Let's look back and what we've done so far:
Toronto Trip: April 28th - 29th, 2010
At the end of April, Lucy and Jimmy came down to help move the rest of my things back home. We went to the Northern Dumpling Kitchen again. Lucy had been craving the chicken dumplings since our last visit. Heheee! If you're in the Toronto area, this is the place to go for dumplings
Lucy and I could've been happy with just soup dumplings (xiao long bao) and the pan-fried chicken dumplings, but since Jimmy was here, we needed more at the table. Jimmy did the ordering. A bowl of dan dan noodles for himself, a plate of Shanghai noodles, and two portions of both the soup dumplings and chicken dumplings.
Jimmy didn't enjoy the bowl of noodles at all. The soup was so-so. The noodles were overdone. There was just not enough flavour. For someone who usually consumes everything, Jimmy was not able to finish the bowl. In fact, he didn't even attempt to.
Soon after his bowl of noodles arrived, the plate of Shanghai noodles came. The dish had a slight smokiness. The shrimps were plump, juicy, and sweet. The shredded cabbages, carrots, and finely sliced wood ear mushrooms added a nice crunch - perfect contrast to the soft noodles. One thing I appreciate about the restaurant is that the cooks have a light hand in seasoning this plate of noodles. There's just enough salt for it not to be bland, which makes the flavour and texture of everything else much more important. The plate of rice cakes that I've had were seasoned the same way. Very gutsy!
I think the term for the smokiness to the noodles is wok hei. For those who don't know, you need a really hot wok and quick hands to achieve this. You can actually see the wok hei in some cases. Look for some dark bits around the edges of the noodles. Here are some examples:
My noodles @ the House of Gourmet: here
Rice cakes @ Northern Dumpling Kitchen: here
Out came the delicious soup dumplings from the kitchen.
Just look how fat they are. That's hot!
As expected, the soup dumplings were very tasty. I have only one knock against this particular batch. I found the soup filling a bit too oily this time. Not enough broth. But hey, these are still better than the ones you find at Din Tai Fung.
Last, but not least, the chicken dumplings!
Uh... yeah. It was a heartbreaker when they arrived. Lucy and I were expecting the giant golden-fried chicken dumplings, but staring back at us innocently was a plate of steamed chicken dumplings. I definitely cried on the inside. For those who have tasted the pan-fried version, you know what I'm talking about.
It just wasn't the same. The smaller steamed chicken dumplings weren't as flavourful and outstanding as its pan-fried sibling. It was definitely a disappointment. The reason we had ordered the steamed version was that when we hyped the chicken dumplings up, we never mentioned that they were the pan-fried version. Or maybe we did... in any case, we now know for next time. =]
Overall, dinner at the Northern Dumpling Kitchen was a success. Yummy cheap food is always a plus. I will definitely be bringing my parents up here the next time we visit Toronto.
The next day, we dropped by Mr. Sun's former location for lunch. With low expectations, the three of us went inside and sat by the window. We had to order the Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Moreover, just in case it was another big letdown, I ordered the pork spare rib noodle soup to share with Lucy. We ordered some little fillers as well; pan fried dumplings and green onion pancakes.
Jimmy's bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup tasted okay. It was much better than the last time the two of them tried it, though. Two steps back, one step forward. I still loved the beef chunks. So tender and full of flavour!
The pork spare rib noodle soup broth was different. This was more like a broth than soup. The mustard greens that were on top of the bowl had a bit too much sesame oil and overpowered the balance of flavours. The pork spare ribs weren't as tender as I hoped and didn't really taste like anything.
The green onion pancakes weren't very good. They weren't very crispy and didn't have the layers. These were definitely frozen ones. The dumplings were a disappointment as well. I don't know why we even thought about ordering this, as we just had the best dumplings the night before. We paid the bill and headed back to Ottawa after we dropped by to pick up some drinks at T&T and bubble tea at Assamiea's Ten Ren.
Mirage still has some tweaking to do, but until then, it will still be a kid trying on their mother's stilettos.
Random Italian: May 23rd, 2010
Richard randomly craved pasta and made a large pot of 'spaghetti' sauce in two hours. After fixing Richard's sauce (roughly crushing the meatballs, so that the some juice is in the sauce, adjusting the seasoning), all that was left was for the pasta. A package of linguine was cooked and strained off. A bit of oil/butter, to make sure the pasta didn't dry out, and all that was left was to fix your own serving.
The accompanying bread was homemade. My mom had made some dough for pizza, but I couldn't help but think that it would make a great garlicky cheese bread for the pasta. Playing around with the temperature too often created a thick crust that wasn't that desirable. If only we had some Italian wedding soup to go with this.
A bit of parmesan and it was ready to be consumed.
That's what the "kids" of the house can make on a whim. I hope this inspires you to cook something unplanned with your siblings, friends, and/or family.
Mirage Noodle House
4186 Finch Avenue East, Unit 25