Comfort food at the Taiwan Restaurant

twr-starters

Partly because of my busy schedule, partly because of the lack of good Vietnamese food in Berkeley, I haven’t had Vietnamese food for months. I miss it, of course. Luckily, the neighboring cuisines share so much similarities that my “comfort food” category has steadily expanded to enclose most of East Asia. If for some reason America and I don’t get along, I think I can happily merge into Taiwan and Japan (not sure about Korea – their food is too spicy…). So when I crave comfort food, if it’s Sunday or Monday and Musashi is closed, I go down University Avenue to the Taiwan Restaurant. It’s the purple building next to Anh Hong, and it’s another case of generic-names-hence-don’t-go-there type of restaurant. However, two Taiwanese told me that it was “good enough” – the owner of Asha Tea House across the street, and Kristen. As with any Asian eating establishment, you have to know what to get at the Taiwan Restaurant, otherwise you end up with oily overload. I haven’t strayed once out of the usuals. It’s comfort food, there’s no need to change it. In fact, [...]

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Shanghai Dumpling King revisit

sdk dumplings and green beans

Shanghai Dumpling King is hands down the best value dimsum restaurant in the Bay Area – affordable price, great dumplings (especially the xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings)), friendly staff (the man remembers me from over a year ago!). Click on the image below to see what we got this time around. Not pictured is the Hung Zhou crab and pork dumplings, but we’ve covered them last time. (They are basically xiao long bao with crab meat, and this time they were even juicier than the xiao long bao. Mmmmmmm) On a side note, I recently discovered Ponga, which is still in beta phase but has lots of potential to become a great tool to visually tell a story – every detail in the picture can be tagged, described, linked to more info, and further attached with an image or a video. This post is my first experiment to blog using Ponga. What do you think? Do you like it? Hate it? Find it cumbersome? Let me know your feedback in the comments! [...]

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China Village on Solano

china-village-albany

In summer 2011, I ate at China Village once per a friend’s recommendation and was not super impressed (like I ever). Then it burned down in early 2012 (so did Intermezzo and a few other restaurants on Telegraph which I also visited in summer 2011…) and I hardly missed it. A few days ago, Cheryl and Eric called me up, “We’re going to that restaurant on Solano I told you about, wanna come?” I thought Cheryl told me about some dimsum place in Albany… “Sure!” Turns out it was China Village. (Now I wonder if she ever mentioned a dimsum place at all…) Although China Village does have dimsum, it’s not a place to order dimsum. It is known for Szechuan food – spicy, oily, rich and usually a combination of all three. The menu has a gazillion items, and your experience definitely depends on what you order. Not everything is a wow (as clearly indicated by my first visit, and by names such as “classic sweet and sour pork with pineapple”[*]). Ask the waiter for recommendation. Usually, I ask the waiters just for kicks, because 9 times out of 10 their recommendations turn out disappointing [...]

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M.Y. China, xiao long bao and food reviews

mychina-niu-ro-mien

The restaurant is big, clean and convenient. It’s in Westfield San Francisco, a big chunk of the fourth floor of the shopping mall is restaurants, and M.Y. China is one of them. Sitting 50 feet from the kitchen and you can smell the intoxicating fumes of dumplings. We order two Chinese classics: xiao long bao (pork & crab juicy dumplings) and niu ro mien (beef hand-pulled egg noodle soup). The niu ro mien is good. Fourteen dollars. Melting tender beef, chewy noodle (not as chewy as I would like, but I’m not a fan of egg noodle anyway), dark, flavor-packed broth (which gets a bit too salty after a while and sends you drinking water like mad). The xiao long bao‘s are dry. Twelve dollars for five. There’s not enough broth in them. The dumpling skin is dried up on top, the carrot slice at the bottom, which supposedly helps preventing the dumpling from sticking to the spoon, disrupts the harmony in texture. The pork filling? This is where my friend and I disagree. [...]

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Hai Ky Mi Gia – more noodle soups

hkmg-duck-leg-noodle-soup-with-wonton

Like many small businesses in the so-called “Little Saigon”s throughout the states, Hai Ky Mi Gia is operated by Chinese immigrants. Originally, Hai Ky Mi Gia is a popular noodle soup joint in District 5, Saigon – the Chinatown of Saigon – before 1975, and it remains popular today. When Saigon fell, the Chinese immigrants in Vietnam left the country with the Vietnamese and became associated with Vietnamese political refugees in foreign lands such as America. These Chinese Vietnamese immigrants continue speaking both languages, opening businesses under the established names(*) in Saigon and catering to the homesick Chinese Vietnamese and Vietnamese alike. Whether this Hai Ky Mi Gia is in any way related to the Hai Ky Mi Gia in District 5 or other Hai Ky Mi Gia’s scattering across the US, its patronage doesn’t seem to care either way. To the Chinese Vietnamese and Vietnamese immigrants, it’s a name they’re familiar with, so they feel at home. To the rest of the patronage… well, I can’t speak from their point of view, but I guess the low price and the popularity raved by Yelp, InsideScoop SF, Continue reading Hai Ky Mi Gia – more noodle soups

Hong Kong Lounge – it’s never too early for dimsum and tea

hkl-foods

Above is our table at 10 a.m. (after we have cleared the first few dishes). To your right is Hong Kong Lounge at 9:31 a.m., exactly 1 minute after the doors opened. Every seat was filled. When we arrived at Hong Kong Lounge at 9:10, 20 minutes before the restaurant opens, a line had already formed. While we were eating, the line formed again outside and kids were pressing their face against the frosted windows to peak at people’s plates. I’d imagine it’d feel a bit weird if you’re seated by the window. [...]

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My regular lunch stop these days

chicken bun, spicy sausage roll, and pineapple bread from UCafe

One of The Clog‘s editors said: “Let’s do a cafe crawl around campus.” I happened to have tried almost everything at UCafe and been going there forever these days, so I took up that part of the crawl. I sent a 466-word essay to the editor, right before I saw her email from 5 minutes earlier: “hey guys, cuz we’ll do 5 cafes total, let’s make it 100-150 words each”. Haha oops. Cutting time. Here’s the finished product. Here’s my original 466 words. With pictures. “Since its grand opening last fall, UCafe on the South side has proved to be a reliable supplier of the Spanish bun (ham, cheese and sausage in a roll), the perfect $1.95 filler for those 10 minutes between classes. [...]

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Tuesday mind-wandering: food blogging is weight watching?

Bánh bía from Tường Ký Fast Food. Filling: taro paste with salted egg yolk, would have been perfect without bits of candied winter melon.  $13 per box of 4.

Bánh bía from Tường Ký Fast Food. Filling: taro paste with salted egg yolk, would have been perfect without bits of candied winter melon. $13 per box of 4. I’m having writer’s block. Don’t know if that’s true (I once met an Ivy League law school professor who said, as diplomatically as she could, that scientists can’t write), but that’s how my friend put it when I told him that I’ve been sitting around all day producing nothing worth mentioning and munching Vietnamese snacks. As incredibly lazy as that sounds, I think of myself as savoring the cultural assets of my people. (Somehow that sounds even worse…) There’s this Taiwanese movie, Eat Drink Man Woman, I found it a little indelicate and got weirded out (the food looks great though!), but one line from the second sister in the movie stuck in my head: “Dad said that for a person who lives up to 80, he would have consumed 80 tons of food. People who enjoy food and people who eat without savoring it don’t experience the same level of happiness.” I used to think for sure that what he meant [...]

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Pair Dim Sum with Tea at Shanghai Dumpling King

The waiter brought out a kettle of tea, but Nancy Togami waved him back, asking for just plain hot water. Carefully, she used her thermometer to check the water temperature. One hundred and eighty degree Fahrenheit, too cool to steep the Baochong and Phoenix Honey that she brought. But Nancy brought her own water too, which measured close to 200 degrees, so we used her water instead. I’ve never brought my own tea to a restaurant, but it makes sense: people bring their own wine to restaurants, and when you have good teas, there’s no reason to refrain from pairing them with good food. The dim sum at Shanghai Dumpling King proved to be perfect experiment material. Without Nancy, I probably would never have known of this hole in the wall way out on the west side of San Fran, and probably too lazy to get here because it’s not 2 blocks away from the BART and I’d doubt the dim sum would be worth anything farther than that. Now, dim sum are good. You have to really suck as a cook to make ground meat in a piece of [...]

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Sandwich Shop Goodies 19 – Bánh tiêu (Chinese sesame beignet)

Little Mom and I… we just have different tastes. She likes seafood. She prefers crunchy to soft. She doesn’t like sticky rice (!) She thinks the mini sponge muffins (bánh bò bông, the Vietnamese kind) are sourer than the white chewy honeycombs (bánh bò, the Chinese kind). I beg to differ. The mini sponges can be eaten alone; the honeycombs are almost always stuffed inside a hollow fried doughnut that is more savory than sweet: their sourness needs to be suppressed by the natural saltiness of oil and the airy crunch of fried batter. That doughnut, brought to us by the Chinese and called by us “bánh tiêu“, saves the honeycombs. The honeycombs could go hang out with the dodo for all I care, but this Saigonese would always appreciate a well-fried bánh tiêu. At any time of the day, one would be able to spot a street cart with the signature double-shelf glass box next to a vat of dark yellow oil. The oil gets darkened from frying too many doughnuts too many times. Sure, it isn’t healthy. But should you really care about health when you eat fried dough? “Fried dough [...]

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