San Francisco is the first city that I’ve visited in a long time that actually embodies the Pisces energy. A Pisces on the Aries cusp – but a Pisces nevertheless. I feel like I can just get lost in the moment and let it take me where it wants to – that I can stay in the flow of things without worrying too much about anything.
Who doesn’t love dumplings? I feel it’s one of those things that you can find in just about every cuisine. Meat wrapped in flour that’s either boiled, steamed, pan-fried or deep-fried. Yum yum yum! So my friend Noza taught me to make chuchvara – boiled dumplings served with either soup or tomatoes and onions.
I sink my teeth into the first wrap. The flavours are far stronger than what I’m used to. The duck is electrifyingly crispy and fatty, the sauce is tangy and sweet and the condiments are confusing. Midway through my first Peking Duck burrito, my waiter magically shows up with a plastic glove and a pair of chopsticks. He looks both mildly concerned and thoroughly amused.
Everyone who knows me knows I love food – but Xinjiang cuisine has a super special place in my heart. The food is SPICY, intense and packed with all kinds of indescribable flavours. And so I asked my trusty temporary housemate Fang if there’s a restaurant in Hong Kong that serves Xinjiang Cuisine… and… ding ding ding… she told me about Ba Yi. It’s one of those famous places where you have to book a time slot in advance. And yes – they will kick you out when your time is up. And no – they don’t care if you haven’t finished your meal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I was honestly astonished at how delicious, delectable and authentic the whole experience was. If it wasn’t for the strange decor and the hefty price tag, I would have felt like I was back in Singapore. And BTW – the super hot is actually super hot… Truth be told, it was a little too hot for my palate. I should have prudently chosen a less spicy soup – but hey.
I ordered the mixed set that came with two seasonings: salt and miso. I personally preferred the miso. Whilst the dish didn’t offend my tastebuds, I failed to see what the big deal was. The texture of the meat was chewy and tough-ish. Some pieces were delicious, but a lot of the pieces were simply not to my liking. I wouldn’t call it much to look at either…. Having said that, I loved the pickles and the soup. The pickles were packed with flavour. And the tail meat in the soup was incredibly tender.
After a week of admittedly very good pub grub, my palate was desperate for a change. And no, I didn’t want Indian food or Chinese food. I decided to save that for when I got back. Hey – I do not go to a far away country to feel like I’m back home. A quick Google search later, I found Damascus Gate: a Syrian and Lebanese Restaurant on Dublin’s Camden Street Upper. It was Friday night and we didn’t have a reservation, but we managed to get a table for two.