This is a blog post about food... and pretty much only food.
But who doesn't love food?
It occurred to me recently that Colin's never sampled xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings) before. I haven't eaten the stuff in years (vegetarianism ::sigh::), but used to luuuuuuurve it, so have made it a mission to find a place and force feed Colin some this weekend.
In any case, we made it over there today around noon. So yeah... packed to the brim. Took a number, and waited about 15 minutes or so until some seats opened up, and ate til our bellies were stuffed. Ordered a lot of traditional Taiwanese breakfasts stuffs for Colin to sample: two bowls of hot sweetened soy milk, youtiao (oily sticks!) to dip in the soy milk, scallion pancakes with beef, regular scallion pancakes, an order of steamed veggie dumplings and an order of pork xiao long bao/soup dumplings.
Eating xiao long bao gracefully is, like, an art. You have to pick it up delicately with your chopsticks, making sure to not accidentally pierce open the skin, lest all the soup from inside leaks out and you look like a FOOL. Transfer the dumpling onto your spoon. Take a small nibble from the top/side of the dumpling and suck out all the soup. Then devour the rest of the dumpling.
Most of the soup from Colin's first few dumplings ended up wasted/dripped out onto his plate-- but the last couple were eaten like a pro. Yay! Practice makes perfect.
Anyway, it was more than enough food to completely stuff us (the beef scallion pancakes were left completely untouched and went home with us in a doggie bag), and under $25!
Being in Queens also allows for tons of food options.
The idea of being condemned to a life in the 'burbs where there's no decent Asian grocery store within a 5-mile radius? ::shudder::
My not-very-comprehensive list of go-to places include:
- Buddha Bodai: vegetarian Chinese food. I can order ANYTHING off of the menu and it's glorious. Love going on weekend mornings for their vegetarian dim sum (albeit, it's not the traditional dim sum experience since you place your order with a waitress, rather than flagging down dishes from ladies pushing carts, but still... roast 'pork' buns... sticky rice... turnip cakes...drool).
- Dosa Hutt: small unpretentious hole-in-the-wall where you eat off of styrofoam plates with plastic utensils... but the dosas are totally yum. Next to a temple, it's an authentic small Indian place where apparently everything off their menu is vegetarian also?
- Mama's Empanadas: my go-to place for empanadas (they have, like, 50 different flavors-- I'm partial to the Greek, the pizza, and the cheese&caramel ones). I prefer the Jackson Heights location (cheaper, has seating, and is open frickin' 24/7!! etc), but there's another location across the street from the Queens Center Mall as well. Went there with Colin last night. Parking was impossible, so our new plan going forwards is to call in with our order ahead of time for pick-up, then driving over and having one person stay with the car parked in the CVS's lot across the street with the other person dashing out to retrieve the order.
- Yeh's Bakery/Red Leaf Bakery: for cakes (Taiwanese), although I hear their other baked goods are great too. If I ever buy you a cake, 99% chance that it'll be from this place. I looooooooove their cakes and will buy you one for the sole purpose of being able to share it with you. I'm craaaving their stuff just thinking about it. Why is my birthday so far away?!? Strawberry or green tea cake-- can't go wrong. Seriously: THEIR CAKES ARE THE BEST CAKES EVER. So light, so moist. Dammit, somebody please buy me a cake and let's pretend it's my birthday.
- Quickly: Yes, I know they're a chain, so they're all over Flushing and Elmhurst, etc. I'm addicted to their bubble milk teas (cold) though, and crave them even in the dead of winter. People have been saying that TenRen Tea & Ginseng Co is a lot better, but it used to be pricier than Quickly ($0.50 more). But now that Quickly upped their prices and it's only a $0.25 difference between the two, I'm more inclined to give TenRen a shot.
- Jade Asian Restaurant: for dim sum. There are a million and one places to get dim sum in Flushing (and I've probably sampled 90% of them?), so I'm not sure why I always gravitate towards this one. It's huge and always busy though, and that's what you want when you go for dim sum, so you know that the food's fresh and was probably prepared just minutes ago. Too bad that traditional dim sum doesn't offer much in vegetarian fare-- chicken feet, roast pork buns, shrimp dumplings, sui mai (pork dumplings), etc. I usually stick with the egg custards and the coconut jello, plus a special order of vegetable pan-fried noodles (which, though tasty, kinda defeats the idea of dim-sum! sadness).
Other food-related thoughts:
I love hot pot/huoguo/shabu-shabu. Mom brought a new hotpot pot back with her from her trip to Taiwan last week, and we tried it out for dinner tonight. Awesome.
I totally can't being myself to eat my Valentine's chocolates, on account of them being too pretty. I swear, I have absolutely NO URGE to open these if it means ruining the packaging. It's only been a week, sure, but I'm pretty sure that come August, this'll still be untouched.
I'm going to try to grow some basil. Haha. I'm 90% sure that this will end up failing, especially since the pot is way too small for anything to grow sucessfully.
...But if successful, then yay!