You Don’t Have to Be a Crazy Rich Asian to Eat at Dragon Beaux

I just got back from a very nice dinner in the City for my book club meeting. We read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan and our meeting place was appropriately held at the fancy Chinese restaurant Dragon Beaux in the outer Richmond district of San Francisco.

Dim Sum is usually eaten during brunch, but with its popularity it seems that some high end Chinese restaurants have begun to offer it in the evenings.

We decided to start with a couple of dim sum plates as appetizers. I’ve been wanting to try out the basket of colorful xiao long bao or soup dumplings. Each order comprises of five dumplings made with different colored skin or wrappers. The green wrapper is made with spinach and has kale, the black wrapper is made with squid ink and has black truffle, the bright yellow wrapper is made with tumeric and has crab roe, the red wrapper is made and filled with beets, and the beige colored wrapper is the traditional one made with juicy pork. I tried the tumeric and squid ink ones. They were innovative and fun to try once. I would probably stick to tradition in the future.

We also ordered the wild mushroom and chicken buns. These soft bao are colored to appear to look like giant shiitake mushrooms. They were light, delicious, and so cute! I would definitely order these again.
The Peking duck was quite tasty, but I was a little disappointed that the skin was not crispy. It was nice that the plate included twelve buns so we could each make two sandwiches of duck skin, cucumber, scallion, and hoisin sauce.  
The pea sprouts with garlic was our vegetable of choice. If you have never tried the large ones, they taste a lot like spinach. This is always a safe vegetable to order.
The mapo tofu is a spicy dish made with soft tofu and ground pork. This was one of the best prepared versions of this dish that I have ever had. The gravy makes it go well with white rice.
The last dish we ordered were the spot prawns in rice noodles. It was nice that our waiter evenly plated this dish for us. Everything about this dish was fresh and I’m glad we noticed this on the special’s menu.
Finally, we selected the crispy organic milk roll. I didn’t plan to eat one of these because I was quite full, but it came with six. I would describe it as fried dough filled with milk pudding. It was much better than I expected.  
They provided us with a couple of complimentary desserts. One was the sesame mochi made with raspberry and the other were almond cookies. I enjoyed the mochi, but the cookies were a bit dry.
I was very satisfied with my meal at Dragon Beaux. Coming from Oakland, it is a bit of a trek to get there, but I would definitely come back.  The six of us paid $35 each including tip and two of us had beer. You don’t have to be a Crazy Rich Asian to eat here!

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Alameda’s Pacific Lighthouse for Dim Sum

This is my first post for 2017 and I thought I would share the New Year’s resolutions I made for myself.  The first one is to purge and organize. The second one is to try some new sports for exercise. And my third New Year’s resolution is to eat more dim sum. I took my grandma out of Assisted Living on New Year’s Eve to “Yum Cha,” or “Drink Tea,” aka eat dim sum, and she was happy about it.

It was my first visit to the new upscale Chinese restaurant in Alameda called Pacific Lighthouse to have dim sum. The Yelp reviews haven’t been too favorable, but I wanted to give it a fair assessment. It’s not unusual to have a wait for dim sum and not wanting my 99 year old grandma to wait, we arrived before the noon rush.  

Pacific Lighthouse is located by the marina with great harbor views if you are lucky to get a window seat. We had a table in the center of the restaurant under the golden chandelier. We ordered many of the basic dim sum items such as these:

Pork dumpling

Shrimp dumpling

Daikon cake


Shrimp rice roll


Steamed chicken feet


Steamed pork buns

 

In general, these dim sum items should taste the same whether you get them from one restaurant or another. I base the quality by the freshness of ingredients, the temperature which tells me if it just came out of the steamer or if it’s been sitting in a cart for awhile, and cooking time which can affect the texture.  Their homemade hot sauce was also on point.


We also tried some additional dim sum that I don’t always get to order or eat.  We picked up some delicious steamed black bean pork spareribs over rice noodles. The overflowing sauce made it quite easy to slurp down the noodles. I also liked that it came with taro pieces and black olives.


This was my first time trying the daikon pastry. It’s similar to eating steamed daikon but this is wrapped in a warm pastry shell. I liked the crispy outer shell and having a savory soft filling inside.


Pacific Lighthouse serves a sweet custard bun which I haven’t had since I was in Canada. This one oozes a melting custard. The version here when opened looked oily, but it was quite delicious. You can watch my video on Instagram at @510foodie.
I enjoyed my visit to Pacific Lighthouse and would definitely make a return trip. It’s nice to have another East Bay restaurant serving dim sum to add to the repertoire.  

Dol Ho(le in the wall)

Dol Ho in San Francisco Chinatown is the epitome of a hole in the wall. Every table could potentially become a community table, as I watched customers squeeze themselves in. My friend sat next to me, but strangers sat across from us.

Dol Ho is probably one of the last few dim sum restaurants that still have push carts. The majority of the customers at Dol Ho are at least 80 years old.  
  The most popular dish at Dol Ho is their spareribs over rice. Almost every table will order at least one of them. The spareribs are steamed with a black bean sauce and then a sweet soy sauce is poured over the ribs and rice. I often get an order to go so that I can have it for lunch the next day.
 
 My friend introduced me to a new dish at Dol Ho. It was a rice roll cooked with dried shrimp and chives. A sweet soy sauce is poured over these noodles and topped with cilantro. This dish is made to order which is nice because it comes out fresh and hot. I really enjoyed the consistency of the noodles and the flavors that the chives brought out.
 Those are the highlights of Dol Ho for me. We ordered a couple of other dim sum dishes that weren’t that interesting. It really only takes a few things to bring in customers to a restaurant. I will continue to get my spareribs over rice as take out, but it’s quite interesting to sit down at Dol Ho. You get a sense of Old Chinatown when you see the clients coming here on fixed incomes. They will come in using canes, walkers, and I even saw one in a wheelchair. Nothing will come between them and their spareribs over rice. The food at Dol Ho is authentic and cheap.  
  

Best of London

I realized that I didn’t document my food experience in London or Paris very well on my blog. Borrough Market in London was great and so was that dinner at Le Comptoir in Paris. This week’s blog will focus on my best eats in London and next week will be my favorites in Paris.

I’ll start out with my favorite coffee shop in London. I was lucky to find Tapped and Packed one block away from my hotel. I was at T&P every morning which enabled me to redeem a frequent drink card on my last day for a free beverage. Sometimes I ordered a skinny latte and other times I got a flat white. Lots of customers were there for their drip coffee. I enjoyed the vibe there and even tried their delicious homemade sandwiches.
20140727-224736-82056594.jpgTapped and Packed
193 Wardour Street
Soho

I sat down for an actual English breakfast once during my time in London and it was at Regency Cafe. I ordered the set breakfast which came with an egg, bacon, sausage, baked beans or tomatoes, bread and butter, and coffee. I asked for both the beans and the tomatoes and an extra side of hash browns. Hey, I wasn’t coming back, at least not on this trip. My favorite things were the baked beans, the tomatoes, and the hash browns so I am glad I ordered the extras.

20140727-224946-82186212.jpgRegency Cafe
17-19 Regency Street
Westminster

My friend and I actually had Afternoon Tea twice in London. The better of the two was at The Wolseley. It is a fancy restaurant with servers that are very formal and attentive. I have had High Tea at plenty of nice places with good tea, sandwiches, scones, and desserts. But in no other place besides London can you get such amazing scones with clotted cream and jam. The whole experience of people having their nose up in the air and their pinky pointing up is worth it for the scones, clotted cream and jam.
20140727-225727-82647486.jpgThe Wolseley
160 Picadilly
Mayfair

I actually had scouted out a restaurant serving dim sum a couple of months before my holiday started. Coming from San Francisco, it’s hard to imagine wanting to have dim sum while in London. Let’s just say A. Wong puts dim sum to a whole new level of sophistication. Imagine a siu mai (steamed pork dumpling) with a crispy chicharrones on top. Imagine a har gow (steamed shrimp dumpling) with a citrus foam on top. That is what I am talking about!
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20140727-225442-82482763.jpgA Wong
70-71 Wilton Road
Victoria

My favorite dinner was at Nopi. I discovered Chef Yotam Ottolenghi about six months ago and when I found out he had restaurants in London, I knew I had to go. Nopi serves Mediterranean food. My friend and I shared quite a few dishes. My favorites was an appetizer of Burratta cheese and peaches and the dessert called Pomegranate Mess. It’s a take on the dessert Eton Mess with meringue, cream, and strawberries. Our version had mascarpone and sorbet.
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20140727-230229-82949208.jpgNopi
21-21 Warwick Street
Soho

There goes my London picks. Check back next week for my Paris picks!

Another Dim Sum Blog

This is another blog post about dim sum. It’s a food that I am very familiar with because I grew up eating it and I continue to eat it to this day. I have had the pleasure of enjoying dim sum in Hong Kong, in Vancouver BC, in New York City, in Los Angeles, and of course San Francisco. My new favorite place for dim sum in San Francisco Chinatown is Lai Hong Lounge on Powell Street between Broadway and Vallejo Streets. The location holds a special place in my heart because it’s the neighborhood that I spent the first two years of my life before my family moved to Oakland. My family lived in an apartment directly across the street from Lai Hong Lounge.
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My last visit to Lai Hong Lounge was with my mother, grandmother, and five year old niece. I think three or four is a good number of people for dim sum because items usually come in three or four. But with four people, you can afford to order a few extra dishes and get a better variety.

The most common items to order are the steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow) and steamed pork dumpling (sew mai). These are great for kids because they are very basic and not exotic in terms of flavor or ingredients. These were the first types of dim sum I ate as a kid. I know my niece liked them.
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Popular at Lai Hong Lounge is the baked barbecue pork buns (cha siu bao). It uses the dough of a steamed bun, but has a nice sweetened crust on top.
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My grandmother’s favorite dish is fried taro dumpling (woo gok). It’s crispy on the outside with a smooth taro and pork filling on the inside.
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The general public might be grossed out by the steamed chicken feet (fung jow), but it’s one of my favorites. It’s very tender and flavored with black bean sauce. I was surprised that my niece was a fan. I know when I was five I wouldn’t touch it.
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An item that my mother and grandmother ate was the beef tripe (ngau pak yip). To this day, I still won’t touch it.
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We also ordered the turnip cakes (law bok gow). This is something my grandmother used to make during Chinese holidays. It is steamed and then pan fried to give it a golden color and crisp.
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Another tasty dish we ordered was the rice rolls (cheung fun) with xo sauce (jeung). It’s a soft noodle with a spicy kick.
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My mom wanted steamed custard buns (lai wong bai). It’s always good to end with something sweet, so these buns act as a desert.
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I really like Lai Hong Lounge because the food is fresh and the prices are reasonable. I would definitely give dinner a try. Maybe have some Peking duck?