Friday, August 22, 2014
Can't Get Enough Dumplings
I just can't stay away from this beautiful restaurant. Just look at it. We've written about this at least five times dating back to 2009 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th). I try my best to visit the Northern Dumpling Kitchen when I'm visiting Toronto and the Greater Area of Toronto (GTA). I used to try to visit House of Gourmet for my noodles but I haven't been there in over two years (!). During this trip back in May, I wanted to bring VN and have her try soup dumplings for the first time.
This was the first full day visiting VN in Toronto. With empty stomachs, we drove up to Richmond Hill for brunch. There were probably two people there when we arrived. It didn't matter. I knew this place was solid. We placed our order after quickly going through the menu.
The bowl of lamb noodle soup arrived first, then the pan-fried chicken dumplings and stir-fried snow pea shoots arrived shortly after. Although the dish looks greasy, it was refreshingly light -- which we needed that day.
For the untrained eye, the pan-fried chicken dumplings look so ordinary. But unless you've read or heard about these soup-filled dumplings, you'll probably burn yourself and make a huge mess. Actually, those things will probably happen even if you know. I love how the dumplings are crispy, chewy, tender, and juicy, all at the same time. Even Mom was impressed with these when she tried them -- and that's a rare thing.
The dish was a steamer of xiao long bao, which were filled with the same soup as the chicken dumplings. These pouches were gobbled up with so much joy with only a bit of ginger and vinegar. VN was impressed at how the dumplings tasted so good.
After lunch, we needed to go shopping for dinner. But first, we needed some dessert. Ding Dong Pasteries & Cafe to the rescue!
Our family usually just gets a box of assorted baked buns when we go to Chinese bakeries. Getting these sticky rice balls filled with peanuts and sugar was like a blast from the past. Mom used to make these once in a while and she'd fill them with toasted sesame seeds for more flavour. These were very enjoyable.
On our travels in Chinatown, we came across the Banh Mi & Che Cali under renovations. We were hoping to get some che (Vietnamese dessert) for after dinner. In the end, we checked out Fong on Foods Ltd. and then went to Nguyen Huong for some banh mi, steamed rice cakes, and che dau (sticky rice black bean pudding). We got most of the things we needed and headed back to VN's place.
While the 11th season of Top Chef, we prepared dinner relatively quickly. There was a funny bit when the fourth episode, Captain Vietnam, began. As if they were challenged to make Vietnamese-related food while we were making cuon.
We had the components of the cuon out on the table: rice paper, hot water to hydrate the rice paper, nem nuong, pork, fresh mint, fresh thai basil, and the noodles which were waaaay over done. It was totally my fault. To be honest, if it weren't for that awesome hoisin-peanut butter sauce VN made, it would've been inedible. Seriously. When we bit into the cuon, the noodles mashed together to form something akin to paste. Gross, I know. We both loaded our wraps with the dipping sauce before every bite.
Thankfully, dessert was a huge improvement from the noodle mishap.