Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve Hot Pot

Lucy and I wish that you have a very merry Christmas and have an awesome day! Good luck if you're going to be Boxing Day shopping tomorrow, too!


Last night, we needed to make something for dinner that was to serve 8 hungry people. The solution was hot pot. We went to Ottawa's T&T to pick up some meat and veggies.

Some of the things we ate:

Enoki mushrooms, napa cabbage and watercress.

Hot Pot7

Cuttlefish balls and fried tofu puffs.
Hot Pot1

Fish balls and fried fish cakes.
Hot Pot2

Shrimp wontons with snow pea shoots.
Hot Pot5

We also had tofu, sliced beef, pork and pork jowl.

Hot Pot4

Not pictured are the green onion pancakes and some dim sum dishes I picked up from T&T.

Once the soup started boiling, the only thing on our minds were to throw things into the soup and eat them once they were done. With our family, it's a free for all. If you put in something... say... tofu puffs, with the intention of eating them, but don't pay close attention to them cooking, other people will snatch them up. You can just ask Jimmy.

When our family has hot pot, it's a game of give and take. And that's why it always tastes better when you eat with more people. Not only is the company welcome, but the more things people put into the soup, the tastier the soup will be at the end of the meal.

Update: I just realized that we've had over 7,000 hits! Thanks for the support and have a great holiday!

~ Christine


Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'll Be Home For...

Tomorrow afternoon! Yaaay! Finished all my exams and I've pretty much packed everything I need for the break. I can't wait to get back to Ottawa and see the family again! Even though I'm excited to be finished school and to be going back home for the holidays, I have a strong feeling that I'll be missing Toronto in a few days. It's okay though. I desperately need this break. I intend to use my break to de-stress, recharge and brainstorm new ideas for photos/my portfolio.

To those who still have exams left, good luck! For those who are finished or don't have to write any exams, HIGH FIVE!

~ Christine

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dumplings Made the Right Way - Northern Dumpling Kitchen

School has been so overwhelming. I'm almost finished, which means that the Christmas break is just around the corner. And now that I have time, I'm able to blog again!

Let's start off by saying that I've been so busy this semester, that I've only been to Chinatown twice since August. Doesn't that blow your mind? If you aren't familiar with our blog, I try to go to Chinatown whenever I can... just read all the posts from last year... chinatown, chinatown and more chinatown.

I've been getting my Chinese food fixes from random trips with my friend, Liz. She recently brought me to her go-to dumpling restaurant, located in Richmond Hill, after the college lost power and briefly closed down. The Northern Dumpling Kitchen is located in the Time Square plaza. It's a pretty small and low key restaurant with minimal decor.
Northern Dumpling Kitchen

The first time I was brought here, we ordered some soup dumplings (aka xiao long bao aka XLB) and chicken pot stickers to start. To fill us up, we also ordered a bowl of stewed beef noodle soup.

I didn't take any pictures during that trip there, but the bowl of noodles arrived first. The noodles weren't over cooked, but the soup tasted of instant noodle soup. Maybe some members of Family Outing were in the kitchen? It was just disappointing. The beef chunks were tender and tasty, but not as good as the ones at the House of Gourmet or the ones that were served at (the now-closed) Mr. Sun's Noodle House. It's unfair to compare the bowl of noodles at Mr. Sun's with the one at the Dumpling Kitchen, but I kept thinking how great the bowl of stewed beef noodle soup would taste if it was a fraction of Mr. Sun's awesomeness.

Next came a steamer of six cute XLB dumplings! Rather than being wide dumplings, like the ones we make at home, these were more of a tear drop. I was impressed at how none of them leaked at first, but as soon as I finished one, I knew why they didn't rip as easily as other restaurants. The dumpling skin was thin and dense.. uhh.. wrong word. The dumpling skins were firm? Strong? I can't think of the word, but the skins were thin but not too soft. They were al dente.. or QQ as the Taiwanese like to say. 

I nibbled on the side of one to let all the soup drain onto the spoon, slurped it up, added some vinegar and ginger and at them in one bite. Yum! The first few I ate were hot, but because the XLB came when Liz and I were still working on the noodle soup, the dumplings cooled down quite a bit.
Note to self: eat XLB while they're still hot.

Liz ordered the pan-fried chicken pot stickers. They didn't sound very interesting. I just kept thinking that the chicken pot stickers would be like the pork version. But this was different. There wasn't any ginger at all and the dumpling skins were different. Instead of being dense and not flavourful, they were fluffy and slightly sweet. When I first told Lucy of these dumpling, I told her that they were like the steamed bun skins -- but different. I told her that when I was still reeling at how good these were. They aren’t like the pot sticker wrappers that you buy in the store. The dumpling restaurant obviously makes their own. The dumpling skins actually tasted good. The filling was good too.

We weren’t able to finish everything. I believe we had two pot stickers left that we took home. The bill was easily under $20.

The second time we dined at the restaurant was last Friday, after classes and before taking Liz’s family portrait for an assignment.. and waaay before we had to go shoot an interior restaurant shoot downtown at midnight.

This time we ordered a bowl of spicy fish soup, a plate of stir fried rice cakes and an order of the Liz's favourite chicken pot stickers.

The fried rice cakes arrived at our table first. Stir fried with shiitake and wood ear mushrooms, nappa cabbage and some green and red peppers, the dish reminded me of beef fried rice noodles (the one that’s made with soy sauce, onions, and beansprouts).

Stir Fried Rice Cakes
The smokiness was there, which meant that their woks were very hot when this was made. This flavour always makes a dish taste better. The seasoning was light and simple. It was a tad greasy, but I didn’t mind it. The rice cakes were very QQ. They were soft but chewy, which made it fun to eat.

Piled with a lot of tasty fish, the spicy fish soup arrived and was served. It's pretty much this dish, but with more "soup".

Spicy Fish Soup
It looks spicier than it really is, then again, we left the soup behind and just ate the chunks soft, but sweet, tilapia fish and beansprouts. Yup, you heard it correctly. It was no typo. I actually had some beansprouts. The only reason was because they took on the flavour of the soup and lost the beansprout flavour – and don’t say that they don’t have a flavour, cause you fail if that came into your head. Fail.

Spicy Fish Soup
Here's a close up of the mess.

Delicious pan fried chicken dumplings arrived and we dug into them right away. I forgot to mention how large these were. You can't tell how large these are on the plate, but just check out the beautiful golden colour. Amazing!

A Plate of Chicken Pot Stickers
Chicken Pot Stickers
Here's the dumpling attempting to convince me not to eat it, by showing off it's beautiful pleats. Unfortunately for the dumpling, it made me want it so much more.

Did you notice how large the dumpling is compared to the spoon? So awesome!

Juices Exposed
These babies are also very juicy - almost a spoonful, which is impressive, considering they had to fit it into the dumplings. Just check out how much is on the spoon.

We ate these like I ate the XLB; nibbled the side/corner, drained the soup/juices, bit, chewed and savoured the dumplings. This was repeated until the dumplings were finished. They actually look kind of greasy, but I think there's more oil in the soup (which wasn't much) than there was on the outside. The kitchen definitely fried these on a hot pan.
The only thing we had leftover was the spicy fish soup, which was packed up for later consumption. I believe the bill was under $20 again.

This place has become my favourite dumpling place and it's no surprise that Liz also loves eating there. If you’re looking for a delicious place to get dumplings, go to the Northern Dumpling Kitchen. They make dumplings the right way.

Update: We've gotten over 6,000 hits! Thanks for the support everyone! Happy eating =]


Northern Dumpling Kitchen
Unit 52A, 550 Hwy 7, E
Richmond Hill
Northern Dumpling Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Little Sad...

... now that I've finished the box of blueberry Eggo waffles.

Blueberry Eggo waffle

No more quick, syrupy desserts for breakfast. *Tear*


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