Apr 142014
 

Gonna wrap up my Taiwan travel posts now with a couple more restaurants, and some miscellaneous photos of cutesy things…

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Chun Shui Tang (春水堂) is purportedly the originator of the now-famous bubble milk tea. Apparently this is a topic of hot debate in Taiwan, so I’ll try to stay out of the controversy, haha. But the story goes, the product development manager, Ms. Xiu-Hui Lin, created the combination of adding tapioca pearls to iced assam tea just on a whim at a corporate meeting, and it has become the ever-popular bubble tea drink that we know and love today.

Actually, I don’t really like the tapioca pearls. Haha. I just like milk tea.

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The milk tea from Chun Shui Tang is actually better than most others – with the price to reflect its quality. The thick layer of foam that you see at the top is a result of the tea being vigorously shaken, and the foam provides a pleasantly airy texture to the tea.

We also had some dinner here…

Kung-Fu Noodles

Kung-Fu Noodles

Kung-Fu noodles is basically noodles with minced pork sauce. As you can see, portion sizes in Taiwan area quite small compared with U.S. – but that was great for me because I could try more things, haha.

Oolong-Flavored Tofu Curd and Pork Blood

Oolong-Marinated Tofu Curd and Pork Blood

Turnip Cake

Turnip Cake

Taiwanese-style turnip cake is a little different from the Cantonese-style – there’s usually very little filling in the Taiwanese turnip cakes, whereas the Cantonese ones have Chinese sausage, mushrooms, etc.

Taiwanese Sausage

Taiwanese Sausage

Mmm… grilled Taiwanese sausage is so yummy. Continue reading »

Mar 162014
 

Taiwan has amazing street food. It’s one of the things I miss the most! I’ve already shared about takoyaki (octopus fritters) in the previous recap… Here are a couple more favorites:

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This place, “Hit Cookie Home” (a literal translation from the Chinese 打餅鋪) is found in the Yi-Zhong street market of Taichung. They’re not actually cookies – the translation screwed up. The pancake-like things you see are called “Laobing” – think flatbread, but with flaky layers, then rolled with toppings as shown on the menu. This is S’s absolute favorite street food item, and one of the things that he’s most excited about when we discuss food in Taiwan.

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You can kind of see the flaky layers of the laobing. I got one with “Beijing-style pork,” which was pork strips marinated in a sweet, Peking-duck-style sauce, garnished with thinly-sliced green onions. Honestly, the fillings aren’t even that important… The pancake itself is just that good. Some of our favorite toppings/fillings are seaweed & tuna (sounds weird but it’s good, trust me), pork sung, and corn & cheese.

Nearby on Yi-Zhong street, there was the best chicken cutlet…

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Literally, Yi-Zhong Giant Chicken Cutlet. I think this was one of the original “giant chicken cutlet” stands – they pound the chicken thigh really thin before frying, so you get 1) really tender meat and 2) lots more surface area for breading. Nowadays, the chicken cutlets get bigger and bigger – to the point where it’s kind of ridiculous and doesn’t even taste that good anymore. This place, though, is still as good as ever.

Fry ALL the things!

Fry ALL the things!

All your fried foods are belong to us!

All your fried foods are belong to us!

Lest you think that they only sell fried chicken, here are a couple of photos to show you all the items that they can fry for you: french fries, green beans, taro, fish balls, squid, different kinds of mushrooms, tofu, onion rings, chicken skin, etc…

We stuck to the original chicken cutlet. Since it’s street food, they actually cut up the cutlet for you so that it’s easier to eat on-the-go. So considerate! Haha. As you’ll notice, Taiwanese street food is often served in little paper pouches with several wooden skewers as utensils.

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Sorry for the bad pic – as I said, this is street food and I took it as I was walking, haha. The chicken was moist and tender, and the breading was really crunchy. Oh, how I’ve missed this! We also asked for them to make it spicy, so we got plenty of chili powder. S really likes the chili powder.

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We also got french fries with seaweed powder (again, sounds weird but trust me, it works and is amazing). The seaweed powder adds just an extra touch of umami, making these super addictive. Also, they fry everything in the same oil pots, meaning these taste sort of like chicken… haha. Continue reading »

Feb 192014
 

Yup, I’m still working my way through my Taiwan photos. Looking back, I didn’t even get pictures of everything that we ate… too bad. At least the memory of them will stay with me until my next trip, hehe.

On my first visit to Taiwan, S’s parents took us to a really nice Korean BBQ place called Yuan Shao, which I absolutely loved. Like many high-end restaurants in Taiwan, you order a “set” meal that includes soup, salad, entrée (in our case, it was a selection of meats for grilling), side, beverage, and dessert. I don’t remember much about the other courses, but I do remember really enjoying the meat, so S and I asked if we could return this time. His parents sort of laughed at us for wanting to go back to an old place instead of trying something new, but I had a serious craving for it.

Salad with cherries and seared duck breast

Salad with cherries and seared duck breast

Stone bowl "bibim bap"

Bibim bap with seaweed and salmon roe

Salad and rice that came with the meal set… I really enjoyed the duck breast (although there were no cherries to be found in the salad?), and the salmon roe was a nice, fusion-y addition to the bibim bap. But the main point of the meal was this:

Glorious meat

Glorious meat

This was an assorted beef and pork platter, which includes boneless beef short rib, pork loin, beef brisket, pork jowl (?), and pork belly. The meat here was very nice quality – just look at the amount of marbling on the beef. Another good thing about the beef here: they use American beef, which is fattier than Australian. (There’s a paranoia in Taiwan about American beef and mad cow disease, so Australian beef is more common. But it doesn’t taste as good imo.)

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Continue reading »

Jan 272014
 

Continuing with my Taiwan trip, I wanted to share a few more food-related adventures…

In S’s hometown, Fengyuan, there’s a downtown market/shopping area called Miao Dong (廟東). There’s a hidden gem inside that S’s parents discovered a couple of years ago…

Sashimi Platter

Sashimi!

Sashimi in Taiwan is really delicious, and really cheap compared to the US, so S and I always try to get our sashimi fill in Taiwan. A 10-piece sashimi platter here costs about $10 USD (240 NTD). As you can see, there’s tuna, yellowtail, salmon, squid, and – something I’ve only seen in Taiwan – marlin (旗魚). My favorite pieces were the marlin, which had a pleasantly chewy texture, and salmon. The salmon was really fatty, and I loved that they wrapped it around the onion slices to give it some crunch and kick. Similarly, the squid/cucumber combination was delicious as well.

Vegetable medley

Japanese-style salad

I’m not sure what to call this in English – in Chinese it’s called 醋物, literally “vinegar object.” Basically it’s sliced vegetables in a vinegar-based sauce, and very refreshing. Corn and tomatoes were really sweet, which went well with the vinegar.

Hana Sushi

Hana Sushi

Another Taiwanese invention – hana sushi (literally “flower sushi”), which is made with not-so-traditionally-Japanese ingredients. The rolls often include cooked or canned salmon and tuna, pork floss, shrimp tempura, etc. Also as you can see, purple rice can also be used. I actually really like these non-traditional sushi rolls – the flavors usually work pretty well together.

Cute sushi clock!

Cute sushi clock & sushi chef with fish

We decided not to eat too much at the sushi place to save room for some takoyaki (octopus balls)…

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Probably one of my favorite street foods in Taiwan. These little takoyaki balls are made of a flour-based batter with chopped octopus and cooked in the special molds that you see, and served with plenty of mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and a special BBQ sauce. We asked for garlic-flavored takoyaki, so we also got a generous helping of garlic salt.

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There’s a variety of delicious food stands in Miao Dong, and I wasn’t able to document them all. But some other things to try if you’re ever in Fengyuan are: Qing Shui pork chop noodles and oyster pancakes. The oyster pancakes in Fengyuan are probably the most famous – the sauce is quite unique and different from the sauce on any other oyster pancakes.

Continue reading »

Jan 202014
 

For winter vacation this year, S and I visited his family in Taichung, Taiwan. We spent two weeks there and had a really great time – the weather was quite nice (although apparently San Diego is even warmer), and we even got to spend New Year’s at the beach in Kenting, the southernmost part of the island.

We stayed in the Château resort (夏都), which is where the Taiwanese movie Capo No. 7 was filmed!

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S’s parents said that they’ve stayed in several resorts/hotels around the area in Kenting, but Château was their favorite because there was access to the beach right from the hotel!

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Of course, we had some fantastic food on our excursion to the southern part of the island. Every year in Taiwan, there is a contest for the best beef noodle soup. By the way, beef noodle soup could almost be called the National Dish of Taiwan, it’s so universally loved. So of course there’d be a contest for the best bowl in the country. The winning restaurant is located inside the Caesar (凱撒) resort, just down the road from Château.

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Beef noodle soup

 

It was indeed a wonderful bowl of beef noodle soup – the broth was really flavorful and rich, but not overwhelmingly so. The noodles were handmade and had a nice, springy bounce, and the meat and tendons were quite tender, having been simmered for a long, long time. For reference, here’s the newspaper clipping about the beef noodle soup award:

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Some other notable things we tried on the trip:

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Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki is Taiwan is commonly found in food courts of malls, and they’re quite different from Benihana (or whatever teppanyaki/”habachi grill” place you can find in the U.S.)! The setting is really casual, and the chefs definitely don’t do any of the shrimp-flipping trips or set onion rings on fire. But the food is really delicious. Above, the chef in the midst of cooking up some mung bean sprouts, with plenty of butter and salt & pepper.

Cabbage & mung bean sprouts

Cabbage & mung bean sprouts

Crispy chicken

Crispy chicken

Continue reading »

Jul 122012
 

Sorry for the lack of update in the past couple of weeks!  I’ve been pretty busy, and ever since we set up our kitchen, I haven’t gone out to eat much – and I’ll be starting some recipe posts soon, so stay tuned ^^

S and I visited our dear friend in Seattle last week, and needless to say, we sort of ate a lot.  It was our first time in the city, and we had an overwhelming number of recommendations for places to visit (for sights and food).  I had a fantastic time and wish that our vacation could have been longer… but I’ve been back in reality for a few days now, and it’s time to catch up here.

**Warning: this is going to be a long, hunger-inducing post.  You have been warned!!

We started our trip by going directly from the airport to Facing East Taiwanese Restaurant in Bellevue, which was recommended to me as “one of the best Taiwanese restaurants in the U.S.”

Facing East 東來食府

Taiwanese pork buns 刈包

Taiwanese pork buns, or “gua bao”, are basically pork belly sandwiches with Chinese steamed rolls as the bread.  The pork belly here was braised to perfection, and the steamed roll was soft and fluffy.

Fried shrimp with pineapple 鳳梨蝦球

Another pretty traditional dish – fried shrimp drizzled with mayo and served with pineapples (and other fruits, in this case).  Mayo in Taiwan (and Japan) is sweeter and less thick than the original American mayo, and – dare I say it? – much tastier.

Soy-braised pork belly 東坡肉

Another perfectly-braised pork belly dish.  We kind of go crazy over this stuff.  See the layers of fatty goodness?  More, please.

Post-dinner activity: 4th of July fireworks in Gas Works Park, right over Lake Union.  They were gorgeous!  Unfortunately I did not have a tripod for my camera, so 90% of my fireworks photos turned out really squiggly.

Here’s an okay one…

The second day, we visited Pike’s Place Market, pretty much the largest farmer’s market I’ve ever seen in the U.S.  And it’s open everyday!

We tried some samples from the fruit stands – the cherries and peaches were amazing!  Super juicy and sweet (normally I don’t like sweet fruits but these were so good).

Stopped by the seafood stand and had to try the smoked salmon on a stick.  It was really tasty, not too salty and perfect with the garlic & pepper.

Across the street from the Market were quite a few famous shops and restaurants.  We had to check out Piroshky, Piroshky, the Russian bakery that Anthony Bourdain once visited on No Reservations.

The line was long, but it was definitely well worth the wait.

Beef and cheese piroshkys in the making…

They actually turned out to taste like a type of Chinese stuffed bread (餡餅), except with cheese added.

They also had a variety of sweet pastries… and you know me, I had to get one.

Cinnamon apple roll

The apple was actually quite tart, but overall I liked it.  It wasn’t too sweet, which I normally might complain about, but this way I could continue to eat more.

We stopped by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop, which was just a few doors down.  You could see fresh cheese in the making.

There were also several cheeses for sampling in the store.  My favorite was this Pride of the Beecher’s Fleet.

And we continued our eating journey…

Another highly-rated place.  There were eight different types of chowders, I think – vegetarian, seared scallop, Manhattan, New England… you name.  We shared a cup of the New England, of which I’m not usually a fan, but I must say, the chowder here was amazing (especially if you add a couple of drops of tabasco).

After the chowder, we were almost full… so it was time for dessert.  My frozen desserts radar found us a gelato shop nearby.

Salted caramel and panna cotta gelato

I loved the panna cotta flavor.  It was so rich and creamy, yet still light and refreshing.  And of course, you know my obsession with salted caramel.  This was just heavenly.

But we were not done… We had to get some coffee in Seattle (and no, not Starbucks… although I do have a photo of the First Starbucks).

We were more interested in the local, artisan coffee shops.  And we found this:

They have a “regular” drip coffee counter and also a “Slow Bar,” where you can choose a slower, more sophisticated brewing method for freshly brewed, single-origin coffee.

Of course, we chose the Slow Bar.

The brewing methods offered are the Hario pour-over, Chemex (which I have), or siphon/vacuum pot.  Our favorite is the vacuum pot method.

If you’ve never had coffee brewed with a vacuum pot, I highly recommend that you try it at least once.  Basically, the water is heated so that it will rise into the upper vessel (where your coffee grounds are), then the heat is removed so that the water – having now extracted the essence of the coffee grounds – returns to the lower pot.  By controlling when you remove the heat, you could adjust for exactly how long the coffee is brewed.  And of course, coffee experts have figured out the optimal time for extraction, so that you get the most flavorful cup of coffee.

All this to yield a perfect cup of coffee.

After that, we were really full and had to take a break from eating explored the downtown area for a bit.  It was really a gorgeous day, so perfect.

Dinner was our luxury meal of the trip, Shiro’s Sushi.  I was really looking forward to sushi because I’ve always heard that seafood in Seattle is amazing (I’d already had a taste from the smoked salmon earlier in the day).  According to my friend W, it’s because of the way the currents enter and leave Puget Sound, somehow creating delicious, perfect seafood.  (Anyone wanna confirm/disputethis?  Leave a comment!)

Geoduck stir-fried with butter and asparagus

First time I had geoduck – I always wanted to try it after watching a Youtube video of Hung Huynh cooking a geoduck (in case you didn’t know, Hung is Top Chef Season 3 winner and my favorite Top Chef contestant of all time).  It tasted like a tender version of a clam – and the flavors of this dish were delicious.  The nutty browned butter aroma was the perfect accompaniment to the delicate geoduck.

Broiled black cod

I haven’t had black cod in a long time (since it’s so expensive), and I thought this was pretty good – although S and J say that this would be a pretty standard dish in Taiwan.

Finally, my sashimi omakase arrived…!!

Sashimi omakase

Smelt, albacore tuna, Big Eye tuna, salmon, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, mackerel, red snapper, giant scallop, and a couple that I couldn’t remember.  The favorites were definitely the salmon, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, red snapper, and scallop.  Okay, I liked everything.  They also fried the shrimp head after I was done with everything else – yum!  What a perfect way to end the second night!

The next day, S and I ventured to downtown for lunch.  We found BOKA, the restaurant in Hotel 1000.  It was a really classy, lounge-y place.

Of course, I had to order the salmon.

Alaskan King salmon with corn-pancakes, green beans, and oyster mushrooms

The salmon was perfectly cooked and seasoned – I’ve never had salmon so tender.  The greens and mushrooms were really good, but the corn pancakes were sort of weird and mushy.  Sad.

BOKA burger and truffle fries

I didn’t have any of S’s burger, but the truffle fries were delicious.

In the afternoon, we met up with another one of our college friends here for some drinks:

Beer flight – I actually don’t drink much beer so I couldn’t tell you how special these are.  S liked the Pike XXXXX Extra Stout (the dark colored one).  I was feeling girly and had a cider.

Ended up on the waterfront to Elliot’s Oyster House for more seafood!

Dabob Bay and Baywater Sweet oysters

They offered raw oysters from about six or seven different locations.  We picked Dabob Bay and Baywater Sweet oysters and really liked the ones from Dabob Bay – they were super smooth and sweet.  The Baywater Sweet ones were smaller and had a more “ocean-y” taste.

Manhattan clam chowder

Read recommendations that the Manhattan clam chowder here was good, so we had to have a cup.  It was pretty good – very tomato-y and lots of clams.

Pan-fried oysters with bacon and scallions

We weren’t quite satisfied with just those five oysters at the beginning, so we ordered a few more – large, pan-fried, and with bacon.

Pesto with clams (and amazing foccacia)

And finally, we ordered the pesto with clams since it was on the Catch of the Day menu section.  The pesto sauce went really well with the deliciously fresh clams, and it was perfect for dipping the foccacia bread.

Our trip was quickly wrapping up (and so is this post, I promise), but we had time for brunch the next morning before our flight.  We found The Hangar Cafe in the Georgetown district of Seattle, on our way to the airport (I think).

It was a really cute little place, with a surprisingly extensive menu of breakfast items, crepes, and sandwiches.

S and I split a savory crepe and sweet waffle.

Roast beef crepe with creme fraiche

Lemon panna cotta waffles with delicious maple syrup

Both dishes were delicious.  I loved the roast beef-creme fraiche combo – must try at home sometime.  And the lemon panna cotta was perfect on the waffle, topped with some raspberry jam and maple syrup.  (Just want to point out, also, that it was real maple syrup, not the high-fructose-corn-syrup-with-maple-flavors.)

Anyway, after three food-filled days, it was time to go home.  I really loved Seattle and would definitely love to go back someday… but for now, back to life in San Diego! :)

May 272012
 

I was in Texas for my sister’s college graduation (congrats!!) and Mother’s Day, and of course, in addition to spending time with friends and family (and catching up on sleep), I enjoyed a lot of great food.  Here I present to you some of my favorite meals from the week!

Starting off with Chinese food:

Sesame bread (芝麻大餅) from First Emperor Barbecue in Richardson

Warm and fluffy, full of sesame and green onion, this is probably one of my favorite breads.  Ever.

Of course, you’ve heard of Tex-Mex (I hope).  I was fortunate enough to visit one of the best Tex-Mex restaurants in Ft. Worth, Yucatan Taco Shop:

Garlic shredded beef nachos from Yucatan Taco Shop in Ft. Worth

These nachos are ridiculous.  As you can see, in addition to tender and delicious (and rather garlicky) shredded beef, there’s shredded lettuce, tomato, cheese, some sort of sour cream-based sauce, and a huge heaping of guacamole.  You actually run of chips way before the toppings…  And in case you were wondering, it all actually tasted pretty damn good together.

Something else that you should have heard of is Texas barbecue:

Barbecue is basically heaven on Earth, seriously.  And Texas has some of the best barbecue on Earth.  This is one of them.

This little piggy, place right in front of the meat counter, was just too cute :P

Awesome beef brisket! :9

Pork ribs, corn, and coleslaw

Succulent.  Smoky.  Tender.  Just perfect.  Need I say more?  This was definitely my top meal of the week.

Moving on to more Chinese food.  My stepdad, who is Cantonese, took me to one of his favorite dim sum restaurants:

Char siu puff pastry (叉燒蘇) from Kirin Court in Richardson

Red bean sesame balls (芝麻球)

I loved the char siu puff pastry – you rarely see this item at most dim sum restaurants, and it’s always a treat when I see them.  The char siu itself is really good, just sweet enough to complement the puff pastry perfectly.  Also, the sesame balls were definitely some of the best that I’ve had in the States (yes, including California!).  There was plenty of red bean filling, and the sticky rice was served warm and just the right balance of soft and chewy.

Last but definitely not least, I need to give a shout-out to my stepdad, who is one of the best cooks ever.  He has 3 principles: 1) cooking has to be efficient (we’re busy and hungry!), 2) food should be healthy, 3) food should taste good.  In his mind, these principles are not in conflict at all, and I am very inspired by his cooking style.

Home-cooked strip steak

He makes grilling a phenomenal steak look so easy!  I am so stealing the cooking technique and recipe.

Home-made Greek-style salad

One of my favorite dishes, a simple salad of cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and walnuts tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette.  It was super refreshing, just perfect for the Texas heat.

There, I hope that I’ve made you hungry enough for the evening.  More food reviews of San Diego restaurants coming soon!

Mar 052012
 

**All photos from this post are courtesy of ekimc.

My first catch-up post is from waaaaaay back.  As in, Thanksgiving of 2011.  I spent my holiday in Las Vegas with S., our college buddies, and friends from San Diego.  It was a pretty exciting weekend, but this blog is about the food ;)

We decided to have a nice meal for our “Thanksgiving Dinner”, and after shopping around several places, I chose Fleur by Hubert Keller as our restaurant.  Since we had a large group (16 people), almost every place directed us to Group Dining, and Fleur seemed to be the most reasonable and affordable option.

The restaurant is located in Mandalay Bay.  I don’t know anything about Las Vegas or any of its hotels, and I don’t really remember much about Mandalay Bay except that it was kind of hard to find the restaurant.  We were seated in a semi-private booth (there were curtains that we could draw to isolate our long table).

Chandelier over our table

We had a somewhat pre-set menu: appetizer (two choices), entree (two choices), dessert (tiramisu).

Our menu

Onto the food.  Due to strategic planning, I was able to try some of everything, hehe.

Ahi tuna tartar with shaved fennel slaw and ginger ponzu

I liked the texture of the fennel slaw with the tuna, and really enjoyed the refreshing ponzu sauce.

Onion soup "shooter" with velouté and truffle oil

I was expecting the soup in a shot glass and was quite surprised when it arrived in such a large plate.  The server explained that they increased the portion for us since we were dining on their prix fixe menu.  Although it had a great flavor, the soup was very creamy and heavy – I think a bit too much for an appetizer, at least for me.

Braised short rib with honey coriander glazed carrot and warm potato salad

The braised short rib was a delightful, beautifully-cooked piece of meat.  I read somewhere that ever since the economic downturn, chefs have been getting creative and using other pieces of meat that are cheaper and less popular – such as the short rib.  I’ve always loved short rib so I’m very happy to see the increase in its popularity!  Overall, I really liked all the parts of this dish, especially the carrot (but then, I love glazed carrots so I am pretty biased.  The “warm potato salad” turned out to be mashed potatoes, which were super light and fluffy.

Slow roasted Alaskan halibut with braised leek, sweet corn, and vegetable bouquet

The halibut was perfectly cooked, with a crispy skin and really nice flavors.  The vegetable bouquet was not as memorable – I didn’t particularly enjoy the combination of asparagus + bell pepper (too much crunch?).

Tiramisu with chocolate and orange-raspberry biscotti

I’m kind of a sucker for tiramisu, although S. always says that they taste similar everywhere.  Maybe we haven’t had REALLY GOOD tiramisu yet.  This was actually not really like a tiramisu at all.. I was really missing the strong espresso and rum flavors.  The cream-to-sponge cake/ladyfinger ratio was also too high.  The biscotti, however, were crunchy and had a great flavor combo (I love chocolate + orange), and I ended up enjoying the biscotti more than the tiramisu.

The group dining priced the dinner set at $65/person.  Throw in 20% gratuity, tax, and a $125 fee for the entire group, it came down to about $90/person.  Considering the fact that it was Las Vegas, and we had a large group, and it’s Hubert Keller’s restaurant, I’d say that it was pretty worth it.  Have you ever been here, or Fleur de Lys in San Francisco? Let me know what you think!


Fleur by Hubert Keller

Jun 062010
 

My mother’s hometown, Changde, is in the Hunan province of China. Now, if you know anything about Hunan, you should know that it’s famous for having the most spicy food in all of China. In fact, when you eat out, there are very few dishes without at least a little bit of chili pepper or some chili sauce mixed in. Many Hunanese people you may meet would not even eat dishes that are not spicy!

Unfortunately, I am not quite as well-trained as my Hunanese relatives, so I try to keep the spiciness to a minimum. I got to (re)experience some of my favorite childhood Changde ‘small plates’ tonight, most of which were rather tame :)

Lotus Tips (嫩莲藕): tips of lotus roots, tossed with red chili peppers and a bit of soy sauce. It was interesting.. I’m not sure I liked the taste, as I expect lotus to be very crunchy, and this didn’t quite satisfy.

Marinated beef slices (卤牛肉): the standard marinated beef dish. prepared by slow-roasting a large portion of beef till tender and flavorful, then sliced and served with some of the roasting juice (I suppose this is the Chinese people’s version of au jus..). As always, a delicious classic.

Fried Sardines (煎沙丁)

Fried Sardines (煎沙丁)

Fried Sardines (煎沙丁): another rather classic dish, but I’ve never had it served with the accompanying sauce. I couldn’t tell what the sauce was composed of – it wasn’t very salty nor greasy, probably very mild soy sauce combined with some other spices. If you’ve never tried sardines prepared this way, I urge you to do so – they’re so crispy that even the bones can be eaten directly.

Egg Pancake (鸡蛋饼)

Egg Pancake (鸡蛋饼)

Egg Pancake (鸡蛋饼): this is not exactly a Changde traditional dish, but it’s something I grew up with. Chinese pancake, called 饼 (bing3) is more of a Northern thing, but this has expanded to become quite universal. Basically it’s a flour Chinese pancake mixed with eggs and scallions. The texture is very different from green scallion pancakes (葱油饼), however, in that egg pancakes are soft and slightly chewy, whereas scallion pancakes are supposed to be crispier and fluffier.

Millet Congee (小米粥) & Chilled Mushrooms (凉拌菇)

Millet Congee (小米粥) & Chilled Mushrooms (凉拌菇)

Millet Congee (小米粥): millet is just another type of grain, supposedly pretty good for the health. Usually Chinese people mix it with various other types of grains for congee, but this congee was purely millet. Also it was served chilled, which was surprising.

Chilled Mushrooms (凉拌菇): I was surprised to see baby-round-top-looking mushrooms in China, so I had to try this dish. The texture didn’t really taste like baby round-top mushrooms – much chewier and darker in color. I have no idea what kind of mushroom this was and will update as soon as I find out. This was served as a cold dish, mixed with some chili sauce and, of course, the obligatory chili peppers (both red and green!).

Stay tuned for more updates from China!

Mar 172010
 

My latest adventures took me to Orlando, so I wanted to share some of the fine cuisine I found there :) Our method of finding restaurants was basically one trusty website: Yelp. By golly, Yelp is the most useful thing to take with you on trips.. and my friend’s Yelp app on the iPhone definitely came in handy quite a few times as well.

Food adventures, day 1:

Anyway, I searched for Taiwanese food in Orlando, and amazingly, there was a hit! It took us a restaurant called Teriyaki House, and it turned out to be run by a middle-aged couple who were really, really nice and really, really Taiwanese. The menu featured typical Taiwanese bento items such as pork chop over rice (排骨飯) or marinated pork over rice (鹵肉飯) as well as entree dishes. We ordered several entrees to share:

Drunken Chicken

Drunken Chicken (醉雞)

Marinated Assortment

Marinated Assortment and fried tofu 鹵味拼盤,炸豆腐

Sweet and Sour Ribs

Sweet and Sour Ribs 糖醋排骨

The “marinated assortment” had pork belly, marinated egg, sausage, intestines (I know, we’re Chinese), and smoked bean curd. That was probably my favorite dish, although everything was really delicious. They even had A-choy, which of course we ordered. Some people also ordered the bubble tea, which I tried – it was made with sweetened condensed milk, which gives it a different texture, but it was really good.

Food adventures, day 2:

On the day that we went to Teriyaki House, we had originally wanted to go to a steakhouse called Kres Chophouse in downtown Orlando, which had five-star ratings. However, when we called, we found out that they were booked for the entire night – so we promptly made reservations for the next day.

The whole place was really nice, typical upscale restaurant. The service was also wonderful, and the waiter was very friendly. Unfortunately, with the restaurant located in downtown, parking was an issue, and Kres did not validate parking (except for taking a discount from valet parking). Continue reading »

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