Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Think Blue!

One of the best deals you'll see, $30 all you can drink beer, wine, and BAO (haus, chair, uncle jesse, bao fries) all included!

Erryday Shit

I'm sure you've been bored of all the pairings posts of late for those not coming to CNY, BUT, I have not forgotten you. Here are some things you can do on your own. Some hood pairings fo dat ass.

1) Boone's Farm & Stinky Tofu - Ohhhhhhh weee, what goes better with fermented stank tofu than Boone's farm. The smell of foot that accompanies Taiwan's national dish goes great with any flavor of Boone's but I especially like Watermelon and Strawberry Daiquiri cause its some classy shit. Although Boone's Farm was shunned by I standby it as a wine fit for the finest bums.

2) MD 20/20 & a Plastic Pool - this is one of my favorite recipes. One day, when me and my homie ryan were real bored. We invited over some girls and filled a plastic pool with mad dog. Only costs us $50 and we literally swam in mad dog.

3) Brooklyn Wine w/ Shanghai Steamed Fish - I made a shanghai steamed fish for my friend doug aka canal st tyler florence and he ate it with this:

4) Moutai & Dumplings - Late night in Beijing, I lived on this shit

5) Miller High Life & White People - I love hanging with white people and miller high life. always a good time LOL

Wine for CNY

Pairings from September Wines

La Croix Belle 'Le Champ des Lys' grenache blanc/viognier--med/full body white with plenty of white flower aromas, herbs, melon, citrus and a hint of spice. Round yet crisp and refreshing. $13.99

Mercer Riesling--Lush, ripe palate of peach and citrus with a dry mineral driven finish. $16.99

Oddero Barbera--Round red cherry fruits, notes of violet, herb, and smoke, medium body, and bright acidity that longs for food. $19.99

Les Hautes Noelles Gamay--Light, fresh, and earthy. Great textural minerals and aromas of beets, nice slightly chilled. $12.99

Val d'Oca Prosecco--go bubbles! Ripe peach and apricot fruits lead to a creamy, just slightly, off-dry palate. $12.99

via Eva Zorad!

Sake Suggestions for CNY

So, I could get real fancy and suggest a sake with each course, but knowing a few of our regulars, they're going to end up doing the above with their sake anyway :).

With that in mind, I'd say grab two bottles of sake that go fairly well with the whole menu. Our CNY menu has range, but not to the extent of like yuzu oysters one course and sa gwo fish head casserole the next. I'm going to recommend a few sakes that I think would be fine throughout the course of the dinner.

The dumplings, lion's head, bread pudding are more mellow dishes (yin foods) and these sakes would go well:

Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo - One of the best sakes I've had. Crisp but complex and still light. Very rare. September Wines has it. I think that is what I like about sake over wine, it feels much more clean but if you find the right one, equally complex.

Dake Mild & Creamy - This one is a nigori, unfiltered sake but lighter than most. It would be great with the bread pudding and would also do well with dumplings because it handles pepper well.

Namazake - This is a unpastuerized/draft sake. Anyone that drinks with me knows I love draft sake. Its my favorite style. Had my first draft sake at Kasadela in the village. Draft sake doesn't mean it comes out of a keg. It is unpasteurized and has a very fresh flavor. It is usually hard to find draft sake and usually I just buy whatever draft/namazake is available and it's never been bad. Sakaya on 9th st has a good selection.

"Yang" dishes: Tofu bricks, 3 cups fish bao, fried rice & chicken

Yamahai Junmai Daiginjo
- This brand is usually not to hard to find in the city. I would recommend a rich Junmai Daiginjo with the "yang" dishes. They are hotter, have oil, and are heavier.

Bijofu Junmai - I also like Junmai with no added alcohol. They are a little more rustic and heavier. This is a run of the mill variety that's a good introduction.

For the shawties

Chikurin Sparkling - if your girlfriend likes "sparkley" things, buy her this but under no circumstances drink it yourself. J/k. I like this one if no one is watching.

FYI, I've only been drinking sake and keeping track for like 6 years. Before, I would just get real hammered and drink it like Boone's Farm. I think this is a good list, but if it sucks, please, let a brotha know.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What Makes Food Taiwanese?

The photo above is a classic taiwanese kid reaction to taiwanese food. When you are a Taiwanese kid, your parents throw a lot of foul shit at you LOL. A lot of people come into the restaurant or go on message boards trying to figure out if our food is "taiwanese". Someone left a funny comment about the peanuts on chowhound

"their site claims some vinegar in the peanut but that doesn't sound familiar to me as a taiwanese flavor; I think it's usually pretty plain or as buttertart said, star anise, like the typical liquid that they do tempura/tienbula/oden/eggs in."

Vinegar is not a familiar taiwanese flavor? Really......What do you dip your soup dumplings in? Vinegar. Your small radish pastry? Vinegar. Stinky tofu? Vinegar. Your ass when you have stomach problems? vinegar douche! Pun intended lol

As for tienbula/oden/eggs, what usually goes in are: Chinese five spice, rice wine, sugar, soy sauce, and salt. Anise is only one of the spices in five spice. And, plenty of people have their own innovations such as adding tea leaves, garlic, onion, etc. So, before you start an avalanche of people boiling things in solely star anise, please, ask yourself this.... What makes food taiwanese?

THE PEOPLE and their respect for the Taiwanese flavor profile and regional character. I am Taiwanese (parents by birth, chinese by blood, lets not get into it :). To me, what stands out about taiwanese food is an essence or "stink" if you will. You smell stinky tofu everywhere and good dishes like oh a mi shwa (my pinyin sucks) always have a smelly essence and many times vinegar. You have the natural essence of intestines, the odor from cooked oysters, mixed with some white pepper, black vinegar, thin noodle, corn starch and together, its the prototype taiwanese dish.

For those that are always trying to hold people to the past, like i've said before, please read Emerson's "American Scholar". I think our food is Taiwanese not because I've seen it in Taiwan or because wikipedia/yelp/chowhound says it is, but simply because I am Taiwanese. It came from my hands. And I created the food with the Taiwanese flavor profile as the guiding force. Without innovation, we'd be eating soy milk and curlers the rest of our lives. Its good, but I'm "on to the next one" (HOVA). Over time, we will be doing a lot of different things in an attempt to create everyday food that pushes the boundaries of Taiwanese cuisine. We only have 400 sq feet so be patient :). It starts with the CNY Dinner this weekend and we'll keep it moving like TCQ.

Now, to address reader sentiment. I do empathize with you concerning "real taiwanese" food. I get very upset when on the menu a dish is say "dan dan mien" and it comes out some strange crappy hybrid. In those instances, yes, hold them to the classic expectations. We tell people our pork bun is "authentic" but that the tofu, beef and bao fries are our own innovations that are true to the flavor profile. My beef noodle soup is "authentic". There are minor tweaks to it. But, I can see why people would be upset if I threw hoisin and tangerines into it. You don't have to worry about us becoming a fancy schmancy place that sells art food. We will always make everyday Taiwanese/Chinese food, but I'll play with things to see how far we can push Taiwanese cuisine.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beer Pairings for Chinese New Year Dinner

We got some help from our friend Charlie @ Brew York City for some suggested beer pairings for the Chinese New Year Dinner. As a rule in pairings, do not drink full beers. We suggest that three people share a 12oz bottle, 4oz being a good serving size per course. They are below:

Fried Fish Bao
While the fried might connote 'heavy' or 'oily', the fish is fairly delicate because we use a light almost translucent batter. With the lightness of the fish and the crispy, oily texture of the batter (and the fact that this is the first course), I'd start with a wheat beer. There is enough pop to wheats that they won't be outgunned by the batter, but they're light and delicate enough accompany a flaky fish.

Beer-Braised Pork Dumplings
This dish sound really good, and fennel as well as sichuan peppercorns are a strong flavor so you'll need something with legs or else the beer will get lost. Since I suggested a wheat first and a light lager third, you don't want something too light here. A nice American IPA could work here. Sichuan peppercorn is "mala" and tingly so this would be perfect.

Fried Tofu Bricks
This dish has a garlic chili and cilantro dressing with a hint of sweetness. You might try a Pilsner or German Dortmunder. These are light, golden lagers, with crisp, grassy hops. They'll counteract the sweetness, pair well with the fried aspects, and may help bring out some of the earthier tones of the tofu and cilantro.

Taiwanese Fried Chicken &
Eddie's Taiwanese Sausage Fried Rice
NOTE: We decided after several tastings to serve these two courses together. Charlie had suggested a darker beer here because of the sausage but I'm calling an audible :). Taiwanese/Chinese sausage is sweet and savory. I would suggest Allagash White Ale or another good white ale like Hitachino. Our fried chicken has really subtle spices so it's not as heavy a fried chicken as many are used to. The white ales accent the chicken and sweet sausage, but won't overpower the egg/rice/white pepper/green onions in the dish.

Lion's Head Casserole
This dish is a bit milder than the others. The poulet rouge broth and clear noodles are intentionally light so that the focus is on the giant meatball. What might be nice here are any of a variety of Belgian beers, specifically any lighter examples of Saison, Tripel, or Golden/Pale styles. These should have a touch of sweetness maybe to lead the way into dessert, they'll have some yeast and subtle malt bodies to accompany the noodles and broth, and they'll have very distinct and even changing hop characters that will probably provide enough tang to accompany the meatballs without being too heavy.

Mantou Bread Pudding
I assume this is dessert. It's always a pretty good bet to serve a more serious beer as a bit of a digestif with dessert. It's tough sometimes to encourage people to drink such a hearty brew not only after a whole meal (with pairings) but also with dessert, but have just a small amount to sip, and it should be ok. Most US craft breweries are trying out barleywines as Americans love big styles of anything.

That's all for now, September Wines will also be sending in wine pairings later today and I'll be putting a sake list together!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ultimate Recipe Showdown

I just blanked on this and forgot to post about it, but Food Network announced the air dates for URS. Just remembered after seeing my dumbass in the commercial haha. I'm the Asian guy with a yellow t-shirt in the commercial. I haven't been able to see the cut so hopefully I come off looking more like the Situation and less like Snickers LOL. This is the press release they sent out... for the record, I rep 11217 so don't believe the hype:

Premiering Sunday, March 21st at 9:00pm ET/PT

“Party Food”

Food Network looks for the ultimate party food recipe. From finger food to full-on entrees, four contestants take party food to the next level, serving up dishes like Chicken Cordon Blue Roll-Ups and Plantain and Shrimp Party Boats. Contestants include: Barbara Estabrook (Rhinelander, WI), Thalia Patillo (New York), Eddie Huang (Orlando, Fla.) and David Fogelman (Stamford, Conn.).

Places that suck

There are very few places that suck so bad I will put them on blast, but these restaurants upset me so much because they parade around like they offer quality products, but they have to know their food sucks. These are the restaurants/people that perpetuate shitty stereotypes and make restaurant owners look bad.

1) Rickshaw Dumplings - you can tell this was the brain child of some scheming b-school grad. The dumplings are horrible and the kitschy Chinese branding is offensive. I'm not even going to break down why the dumplings are so bad because we'll be here forever. Watching Anita Lo teach Bobby Flay how to make dumplings made me not want to be Asian or at least excommunicate Anita Lo from the tribe. Bitch, you're fired.

2) Baoguette/Pho Sure/and all the other shitty spin-offs - There's no balance of flavor with Bao's sandwiches. They're all either too salty, too one-note spicy, or too one-note sweet. I hate using big vocab words, but you always get palette fatigue eating this guy's food. And the corny show he put on at the Mikey's Opening teaching people how to flip burgers was retarded. We know how to flip a burger, but do you know how to make a real pho? All you taste is anise in this dude's broth.

3) Joe's Shanghai - these soup dumplings are horrible. dark, salty, unrefined soup dumpling gelatin. people like them simply because soup dumplings are the shit and most people have their first soup dumpling at this hell hole. put one of joe's shanghai dumplings next to one from nanxiang xiao long bao and taste the difference yourself.

4) Rice - this place is just stupid. the combinations don't sound good on paper, taste good in practice, and should never be replicated again. the focus of the restaurant is to sell gimmicky fusion pairings from different regions instead of focusing on delivering honest food that is fused simply to taste good.

5) Republic - this place is always packed and it is hilarious to hear the union square lunch crowd rave about it. i can understand if you got dragged there by some B&T girl/guy you want to smash, but otherwise you have no excuse to be there.

6) Wo Hop/Hop Kee - people, stop acting like this place is good. Yes, I eat here late night. Yes, Bourdain came here with some fool, but the food sucks. Its only cool cause its open late and fun to watch drunk people fall down the stairs. The food is so bad I've refused it after taking giant rips of headband. That never happens.

I'm tired, this list is constantly growing. Please feel free to add your own horrible restaurants.