Should’ve eaten my Tums beforehand…is all I’m gonna say. But this place is amazing.
Lan Sheng Restaurant
60 W 39th Street (between 5th and 6th)
New York, NY 10018
There’s some things I won’t ever understand. I don’t get people who roll toilet paper under, Asians who refuse to pronounce Shanghai correctly, girls who don’t wear heels (jk!), boys who complain instead of following their dreams, and eaters who take pictures of their food. But most of all, I don’t understand people who don’t like to cook.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like lighting my money on fire and I don’t like paying other people to wipe my butt. In unrelated news, I don’t like overpaying for what I can cook at home.
Sexy Cooking Time with M (part 一)
Red Braised Pork Bellies – Hong Shao Rou
This is a Shanghainese specialty. We men cook in Shanghai, among other things. Requires some tenderness, some patience, but most of all, requires lots of soy sauce.
Step 1: Get some raw pork belly, but not the thin kind – you might have to brave the smell and go to Chinatown for this. Wash it and chop it up into cubes (better than I did) big enough that they can stand up on their own and still fit in your mouth individual. Save the jokes. Leave the fat. Yes, I know. Just trust.
Step 2: I hope you bought some soy sauce in C-town, the dark kind. Douse your cubes until it gets covered 2/3 of the way up. Shanghainese people eat everything sweet, so make it authentic, mix in some sugar. To make it unauthentic, I prefer brown sugar.
How much? That’s the other beauty of Chinese cooking – there are no standard measurements, you do it by taste and experience. So just put enough to see it melt.
Let it sit for a few hours on one side with the fat and then overnight on the side with the meat. At the minimum, do 30 minutes each side.
Step 3: Get your trusty wok and heat it up dry. If you want to be non-Asian you can add some oil, garlic, cloves if you want. But to do it right, just throw in the cubes in and toss around for a few minutes on high – the fat that you didn’t cut off should help here. Then turn it all the way down and pour in a new soy sauce, sugar mixture, cover maybe 1/2 of the way up. Cover the top and go do something else.
I’m not sure how long to cook it, I just check up on it every 10 minutes. Basically, the lower the heat, the longer you can cook it, the better it is. This is the time for your dining companion to contribute some concoctions of her own and you can add in some bamboo, tofu, eggs. Anything that tastes good when salty goes.
Step 4: How do you know it’s done? It’s brown on the outside, it’s tender on the inside, your kitchen smells amazeballs, and it tastes like real meat but not too salty. Again, I kept it simple, but feel free to add embellishments – just add it a bit later in the process so it won’t soak up all the soy sauce-ness.
Finale: Look, like all things in life, there’s a short way to do this (just throw in more soy sauce to get taste salty) and a long way to do this (soak overnight). There’s a fancy way (pressure cooker?) and a cheap way (any frying pan will do). But either way, it’s relatively easy to prepare and clean up. You can pair it with veggies or with wine. Customize to your heart’s content. Best of all, there’s way too much meat for one person to eat, so invite someone over to eat your
meat deliciousness with you.
And finally, if it’s good enough for Eddie Huang, it’s good enough for me:
I actually really like this place, and given the relatively cheap prices, it’s not too bad. Especially on a campus where Asian restaurants have crappier food and 3 times the price. Like Han Dynasty. Or Handy Nasty.
Address: 3549 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104
Hours: Sun – Thu: 6:30am – 10:30pm, Fri – Sat: 6:30am – 11:30pm
The camera on this phone is seriously amazing. Lumia 920 FTW.
Every once in a while, I like to eat crappy Chinese food. Today was one of those days. Stopped at probably the most overpriced Chinese restaurant on campus (why do I do this?) and grabbed a bite to eat. The food was extremely unauthentic but it satisfied my palette. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives with just as crappy food. 2 out of 5 stars!
Address: 3714 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19104
Price: $15 / entree
Hours: Monday – Sunday 11am – 10:30pm
As the final winter break of my undergraduate career nears an end, (actually school started 3 days ago but I’m still bumming around at home), I can’t help but to look back at the last 8 years of my life in Shanghai, the greatest city in the world. Coming to Shanghai as a white-washed, narrow-minded 8th grader was no easy transition. The pushing and shoving on public transportation, the lack of hygiene, the pungent smell of public bathrooms, the hideous local girls, and the even the China man squat that I would later come to love and adore was all too much for me at first. Every day I could come up with a handful of different reasons as to why I wanted to go back to the States.
But as time went on, I found it harder to come up with reasons to leave Shanghai and easier to find reasons to stay. I had found a new home. A home that has met and exceeded any crazy expectations I’ve ever had. It’s no surprise now that when people ask me where I’m from, I say I’m from Shanghai, even though I’ve lived in America for longer.
I can go on and on about everything Shanghai has given me, but the one gift that stands above all is that it has given me a truly global view of the world. My biggest fear coming to Shanghai was that I would miss out on all the experiences my friends back in the States were having and that I’d turn super chinky and fobby and I would forget English and start peeing on the streets (I was really cool in 8th grade). Shanghai has done the opposite for me. Going to an international school allowed me to meet people from all over the world and opened my eyes to all the different cultures, not limited to just American or Chinese, and it’s given me the knowledge and comfort to interact with individuals from various backgrounds. I couldn’t have asked for a better time and just want to thank everyone who has made this journey extremely memorable and worthwhile.
Now, to thank you for bearing with me and listening to my rant, here is a shit ton of food pictures to look at. It’s all the stuff I documented this past break. Includes food from Bali, Singapore, and Shanghai. Enjoy!
Found this relatively cheap Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown with my friend the other day. It’s a cozy, small place with extremely friendly service. The main waitress lady is super nice and recommended a bunch of their specialties to us. Their 三杯鸡 is extremely good and so is the 台式牛肉面. It is a BYO too and they don’t have a corking fee like
this other crappy ass establishment in the city Han Dynasty. It’s in Chinatown after all so don’t expect godlike ambience but it really is a nice and cozy place for a small group hangout.
Address: 108 North 10th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Price: $10-15 per entree
Hours: Daily 11am – 9:30pm
There are few things in life as #winning as cooking your own food. That’s right, we’re in the 21st century and if you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen! (translation: don’t rent an apartment with a stove if you don’t learn how to use it)
Step 1: Carbs
Because we’re Asian, our meals are based on some sort of carbs. But white rice is boring.
Flied lice Fried rice is dirty. The best is noodles, but you have to dress it up or you can just go to CVS for cup ramen. So below we have used chicken breast to make the broth and added some veggies for additional flavor.
Step 2: Protein
If some protein is good, more protein is better. And because our Asian parents told us that fish made us smarter, we have to go with some minimalist fish filet here. Don’t go 5-star restaurant and get crazy with flavor – we actually like the taste of fresh, cooked, fish so don’t cook more than a few minutes and go easy on the seasoning. Do go creative though and find something other than salmon or tuna. Invest in a sharp knife and you can impress with some cleaning and fileting skills. From the everything-is-a-test-department: if you are squeamish over some blood & guts, how can you handle diapers & throw up?
Step 3: Veggies
No, salad doesn’t count. Grocery stores call it bok choy, but we call it qing cai and what better way to describe it – so fresh and…green. Anyways, this is your chance to utilize your versatility because the perfect Asian vegetable dish requires a bit of stir fry, a bit of water, and a bit of closed-lid steaming to achieve perfection…
Step 4: Dessert
Let’s be honest here: steps 1-3 was for the man inside of you, step 4 is how you nurture that food baby growing inside of you. The trick for great pie: fabulous crust. Then, be generous with the good stuff (fruit, whipped cream, cream cheese, calories) and there’s no way you can go wrong.
Step 5: The Afterparty
Assuming you “washed the dishes” correctly, why not continue the festivities out and about? Because a “nightcap” is only for 50-year-old divorcees in bad rom-coms. Remember there’s no shame in ordering a girly drink – no one wants to share your bitter-tasting manhattan….
This place is simply amazing. It looks like a hole in the wall from the outside, but surprisingly clean and presentable on the inside. Good for small to medium sized group hangouts. Extremely fast service. Large portions. Fantastic hand drawn noodles.
Address: 1022 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA
Price: Cheap. $6-8 for noodle soup.
Hours: Sun-Thu 11am – 9pm, Fri-Sat 11am – 10pm