We visited Chin's Szechwan Cuisine for CNY dinner, you know for good luck for the coming year of the Chicken or Rooster. We had the requisite lucky foods, Hunan Fish Fillet, Shrimp Pan Fried Noodles, and Szechwan Garlic Eggplant. Fish for an increase in prosperity, noodles for happiness & longevity, and oranges for fullness and wealth. Although I've lived in Encinitas for over 9 years it's the first time I"ve ever eaten Chinese food there and the first time to visit Chin's which has been around since 1976. The food was old school Chinese/American/Szechwan style food. Portions were large and everything was really tasty. Props to the waitstaff that was more than friendly and attentive. Overall it was a great first experience and for Maddie maybe her first official Chinese New Year kickoff dinner, so at least this year she'll get off to a good start!
The decor of Chin's was decidedly old school and quite elegant actually. It did have one item that made us both immediately remember dinners at grandma's. I think is a first generation characteristic that will soon be lost on the millennial generation. Their generation was the generation that came over to America on ships, they remember the depression, world war II, and having to scratch out a living while raising a family in a new country. They really valued the things that they had and they were proud to show it off and keep in in pristine condition. Everyone over the age of 50 will remember going to grandma's house in the summer and sticking to the furniture. Sturdy hardwood furniture with ornate brocade cushions covered in a thick clear vinyl slip covers. Seeing them in Chin's immediately made me think of all the holiday meals we had at grandma's house. Here's a toast to grandma especially on Chinese New Year where we take time out to think about and remember our ancestors.
Last night Maddie and I visited Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon. It was her first encounter with traditional Chinese dumplings. Lately hipsters around the world have been stalking Xiao Long Bao (XLB). If you're an Amazon Prime Video member watch Emeril Eats World and watch Emeril and Mario Batalli go to China to find the best Xiao Long Bao. Here in the U.S. Din Tai Fung is acknowledged as the best XLB, in fact it's outposts throughout the world are known for the best Chinese dumplings around. If you happen to be near one give it a try. For the uninitiated (Maddie) there is a ritual to eating Chinese dumplings, especially XLB.
I was just in Las Vegas for the infamous 2017 CES Consumer Electronics Show. We invited our Chinese collegues to dinner. We asked what they wanted to eat, we were expecting something like take us to Joel Robuchon or Mario Batali's Carnevino, but they said how about Chinese food.
We seem to expect foreign visitors to want to try "local" food, but when you sit down to think about it, it makes a lot of sense that they would want to eat familar foods, as traveling to a strange country is stressful and while China is a more open and cosmopolitan country western food is still pretty much associated with KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds-if that's representative of American cuisine I wouldn't want to eat that either-give me homestyle food.
All three of our collegues live and work in Shenzen, but two of them are from Hunan province, so the quest for Hunan style food was on. Hunan cuisine is one of the eight great cuisines of China characterized as being hot,sour and salty. Pretty much everyone has tried organge chicken, made famous by Panda Express-this is an example of a classic Hunan style dish. I put Hunan food into Yelp and up came Hunan Cuisine with almost all 5 star reviews and we headed over that way. We arrrived at the address in Yelp and we immediately noted that there is no place named Hunan Cuisine, we took a shot and went with the address listed there is no sign nor is there any hint of what type of food is served there ( I can't read Chinese). The restraunt was packed with not a caucasian dinner in sight-a very good sign. One of our collegues immediately recognized a long lost friend of hers and they got reacquainted-another good sign that this was going to be a good dinner. We let our Hunan guests order and our Hunan dining tour began. We ordered 7 dishes between 5 people, fried potato slices with vinegar, twice cooked pork, long beans with eggplant, mapo tofu, braised pork Mao style, seaweed and spare rib soup, fish with tofu sprouts in fresh water, Our Hunan guests were very happy with the quality of the food and commented that it was very authentic and it made them very happy to finally have a quality meal after being in America for 3 days. Mission accomplished
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