Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reviving the Chomps

Dear 3 readers I have left, 1 of whom is probably a bot and the other 2 my parents. I confess to the cardinal sin of blogging. Not having an update in a span of almost 8 months. It would seem like I went for a vacation in Asia, never to return. Not a bad outcome really.

The truth is that I moved to California last December. Exciting times! Though that leaves the question of ... can I still blog about California eats on Boston Chomps?

Been blogging a bit at Traveling Chomps. Still contemplating the fate of Boston Chomps.

Hello, San Francisco Bay Area ...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Beijing: Big Hairy Crabs at Jing Ding Xuan

I had this sudden desire to eat hairy crabs (大閘蟹) while in Beijing. The concierge must have thought it to be a strange request. I suppose it's Shanghai not Beijing that's famous for these yummy crustacean delicacies. Anyway they recommended a restaurant called Jing Ding Xuan.

The restaurant itself was extremely large and busy but we were seated quickly:

Jing Ding Xuan serves a variety of food but since we were there on a weekend the dim sum option seemed to be very popular. We decided to get the dim sum as well as a crab for me. The dim sum was very cheap, approximately US$1 an item! Now where else can you get such a deal. The quality however was reflective of the price. I didn't enjoy it much.

We got chicken feet, shiu mai, har gau, spicy noodles, veggie buns (these were actually quite good):

Now for the HIGHLIGHT of my meal. The hairy crab! Ahh satisfaction:

The best part of the crab is the roe. Rich creamy and I love how it tastes with the vinegar it's served with. The crab itself doesn't have much meat but the sweet flesh dipped in vinegar (yes the vinegar is crucial) makes picking at it all worth while hehe

Chomp Meter:

I wouldn't recommend this restaurant. There are much better restaurants in Beijing. However, if you are hard pressed to find hairy crabs then this place will do :)

Jing Ding Xuan 金鼎轩酒楼
He Ping Li West Street No 77
On the south gate of Ditan.
Phone: 010 6429 6888
Open 24hrs

Directions for the cabbie:
丰台区方庄蒲芳路16号 (家乐福对面)

Beijing: Dong Hua Men Night Market

Dong Hua Men night market was featured on a couple travel shows including Samantha Brown and Bizarre foods so naturally I had to make a trip to see what all the fuss is about. I'm not sure how I planned to get there since I had no clue where it was and I am clueless when it comes to directions :P

Luckily for me we stumbled upon the market while exploring off Wang Fu Jing (the main shopping street). So if you're planning a trip to Beijing bear that in mind! I have to report though that I was very unadventurous. We didn't end up trying anything except for dessert because we'd consumed a whole lot of duck at Li Qun. Then greedily stuffed our faces with some Beard Papa cream puffs.

I do bring photos of the weird and bizzare however.

Innard Kebabs?

Sea Urchin and Crabs?

And don't forget the insects. GULP:

The Beijing colleague reminised about eating "Tang Hu Lu" as a child, so that was the lame snack we got at Dong Hua Men. It's a kind of candied fruit on a stick? If you've ever had "Haw Flakes" from Chinatown, the fruit tastes just like that, but sickly sweet since it's dipped in a hard sugar coating. This is one dessert I didn't like.

Sticks and sticks of Tang Hu Lu:

Chomp Meter:
I can't really rate this since I didn't eat much there but it's definitely worth a stroll around so you can scare yourself with the weird foods available haha. Just a disclaimer too that the market is geared towards tourists. It felt kinda staged to me :p

Dong Hua Men Avenue
West of Wang Fu Jing Avenue
Beijing 100005

Monday, December 22, 2008

Peking Duck in Peking - Liqun Roast Duck

I decided to head to Li Qun for peking duck after doing some research on Chowhound and seeing it on No Reservations. There are several popular duck restaurants (Dadong, Quanjude, Duck de Chine) in Beijing but Li Qun had a more rustic appeal, at least from what I read.

One of the hub's local colleagues kindly offered to show us around. When I mentioned wanting to go to Li Qun, he had this blank look on his face. OK not a good sign given that this guy grew up in Beijing and has no idea where Li Qun is. But I pressed on. I mean this place looked all authentic from what I'd seen and I made him take us anyway haha.

Li Qun is really hard to find! It's hidden in a hutong (old street). We drove past it several time before finally finding it. I'm thinking it's even harder for non locals to locate.

See how quaint it is?

As soon as we entered the restaurant, I realized that everyone there was a tourist. HRMMMM. The look on the colleague's face was also priceless. I'm thinking he's thinking this is a tourist trap and I'm the clueless foreigner.

Spot any tourists inside? Hehe

Anyway the colleague helps us order. We get a peking duck and some other dishes. I loved the duck feet in a horse radish kind of mustard sauce. It was sooo yum! There also a stir fry of assorted duck parts in a white wine sauce. My 2nd favorite dish hehe.

The duck was good but wasn't great, not really fine cuisine. The skin wasn't as crisp as the peking duck I've had in HK/Singapore and the slices had more fat and meat. Different style?

Here's the duck sliced:

Chomp Meter:

The duck at Li Qun Restaurant was ok. It's more of a homey preparation. I'm not sure I'll recommend it if you're looking for the BEST duck. There were some good dishes (like the feet hehe) but the main attraction was lack luster. The location however definitely has a very authentic feel though according to the locals the prices are not :P I'm sure they're raking in a huge profit.

When the local Beijing colleague was asked where the best duck was, he said Da Dong. So I'm thinking I will try it next time. It's in a somewhat fancy restaurant setting but I guess I'm over rustic for now!

Finally, if you want to head there, get the Hotel Concierge to call ahead and make reservations. They are very busy!

Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant (Li Qun Kao Ya Dian) 利群烤鴨店
Phone:6705 5578

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Traveling Chomps: Next Stop, Beijing!

The hubs had to make a trip to Beijing for work in November and I obligingly agreed to accompany him. Well actually I was soo desperate to go ... it'd be silly of me to forgo the good food heehehe

Anyway my first meal in Beijing wasn't so exciting. Since the hubs had to work, I spent my day lazing around the hotel room which I quite enjoyed. After lounging around all morning, I finally dragged myself out for lunch. The choices around the hotel (financial district) were limited so I ended up going to Ajisen Ramen (I know I know, it's a chain and there used to be one in Boston). But unlike the Super 88 food court, there's a wider selection of noodles. I got a spicy noodle dish, it was aight.

After lunch, I headed to the KFC next door for egg tarts! I am absolutely OBSESSED with the eggtarts at KFC. They don't seem to sell these anywhere else in the world and I always have to have them whenever I'm in China.

The variety changes slightly with the season. I've had mango and peach before, this time they were selling passion fruit egg tart and it was GOOD. The egg filling is blended nicely with some fruity chunks. Seriously, if you are ever in China, you have to try this! Ahhh HBO + egg tart and coffee ...

It tastes better than it looks:

Did you also know that KFC is China's most popular fast food chain? Even more so than Mcdonald's.

Alright, more China eats to come!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Traveling Chomps: Singapore Food Wrap Up

OK y'all must be tired of my Singapore posts by now. Here's the last installment. Photos of what else we ate and what to try if you're headed that way:

Kaya Toast (L) Half Boiled Eggs (R) Kaya is an egg/coconut jam found only in S.E. Asia

Sea Coconut Ice (L) Ice Kachang (R) Both are desserts you can find in any hawker center.

Roti Prata from Causarina Prata (L) Duck from Dian Xiao Er(R)

Braised Sea Cucumber from Imperial Treasure Teochew Cuisine at Takashimaya S.C. (L) Roast Duck Noodles from Hawker Stall(R)

Pepper Lunch (L) Mos Burger - Rice Burger (R)

I love Pepper Lunch, a Japanese fast food restaurant that serves meals on a hot plate. It's fun because every thing is thrown on a sizzling plate. Marketed as DIY steak! Mos Burger is always yummy especially their rice burgers! Fast food with a Japanese twist.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Durians: The King of Fruit

Where: Singapore, Geylang
Specialty: Pungent fruit!

What I love about Singapore is that you can run out anytime at night and be able to fulfill your food cravings. I was taken to eat durians one evening. It's really not so bad, but like stinky cheese or tofu, I suppose some people handle it much better than others.

A display full of durian:

Here's how you eat it, with plastic gloves. This way you won't smell of durian for the next day or two ...

The durian we got was especially good. Strangely each section tasted slightly different. For the faint hearted, you can start with durian puffs which can be purchased at some bakeries. They are like cream puffs but filled with durian cream. It's also key to get a good durian because a bad one can ruin your first experience!

Really it's just a fruit, what's there to be afraid of :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Traveling Chomps: Going back in time ...

Where: Singapore (Kranji Reservoir)
Specialty: Seafood

Kranji Farm Resort in Singapore must be one of the strangest places I've been. The idea behind this resort is the farm life for city folk. Not particularly appealing to me given Singapore's humidity. Anyway, the in-laws insisted on checking out this place (thankfully at night).

The resort is buried deep in the jungles of Singapore (didn't know this existed!) and gives off a tacky 80s vibe. Also the restrooms were gross, like we were in a rural town! They really didn't need to be that authentic :P

The main attraction for us though was the seafood restaurant, Atlantis. Thankfully, despite the location, the food was actually amazing!

Do you doubt that the seafood is fresh? Hrmmm check out the tanks and tanks of sea creatures I've never seen before:

Based on the owners recommendations we ordered several dishes.

Clam Vermicelli (L): This was absolutely delicious! Spicy with a rich clam broth and full of clams. I couldn't get enough of this. Fresh Steamed Prawns (R)

The weirdest dish of the evening though was the shark. I've never actually had shark before but it was strangely delicious, perhaps because of the unique preparation. The shark was first prepared asam style which is a spicy, sourish curry often cooked with fish. It was then cooked in a more traditional Cantonese sauce. I'm not sure what cut of the fish this was but it had lots of gelatinous parts (as you can see in the photo) which was really yummy!

Assam Style (L) Cantonese Soy Sauce Style (R)

Chomp Meter:
Minus 1 star for the strange location. The food though was excellent. Ask the server for the night's specials and stick to the seafood of course!

Atlantis Seafood
10 Neo Tiew Lane 2
Singapore 718813