Tag Archives: dumplings

Delirious for Dumplings

Since arriving in Hong Kong, I’ve been surprised by the relative lack of regional Chinese restaurants.  While Hong Kong and Guangdong style cuisine reigns supreme, there are noticeably few Sichuan, Shanghai, and Northern-style Chinese establishments.  I might even venture so far to say that Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants outnumber their Mainland counterparts.

As a result, I was pleasantly surprised when my co-worker suggested that we try a Beijing-style dumpling place for lunch.  The meal brought back pleasant memories of my 6-month stint in Beijing, in which jiaozi were an integral part of my diet.

The restaurant is located in the Queen Street Cooked Food Centre, in the Sheung Wan District.  For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong’s cooked food centres, they are basically a large room filled with hawker stands, each serving a different type of food.  Though not always the cleanest option, cooked food centres are a wonderful way to become acquainted with local Hong Kong dining.  Authentic home-cooked fare makes braving the loud, crowded, no-frills setting worth it.

The meal started off with a complimentary bowl of soup.  Fresh cilantro, tomato, and egg accentuated a simple broth.  In contrast to most Chinese starter soups, which consist of random vegetables and leftover bones, this soup was clean and composed.

The main attraction of the meal was the dumplings.  I ordered pork and dou miao (Chinese pea shoots) dumplings.  The dou miao added a nice crunch and freshness to the pork filling, while the jiaozi pi (or wrapper) held together well.  Doused in vinegar and chili oil, these dumplings were satisfying and soothing–just like a Chinese grandma made them.   At $30 HKD (a mere $3.85) for a plate of 12 dumplings and a bowl of soup, this was certainly a bargain for lunch.

Even though we gorged ourselves on dumplings, my co-worker and I still managed to save room for a traditional Cantonese dessert, purchased from the stand next door for HKD $3.  I apologize for not knowing the name of the dessert, but it is similar to Japanese manju–a glutinous rice cake stuffed with sweet mashed taro.

For deliriously delicious dumplings and much more (like this Mediterranean full-service restaurant), head to Queen Street Cooked Food Centre when you are in Hong Kong!

Lao Beifang Jiaozi Guan
Food Market, 1 Queen Street , Sheung Wan
上環皇后街1號皇后街熟食市場

Upscale Thai at Bangkok Joe’s

I am always on the lookout for decent Thai food, and was quite surprised when a friend (who lived in Thailand last year) recommended Bangkok Joe’s to me. Bangkok Joe’s is located on a touristy stretch of Georgetown’s Waterfront, which houses several outdoor bars and restaurants that turn out mediocre food, overpriced drinks, and one of the most fratastic scenes in town.

Bangkok Joes, though, seems to be the exception. The interior is modern and classy, with dim lighting, sleek booths, and Asian accents adding to the ambience. A dumpling station filled with huge steamers dishes out plates of delectable-looking dumplings while patrons sip on colorful cocktails at the bar.

My boyfriend and I arrived at about 9 p.m. on Friday night and were seated promptly at a booth inside (the outdoor tables were packed). We started with an order of pork ‘n crab shu mai ($7.50), which in hindsight, may have been a mistake to order at a Thai restaurant. The shu mai were much bigger than usual and filled to the brim with pork and crab. But in the end, they were just ok–nothing too memorable or mind-blowing, plus they were twice the price of regular shu mai. Maybe we should have gone with something a bit more Thai-inspired; but for reasons I’ll mention later, I would actually skip the dumplings altogether next time.

For our main courses, we ordered the panang curry noodles with grilled shrimp (a whopping $17.95–but worth the price) and the chicken basil rice bowl ($12.95). Panang curry, not to be confused with its spicy red curry counterpart, is sweeter and creamier due to its use of coconut milk and peanuts. Bangkok Joe’s version tasted both traditional and modern: it certainly had a lot of peanuts and coconut milk, but somehow, it tasted lighter and fresher than other versions I’ve had. The addition of steamed spinach and bean sprouts gave nice color and crunch to the dish, while the grilled shrimp seemed to be just an afterthought. And those rice noodles–wide, chewy, and yummy–soaked up the curry perfectly.

At $17.95, this dish was not cheap by any stretch. But, the portion was huge and it did last us for 3 meals as leftovers!

The chicken basil rice bowl ($12.95) may not look too tasty–but in this case, looks can be very, very deceiving. The dish was a hodge podge of ground chicken, green beans, scallions, Thai basil and bell peppers stir-fried in a spicy chili-garlic-basil sauce. Talk about complex layers of flavor–this dish had tons of them. There was crunch from the green beans, sweetness from the bell peppers, heat from the chicken, and subtle spice from the sauce, all of which came together for a flavor-packed bite. It was simply delicious. And once again, the portion size was so substantial that we had to take home plenty of leftovers.

Bangkok Joe’s stands out from its Waterfront neighbors for its upscale Thai cuisine, large portions, and good value. Next time you find yourself stranded on the Georgtown Waterfront with an empty stomach, head straight to Bangkok Joe’s where both your tummy and your wallet (and your fridge at home) will be satisfied.

Bangkok Joe’s

3000 K St.

Washington, DC 20007

(202) 333-4422

Bangkok Joe's on Urbanspoon

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Sensory Overload at Honey Pig

Sensory overload is really the only way to describe Honey Pig, the popular 24-hour Korean BBQ restaurant in Annandale, VA. The second you walk through the door, Korean pop and Top 40 music blasts from the speakers. Waiters rush out of the kitchen with platters of raw meat and boiling pots of kimchi soup. Busboys clean off tables and throw dirty plates into carts at lightning speed, nearly crashing into the customers waiting for the table.  It’s loud, crowded, and disorganized, and there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to getting a table. (Even though there is a host who keeps a list, it seemed to me that he just chose at random who to seat–or the more savvy patrons just sat themselves while he wasn’t looking.) Through all the chaos, hungry diners can see, hear and smell the delicious sizzle of meats hitting the grill.

The main attraction at Honey Pig is the wide selection of Korean BBQ, expertly grilled at your table by one of the many adept Korean waitresses. This isn’t the refined, haute Korean-fusion cuisine you’d find at David Chang’s Momofuku Ko; it’s more the comforting, tasty food that Korean moms are so good at effortlessly whipping up. We started off with kalbi–beef spareribs marinated in soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. At $21.99, it was one of the most expensive dishes on the menu, but totally worth it. The meat was juicy and tender, and I found myself gnawing on the bones, trying to savor every last bite.

Next came the pork belly and pork neck ($12.99 each). Both were sparingly seasoned, but full of rich, smoky flavor. The pork belly was cooked to just the right crispiness, with a nice crunch at the outset that dissolved into luscious fat. I was a bit mortified to see just how much fat dripped into the pan (and didn’t even want to think about how much fat I had just imbibed), but hey, you have indulge once in a while, right?

Other dishes were less memorable. Dumplings ($6.99) were all right, but a tad to greasy for my taste. The meat-and-vegetable filling was also a bit bland. The scallion pancake ($6.99) didn’t stand out either. I found it starchy and just monotonous to eat. The meal also came with rice and banchan, which are traditional Korean side dishes. At some Korean restaurants, the banchan is the star, with tons of different offerings from spinach cooked in sesame oil to steamed sweet potatoes to kimchi that could constitute a meal in itself; that’s not the case at Honey Pig.

Next time I go to Honey Pig (which I hope will be very soon), I’ll stick with the meat offerings and perhaps one of the steaming bowls of kimchi jigae (kimchi stew with tofu). And of course, a couple bottles of soju (Korea’s answer to vodka) to wash it all down and get in the mood for some karaoke at the bar next door.

Honey Pig

7220-C Annandale Pike

Annandale, VA 22003

703-256-5229

Open 24 hours

Honey Pig (Gooldaegee) on Urbanspoon

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