but I'm only interested right now in the recipe for the pasta dough itself.. Thanks, Bert
  5. I had my noodle fix this week. Once at the Chinatown Express in DC china town, where I had noodle soup with roast pig. The other was at a korean Ja Jang Mein place in NOVA. I had Ja Jang Mein. They were both good and excellent and had the hand pulled noodles in common. As I watched the noodle maker streching and tossing the noodles, I wondered if I could do it. Have any of you made noodles by hand by the streching method (not via pasta machine or cutting with a knife). I would appreciate if you could share the recipe and experience. I'm hoping to give it a try....It just can't be easy as the people I was watching seem to make it. Soup
  6. We are all used to unami now. Maybe it's time to consider gan. Particularly found in teas, but also in other foods. An interesting article from a great magazine. Going, going gan
  7. Celtuce and Its Tops

    I’m an idiot. It’s official. A couple of weeks back, on another thread, the subject of celtuce and its leafing tops came up (somewhat off-topic). Someone said that the tops are difficult to find in Asian markets and I replied that I also find the tops difficult to find here in China. Nonsense. They are very easy to find. They just go under a completely different name from the stems – something which had slipped my very slippery mind. So, here on-topic is some celtuce space. First, for those who don’t know what celtuce is, let me say it is a variety of lettuce which looks nothing like a lettuce. It is very popular in southern mainland China and Taiwan. It is also known in English as stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce. In Chinese it is 莴笋 wō sǔn or 莴苣 wō jù, although the latter can simply mean lettuce of any variety. Lactuca sativa var. asparagina is 'celtuce' for the technically minded. Those in the picture are about 40 cm (15.7 inches) long and have a maximum diameter of 5 cm (2 inches). The stems are usually peeled, sliced and used in various stir fries, although they can also be braised, roasted etc. The taste is somewhere between lettuce and celery, hence the name. The texture is more like the latter. The leafing tops are, as I said, sold separately and under a completely different name. They are 油麦菜 yóu mài cài. These taste similar to Romaine lettuce and can be eaten raw in salads. In Chinese cuisine, they are usually briefly stir fried with garlic until they wilt and served as a green vegetable – sometimes with oyster sauce. If you can find either the stems or leaves in your Asian market, I strongly recommend giving them a try.
  8. “… and so it begins!” Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”! In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place. For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt. As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving … (of course the rest of the food was not half as bad) Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake ! For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty. Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ... Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts). Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin Wagyu: "nuff said ... Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice ! Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper) So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ... Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed. Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ... More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ... Miso soup with clams ... Tiramisu. Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual! On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity … When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.
  9. Golden fried Cauliflower?

    The best Chinese food restaurant I have ever been to is a place called the Imperial Buffet in Aberdeen SD. Their General Tso's is unlike the Tso's anywhere else. The closes comparison I could make is the Orange Chicken at the Panda Garden only 3x better. Their Lo-Mein Noodles are done with the skill of a master Italian pasta chef & perfectly seasoned. They also used to do a mean fried squid. I say used to because they had it when I lived in Aberdeen from 02-04 but didn't when I visited in 15'. One of their other discontinued specialties was a dish advertised as 'Golden Fried Cauliflower'. Note, this was NOT a breaded product. The cauliflower was cooked as though it had been boiled perfectly. It was not greasy as I recall but was a golden orange color as was the sauce it was evidently cooked in. I never could identify the flavors in that sauce. I wish I could describe it better but it has been well over a decade since I had it. Is anyone familiar with it or something similar? I can't seem to find anything like it online & all my searches just bring up links to breaded deep-fried crap.
  10. China Menus

    I'm often asked to translate menus for my local restaurants. Usually by foreign customers; less often by the restaurants. I thought I'd post some here. Copyright isn't an issue as they are just lists of dishes. They may be of interest. First up is a small restaurant which I visited yesterday. Their menu is on the wall and they specialise in sand pot dishes. These are (almost) all in one meals with the dish of your choice served over rice cooked in a clay (sand) pot. They do come with a side of stir-fried cabbage and a bowl of thin soup (more like water). This is Chinese work/student canteen type food. Cheap and cheerful. At the bottom of the main menu is a variety of soft drinks plus beer, which I haven't translated. Most are unavailable outside China, although Coca Cola and Sprite are there. The smaller menus on the right are for rice porridge. I haven't translated these either Sand Pots 莲藕肉片饭 Lotus Root and Sliced Pork Rice 10 豆腐肉片饭 Tofu and Sliced Pork Rice 10 时菜肉饼饭 Seasonal Vegetable Pork Pie Rice 10 茄子肉末饭 Eggplant with Ground Meat Rice 11 鱼片煲仔饭 Fish Sandpot Rice 11 姜汁鱼尾饭 Ginger Fish Tail Rice 12 鸡杂砂煲饭 Chicken Giblets Sandpot Rice 12 冬菇骨鸡饭 Dried Shiitake and Chicken Rice 12 香辣牛肉饭 Spicy Beef Rice 16 酸甜排骨饭 Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs Rice 16 香芹腊味饭 Celery Cured Meat Rice 13 豉椒排骨饭 Salted Beans and Pepper Ribs 13 冬菇田鸡饭 Dried Shiitake Frog Rice 13 蚝油牛肉饭 Oyster Sauce Beef Rice 14 红烧带鱼饭 Red-cooked Belt Fish Rice 14 干妈五花饭 Pork Belly in Chilli Sauce Rice 14 美味叉烧饭 Tasty Char Sui Rice 14 鲜虾煲仔饭 Fresh Shrimp Sandpot Rice 14 红椒黄鳝饭 Red Chilli Ricefield Eel Rice 14 黑椒猪肚饭 Black Pepper Tripe Rice 15 肥肠煲仔饭 Pig's Intestines Sandpot Rice 15 柠檬鸭仔饭 Lemon Duck Rice 15 加菜每份 (以最高价) Extra Vegetable Portion (by highest price) 4 打包盒 Take Away Box 1 Soups 紫菜蛋花汤 Seaweed Egg Drop Soup 8 枸杞猪肝汤 Goji Berry Pig's Liver Soup 10 车螺芥菜汤 Clam and Leaf Mustard Soup 15 西红柿蛋花汤 Tomato and Egg Soup 8 Vegetables etc. 炒油菜 Fried Rape 8 西红柿炒蛋 Scrambled Egg with Tomato 12 鱼腥草 Lizard's Tail 5 凉拌皮蛋 Cold Dressed Century Egg 10 凉拌黄瓜 Cold Dressed Cucumber 5 煎蛋 Fried Egg 2 Prices are in Chinese Yuan (1 Yuan = $0.15 USD / £0.10 GBP as of September 15, 2015) This is number 4 on the menu
  11. eG member @Carolyn Phillips has just published her ten-year-long-gestated Chinese cook book, All Under Heaven. 500 pages on China's 35 cuisines. Gathering rave reviews. I've ordered my copy. Can't wait. Simultaneously, her "Dim Sum Field Guide is published. She hasn't posted much here recently, but who would or could while writing two books at the same time - one of them a huge tome? Congratulations Carolyn.
  12. Someone suggested starting a topic to discuss dishes made from this book. I think it's a good idea. I got the book a couple weeks ago and read through it. It's fantastic. While i have Dunlop's other books and have cooked from them A LOT, this one seems more streamlined for weeknight dinners with dishes that don't require 8-10 marinade or sauce ingredients. I've cooked a couple meals from it and everything has been awesome. Last week it was chicken with black bean sauce and spinach with fermented tofu. Both were delicious. Last night it was pork tenderloin with chinese chives (not a recipe in the book, but i took the recipe for the chicken livers with chives and subbed pork tenderloin), stir fried cabbage with dry shrimp and bok choy with shiitake (i used dry, rehydrated). Everything was delicious. I really liked the baby bok choy. The flavors were clean and light. Wife thought it was kind of bland, but i liked it. The cabbage was also delicious, though wife and daughter didn't agree I thought it was funny that my purple cabbage turned my yellow/orange tiny dry shrimp green. Forgot to take pictures of the dishes. What is everyone else making?
  13. Chinese Bow Ties

    I have been asked to make Chinese Bow Tie desserts for a function. However, I have never made them, but using Mr Google, there are a number of different recipes out there. Does anybody have a decent recipe which is tried and tested? - these are for deep-fried pastry which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
  14. Haunting Hunan

    Introduction I spent the weekend in western Hunan reuniting with 36 people I worked with for two years starting 20 years ago. All but one, 龙丽花 lóng lì huā, I hadn’t seen for 17 years. I last saw her ten years ago. One other, 舒晶 shū jīng, with whom I have kept constant contact but not actually seen, helped me organise the visit in secret. No one else knew I was coming. In fact, I had told Long Lihua that I couldn’t come. Most didn’t even know I am still in China. I arrived at my local station around 00:20 in order to catch the 1:00 train northwards travelling overnight to Hunan, with an advertised arrival time of 9:15 am. Shu Jing was to meet me. When I arrived at the station, armed with my sleeper ticket, I found that the train was running 5 hours late! Station staff advised that I change my ticket for a different train, which I did. The problem was that there were no sleeper tickets available on the new train. All I could get was a seat. I had no choice, really. They refunded the difference and gave me my new ticket. The second train was only 1½ hours late, then I had a miserable night, unable to sleep and very uncomfortable. Somehow the train managed to make up for the late start and we arrived on time. I was met as planned and we hopped into a taxi to the hotel where I was to stay and where the reunion was to take place. They had set up a reception desk in the hotel lobby and around half of the people I had come to see were there. When I walked in there was this moment of confusion, stunned silence, then the friend I had lied to about not coming ran towards me and threw herself into my arms with tears running down her face and across her smile. It was the best welcome I’ve ever had. Then the others also welcomed me less physically, but no less warmly. They were around 20 years old when I met them; now they are verging on, or already are, 40, though few of them look it. Long Lihua is the one on the far right. Throughout the morning people arrived in trickles as their trains or buses got in from all over China. One woman had come all the way from the USA. We sat around chatting, reminiscing and eating water melon until finally it was time for lunch. Lunch we had in the hotel dining room. By that time, the group had swelled to enough to require three banqueting tables. Western Hunan, known as 湘西 xiāng xī, where I was and where I lived for two years - twenty years ago, is a wild mountainous area full of rivers. It was one of the last areas “liberated” by Mao’s communists and was largely lawless until relatively recently. It has spectacular scenery. Hunan is known for its spicy food, but Xiangxi is the hottest. I always know when I am back in Hunan. I just look out the train window and see every flat surface covered in chilis drying in the sun. Station platforms, school playgrounds, the main road from the village to the nearest town are all strewn with chillis. The people there consider Sichuan to be full of chilli wimps. I love it. When I left Hunan I missed the food so much. So I was looking forward to this. It did not disappoint. So Saturday lunch in next post.
  15. My son married a lovely young lady from Yakeshi, Inner Mongolia, China. Mongolian: ᠶᠠᠠᠠᠰᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ (Ягши хот); Chinese: 牙克石; pinyin: Yákèshí We had a wedding in the US but her family also wanted to have a traditional wedding in China. DH and I have never being to China so this was an exciting opportunity for us! We spent a few days in Beijing doing touristy stuff and then flew to Hailar. There is only one flight a day on Air China that we took at 6 in the morning. Yakeshi is about an hour drive from Hailar on a beautiful toll road with no cars on it. I wish we took pictures of free roaming sheep and cows along the way. The original free range meat. The family met us at the airport. We were greeted with a shot of a traditional Chinese spirit from a traditional leather vessel. Nothing says welcome like a stiff drink at 9 AM. We were supposed to have a three shots (may be they were joking) but family took pity on us and limited it to one only.
  16. I just bought these greens from the neighborhood Asian grocery. Had them once in China as a salad, and they tasted exceptional - a bit peppery like arugula, yet much more subtle and fresh, with hints of lemon. Store lady (non-Chinese) could not name them for me other than "Chinese greens". Any help identifying them is greatly appreciated
  17. China's plan to cut meat consumption by 50% I wish them well, but can't see it happening. Meat eating is very much seen as a status symbol and, although most Chinese still follow a largely vegetable diet out of economic necessity, meat is still highly desirable among the new middle classes. The chances of them willingly giving it up, even by 50%, seems remote to me.
  18. Chinese Cookbooks

    A few weeks ago I bought a copy of this cookbook which is a best-selling spin off from the highly successful television series by China Central Television - A Bite of China as discussed on this thread. . The book was published in August 2013 and is by Chen Zhitian (陈志田 - chén zhì tián). It is only available in Chinese (so far). There are a number of books related to the television series but this is the only one which seems to be legitimate. It certainly has the high production standards of the television show. Beautifully photographed and with (relatively) clear details in the recipes. Here is a sample page. Unlike in most western cookbooks, recipes are not listed by main ingredient. They are set out in six vaguely defined chapters. So, if you are looking for a duck dish, for example, you'll have to go through the whole contents list. I've never seen an index in any Chinese book on any subject. In order to demonstrate the breadth of recipes in the book and perhaps to be of interest to forum members who want to know what is in a popular Chinese recipe book, I have sort of translated the contents list - 187 recipes. This is always problematic. Very often Chinese dishes are very cryptically named. This list contains some literal translations. For some dishes I have totally ignored the given name and given a brief description instead. Any Chinese in the list refers to place names. Some dishes I have left with literal translations of their cryptic names, just for amusement value. I am not happy with some of the "translations" and will work on improving them. I am also certain there are errors in there, too. Back in 2008, the Chinese government issued a list of official dish translations for the Beijing Olympics. It is full of weird translations and total errors, too. Interestingly, few of the dishes in the book are on that list. Anyway, for what it is worth, the book's content list is here (Word document) or here (PDF file). If anyone is interested in more information on a dish, please ask. For copyright reasons, I can't reproduce the dishes here exactly, but can certainly describe them. Another problem is that many Chinese recipes are vague in the extreme. I'm not one to slavishly follow instructions, but saying "enough meat" in a recipe is not very helpful. This book gives details (by weight) for the main ingredients, but goes vague on most condiments. For example, the first dish (Dezhou Braised Chicken), calls for precisely 1500g of chicken, 50g dried mushroom, 20g sliced ginger and 10g of scallion. It then lists cassia bark, caoguo, unspecified herbs, Chinese cardamom, fennel seed, star anise, salt, sodium bicarbonate and cooking wine without suggesting any quantities. It then goes back to ask for 35g of maltose syrup, a soupçon of cloves, and "the correct quantity" of soy sauce. Cooking instructions can be equally vague. "Cook until cooked". A Bite of China - 舌尖上的中国- ISBN 978-7-5113-3940-9
  19. I'm hearing rumours of a new book from Fuchsia Dunlop, this time on Zhejiang cuisine from the east of China around Hangzhou and Ningbo, south of Shanghai. No date or title - or confirmation yet.
  20. Peanut oil...who knew? FYI

    DH and I make Chinese dishes for our lunches quite often. He does the 'mises' and I do the cooking and get ready the odds and sods, like the tea, setting the table, putting out the condiments, etc. Truth be told, his job is more work than mine...but then he gets to have Chinese food quite often which is what he likes. And we use peanut oil, most of which we buy at our local Asian grocery store. And until yesterday, neither one of us never looked at the "Ingredient list" for peanut oil. Peanut oil would contain only peanut oil...one would think. Apparently not so. Our current container which is titled "Peanut Cooking Oil" has the following ingredient list (in order): Soybean Oil, Sesame Oil, Peanut Oil. Who knew? Yesterday we bought peanut oil at a regular grocery store, a Loblaws brand (Canadian brand), and it contains...wait for it...100% peanut oil. Hooray!
  21. Chinese Noodle Joints

    Everywhere around me are noodle places. When I go down town, I see even more. I find them interesting. I am in the south of China where the preference is for rice noodles. In the north, wheat is more common. But that's not the only choice you have to make. Here are a few noodle joints, all within ten minutes walk of my house. There are more (though some are still closed for the New Year holiday). This one specialises in not specialising. They are all rice noodles though. This one give more choice. You can have either rice noodles (粉 fěn) or wheat noodles (面 miàn), but again in a variety of styles Beef Noodles Lamb or Mutton Noodles Guilin Rice Noodles Mushroom Noodles Donkey Noodles Horse Noodles Snail Noodles Snail noodles is THE local dish. There are literally hundreds of shops selling this dish. More on this topic here. More to come
  22. http://www.smartshanghai.com/articles/dining/the-man-who-spent-a-year-studying-xiao-long-bao
  23. The new Michelin Guide to Hong Kong has a Street Food category for the first time. More here.
  24. Cooking with Black Garlic

    I ordered some of this after hearing it mentioned on Top Chef a few moths ago. So far I've just peeled off a clove to taste it. It's sweet-almost "balsamic" with garlic undertones. The texture is that of roasted garlic. Has anyone ever cooked with it?
  25. Great NY Noodletown

    At the time one is puzzled by the perplexing question of the first Creation of the earth and of man, or troubled about the sources of defeat or victory and success or catastrophe in the Iliad and the Odyssey, some of us are simply pursuing a passion toward the baby pig. Of several conversations I had with Ms. X (an eGullet dining companion), there was none that did not contain a reference to the baby pig she recently tried at New York Noodle Town. Well, since Montaigne wisely noted that among three classes of philosophers (those who claim to have found the truth; those who deny that truth can be found; and those who confess their ignorance and go on searching) only the last are wise, we decided to pursue our search for the truth about the perfect baby pig by setting a lunch date to be held at New York Noodle Town. Using self-exploration to help illuminate the world may be quite noble in some instances but very disturbing in others. In my case, not taking into consideration the late hour we set for the lunch and leaving the house with nothing but three grapes consumed in a hurry, which added to a quite elaborate symphony successfully conducted by my stomach while passing by China town’s cozy little restaurants and cafés with their enticing smells teasing my senses with the provocative images of delightful and tempting food, wasn’t very smart. Well, the good thing about the bad thing is that everything comes to an end, and, in my case, it was the end of my sufferings as soon as the three of us were seated at a cozy table for four. “I am so hungry! All I had today were three grapes,” said Ms. X while browsing the menu. If one could ever think of a better time to start believing in fate or telepathy or any other weird stuff, that certainly was a good one. Not just any hunger, but the “hunger of three grapes” and the thoughts of the baby pig added a communal sense, and bonded us for life. We ordered: Barbecued baby pig Salt baked seafood combination Roast duck with flowering chives Sizzling casserole with chicken and Chinese sausage The baby pig served at room temperature was certainly a star. A nearly perfect execution of crisp skin and tender baby flesh provoked no less than cute little sounds of satisfaction exchanged among us all, not overlapping but rather creating a perfect harmony. The meat was a little tiny bit too salty for me, but again, I may just be a supertaster. The salt baked seafood combination wasn't as good as I remembered it from two years ago. More or less crisp while still hot, it turned soggy upon cooling, like a balloon losing air. The roast duck with flowering chives was very good indeed. Not as crisp as it would’ve been had we ordered duck separately from the chives, the meat was very tender and added a certain ducky flavor to the chives that was definitely worth trying. What I liked the most was that the dish was not overwhelmed with the flavor of the brown starch sauce, contrary to what we had at New Lok Kee in Flushing. The sizzling casserole was quite sizzling when it was brought to our table. We all agreed that it wasn’t spectacular, but pretty good. To be fair, though, we were quite full by that time. I’ll let others chime in with more details. Overall, the food made us happy, and that is probably the best praise one can give. As to Montaigne, he was wrong. We did find the truth about the perfect baby pig in New York Noodle Town.
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