We brought his mum to Chopsuey Cafe, whose light and flavourful chinese food is right up her alley. When I first cooked for liangze he told me I’d find his mum’s cooking really bland. This is not really true. But in general, her food is more qing1 dan4 as compared to mine – I have no reservations about using cream, cheese, wine, and stock. The main flavouring agents in her soups are a small scoop of miso (to act as salt) and vegetables – one tomato, some lettuce, and ginger. So the outputs of our cooking are vastly different. The only qing1 dan4 things I cook are perhaps herbal chicken, or bak ku teh; clear soups with plenty of seasoning/dates but unclouded by marrow, blood, or fat.
Chopsuey’s food is very light – all their broths, fried rice, vegetables, are very tasty but true to the chinese style of cooking, use no dairy products. Apart from vegetable based milks such as soy milk, coconut milk.
Their chawanmushi for example, uses soymilk to smoothen the egg custard. It was incredibly smooth, but a bit (too) sweet, from the soy milk. still prefer the Japanese way of doing it with dashi.
His mum ordered the chop suey, also known as “chap chai”, i don’t know which dialect “chop suey” is, perhaps canto? She likes her veggies.
We also had a serving on jade fried rice – fried rice with shredded basil, mint, parsley. It was surprisingly good! Lots of wokhei, you could hardly taste the greenery.
His dad ordered this snapper tofu lasagna, with some kind of XO sauce on top. Very nice.
And of course we ordered the shaoxing chicken, which we brought his mum to try. Velveted chicken in a wolfberry and shaoxing wine broth. Why can’t American Chinese places be this good?
His parents asked if their food was considered ‘fusion’, and the waitress politely replied that it was not really ‘fusion’, but ‘anglo-chinese’ <– Does that not sound fusion to you? a western/european/american touch to typical chinese dishes is not fusion? I can't stand people who argue about semantics when their command of the language itself is already lamentable, how can they talk about language with an insufficient grasp of any language? But even if they were not linguistically challenged, anyone who argues about semantics just sounds like an anal-retentive tosser.
Liangze ordered the duck appetizer – like duck in chinese rice crepes but this time in a mantou, the kind you eat your kong bak pao in. It was served with a hoisin type dip at the side.
All in all, flavours they hadn’t tried before, which made me rather pleased. I suppose I consider myself as a gastroevangelist of sorts, and my target demographic is old people (our parents age) who eat very unadventurously and who still think eating out is a waste of money even though they hardly have the necessary skills to cook as satisfactorily as professional chefs.
For dessert, we had the ginger pudding in creme anglaise (I guess this used dairy) – I’m not a big fan of ginger sweets so this didn’t do anything for me although everyone else thought it was amazing. It’s also more a British pudding – a soft sponge soaked in brandy/syrup/caramel – not the horrible, gelatinous American type that occurs like yoghurt in cups.
Also, the apple galette, or a glorified apple tart. I thought galettes referred to savoury crepes in Switzerland/France, but here it appears it means apple pie. This was pretty good, with the minor complaint that they left the skin on some of the apple slices, which is just bad form, and also a bristle from the pastry brush was found in the tart.
His parents really liked it, and perhaps we will come back. The portions are small and perfect for sharing – four of us finished all of the above and his mum doesn’t eat much.
We brought my parents to Irvin’s Live Seafood – didn’t make a reservation until the day itself because I didn’t know if Liangze could drive or not. It was nearly the only place left that wasn’t packed to the gills. I wouldn’t have minded going to Sushi Tei or a chain like Peach Garden (fully booked), but Sushi Tei doesn’t take reservations and is a tad too iffy. Irvin’s Live Seafood is known for their salted egg yolk crab, which we tried.
I’m not a real big fan of salted egg yolk, so the cholesterol boost is not really justified for me. Still, everyone really liked it and it’s better than chilli crab in that my nose/eyes are not watering while eating it and my tongue is not completely numbed by the spices so as to be unable to taste the crab meat. I really love chilli crab, but it is a messy, messy affair, and typically when I use the wet wipes to wipe my nose, bits of the chilli sauce get on as well and my whole face stings for hours.
We also had their five spice prawns (not from five spice powder, but I have no idea what the five spices are.) They offered it deshelled, which was a plus, but they battered it after, and it was overcooked.
Deep fried enoki seems to be becoming a trend in zhi char stalls here. It was very nice with thai sweet chilli, although there was more batter than there was mushroom :S
The yam ring was really tasty, but the yam was cold! Think they were counting on the filling to warm the dish up, bit like how they expect the rice in vegetable rice to warm up the vegetables. :S Still, I wouldn’t mind coming back here to try this if they perform better with fewer customers.
The service was really bad, and the homemade water chestnut and grass jelly were really dilute. My brother was quite upset at the time lag between each course (could be 15-20 minutes) cause it was Mother’s day and the kitchen was unable to keep up with the custom.
They have a $9.90 tapas type menu which I wouldn’t mind trying.. if I come back here again, which doesn’t seem super likely.