Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chinese Food Experience

K: There's no way we could talk about our trip to China without describing the food and drinks we enjoyed. We felt so fortunate to be introduced to the the best, most delicious dishes by Emily. Below are some of the highlights.

To start with, while Chinese food contains more oil and doesn't seem as healthy as Korean food, Chinese food in America is nothing like the authentic thing. Real Chinese food isn't the crab rangoon, sweet and sour pork, orange chicken, and kung pao chicken we've come to love in America. And to be honest, I'm glad it isn't as the real thing was better!

One of the things I DIDN'T enjoy was the Chinese liquor that SangKwun loved to order. This stuff'll truly put hair on your chest. You pour it into teeny tiny shot glasses and burns in your mouth and all the way down to your stomach. I think it's like 49% alcohol. I tried to avoid it, but SangKwun pulled the "I'm the older brother, do what I say and take a shot" a few times on me so I would choke it down. Mark, on the other hand, had no problem.

Here's a shot of one of the bottles.

Here's another one. Emily is not a fan either.

One thing the alcohol is helpful for is to help foreigners build up the liquid courage to try dishes such as this one. Can you tell what it is? Yes, it's definitely duck heads. Can you see where the eyes and beak are?

Emily actually enjoys this dish. I was not brave enough, but Mark gave it a try. He ate the duck brains and tried the head, but as you can tell from the picture below, he wasn't a fan. He said it tasted like burnt rubber. No thanks!

Here's one thing we actually did enjoy - the famous Peking/Beijing duck. The chef brought a full duck over and carved it table-side. He sliced it so thinly and it tasted so delicious in the sauce. SangKwun also taught us how to combine it with some veggies to make a little lettuce wrap. Later we will post a video of how Peking duck is cooked.

Our second day, SangKwun and Emily took us to a Taiwanese fast food joint called Yonghe King. They served all types of peanut milk, dumplings, and fried bread. We didn't eat much since we had already eaten breakfast, but it looked really good.

Later we visited a 100 year old dumpling restaurant. There's a good reason it's been in business so long! Here's one of the side dishes... various veggies topped with pork. Very tasty!

Here's a shot of the dumplings. We got 3 kinds: pork, seafood, and veggie. These are the veggies. They're orange because of the carrots.

We also went to three hot pot restaurants. Hot pot consists of pots of boiling broth. You add veggies, tofu, beef, seafood, and noodles. It cooks in there and you put you chop sticks in to retrieve whatever you like. They have something similar in Korea called Shabu Shabu.

The picture below is of one of the restaurants. This was a Taiwanese hot pot restaurant. The reddish broth is spicier.

This restaurant also had a bar where you could mix your own dipping sauce. I didn't really know what I was doing, but Emily was a good teacher.

One of our favorite meals of the trip was to a street called Donhaemun Street. It is a huge street with tons of restaurants and famous for seafood. Our hosts selected a restaurant that was famous for its mini lobsters. It must be a popular place, as we waited about an hour to get a table! Here's the front of the restaurant.

Here's a shot of our view while we waited. The restaurant was nice enough to provide sliced watermelon and sunflower seeds to hold us over until dinner. Because of the popularity of the street, it was definitely a great people watching spot.

The wait was well worth it! When we sat down, SangKwun and his friend ordered 150 little lobsters for the 5 of us. They also ordered TsingTao beer, which is China's famous beer, and quite good. Here's one tray of the lobsters. We had two more like this on the way.

Here are Emily and SangKwun demonstrating for us how it's done. We had to wear plastic gloves since the sauce is so spicy. We still got a little of the sauce on our fingers and taking our contacts out later that night was quite the task.

Here's Mark with one of the little guys!

We were only eating the tails, so basically what you do is crack the shell, pull the tail out, and peel it. It was pretty fun, and the lobster tail was absolutely delicious. We were all completely stuffed at the end of the meal.

When we visited Birth Father, he took us to another hot pot restaurant. In the front of the restaurant, we could select plates of whatever we wanted to cook. We got beef, tofu, potatoes, mushrooms, green onions, cabbage, and other things. To the left, in the covered glass bowl were live shrimp. We left the lid off a couple times and saw a couple shrimp leap out of the bowl.

This hot pot restaurant was different because everyone had their own individual hot pot instead of a shared bowl. It was kind of fun to pick out what we wanted to cook in our own pots.

In Guangzhou, SangKwun took us to a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. It was so cool to see them cook right in front of you.

Here's one of the chefs in action.

The best part of this restaurant was the price! It was only $35/person for all the food you could eat and all the saki you could drink. I usually don't like sake, but really enjoyed the warm sake they served. 

As you can see from the menu below there was a huge variety of sushi, grilled seafood, grilled meat, fruit, and desert. The grilled scallops were a personal favorite. Mark especially enjoyed the grilled banana topped with ice cream for dessert.

In Hong Kong, we stayed in a Korean guest house. In the morning, they served a traditional Korean breakfast. Personally, I'm not quite up for kimchi and fish first thing in the morning, but the bowl of rice gives a nice kick-start to your day.

Going to China, I wasn't quite sure what to expect... I'd heard horror stories of finding bird beaks in your soup, mystery meats, and pickled chicks in mid-hatch. Fortunately, I didn't come across anything too far from the norm and was pleasantly surprised by nearly everything I tasted. (Though I will admit, I didn't try too many unusual things.) 

I have a feeling while I'll continue to enjoy my General Tso Chicken, I'm going to find myself craving some mini lobster tails and hot pot as well!

1 comment:

Lee Farrand said...

I had similar experiences in China. Korea, China and Japan are all similar but different.

And the chicken embryos aren't too bad either.

Good to see that you're still having fun.