Monday, December 19, 2011

Back to Shang Palace for Dim Sum

The dim sum scene in Chengdu has changed tons since my last visit to Shang Palace in the Shangri-La hotel, and I had been meaning to get back for a while. When I heard that the Hong Kong Shang Palace had gotten another Michelin star I decided to move Shang Palace up my list.

The menu had changed since we last visited. We tried the steamed beef tripe, which was tasty, but I found it chewy and a little tough to eat. I think it's for tripe lovers only.

These shrimp dumplings had unfortunately sat in the steamer a bit too long. The wrappers were too soft and the bamboo shoot inside had lost its crunch.

This radish cake had fantastic flavour, but was already a little cool by the time it landed on our table.

This was a new dish, peach and shrimp spring rolls.  Light and lovely.

We got some dried scallop and gingko congee, It was very good, though I thought it could have had more scallop flavour.

We had a lull of several minutes between getting some of our dishes. There appears to be a distance between the kitchen and the dining room that introduces some lag into the process. I usually have a lot of patience when dishes take their time coming out of the kitchen. However, waiting a long time for the order does raise one's expectations that freshly and carefully prepared plates will eventually arrive. These expectations are not really met at Shang Palace.

Barbecue pork chang fen, tasty but without the supple smoothness that we associate with really good rice roll:

It's decent dim sum for the price (68 yuan each, plus service charge).

Homestyle in Hongpailou - Jia Wei Can Guan

A friend invited me to eat at one of these small neighbourhood restaurants that always seem to do local food the best. I didn't do the ordering, so the first thing that landed on the table was this dish of pig ears (猪耳朵). I thought they were fantastic, but my table companions judged them a bit too sweet:

One useful way of gauging a kitchen is by the freshness of their greens, and the care with which they are prepared and presented. The restaurant did a very nice job with this plate of you cai:

I didn't catch the name of this fish dish, but it was done well - good, tender fish in spicy broth.

'Eat-by-hand' ribs (手撕排骨) is a dish that we are seeing on more and more menus lately. It's delicious, and spicy, and usually mixed with potatoes, dry pot style.

We also wanted to order twice cooked potatoes - 回锅土豆.

Name in Chinese: 佳味餐馆
Address: 红牌楼北街 23 号 附 1 号

I have a picture menu label on this post, but only the main dishes were illustrated. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Clay Pot Dishes for a Chilly Day

Chengdu is feeling quite wintery this week. If you are chilled and looking for something to warm you up, look for 'sha guo' dishes cooked in these heavy pots over a flame.  There are all kinds of choices for what gets cooked inside. Absorbent stuff like intestines, meatballs, spam, tofu, or crispy fried pork pieces are popular. Veg options are available as well and some places will let you combine two veg in one pot, if you ask. The pots hold enough heat to keep your food warm even if you are eating outside.

Here is a sha guo restaurant at the mouth of the snack street on Guang Hua Village, which is rather famous. We thought the food was below average, unfortunately. We didn't like the tough, fatty pieces of meat. 

This is a very good, and spicy, beef sha guo with the rice mixed in (牛肉砂锅饭), at the snack street by a vocational school outside the east third ring. The rice variation is not one we see often.

Locations in Chinese - 光华村小吃街 for the first picture, 四川长江职业学院 后街 for the second one (so out of the way, many taxis from Chengdu won't even go there unless you negotiate a special rate)