Category Archives: eats out/take out’s

kua pao, gua bao

sadly, it is also sadly misrepresented as Chinese hamburger.
kua pao. gua bao. yum.
i watch a couple of cooking shows on Saturday mornings, and one of them featured this assembled bun, gua bao, or what we call kua pao in the Philippines. i got so nostalgic for it–the last time i ate it was three years ago, at my father’s wake, when my brother brought a big box of it to the inner sanctum–and back then i couldn’t eat more than a bite though as i was feeling ill. the sad situation got so much sadder.

it’s a wonderful snack composed of a soft white steamed bun. sort of shaped like a clam, that you slice and fill with a savory pork belly slice and top with cilantro, hot sauce and chopped peanuts. i promise, it is so good you can’t eat just one. i looked for recipes online, but then i coaxed my husband to look for a version in town to satisfy my craving in a snap.
kua pao of love
we went to JoJo Taipei, in Allston just outside of the Boston University line, and we ordered several Taiwanese dishes, dim sum style.
fried intestines
deep fried pork intestines, stuffed with scallions. if only they were stuffed with hot green peppers instead! still, a very welcome treat. i’m so spoiled :)
the special spicy beef noodles
my #2son proclaimed this a winner, but then again he’s a noodle monster…spicy beef and noodle soup.
it’s a treat to have a different kind of dim sum experience, no carts and not as much seafood choices, and to me, it’s very similar to Szechuan style dim sum like at Mary Cheung’s in Cambridge. i highly recommend the savory soy milk soup, dragon (soup) buns, and scallion pancakes, both plain or stuffed with beef.
overall, i love their gua bao though the sugar mixed into the ground peanuts was a bit startling for me. (they also sprinkle it on top of dessert steamed fried buns drizzled with condensed milk). i would definitely go back there for more, or ask my daughter to bring me home some, if she were so inclined to visit home and feed her poor old mother. 😉

a sweet reunion

…with my old flame, New York City!
we do love our Manhattan.
but with our family of five, it’s difficult to find great accommodations in the heart of the city, so we stay in New Jersey, just a short hop across the river.
it was intended to be a jolt of vacation–isn’t that what a Big City vacation gives you, a quick jolt of adrenaline rush? and one of our goals was to dine at Peking Duck House in New York’s Chinatown.
it was precisely 23 years ago B.C. (before children) since we last dined there, but of course i’ve been attempting to make it at home and we’ve had Peking duck dinner here in Boston restaurants.
somehow or other, i remembered the dinners at Peking Duck House as so memorable that i wanted to bring my three children to try:
Peking duck dinner
sliced by the chef
green beans with pork
a crispy side dish of green beans with minced pork, another nostalgic pick from my college days
crispy shredded beef
crispy shredded beef–my #1son enjoyed its sinful battered goodness :drunk: but. where’s the beef? overwhelmed by the fry and the sauce.
it was a shock to find the restaurant so transformed–what used to be a down-to-earth, cozy little Chinatown eatery, is now a swanky, dim, plushly decorated place, with sharp modern lines. the steps down to the basement level had little stage lights! gosh…
the food? i guess either the memory can play tricks or the chefs have changed. the duck dinner is mostly fine, fresh and crisp and perfectly roasted, even if the price has steeply risen since the ’80’s. we wouldn’t mind paying the difference but for the outrageously arrogant service. i would sum it up as service with attitude: “you want Peking Duck, or not?” no welcoming smiles here but a greeting of “you have reservations?” and all through the evening the staff was hurrying us along. i understand that a quick turnover is what they aim for, but we were paying customers, and we deserved better. husband thinks what they need is a kick in the pants in the form of competition.
i asked the kids what they thought of the Peking duck and compared to how we have it at home, and they diplomatically responded, “same.” but no attitude from mom, right kids??

a dumpling welcome for 2011

there’s been a lot of buzz about this restaurant, located in the former “underbelly” of Boston’s Washington Street, right next door to one of our favorites, Penang.

i wish i could go have lunch right now, today, at Dumpling Cafe, where we ate right after welcoming in the New Year. today it’s snowy outside…deepening and deepening: underneath the freshly fallen snow though is ice ice, baby. i don’t know which one to pick, as more bearable: below 0°F, or 5-9 inches of snow (expected snowfall by midnight tonight)? either way, just the kind of weather where the craving for hot slurpy soups and hearty spicy stews and steamed dumplings becomes constant and borders on the obsessive.

this is daytime, really!

for the first visit we decided on a few starters.
they passed my test for the oyster omelette (scrumptiously fresh, with the chewy rice flour consistency mixed in with the egg; my only quibble is can they please add a handful more oysters pretty please?).

the soup buns? were just adequate, they seemed not thermometer-hot enough and lacking in the squirty soup.

pork intestines stuffed with green chilies–although i’m happy they have it whereas Penang next door scrapped it from their menu–i expected crispy, but was sorely disappointed; tasty though.
(this is my tedious-but-delicious crispy rendition.)

gigantic noodle soup bowls satisfied the Noodle Guys, .

mango chicken was my daughter’s choice; it was too sweet for me, but she enjoyed it very much.

steamed fish jaws–i think carp has too much tinik (fish bones) even for the pussycat in me…

all in all we thought Dumpling Cafe a very welcome addition to the dumpling landscape of Boston, and deserves many return visits to further test their offerings. :thumbsup: :yes: :bouncy
Dumpling Cafe
695 Washington St
at Kneeland St
(617) 338-8858

objects of desire

yes indeed-indeedy…my craving of the moment…

on the fringe of Boston’s tiny little Chinatown is a restaurant we’ve overlooked but recently discovered when a nephew had his wedding rehearsal dinner there–subsequently also the getting-to- know-the-in-laws-dinner; we got acquainted with the Peking Duck course.
Peking Duck fixings, East Ocean City, Boston
super crispy skin, superbly flavored meat, freshly cooked Mandarin crepes, wrapped with hoisin sauce==ooh la la.

which we will get to know even better in good times to come.

husband’s family? Chinese food is every day food, so what do they have on special occasions? they do fancy Chinese banquet food, that’s what! i have counted up to 14 or so courses, some chosen for their special meanings, like when the sound or the calligraphic character of the dish symbolizes something auspicious like health, wealth, or harmony.

oh, and they also do a mean seafood soup:
seafood soup, East Ocean City
East Ocean City Restaurant
27 Beach St.
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 542-2504

at another wedding banquet/reception, for yet another nephew, (we were not able to attend the wedding but they had a reception here for their kin) there were symbolic dishes as well:
twin lobsters
couple-dom: twin lobsters
steamed whole fish
a whole fish=wholeness, harmony
Chinese character for abalone=guaranteed abundance
dragon and phoenix? chicken and shrimp
his and hers, chicken and shrimp over fried rice
mango gelatin
well…a heart is a heart

China Pearl, 9 Tyler Street, Boston

pinkberry, finally!

the long awaited pinkberry has opened its doors…
the first and last time we had pinkberry was two years ago when we visited family in California. there were long lines, in a chic and tony suburb of LA, and my brother said we might bump into a celebrity or two (did not 😆 ).
pinkberry 2008
pinkberry nearby, finally
with the red mango open in Boston, and another branch opening soon nearby again, i think we’ll be able to satiate our tangy frozen yogurt desires, anytime we want. *sigh* :goodvibes
hot day=frozen yogurt and fruits
a reward for my shopping companion

94 Derby St 209, Hingham, MA 02043
Derby St.–ok i can’t bear to say it but it’s at the *gulp* Derby Street–Shoppes

the heat is on

are you hot?
because i am.
sizzling hot. humid. hazy weather, wilting weather.
the kind where you just sit, and sweat pours out of everywhere, even your eyelids.
heat so hot, you start sweating right out of the shower.
yeah that kind of hot.
i don’t mind it at all, because it makes me feel like… like… like…i’m “home.” makes me feel right at home.
and now there’s another reason to feel like you’re still home.

above, Red Mango in the Philippines (Megamall).
my brothers, oldest and youngest, made sure i “enjoyed”–as much as could possibly be enjoyed, under the prevailing circumstances–my visit home. and in May, when temperatures were constantly in the mid to upper ’90’s F., it was imperative to be an expert on where to find cooling things to drink and eat. my best memory of that is the green tea frozen yogurt with mangoes and strawberries that my younger bro got for me…
green tea frozen yogurt
Red Mango, Boston
and now there’s no need for me to mope, and sulk and be “homesick” for it…
they’ve opened a branch in Boston: fairly new (November 2009), it is the first in Massachusetts, the only one in New England. (pinkberry opening soon too! stay tuned…)
i dragged my family out on the thunderstormy Sunday within the week of my return…sort of a cheer-up-and-welcome-back-to-the-fold food trip.
Red Mango toppings

Red Mango toppings menu
back here in Boston, sorry no green tea but there’s pomegranate and tangomonium (click here for a complete menu).
Red Mango original flavor...
with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and pineapple. i didn’t pick mango, because there is nothing to compare with Philippine mangoes.
you can betcha, i’m coming back here to get my fruit and frozen yogurt fix as often as possible.

red mango
334 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
(857) 366-4116

(Symphony stop on the Green line)

Sunday lunch, Penang, Boston

breezy sunny days, not too hot, not too cold, 365 days of the year: don’t i just wish they’d last forever. (note to self: look for place like this to move to, convince all members of family, pack up and leave, pronto!)
barring that, you just enjoy what you have every moment, rain or snow or sleet or shine.
South End Sunday market
some cute little stuffed toys/monsters.
so on a sunny Sunday afternoon we were able to get the 3 kids out and about to explore a wee bit of town. this is the “SoWa” street market open sundays at the South End neighborhood, Boston, with tents of fresh produce and baked goods and local artists’ works for sale. #1son found something he’d been looking for, an old fashioned flip alarm clock at the flea market area.
then off we went for lunch at one of our favorite spots in town, Penang Restaurant.
Penang, roti +chicken curry dip
our favorite appetizer, hands down: the roti bread–very light and flaky with just the right amount of bite and chewiness–with a luscious but tiny pot of chicken & potato curry. so good, we had to order just one more!
i surprised myself about not having blogged about this before. it was a unanimous vote when we canvassed the kids about where we’d go for a late lunch….
Penang, oyster omelette
wow oh wow they had oyster omelette and it was pretty close to what i had in Sincerity Restaurant, Binondo Manila…the only thing different was that it didn’t have that chewy rice cake texture but it sure was very tasty, with a spicy sweet chili dip and a generous sprinkling of oysters.
Penang, popiah
another appetizer, popiah, which we’ve had before is a shrimp, jicama and tofu roll stuffed inside a fresh lumpia wrapper…sort of like fresh lumpiang ubod with a spicy kick from the drizzled sauces on top.
kang kung belacan, Penang
they indulged me some more and let me order kang kung belacan, water spinach with a very spicy shrimp paste stir fry. one more dish that’s so similar to what we eat in the Philippines.
nasi lemak, Penang
my daughter and i had the same dish, a medley of rice, chicken curry, anchovy and vegetable, and pickles. truly mouth-wateringly-spicy good. we both decided we should have just shared one!
Hainanese chicken, Penang#1son had the Hainanese style steamed chicken, which he normally doesn’t like, but this one he proclaimed was really fine.
i won’t discuss the dishes that we didn’t like….my ma always says, if you can’t say anything good about anything/anyone, don’t say anything….
but i will say this, that i truly am regretful that i didn’t blog about them before, and maybe in some small way influenced how they might have kept the menu intact: there was one beautiful appetizer that they’ve now struck out of the menu, which i tried hard to replicate at home:
i featured it years ago in an online appetizer “party”:

chili stuffed deep fried pork intestines….*sigh*
still, it is one restaurant which we’ll always return to, to relish our favorites, and to just feel smug about, that we have it in Boston.

685 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111-1611
(617) 451-6373

the (pedi)cab ride of a lifetime

this is just one of the best moments of my unexpected trip to Manila, one i will always relish fondly, because, although it took place on one of the hottest days ever, around 98F, my adventure to Manila Chinatown with my good friend Boots diverted the mournful thoughts for a good few hours….
pedi cab ride of a lifetime
our “charioteer” was this very slim but powerful young lad with a homemade motorized pedicab–you know, the kind of motor with a pull-out string used for out-rigger boats and bangka?…and boy did he give us the ride of a lifetime.

he zoomed in–he zoomed out–he dove into traffic head-on…
Manila Chinatown
it surely made our appetite sharp! and we were so relieved to make it to our destination:
Sincerity Restaurant,
fried chicken, Sincerity
for their very famous fried chicken–so crispy and light. although it is breaded and deep-fried there is not a trace of greasiness.
oyster omelette, Sincerity
i am still dreaming of their oyster omelette…aaah! if only i can recreate this at home, someone please point me in the right direction for a recipe?
chop suey, sincerity
this one i might be able to make–chop suey which we ordered to balance out the deep-fried-goodness/badness of our meal. :fryingpan

they’re also famous for their pata tim (comes with steamed buns), which i ordered to take home to my brothers and ma.
go go go!

Sincerity Restaurant
497 Nueva St., Binondo
Manila, Metro Manila
(02) 241-9990