Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fun Playing With Xiao Long Bao Before the Storm at Gourmet Chopsticks

This post is almost a month late. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I just couldn't get myself to focus on our doings in New York that weekend. Even after my brother on Long Island finally got his power back after two weeks in the dark (down seven trees, a backyard and a roof) the surreal feeling about the whole weekend remained. My heart goes out to all affected by the storm. 

Passing through New Jersey en route to Family Ground Zero the last Wednesday in October, we dined again at Fairfield's Gourmet Chopsticks (14 Rt. 46 East). Since there were only three of us, we faced a bit of a culinary dilemma; we knew if we ordered entrees, we'd be stuffed in no time. Working strictly from the Chinese Menu (shared in my last Gourmet Chopsticks post), we worked it out deliciously:

Crab Xiao Long Bao
Remember that these are entitled "Steamed Crab Meat (or Pork) Juicy Bun" on the menu, under Noodle & Rice. Though I'd like a little more soup in them, these dumplings were most serviceable.

Long Hot Pepper With Beef Noodle Cake

This was item #11 under the same menu section, a thankfully appetizer-sized portion. We had no idea what to expect when we ordered, but it sounded tasty and it was. The peppers were zippy but not exceptionally spicy, and blended well with the toothy dough of the "noodle," which was thicker and chewier than a mu shu wrapper, but not really a noodle in the Western sense. The tender beef melted against the peppers, and benefited from a little crunch from the bamboo shoot. Noodle, schmoodle - may I have another please?

Shanghai Smoked Duck Appetizer
This item is #3 under the "Shanghai Style Appetizer" section of the Chinese Menu. What can you say about perfectly smoked duck covered in crispy skin?   

Shanghai Style Hand Pulled Noodles with Pork
Jo-Mel would disown me as her culinary student if I didn't agree to an order of Hand Pulled Noodles. She did not, however, have to twist my arm. Hand pulled noodles are a treat that can't be beat, and Gourmet Chopsticks does them well. Do ask for chili paste on the side if you are inclined as they are a little mild.

Chinese Turnip Cake
We've had this type of turnip cake before, at Petite Soochow (also in New Jersey). Item #2 under "Noodles & Rice" starts with a crispy skin, which is stuffed with shredded Chinese radish; this version had a nice creaminess to it which none of the waitstaff could identify for us. While I prefer the more common pudding-like turnip cake, this version was freshly made, hot and tasty. 

Braised Dongpo Pork Appetizer
This dish was our winner for "best of dinner." Located at Item #8 under Shanghai Style Appetizer, this luscious pork is not to be missed if you visit Gourmet Chopsticks! The belly was "red cooked" to utter tenderness with dark soy and anise. It takes a while to make, but is so worth the wait!

Indeed, by the time I'd eaten half of my portion of the pork, I despaired as to how I'd manage to consume the final dish we'd ordered, again from the Shanghai Style Appetizer menu, Smoked Fish in Suzhou Style. Serendipitously, our server informed us that they were out of smoked fish and he'd forgotten to tell us - so the last morsels of pork made it down. Oh fun, oh food - Gourmet Chopsticks, I will miss you this winter, but we'll be back to play with more Shanghai style food in the spring!

Gourmet Chopsticks
14 Rt. 46 East
Fairfield, NJ 07004
(973) 808-8328

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