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Your Top Chinese Food Experiences


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First time to visit, happy to see so many gourmets here. I am not a great cook, but like cooking a lot, one reason is my wife who happens to be an American likes my cooking, or to say more precisely she likes Chinese food a lot, since I can make some authentic Chinese food. Anyway, as my username can tell, for me the greatest food experience is at home, nowhere in the world (that I have been to :biggrin: ) can make me so hungry and indecent :laugh: like at mom's home.

Do not belive me? I am not going to argue with you, but would like to question how much your mom cooked when you were young. Just joking...

Hope to share more with you guys. Or maybe, one day you can come to China and share some my mama's delicious food.

Edited by mamacooksyummy (log)
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jo-mel, was the sweet melon nan gua?

Dollars to donuts says it was hami gua.

As I recall, it was a red melon, and the slices were curved as tho they came from a small watermelon ----not like the humongous ones we see in the markets here.(NJ) It was a sweetness I've had never had in the melons, here, either.

Listening to my tapes (I don't write much when I travel. It's easier to tape as I see things, or to rehash the day.) That restaurant was not Hugh's choice as he had a bad experience there the year before. The hassle was with 'Intourist'-- the travel agency inside China. They wanted what they wanted and Hugh stood firm ---not an easy thing. This was a culinary trip, after all.

I was hoping the tape would tell me more about the melon, but not so. I still, in my mind, see a platter of red, not green.

As I said, this was a culinary trip, and we had some fantastic food. There was one great story of a group who paralleled us ---- from Texas. They got sick and tired of Chinese food and wanted their steak and potatoes. They finally got their wish. DISASTER!! LOL!

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:biggrin: Flying from Beijing to HK in the mid-90s, I was seated next to a very unhappy engineer from Texas. He was going home after two months somewhere in inland China, and he had NOT had a good time. He had been in Wuhan for a week, and complained that the room-service cheeseburgers were terrible. (I refrained from asking him how good the Chinese food would be at a second-tier hotel in, say, Pittsburgh.) But then he had been sent away from the city, to a Place With No Forks. He didn't know how to use chopsticks, so he starved for a couple of days. But then his engineer's ingenuity reasserted itself, and he WHITTLED a couple of wooden chopsticks into tiny little spears, and fed himself that way.
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:biggrin: Flying from Beijing to HK in the mid-90s, I was seated next to a very unhappy engineer from Texas.  He was going home after two months somewhere in inland China, and he had NOT had a good time.  He had been in Wuhan for a week, and complained that the room-service cheeseburgers were terrible. (I refrained from asking him how good the Chinese food would be at a second-tier hotel in, say, Pittsburgh.)  But then he had been sent away from the city, to a Place With No Forks.  He didn't know how to use chopsticks, so he starved for a couple of days.  But then his engineer's ingenuity reasserted itself, and he WHITTLED a couple of wooden chopsticks into tiny little spears, and fed himself that way.

LOL! --------" No forks"?? Catastrophe! You would think "When in Rome --------"

The Texans (some of my best friends are Texan) were on the Li River with us. Hugh had seen some fishermen, and bought a few freshly caught fish, and we had them steamed, while going down the river. That was when we heard their complaints. A couple of nights later they had their steak and potatoes. The beef was a huge slab of meat (?aged?) on a platter and a huge bowlful of large boiled potatoes with their skin. Now you can't boil large potatoes without having them fall apart, in the attempt to get the insides cooked. It didn't look very tempting.

At the risk of stretching this out, may I tell what we had at that dinner?

It was at the Banyan Tree Hotel in Guilin. Aside from the cold dishes and a Peacock Ensemble, we had" Bamboo Rat with Vegetable Heart (A regional specialty) / Quails Eggs with Bok Choy Heart / Roast Suckling Pig Skin with 5-Spice Powder / Steamed Mianbao / Sauteed Turtle with Black Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots / Whole Roasted Pigeon with Soy Flavor / Roasted Duck in Brown Gravy with Chinese Broccoli / Steamed Pork Dumplings / Stir Fried Green Bean with Simple Sauce / Turtle Soup -- Light Broth with Chicken and a Whole Turtle. ( Dessert was a Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting with roses and leaves piped on top. Yuk!)

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Actually, while the engineer was a colossal drag, I was pretty impressed with his solution to the problem. But good lord......steak and potatoes....LOL!

yup.

talk about stickin to your guns and not taking the easy way out.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Actually, while the engineer was a colossal drag, I was pretty impressed with his solution to the problem.  But good lord......steak and potatoes....LOL!

LOL! Leave it to an engineer to find a way around it!

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Interesting thread. I have had many interesting(!) food experiences, but the one I remember as the best "Chinese" meal I have ever eaten was the time I got "turned around" during a hunting trip in some unfamiliar country. After 11 hours in the cold and wet and eating only a 25 cent bag of peanuts, I finally got back to my truck. I opened the lunch which my mother had packed for me and found to my delight and everlasting gratitude, 3 "joong" which she made herself. They are still my favourite pack lunch.

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3 "joong" which she made herself. They are still my favourite pack lunch.

What are joong?

I don't know what Ben's Mother's Joongs are, but my guess it is the same as ZongZi (Mandarin) --- Rice and stuff wrapped in Bamboo, or Lotus Leaves. (or Banana Leaves)

After a long day, they must have been wonderful!! Like comfort food!

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1) Yangshuo, winter 1997, at the night market that sets up next to the "fancy" resort hotel (don't know if either the hotel or market still exist). The most fantastic meal in the most miserable weather (cold, rainy, windy) under an awning next to a wok manned by the husband of a man-wife cooking team .... especially bacon stir-fried with sugar snap peas. The constrast of that stridently porky, salty meat with the sweet, still-crisp pea pods is unforgettable. And a heaping plate of stir-fried pork with wild mushrooms of all sorts. The sort of make-do-with-what's-available, homestyle cooking that is getting harder and harder to find in China.

It rained the next two nights as well, but we put on our rain gear and headed back to the same stall for more.

2) 1984, my first taste of hongyou shuijiao at the hongyou shuijiao place in Chengdu, behind the big Mao statue (is it still there?). Present your ration tickets and renminbi and get a chit. Always packed, to get a seat you stood behind someone's chair and grabbed it when they started to stand up, and then waived down an attendant to take your chit. Tiny bowls, just five slippery, toothsome dumplings (pork only, and not too much meat --- it was all about the dough) floating in a sweet-hot chili oil. Four of these bowls more than justified the 1/2 hour bike ride on a damp chilly Chengdu afternoon.

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  I think we should talk about the best Chinese restaurants/meals/foods we have had. Period. Which ones they were, what we ate, why it was so good, and of course where we had them.

Unfortunately, names of Chinese restaurants spin into a blur but after entering this forum, I do remember Shun Lee in NYC, the dish was Hunan Lamb. Never had anything like it since that time. But without doubt, the most memorable experience was the first time I had Szechuwan in a small restaurant in N.C.

Here is where the story transcends the culinary. I felt as though I was transported back to a time when I could remember another life when I was Chinese. The spiciness of the dish made me aware of so many things. This experience really stuck with me. As I explored the experience and the thoughts that followed, I felt I had met my death in that life outside the circle of a military camp by being trampeled to death by a horse. As I continued to watch the events, I could see the hoof of a horse crushing my chest on the left side and a rib punctured my heart.

Years later at a palm reading, the reader told me I died in my first life from an injury on my left side by a horse.

It was just some red peppers..I swear. Kung Pao Chicken nothing more.

At times when I walk into a Chinese restaurant, the management and staff seem to recognize me even though now...I am not Chinese.

:huh:

Edited by stellarWOK (log)
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Here is where the story transcends the culinary.

"Hot-pot" restaurants in Sichuan have been know to lace the stock with opium (to make their fare addictive, I suppose) but you've provided the first evidence that they may be into hallucinogenics, too. :laugh:

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It's going to be tough to pick just 5.... and I have a feeling this is going to be a looooong post.

1. Mid 1960s, the late 'Green Door' restaurant, in a junkie-infested alley off Main Street at the edge of Chinatown, Vancouver. I was a little kid, and my family didn't have much money. For a treat, we would go to cheap back-alley homestyle Cantonese restaurants, which existed to feed the gamblers at the mah jong parlours 'hidden' from the police in the front rooms. My brother and I were always terrified to go. The neighbourhood was rough and nobody spoke English. But the food left me with a taste for Cantonese home cooking that survives to this day. Most memorable dish was plain old stewed beef and turnips, just like Mom used to make if your Mom is Cantonese, which mine isn't. I ran into the very same dish on a ferry going from Hong Kong to Zhongshan a few weeks ago - I could smell what was for lunch as soon as they wheeled the big stew pot on board.

2. Late 70s, Yang's Restuarant, Vancouver. Taiwan-style spicy beef and home-made noodle soup, and long pan-fried pork and veg dumplings with a sweetened vinegar dipping sauce, served only on Sundays for breakfast. Some of the best food I've ever had anywhere. I've been living in Asia 13 years now and am still looking for the equal of this soup. The secret, I think, was that Mr Yang was not a very good noodle maker. His noodles were always thick (almost udon-sized) and irregular. In China the chefs are trained to make them thin and perfect. But spicy beef soup tasted better with Mr Yang's noodles.

3. Mid 80s, Dong Feng Hotel, Guangzhou. My first Official Chinese Government Banquet, complete with Mao-suited party cadres and toasts to Sino-Canadian friendship with mao tai liquor, and a wide eyed 25 year old on his first trip to China as part of a trade mission. First time for snake, for turtle and for whatever else Guangzhou could dream up. I can't say I enjoyed it, or any other formal Chinese banquet I've had since - give me home cooking any day, or at least the White Swan hotel instead of the Dong Feng! - but it sure was memorable.

4. 1990s, the duck rice place beside the coffin shop on Soi On Nut, Prawes area, Bangkok, Thailand. I moved to Bangkok in '89 and was doing business mostly with Thai Chinese factory owners. Eating (and drinking) was an important of business, especially if, like me, you were trying to be a good boy and not participate in all the other Thai business entertainment related activites. I got a thorough introduction to Thai Chinese food and Johnnie Walker Black Label, but my favorite (much to the disgust of my friends, who throught the place was totally low-class) was a non-aircon concrete shophouse only open for lunch that served roast duck on rice, and a couple of kinds of dim sum. That's it. It's still there, and I still go back when I'm in the area.

5. 1991, the Sichuan restaurant in the HuangPu Export Processing Zone, Guangzhou. I was now living in Hong Kong and was commuting to work in Guangzhou every week. One factory I was working with used to regularly take guests to this restaurant. My first taste of honest, firey, oily explosive Sichuan cooking. The place was filthy - no other way to describe it. Rats literally running across the floor. But the food was great. 'Ants climbing a tree' style bean thread noodles, mapo tofu swimming in bright red chili oil, boiled pork dumplings with soy and garlic dipping sauce (ok, more Northern style than Sichuan, but still memorable)..... I managed to talk the chef into selling me some of his spices so I could try (without success) to recreate the dishes at home in Hong Kong.

Just this year I was in the neighbourhood and went back for old time's sake. They've cleaned the place up, and the food isn't as good as I remember - but that may just be because I've had so much Sichuan food since then. It's just down the street from the McDonalds, if you're in HuangPu.

OK, that's 5 already, so I'll stop without telling you about dim sum at the Pink Pearl. Although I've lived in Asia 13 years now, my first stop direct from the airport in Vancouver is the Pink Pearl for dim sum - their nor mei gai is better than any you'll find in Asia. And we won't talk about any of the seafood places in Hong Kong or up the Pearl River. Or shark's fin at the late Sam Heng in Bangkok, politically incorrect as shark's fin may be these days. Or still-warm bbq pork and sausage from the Dollar Meat Store, back in Vancouver. Or....

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Dave, it must have been fascinating to grow up in Vancouver during the growth the city in general and the Chinese community in particular has experienced.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Great post HK Dave, seems we might have crossed paths (but probably didn't, since I was a lowly "foreign teacher" at the time) at the DongFang in the mid-80s. Gosh I thought the food was awful there (not to mention the rooms) but then I wasn't banqueting (I was also coming from Chengdu so Cantonese food seemed hopelessly bland in comparison). And the Sichuan restaurant early90s in the export zone in Guangzhou --- a very good facsimile of the real thing (both food and decor)! I also remember, at the time, a Sichuan restaurant in Guangzhou in a bldg owned by the Chongqing Municipal Govt. A bit cleaner (not upscale though) and very authentic food (they sold Chuanwei Mala You, Huajiao, Sichuan chiles, and other "necessities" on the first floor).

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Here is where the story transcends the culinary.

"Hot-pot" restaurants in Sichuan have been know to lace the stock with opium (to make their fare addictive, I suppose) but you've provided the first evidence that they may be into hallucinogenics, too. :laugh:

Ah! Now I haev at least one other explanation...of course, I cannot explain my fear of horses any other way.

Or my ravenous appetite for great Chinese food.

:wub:

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