Thursday home cooking. So we ate all the gumbo, all the prime rib, and we had some things left over to cook with. We ate enough for about 10 people in 2 1/2 days - maybe 10 mini meals each. I swear. I should have taken a picture of the dishes we created just from eating. Artichokes, broccoli (someone stole our cart at panch villa's for a while and put it in there), chinese broccoli, mushrooms, shrimp. So the FP made a tasty Asian quick stew. He used oyster sauce and soy. He cut the veggies long and kind of thick so that they still had some texture.
Friday - my birthday! I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to eat. I worked, and then when I came home we went to eat. I was wanting; sushi, Filipino food, chinese - specifically Dumpling Inn, Long John Silver's, Ethiopian (I didn't tell the FP about the last one, because he was getting anxious wondering wht I was going to pick). I really wanted the Dumpling Inn, but I also wanted a different place to write about. So we drove to Convoy Street, and I just felt the magnetic force of the Dumpling Inn.
It was about 3:30 and the place was packed. Okay, so there are only 9 tables and one is really used for family meal at that time of day. (The last time we went there around the same time and the staff was eating at that table) But the interesting thing, is that you can't take the white test here. There is an asterisk next to the Dumpling Inn when talking about if it fails the white test. For those of you who are not familiar, I guess I have to explain. For the faithful readers, bare with me. Or you can skip to the next paragraph. When chosing an ethnic restaurant at which to dine, one wants to take the white test. This will determine whether to go in or not. Of course, the first test is to look at the menu. Is there anything that catches one's eye or eyes. Then one looks inside at the diners. Is the restaurant busy? Depending on time of day, this may not be a good indication, of course. One great thing about a lot of ethnic restaurants is that they tend to be open between lunch and dinner hours. Then one peruses the clientele. What is their nationality? Are there people of the same ethnic background as the cuisine that is served? If everyone in the place is, go ahead, get a table. Are there people of different ethnic backgrounds, but similar to the cuisine? For instance, if there is an asian restaurant - say chinese - and there are vietnamese, thai, indonesians there. Then that is a green light as well. Of course, a lot of you whites may not be able to tell the difference like I can. (Okay, I can't tell all, but I can spot a flip at least) If there are 0 - 25% caucasians, that's a good sign that it may be a good authentic restaurant. Of course if you want a restaurant that caters to American tastebuds, use the percentages in the opposite manner. If there are 25 - 50% caucasians, use proceed if you must with much caution. (I wouldn't though, unless it's the only restaurant around - or the best choice around) If there are 50 - 100% caucasians, get out! Go, do not set foot in the door, do not let them ambush you and seat you and bring the tea (or water). Get out! Get out!
* Another exception though, that I might add, is if the white percentage is between 25 - 50%, but that is mixed race tables, this is acceptable. So if for 10 tables there is one white at each table with 1 or more indigenous peoples - that's a green light. Now if it's the other way - 1 indigenous and 2 or more whites at a majority, I'd cut my losses and go somewhere else.
So as I was writing, you can't take the white test at the Dumpling Inn. If you refer to the previous post about Dumpling Inn - miscellaneous meals - there were whites in the restaurant last time. This time, there were whites. One couple, maybe a family and a guy by himself. That's okay though. It's the Dumpling Inn. It's Chinese, but it doesn't necessarily look Chinese. It has mirrors on one wall so it looks bigger. And it has white lace curtains. But the food. Oh the food. And there were a couple mixed race tables - Indian, white, Chinese - all at one table. That is a big bonus! And then single men can be a good indicator. There was a chinese guy by himself reading. And then a white guy sat by himself next to us. He didn't even look at the menu - regular.
So getting to the food already. I was pissed. I forgot my camera. I was going to make a point to take more pictures. We got the fish and chive boiled dumplings. We wanted to get different food - even though I craved the stuff we got before - pork dumpling, shrimp and chive dumpling, beef curry dumpling, pork and pickled cabbage soup. These sounded like they could be fishy somewhere else, but we trusted in Dumpling Inn. They were perfect. Not fishy. Nicely cooked, good flavor. We also got the pot stickers. They came on one of those long moderny asian plates that are mainly used for pot stickers. And they were all stuck together, prettily browned - a happy potsticker family. These were also perfect. Do I use that word too much? But they were. Great flavor, nicely crunchy and soft. Pot stickers. You know what I mean? And then the "piece de resistance". The pork shank entree. We debated between that and the beef shank soup. We chose right as far as we knew. We got this gigantic pork shank. The top part of the leg. OMG OMG OMG if you could see it, you'd cream your pants - either in fear or excitement. For me it was both. It had this pretty brown sauce all over, and the skin was pretty brown. I like pretty brown things.... It stood on the plate, broad side of the bone planted flat on the surface, skinnier side sticking up. It looked like a little brown glistening Jabba the Hut on a plate. I know this doesn't sound appealing to most. But some of you will appreciate it. So the skin was tender. A lot of times one gets a shank, and the skin is tough, and you can't even chew through it. But this melted in the mouth. And then that pale meat underneath. God it was so good. It was earthy but meaty but delicious. And the sauce was not too thick, and it had a strong 5 spicyness to it. Funnily enough, the rice was kind of crunchy. But I just mixed the sauce and meat into the rice, and it was fine. I could go for some right now. Actually, I think I'm going to heat up the leftover when I'm done writing this. The FP already had dinner - chips and salsa.
Saturday. Long John Silver's. Okay. So I had wanted this yesterday, and we woke up hungry. I had eaten sweet maui onion chips and ranch dip the night before. I ate way too many. I felt kind of sick after that. So I wanted something healthy. Light breakfast. Fish. We called LJS to see what time they opened. 10 am. So we got there at 10:01 am. It's south on the 805 a few exits. No jokes. We were third in line. We both got the L10. He got an extra piece of fish. I subbed more fries for the coleslaw. So we get our diet Pepsis. Then condiments. The pumps weren't set up yet. So we grabbed handsfull of malt vinegar and cocktail sauce packets. And the Cajun Chef brand hot sauce. Then our food was ready. It looked perfect. There's that word again. But it did. Everything was so crunchy. Nicely fried, golden brown. Okay. Wait.
It wasn't perfect. The clams were a little soft, and clumped together. Looked like the clam fryer dumped to many packets of clams in the fryer at once. eaaaaaaah (buzzer noise) You're fired. Okay. They weren't terrible, but not great either. But the fish, the fries, the shrimp, and the hushpuppies - perfect. The hushpuppies were the best I've ever had. So this is my LJS strategy. I move some of the fries out of one of the plastic plate compartments. Then I make a hot sauce and malt vinegar mixture. I get a cocktail sauce dip open next to the hot sauce vinegar mix. I dip the fried object in the vinegar mix, then the cocktail sauce. If it's like a shrimp, then I dip both sides in the vinegar so it all soaks in. I used to sprinkle hot sauce and vinegar all over the plate, but it all gets soggy. All that effort the chefs take to fry it to crispy perfection for naught. So I didn't finish mine. I left a shrimp minus a bite, half the fries (the half that I substituted for coleslaw) and almost half a piece of fish. It was still wonderful. I guess I'm learing a little restraint in my old age. When I was 33 I would have forced myself to eat it all in 4 minutes flat. Now that I'm more mature at 34, I know I don't have to eat it all at a breakneck speed. The experience of savouring the tastes is enough.