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lxt

Great NY Noodletown

50 posts in this topic

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.:hmmm:

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.:smile:

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Lxt, while I personally was set on the path to intellectual maturity (whether or not I ever reach it is debatable, although not, regrettably, in this venue) via the Cartesian system of reasoning, I must say that I found your analysis quite compelling. And on the basis of my own bi-weekly research, I concur with many of your conclusions.

My own encounter with the baby pig occurred on 7 June of this year. The meat was over rice; I was over joy with the succulence of the flesh and the brittle perfection of the rind/skin. I might be in concordance with you about the salinity of the animal, but its juxtaposition against steamed rice mitigated any negative sensing.

Of "salt-baked" preparations, I have only experienced the soft-shell crabs, at the height of their season. I could not say if the crisp texture was lost over time, because we snarfled the creatures up with such rapidity that they had no chance even to cool. God, they were fabulous in their simplicity!

The lack of crispness to the duck on chives could be attibuted to the circumstance of the portion of duck having been nuked. But my consort and I have found over the last several months that the TASTE of the duck is getting better and better, with a greater proportion of bbq flavor to the rich duck flavor. (However, their duck still does not quite live up to the memory of ones purchased in years past from a cart on Canal Street -- although the price at NY Noodletown is still well below that of the cart adjusted upwards for inflation.)

I am a bit befuddled by the description of the casserole. We have on several occasions partaken of a sizzling casserole of Chinese sausages and TARO, but never one with the former plus chicken. Ours has always sizzled gratifyingly, and offered the additional pleasure of caramelized sauced taro, made so by the heat of the clay pot. Then again, we usually receive and eat that first, while we can still appreciate the kitchen's handiwork.

As for philosophy, I will continue to question, gather information, and analyze before I attempt to reach any conclusions about the perfection of the baby pig, or any other dishes, at NY Noodletown. As the advertisements used to say, "Getting there is half the fun."

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Of "salt-baked" preparations, I have only experienced the soft-shell crabs, at the height of their season. I could not say if the crisp texture was lost over time, because we snarfled the creatures up with such rapidity that they had no chance even to cool. God, they were fabulous in their simplicity!

Suzanne, soft-shell crabs were what attracted me to New York Noodle Town originally, and for several years I enjoyed the superb execution: very delicately crusted creatures were cooked crisp and until medium brown. The starch was almost transparent and added a special crunch without interfering with the taste of the crabs. In fact, their salt-baked preparation technique was so good that the seafood combination was no less delightful when the crabs were sold out. However, it seemed that they’ve changed their approach and the sogginess we observed this time has been persistent for about a year. That, actually, was one of the reasons we discarded our loyalty to the place during the soft-shell season this year.

The lack of crispness to the duck on chives could be attibuted to the circumstance of the portion of duck having been nuked.

If you don’t order duck separately, the preparation requires duck to be sautéed along with the flowering chives which takes the crispiness away and adds some moisture to the meat. The dish also has a light sauce. In my opinion, it is just a matter of preference. I did like, however, the smoky taste the flowering chives acquired from being married to duck.

I am a bit befuddled by the description of the casserole. We have on several occasions partaken of a sizzling casserole of Chinese sausages and TARO, but never one with the former plus chicken. Ours has always sizzled gratifyingly, and offered the additional pleasure of caramelized sauced taro, made so by the heat of the clay pot. Then again, we usually receive and eat that first, while we can still appreciate the kitchen's handiwork.

My recollection of the casserole could’ve been influenced by the fact that we were quite full at the time. However, I just didn’t think that the dish added any new flavors to our order. Though the sizzling effect was quite pleasing, I thought that chicken was a little gamy (though my companions may disagree) and the brown starch sauce used in a preparation seemed too similar to the duck dish we had earlier. But again, that is only if you want to be picky; otherwise, the dish was quite comforting. Thank you for the suggestion of Chinese sausages and taro.

As for philosophy, I will continue to question, gather information, and analyze before I attempt to reach any conclusions about the perfection of the baby pig...

As for philosophy and the baby pig, as they say: “The truth is out there.” :smile:

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The beautiful pig at Great NY Noodle Town (to give the restaurant its full, recently updated due) is served with a small dish of hoisin sauce, a nice sweet complement generally ignored in the rush to disappear the meat; there’s also a small pool of salty, soy-based sauce beneath the pig on the serving dish. The flowering chives were delicious the last two times I had them, despite being flowerless during flowering season. The chicken and sausage casserole is on the permanent “specials” list below the regular menu under the glass tabletop, and includes some unannounced black mushrooms that lend a smoky, earthy undertone. The salt-baked dishes (which are neither baked nor especially salty) can be variable, but even when the crust is insufficiently crisp, the seafood within is tender and juicy when consumed immediately.

Edit: Adjective addition.


"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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Three visits to NY Noodletown in the last few weeks -- the first was late at night and they were out of baby pig, so ordered the baked pig, which had nice crunchy crisp skin but rather dry meat. Went back a week later in the afternoon for the baby pig. It was wonderful -- moist, juicy meat and paper-thin very crisp skin. Went back again the next week and again it was delicious, although I thought the skin this last time was slightly thicker with more fat underneath and not as wonderful, although I was making a lot of very satisfied sounds while eating. Lxt is right, the roasted duck is chopped and brought back to the kitchen where it's stir-fried along with the chives. One time some excellent very thin-fleshed mushrooms were added to the dish.

I've been obsessed with finding excellent salt and pepper squid in New York for the past five years, after having become completely addicted to the preparation in Yuet Lee in San Francisco. Yuet Lee's salt and pepper squid is fried to a beautiful brown color and is quite peppery and impossible to stop eating. All the salt and pepper squid (and combinations of squid, shrimp and scallop) I've eaten in New York have been a very pale color and not particularly spicy. The seafood itself at NY Noodletown was good, but the coating was too pale, not enough salt and pepper, and the scallops got soggy very fast. I feel that I'm doomed to be disappointed, although now I have a place to satisfy my new addiction for baby pig.

I liked the chicken and sausage casserole, although I would have preferred it if the chicken had been chopped through the bone and the bone included.

Has anyone tried any of the noodle soups at NY Noodletown?

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Has anyone tried any of the noodle soups at NY Noodletown?

Sure. Greater NY Noodletown (its current name, I think) may not be quite as good as it used to be, but I still like it and go there at less-crowded times for some items I like and find to be more or less comfort food. My standby noodle soup there is beef muscle (shrimp) wonton, which I sometimes get with the Chinese greens (Chinese broccoli) and oyster sauce side dish. I've had various other noodle soups. Beef stew is tasty but a bit rich (fatty); the fish dumplings are good; the shrimp dumplings are good, and they used to make a beef muscle/shrimp dumpling combination for me, but I've given up on getting it anymore; the tripe is just OK; and it's been so long since I've had duck or any other noodle soup that I don't remember it, except for the seaweed soup, which I thought was fine but haven't been really interested in trying a second time. The ginger/scallion lo mein are worth mentioning. I like them a lot and sometimes have them instead of a noodle soup and get a side order of beef muscle, tripe, soy sauce chicken, or duck on the side (I have to be pretty hungry for that).

If you want fast service, go to Bo Ky on Bayard between Mott and Mulberry, which serves a nice variety of noodle soups, though of a different cuisine (Chao Zhou) than the Hong Kong style at NY Noodletown. There's also a Chao Zhou restaurant on the west side of Mott St. near Grand. I had a good meal there 2 or 3 months ago, but I don't remember its name. I don't know why, but Chao Zhou restaurants in Chinatown give menus in Chinese, English, and Vietnamese, or at least those two do.

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Has anyone tried any of the noodle soups at NY Noodletown?

Absolutely! The only problem I have is that I so love the ones I've tried, I have trouble getting around to trying others. A particular favorite is the seaweed noodle soup, which in addition to a fairly subtle stock, some seaweed, and a huge amount of noodles, also includes several wonton (with WHOLE shrimp), a boiled fish ball, another kind of fish ball that seems to have been fried first, and some sort of very peppery meat(?) ball. For $3.95, I find it unbeatable. We also often get the roast duck wonton soup, with a variably duck-flavored stock, noodles, the same shrimp wonton, and about a half-dozen pieces of roast duck.

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I have never understood what the fuss was about NY Noodletown. I have found the bbq meats to be average at best and the seafood'vegetables to be lousy. The place is also dirty and unpleasant. A better choice for bbq meats and Cantonese food in general is Family Noodle. Try the roast duck and you'll be in luck.

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I continue to find that NY Noodletown is the best restaurant of its type in Manhattan, I don't know about Flushing. The food is not transcendent and it can be inconsistent, but I have followed many recommendations over the years to purportedly better options, but never found them to be as good. I always end up going back. I also think that its just as good as it alway was, as is Joe's Shanghai, another restaurant that many feel has declined. In general, my view is that the disappointment growing out of inconsistency is the real cause of these reactions, rather than any overall long term change. The wonton soup, particularly without the noodles, can be wonderful, and the baby pig is more often than not, excellent. I also like their congee.

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I have to say I've never had a bad dish at Noodletown.


"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

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I guess it's one of those "Love it or hate it" places. HWOE and I love it (and my defense of its staff got me banned from chowhound some years ago); others now departed hated it.

I cannot say that everything there has been nectar and ambrosia (on rare occasions, the soup stock has been a bit funky), but on the whole, I find the food fresh and reliably good. We even had our first experience of Chinese tablemates asking what WE (very definitely non-Chinese) were eating because it intrigued them (for the record, it was the lamb and bean curd skin casserole, which is always delicious).

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Has anyone tried any of the noodle soups at NY Noodletown?

I am a big fan of the noodle soups there, especially the roast pork and wonton noodle. The wontons almost explode in your mouth, and what can be said about roast pork except that it is one of the greatest creations in the world. They have a great rich broth too that I can't stop slurping up!

I also like their salt-baked dishes, but only get the squid because I don't like the consistency of the scallops in that type of dish.

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One of the challenges of a small authentic restaurant, when the turnover in the kitchen is habitual, is consistency. I have the same problem recommending Russian restaurants where you are not quite sure whether the tender and sumptuous duck in a thin, delicately sweet cranberry sauce that you had the night before will be replaced today by a tough turkey with a thick, jam-like paste, in the hope that the diner will not notice the difference. Pathetically, in most cases, diners either don’t notice or much care, seeking rather the entertainment that Russian restaurants provide along with food.

My experience with NYNT is limited to only several dishes, which I found pleasing and which were the main reason for my consistent return. When the quality would fluctuate between very good and acceptable with occasional pleasant treats like soft-shells (as of several years ago) and baby pig, it was worth the effort. However, when the level of acceptable plunges to offensive, then the potential dissatisfaction is simply not worth the energy. Perhaps NYNT can still perform well, but my last meal with slimy shrimp was not only unappealing, it was almost repulsive. I still wonder how my companion actually managed to eat most of that dish. Pperhaps hunger adjusts one’s perception. After many visits, this was my first very unfortunate experience with NYNT, but the deterioration in the quality of the dishes I used to order on a regular basis over the years was quite obvious, and I doubt I’ll be inclined to try my luck again. I’d be curious to hear more recent positive comments as I still maintain a certain sentimental attachment to the place.

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Oh my. lxt, I respect you opinion, so I'll have to pay more attention the next time. (We haven't been since 2/2. Honestly, we are there at least 3 times a month, sometimes every week.)

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Small story about NYNT...

we dine at NYNT alot but ALWAYS for chinese new year... my neice was about 6 yrs. old when sitting in the dining room we saw the baby pig being brought up front in all its glory. it was all set out on a red tray and i explain to her that this was a new years moment that everyone enjoyed.

"Everyone", she said, "EXCEPT the poor pig!"

i must add that she enjoyed it 10 minutes later

i really like this restaurant, but as with every restaurant it has it's ups and downs. Even with that in mind, i still have not had a bad meal yet and i have been dining here for over 7 years

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As part of my apparent make-myself-miserable-about-the-sorry-state-of-food-in-St.-Louis mission, I've been planning a visit to NY Noodletown at some point soon after I return to New York over the summer.

Are there any recommended ways to minimize the chance of a bad meal? Arrive early? Late? On Tuesdays only?

Also, what dishes are essential? The roast baby pig comes up a hell of a lot, as does the salt-baked squid. Anything else? Mushroom noodle soup?


Edited by kurl (log)

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Once a year we give large all-day-eating party at my parents' apartment (formerly a New Year's Day fest, we decided some years ago that too many people were hung over and not ready to really eat.) We've generally featured a roast baby pig (with a bagel in it's mouth) purchased in Chinatown, but it has indeed been the hardest course to source. (No PhD needed to buy smoked sturgeon at Barney Greengrass for example)

I started getting the pig at Great NY Noodletown a couple of years ago, and now the entire thing quickly disappears from the table. We always looked for the smallest pig, and last month they got me a 10 pounder, our smallest yet, and very delicious and tender.

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It's been years since I've had roast pig at NYNT, and that was at a banquet there with a group from The New School. But it was that banquet that brought me back, time and time again, because of their Casserole of Oysters and Roast Duck. I have kept the menu, and that dish has a big star beside it.

Once on a cold, rainy day, I sat near the cold, breezy, opening and closing door, but was warmed by that dish. I also love the Chicken/Sausage Casserole.

But my question here is of a different bent. I got to know one of the waiters (manager?) there, and if it wasn't busy, he would sit and talk. About a year before 9/11 he said that he was not happy with the owner, and was thinking of opening his own place -- over by Joe's Shanghai, and hoped we would follow as he thought he would be bringing some of the chefs, and the dishes, with him. Then came 9/11. In my visits at NYNT since then I haven't seen him, nor has the place he pointed out where he would locate, developed into a resturant.

Anyone else hear of this?

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I think of New York Noodle Town as a solid Chinese diner. Anyone who doesn't want that shouldn't go there. There are quite a number of inexpensive places in Chinatown that arguably have better food overall, and some of them also have a slightly less dinerish ambiance.

I've eaten at NYNT for the last 15 years or something, and all the waiters know me there, but I've been there less in the last 2-3 years as I've been slightly less satisfied with the beef muscles in their Beef Muscle Wonton Noodle Soup and have been enjoying Yeah Shanghai and some other places around the neighborhood. But it's still a good place. My advice to kurl is to get their excellent Ginger Scallion Lo Mein, and otherwise, order most anything that seems a little elaborate, like stuff with chives in it, for example. Consider the dishes in casseroles, too. And anything salt-baked is likely to please. The basic menu is underneath the glass on the table, but don't overlook the double-sided specials menus that are on the table. I don't recommend the wide noodles, though - too oily and not interesting enough in terms of taste (mostly oil taste, in my experience).

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A quick, satisfying, and unbalanced lunch at Great NY Noodletown during a visit last week to Great NY City:

  • Crispy, moist, savory roast duck;

  • Enormous (ENORMOUS), sweet, crispy, juicy salt-baked soft-shelled crabs; and

  • Delicious flowerless flowering chives with more of that beautiful duck, some mushrooms, and a bit of brown sauce. (Sorry, but the Adjective Police tell me that I've exhausted my quota for the day.)

Oh, and a little bit rice, Atkins forgive me, so I shouldn't go hungry.

Pondering the meal afterwards, I realized that despite the enormity and excellence of the crabs, something was just naggingly missing. That something was browned butter.


"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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Damn, I had 2 incredible soft shell crabs from NYNT last night. Perfect, huge, satisfying, orgasmic, crispy...Im running out of adjectives.

The other highlight of the meal was a mixed Seafood Casserole. Nice combination of conch, non-tenderized octopus, prawns, squid, tofu and a few veggies. in a powerful ginger based sauced. Highly recommend this dish.


"Your girlfriend is a vegetarian, tell her she should eat rabbit...they're vegetarians too" Ali

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JHLurie and I had our first visit to Great NY Noodletown yesterday during lunch -- we started off with the Char Siu roast pork, which was succulent as all get out, and had the very wide noodles with chicken, finishing up with Beef and Chicken with Celery in XO sauce in a birds nest. The really fresh celery was key to the enjoyment of the dish.

I feel ashamed I've been reading about it all these years and never went -- I'll definitely be going back.

I brought back a pound of Char Siu and a half a Soy Sauce Chicken, which has been sitting in my office refrigerator overnight... Gonna make some hardcore fried rice with that pork this weekend, I garontee.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Gave NYNoodleTown a shot this afternoon. Ordered the wonton with "beef meat" soup and the shrimp dumpling soup. The kitchen accidentally swapped the dumplings and so I ended up with shrimp dumpling with "beef meat" soup and wonton soup, and the "beef meat" was actually beef tendon, but both soups were delicious anyway.

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I was actually pretty impressed with the place. If it's quality has fallen, then it's a real shame, but I was still pretty happy.

The roast pork WAS a tiny bit inconsistent. About a third of it was a bit dry, but the rest was, as Jason reports, quite succulent. The dry part seemed to be in the middle, while the edges were the moist parts.

Beef and Chicken with Celery in XO sauce was indeed great (although I'm never attempting to eat one of those rice bird's nests again!). Celery can be one of the most disgusting vegetables in the world if it sits around, but the stuff in this dish tasted just picked (or at least recently picked). The beef was also sauteed with a very light hand, which I appreciated.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I was actually pretty impressed with the place.  If it's quality has fallen, then it's a real shame, but I was still pretty happy.[...]

Hey, I'm one of the people who's said that, and all that means is that it used to be even better. :biggrin:

But if you have luck ordering or they're cooking on all cylindars on that day, it'll be as good as it ever was.

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      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 
    • By liuzhou
      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.
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