Saturday, June 30, 2012

456 Restaurant

456 Restaurant is one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan Chinatown. It's not as greasy, they care about presentation, and their food is generally pretty good.

Last time we went, we discovered this little gem under the casseroles section: Fish fillet and tofu casserole. It's not as spicy as it looks and is really flavorful

It has delicious silken tofu on the bottom which balances out the sauciness and the nice crunch from peanuts on top... if you like peanuts.

We weren't in the mood for the traditional yu xiang rou si (shredded pork with fish sauce). BTW if you're not familiar with the dish, the pork is cut in almost a julienne across the grain as opposed to ripped along with the grain, and the fish sauce isn't all that fishy.

Anyhoo we were in the mood for something light so we got a whole steamed fish.

fish head says hi

The meat barely held together - it was so tender and so good (to rephrase WCW). The fish head might look scary, but it was just cut open a little funny... and I ate it!! great head, cheekbone, and collarbone meat. You just gotta find it.

It was a great meal as always. We got a little fished out at the end, but that wasn't the restaurant's fault.

We finished the meal with refreshing orange wedges and some prayers from the table next to us.

Faster and better than Rachel Ray

Pork Chop!

2 min prep, 15 min cook time... and nothing came out of a can or a plastic bag!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Breast

Made by my booooooo!!!

Over a salad with cranberries and cashews

SO GOOD! very tender and flavorful though at some point it did light my mouth on fire.

What am I eating? Chinese edition - Part 2

The eventfulness of my food journeys are measured by how well I fit into my jeans. This was so eventful that I don't even want to think about going near my jeans.

Here are some more interesting foods that I ate:

Eggs under the pear tree! This is how we got breakfast every morning.

Long beans (top right) - tastes like string beans, but more flavorful, and the skin is less of a shocking contract, also the little beans inside are smaller.

Pork tongue (bottom left) - so tender and good, but from the looks of it it was a pain to clean, and relatively easy to cook. Maybe more on this another day.

Shrimp and wintermelon soup (bottom right) - nice and hearty. It's made a little thicker and gooier by cornstarch as usual in Chinese cooking, as opposed to flour in Western cooking, which is more opaque.

Di Cai Jiao Zi (di cai dumplings) - Everything was hand made! My mom rolls the dough faster than I can stuff them. This is an art. Will probably talk more about this later. The inconsistencies are from multiple people working together :). About half will be boiled, and half will become pot stickers.

Di Cai's translation is literally ground vegetable. It's literally everywhere. We used to go foraging for them, but it's dirty outside, and it would take forever to collect the amount that we needed, so we buy it.

Pork stomach - not to be confused with pork belly, which is the fatty bit of meat growing on the belly. This is the organ lining. It was rubbed in salt water to extract impurities, and then blanched and reclined. It's super tender, and most people would probably enjoy it if they did not know what it was.

(BTW those are cooked dumplings in the back. We had them with a spicy sesame sauce)

Dessert! Ranier cherries, Freshly baked strawberry rhubarb pie, and mission figs

Best. White. Peaches. Ever... and ALL FOR ME.

New day, new menu:

Sauteed flat noodles (background) - your usual flat rice noodles cooked in hot oil with peas, eggs, and other stuff.

Fen Zhen Rou in Squash (foreground) - crushed rice-crusted short ribs steamed in a hollowed out squash. I personally like mine a little saltier, but it was still good.

Chinese BBQ Quail - Let's just say that I made a small graveyard in my bowl. And then I continued to eat this for dessert.

Liang Fen (cold noodle) - made from green bean starch and water with cucumbers. This can also be eaten in a souplike state with vinegar and sugar, or in a super spicy oil that gives me nightmares

A sauté of leftover winter melon and chives

And I've shown these before... but loquats are so good. I don't know why they're not very common in the supermarket.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What am I eating? Chinese edition

What am I eating?

Kao Fu (middle of the plate) -  looks like tofu but is actually made of a type of grain. It has the sponginess of a wet crouton, but holds up like an aged tofu or wheat gluten, so it soaked up all of the delicious sauce that it was cooked in.

Yam leaves (upper left) - took forever to strip these off the stems, but they taste like a more flavorful spinach, and has the crunchiness of a younger vegetable like a Dou Miao (pea shoot).

Tang Yuan (butter off white chunks) - they're usually perfectly round but it was 6am, and we were running low on time. Sometimes they would also have red bean paste inside. In this case they were just plain. Made with starch and water, its uncooked form is a fun non-newtonian paste. When cooked, it's nice and bouncy like really light Asian gnocchi.

Mi Jiu (the white goo in the middle) - Fermented rice. Asian children's entry food into alcoholism. It is boiled, but it tastes the way sweet sake smells. It flavors the soup, and adds a little kick when you use the really fermented kind ;) It can also be eaten raw with a spoon before you boil off the alcohol.

I was given soup in what was practically a plate in the car. Luckily they heard me when I complained and switched this disaster for a bowl later. Good thing they did because the driver slowed down for no one and nothing - not even speed bumps and train tracks.

Dou Miao (far left) - also called Pea Shoots. They are pea shoots. Really tender leaves that tastes like peas. Well loved by Chinese people; for some reason some Americans cannot taste it. These in particular were a little old. I don't know why we bought them.

Sliced meat (2nd from the left) - Japanese call it Shabu shabu (swish swish) because you're supposed to swish swish it in the hot pot and then eat its tender goodness. These were from a chinese store and slightly thicker than the Japanese version.

Fish/Seafood balls (to the left-back of the pot) - The pinkish ones are shrimp balls, and the white ones are fish balls that were turned into dumplings. The fish balls had really flavorful seafood goo in the middle.

Fried Tofu (front far right) - Spongy and tofu-ey on the inside, very firm skin on the outside so that it's easy to pick up and has a nice texture contrast.

Rice Noodles (2nd from the right) - They were as thick as udon, but very round and almost clear. They were basically massive vermicelli. It tasted really good with a spicy peanut sauce.

Friday, June 22, 2012




.... Dinner?

Breakfast fights back!

The original breakfast of warmed dim sum... was as bad as yesterday.

But check this out!! New breakfast! and it fights back :D



So here I am in sunny California... absolutely starving, and my dear family left the food in the trunk during our ride home. They might as well have because the only readily edible food was this:

"Dim sum" from Ranch 99. It was DISGUSTING. The fa gao (bottom left) was all right, but everything with corn starch had congealed. I would have rated this food higher if you had told me the tofu things in the middle were crab rangoons.

But at least the groceries were promising. This was just the portion that was not in the cooler:

I just know that there's a blue crab hidden in there! I would have requested the crab babies given that they're in season, but I just had them last week. YUM.

We will also eat suspiciously fresh vegetables that are growing out of windowsill jars!

Someday my mother's collection of this:

Will become this:

a demain!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Deep Blue Kinki Chicken Wings

At the JetBlue Terminal at JFK, Deep Blue is pretty prominent with slick modern designs and wavy blue neon lights. I was going to have the sushi here until I checked the Yelp reviews, which I usually agree with for NYC.

However, someone I know who introduced me to my current favorite chicken wings in the city recommended the chicken wings here, so of course I have to try them.

Kinki... Chicken wings

It tastes like it's been drenched in "duck sauce" from one of this chinese food stands, and I don't taste the mint as advertised, but overall it's pretty good. It's tangy and savory.

One other objection is I have no idea where they got these wings, but some of them were sliced in the middle! Watch out for jagged edges!

On a side note, parents shouldn't let their kids sleep face down on the floor anywhere - but especially in an airport - even if it's in an area with less traffic... like the back corner of a restaurant.

Food's on my mind

Food's on my mind, and it should be on yours too. We have to think about it a few times a day and spend a good portion of our lives consuming it. I'd like those hours to be enjoyable.