...tm...'s Profile

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Chili House at 8th and Clement? [San Francisco]

I've also seen a large bag of the green varietal at the Lion Supermarket on Story Rd. in San Jose. I'm no expert, but it seems to me that the green version is a different varietal than the red version, the green being less numbing and more floral than the red. I got a version from the Lao temple in Santa Rosa that seemed somewhere in between the two and went well with the Kachin pounded beef with herbs in Naomi Buguid's Burma cookbook.

Finding details about varietals/species isn't as straightforward as I thought it would be. Andrea Nguyen has a good intro here http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/...
This page is a bit more detailed
http://gernot-katzers-spice-pages.com...
and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/299646
Apparently a related species Zanthoxylum americanum can be foraged, particularly in the Eastern US http://eattheinternet.blogspot.com/20...
http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plan...

Anyway, I also wondering if anyone has seen fresh peppercorns, and if so what are they used for?

about 6 hours ago
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Home made frozen dumplings, East Bay?

I'll have to check if they still have sheng jian bao at Shanghai--I'm searching for a decent version. I can attest that at least the xiao long bao are made and frozen in house. One time when I was there a woman was making them at the table, yet the waiter pulled a bag from the freezer to cook for an order.

Jul 23, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Dim Sum Chowdown at Peony, Oakland

Yes, $1.25 per person.

Jul 22, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Dim Sum Chowdown at Peony, Oakland

We gathered at the reopened Peony Seafood Restaurant for a pleasant meal of dim sum. All the following were ordered off a checklist, except for the pork jowl, which Melanie spotted on one of the carts.

shrimp dumpling (har gow)--the best example I've had in recent memory--delicate skins and firm shrimp.

pea sprout dumpling--thin wheat strarch wrapper contained pea sprouts, cellophane noodles, mushrooms, and possibly some meat.

spinach dumpling with shrimp--a nice balance and texture

siu mai--these were one of the last items to arrive but were the first item that made me wish there were condiments on the table.

chicken feet black bean sauce--these were the typical presentation, fried then braised, making it easy to eat. I believe there were boiled peanuts in the sauce, which was the case with a few dishes

Thai chicken feet--mild flavor, like a faint sweet chili sauce. Steamed preparation was a bit more difficult to eat as skin stays relatively bouncy and sticks to the bones.

chicken feet Chinese herb broth--this was quite good for a medicinal herb type broth.

pork ribs preserved olive--one of my favorite dishes--a good dose of umami from the preserved olive and great texture on the ribs, with a few taro cubes.

typhoon shelter daikon cakes--fried daikon cakes with a garlic coating. The texture of these was really nice. There were chunks of daikon scattered throughout.

steamed house shrimp rice noodle roll--this was really good and very well executed. Shrimp filling--both fine and some chunks were stuffed inside a youtiao, which stayed crisp in the rice noodle roll.

shredded chicken bitter melon rice noodle roll--I enjoyed this, they had tamed the bitter melon to my satisfaction, but it overwhelmed the delicacy of a rice noodle roll

pork jowl char siu--nice flavor, with not too sweet/sticky of a coating,

baked Lisbon egg custard tarts--pleasantly eggy, though the crust wasn't particularly flaky or flavorful. There was another egg tart listed on the menu

golden mochi custard cream--I didn't know what to expect from this, I was expecting soft mochi stuffed with some custard, but was pleasantly surprised by small, fried balls. They arrived fresh from the fryer and had a bit of a crust and the middle was a uniform, smooth interior. I'm not a dessert fan in general but would order this again.

sugar egg puff--though it was one of the first things to arrive and arrived cool, I enjoyed the moist yet airy interior.

With tip it came to $21 each, in line with the prices at East Ocean, where, in the past year I have had one good and one bad experience. Nothing blew my idea of these dishes out of the water, but it was a very good meal.

So, what did everyone else think? Favorites/not so much? Will this become a go to for your East Bay dim sum, or do you know of somewhere better I should check out? Were there any dishes we missed that are must orders at Peony?

It was great to meet everyone in person. Pictured are before (PeterL came prepared with scissors to split our orders) and the remains after.

Jul 21, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

vietnamese [Oakland]

Ao Sen is the best pho and bun I've sampled, and Ba Le has the best banh mi, and a handfull of other items on the menu. However, be aware that most of the East Oakland places shut down by about 7:30 pm. I think Ao Sen lists 8:30 as their closing time, but have been closed or closing around 8 pm a couple times I tried to stop by.
Banh Cuon Tay Ho and Binh Minh Quon downtown have more varied menus and are open later.
Hounds have been talking up Sidestreet Pho in Alameda, but I haven't made it there yet.

Jul 20, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area
1

No reservations/single dining [San Francisco]

I like Burmese Kitchen--particularly the tea leaf salad, tamarind leaf salad (or any salad, really) and the Moh Hinga--be sure to add on the fried split pea. Here they add individual fried peas and a cracker-like version with the split peas in it.
Mandalay is another board favorite out in the Inner Richmond. If you feel like travelling out there it is a good choice. Stay away from the menu items that are Chinese influenced--they aren't very special, even though they are often listed on the specials board.

Jul 19, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Fresh lo mein noodles in Oakland/Berkeley - where to buy?

I fulfill most of my noodle and dumpling wrapper needs at Yuen Hop. Like the Berkeley Bowl noodles, they are not in sealed plastic bags, but I'm not sure that lessens their shelf life that much. I've frequently made one noodle dish the day of, then used the rest of the noodles later in the week with good results. If you want a fully sealed version, they have it at 99 Ranch, Sun Hop Fat, and likely some stores in Oakland Chinatown (though I haven't noticed, as I always get noodles at Yuen Hop).

Jul 19, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowdown Report: Lunch at Nido in Oakland

Nope, anyone can organize a chowdown--just become a member of the yahoo group Melanie linked, or the North Bay, San Francisco, or Peninsula groups, which are linked in the FAQ to this board, which used to appear in the pinned topics at the top of the board, but that appears to no longer be the case. They are here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4691...

Jul 16, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Dumpling Express - Berkeley

I stopped by on my way off campus this evening. The short version is that it is a great value but not really worth going out of your way for. I work on Berkeley campus, so I'll likely be back. Unlike the takeout dim sum concept all dumplings are steamed/boiled to order, though you have to order a full batch (12). Though the XLB pork are 5.50, so still very cheap. I got the pork XLB (they have pork+crab for about $2 more) and lamb vegetable dumplings. They also offer congee, chow fun, and rice plates that some of the students seemed to be waiting for.
The dumplings are all put in plastic clamshells immediately after they are done cooking, whether you are eating there or to go. The XLB are good for the price--the skins weren't terribly thick, but they were a bit gummy, even though I ate the first one second after the cashier took the from the steamer. The pork was maybe not fatty enough--the soup was flavorful enough, but the remaining pork was nothing too exciting. The lamb dumplings were good, though I'd probably order another type in the future. I didn't note any leek/chive note and the main vegetable was napa, the listed component to most other dumplings. It was crowded, and seems easier to eat your dumplings on the street than at the already crowded stand-up counter. They now take cash and credit, though there is a discount for cash.

Jul 16, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Sungari restaurant -- Northeastern chinese in Excelsior (SF)

Great!! I was tempted to post the tablehopper tip even though I knew I wouldn't make it to the Excelsior for a few weeks.
Curious, could you tell if the red in the great harvest dish came from tomato, chili, or both? Though geographically distant, the picture of fresh vegetables could convince me that this was some sort of Lao/Thai jeow/jaew.

Jul 16, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

Interesting...it's certainly a customize your sandwich kind of place. I was thinking more of what I've been led to believe is a common setup in Israel. The falafel is served with minimal accompaniments, but a wide variety of different pickles, sauces, and some salads. PIckled turnips, cucumber/tomato salad, cabbage, pickled cabbage, Moroccan carrot salad, pickled beets, cauliflower salad, and of course a couple hot sauces and tahini sauce are what I've seen as common at Maoz, Chick-o-pea, and Fa La La (all formerly of Berkeley) and Liba (though Liba has more seasonal California ingredients, with a few staple pickles). I also like the top your own strategy because some I want mixed in with the sandwich, and some I just want a couple refreshing bites of, separate from the filling.

Jun 30, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

One last falafel this month. I'd known many Berkeley grad students get falafel at Bongo Burger, but had assumed that was just because it was cheap.
I enjoyed the falafel sandwich I got--the falafel balls were flat disks, fried well, with a good, sesame studded crust. The falafel were a bit smaller than most, but their size and shape filled up the pita very evenly. The topping was mostly lettuce, with surprisingly decent tomato slices, a bit of onion and cucumber, and a nice, garlic-rich tahini. The pita was very thin, which I liked, and not nearly as stiff as a grocery store version. I'd definitely get it again the next time I'm too hungry to bike home--maybe the half-sized version for only $3.50.

Jun 30, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

Having not yet had a great pita with my falafel, I tried to call in an order to Arabica (Berkeley), which I'd heard had good pita, but it turns out the falafel are made next door at Razan's Organic kitchen. The pita was soft, though it didn't hold up well to the to go aspect of my order--the tasty tahini sauce soaking most of the outside of the pocket pita. There was a bit of nicely textured hummus in the bottom. The falafel balls were a bit broken up--I'm not sure if that was due to my to go issues, or a combo of that and a relatively thin crust. While the crunch wasn't ideal, the flavor was good--with sesame, plenty of green, and a light texture.

Jun 30, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

This reminds me of a question I've been meaning to ask--is there any place in the Bay Area, besides the Liba truck, which offers the salad/pickle bar approach to falafel? Three such places opened and closed in Berkeley, including the Dutch chain Maoz. Though none had my favorite falafel balls, I'd always choose them over other options for a complete-feeling lunch.

Jun 29, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Best halva?

Thanks for the tip--though I'll probably never love halva (or sweets in general) I really love Al Arz tahini. I recently picked up the "whole sesame" variety at Oasis Market in Oakland. Great texture and flavor!

Jun 29, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

I had the vegetarian sampler at Oasis Market on Telegraph in Oakland which included 4 falafel. There was no tahini sauce, which was somewhat disappointing, but the hot sauce on the tables (spicy, with a strong vinegar note) and the other accompaniments were quite good. The falafel was all chickpea, I think, and fluffier than most versions (more baking soda?) and very well seasoned and fried. I enjoy this type with plenty of sesame seeds which I've also gotten at Oasis Grill Berkeley (though not this month).

I've been to Oasis Market many times, but usually get lamb dishes or stick to groceries, but I'll have to add the falafel and hummus to the rotation from now on.

Jun 29, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

YALAHAFA (Yet Another L.A. Hound Asking for Advice) on Great Eats in SF Proper (Muni accessible, non-high end)

Ha, I can't imagine who would like Jesus Juice either, but apparently a lot of Spanish speakers do. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandsty...
I first encountered the calimocho amongst young partiers in the plazas of Toledo (Espana) and assumed it was just for young drunkards, which isn't a terrible description for some of the lines in the Mission these days.
I've always seen the majority of comments on Humphrey Slocumbe as positive, as you'll never find 100% consensus on anything--tastes are variable. Often times the dissenting notes BacoMan has picked up on deal more with the question, "Do I want to put up with the hassle/line of this place?" rather than whether it is good. I'm an avid avoider of the long lines/difficult plan sort of hassle.

Jun 23, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

I got the falafel at Wally's Cafe in Emeryville, which I'd been meaning to try out for quite some time. While the service was very friendly and fast, and the baklava and lentil soup complimentary with a full order the sort of touch that engenders good feelings, I wasn't too excited about this one. The falafel were dry, perhaps my fault for not specifically requesting fresh fried--the place was extremely busy at the time leading me to assume they would be fresh enough. They did have more spicing than the other two I've tried this month--a noticeable cumin note--but it didn't make up for the dry, mealy texture. I enjoyed the baklava quite a bit, though, and I'm not usually a fan.

Jun 23, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

New Xi'an/Shaanxi restaurant Terra Cotta Warrior on Judah St. [San Francisco]

It wasn't crowded, but I was there just a bit after 4pm on a Saturday. Tables were starting to fill up by the time I left.

Yes, I did mean Xi'an Famous Foods, who's liangpi I consumed a couple years ago in a gluttonous buy everything from the Golden Mall session, where the origin of many of the dishes got lost in the shuffle. However, I do remember the sauce being both spicier and more garlicy than at Terra Cotta Warrior, though, again, I really enjoyed the version there too. The kao fu seemed denser than versions I've had in Shanghai-style preparation

I'll have to stop by Xi'an Gourmet and get those dumplings.

Jun 18, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

New Xi'an/Shaanxi restaurant Terra Cotta Warrior on Judah St. [San Francisco]

I was in the area recently and decided to try out Terra Cotta Warrior (rather than Xi'an Gourmet, as I had been disappointed by it's previous incarnation's offerings vs. promised offerings a couple times, and apparently has a new chef but same management),
I got the Shaanxi mian pi and the pork rou jia mo (I somehow missed the hot pepper version on the menu).
I enjoyed the mian pi--it is definitely heavy on the sour note, but I think that is a characteristic of this style, and to my taste had great flavor, not just a one-note sourness. I would prefer thicker, wider noodles, but perhaps that's because I've only had these starch-based noodles once before in Flushing (and even then I preferred the saucing to the noodles, and use the sauce with some hand-pulled noodles) and like quite a bit of texture in my noodles, which is perhaps not a main pi characteristic. I particularly enjoyed the pieces of dough included in the mix of noodles, cucumber, and bean sprouts. They absorbed the sauce well, and provided more chew than the noodles.

The "Chinese burger with pork" was okay. I found it had too much bun/filling, particularly since I missed out on the hot peppers. No problem, as I dipped the top half of the bun in the mian pi sauce. The hat the texture of a pork shoulder stewed in liquid--a bit stringy. It was seasoned--a medicinal note that I couldn't identify stood out to me

Jun 18, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Dock at Linden Street [Oakland]

I assume these involve chickpea flour, therefore more comparable to socca/farinata than falafel, despite the name drop. Any condiments to push it towards the falafel realm? Also, it's unclear if they serve other than Linden St. beers, and their website certainly doesn't help

Jun 18, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

I stopped by Shami Restaurant and Hookah Lounge in San Leandro to try it out and got falafel plate, for DOTM purposes (the kebabs with seasoned rice look really good too). The falafel were really tasty--the exterior crust was crispy and just the right width, and the interior soft, but not wet (or dry). No unusual seasonings, but salty enough to be pleasant eating on its own. It didn't taste that much of chickpeas, leading me to believe it is partially to mostly favas. It tasted great, especially with the tahini sauce. The hummus was really smooth, and came topped with parsley and sumac. The real winner of the plate, however, was the lentil soup. It had great balance, with a strong sour note from both lemon and sumac. I'll definitely be back to try other items from the menu, but I don't think I'll ever be able to resist that soup. The pita was the only disappointment--no better than store bought.

Jun 08, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

I stopped by Amba in Montclair Village for a late lunch. The falafel sandwich was good, but made me miss the glory days when there were 3 falafel joints with the Israeli style add your own salad bar to the top, and now there are none. The falafel balls were well-fried, crispy, without a distinctive spicing. The tahini sauce was good, and the rest of the sandwich was filled out with some cucumber pickles with allspice/clove type spicing, lettuce, tomato, and thick hummus. The salads in the case, particularly the cauliflower, looked good, but are only available as side orders or platters that I did not end up ordering. I actually really enjoyed the french fries offered as an add-on, they were double fried, crispy, and tasty. Ordering took place at the counter, but I was asked if everything was okay and if I'd like hot sauce while at a table (though not offered any namesake amba). The hot sauce was homemade, tasting mostly of red chili.

Jun 03, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Grocery Outlet (May, 2014)

The Berkeley store had Jana foods Vermeer and Vincent cheeses, 160 g for $3.49. Both aged gouda-like cheeses, the Vermeer seems to be more aged, with more visible inclusions.

Jun 02, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

BBQ Hut at 6400 Shattuck. [Oakland]

I haven't been, but I drive by a couple times per week. On days I leave at 5 because I have to be somewhere else by 5:30 they are open, wheras they have been closed every time I have time after work to stop by, usually around 7. I assume they run out of meats, despite posted hours until 8 pm.

May 30, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Grocery Outlet (May, 2014)

Picked up a few things at the Berkeley store today:

Uniekaas Hollandse chevre "extra aged" $6.99/lb--I'll be back tomorrow to pick up more of this. I think I've had their "goat gouda" before and thought okay. This version, which had an "extra aged" sticker over the regular label had crystalline inclusions and a nice, nutty flavor.

Enzo Organic Grove Extra Virgin olive oil $5.99--haven't tried, can't tell the born-on date from the packaging.

Nueske's Cherrywood smoked Bacon $4.49/12 oz

May 22, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area
2

Tashi Delek: Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian & Bhutanese in El Cerrito

I stopped by a couple days ago and got the sha bhaley (beef fried dough dumplings) (the bh is pronounced as an aspirated p, as the kind waitress explained to me), and the shamu datsi (mushrooms with "homemade american cheese"), as I haven't had Bhutanese food before.
The shamu datsi was indeed mushrooms served in a very unvreakable cream/cheese sauce. It had a bit of funk, and some research has lead me to believe that it is often a cheese made from yak or goat milk, but known for its' melting properties. People often use feta and cream cheese as a substitute, or laughing cow. I don't know what they use here, but it is definitely not just velveeta or kraft. The server warned me that Bhutanese food is very spicy asked if that is okay and I responded that it is, I like spicy food, an d the dish arrived noticeably spicy, but less spicy than I would have made if I were making it for myself. In general this genre of dishes seems to be fresh green chili in the homemade cheese sauce, so the spiciness could easily be changed. I might ask for more next time--I think I got 1 jalapeno in 3 longitudinal slices in this version.
The sha bhaley were well seasoned, even without the delicious house-made hot sauce which accompanied them. They were beef and onion filled lightly-raised buns that were deep fried. The topside had a very thin dough layer, while the bottom had a thicker layer, which remained less cooked, and I actually enjoyed a bit for texture.
The entrees are served with (perfectly cooked) basmati rice and an appetizer of dal. The dal was very soothing--it was thinned, to soup consistency and contained noticeable cumin and mustard seeds.
I'll definitely make an effort to return sometime when it is less hot for the then thuk.

May 15, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Egyptian food truck — Oakland [Royal Egyptian Cuisine]

I was able to sample a large portion of the Royal Egyptian menu this afternoon due to an ordering mishap. The truck was on Lakeshore and Brooklyn on a Sunday afternoon. I'd seen them before on Lakeside near Grand in Oakland late lunch hour and had missed their service but it caught my attention.
I ordered the Egyptian kofta, but got the falafel (fava-based). I was served a complimentary salad which involved delicious BBQ chicken and a generic lettuce/cabbage salad with cabbage, lettuce, and mini-corn. The chicken was amazing, the canned mini-corn I could have done without.
I was served the falafel, plus a platter of kofta, the gyro meat, and 3 salads. The falafel were freshly fried, and a bit wet on the inside, but still on the tasty side for felafel in the area. The gyro meat, which I did not order turned out to be the best gyro I've had for quite some time. The meat mixture and seasoning is definitely homemade, which is always difficult to determine in the gyro world. The kofta wasn't as tender as I'd hoped, but I really enjoyed the topping. There was some sort of cheese or other fermented product that really made the package. The other sides were okay, and I love the idea that they change frequently.

May 05, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowdown at Jai Yun [San Francisco, Chinatown]

I've been intrigued by the polarized nature of the reviews on Jai Yun for years, and honestly expected myself to fall on the meh, I don't get it, or at least the I regret paying over $100 side, but I thoroughly enjoyed this meal, and don't regret paying for it. Would I do it again soon? Probably not, as the variety of dishes doesn't seem to change that much, but I would definitely feel good about bringing a group here for a special occasion.

I had qualms, as even the positive reviews revolved around a concept of precision Shanghai cuisine which is at best subtle and at worst too sweet, neither of which are as appealing to me as bold, balanced flavors. Another theme that comes up frequently in positive reviews is 'amazing knife skills', which can be a parlor trick, or a way to perfect the items for preparation. I was delighted to see it was the latter, as exemplified by the eggplant dish, one of my (and everyone's) favorites of the meal. All pieces where the same size and shape for even frying and the skin was mostly removed, in vertical stripes, which both reduced the amount of bitter skin and increased the amount of surface area for crispy frying and sauce adhesion.

I was thrilled to learn about gong cai/tribute vegetable/mountain jelly vegetable (mountain jelly vegetable is the best to google to see the plant in its non-dried form). I loved the texture and I've seen the dried version before and will now grab it the next chance I get.

I also loved the soft tofu + 1000 year old egg + pork dish. I've had a tofu/preserved egg + pork sung or bonita flakes dish at Taiwanese restaurants in the US. This was miles beyond--the texture of the tofu, the flavoring broth surrounding the small tofu pieces, the fresh-fried carnitas-like tiny pork pieces on top, and the 100 year-old egg all combined to a dish that was much better than the sum of its parts.

The deep fried shimeji mushrooms were another of my favorites. It pushed the flavor profile more towards the bold direction I prefer--it was like salt and pepper fried mushrooms with an additional sweet element which, if asked, I would have refused, but appreciated the dish as presented correcting my general anti-sugar bias.

I enjoyed the pork cold appetizer for both novelty and taste sake. It was definitely a cured, headcheese-like pork dish, which was tasty and perhaps familiar in a non-Chinese way. (I've attached a close-up.)

As a whole, I'd say my personal perception of the meal as set at a reasonable price point, vs. an offensive one was the execution of the majority of the dishes. The proteins--the shrimp, the fish in the canned corn dish, the chicken in the 'gong bao', the pork pump, and particularly the abalone and egg were cooked to sous-vide level precision(though I'm sure done by other means)--all pieces were cooked to perfect doneness. Many complaints about the price are about portion sizes vs. other Chinese banquet meals--the execution is easily better, and though the portion sizes weren't large, the amount of food I had by the end was more than enough to fill me up, and I have a large appetite. I'll admit, as I started the serving of many of the dishes, being to the right of the photographer, it felt awkward taking the first 1/9th, but that doesn't mean there wasn't enough for a comfortable meal over all twenty-something courses.

It was a fun and interesting dining group--special thanks to hyperbowler for organizing and making the extra effort to communicate with the staff to figure out ingredients in some of our favorites, Melanie for the wine, and Jefferson for providing our digital memory in pictures.

May 04, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Made in China Restaurant - San Bruno, and maybe opening in SF?

A group of 5 gathered at Made in China and navigated their extensive, oddly translated menu. On hyperbowler’s previous visit he gathered the chef is from Hunan, not NE China as might be expected from the Dongbei, Shenyang, and Northeast sections of the menu.

From the receipt, we ordered (menu number from the takeout menu scanned above is also included)
I25 Yanjing Sumio (beer)
I38 Beijing yogurt

House Special
A5 Majiahe small goat chaohei
A15 Spicy pan fish
I enjoyed the goat dish quite a bit. It was mostly goat with bell peppers and cilantro, with the heat coming from the chili oil scattered with dry chilies. This might have been the spiciest dish--I found the spice level to be right on for me, spicy enough to be noticeable, but not so spicy I couldn’t taste the subtler flavors, like the meat.
The spicy pan fish was recommended by the waitress and was a catfish (possibly from the tank) served in a chafing dish with a thickened sauce. I’m pretty sure I remember the sauce on this one getting its heat from pickled (salted) chili peppers.

Garden Vegetable
B13 Leek youxian xianggan
This was similar in preparation to the goat dish, but with leeks and pressed tofu instead of meat and cilantro.

Griddle Dishes
C2 Shredded cabbage griddle
This was one of my favorite dishes. Griddle turned out to be a chafing dish, for reasons unknown. I assume it was just presentation, as I don’t see how low heat under a briefly-cooked cabbage dish might improve it. The flavor was great--not as much wok char as I’ve gotten from the cabbage at China Village, but the combination of garlic-chili oil seared cabbage with meat and black vinegar was quite tasty.

HuNan Dishes
D9 Hometown Chairman pork
D2 Fried bacon carrot
I would have braised the Chairman pork belly longer, and didn’t find the braising liquid to be particularly interesting. The other dish, however, I really enjoyed. It was actually the dish hyperbowler pictured above--preserved radish with thin-sliced lightly cured pork belly. I really liked the texture and flavor of the preserved radish and the mixture is one that, particularly with the scallions and garlic, really goes together.

Northeast Shenyang Tasty BBQ
H10 In Particular fish skewers (squid?)
H5 Heart shaped string (chicken heart skewer)
H23 Yuba mushroom roll (skewer)
H12 White oil sausage (skewer)
H15 Croaker (skewer)
H25 baked bread pieces
The skewers weren’t my favorite part--the spice rub seemed to be the same for all of them, and added a gritty texture to the outside--it seemed to be more of a shaken on coating and less of a seasoning rub that marinates and penetrates them meats. It was cumin-forward, with a not too spicy dried chili, some sugar, and a bit of salt. I did like the flavor of the sausage and the fattiness helped absorb the dry spices.

Fried Rice/Noodles
G13 Acid droplets meat fried beans
I really enjoyed this version of fried rice. The pickled long beans were salt-fermented, and had a bit of a tannic taste--often tannic elements like grape leaves are added to lacto-fermented things to keep them crisp. I don’t usually like fried rice with a meal, but this version was light, not oil heavy, and the pickled beans added a refreshing element.

Northeast Tasty Desserts
G3 Snow cotton hummus
G4 Hawthorn sugar-coated haws
I didn’t care for the snow cotton hummus, but I don’t know that I’ve met a red bean paste dessert I have liked. The sugar-coated hawthorn was good--I think the sesame seeds coating the sugar layer were what made it interesting. I hadn’t tasted hawthorn until a few years ago when I got it in an ice cream at Nieves Cinco di Mayo. I like the flavor--like an apple with an herbal note, and wonder why I haven’t seen more of it.

It was a solid dinner, made more pleasant by the company and “A Bite of China” playing on large screen TVs. It is available online here in English http://english.cntv.cn/special/a_bite...
It was also nice to have a leisurely meal and not have to worry about the restaurant closing up. Currently, they are open to midnight and there were certainly some youngsters still there when we left just before 11. Prices are a couple dollars more than I would expect per dish, but not outrageous.

May 03, 2014
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area
2