Sunday, September 9, 2012

Embracing my Inner Asian - Part 2

 As my last post indicated I was made an Honorary Asian by my friend Jennifer.....and so named.....

This added to my Zulu name "Khethiwe" given to me by my friend Nosipho - I am now clearly an "International Name Gatherer" ....... it's a thing ...... trust me people ..... YOU can join if you have at least three names officially bestowed on you. 

Email me for an application (did I mention the $25 joining fee?).

Of course Jennifer went above and beyond and gave me a gift to go with my new name and status - my very own chopsticks, in their very own case.... red, of course, and beautiful. How lovely!!

This Asian food adventure I am currently on has some key ingredients:
  • Asian friends - 1 who speaks and reads Mandarin, 1 who speaks and reads Cantonese
  • Asian friends who are foodies
  • Asian friends at your workplace
  • Pregnant Asian friends at work 
( BTW I am now on the look out for Vietnamese/Malaysian/Filipino Early Childhood Educators)

One other key ingredient, of course, was one white girl with a sense of adventure and an appetite........ and boy am I the perfect candidate for that!

I have lived here in Richmond and eaten "safe", "typical" "Chinese" food......from places that have English menus.  And deliver.

Tourism Richmond recently hired a food blogger to write a daily account of dining in Richmond for the next 365 days.  Lindsay Anderson has done a fine job demystifying Asian and other ethnic dining.  Her fearless diving into restaurants I would never have thought to go to and her detailed descriptions of the food certainly peaked my interest and broadened my food horizons right here in my hometown.  I started to keep a mental list of local places I wanted to go and food I wanted to try.

All it took at work was for me to say "I really want to try Pho" and the adventure started.

It was SO good.   It makes me look forward to winter - almost.  The hearty broth and tasty noodles and the perfect beef..... forget chicken soup white people - we have been duped!!!  When you get a cold this winter get Pho.  Just do it.

The other revelation of Pho was that a huge bowl of it was $6....I challenge you to find a cheaper, larger lunch than that with as much flavour. 

My friends were encouraged by my enthusiasm but they were blown away when thanks to Richmond 365 I casually dropped into conversation that next on my list I had my sights on XLB's.  These little dumplings of goodness turned up on my desk along with Shanghai noodles......

SOOOOO good..... I dream of them now.......the vinegar with the plain noodle and the pork filling with a little broth.  It's like a little initiation in the Asian Food Hall of Fame to pick those little puppies up with chopsticks and put the whole thing in your mouth without a) dropping it or b) piercing it and dribbling the broth down your face like a fool.

The Shanghai noodles also so good.

I easily declared that we were on to Hainanese Chicken next and the Asian Food Mafia at work kicked into high gear - this white girl was definitely serious now and the Hainanese chicken was pushing the envelope.  They made sure I knew what I was ordering, that the chicken would be cold...... I gave then a suitably withering look. 

Next day it arrived on my desk........after Jennifer braved Aberdeen Centre, at lunchtime, to get it.....a true sign of devotion to my Asian education.

It wasn't WOW but it was good.  The chicken was so tender and gently spiced with green onion and ginger - ultimate comfort food (Asian answer to chicken soup maybe?).  The rice and bean sprouts were awesome.  My daughter Lindsay (aka Rice Girl) would have been jealous.

After that it was time to get serious - time to push the comfort zone - bust it to the next level.

Dim Sum.

Oh my - I tried to seem enthusiastic - I wasn't about to wimp out now (and Allan had been waxing on for months about a Dim Sum lunch he had) but I was a little nervous now.

This is the restaurant logo.......

 It may actually be a diversionary tactic to deter white wimps, like me, from tasting the delights of dim sum.

So I breezily said "Order whatever you like, I am sure I will like it all, just no chicken feet".  Lisa (Foodie extraordinaire) smiled enigmatically, which made me nervous.

So when this showed up......
I tried a bit of everything ordered and even Lisa was impressed with my boldness.
It was a real test for the senses and I can honestly say I liked it all but I had trouble with the texture of some of it.  But the dim sum barrier is broken, the dyke is breached.......there is no stopping me now even with creepy chicken logos....

How lucky am I to have such food mentors as these lovely ladies I work with?  That they order for me and pick it up and deliver it to my desk......and wait anxiously for my verdict?

SO SO lucky.

Onward, ladies, onward........AND Thank you!

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