Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dim Sum - Pai Gwat and Cha Siu Bao

Ok maybe we need a bib for this one. The damned good dish above is called Pai Gwat in Cantonese, and it simply means pork ribs. It's a very simple dish. It's just pork spare ribs that have been chopped into really tiny bite size pieces, and then have been steamed with predominantly black beans and/or black bean sauce, and occasionally oil, salt, pepper, starch, onions, or other small ingredients are added to heighten the taste. It's a nice slightly salty dish, a tad oily. Usually the pork ribs are swimming in the flavor of all the combined tastes and ingredients, and often the pork is a bit fatty too, adding to that oh so indulgent taste. They're so bite sized, you'll jsut keep on eating them til you realize you're going to have to order another batch.

So what do we have here? It's white and puffy. Is it salty or sweet? Is there anything inside? Is it just bread? ACTUALLY, these are known as Char Siu Baos. Basically these are roast pork buns. Char Siu meaning roast pork, bao meaning bun. Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant where they have various cooked meats hanging in the windows? There's usually a red one, which is usually pork shoulder thats been roasted with a special Cantonese marinade of seasonings that turn it red. It's got a nice sweet honey roasted taste to the meat, except it's distinctly chinese. That's what's stuffed in these suckers. That roast pork is stuffed inside these buns often with onions, and often have a sweet and savory taste to it because of the unique combination of flavors. This tends to be especially a favorite among kids. The outside bun is basically a very airy bread that has a tinge of sweeetness to it. All of this has been steamed and is now ready to be ripped into and eaten. =)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Dim Sum - Cheong Fun and Bean Curd Skin Rolls

More goodies from Chinese Dim Sum. This is Shrimp Cheong Fun, another often ordered dish. What is it? You ever get those really broad noodles often called Chow Fun on most Chinese restaurant menus? Well its the same noodles, except it's left intact as one big sheet. The noodles are made from rice, and the whole thing is steamed, making it very soft to the touch, very pure in taste. The noodle sheet is then wrapped around whole pieces of shrimp, and then steamed to delicious perfection. It comes usually in 3 pieces per order, and then doused in soy sauce after it's delivered to your table.

With no additives except the soy sauce, it's an incredibly clean taste and incredibly refreshing. A favorite a many people, dont be surprised if you order more than one plate of this after trying it. I usually get two or three. =)

Another favorite of mine. Sin Chet Kuen, which are basically Bean Curd Skin Rolls. The rolls are composed of a filling consisting of usually pork and vegetables like bamboo and mushrooms. One alternative filling that's sometimes used is chicken instead of pork. The outer skin is a thin but strong wrapping made from bean curd. The whole thing is then steamed and served drenched in a very light delicious gravy.

Like many other dishes that are served at dim sum, the sheer fact that this dish is steamed makes it feel incredibly fresh and cleansing to the palette because it lacks the a lot of oil and heavy additives. It's refreshing, more light and airy than an overwhelming savory, and sure to delight you.

Give them a try, and then eat some more!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Dim Sum - Siu Mai and Har Gow

Ok...It's been a bit too long since we last posted, but we're back, and with plenty of food. Going back to our Dim Sum series, we're gonna talk about what are probably the two most popular dishes that most people order.

That yummy little treat up there is called Shu Mai (or shao mai in Mandarin). Probably the most often ordered dish at any dim sum, these are basically small pork dumplings wrapped in thin flour wrappers similar to wonton wrappers. The top is left open, and is usually topped off with crab roe, which is that little orange dot you see on top. Often thrown into the mix with the pork are mushrooms, and sometimes shrimp.

Shu Mai is basically a great savory treat that comes out piping hot, letting that aroma add to the sensory experience of eating. The wrapper is barely noticed and mixes right into the taste of the pork filling, which is deliciously savory and has a great bouncy texture to it. The mushrooms make for a great combination too. I often find myself ordering 2 orders of shu mai just because I love them so much.

The only other thing I love as much as shu mai is this. Har Gow, which are these translucent shrimp dumplings. It's basically made up of large chopped pieces of shrimp, and often times, have a little bamboo in it. It's wrapped in a starchy skin that becomes transparent when steamed. The skin is just a teeny tiny bit chewy, giving it a great texture, and when you bite into it, you'll find that the shrimp filling is very fresh and solitary in its taste. There's really nothing else like seasonings or additives that are used to enhance its taste, and you realize that immediately. It's nothing but fresh steamed shrimp, and it's got almost a pure taste to it. It tastes amazing and very relaxing because of that.

With har gow and shu mai, alot of people find that the spicy chinese mustard that comes on the tables make a nice addition. Remember to only put on a little bit of it, as the mustard has a rather strong kick to it. The mustard often works to complement shrimp based dishes quite well.

You'll often find shu mai and har gow in the same carts, and their names will usually be called out one right after the other by the cart servers. These two dishes always go together, and no dim sum experience is complete without them.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mmmmm...Dim Sum....

Chinese food is definitely one of the most popular cuisines around, yet it's so diverse because of the vast regional differences in China that most people have a very limited exposure to it. We thought we'd give everyone a quick overview on one of the more popular dining experiences in Chinese culture, which is Dim Sum. Surprisingly, it's a word that thrown around very often, yet most people haven't had a chance to experience Dim Sum.

Well, what is Dim Sum? It's a dining experience where you can order small appetizer like dishes a la carte. Dim Sum is part of Southern China's Cantonese fare, and Dim Sum in Cantonese can be essentially translated as "small snack". It's often eaten in the afternoons as a meal for lunch or brunch, and is extremely popular with Chinese families and group meals.

There's no menu to order from, but rather the dishes are rolled around the restaurant on carts, where the dishes are usually stacked on top of one another in bamboo steamers. The servers will come up to each table, lift the covers off the steamers and show you their selection, and then if you want to order it, you simply tell them. The dishes are categorized as small, medium, large, and special dishes. Cost is based on these categorizations, and will usually run from about $2-$4 for small to large. Special dishes cost around $6 and up. They'll then tick off your order on your bill based on the categorization of the dish.

The dishes usually have about 3-4 pieces of whatever you order. Usually they'll consist of various dumplings, buns, rolls, and other items. Dim Sum is meant to be shared, and with a piece or two of every dish, you get to sample a very wide variety of food.

The other important part of dim sum is tea. Dim Sum is meant to be eaten with tea, and is often referred to as "yum cha" as well. Yum Cha means "with tea." Most dim sum restaurants will offer jasmine or chrysantheum tea as the norm. Sit down, eat, drink some tea, and just gab the afternoon away with friends. Dim Sum is really just one great big enjoyable social experience.

So go ahead, give it a try if you've never before. In the next few days, we'll be introducing some of the more commonly ordered items from the dim sum carts. Yum Yum!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fried Rice Cake

Unlike the last two dishes, Fried Rice cakes may seem somewhat odd and unfamiliar at first. It's not really normal rice and not really noodles, then what is it? Well it's made of glutinous rice (sticky rice), is somewhat chewy, and has a texture almost like the thick noodles used in the noodle soups at Joe's Shanghai. The rice is grounded and turned into a paste. The paste is shaped and cut up into pieces. Alone, it does not have much flavor, but there is a generous amount of good seasoning here.

The fried rice cake dish includes some greens, mushrooms, bamboo, and beef. The beef can be substituted with Pork, Chicken, Vegetables, Shrimp, Seafood, or Subgum. I prefer the beef or the pork. It's also a little more expensive for the shrimp, seafood, or subgum.

The texture from the rice cakes combined with the seasoning and the other ingredients creates a very fulfilling dish that you will not regret. The dish may look very strange and different from what you may usually think of when you think of Chinese food, but its nothing more then rice in a different shape. So give it a try!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Joe's Shanghai - Szechuan Beef Tendon Noodle Soup

Whenever I'm craving a good noodle soup from Joe's Shanghai I can always turn to this, Szechuan Beef Tendon Noodle Soup. It contains the same thick noodles used in most of the noodle soups served at Joe's Shanghai. There are also some greens, but what makes this dish is the very tender beef tendon. The marinated beef tendon is so tender, it will fall apart in your mouth once you bite into it. No need for excessive chewing here.

If you don’t know what Szechuan style dishes are like, you should know that they are very tasty, but better known for their spiciness. It’s speculated that Szechuan style cuisine has an emphasis on spice because of the region’s warm and humid climate, where people would need a good sweat. If you don’t have a high tolerance for spice, this will definitely give you a good sweat. What is great about it though is that the spiciness only adds to the flavor. Unlike many spicy dishes, this dish does not take away from the flavor or overwhelm it.

One of the reasons why I love Joe’s Shanghai so much is the value of the food. Like their other noodle soups, this one will cost you just under 5 dollars. Something this good and filling for such a price is hard to find.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Where do I find Dolsot Bibimbap??

This is response to a comment that was recently posted, as to where they can find some good Dolsot Bibimbap.

Well if you're in NYC, you're in luck. There are plenty of places for you to go.

So you just finished a great night out in the city clubbing, bar hopping, or just strolling around times square and your starving and youre craving some good Korean food. Here are some places that have good food and open 24 hours

is arguably the best and most authentic Korean restaurant in NYC. It's located on:
9 W 32nd St,
between 5th Ave & Bway.

Won Jo is another restuarant I would recommend. This is located on:
23 W 32nd St, between Bway & 5th Ave

Kum Gang San is also great! They have 2 locations, both open 24 hours:
138-28 Northern Blvd, between Union St & Bowne St
and also on
49 West 32nd St,
between Bway & 5th Ave

These are just a few places you may want to check out. Other locations you may want to check out is St Marks place or Northern Blvd between Main and 165th St