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.