Dinner 6/11/22

Pan-fried noodles with seafood; Pork belly and tofu in 5-spice sauce

A little dinner with my friend Tony at Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown befor going to a concert. Tony had never had soup dumplings (xiao long bao), which are Dumpling Cafe’s speciality, and the restuarant is just around the corner from the Wang Theatre where we were going, so it seemed like a perfect choice.

I, of course, forgot to take a photo of the dumplings, but I have posted them here previously. These are the other dishes we ordered. The pork belly and tofu dish was outstanding. The five-spice sauce was savory and not too overpowering, and the contrast of the crispy pieces of pork belly and silky soft tofu was amazing. They do the pan-fried noodles witha few different proteins, but this one featured seafood (mainly scallops and squid) and the sauce was deeply flavored by the seafood bits. We probably should have ordered one of their spicier dishes, but I’m not really sad that we didn’t because I didn’t bring a towel to wipe down my sweaty head.

The XLBs were, as ever, fantastic. We ordered both varieties (one that is just pork, one is pork and crab). Tony enjoyed them enormously.

Lunch 1/22/22

Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings)

We had an errand in Cambridge on Saturday, and Dumpling House, the sister restaurant of Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown, was just down the street, so we stopped for lunch. You can’t go to either place without ordering the Xiao Long Bao, because they have the best soup dumplings anywhere. Especially in the cold weather, a hot soup dumpling will soothe your soul like nothing else.

In addition to the soup dumplings, we had some garlic-and-pepper pickled cucumbers that were an unexpected delight. Big cucumber chunks in a savory, garlicky sauce with just a tinge of heat. I was epxecting something much different, but we really liked these a lot, and will definitely have them the next time we’re there.

Our entrees were also not what we expeected but equally excellent. I ordered what the menu calls “Minced pork with noodles, Northern style”. I expected a hot and spicy dish that I sometimes make at home that has ground pork and uses doubanjiang. Instead, “minced” pork meant small dice, and the sauce was black-bean based, with red bell pepper and what I think was diced zucchini (or maybe more likely some Chinese squash). It was not at all spicy, but very deeply flavored. Bridget ordered cabbage with chilis, which came in kind of a broth and was also not as spicy as we had expected, considering the many bits of dried red chilis in the dish, but was quite tasty. I guess the chilis just needed time to do their work, because when I ate the leftovers a couple of days later, it was much hotter.

Dinner 1/6/22

Assorted dumplings

We had several different kind of frozen dumplings taking up a lot of space in the freezer, so we had Dumpling Night for dinner. Those big ones in the front are Korean kimchi and pork dumplings. The round ones are xiao long bao – Shanghai-style soup dumplings. The flat-ish ones are pork and veggie gyoza. There’s also some daikon (muu) kimchi and a bowl of steamed edamame. Not in the photo are some kimchi pancakes and some vegetable pancakes.

Maybe we should have called lit Kimchi Night, because it featured so prominently. The muu kimchi is homemade. My mother gave my wife a kimchi making it for Christmas and this was her first attempt. It was really good.

Of the dumplings, I especially love soup dumplings. These are frozen ones I ordered online, and they are acceptable but nothing special. We like to go to a couple of places that specialize in them, so we’re spoiled for very good ones. The frozen gyozas are something we often keep on hand, since they make for an easy lunch. The kimchi-pork ones were something we picked up at H-Mart and liked well enough to buy a second bag.

The two different kinds of pancakes did not turn out great. My wife did the cooking, and I think having to handle so many things at once got away from her a little bit. But the kimchi pancakes showed promise.