Sunday, March 15, 2009

Yet More Fun Playing With Food at Wonton Gourmet

A friend emailed me last week that his aunt, who lives in Columbus Ohio, would be visiting him this weekend, and that he'd been itching to get her to Wonton Gourmet (3211 Payne Avenue, 216-875-7000, no website)(each of the last 8 words has a link to a different FPWF WG post). Did we want to join them? Why, yes!

Thomas, the proprietor, and his wife Shirley, were glad to see us. As the four of us settled in, he asked if we wanted to try a cup of strong Hong Kong style tea. We said of course!

Hong Kong indeed - this beverage tasted like a direct connection to Hong Kong's past as a British colony - it was almost like English Breakfast Tea. The addition of condensed milk was the initial give-away, since many Chinese are lactose intolerant and would never reach for milk on their own. The bold taste was different from most Chinese teas I've tasted, and Thomas's recommendation to add sugar was very well taken (and you never add sugar to Chinese tea). A lovely way to begin our dining experience!

We began with our "must have" starters - Chive Potstickers and Turnip Cake.

Dumpling heaven!

Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. Yum.

This next dish is one I've wanted to try for a while. The Chinese characters literally translate to Jin yin (gold-silver) dan (egg) xian cai ( Chinese spinach):

Thomas translates this dish as Eggs Two Ways and Chinese Spinach in Soup.

The "two ways" are salty eggs and 1000 year old eggs.

A visually striking dish - this dish packed a flavor wallop.

I found it a little too infused with a sulfurous smell and taste for my palate, however. I am very glad that I got to try it, though.

Salt Crusted Mixed Seafood

Calamari & Scallops & Rice - oh my!

Ong Choi Sauteed With Garlic

A perfectly prepared version of this Cantonese classic.

Hong Kong Style Fried Chicken

Eat your heart out, Colonel Sanders - this is how fried chicken should taste. Crispy skin, plump flesh, and juicy when you bite it.

As wonderful as all of the preceding goodness was - the best thing we ate today was the last thing we were served - Oysters "Hong Kong Style" with Spicy Black Bean Sauce!

The oysters were cooked (Chinese rarely eat anything raw). These were the biggest oyster shells I'd ever seen - all the better to hold more of that fabulous sauce!

The Black Bean sauce combined with the oyster liquor to make a dish greater than the sum of its parts.

Oyster Meat & Sauce Over Rice

Heavenly! And the sauce was so tasty - first I started dipping chicken pieces into the pool of sauce in the oyster shell - then I emptied the oyster shell's contents right onto my last bits of rice. It was magically delicious!

Wonton Gourmet remains my number one Asian restaurant in Cleveland. I am pleased to report that progress continues on the posting of photos with menu items and English descriptions - so it is even easier to explore Hong Kong culinary horizons if you choose. We had so much fun playing with our food today - my friend's aunt says she'll be back to do it again!

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