Abe and I refuse to cook food at home during our Haxlr8r stay in China. What’s the point? We’re living in the most culinarily diverse and baffling country in the world! It would be such a shame to miss out on all of the skill and creativity of PRC’s food makers.
A lot of our friends and mentors here feel the same. On Bob’s birthday the people from MakerBot came along and taught us how to party like real Chinese people (much to our misery the next day), gan bei!
Although we have willing people who are open-minded about food around us, we do a hearty amount of reconnaissance on our own so we can impress our friends later with our great taste (winky face). One day we preemptively apologized to our G.I. tracts and decided to have sushi at “Ninja Restaurant.”
The raw sweet shrimp was a bad decision. Their flesh was mealy and it wasn’t…. er… “sweet.” The other dishes we ordered were pretty decent. The short ribs were definitely the star, our inner cavemen were sated by the deep and beefy sizzling aroma. Would we bring any friends back here? Probably not, this place required all of our courage.
The next day, we found a great place that we immediately shared with all of Haxlr8r. We call the restaurant “the three sauce Qing dynasty pot experience.” Since we can’t read Chinese, we really relish the rare occasion where there are snippets of English we can evaluate. This place had English on their place mats that say their sauces used to be made only for the emperor!
To order a three sauce pot you must first pick out the proteins you desire. Then servers put down a bed of aromatics on an induction pot and place your requested jewels from the land and sea on top. For one of our pots we picked out little baby catfish-looking fish and lamb. After we ate the entire protein layer they poured in a gorgeous broth and we cooked some veggie goodies in it hot pot style. It was one of the best meals we’ve had in ShenZhen.
Well, one of the best, until we went to this restaurant in the uber chic mall above Windows of the World which had great xiao long bao.
We love soup dumplings (xiao long bao) and none of our friends had ever had one before so we had the pleasure of explaining how to disarm the treat. First, you have to carefully transfer one into a spoon, drizzle on a little vinegar and put a few slivers of ginger on top, and finally, you bite a little hole on the bottom and suck out all of the soup (be careful it’s hot!) before taking bigger bites. Even though those soup dumplings really hit the spot, the standout dish of the meal was the BBQ duck tongues, I ordered just one plate and our friend Will from Kindara couldn’t get enough of them.
Oh, and about dessert. Eating dessert after dinner makes about as much sense to a Chinese person as keeping your shoes on at home. Why would you walk around the house covered in the filth from outdoors? And why would you gorge on sugar immediately after a huge meal?
Abe has a legendary sweet tooth and for the most part we have been participating in tian dian, the Chinese tradition of eating sweets as midday snacks. Usually we go to Ichibenor, MomoTea, King Arch, RBT, Italian Bain, Paris Bread… oh damn, we eat a lot of tain dian.
And the tian dian we order most is flavored tea. Abe craves milk taro tea with tapioca pearls while I keep to the classics and usually order a matcha shake with red beans. At the sit-down specialty chains they usually top our drinks off with a thick layer of fluffy whipped cream—- it’s such a lovely cloud to float on and dream of our next meal.