Wednesday, January 29, 2014

CNY Celebrations at Grandpa's

Happy Chinese new years! Chuc mung nam moi! Or to generalize it, happy lunar new year!

Although the holiday begins on Friday, our whole extended family got together and celebrated it this past weekend. First up, here's Saturday in photos.








Once we began to eat, I got carried away and inhaled all the food without taking photos. But I made a mental note. We were going over to Grandma's the next day.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tasty Back to Back Dinners: 2 of 2 Chinese Food

After an exhausting day at work last week, Andrew and I headed over to Sea King for an early dinner. We had planned to go the previous night, but things changed and we had Phnom Penh noodle soup instead.

So we arrived at the restaurant around 5:30pm. There were a few people eating early too.
"I'm drooling." Andrew commented as he flipped through the menu. He was clearly more hungry than I was. I wanted "my noodles", aka rice noodles with beef and chinese greens, but ultimately left it up to him.

"Do you want the dry noodles or the wet one?"
"We've been eating the dry one a lot recently, so let's have the one with sauce." He reasoned.
"Fine with me."

While we were trying to decide what else to order, he asked if I was working the next day. "Cause if you are, we could just order another one or two dishes and then bring the leftovers for lunch." Done. A couple of dishes were added to our order.

First up, rice noodles with beef and choy sum with extra sauce. While I usually ask for gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli), we opted for the one in the menu. Choy sum is more tender anyway, so it was good. When we ordered the noodles, it occurred to me that it could be a hit or miss. It's risky to order it everywhere but the House of Gourmet. Even at Sea King. It even happened in one meal once. Sometimes the dish smells smoky but the sauce tastes bland. I'd rather have it seasoned correctly without any smokiness to the dish.

When the plate arrived, I couldn't detect any smokiness from the dish. Andrew started first. He took a bite and smiled. Since there wasn't any wok hei, it must've been seasoned properly. Then I filled my bowl and took my first bite.


"I could go home happy now." I declared happily.

Despite not having extra sauce as we requested, the dish was solid; the sauce was properly seasoned, the tenderized beef was good, and the choy sum still had a bite to it. If it wasn't missing the smoky dimension, it would actually be on par with the House of Gourmet. It was close to the House of Gourmet standards -- and I hold their version of the dish on a pedestal. Then Andrew said something to the likes of, "what if there's another dimension that the House of Gourmet doesn't have?" It was great food for thought.

We both inhaled our first bowl of noodles. It took a lot of self restraint, but I wanted to wait for our other dishes. There was a longer wait for our second dish, the Cantonese beef with onions, because the kitchen was pumping out food for one of the private rooms.

Andrew really liked how tender the beef was. Because of the sweetness, he couldn't eat too much of it though. I told him to eat it with the rice noodles like I was doing at the time. Ah well, more for me.

Since we had ordered two meat dishes (the other one was on the way), Andrew wanted some veggies so we ordered the vermicelli noodle with vegetable casserole pot. I requested that they leave the bamboo off. It seemed like my message was received.

I wafted the steam over to my nose. Bamboo... lame. Andrew gave it a try and mentioned that the flavour wasn't as strong as the buddha's delight that we ordered last time. I still wasn't a fan.

The final dish that we ordered was pork spare ribs with black bean sauce. Andrew and I both assumed it would be fried and ladled with the glossy black sauce. We received this. Really? It was probably two orders of the dim sum dish without the taro. It was disappointing.

Despite the complaints, we really enjoyed the spare ribs anyway. How could you get angry and something when it smells and tastes so good? We agreed that we shouldn't assume anything and ask the staff next time.

"Are you going for another round?" I asked Andrew. Dinner was winding down and I was trying to decide if I should eat a bit more. It's usually the point where the correct answer is usually 'no'. After some hesitation, he said he'd eat one last round. Then I would too.

So I look over to the plate of noodles. I planned to have some noodles and one last piece of Cantonese beef. I brought over my bowl and filled it up.

Why is the bowl so small? How did I fill it up so quickly? I thought to myself as I filled up my bowl with noodles. Then I snap out of it.

Wooow. So fail! I actually filled my empty tea cup with noodles. Now, throughout the dinner, Andrew and I both lost our train of thought multiple times. We couldn't finish sentences. We were just mentally and physically exhausted from a busy work week.

Did I leave the noodles uneaten though? Hell no! As I chuckled, I fished it all out of the tea cup into the bowl and tried to get rid of the tea leaves. I washed out my tea cup with some hot tea and filled it up -- with tea this time. It was if nothing ever happened. Except you know, I've now shared it with you.

As planned, we packed some of the leftovers for lunch.

So what did the dinner teach me? I'll be ordering the rice noodles with choy sum a lot more often. That and maybe not having that last round.

Sea King Shark Fin Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tasty Back to Back Dinners: 1 of 2 PPNS

Last weekend, I felt as though I got a mild case of a stomach virus; feeling fatigued and weak. I had no appetite and had issues staying hydrated. While on my break on Saturday, I sent Richard a request to make some kind of soup: chicken, pho, Phnom Penh noodle soup (aka PPNS) or something. There was no reply. Andrew and I agreed to go to Sea King for some food if dinner wasn't something I could eat. We were about to leave when I called home to double check:

"Hey, what's for dinner tonight?"
"Phnom Penh noodle soup."
"Okay, we'll be coming home soon."

We were both excited cause we were really hungry. We decided to go to Sea King the next night.

I became giddy when I walked into the kitchen and saw that all the prep work was ready. And I became overjoyed when the pork bone seafood soup tasted remarkable. Sometimes the soup can be disappointing. This was luckily not one of those times.

There was sliced raw beef, chicken, and shelled shrimps. The accompaniments we had were green onions, fried garlic oil, and preserved cabbage. There was satay sauce, Sriracha, and hoisin sauce too for dipping sauces. And for everyone who wanted to eat the dry version of Phnom Penh noodles, there was oyster sauce and dark soy sauce. A meal like this is one of the reasons why our fridge is stocked full of condiments.

We cooked the sliced chicken in the clear soup. We shouldn't have if we wanted to keep the soup clear.  Meh. I cooked the soaked rice noodles in a separate pot of boiling water for about twenty seconds. Then I pressed the cooked noodles with the back of the ladle to get rid of most of the noodle water, before dumping the cooked noodles into a waiting bowl. Andrew cooked some chicken and shrimp for me since he was making his bowl before mine. I added some green onions and tossed in some raw sliced beef.

Once Andrew was finished with his bowl, I topped my bowl up with some hot pork bone seafood soup and headed to the dinner table. There, I added the final touches of the fried garlic oil (with fried garlic) and preserved cabbage. Not many words were exchanged during dinner. It wasn't necessary.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Last Meal of 2013


When Andrew and I got home from work on New Years Eve 2013, we were surprised when we were told what we'd eat for dinner. Raw malpeque oysters, from Cooke's Cove, on the half shell as an appetizer, and for the main course: steak, scalloped potatoes, gravy, buttered veggies, and salad.



I didn't know how to eat raw oysters. Some people just swallow the oyster without chewing it. But what's the point? I read that a lot of people just chew it a few times before they swallow the oyster. I squeezed a drop of lemon juice, slurped it up, chewed it twice, then down the hatch. It wasn't bad at all. The briny taste of the sea, a hint of oysters, and lemon was great! The oysters disappeared in a flash.

I'm not a steak person, so the steak dinner was so-so. Dinner was a little too fancy for my taste. Did you end your 2013 with a great meal?


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