To mark my entrance into my early mid-twenties, I decided this year that I wanted a proper celebration, complete with an authentic Chinese banquet dinner and all. Fittingly, I dragged some of my nearest and dearest to 8th Ave. Seafood Restaurant, in one of Brooklyn's Chinatowns (at 4418 8th Avenue). This is a restaurant that my mom's friend Ding Ding owns - very authentic, and very Cantonese. I knew it was the perfect choice when we walked in because every single head in that restaurant turned around to unabashedly stare (staring is a proud Chinese national sport), looking like they'd never seen WHITE PEOPLE before. Who knows, maybe they hadn't. Me and 14 whiteys - god what a sight!
Ding Ding was really nice to have accommodated my request for a mix of "stuff we like and stuff that's not too weird that Americans would like. Oh and also some vegan dishes for those geniuses among us who decided that was the best way to live life." Here is what he came up with:
The starter plate:
Cold Jelly Fish (one of my favorite appetizers - crispy and squishy all at once) with squid and fried pork chops. We had some trouble with the less adventurous eaters with this one. They didn't know what they were missing.
Ally is thinking "Would a Russian eat this? Probably." God knows what Darius is thinking. He's probably been just reminded of some horror in Shihezi.
Fish and Chinese Vegetables
You can see the really yummy starter soups in the background.
Prawns with Broccoli and Walnuts in a creamy sweet sauce
A very Cantonese dish, this was a big hit.
Pickled Turnips and Carrots with something I can't remember. Was it is eel or fish?
More Fish, but sauteed with vegetables - tender like a baby's butt.
Lobster with Garlic and Scallion (in Shell)
Sauteed Chinese Vegetable
"Pork Chop with Champan Style"
Fried Noodles (all vegan!!)
The freshly made noodles are a must have for Chinese birthdays. The long noodles represent longevity, and you're not supposed to break them otherwise you will not live a long life. Long like the noodles.
Rack of Veal with Black Bean Sauce
Even with so much other food, I always have room for some good fried rice.
Sebastian and Nils - all the way from Germany!
Even with 15 of us we didn't do a very good job at finishing our plates. If my mom had been there no one would have been allowed to leave until every last morsel was gone. "Just one more bite!" I tried to play that role, but it didn't work out so well.
Chinese Birthday Buns (with lotus)
I made Darius study the bill since, you know, he was the only one of us who could read Chinese. *Sigh.
Pure Overeaten Joy
I couldn't have imagined a better way to turn 24. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!