Sometimes it is nice to celebrate Chinese New Year.
By which I mean to crave Chinese food and go “Oh, it’s Chinese New Year! Well… we should go celebrate!”
Also Steve started grad school and we had yet to celebrate that.
Plus I’d never taken him to my fave Chinese place, Full Kee. There’s one in DC and one in VA, in a total strip mall, but the place is mega authentic!
I love the decor…
… I love the tea…
… I love (and hate, due to indecisiveness) the absurdly lengthy menu…
… I love love love profusely that one can get soup with both dumplings AND noodles because it seems so unfair to have to choose.
(I ate this in Taipei, too!)
We parceled out our dumplings into individual soups. The wrappers are gossamer thin and they’re cooked perfectly.
The broth is just soul-satisfying delight.
And the filling includes shrimp, I think cabbage, and extremely flavorful mushroom.
If you wish, you can dump in a glob of the chili sauce at the table and watch your soup turn colorful and sinus-clearing.
(Steve overdid it and had a coughing fit :D)
This other thing we ordered- whoa.
I decided I wanted to get something with black bean sauce, because it’s my favorite Chinese condiment. I also knew they did sort of transcendent things with eggplant at Full Kee.
This led to us ordering this, described succinctly as “Tofu, green pepper, eggplant casserole in black bean sauce”
Guys, WHOA. Have you ever seen anything like this?!
I most certainly had not.
The tofu was flash fried, which made for that fried-tofu exterior (which I dislike but Steve adores; so that worked nicely). The inside of it I was all over- it was like SILK it was so tender. Yum!
The eggplant was like it always is at Full Kee- so luxuriously velvety and flavorful on your tongue. They know their eggplants.
And, it had a little surprise!
The veggies had a flavorful shrimp paste filling on the inside. In the case of this bite, it meant a cooked just tender green pepper (still nicely al dente), tasting a bit blistery from a hot pan, and then a rich and flavorful shrimp filling.
So tasty! So unique!
Yes, fortune cookies are not authentic but I like them! And the complimentary orange slices are such a fresh way to end a meal.
On the subject of Asian cuisine, I’ve developed a fairly serious Korean bakery problem. Problem in that the foods are nutritionally unimpressive (though quite tasty!), and they have HUGE amounts of samples and I graduated from college recently enough that I behave like a hungry hyena around free food.
Oh yeah and they are EXPENSIVE!
They charged extra for soy milk in my coffee. Not a soy latte or cappuccino. No, when I asked to put a splash of soy milk in my coffee, they charged me! That is excessive.
Mind you, then they gave me an ENTIRE CUP of it. So I essentially had a cup of coffee and a cup of soy milk. This was so odd I took a picture.
Anyway, I might as well make a blog post out of some of the stuff that has been giving me an extra outer coating this not-particularly-cold winter.
I didn’t eat these all, but ate more than I thought I would!
First, sapporo bread. A mainstay of the Korean bakery.
The inside is fluffy white bread. I ignore it. (Well, I rip it up and put it in my freezer for bread pudding).
What I am focused on is the outside. The crispy, nutty, rich and fatty exterior. It typically (I think?) has ground peanuts or peanut flour in it, and in terms of consistency and sweetness is not dissimilar to the top of a fruit crisp. Delightful.
Next: sweet potato manju.
What a whacky looking creation, eh?!
I don’t know how the physics of this happened at all, but there’s kind of a papery thin bready outside that is thoroughly shellacked with cinnamon, and then inside is the sweet white bean filling of which I am so fond (found in many a Korean pastry), and it’s interspersed with chunks of Korean sweet potato.
The best for last! A layered delight:
It was the sample that sold me on this one; it really reminded me of one of those decadent, perfectly composed Paris bakery desserts.
Complete with the French(ish) name: A sunflower seed financier.
The bottom layer was crumbly, bittersweet chocolate. Above that was a coffee layer, sort of a crumbly, not at all too sweet, cake. Atop, rich candied sunflower seeds; like pecan pie but better!
I drive past the bakery that produced these every time I come home from work or school. It’s trouble, I tell you.