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Friday, April 17, 2009

In Search of Food in Chinatown

This is going to be a long post, so be prepared.

A weekend or two ago I found myself in the city early in the morning (what is it with meetings starting at 9am on a Saturday??) and was done before noon. I had some time to kill before my hair appointment, so my friend Mike and I decided to wander around Chinatown and grab a bite to eat. I left the car at the garage and we headed over to Tasty Dumpling. If you're wondering, that was the place I went to before that I couldn't remember the name. I took a picture this time to remember.

They were still in the process of opening, which may explain why it took forever to get my food. How long does it take to cook up pre-made stuff? I picked the pork and scallion dumpling and the pork and cabbage pancake. I seriously contemplated buying some of their frozen dumplings... but next time.

The dumplings were their usually yum, but I did not appreciate what looked like thinned out soy sauce. Not trusting it, I went with the hot chili oil. The pancake as you can see, was full of liquid. I wasn't sure how to eat it, but once the liquid got out, it ended up getting soggy and okay. Maybe bordering on meh.

Have you ever heard of Hong Kong cakes? I never did, but there are everywhere in Chinatown now. According to Mike, the legend is that this old lady used to sell them. She sold them from a shed thing that was adjacent to Hop Kee. She sold them for years until she decided to retire not too long ago. She sold off her Hong Kong cakes and now she's a millionaire. Her retirement meant a vendor on every block it seems. Mike bought some, and as you can see, they are these little pancake balls filled with cream. They are constantly being made, so you're pretty much guaranteed some when you see a vendor. I tried one... I guess they're alright. It's not even a pancake- the batter is too thin, it's more of a wafer.

We walked along Division St. and looked in on a few of the kitchen supply stores there. So many things I want to buy, but I would need a house for that. There were baking pans similar to the ones my parents bought in the Philippines, and just as inexpensive. It looks like you can buy by the piece or like a hundred. How cool is that?

I have to stop in on one of these shops soon. It looks like one of those buffet kind of places, but it isn't. You pick two meats and choose a rice or noodle for really cheap. The foods looked fantastic and very fresh (I suggest you hit up Chinatown before noon).

My Chinese food vendor wasn't over by the Hong Kong Supermarket. Where was he? Did he kick the bucket? Did he sell out quick that day? It was upsetting, but he could not possibly be the only guy selling fish balls, rice noodles and curry cuttlefish! Mike and I wandered around some more and eventually found another vendor selling my food over on grand and something. I think it was grand... Mike would know.

This food is popular and super cheap. Right after I paid for my food, a long line formed, very similar to what happened with the Dessert Truck. I cannot get enough of this stuff. This one container, which is half fish balls and half rice noodles (pressed with dried shirmp and scallion) is only three dollars.

It was at this point where my friend Mike and I parted ways and I headed to the salon to get my hair done. If you're curious, it's short and has red streaks. Very cute. By the time I left the salon I was exhausted and ready to head home. Before I made it back to the garage I went back to Mott St. and bought some Taho and puto to bring back home. Taho is cooked silken tofu that they scoop out into the take out containers and serve with a simple syrup. Great for breakfast. Puto is steamed rice cake. You can buy either the white of brown and both are slightly sweet. I don't do it, but it goes well with dinuguan (chocolate meat... eek!)

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