Category Archives: seafood

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day

It's been a busy week, with school starting and coordinating Vday plans, but surprisingly I found time to cook and bake several times, so there will be updates forthcoming as soon as I get off my lazy bum to write them heh. On Valentine's Day, I was pretty excited to get my very own big heart shaped frosted cookie :D Apparently there was a lunch meeting and this cookie was the only one left over, which my boyfriend nabbed and presented to me at lunch. Yum! It was chocolate shortbread with royal icing on top, rich and buttery. We shared the cookie, but I refused to break it down the middle on principle, so we just ate from both sides until we got to the middle lol. I've always thought Valentine's Day cookies are so pretty, and even though it was a left over item from an event, it still made me giddy :)

For dinner, my boyfriend and I got off work early without any concrete plans, and after discussing it briefly we decided to relax and order in for Italian food and watch a movie together. We got our dinner from Stefani's Pizzeria, which consisted of tortellini alfredo for my boyfriend (we ordered fettucini alfredo, but apparently they misheard us), and linguini carbonara for me. We also got a nice complementary Caesar salad, soft garlic bread, and some flatbread to go with the salad. I really liked my linguini carbonara, it wasn't made with a cream sauce like most carbonaras are, instead it was made with a white wine sauce, with olive oil, shallots, mushrooms, and prosciutto. I really liked the flavor of the white wine in the sauce, it was a strong but refreshing taste that went quite nicely with the rest of the ingredients. 

We watched the Bucket List while we ate dinner, and it was such a sweet movie and it made me cry at the end. I don't know why it was given such poor reviews, but we both really liked the movie, even though it's not really a Vday kind of film. I'm a big fan of both Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, and the both of them were just wonderful in their roles. Yes the plotline is mostly formulaic and yes it moves a little slow, but the movie isn't meant to be action-packed, and I feel like both actors did a great job telling their story, and it was certainly moving. Critics might be right most of the time, but there are still many times when you should just let your own intuition do the judging.

Then for dessert we shared a decadent molten chocolate cake together, which I whipped together in no time at all (recipe to follow, with less blurry pictures). It was a delicious way to end the day and I liked being able to add a homemade touch to our meal.

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On Friday night, we had made reservations to eat dinner at McCormick & Schmick's, which is a chain seafood restaurant similar to Legal Seafood. There was a coupon for $20 off any entree, so we thought it would be nice to get dinner at a pricey restaurant without breaking the bank. The atmosphere was a bit stuffy for me, and not very romantic, with the place catering mostly to the older folk (something like a men's club). We had a pretty crazy meal that night… first we were seated in a center table, surrounded by cozy wrap-around booths, which made us feel like we had gotten brushed aside in the seating department. Next our table tilted heavily to one side if we both leaned on it (poor weight balance on the legs?), and our table candle was not lit. We ordered our food and started off with soup, clam chowder for me and Maryland crab soup for my boyfriend. (Sorry for the black & white photo… I accidentally had my flash on, after setting the white balance, so the whole thing came out with a terrible tint of blue that I couldn't fix in photoshop… so I just discarded all color information altogether haha). The thing with this restaurant is that they are very heavy with the salt in everything. The chowder itself was not bad, but a bit too salty (I definitely prefer Legal's chowder) and not as creamy as I expected it to be.

Next came the entree ordering mayhem. They have a special menu every day, based on the fresh seafood they get, which I thought was a nice idea. I was especially interested in their Atlantic salmon special, which was salmon stuffed with blue crab, shrimp, and brie. I ordered that, and Greg ordered their broiled seafood platter, which had salmon, shrimp, scallops, crab cake and stuffed clams. Later the waiter comes back to tell me that they were out of the stuffed salmon, so I had to change my order to their jumbo seared scallops instead. Then 10 minutes later, the waiter comes back to tell Greg that his dish was also out, so he had to then change his order to a yellowtail sole. Well, after all this, it's been about half an hour and our orders for dinner were just going in. Plus, we never got bread and butter, which every other table had gotten, so we had to ask for it ourselves. Finally, a server came with our dishes, and puts down a plate in front of me that I don't recognize… I stared at it for a minute, and that moment our waiter just happened to be coming by and said to the server that it wasn't my dish. Turns out, it was the broiled seafood platter that Greg originally ordered but they had run out of… interesting. So the waiter was clearly very embarrassed and confused, as the other dish the server was carrying was Greg's yellowtail sole. So the waiter gave the original seafood platter to Greg, and took back the yellowtail, and then shortly thereafter brought out my scallops entree. Very confusing.

Anyway, my entree was seared jumbo sea scallops with a saffron risotto and lobster sauce, with a side of steamed vegetables. The scallops were huge, and it doesn't look like it but I actually got 4 of them, which were more than enough for me to even finish. The saffron risotto was, although overly salted, still quite good. It was creamy, and the rice was al dente, with a slight crunch in the center, which I really enjoyed. This is the second time I've tried risotto, and let's just say the first time was terrible, with a lump that was dried and flavorless. So while this risotto was a bit too salty, it was at least better than any other time I've tried it haha. The scallops came in a bit of a brown sauce whose lobster flavor was pretty strong, not at all like lobster cream, but more like lobster stock in a sauce, reminding me a little bit of lobster bisque. The entree was very filling, although it didn't look like that much food at first. I was only able to eat 3 scallops and 2/3 of the risotto with all the veggies before I was completely stuffed to the point of being in a bit of pain heh. So certainly the portions were more than adequate. Mine and Greg's entrees were both about $24, and the soups were $6 per bowl, so the total for the meal after using the $20 coupon came out to about $45 before tip. It's not a bad price, but I think I can get a more satisfying meal experience elsewhere for that price, and less salty overload for sure heh. The one thing M&S does do very well though, is sell desserts. They don't have a dessert "menu" on paper, instead it's presented on a tray with all the desserts molded in very realistic looking plastic. They pick up each dessert to show you and tell you about it, so that it becomes very difficult to deny when the time comes. Luckily we were just literally stuffed to the gills and couldn't handle another morsel of food, but there was a very interesting looking "edible chocolate bag" filled with white chocolate mousse that looked quite delicious. Maybe another time…


A Patriots fan’s visit to NYC on Superbowl weekend

Before I forget, happy belated Chinese New Year to all! I didn't get to do anything special to celebrate, and I didn't have any of the necessary ingredients to make classic Chinese New Year desserts (I only had a navel orange in the fridge… that counts right? haha), so unfortunately, as much as this blog is related to Chinese food most of the time, I don't have anything to post about CNY. I'll try to make up for that with a post about my visit to NYC on Superbowl Sunday :)

So last Sunday I woke up bright and early at about 5am to pack and drag myself to the Boston bus terminal to ride the Greyhound bus down to NYC. I have to say, 4.5 hours is a long time to be cramped in a chair, with the sun shining in your eyes the entire time. Still, I got to the Big Apple just before noon, and met up with my hung over friend Zheng to grab brunch near his apartment haha. I've been on a brunch roll lately, it's almost like I've uncovered a whole new cuisine altogether (I guess there were benefits to never eating breakfast!). At this place, whose name I can't remember but I know it's located on 9th Ave, I saw that eggs benedict was $9 (hah, no way I'd pay that price now!). What sparked my interest however was the large assortment of omelettes that the cafe served, and with a choice of whole eggs or egg whites.

Feeling like I should eat healthy, I settled on an egg white Irish omelette, which had corned beef, onions, and peppers in it, topped with swiss cheese. It was served with a side of smashed and seasoned potato chunks and whole wheat toast. I have to say, it being the first time I've ever had egg white omelettes, it was really tasty! In fact, I would definitely choose it over whole egg omelettes simply for the health benefits, because I honestly thought it was just as good as the real thing. I think the swiss cheese helped give it a lot of savory flavor that perhaps the plain egg whites would have been lacking. The corned beef was also really tasty with the egg whites, something a little different from the usual ham or sausage meat additions. The potato side was not very interesting though, but I suppose it was nice to rotate amongst the different foods on the plate. And as you'd expect things to be in NYC, the price tag was steeper than I would see in Boston. This brunch platter cost me about $9 before tax and tip, and I only got water to drink on the side.

Later that afternoon, I walked with Zheng through the city to get to his friend's apartment for a Superbowl party. Having grown up in the Northeast, there is no way I could be anything but a Patriots fan, and I was a bit intimidated that I would be the only one at the party who wasn't rooting for the Giants. Luckily I was wrong, because otherwise it would have been really hard to watch the last few minutes of the last quarter by myself heh. Anyway, on my way to the party, I was taking in all the sights and sounds of the city, and then I remembered that I've always wanted to try the frozen yogurt phenomena known as Pinkberry. Since Pinkberry stores are only located in CA and NY, I was set on getting a taste before I left. Zheng informed me that we'd be walking by "Koreantown", which is literally just one block of the city with all sorts of Korean and Japanese restaurants and stores, and that Pinkberry was located there. Apparently Pinkberry is a Korean frozen yogurt concept, which was news to me haha. Anyway, we made our little detour there and I was all giddy and snapping pictures because I've heard so much hype about this place and how celebrities love it. I have to say, the interior decor was nice and hip, very Korean-cutesy. I bet a lot of the people just come here for the decor alone, to be able to say that they hang out at the "cool" fro-yo place lol.

They had these big round white lights hanging from the ceiling, with undulating wave patters on them. Certainly very eye-catching and chic. On the walls were printed names of many famous lovers (Zheng was asking me what half of them were heh), although I'm not sure how it has anything to do with frozen yogurt or Pinkberry… I associate neither with… love haha.

There was a long line from the cash register going all the way to the front door, all people waiting to be served on a winter's Sunday afternoon. Amazing. Notice the cutesy pastel things on the right side wall? I don't even know what they were supposed to be… but definitely your typical Korean cutesy items. The one thing about the way Pinkberry operates (btw all their staff was non-Korean) that annoys me is that they don't tell you anything before you get to the cash register. On the back wall are the prices (and damn, this stuff is over-priced!), which say that a small yogurt is $3, and each topping you'd like to add is an additional $0.95. That's all it really says about the frozen yogurts. I figured out eventually that there were three yogurt flavors: original, green tea, and coffee. They don't tell you what the toppings are at all… how the heck was I supposed to order my $0.95 toppings?!? So when I got to the front of the line, I ordered a small original yogurt with 2 toppings, but the cashier said I needed to specify the toppings. Well you didn't have a list of them!! So I had to run up to the counter where they were serving the yogurt, which is like 7 feet away from the cash register, to observe which toppings were available in the serving bins. Normally that's not a big deal, but when there's like 15 people in line behind you, you feel terrible having to step out of line to figure out what toppings are available before coming back to order. What a poor system. Anyway, I chose cookies & cream (oreo crumbles) and mango chunks for my toppings, which made my small Pinkberry yogurt a grand total of $5 plus taxes. What a ripoff, seriously! For that price, I could buy a whole half gallon of premium ice cream at a grocery store!

So now that I've got my Pinkberry in hand (and I had to leave the store to eat it because all the seats were taken up), what is the verdict? Like many people, I had thought the "original" flavor, since it was white colored, would taste like vanilla. But it didn't… in fact it had a very distinct but very familiar taste to me, something I had often tasted while growing up in China. It was the taste of fresh yogurt… the kind that is sold in small bottles in China where the yogurt is partially liquid and partially soft curds, and you shake it up so that you can drink the thing with a straw. That's exactly the kind of thing that Pinkberry tasted like, except it was in a soft serve form. If you've never had the yogurt drink I've mentioned, I can only really describe Pinkberry as sour – not citrusy but more of a mild tartness that is accompanied by a hint of sweetness. It's not really creamy at all, which is what makes Pinkberry a refreshing and healthier alternative to ice cream. It's kind of an acquired taste, I think. Personally, I loved it because it brought back all my childhood memories of those yogurt drinks that I really enjoyed, but I think if you've never had such a flavor before it might be a shock to associate it with frozen yogurt. As tasty as the yogurt is though, I felt like the toppings didn't add anything to the experience… this isn't ice cream, there's no point in topping it with the traditional toppings aside from ripping customers off (honestly… $1 per topping?!?!). So while the flavor of the yogurt itself is appealing to me, I will definitely not be going back often due to the exorbitant price tag. When I go to China this summer… I'll just have my fill of my little yogurt drinks for a few pennies each :)

Moving on… the Superbowl itself was a pretty intense game to watch, and it was a lot of fun with a room nearly split 50/50 Pats fans and Giants fans. Zheng's friends had an enormous apartment (they had an entire floor of a building to themselves… with 2 bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, and a giant living room with kitchen. In fact, and this was exciting to me haha, the elevator of the building opens right up into their living room when you hit their floor button. How cool is that?!? Okay… sorry haha I clearly am easily excitable. We had the usual pizza and wings and chips and beer at the party, and then we stuck around for a while after the game since there were riots going on in Times Square (near where Zheng lives). We walked through some of that on the way back, and Zheng, a Giants fan, high fived a lot of random people in the streets haha. I saw policemen sitting on horses, trying to keep the order, but everyone was screaming and shouting and cars were honking (I almost got run over crossing the street). It was pretty crazy and a little scary too I have to admit, although I guess we've had our fair share of riots up in Boston for the Red Sox too heh.

The next night for dinner, I went with Zheng to a little French-Italian fusion restaurant on 9th Ave called Nizza. Zheng wanted to get dinner from the Olive Garden, and I was having none of that chain restaurant stuff while out traveling, so we settled on this small but nicely decorated restaurant with decent prices (entrees $12-16 each). After being seated, the waiter came and told us about the menu, and informed us that the food here was a fusion of French food from the area of Nice and Italian cuisine. He also told us that the portions at this restaurant were about 3/4 normal entree portions at other places (no wonder it was priced cheaper than most places I saw), but that worked out nicely for us since neither of us can eat big portions anyway.

We started off the meal with two appetizers, which the waiter told us were tapas-style and great for sharing. We got the warm calamari with potato salad, and a plate of prosciutto crostini with sheep's milk ricotta and balsamic syrup. (Sorry for the pictures with flash, it was just too dim in the restaurant).

The calamari (right) was not fried as I had expected, instead it was naked and tender, probably braised. It came with little jalapeño pepper slices and grape tomato halves that were so sweet and juicy, in a savory vinaigrette sauce, on top of a small bed of skinned and cubed potatoes. I'm not a fan of spicy, so I let Zheng eat all the peppers, and he's not a fan of seafood, so he let me have most of the calamari (oops! I forgot he hates seafood and he didn't tell me not to order it when I suggested it). But in any case, the squid was just so tender, with that warm and perfectly soft chew that fresh and lightly cooked squid has.

On the left is the prosciutto crostini with sheep's milk ricotta and balsamic syrup. It was soooo good. The prosciutto was fresh and lean, sliced very thinly so that it pretty much melted in my mouth. The flavor was wonderful too, not too salty, not too bland. It paired perfectly with the creamy sheep's milk ricotta, which was much milder than I thought it would be, but I thought that was nice, because it would have competed too much with the prosciutto otherwise. And then, with the sweetness from the balsamic syrup on top of a crunchy slice of French bread, I was in heaven with each bite. I really liked the ricotta, it was nothing like cow's milk ricotta with its gritty texture. This cheese was so smooth and creamy I could have sworn it was a different cheese altogether. What a perfect pairing of fine flavors and textures!

Next came the entrees. Zheng ordered something that was pretty much like spaghetti with marinara sauce (it's not on the online menu right now), which wasn't interesting enough for me to waste a flash photograph on :P I ordered the crab ravioli, which came in a lobster cream sauce with fennel and parmesan.

I think the thing about Nizza that impressed me the most was the freshness of everything they served. The ravioli blew me away with how tender and fresh the pasta skin was. It was this pillow-soft texture that I had never ever experienced eating ravioli or any kind of pasta before… simply amazing. The crab meat filling was silky and subtle, with the lobster cream sauce giving it most of its flavor. I really liked the added kick from the fennel in the sauce, which gave the creamy flavor an edge that made it memorable. The portion size was perfect, each ravioli was two bites, and I felt just satisfied after dinner. I had room for dessert, but none of the dessert options (of which there were 4 or so) interested me, so we left to grab dessert at a bakery on the way home. I would definitely come back to have dinner at Nizza again, the appetizers were fantastic and the portions were surprisingly just right (there's something to be said about being able to eat your whole meal and not feel too full or not full enough). The price tag with 2 appetizers is a little steep (I paid about $27 including tax and tip), but that ends up being about on par for dining in NYC, as I was seeing a lot of restaurants advertising prix fixe menus at $24-27 per person before tax/tip.

So then on our way back to Zheng's apartment, I stopped by a busy little bakery called Amy's Bread, which had some tasty looking cakes on display, as well as a lot of sandwiches and breads. Apparently everyone else waiting in line was getting some of their fresh handmade bread to take home, too bad I'm not a big fan of bread. What caught my eye from the street were their red velvet cupcakes, complete with lots of whipped cream cheese frosting on top. It was no Magnolia, but it looked just right for dessert (although $2.50 for a cupcake is steep!).

Truth be told, it was my first time eating red velvet cake, and it's true that there is nothing special about how it tastes (it's really just red cake), but I guess it's something of a visual experience not to be missed out on in your life hehe. The frosting was just great, it wasn't sweet and overpowering like most cupcakes that use royal icing or even buttercream. This frosting also wasn't thick and heavy like cream cheese frostings. I really liked its lightness, which most resembled the kind of frosting that whipped cream cakes tend to have, with a bit of butter in it. Of course, with cakes that have this much pretty frosting on it, it's hard to eat properly without getting frosting all over your face, so I'll remember not to get such a thing when I'm out with important guests :)

So those were some of my food exploits on this trip, yummy and pricey as always! Until next time, NYC!


Panko encrusted tilapia

See? I'm making good on my promise that I would be cooking! Tonight's dinner was an easy panko encrusted tilapia with garlic sauteed green beans on the side. My boyfriend bought these pre-breaded, pre-brined frozen tilapia filets from Costco. They're breaded with panko crumbs, which is similar to bread crumbs but lighter and more airy. The marinade used to brine the fish gave the filets a light lemon-pepper flavor which really made the usually mild tilapia taste quite flavorful. All we had to do was give the filets a little thaw, and then pan-fried them until they were cooked through and the crust was a beautiful crunchy golden brown. I sauteed some green beans on the side with pre-minced garlic (which is a great time-saver), and it was ready to serve! Simple and fast, take that Rachel Ray! :P


Lucy… I’m home!

Ah, how I miss watching I Love Lucy. Anyway, I am home with my family, and it feels great to sleep in late and have homecooked meals 3 times a day. What a luxury! Tonight we had Chinese hotpot in our house (also known as shabu-shabu in Japanese), and it was great having fresh ingredients. For those that are unaware, hotpot is where you have a pot of boiling water or broth, and you have platters of raw meats, seafood, and vegetables laid out on the table. You pick up what you want to eat, and cook it quickly in the boiling water, before taking it out and eating it with a dipping sauce (usually soy-based). The meat is fresh and tender this way, and the veggies are crisp and warm. The special thing about the meat is that it is sliced super thin, I'm talking about maybe 1-2mm thin. We buy meat that has been cut to that thickness from the local Asian market, where they freeze the meat to be able to slice it so thin. My favorite is sliced lamb, but beef is a close second, with pork being the least exciting of the three. For seafood, we usually have shrimp, scallops, sliced fish filets, Asian fish balls, and occasionally squid. And for veggies we normally do napa, iceberg lettuce, spinach, mung bean sprouts, silken tofu, and sliced mushrooms. We also like to cook softened rice noodles in the broth to eat with all the cooked meats and veggies.

Tonight's dinner consisted of sliced beef and pork, as well as flounder fish filets, cooked shrimp, shrimp balls, fish balls stuffed with ground pork, tofu, bean sprouts, iceberg lettuce, and rice noodles. Yum! My mom whipped up a dipping sauce using soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and peanut butter. The flavors came together to make a very savory and delightful sauce to complement all the various types of foods we had. I love hotpot :)

 

And finally for dessert, a most fabulous store-bought strawberry shortcake cake (sounds goofy doesn't it), which is a poundcake round covered with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, and then covered with a layer of toasted coconut crust. It wasn't a dessert I made myself, but it was just the thing to contrast with the hotpot dinner. A slice of that cake went perfectly with a hot cup of Oolong tea that my mom made. Mmmm….


And a few more…

In my ever-continuing quest to mimic Cafe Mami's pork cutlet curry in the comfort of my own home, I had the idea to make mock pork cutlet by taking pork tenderloin and baking it in Shake n' Bake to get a crunchy coating. I also had some Vermont House brand Japanese curry roux cubes, so my boyfriend and I whipped up this dish for dinner. We only had onions in the curry sauce, but we kept it separate from the meat unlike last time when I made it. The taste was actually quite good, though we could have used more sauce and less onions. The only thing was that the flavor of the Shake n' Bake crumb coat on the pork competed with the curry flavor (unlike the milder flavor of simple fried pork cutlet), and the tenderloin was very lean, which was a bit different in texture from the restaurant cutlet (read: fatty). But hey I'm getting closer to the real thing, and this is probably about as healthy as the dish is going to get heh.

My boyfriend made this yummy dinner for us on a night when I was busy experimenting with another baked good that I'll post momentarily :P He used fresh ground lean pork for the meat, and added onions, garlic, home-grown tomatoes from his aunt's backyard, milk, and some jarred pasta sauce for this tasty bolognese sauce. Only he knows the entire recipe, but I know that you first saute the onions, then you add the ground meat and cook until just starting to brown. Then you add the tomatoes (we substituted the fresh tomatoes for the canned crushed tomatoes in the recipe), milk, and water and let it stew for a while to break down the tomatoes. Finally he added some jarred pasta sauce to give the flavor a boost, and the final product was definitely legit. It went perfectly with spaghetti, and I imagine it would have been quite good with a side of homemade garlic bread as well.

When we have no vegetables to cook with our dinner, our ideas begin to get pretty crazy. Luckily my boyfriend found time to stop by the convenience store and buy a box of Annie's deluxe shells n' cheese, as well as a bag of frozen sweet peas. With the starch and vegetable on hand, we set out to figure out the rest of the dinner. We had a lot of frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs, so we thawed out a bunch and went about experimenting with them. I made Thai peanut chicken, and my boyfriend made some sort of garlic salt rubbed chicken. I butterflied the chicken thighs so that I could pan sear them without overcooking them (we don't have an oven-safe skillet, so baking or broiling them is out of the question). Then I marinated in a mixture of salt, sugar, Kikkoman's roasted garlic teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, white pepper, cornstarch, and olive oil, for about 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile I whipped up some peanut sauce by whisking together smooth peanut butter, water, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce. When the thighs were ready to cook, I sauteed them in a medium hot pan until both sides were nicely browned. Then I poured the peanut sauce on top to finish, cooking for only a minute or two just to heat through the sauce and coat the chicken nicely. And that was dinner! Plated with the mac n' cheese, peas, and some garlic parmesan roasted potatoes, it was a delicious dinner (though with too many peas for my taste). I especially liked how moist and tender the chicken was, and the sauce gave it a lot of flavor. It's not quite the same taste as the Thai peanut chicken lunchbox I like to get at the Asian food truck at my school, because I couldn't figure out how to mimic their peanut sauce, but I still enjoyed it and it was great for lunch the next day :)

This was a meal made using the help of a small George Foreman grill! Okay, admittedly I am not very adept at using it, and I was always afraid I'd set off the fire alarm from producing too much smoke. I marinated chicken thighs in a mixture of Grey Poupon (my favorite) dijon mustard, honey, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then I threw them on the Foreman grill with some cooking spray, and closed the lid. But the sugar content in the honey mustard marinade began to burn very quickly, as I hadn't thought of the fact that the recipe was designed for real grills where charring is okay, whereas I definitely didn't want smoke and charring in my room. So I shifted the grill into the hallway next to a window to finish grilling the chicken, and it took a while b/c the thighs were thick. So by the time I was done, the outside of the chicken was blackened, you can see it in the picture above. The flavor was really good, as you could taste the honey mustard sauce and since I grilled the chicken until it was just done, the meat was still very juicy. My boyfriend went about cooking up some Chinese eggplant with garlic, and we made some chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni on the side. The whole meal came together nicely, I just wish cooking the chicken hadn't been such a hassle lol.

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Now, for some eating out experiences…

My parents took me out to a new dim sum place the other day, called Jin. I've gone there before for their 24/7 Chinese buffet whose selection (and price tag) is the largest of any Asian buffets in all of North America. They have Peking duck, lobster, sushi, prime rib, and all sorts of other foods and desserts that you could possibly want. Anyway, I digress. They have started offering a new venue which is Saturday morning dim sum. Every single dish regardless of size or ingredients are $1.99. In comparison to all the other dim sum places in Chinatown, this price is phenomenal. Dim sum is usually offered at about $2 per small dish, $3 per medium dish, and $4-5 per large dish. So it's a huge savings, with the downside being the location (Jin is like a 20 minute drive from Chinatown), and the somewhat limited variety. In the picture above, clockwise from the top dish, we have pork ribs in with black bean, steamed beef tripe, fish balls with ground pork filling, and stewed chicken feet, which is also often called Phoenix claws in Chinese. I despise tripe, but the other three dishes were yummy. Chicken feet and pork ribs are two of my dim sum favorites!

Here we have roast pork buns at the top, flanked with dishes of shrimp-filled and ground beef-filled chang fun (which are steamed rice noodle rolls), in a soy ginger sauce. I love the shrimp chang fun, because they are tender and mild, and when they are made fresh the rice noodle wrap slides down your throat without feeling sticky. It's a real pleasure to eat.

These are called dragon puffs (or something like that, I can't remember anymore), but they are a ball of ground shrimp with a fried outer coating of shredded wonton wrapper. It's a delicately crispy (albeit messy) puff and the flavor of the shrimp inside is enough to ensure that the puff isn't too bland. I just though they were quite pretty, but I'm not too big on the fried coating.

This past weekend I went with my lab and the other labs in my research institute for a scientific retreat in New Hampshire. It was cold and rained quite a bit, but I had a lot of fun getting to know my lab members better, listening to presentations of the research being done, doing fun activities like mountain biking, and of course taking advantage of the free food :)

Our first meal was dinner on Friday night (after a cocktail hour with calamari and chicken peanut satay skewers), and I got the filet mignon entree which came with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed baby carrots. The filet was delicious, it was tender without being overly mushy, and the mashed potatoes were creamy. My only complaint was that the filet mignon needed more of the sauce, as it clearly was not cooked with any sauce of its own. In fact, judging by its pale color I think that it was boiled prior to being quickly seared for grill marks. I have never seen such pale steak before. The mushroom based gravy went well with it but just wasn't enough for all the meat. I never actually finished the filet mignon (*gasp*) because I had gotten too full on food from the cocktail hour and the clam chowder and salad that came prior to the entree. So I actually only ate 3/4 of the filet. Oh well, at least it didn't cost me any money :P

Dessert was a fudgey molten chocolate cake (that I really wish I had more room for). It was different from the molten chocolate cake from places like Finale, because the outer cake layer was very fudgey as opposed to cakey. The center was of course still melted chocolate. It was warm and sweet, pairing quite well with the tartness of the raspberry sauce. Just thinking about it now is making me a little weak in the knees haha. Seriously, if there was any simple comfort dessert that could always hit the spot, it would be something like this. Mmmmm….

Um yes this should be self-explanatory. Don't make me go back in the detail about how sinfully good the desserts were :P I tried to control myself and only ate about half of each baby cheesecake. Yay.

And of course, the highlight of the weekend was all-you-can-eat steamed lobster! It was funny watching everyone else trying to eat lobster like an amateur, they don't even eat the meat from the head! They only know to eat the tail and the claws. What a waste of great lobster meat. It was funny, because we had the dinner in an outdoor tent area, and it was so chilly at night that my drawn butter re-solidified before I even tried to use it for dipping. Haha kind of defeats the purpose, but maybe that was for the best. I had 2 lobsters before I started to feel kind of sick of the texture and flavor, and finished off with a few slices of refreshing watermelon. What a luxury!


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