Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mapo Tofu


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One weekday, I discovered I had an early afternoon appointment in the city right near DLS‘s office. When I mentioned this to him, he suggested I come in a bit early and have lunch with him, and I let him pick the place. Unsurprisingly, he chose Chinese… a place he’d been to previously and enjoyed.

Since we ordered three lunch specials (his choice! really, I’m not the reason he’s gaining weight!), we had our choice of appetizers. Mediocre spring rolls that he liked and insisted I try a bite before judging (yup, still mediocre, with lackluster filling), his wonton soup that I suppose he liked well enough, and my egg drop soup. Something you may not already know about me: my parents owned a series of Chinese restaurants prior to my birth; when I was growing up, my dad would often make me egg drop soup. He taught me the recipe long before he died – probably as a means to stop me bugging him to make some for me – but for some reason, I’ve failed to properly recreate it since his death (before he died, it was pretty good). Egg drop soup is comfort food to me, even though I rarely have it quite as silky and delicious as Dad used to make.. In any case, this was standard, and achieved the baseline expectations I have for egg drop soup (and yes, it can be bad; I’ve made plenty of bad batches since my dad’s passing in 2000).

Our first choice was dan dan noodles; since our visit to Wu Liang Ye and our subsequent discovery that they do not deliver to him, you could say that dan dan mian has become a bit of an obsession for me. I suppose one day I might actually give my friend The GastroGnome‘s recipe a try – she kindly shared it with me a while back, though she also makes the noodles from scratch like a true nutball (and I love her for it) – but until then, I’ll have to make do with ordering them… In any case, these were woefully mediocre – soft, gummy noodles, with barely any heat in the chili oil, and not much else going on in the dish at all. I ate a bit but then gave up, as they just weren’t worthy of my stomach space.

Our next dish, green beans with pork, was also a flop. Though the color was good, the beans were wrinkly and clearly ‘old’ – overcooked and soft, retaining little about them that is what I like in green beans. I ate more of this mostly just to eat some veggies, but I was very meh about the dish.

Our third and final dish, prawns in chili oil, was yet another disappointment. The prawns were rubbery and overcooked, though the spice was pronounced in this dish at least. I contented myself eating the veggies, which were, at least, cooked tender-crisp, but ignored the prawns beyond the one I tried that was overcooked (DLS agreed that they were overcooked, so it wasn’t just the one).

Sadly, I could tell DLS was disappointed with the dishes we had as he insisted this was not a good representation of the place and its food. I have a feeling that I will return at some point at his behest, so I’ll reserve rating it until that point… maybe it will redeem itself. He seemed to really enjoy the place before this visit where nothing was very good, though.

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Comments

11 Responses to “Mapo Tofu”
  1. dave g. says:

    I’ve never been here, so I can’t directly comment as to its quality. But in terms of awesome Sichuan, I have to say that in the neighborhood at least, I can’t imagine anything topping Cafe China on 37th btwn 5th and Mad. Chungking Spicy Chicken, Mapo Tofu, Pork Dumplings in chili oil, tofu w/ celery shoots, etc. All fantastic.

  2. hungry says:

    Is that the same dan dan noodles recipe you gave me to try out?

  3. T.C. says:

    I’ve had the mapo tofu here last year. It was okay and flavorful.

  4. bxgrl says:

    Must be a bad day… I eat there a bit and those are three favorite dishes, I am actually addicted to the string beans so I am sorry they came out bad. Great Chinese across the street too – Hunan Manor – best hot and sour soup.

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