Posts Tagged ‘xiao long bao’
Face masks and hair nets are synonymous with Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) in Sydney. Cooks are in silent huddles in the open kitchen, kneading dough and pleating dumplings (餃子). The public display of food safety is commendable but I feel awkward staring at the staff.
The signature spectacle is also at Din Tai Fung in Bellevue. Patrons can watch each step of the dumpling making process as each dumpling is rotated through several pairs of hands. Sans face masks and hair nets, brows are knitted in concentration and nimble fingers pinched and pressed.
Located in Lincoln Square, Din Tai Fung has a modern and spacious dining room. You may have to queue for a table during peak times but the maître d’ is excellent at estimating the wait and you can while away the minutes learning the art of dumplings!
Our group of four were seated in a comfortable booth. Each table has a condiments tray with bottles of soy sauce and vinegar, and a jar of chilli sauce.
The laminated menu has photos for reference and you can tick the items on the order sheet. Sweet and sour spareribs (排骨) whetted our appetite. More sweet than sour, these unctuous morsels were coated in a sticky marinade.
Famous for their soup dumplings (小籠包), ten xiao long bao were steamed in a bamboo basket. Dipped in vinegar to balance their richness, the delicate dumplings were savoured for their liquid centres.
Beneath the cloudy broth were prawn and pork wontons (雲吞). A popular meal with noodles in Cantonese cafés (茶餐廳), the silky wrapper encased a meaty filling. It was simple comfort food.
My favourite dish at Din Tai Fung is the spicy prawn and pork dumplings. Boiled wontons were tossed in a luscious sauce, each mouthful pungent and fiery.
Slippery strands of egg noodles were stir-fried with Napa cabbage (黃芽白), spinach and prawns for a toothsome plate of carbs.
Garlicky batons of green beans were bright and crunchy.
Dessert was a mango smoothie with tapioca pearls. An icy, fruity blend, it was a refreshing beverage.
And they have dessert dumplings too!
Listed alphabetically by state, Joe’s Shanghai (鹿鳴春) was in the New York section of CNN’s ‘50 best Chinese restaurants in the United States‘. In the same block as Momofuku Má Pêche and Momofuku Milk Bar in Midtown, Joe’s Shanghai is a double storey ‘centre of exotic specialties’.
I signalled a table for one and was ushered upstairs. Bronze deer and potted bamboos decorated the bay window. A tiered sparkling gold and crystal chandelier was suspended above the vestibule.
A curious specials menu included New Zealand mussels, T-bone steak and rack of lamb.
A mound of cold egg noodles was drizzled with sesame dressing, topped with julienned cucumber and served in a scallop shell shaped dish. I slurped the cold sesame noodles (芝麻冷麵), a simple but appetizing celebration of Chinese carbs.
The traditional trio of ginger slivers, soy sauce and vinegar were stirred in a bowl for dipping.
Joe’s Shanghai is famous for their soup dumplings. Six crab and pork xiao long bao (蟹粉小籠包) were on a bed of shredded Napa cabbage (黃芽白) in a steaming bamboo basket. The delicate morsels were juicy and meaty, although the skin was a little doughy.
Noodles and dumplings were requisite sustenance for shopping in Manhattan!
Dim-sum-couver (點心哥華) continued onto Peaceful (和平飯店) in Yaletown. The smiling chef attached to the sign was a contrast to Peace Hotel, a violent Spaghetti Western film starring Chow Yun Fat (周潤發) of the same Chinese name as Peaceful Restaurant.
On a thoroughfare Peaceful was busy mid-afternoon. We were seated at the front window booth and pleased to connect to the free Wi-Fi as we sipped tea.
We ordered three items to share. Our enthusiastic waitress delivered each dish with flair. The first was xiao long bao (小籠包) or ‘soup dumplings’. A generous serving of eight, these had a thinner wrapping and lighter broth than the ones at No. 1 Shanghai Cuisine.
Sticky with hoisin sauce, four large portions of beef rolls were slices of five spice (五香粉) beef and green onions rolled in crispy flat bread.
The highlight at Peaceful was a bowl of blade sheared noodles (刀削麵). A thick tangle of handmade noodles was garnished with diced garlic, green onions and sizzling chilli oil. Steamed Chinese cabbage (白菜) tempered the heat. Each slippery noodle was swirled in the pungent sauce and slurped with glee.
As we waxed poetic about the blade sheared noodles, we noticed a Guy Fieri graffiti on the wall at the entrance.
I would drive to Vancouver just for another bowl of blade sheared noodles at Peaceful!
A delicious yum cha (飲茶) lunch at Vivacity (名都) whetted our Dim-sum-couver (點心哥華) appetite. On the next block was Kam Do Bakery (金都餐廳餅店). A delectable selection of pastries and buns were displayed in glass cabinets. There were golden pastries filled with red bean, green bean, lotus seed, taro and date pastes. We each bought a paper tray to take home. Mine had their speciality, wife cake (老婆餅), and my favourite, pineapple bun with custard cream (菠蘿奶黃包).
Flat and round, wife cake is a traditional Chinese pastry filled with winter melon and almond paste. The disc was flaky and the glutinous winter melon and almond blend was mellow. Pineapple in appearance and not in flavour, the crumbly crust was the highlight of the pineapple bun with custard cream.
Sadly the third place on our schedule was closed on Wednesdays. The photo menu at HK BBQ Master (明家燒臘專家) enticed us to return at the next Dim-sum-couver for their Chinese barbecued meats.
We were at No. 1 Shanghai Cuisine for their bao (包). We shared a serving each of xiao long bao (小籠包) and sheng jian bao (生煎包).
Steamed in a bamboo basket were six pleated xiao long bao or ’soup dumplings’. Dipped in black rice vinegar, I nibbled the top off the delicate parcel to release steam and carefully slurped the broth. The wrapping was a little thick but the pork mince was well seasoned in a pool of intense liquid. We ate these in silent appreciation.
Five large sheng jian bao or pan fried buns were sprinkled with black sesame and shallots. The seared bottom was crispy and these were doughy versions of the xiao long bao. The juicy bun squirted with each bite!
The Shanghai (上海) dumplings were warming and soothing on a wintry day.