Saturday, February 23, 2008

Food Mega-Plex!

Valentine’s Day in Tianjin, China. It’s three of us, so one of us doesn’t have a date. He offers to take us out, and with the place he took us to, I felt as if I was his date. Upon site of this building, I knew I was a in for something different. It was at a high-rise place of high-end food. I never seen a place so large AND so full of people. Walking in the lobby made you feel like you were in an upscale hotel with marble wrapped around your feet to the ceiling. Walking across the bridge t\connecting one end to the other, there are waterfalls cascading from high above your head to the water below your feet. The other lobby presents a wine collection suitable for any connoisseur. The other end had a plate of hundreds of dishes prepared for your viewing if the pictures on the menu weren’t good enough. My camera was getting hungry, but the women at the front desk asked me to refrain from taking pictures. Fear not readers, but I snapped a few of the lobby, but more importantly, the food. About 97% of the time I was in China, I didn’t order the food and let everyone else do it. I will try to identify what is pictured, but forgive me if I don’t know what it is. Now then, please see the slideshow with its captions. This place is called something like Da Dao. Translation is Big Island. Suitable name, though one might expect a tropical theme. I like the name, because it is definitely big, and it was island-ish in the fact that it stood apart from other buildings and towered above them, too.

The type of food we had was huo guo, which translated to fire pot. Most people call it hot pot. There are different kinds. I think this was Cantonese style where it’s more upscale than the more traditional. It’s essentially a large pot filled with a flavored oil. The staff brings out different types of food for you to cook. So it is very interactive. You eat anything from seafood to vegetables to meats to tofu.

When the food is brought out to you, sometimes it’s laid out, and other times it comes piled on top in a bowl. The presentation on the layouts of this place was nicely done. The mushrooms, bok choy, shrimp balls, and other identifiables were suitable for pictures, but almost as soon as they hit the tabletop, into the cauldron of boiling opil it went.

The taste… well, since you cook it yourself, it depends partly on you. The other part is the quality of ingredients. I would like to believe that at a place like this, they were top notch. Our host owned restaurants and is like a chef, and if he picks this place, methinks it’s good food. Also, he did most of the cooking. Some vegetables had to cook for a long time, and some of the meat were in the oil no more than 15 seconds. Very enjoyable dinner and experience.

In addition to the hot pot, they knew I was craving sushi early on in the day, so they ordered a sashimi plate. I never seen it prepared this way, but after smelling and tasting it, I was an immediate fan. The presentation was quite exquisite with the entire fish filleted. Of course we couldn’t let the rest of the fish go to waste once the middle part was picked at and eaten so into to pot it went, and the fish was delicious cooked as it was raw.
I was introduced to a new drink. Corn is my favorite vegetable, but mind you, I would never think of drinking it. But that’s what being a foodie (hate that term!) is all about – open mind to food, tastes, and methods. A pitcher of a hot, yellow, steaming liquid arrived to the table. It was much too hot for me to know if it was good, so I waited a while. When it was cooled down for my tongue’s comfort level, I was delighted to the taste of it. It was corn juice. It had a similar texture to orange juice, including the pulp from the corn kernel skin. It came to the table about ¾ of the way through, but that was because it’s a difficult drink to make, so I was told, so you know it was made fresh. I liked the drink so much that I had two glasses going, so I could pour it back and forth in order to cool it down. I drank most of the pitcher. It was more expensive than normal drinks there, but it was worth it.
Dessert isn’t very popular in China, and I notice you order it at the same time you order your food, so while you’re eating your sashimi, next to you is a plate of sweetness. It’s difficult to resist inserting dessert in your mouth until after your meal. Quite frankly, I’m not sure if that’s the “order” in China, since they brink it altogether. But our desert consisted of dumplings, but these were filled with cream. It was definitely too sweet, but I indulged in three of them. The other one was little pastry cups filled with durian. Durian is also called “stinky fruit,” because of its stench. I’ve heard descriptions ranging from feet to rotten onions. It’s a large, spiky fruit when opened is somewhat like custard. Many people don’t like it, but I’m not one of them.

This was probably the most expensive meal I had in my visit at around $130 for the three of us. As you can imagine, that is very high in China.

I’d go back.

1 comment:

Aramis said...

That place looks nuts. Kinda looks like a hockey arena...