Monday, August 31, 2009

Dongbei Interpretation of Korean BBQ

There's a popular Korean-style BBQ restaurant near work that really does not taste Korean but is nonetheless tasty, filling, and inexpensive.
On our first visit we experienced an arduously uncomfortable attempt at good service. They assigned a waitress to grill our food for us at our table. The waitress placed a handful of meats on the grill and left for 5 minutes without leaving us the tongs, the meats came dangerously close to turning into carbon before she came back to add more. We had no control over the cooking process and the awkward rhythm of our meal was unexpectedly stressful.

Plate of Spiced Lamb for the Grill; Side of Peanuts, Seaweed Salad, and Ground Peanuts and Sauce for Dipping
Unlike the tea house, we came back to this BBQ joint because the food was good and is very affordable. We were smart enough to point out to the waitress that we wanted to grill our food ourselves the second time around.

Beef; Pumpkin

Grilling on Wax Paper; Barbara Flipping the Lamb and Beef

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Da Qing Hua 大清花 Manchurian Dinner in Shenyang

What I've noticed about Manchurian food in China is that the big meat dishes tend to be tasty, and the other dishes are anyone's guess. In this case, the pork ribs were excellent, the green dumplings were delicious but with a questionable meat filling, the complimentary tofu mush with corn kernels and salted egg yolk were disgusting as it got cold, the cabbage was coated in oil, and the noodles with meat sauce were the blandest of its kind. The fried eggs on the noodles were like the plasticky kind found in a MacDonald's breakfast sandwich!

Pork Ribs; Noodles with Meat Sauce

Green Dumplings
Cabbage; Tofu mush with corn kernels and salted egg yolk

Friday, August 28, 2009

Qiqiha'er BBQ

I was taken to carnivorous heaven in Qiqiha'er by locals who were keen on impressing me with their cuisine. This meal was the most memorable one I've had so far in Northeast China. The variety, quality, and flavors of the BBQ made me an eating fiend. I had remind myself to maintain my composure.

After the host ordered a gazillion ingredients from the menu, waiters and waitresses wheeled in carts full of our BBQ items.

Oregano, Sesame, Chile Powder, Peanut Powder; Vinegar and a Special Sauce
I was told to pile my plate with all the condiments on the table and mix them all together.
Garlic Beef
Then, the grilling marathon commenced.
Sweet Potato and Pickled Cabbage; Meat n' Potatoes
Qiqiha'er BBQ Condiments
Lamb Skewers and Grilling Sweet Potatoes and Beef
Steak with Red Wine; Grilling Veggies
Dipping Tofu in Egg Yolk Before Grill-Frying
What separates this BBQ experience apart from all the other BBQs I've had before is the finale of hand made fresh noodles. The waitress poured a hot water into our deep-dish grill, scraped all the remaining traces of browned meat juices from the bottom of the grill dish, incorporated our grilled veggie and meat leftovers, brought the mixture to a boil, and tossed in the hand-made noodles.
Hand-Stretching Noodle Dough; Hand-Tearing Noodles from Stretched Dough
Making Noodle Soup with the Grill
This was the best Northeast China meal I've had. I know, I'm using a ton of superlatives here, but I am not exaggerating.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Qiqiha'er and Hohhot Hot Pot

Hot pots are apparently tremendously popular throughout China, even in places as remote as Qiqiha'er in Heilongjiang Province and Hohhot in Inner Mongolia. I guess it's not too surprising considering these two provinces along with Jilin and Liaoning are freezing cold in the winter. I'm certainly not about to start complaining because a hot pot dinner is delicious and fun. Only 3 things can ruin a hot pot experience: unfresh ingredients, bad, oily broth, and bad company. Fortunately, I haven't had any of these experiences in China.

Qiqiha'er: Wang Zi Hot Pot 王子火锅
Hot Pot Heated by a Can of Petroleum Jelly

Lazy Susan Full of Veggie and Meat Ingredients; Pot o' Lamb, Spinach, and Potato Noodles

Fried Sesame Rice Balls (Mochi-like) with Red Bean Paste Filling
Inner Mongolia: Zang Ku Niu 藏酷牛
Zang Ku Niu
Mongolian Sesame Paste Sauce with Fermented Tofu Sauce, a Salty Green Sauce, and Pickled Garlic; a Stand of Veggie Ingredients

A Whole Lotta Lamb and Beef Slices; Hot Pot Heated by a Personal Electrical Stove

Qiqiha'er Green Foods Expo

I went to Qiqiha'er to attend the annual China Green Foods Expo. I was surprised to learn that China is actively promoting green foods domestically. I live near a green food store in Shenyang, and I remember seeing advertisements of food products made from green produce in the Dalian light rail prior to attending this expo.

Green Foods Expo Opening Ceremony; Salted Meat Vendor inside the Convention
Inside the convention center, there were hundreds of stalls featuring products from all over China, Taiwan and Korea.

Dried Mushrooms Galore

Coconuts from Hainan Island; Me Drinking Coconut Water All the Way Up in Heilongjiang!

Pan-Fried Bao Zi Class

Our office arranged a bao zi class after work one day, but unfortunately the teacher came with the meat and veggie fillings pre-mixed and marinated and the dough made prior to our arrival. We only learned how to roll and wrap the filling, which I've already learned from my mum. It wasn't a pointless class because I did learn to wrap the bao zi into leaf and flower shapes and get the recipe for the dough, which was the best bao zi dough I've ever had.

The Bao Zi Assembly Line

Barbara Rolling Out a Bao Zi Wrapper; Me Pretending It's My First Time

Chives and Egg Filling and Pork and Cabbage Filling; Wrapped Bao Zi Ready to be Cooked

My Pretty Well Wrapped, Regularly Shaped Bao Zi; The Teacher's Amazing Flower Bao Zi

Bao Zi in a Greased Pan; Pan-fried Bao Zi