As we successfully manage to just completely skip fall the way Foxy Brown manages to just completely skip court appearances, we begin to head into hibernation season, and my thoughts inevitably begin to drift to the warm, comforting, motherly aspects of Chinese cuisine. Particularly, I dream of soup, which also happens to be my last name in Mandarin (tang, but pronounced tong). Like all aspects of Chinese cuisine, tang is widely varied - from the ultimate decadence of the south, shark fin tang, to watery peasant tang; sweet dessert tang with tapioca and taro, to weirdly bitter herbal medicinal tang. Tang is so pivotal that the Cantonese serve it both at the start and end of a meal. Most Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown serve both complimentary house tang and dessert tang. If you are not getting it (probably because you are not Chinese) you are missing out, and should ask your waiter for it.
Fish Ball Tang, one of my favorites.
Chicken Curry Noodle Tang
There are also those lovely little delectable tang dumplings, which are really not considered tang at all, and actually literally translates into "little dragon buns (more or less accurate). But because i love them so much, be so kind as to entertain me and pretend that they too are tang. Since so many people seem to have difficulty mastering the art of eating these little devils, i provide here my very own Food Genius trademarked pictorial tutorial:
First, pick up your chosen darling with extra care (if you pierce the skin it's all over), preferably ones with crab meat inside:
Next, tenderly bathe chosen dumpling in the vinegar and ginger provided, and delicately place it on your spoon. Puncture the skin ever so slightly so that you can carefully slurp up the broth inside, like so:
Finally, gobble down the remainder of the dumpling, and hope that you haven't just burned off all your taste buds, because that would be a damn shame for the rest of the meal:
It's not easy to find little dragon buns here like the kind they have in Shanghai or Taiwan, but I am always relatively pleased at Joe's Shanghai on Pell Street. It's also always a fun kitschy stop in Chinatown, especially since you sit family style with random strangers. When I went last year with some friends, we were seated with some clueless tourists and some equally clueless hipster boys.
Even though these dudes (there were four of them) were hipsters and clearly from some part of Williamsburg, I was shocked at the fact that they only ordered two bins of dumplings and nothing else. I wonder what they thought of us four girls when we had our own two bins, plus:
And My favorite Chinese vegetable - kong qing cai
Plus we had way more Tsingtao then all of them.