Archive for the ‘TAP Cuisine’ Category

TAP: The Sweets

I must confess that I have never liked traditional Chinese desserts.  Where is the chocolate?

While americanized chinese restaurants usually distribute oranges and fortune cookies (a US invention) at the end of your greasy meal, the traditional chinese desserts are in the form of a hot pudding or hot sweet soup.  I tend to think of them in two categories.

1) Hot Puddings.  These are made from one core ingredient, e.g. black sesame, red beans, mung beans, walnut, almonds…  and lots of sugar.  The ingredients are grounded then brewed for hours until they dissolve into a thick paste – the result is a condensed flavored hot sweet pudding.  My favorite of this list is the walnut pudding although it’s really difficult to find in the US.  Next favorite is the mung bean (green bean) one.  

BlacksesameSoup.jpg   Redbeansoupdessert.jpg

2) Hot Soups.  These generally have a clear base, with multiple ingredients (herbs, flowers, fruits, fungus and what not) that will either help generate great skin, or provide strength, or prevent aging.  Or a combination of the above.  The taste is generally quite mild and it is somewhat soothing to consume at the end of a big meal.  My favorite is papaya with clear fungus.  It is quite tasty.  I try to avoid anything with either bird’s saliva or frogs ovaries or anything else I do not normally consume… 


 Where to get in NYC:  This is not easy to find.  Sweet and Tart used to carry it, although they closed down their Mott Street location a few years back.  Maybe can try checking out their Flushing location.  Otherwise, the best bet is probably XO Kitchen and Bar (Hester street).


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TAP: Fishballs

Think of fishballs as the equivalent of meatballs.  Just substitute your beef/pork/chicken with fish.  The same way meatballs are made with mystery meat some times, fishballs are made with mystery fish.  It’s all pulverized so it really doesn’t matter as much.

Fishballs are served in several ways.  The most popular is fishballs in noodle soups.  Then there are curry fishballs on skewers, fishballs in soups, steamed fishballs as dimsums, grilled fishballs, stirfry veggies with fishballs… you name it. 

Better fishballs are fishy, smooth, tender almost to a paste. 


Where to get this in NYC: For curry fishballs, best place I’ve had is at Hong Kong Station in Chinatown.  Fishballs in soups you can find in Vietnamese restaurants sometimes, and Chiu Chow restaurants.

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I have an Asian Palette.  I am not sure how one defines it, but for me, it means a rice-based diet, cooked vegetables, soy sauce and anti-butter.  I’m quite sure this is not the definition of asian palette, btw.

I thought I will write about some food/drinks which are generally not western-palette friendly.  Not yet, anyways.  Which means I am not going to write about Peking Duck, or Dumplings, or Boba tea… 

The first item is Hong Kong Style Milk Tea.


It even has a Wikipedia page here!

My favorite Chinese food blog, Cha Siu Bao, recently did a write-up on the HK Style Milk Tea competition. 

There is nothing especially new about this.  It is a derivation from the English milk tea, only better (in the opinion of the Asian Palette!). 


Instead of English breakfast tea, each restaurant selects their own unique blend of tea leaves.  What’s uniform about it is that the tea is very rich (tea is boiled for a few minutes), very smooth (very fine filter using what’s nicknamed as “pantyhose”), a bit thick (using evaporated milk), and very sweet (lots and lots of sugar). 

You drink this milk tea with almost any food.  It’s for lunch, afternoon tea, dinner…  and breakfast.   One interesting variation is what we call “yin yang”, which means coffee + milk tea.  Yep, coffee and tea all in one!

Where to get this in the US: chinatown.  Most Chinese bakeries and “hong kong style western food” restaurants (will explain in a later post).  Just ask for “hong kong style milk tea” and someone will hopefully point you in the right direction!

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