Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year's Day Fun at Wonton Gourmet, Asiatown, Cleveland Ohio

New Year's Day can be a strange time for us. My husband's mother celebrates her birthday on that day (this year was her 94th - and she's still sharp as a tack!). So, family doings sometimes get in the way of other social plans. This year, however, it was snow, more than commitments, that bollixed up the day a bit!

Thank goodness we scheduled a NYD meal with friends at Wonton Gourmet (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) for the afternoon (and even with that, it was a struggle to get home in one piece). Among the new friends at our table were Greg and Sunny from Tremont's Ty Fun restaurant, which we have yet to sample, but which we have put on our list of New Year's Resolutions (which consists, BTW, of just that one).

We began with appetizers, which I've posted about many times before: turnip cake, chive potstickers, fish maw and conpoy soup. We also ordered the Cilantro Rice Rolls, which I decided to include in this post because they looked so good!

Also, with the first round of our order, we continued working our way through the newer Sichuan (or Szechuan) dishes depicted on the wall, a cold plate:

Hot Spicy Beef Two Ways 


This was a classic Chinese cold dish, and a time-honored way to use every bit of the animal. Tough, gristly meat and tripe were slow cooked for many hours, with spice and seasonings, then chilled and topped with an incendiary sauce featuring chilies and Sichuan Peppercorns. The result was tender and delicious and the plate was cleaned, even though neither Bob nor I would have listed tripe as a desired food before we tasted this.

We ordered 4 mains for 8 people and we still had a few leftovers!

Sichuan (or Szechuan) Hot & Spicy Fish

This dish brought the heat and the vinegar, as always. Fresh, crispy fish sat atop cabbage and below the chilies and delighted all of us.

Ma Lai Pork Chop

Given the name of this dish (Mai Lai means numbing and hot -- from Sichuan pepper and chilies), I expected a lot more heat than we got. Oh but the Umami of it all! I can't really describe it - but it was a taste and fragrance that made you want to just keep eating it. With a savory crunch and tender texture, to boot.

We determined to have a noodle dish for New Year's, an Asian tradition that reaches around the entire continent - we asked our server to recommend a good NYD choice, and having narrowed it down to three, we asked Sunny to decide. We were all delighted with his selection!

 Tai Pan Chow Mai

This rice noodle-seafood stir fry paired perfectly with the firestorm of spice on our palates from the Sichuan dishes.

 Finally, in recognition of both our need for vegetable input, and the resemblance of green leafy vegetables to money (another New Year's good luck food):

Sauteed Snow Pea Leaves with Garlic

Our server had recommended these - they  had a fresh-picked taste and texture, and  tasted delicious with the gentle garlic sauce treatment.

The snow was totally out of control by the time we headed home - after slipping and sliding on the highways and our local streets almost all of the way, we decided to wait until the next day to see Bob's Mom. We were also so stuffed from this feast that we put our traditional pork roast and sauerkraut dinner off for a day as well.

Wonton Gourmet continues to consistently deliver truly authentic and tasty Chinese food, and we enjoyed playing with every dish! I again encourage you to pay them a visit, and to venture, as least a little bit, into the world beyond your usual Chinese restaurant fare. It's fun!

1 comment:

  1. Having also had the Hot Spicy Beef Two Ways, I was also surprised at how amazingly tender the tripe was. That being said, I wasn't crazy about the tendon. The flavor, however, was, as always, spot-on. And of course, everything else you wrote about was amazing. I'm so glad that Tom has decided to add the Szechuan specialties to the menu. I'm looking forward to my next visit.