New Year’s Eve is always a great night take-out (or take-away) Chinese food, at least as far as I am concerned. My days of finding some rocking club or place about town on the last day of the year are pretty much over. I like going to parties with friends, and a semi-formal or formal event has its charms, but I also like a quiet night at home. Everything can be slow and easy, in comfy clothes. If it is that sort of evening, Chinese food is always a great way to go.
The thing is, I don’t have a favorite nearby Chinese restaurant. It’s not like there aren’t any to choose from. There must be one to two dozen of them within a seven mile radius of our apartment. I just don’t know which ones to try, and I don’t want to blindly start going through them all alone — Mrs. Geek is not a fan of Chinese food.
Tonight I decided to use the fact that my parents were visiting to make a start. I got out several materials that I had found over the last year or three: some menus from local restaurants collected during visits to various summer art and wine festivals, a reasonably local pocket Chinese restaurant guide found for a few dollars in a book store, and a web site of reviews for all kinds of businesses in the area. I then used these to find some food for dinner with my parents.
I ended up locating four restaurants. Each had at least some items that run VERY far off the beaten path of standard North American-style Chinese cuisine. There were things like kidneys slices with preserved veggie, roasted pork belly, braised sea cucumber in abalone sauce & prawn roe, pickled chicken feet, pork organs porridge, spicy salted squid, beef organs lo mein, pork esophagus with rice vermicelli clay pot, crispy eels, soy braised mold pork with fermented cabbage, jelly fish, and fuzzy melon & dried shrimp with vermicelli clay pot. Together, they embraced a range of regional styles: shanghai, cantonese, hunan, and hong kong. I figured that we ought to be able to get some interesting eats out of one of these restaurants somehow.
In the end, we chose a restaurant down the hill from our apartment, near a scrapbooking store that Mrs. Geek likes to visit. She’s gotten to know a lot of the employees at that store, and one of them often orders from the restaurant in question. I happened to have their menu in my files, picked up during a visit with Mrs. Geek to that store for just such an occasion.
While not a meal for the ages, the food from the restaurant did not disappoint. We got a roast pork appetizer, some fried wontons (where were just fried wonton wrappers, no filling), some crispy egg rolls (spring rolls, more like), some mongolian beef, some X.O. sauce lo mien, and some BBQ pork fried rice. All of it was very edible, and much of it rather different than the more Americanized Chinese food that my parents are used to. We have lots leftover, and I’m sure that it will all reheat well.
So I think this has emboldened me to a certain extent. I think I will try some shanghai-style food next. I’m not sure about the spicy cow stomach, but the deep-fried threaded bread might be interesting or the pan-fried pork buns. That can be my first New Year’s resolution: try more Chinese restaurants!