Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tang Palace Seafood Restaurant (Shanghai, China)

Ok, this is hands down the BEST dim sum place I've eaten at. I like this place better than dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong; that's how good it is. This place is always packed and they're open from really early in the morning until night time. During the afternoon they have happy hour dim sum which is like 20% off regular price. There's so much to choose from and I think the reason this dim sum place takes number 1 for me is cause everything is made to order so food comes out piping hot!

Fried Pigeon
Yes you read it correctly, this is pigeon. Those birds that you see in the parks all the time or the things that nest up in signs and skyscrapers. This is one of their most popular items and for good reason. The taste and texture is pretty much the same as quail, but they fry this to perfection where the skin is nice and crispy but the meat is so tender it drips with juice. It was definitely a favorite of mine.

Porridge with Pork and Thousand-Year-Old Egg
Something typical that you would see on a dim sum menu but theirs was flavored perfectly and they don't cheap out on the pork and egg to make this a nice hearty porridge. I feel like thousand year old egg is an acquired taste that I seemed to always have since I was a kid. I love eating it with other things like tofu and in noodles, but some people definitely aren't used to the taste.

Steamed Chicken Feet
With the right combination of spice and flavor, these things can be very enjoyable to eat. When cooked right, the meat falls right off the bone. If you haven't tried chicken feet or pig's feet, the texture is kind of gelatinous mixed with pieces of meat. It definitely tastes better than it looks.

Turnip Cake
Yes, every dim sum place carries turnip cake, but NONE do it like this place. They literally take shredded pieces of turnip and combine it to form a block of it. When you break it apart, you can literally pull the shreds of turnip apart from each other.

This dish can easily be overcooked causing it to come out very chewy, but here, it's very tender and soft. They do a good job of cleaning it so you wouldn't even be able to tell that it comes from the inside lining of a cow's stomach.

Rice Rolls? (He Fen)
I'm not exactly sure what these are called in English but if you could imagine a flat square piece of rice noodle wrapped into a roll and then steamed, this is what you would get. This is the dish in it's simplest form, with sauce and that's it. There are multiple versions where it's wrapped with things like shrimp or beef. If you can imagine a spring roll's skin a little thicker and steamed, that's what it would taste like.

Shrimp, Leek, and Tofu Dumplings
These just looked good so we got an order of it. The skin is see through because it's not a typical dumpling wrapper that's made from flour. This skin more closely resembles the slightly chewy skin used to make spring rolls.

Pork Ribs
I think this is one of my favorite things to eat at a dim sum place because the meat on these ribs are so delicious. A lot of places I eat dim sum at in the US use ribs that have too much fat content so all you get is bites of fat, but here the it was probably 90% meat with just enough fat to make it a perfect balance. When steamed, the meat becomes super tender and comes right off the bone when you eat it.

Fried Taro Cake
Different from what you'd typically see in a dim sum restaurant in the US, they make these cube shaped and throw them in the fryer. They also add some chili peppers into the mix to give it a little kick.

He Fen with Beef
Like I mentioned above, these are the rice rolls that have beef inside them. I think the shrimp ones are my favorite although I don't have a picture of them but you get the idea of what it would look like.

Layered Egg/Pork Fat Dessert
To be honest, other than knowing that there's egg and pork fat used to make this dessert, I'm not sure what else is in it. It is a sweet dessert and is very rich. It would be hard for someone to eat a whole one by themselves, well, it's hard for me at least.

Fried Sesame Balls with Sesame Filling
The difference between these and the ones you typically see is that when they say filling, it's filling. Most places that serve these, the middle isn't completely filled with the filling but these are so full that when you bite into it the filling will come out the side of your mouth.

Portuguese Egg Tarts
These are really popular in Macau and many other areas. Even the KFC's in Asia carry them. The crust is much fluffier and flaky than regular egg tarts and the middle is just sooo good I'm not even sure how to explain it. Just think of a regular egg tart, and upgrade it.

Verdict? Do you really need me to tell you if I would go back to eat here? It would definitely be one of my first stops the next time I go back to China. While I was in Shanghai, I'm pretty sure I ate at this place about 5-6 times. Needless to say, be sure to eat here if you're in Shanghai.

Restaurant Wusa (Suzhou, China)

Yes, I've been neglecting my food blogging for a few months because I've been lazy and I started another photo blog where I would take a new photo each day of the year for at least a year. You can find that HERE. Apparently I have a couple friends that live their gastronomical experiences vicariously through me via this blog so I would hate to disappoint them. So now to continue where I left off... in China.

So while I was in China, I took a short trip over to Suzhou (about an hour west of Shanghai) to check out some old school palace structures and just the view in general. Suzhou is a beautiful place with lots of breathtaking views. Of course, I had to eat so we went this restaurant which was recommended by my mom's friend with whom we stayed with.

Stir-Fry Chestnuts
I'm not really a big fan of chestnuts, but these were cooked pretty tenderly. They also had these little pearl shaped things which I'm not entirely sure what the name of it is but they had an earthy, ginko-like taste and texture.

Marinated Jellyfish
This is not the typical jellyfish dish I've had where it's strings of jellyfish cut up. This one was in larger chunks and by far the BEST I've ever had. It was crunchy yet tender with the right blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, and other wonderful flavors.

Pork Kidney
Yes, this is kidney. If you haven't noticed by now I love innards of animals and eating other weird foods. If you overcook pork kidney, it can become chewy and tough to eat, but in this case it was the exact opposite. When cooked together with chilis, ginger, green onion, and a light broth, this dish was absolutely delicious! It was very tender and I couldn't get enough of it.

Stir-Fry Yumminess
So it's not really the name of the dish but that's what it was. It was thrown together with edamame, green peppers, green onion, tofu, and pork.

This was actually baby watercress which makes it even more crisp than it usually is. If you've never had watercress, it has a distinct flavor and carries a slight bitterness to it sometimes.

Hairy Crab
So there's so much hustle and bustle about hairy crab in China. These things cost about USD$35 each and are very well known throughout China. I had to try it out to see what all the fuss is about and honestly, I thought it was ok. I would have much rather have a dungeness crab in San Francisco cause it would have had a lot more meat than this and would be comparable in flavor. It's something you should try once just to say you've tried it.

Verdict? All in all, it was a very delicious meal and I would go back again the next time I visit Suzhou. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a business card to let you guys know where it's located and I have no flippin clue where it even was so if you can read the Chinese on the cover of the menu in that first picture up above, you could probably ask your way around Suzhou and have someone give you directions here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ning Jing Hai Restaurant (Suzhou, China)

Located in Suzhou, China, this restaurant is one of a kind. The ingredients they use are grown and raised locally and dishes are made fresh to order. The outside has beautiful landscaping while the building looks like a cheap motel, but don't let looks fool you, this place is a food gem.

Sour Cabbage Hot Pot
They start with pickled cabbage that's sour in taste and boil it in a house broth. To this they add tofu, pork, seafood balls, green onion, and chili peppers. When this dish comes to a boil, the flavors meld together and go great with a bowl of rice. This is one of their most popular dishes.

Stir-fry Vinegar Large Intestine
What we don't eat in America, we eat a lot of in Asia. You can find pig large intestines in the US for very cheap at an Asian supermarket, but in Asia, these things cost a little more. It's chewy in texture and stir-fried with vinegar, garlic, lots of ginger, and chili peppers.

Stir-fried Fried Tofu
Different from the usual tofu dish you see that's stir-fried, they flash fry the tofu pieces first and then throw it in to stir fry with mushrooms, garlic, and green onions. The frying brings out the the flavor of the tofu even more and the sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Baby Chinese Bok Choy
A variation of bok choy, this vegetable is picked when it's still young and cooked. The texture is very crisp and fresh and it makes even those that don't like vegetables like it.

On another non-food note, I went to the restroom before I left and found it to be quite unique. The sink, urinals, and toilets were all made of stone. Each seemed to be custom made cause they all looked different. It was the first time I saw anything like it, so if you go to this restaurant by any chance, be sure to use the restroom before you leave!

Verdict? This place was one of the best places I ate in Suzhou. The food is authentic and the ingredients are fresh. I would definitely recommend coming here if you're ever in Suzhou.

Ning Jing Hai Restaurant

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CoCo Curry House (China and Taiwan)

CoCo Curry, with locations in all over the world (even Hawaii), specializes on curry dishes. Aside from curry, they offer other rice and noodle choices. If you don't already know, curry is very good for your health and supposedly can prevent some diseases.

When you're ordering curry here, there's 3 steps. First, you order the type of curry you want (ie. chicken, fish, combo, etc). Then, you pick how much rice you want (money is added/subtracted depending if you add extra or want less than regular portion). Lastly, you pick how spicy you want it and this ranges from mild to super spicy.

Salad with Sesame Dressing
I made my meal a combo which adds this salad and a drink. The salad was refreshing and light even though the sesame dressing looks a little thick.

Grape Calpis Drink
Calpis, explained in a previous post, is a light uncarbonated soft drink that's milky in texture but tastes like yogurt. I ordered the grape flavored one because it was a featured new item and it ended up to be better than I expected.

Mushroom Curry
My mom ordered the mushroom curry. I'm assuming the mushroom was stewed with the curry while making it because you could definitely taste mushroom infused into the sauce. This would be a very excellent choice for any vegetarians out there.

Tonkatsu and Clam Curry
My dish however, was not so vegetarian-friendly. The tonkatsu (friend pork chop) was fried just right and not overdone. I wasn't expecting a lot of clams, but surprisingly there was plenty. I was pretty satisfied with my dish and I'd definitely order it again.

Verdict? If you're ever craving curry, this place won't not disappoint you. The food is quick, hot, and delicious. Although my first time here was in Suzhou, I'm definitely going to find it here in Taiwan and eat there again.

CoCo Curry House
refer to the following website for the locations closest to you
China Website
Hong Kong Website
Taiwan Website
Japan Website

789 Xin Gai Nian Hot Pot (Shanghai, China)

789 "New Concept " Hot Pot, with locations in Suzhou and Shanghai, is a great clean place to have individual hot pots. Sometimes called "shabu shabu", these hot pots are a very popular thing all over Asia, especially in the winter time.

Hot Pots consist of 3 main things, the soup base, dipping sauce, and raw ingredients. Soup base can be made of several things and can range from light and healthy to thick and spicy.

There's a "sauce bar" where they have all sorts of ingredients where you can customize your own dipping sauce to your taste. You use this sauce with the things you cook in your hot pot.

Lastly, you order raw ingredients that you throw into your boiling soup base to cook and eat.

Duck's Blood
I promise it doesn't taste as bad as it looks. For most it'll probably be a textural issue, but for those that can get over that it's a great thing to eat. Rich with iron and good f

Beef Tripe
A little whiter than it should be in this picture, tripe is part of the lining of the cow's stomach. When cooked, tripe had a very chewy texture that isn't as gamy or grassy as you would think.
Seafood and Meat Balls
Starting from the bottom right going clockwise: beef balls stuffed with cheese. When you cook them the cheese melts and it tastes pretty unique. Next are shrimp balls, then fish balls, then squid balls. Each of these start in the pate form and are rolled into balls by hand so they're made fresh and never frozen.

Lamb Slices
When you eat hotpot, the whatever meat you choose always comes thinly sliced. In this case we chose the chop cut in which they slice and roll them thinly.
Ribeye Beef Slices
Fresh and delicious. The beef comes out very tender assuming you don't cook it for too long.
Tofu Skin
Made with soy beans, these tofu skins are delicious when added to hot pots. They come out slightly stiff, but after you cook them they become soft.

Veggies are a must when eating hot pot. Eating meat and seafood along with other things can become very heavy, so throwing in the occasional vegetables can help the appetite to continue on.
Assorted Mushrooms
If you don't already know, I love mushrooms. Here, there are 4 popular mushroom types eaten not only in Asia, but also in the US. 

After ordering all the raw ingredients, you throw what you want into your pot with the soup base you chose and let it cook away. Once it starts boiling, you're good to go. 

Verdict? The ambiance and the food here is great. It's perfect for family gatherings or just eating with a friend or significant other. If I go back to Shanghai again during the winter time, I'll surely be hitting up this hot pot joint.

789 Xin Gai Nian Hot Pot

Monday, September 27, 2010

小杨生煎 - Yang's Fried Dumplings (Shanghai, China)

When you see a long line outside, you know something good is happening (outside of a restaurant at least). If there's one thing you HAVE to have in Shanghai before you leave is the shengjian bao at Yang's Fried Dumplling. At 5 pieces for less than $1, there's nothing better than this place, period!

As you're standing in line the kitchen is filled with workers that start building these little things from the ground up. From making the skins to the finished product, everybody in here plays a role in making shengjian bao. The reason for the blurriness is due to the grease splatter that coats the entire windows of the kitchen.

The shengjian bao are pretty much made in 3 stages. They start cooking from the furthest one down and move their way up to the front where they're finished and served at the window. Even though the line looked long, it moves quickly cause these things just keep popping out like it doesn't end.

Shengjian Bao
To kind of understand what shengjian bao is, think xiao long bao, cept pan fried instead of steamed. When you bite into these you don't want to take a big bite cause you'll most definitely scorch your tongue and whatever the hot soup inside touches. As with xiao long bao, you bite a small hole and drink the juice inside before you dig into the rest of the dumpling. It's filled with a pork mixture that's extra juicy and tender and you won't even need any other sauces except maybe vinegar to cut the greasiness or some chili sauce to spice it up.

Verdict? I could eat this again and again without getting tired of it. It's cheap, quick, and super delicious. Like I said before, this is one place you don't want to pass up if you're ever in Shanghai so if you only get to eat at one place in Shanghai, it should be here.

Yang's Fried Dumplings
Huangpu District,No. 720 Nanjing East Road, a store of food
黄浦区 南京东路720号食品一店内

List of Locations - The list of locations for all their stores is provided in the link to the left. Choose the one closest to you, but be prepared to wait at whichever one you go to.