Xiaolongbao (小笼包)

My brother from Colorado was in town for the holidays, so I told him about the legendary xiaolongbao of Din Tai Fung. Off we went to the city/suburb of Glendale where in a giant mall was located a location of that Shanghaiese by way of Taiwan restaurant.

Behold!

Were the dumplings, full of minced pork and broth as good as they were in Singapore?

Yes. They were perfect. While the menu here is shorter than the menu at the Singapore locations (and no chicken rice, sadly) the Din Tai Fung machine does its job well. The broth was porky and hot, but not hot enough to burn the mouth.

Chicken dumplings were likewise amazing. The broth was intensely flavorful.

Water spinach was not on the menu, so we got spinach and garlic.

It was also perfectly cooked. There were no particles of sand in the spinach at all.

Pork steamed buns were great.

Red bean dumplings were good, but after having five I was finished. They were sweet, but not overly so.

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Dry Mix Rice Noodles (干拌米粉)

Of course I miss Chinese food. I’m happy to report that authentic northern Chinese fare can be found at Qin in Chinatown.

Qin

It’s from Shaanxi, to be exact.

I was immensely pleased to eat authentic Chinese food. Braised beef, fried tofu skin, cilantro, pickled cabbage and peanuts served over rice noodles and a delicious broth, along with sitting in a red plastic chair gave me a pleasant flashback to Singapore. Of course I ordered it spicy.

I will return soon.

Shrimp and chive dumpling (虾韭菜饺子)

I lived seven years in Asia: one and a half in (基隆) Keelung, Taiwan and five and a half in (新加坡) Singapore. If the reader wondered if I crave Asian food, I do. Chinese food is my favorite cuisine of all and dumplings have become comfort food for me.

It’s not Don Tai Fung, but it’s four blocks from my apartment and it’s relatively cheap. IXLB is my local dumpling house and I just realized the acronym means something like “i love xiaolongbao.”

I didn’t order the xiaolongbao, but i ordered cucumber slices in garlic and sesame oil. This version also had Sichuan peppercorns and chilies and I liked it.

The steamed pork bun was likewise delicious and comforting.

It’s no-frills, but the food is authentic and reasonably priced.

Fried Cumin Lamb (孜然炒羊肉)

I went down to San Diego a few weeks ago to hang out with my youngest brother. The Asian ghetto, as it were, is located on and around Convoy Street, so we stopped at Chef Chin’s restaurant which looked promising.


The cubes of lamb were salty, fatty and crispy and aromatic with lots of cumin. The dish was garnished with fried cilantro and scallions. I loved it. While it wasn’t as good as the similar dish cooked by Lao Chengdu in Singapore, it pleased me.

Beef cooked in chili oil was good too.


It wasn’t as fiery as I would have liked.

They even had almond soup for dessert!

The Chairman’s Bao (毛泽东的包子)

My craving for Chinese food was sated by my trip to Baohaus, a Taiwanese steamed bun restaurant by way of New York.


I’ve had this very same dish in both Singapore and Taiwan. Berkshire pork belly said the menu, served in a steamed bun with crushed peanuts, cilantro and a sweet sauce.

好吃!

The taro fries were served with a peanut-based garlicky hot sauce that wasn’t very spicy. 

I also ordered lemonade mixed with green tea that was unusually good. 


I like this place, located in a mall in Chinatown, Los Angeles.


Luckily for ne there was a firecracker festival going on.

Twice Cooked Pork (两次熟猪肉)

One of my favorite Chinese dishes, this attempt did not measure up to my standards, but my parents liked it.

However, I know what I did wrong, so next time, the attempt will be successful. 


For the broth in which to boil the pork I places a chopped up scallion and a small handful of Sichuan peppercorns.


Instead of using pork belly (which I should have used) I used pork loin which was way too lean. This recipe needs fatty pork. So I cooked the pork in the pot for twenty minutes. 


Meanwhile, I had chopped up scallions, garlic, ginger and dried birds eye chilies.


I took the cooked pork from the pot.


Then I sauté the ginger and garlic in the wok. When the ginger began to turn golden brown I added the pork.


I then added chopped leeks, chilies and scallions. 


At this point I should have cooked this down a bit. Instead I added bell peppers. I also added a mix of soy sauce and sugar. 


It added too much sweetness to the dish. Twice cooked pork should be about spice and fat. It might have tasted fine, but I was disappointed. Next time I know what to do.