Sunday, April 24, 2016

* Eating 52 Countries In 52 Weeks - Week 31 - CHINA

"That's too much food!" is a sentence we've gotten used to hearing from the servers taking our order during our culinary adventure so it was no surprise to hear it again at Chef Chen's Restaurant as we kept adding to the list. Since we are aware that not all Chinese food is Chinese food in the U.S., we asked the server what on the menu is the most Chinese dish, she pointed at a picture of a fish dish aptly named Whole Fish. She pointed to several other things and we ordered all of them, two appetizers, two main courses and a side of vegetable rice noodles. Now, don't let the number of dishes fool you, the main courses are large enough to feed a family of four .... twice.

Instead of taking your drink orders, they simply bring a pot of hot tea to the table. First plate of food to arrive was the Vegetable Rice Noodle with bright colors enhanced in its rising steam.

The two appetizers were arranged on the same plate so that the Jelly Fish did not mix in with the Sliced Beef Szechwan Style. Jelly fish has the texture and taste of squids. The sliced beef was mixed with pieces of tripe and was spicy hot that stayed with you for a while.

My eyes grew wide when the Dong Puo Pork Leg Shank was brought to the table. It was enormous! Thankfully the server cut it into manageable pieces making it easier to eat with chopsticks.

The Whole Fish plate almost took a quarter of the space on the table! Laying on a bed of noodles and some red garlicy sauce, it looked and smelled like something that would come out of your Chinese-Italian grandma's kitchen. The waitress told us that the fish was Rock Cod and she was clearly proud of this dish.

There were no desserts on the menu so we asked if they served any. She said "I'll have it made for you!". What we got was (as she explained it) rice balls filled with black sesame paste in a fermented rice and egg porridge. This warm dessert is elegant not only in the way it looks but also in its subtle sweetness.

I was wise enough to not take a picture of the fortune cookies that came with the bill, since everyone knows those are not a true Chinese tradition. The waitress packed all of the remaining food for us right at the table and made sure we enjoyed every bite we had. 

吃好 (chī hǎo) - eat well

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