mala xiangguo (麻辣香锅)

posted in: china, food 0

Mala xiangguo is a new dish I discovered on my last trip to China; and I’m hoping someone just recently invented this, because I don’t know how I could not have tried it before! After seeing people line up for this dish at different food courts, we finally tried it at a sit-down place called… yep, the name of the dish. (ma la xiang guo = “numbing spicy fragrant pot”)

Unfortunately this is a post-eating shot, but you can see it’s for spice lovers. You could say it’s kinda like a dry version of hotpot… Basically there’s a counter with raw ingredients (similar to what you would find for hotpot), and your server fills a gigantic metal bowl with whatever you tell him. Then after choosing either regular or really spicy, the cook does some sort of magic cookery while you wait for its final delivery to your table. YUM! and NUMB!

I believe you pay by weight at food courts, but at this particular restaurant it was a set price. which apparently also included ice cream to cool you down after (or maybe even during?) your meal–like this guy here, who we watched alternate bites between the bowl and his two cones:

a day at the beach… in Dalian

posted in: china, food, travel 0

Since it’s December and minus 15°C out, I thought I’d write about the beach. Or at least about the last time I’d been to a beach, which was in Dalian on China’s Northeast coast.

Dalian was rated China’s most livable city in 2006–a fact that kept popping up everywhere we went (or maybe we were just watching too many CCTV commercials at the hotel). Dalian also happened to be the site of a massive pipeline oil spill in July, equivalent in size to the Exxon Valdez accident (though I suppose this is minuscule when compared to what was happening in the Gulf of Mexico at the time).

Anyway, we were curious to check out the beaches since we were there barely 3 weeks after the oil spill.

business as usual

As far as Chinese beaches go, things appeared to be normal for August: i.e., insanely crowded + blazingly hot. We opted to stay away from the crowds and crossed over to a rocky area by the water. No oil residue in sight!

…and only one wedding photo shoot.

[the job of the woman behind the bride was to throw the train of the dress high into the air–imitating a gigantic gust of sea wind, I guess?]

The heat was too much, so it wasn’t long before we grabbed a taxi back to the hotel… and after some rest and A/C, we headed to a sichuanese restaurant and had some of my favourite dishes for dinner: shui-zhu-yu (fish), pickled cucumbers, and yu-xiang-qiezi (eggplant). woot!

大平伙

posted in: food, hong kong 0

went to a fabulous restaurant last night on (49) hollywood road, near lan kwai fong.

da ping huo business card
da ping huo business card

it’s a sichuan-style restaurant called 大平伙, run by a painter. his wife does the cooking. I don’t know how my aunt finds these places–set menu, and I believe set sitting time, in a small intimate place (about 4-5 tables only, and we were the largest group with 9 people). the owner would come out and explain the dishes: 4 appetizers, 7 main courses, each alternating with spicy and non-spicy. 酸辣苦瓜,口水鸡,鸡豆花… ending with the hottest 麻婆豆腐 I’ve ever tasted. and the most delicious 豆花 for dessert (served cold, with crunchy bits of asian pear).

the place was decorated with art done by the owner, and he showed us a book of his paintings… and after dinner, his wife came out and sang a traditional chinese song, in an operatic fashion. if anyone has the chance to go to this place: you just have to. (not sure if I heard correctly, I think the meal was about $250 HKD a person)

my aunt is an amazing foodie.