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ycyc1999's Profile

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Choosing between 2 gifts: Dutch ovens?

I would venture to state that how and what you cook will help you decide. If you plan to brown meat, deglaze, add vegetable and shove the whole pot in the oven, the Michele B might be a good choice even though it doesn't give you a lot of bottom surface to work with. You can always do it in batches whereas it's nearly impossible to brown in anodized aluminum. If you truly desire a traditional dutch oven and are not bound by the choices you currently have, I would say - return both, get the real deal. Wayfair currently has open box 5-qt Le Creuset dutch ovens for less than $150, granted the color choices are limited.

Jan 23, 2013
ycyc1999 in Cookware

Tips for cooking with stainless steel cookware?

Congratulations on the new cookware. While you will gain more personal wisdom about these as you cook with them, I just two quick tips:
1. Always make sure the pans & pots are properly heated before actually cooking in them. Depending on the material and your stove, it may take up to 5-10 minutes to heat them.
2. Get Bar Keeper's Friend (a baking soda type of cleaning agent and it now comes in liquid form too) and non scratch sponge pad. They will save you a lot of time and heartache when you think you "dirtied" your pans beyond warm water & soap soak remedy. If you kitchen water is hard, be prepared to either boil lemon in water or cook tomato based sauce in the pans to remove white spots that may develop over time.

Google these terms and you will be ready. As for ceramic cook top - the only thing I am aware of is that you shouldn't put a hot pan (as most stainless steel pans can go into oven) on a cold ceramic top - the sudden temperature change may crack the ceramic. Of course, most adults understand that no dragging and dropping heavy pans across any cook top surface.

Enjoy!

Dec 26, 2012
ycyc1999 in Cookware

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Great recipe and it produces very flavorful rice and chicken. I made modifications to suit my laziness. I used an enameled dutch oven - so I brown the chicken, saute veggie, boil rice all in one pot and shove it into the oven for the final finish. Only one pot to clean! I also skipped butter since the grease from browning the chicken is more than plenty to cook the rest of the ingredients. Thanks for "upgrading" and sharing your mother's recipe.

Jan 27, 2012
ycyc1999 in Recipes

Jesse vs xin jishi? Help with my foodie vacation plans

Actually most casual restaurants don't require reservation. What you have on your list are popular spots so I would suggest reservation if you can. I am not sure Chuan Ban would even take reservation. Chaos is almost part of the fun there. Jesse is a small place with large and loyal following. So a reservation is highly recommended. last time I went there a few years ago, we made a reservation two days ago but had to settle for a 6 pm slot. As I mentioned before some of these restaurants have special dishes that require laborious preparation, if you want to try them, definitely call ahead and make reservation . The other side of the story is that not all restaurants consistently honor their reservation by keeping you wait any way - to which you can only say, c'est la vie! Another option quite unique to Chinese dining is that you can ask for a private room at some of these restaurants - this would often guarantee you a time but also comes with a stiff price tag. Some restaurants require minimum food order of anywhere from rmb 700 to 1500 yuan excluding alcholic beverages for those private rooms. If it's a place you really want to go but have a hard time securing a reservation, my suggestion is to go 10 or 15 minutes before it opens and try your luck.

Beijing breakfast?

Typical Beijing breakfast is mostly starch-based: porridge, steamed buns (baozi or mantou) and pancakes. You can also get hard boiled eggs to add some protein. If you are fine with this simple carb overload in the morning, that's good. You will probaly notice that most commuters would get steamed buns or very chewy corn on cobbs from convenience stores such as Family Mart or 7-11 the like. Beijing has some chain stores specializing in porridge, pickled vegetables, steamed buns and pancakes that are open 24 hours. I don't recall any near Westin. The reality is that the real estate in that area prices most reasonably priced eateries out of there years ago. You may have to brave Beijing's traffic in the morning just to get to one of these breakfast places. Another option is to find food stalls near or in subway stations and on the street if you are not squeamish about sanitation. You can also find some breakfast places for expats - your hotel will probaly have a copy of English magazines for expats ( Beijinger or Cityweekends) in your room. Look for listings of breakfast joints near you and have your hotel call to make sure they do serve breakfast on the days you plan to go. If all these don't work for you, there are also the proverbial Starbucks at every corner with piping hot coffee and bakery items - how about a slice of cheese cake for breakfast. Yes I've seen people ordering cheesecake at Starbucks in China at 7:30 am for breakfast. Isn't life sweet?

Jesse vs xin jishi? Help with my foodie vacation plans

Hi Mlin1, Jesse, anglicized form of Jishi and Xinjishi (literally New Jesse) both serve traditional Shanghai food. I've been to both (Jesse a few years back).  Jesse is an older place and comes with all the trappings of nostalgia for older Shanghainese (think crowded space)  Xinjishi has a bit nicer ambiance and more pleasant presentation.  Food wise, I thought the two are quite similar with the typical Shanghai cuisine focus on soy sauce salty, sweet and greasy taste.   As for service, it depends on which outlet you are going to and who you are going with. Both could be a hit or miss as pretty much most Chinese restaurants are.  I personally detest the Xinjishi in Xintiandi - it's overrun by tourist and servers, in the heat of moment can get pretty rude. I believe some dishes have to be pre ordered at both places. Also Jesse needs a reservation. Otherwise the wait could be long.     If you want to venture into the true modern Shanghai cuisine, I would suggest Lynn's near the Portman hotel. The ingredients used are much better quality, food is clean, fresh tasting and service is consistently good. It also has a much better wine list than the other two and a full bar.  It has a higher price point than the other two.  

As for Ding Tai Feng, I have never been to the ones in Taiwan but ate at almost all the branches in Shanghai and Beijing. If you've been to one, it's quite the same across the board - a testament to it's quality control. 

I will refrain from commenting on the roast duck since I think your choices are all solid and it often comes down to personal preference.  Enough debates have been had on this board about the so called "best" one.   I may just add that the grand hyatt in Shanghai ( the one on puxi side not the super fancy one on Pudong called something hyatt, Park Hyatt??) does it too and you  need to call ahead to reserve an whole or half duck.  

As for your Sichuan food choices -  Chuan Ban in Beijing is probably hands down the most authentic and traditional of them all.  If you can handle the heat, wait and crowd, go for it .  Yuxin is my go to place since food is excellent, price is fair and it's also very accessible with several outlets in Beijing and Shanghai.  South Beauty is the upper market version of Yuxin, more expensive and much nicer dining environment (or pretentious as some other would call it occasionally, the one in Beijing's world trade center or Guo Mao is probaly the prime suspect) Food is still very good and it has a better wine list.  I go there if I need to wine and dine business folks.  Ding Ding Xiang, in my opinion, is the least worthwhile place to go if you have Yu Xin and South Beauty available.  It's cheaper but food is really just so so - all it has is spiciness with little or no other flavor and substance. Some friends once joked whether the chain simply chemically infuses heat into food scraps.  

I feel conflicted about saying anything about My Humble House.  Concierges at every five star hotel I and my colleagues stayed at in eastern Beijing from Westin to Ritz Carlton recommend this place - I've been there twice and found the place desolately cold and food bland. Once I went there around 8 pm on a Friday night we were the one of the only two tables at the restaurant.  For the price i paid, I could have much better food. I don't understand the reason for this persistent referral from concierges despite my experience.  Maybe I hit two bad nights there?  

Enjoy your trip and chow away!

Vegetarian Backpacking for 1 Month

When you do choose noodle, I'd watch out because some noodles contain lard as an ingredient (especially the "fresh" kind. Fresh as opposed to the dried ones).

Late Night Dining Ideas (Bay Area)

Add one more 24/7 choice for San Jose:

Cardinal Coffee Shop & Lounge
3197 Meridian Ave
San Jose, CA 95124
Tel. +1 408.269.7891

The food is down to earth and filling.

Sampling SF

I spent last week in SF and got to try some restaurants I've read so much about on this board. I work outside the city and only have the opportunity to dine in SF. Here is my view on the few restaurants:

Aziza: I went there on a Friday night. The ambiance is very pleasant and gives a bit mystic aura with the earthy colors. It was a very busy night - the waiter didn't come to our table until 10 minutes after we were timely seated. It took another 10 minutes and a friendly reminder to get water on the table. I don't have Moroccan food very often and think the menu items are interesting. I ordered the giant fava beans, halibut clay pot and pear/fruit plate while my buddy had Mediterranean dips and lamb on the bone. The fava beans are my favorite – the dish achieved the perfect balance between tomato-ish acidity and the bean’s creaminess. The halibut was a bit overwhelmed by the saffron sauce for my taste. The fruit plate is excellent – the grapes were ripe and sweet, the pear was divine – it melts on my tongue! My buddy liked his food as well. The waiter gained his redemption in my eyes by recommending a wonderful pinot. The wine is not cheap but worth the money. The restaurant reminds me of Evvia (spelling?) in Palo Alto.

Coco500: my favorite on this trip. The environment is chic, modern and clean. The menu is simple and non-pretentious. I had the fried green beans, Russell sprouts, and trout (that night’s special). The Russell sprouts were very unusual – I never had them this way, slightly sautéed with pine nuts and topped with cheese. Super delicious. The trout was delicately prepared. The lemon cream sauce was gentle and complimented the fish very well. The server was polite, professional and has a good sense of humor.

Biscuits & Blues: I like their chicken & sausage gumbo soup – spicy, hot and hearty. The chicken and sausage jambalaya was good, I’d like rice to be firmer (less mushy). The irony is that I had to order biscuits separately since the place doesn’t offer it as a side to the soup. The biscuits were mediocre at its best. They were a bit ashy and barely warm – I can get hot biscuits at KFC for heaven’s sake!

Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant: I had a quick dinner before a lecture. The tofu and eggplant clay pot was too soupy for me. But the chicken and broccoli was delightful.

Jeanty at Jacks: the tomato soup was as fine as I remembered from a visit a few years ago. I soaked the puff pastry in the soup and slurped it down with a spoonful of the creamy sweet tomato soup. Yummy! I had the coq au vin, which was chicken stew with mushroom and bacon. The chicken was very tender and flavorful. But the dark sauce was very salty and completely smothered the meat.

Michael Mina: I guess people going there were not expected to be fed. Just to experience creativity in culinary art that night. The seasonal greens were pleasant but were a long way away from 5 servings of veggie as recommended by the government in terms of quantity. I got some lobster samplers worthy of note. The lobster corn dog was my favorite. I ordered Japanese butterfish for entry. I am not thoroughly impressed – the food was good and fresh, the preparation, cooking method, garnishes, etc. were not so innovative (I may have been expecting something like the fish baked in a piece of tree bark ). The berry dessert was fabulous and the portion was probably bigger than the entry. I left nothing on the dessert plate anyway. The environment was posh (less gaudy than some hotel restaurants I’ve been to). The server provides fine services without being officious. Bottom line is that I’ve been there, done that and can cross this one off my list now.

I enjoyed this little SF sampling tour and wish I can go back soon!