My brother discovered a new place, and as with any place my family likes – I wind up going a couple of times in quick succession before I can even post about it. Heck, I might even go again before this post goes live. I’ll update it if I try anything new.
One of the things you need to know about the Sins: if we’re hungry, back away slowly while throwing food to us. Someone once suggested he throw a potato at me, and the look of pure fury I turned on him probably said it all.
Don’t mess with a hungry Sin.
Post-dentist visit one Saturday, FeistyMom, bro and I headed here and found a wait. Thankfully, it wasn’t that long, but when we sat down, I abandoned my “order whatever because I haven’t been here and you guys have, so you know better what to get” and last-minute added an order of scallion noodles. THANK GOODNESS I DID, because my stomach was starting to burn a hole in itself trying to eat it, and this came so quickly that FeistyMom and I practically inhaled it all before stopping for breath or to let bro take a pic. I’ve never had scallion noodles, I don’t know what possessed me to order them, but these noodles – this is not hunger talking – were super springy. The noodles of my dreams. Springy without being undercooked. So springy I could probably bounce a couple of feet high if I had enough noodles spread below me. Soaking out that delicious soy sauce/scallion oil in the bottom of the bowl… oh I really liked these, yes I did, though FeistyMom decreed them a waste of money for next time, sadface. $3.75 seemed okay to me, but I get what she means – she raised me, after all – and acquiesced (and will order them when she’s not around, muhahaha!). I think she was paying anyway.
I mean if you’re going to put “xiao long bao” in the name of your restaurant, your xiao long bao better be damn good, right? Xiao long bao, aka soup dumplings… well, let’s just say that I’m kind of an expert on them. I don’t mess around when it comes to my soup dumplings. And these, my friends, are pretty darn tasty. I know a LOT of people who say either that they can’t taste the difference when there’s crab meat or not, but if you can’t taste: you’re either not looking, your palate sucks, or the restaurant screwed up and gave you the wrong order. Or worse, they skimped out on that delicious essence of crab. Here, the richness of the pork broth – I mean it’s rich and coats the inside of your mouth like you’re a $5 – wait, this isn’t that kind of blog – just delicious, then that tang of seafood comes in and says “hello, I am here to make you happy, love you long time” – wait, again, this isn’t that kind of blog! – along with the wonderfully thin but pliant skin… it just works. Trust me on this one. It works. While this is a place I’d be wary of taking soup dumpling n00bz – nothing angers me more than watching that beautiful broth go to waste because someone pops and drops it (this is the same as going hungry, because then you don’t get to eat!) – because the skin is so thin, even an expert like me has trouble picking them up sometimes (though I am happy to report I didn’t break any, because the mocking my brother was already doing of me was enough to make a sane person mad – good thing I’m not sane!) – I mean it’s just so good. How can you not?
Of course, a place can have excellent one dish, and everything else sucks. So let’s keep moving.
Crispy beef, a dish about which my brother raved to the heavens and back. Have you ever had fried stuff? Have you ever had fried stuff covered in the barest slick of a sauce that’s slightly sweet, slightly spiced, then sprinkled with sesame seeds? Have you ever had fried stuff… on weed??? (Okay, sorry, I just re-watched Half Baked and Jon Stewart’s part always kills me.) In any case, imagine the best french fries you’ve ever had – unless you like steak fries, in which case, we are done here – and then swap out the potato for beef. So this is basically what that is, sort of: while this was incredibly tasty, and any stoner worth his smoke would scarf this entire plate down and ask for seconds, I could not in good conscience leave it at that in this review. After eating a couple of strips, I realized there’s no beef in here. Or maybe there is; this is like if you take pork floss and deep fry it. There’s no real beef in there. Or maybe it’s just beef fat. This reminded me of back when I used to regularly make ‘chicken nibblers’ ie cut up chicken breast that I breaded with seasoned bread crumbs and fried for exBF – sometimes at the end of the chicken, I’d have so much breadcrumbs left that I couldn’t reuse, that I’d simply fry that up with some of the milk mixture. I called them fritters.
They tasted just like the chicken nibblers, but without chicken inside. The smaller ones you might even think HAD chicken in them, just very small pieces; afterall, they were being fried in chicken fat and oil that had fried tons of chicken in it. And that’s what this reminded me of. So this dish tastes good, but be aware that there’s very little to no beef in there. And it’s probably horrible for you.
But it tastes good. So, as my policy is “if it tastes good, eat it!” – I ate it.
I briefly mentioned this dish in my review on Fung Tu, though now that I look at it – I think they’re two completely different dishes with similar innards. Whatevs. Is anyone even reading this? No one ever reads what I write anymore. It’s all about micro-blogging, which is something I think PR people really need to exploit and explore, but that’s a totally different kind of post for a totally different kind of site. Seriously no one is reading this. I’m writing this for myself. If I can make myself laugh in 10 years reading this, I WILL HAVE WON.
Scallion pancake wrapped around aromatic beef, cilantro, scallions, and hoisin sauce. Something fun about me: I don’t like scallion pancakes. They are always oily, feel like lead in my stomach, too thick and not chewy enough even though they look so freaking chewy! I like chewy things! Did you notice! Why am I yelling! I’m excited! I don’t know why! Every scallion pancake I’ve ever had – ordered by someone else who wanted them – has disappointed me, even when the other person has proclaimed it a “good” scallion pancake. Literally. Luckily, since I don’t like pancakes of any sort all that much, it’s really never bothered me and I’ve never sought out a scallion pancake.
But oh holy geez this was a good scallion pancake; it was CHEWY. Did you hear me say CHEWY! It was CHEWY, and crisp from that frying bit and just if all scallion pancakes tasted like this, I might actually bother eating them. Maybe. I haven’t really decided yet. But I ate this one and I would eat it again and again until it sang stop… ooh baby, you makin’ me real hot… *Freak Me by Silk has been stuck in my head since watching that Playing House episode a few weeks ago…
oh yeah, fun story, see that second picture? When I was opening up my ‘sandwich’ to take that pic, my mom said sharply “What are you doing?!” like to scold me for playing with my food. I didn’t answer because ummm what? and she asked me again and I finally said, frustrated (sorry mom! you may be the only person who actually reads this, although you probably aren’t reading this because this is a WHOLE LOT OF WORDS! you probably got bored by now and just looked at all the pictures, oh well probably better because of all the drug and sex references…), “WHAT DO YOU CARE, you’re not eating it!” – ha! Even though I’m a grown ass woman of 33, my mother still treats me like I’m a child. Well, I guess I am her child.
Who still goes to the dentist with her mommy.
What? Did you miss that part of the story?
And then the noodles – more noodles! I was born to the wrong type of Chinese family; all we ate was rice growing up when all I wanna do is eat noodles! – Shanghai noodles with beef or something. It doesn’t matter to me what protein it is. These are a different noodle from the other kind earlier in the post – like a thousand words ago – but damn if they weren’t just as chewy, and completely soaked in the deliciousness that is any Chinese sauce. I chowed down on this dish like whattttttt.
Any of my long term readers – and goodness I hope you all are familiar with me, otherwise if this is your first time reading I’m sure I’ve scared you off by now from my manic rambling or babbling or… bambling – holla, OLA class of ’94! – cough cough couch (not a typo… I need a nap after writing this crazy post) – what was I saying? Oh yes you should all be familiar with my OBSESSION with BLACK SESAME (echo…). My brother and mother somehow didn’t know about it. Even though I talk about it. Eh, no one reads, no one listens, I just don’t matter. They just kept saying something about a special dessert that was out last time and decided to ask about it on a whim and guess what? They had it. And it was BLACK SESAME TOFUFA!!! Tofu flower. Or whatever. It’s silken tofu that’s served warm (well, it can be cold at dim sum with fruit cocktail but that is an abomination we won’t speak of) with a ginger syrup over it. Or usually that’s how it’s served, and when done properly – say if someone makes their own tofu and ginger syrup – oh my god, it is positively amazing. But when done poorly, it tastes like jello and not the good kind. Don’t ask me what the good kind of jello is. Panna cotta maybe? There was that one time this woman described panna cotta as milk jello and I was ready to throttle her… maybe because she’d already sneered at my pronunciation of panna cotta (the Italian pronunciation)…
blah blah blah… BLACK SESAME TOFUFA!! or basically they took tofufa and then dumped a WHOLE HUGE MESS OF BLACK SESAME CREAM on top. Cream or paste… either way, if you’ve ever tried to buy that stuff, it is EXPENSIVE. This whole bowl was just $4 or so and they dumped like an entire container on top! What! Pretty simple to make though I guess. Anyway, how did it taste?
Like the black sesame unicorn just exploded in my mouth, that’s how.
Actually, to be honest, it was a little too much black sesame. I don’t know. There is such a thing as being black sesame for the sake of being black sesame – you know what I mean? – and this was just unnecessary. Start with good tofufa and you don’t need that other stuff. Seriously. Just be yourself.
We’ll like you the way you are! Promise!
… that doesn’t mean I didn’t lick all the black sesame out of that bowl though
So that was my first time at Kung Fu Panda Palace, but what about a week later when FeistySis joined us?
More scallion pancakes with beef please! I still loved that crispy chewy pancake. No inside shot this time though.
Two steamer trays of six soup dumplings for three people last time; three steamer trays of six soup dumplings for four people this time. Do the math. It works out. Somehow.
So in my family. there’s always a lot of making fun of me to be done. Maybe because I’m the baby, maybe because I’m viewed as the idiot, I don’t know. In the context of this story, I bring this up because my Chinese is NOTORIOUSLY bad, even though I was easily the best at conversational/colloquial Cantonese when I was younger (I spent a lot of time at home watching Chinese comedies with my parents). Regardless, in restaurants, I tend to hesitate to speak Chinese because servers often correct me or otherwise make me feel like a moron for trying. In this instance, my mother did the ordering and I’d thought she said she wanted this dish above, the Shanghai noodles. In Chinese, these are called “seung hoi cho chow mein” (Shanghai ‘rough’ fried noodles). When she was done ordering and hadn’t said this dish’s name, I attempted to remind her of this, but it came out “cho… chow… cho cho cho” like a slightly defective choo-choo train. The server immediately said “seung hoi cho chow mein!” and I still don’t know how he didn’t just laugh in my face – I immediately burst into tears from laughing so hard – but kudos to him for understanding my horrible attempt at Chinese.
AND THAT IS WHY I DO NOT SPEAK CHINESE TO ANYONE
Still good. I think I wound up finishing this dish. And an extra soup dumpling. YUP.
Oh, and true story: after dinner, I was standing across the street, in front of the Asian supermarket when a woman approached me and began speaking Mandarin to me. I immediately said “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Mandarin” and called out to FeistySis who was standing a bit away, who took it in college, but the woman interrupted me and asked me for directions in unflawed English.
BEEYOTCH THOUGHT I WAS A FOB.
Last on this trip – but definitely not least! oh no no – stir fried rice cakes with some stuff. This is another case like scallion pancakes: I have had rice cakes a bajillion times, and have rarely liked them. (Well, I’ve never liked a scallion pancake, but I have liked a small handful of rice cake dishes at places that no longer exist.) But these were everything I want in a rice cake: flavorful, soft but CHEWY (see? theme! – maybe my new motto should be “if it tastes good and is CHEWY, eat it!”)… and delicious. Oh yes delicious. The last few times I’ve had rice cakes either they were flavorless (needed to be eaten each bite with stuff, not just on its own) or they were hard ie cooked improperly. WTF. I think my sister finished this plate. Or maybe I ate all of these and she ate the cho cho cho. I know we split up who finished what.
No black sesame tofufa for FeistySis – they were out. Oh yeah! I also had the cold fresh sweetened soy milk the first time. I liked it. Would order again, but they run out sometimes.
In any case, here you go, guys: I am sharing a place that is fast becoming a family favorite, way before it’s been 3 years and 50 visits. I hope you enjoy!! If you see me there, make sure I don’t have the hangry glint of infuriating hunger in my eyes before you say hi.
and if you read all of this, give yourself a big pat on the back. Was it worth it?
tl;dr: EAT HERE NOW MUST GO YUM YUM