The abrupt permanent closure of my favorite Shanghainese-style Chinese restaurant, China 46 in Ridgefield Park, forced me into seeking out alternatives for Xiǎolóngbāo, the elusive “Soup Dumpling” or “Steamed Juicy Bun” that originates from Shanghai and is also a popular dish in Hong Kong and Taipei. It’s also served in a number of Shanghai-style Chinese restaurants in New York City’s Chinatown, such as Joe’s Shanghai, Shanghai Cuisine, and New Green Bo.
Fortunately I had recently heard of another Shanghainese restaurant, Petite Soochow, from another foodie blogger, TommyEats, on a random New Jersey post at the CNET Chowhound forums site. Petite Soochow, which has been in business for just over a year, is the second incarnation of a defunct Shanghainese restaurant in Saddle Brook, Old Soochow. Somehow this place managed to escape earlier notice, but I’m very happy I saw Tommy’s post, because Petite Soochow is probably one of the best authentic Chinese restaurants in Northern NJ.
Petite Soochow in Gorge Road in Cliffside Park.
Your Soup Dumpling supply chain is still intact. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Downtown Jersey City is an area that I normally don’t get to spend a lot of time in, and that’s mostly by choice — it is situated in one of the most difficult traffic areas in existence, and if you live in any of the Eastern Bergen County towns like me, trying to get there at any time of the day is an utter nightmare, because you’re dealing with roads that intersect every major crossing into New York City. That being said, I am now working on assignment in the Exchange Place area for a few months, and I’ve had to make the best of my commute, which gets me up at 6am and into work by 8am, missing most of the bad Holland Tunnel and bridge traffic.
Despite the horrendous traffic situation, Jersey City is an absolute goldmine of fantastic ethnic food. One of those ethnic cuisines is Indian food, which has grown in popularity since all the strategic outsourcing started bringing in IT workers from Bangalore and other cities in India to work at many of the financial institutions which migrated to Jersey City after 9/11.
One Indian restaurant that I recently visited in Jersey City is Nanking, which is very close to the Exchange Place PATH station. Nanking is actually an Indian Chinese restaurant (which is part of a small local chain that has several restaurants in NYC and NJ) which also serves Indianized Thai food. For those not familiar with Indo-Chinese cuisine, its a spicy, tangy fusion cuisine that originates from Calcutta and utilizes Chinese-style wok cooking methods combined with Indian spices. Indo-Chinese is a rather rare cuisine in both New York and New Jersey — the two best known restaurants that serve this food are owned by the Mehtani Group, which owns Ming and Ming II in Edison and Morristown, both of which are excellent.
Nanking, in downtown Jersey City features exotic Indian Chinese cuisine. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
China Palace Restaurant
5210 Garrett Rd, Durham NC
While the Triangle area seems to have an abundance of delicious ethnic cuisine, it appears to be lacking in authentic Chinese restaurants. I had pretty much given up on the idea of finding good Chinese food until a Google search revealed some positive blog posts about China Palace, a small Cantonese/Sichuan/Hunan restaurant in Durham. I like this place so much, that I’ve already been to it twice and its already become my “go to” local Chinese. The portions are big, so expect leftovers for lunch the next day.
China Palace looks like a dinky, run of the mill Chinese Restaurant. Don’t let this distract you, go right in.
On a busy night, don’t be surprised if you have to wait 15-20 minutes for a table. This place is real popular with the locals.
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
When a favorite restaurant dies, you undergo a bereavement process as a former patron. You try to replace it with another one, usually failing to do so. Then occasionally, you come across a dish at another place that tastes familiar, but doesn’t -quite- get there. You see glimmerings of the original, enough to make you do a double take, but then you come to your senses and again realize you are someplace else. Its like walking down the street and seeing someone who resembles another person who has been dead for years, or playing with another person’s pet that looks remarkably similar to one of yours which passed away. You tear up a bit, think about the good times, and then move on.
Such as it is with my favorite Chinese restaurant, China 46, which closed down in September of 2007. I haven’t taken this loss particularly well, as there were a lot of dishes that were prepared there that I cannot get at any other Shanghai/Sichuan restaurant I’ve been to, and this includes the very good local newcomers such as Chengdu 1 and Petite Soochow, which I recommend heartily. I thought I had moved on until I had this dish recently at China Palace restaurant, a small authentic Chinese place in Durham, North Carolina:
Spicy Capsicum Pepper Saute with Pressed Tofu, from China Palace restaurant in Durham, NC.
This dish closely resembles another dish at China 46 restaurant, which was called “House Special Saute” and consisted of ground pork with finely chopped Chinese green peppers and pressed tofu, in a spicy Sichuan hot bean sauce. The China Palace version here is excellent, using julienne pressed tofu and shredded pork, but it is not the same — the China 46 one was drier and less saucy and a much finer dice.
Once I had this dish, I was committed to faithfully replicating the China 46 version, at least as close as to it I could recall. I don’t have original photos of the dish I am trying to replicate, so I am just going from memory here.
Spicy Sichuan Capsicum Saute, fondly remembered and re-created from the late China 46 restaurant in Ridgefield Park, NJ.
Re-Create this fantastic Sichuan dish in your own home. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
After getting off a five and a half hour plane ride from Newark and arriving at San Francisco, I got the rental car and picked up my colleague, Cheryl, also just arriving from Cleveland, who would be joining me that week for training in the Silicon Valley area. Both of us were absolutely starving. It was only 4PM, but for us, it was dinnertime.
Knowing that we had at least an hour or so drive ahead of us driving down to the Morgan Hill/Gilroy area south of San Jose, we wanted to get a good meal in before hitting any potential traffic on the 85/101. I knew exactly where I wanted to go the second I landed in San Francisco. Koi Palace.
I had eaten at Koi Palace about three years earlier, and was introduced to the incredible dim sum that the restaurant offers. During the daytime and on the weekends, Koi Palace serves upwards of 100 different varieties of yum cha. The restaurant seats upwards of 300-400 people at a time — usually close to capacity — and looks like something out of the crazy fight scenes in Kill Bill or the luxurious residence of an Asian James Bond villain, with its huge vaulted ceiling and fish ponds in the middle of the main dining room. Admittedly, we have some pretty good Hong-Kong style restaurants in New York City’s Chinatown and in the Queens and New Jersey suburbs, but nothing even close to this. I mean, LIVE Alaskan king crabs? Where the heck do you find those in New York?
View of the restaurant from the parking lot at 4:30PM. This is as empty as most people will ever see it, as during prime dinner and lunch hours, this place can get packed and frequently you have to wait on line to get in. So go early.
A partial view of the cavernous main dining room.
Are you ready for some serious Hong Kong-style Seafood? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
A Simple Stir-Fry of Seasoned Firm Pressed Tofu with Ground Chicken and Chopped Vegetables.
When one thinks of Vegetarian and Vegan cuisine, most carnivores immediately snicker and think of Tofu — those big tasteless blocks of soy protein. And knowing that I probably would now be eating a lot more of this stuff than I used to, I started researching what I could do to make this highly malleable and versatile ingredient into something tasty.
Tofu comes in a number of different forms — in its most unprocessed state, they are simply blocks of bean curd, which come in different firmness levels. Personally, I prefer to buy firm or extra firm tofu, because it can handle much more man-handling when cooking so it doesn’t completely fall apart. I also like to buy firm-pressed tofu that has been seasoned (usually with a Chinese five spice blend or smoked, giving it a flavor similar to ham) which I typically buy from Asian groceries. This is particularly useful in stir-fries where you want sort of a meaty texture to complement vegetables or small amounts of meat to be used as flavoring. A third form, and less known to Westerners, is dried bean curd skin. In Japanese cuisine this is known as Yuba. In its most unprocessed form, it comes as dried “sheets” which in turn can then be reconstituted to use as wrappers or even cut up as “noodles”.
Want to enter the wonderful world of Tofu? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.