Every Lunar New Year, I look forward to food. Friends, family, and fun, too, but mostly food.
Even though my parents immigrated to America years ago and proudly claim to have assimilated to American culture, celebrating Lunar New Year with the people we love has always been a staple of our heritage. The Lunar New Year parties are always an amazing festivity, and the potluck style of the dinner guarantees a variety of wonderful dishes to satisfy anyone and everyone’s cravings.
The preparations for these parties are always a labor of love (emphasis on the labor). It is like Thanksgiving dinner preparations, but the Asian version. My mother, a frequent host of the parties, often spends days in advance preparing the house, and the two days leading up to the party meticulously cooking enough dishes to feed a group of at least 60.
Meats of any (and every!) kind are a cornerstone of the dinner. My mother has always been partial to smoked salmon, and is known among her friend group for having the best salmon dish in town, but she, and all of the other wonderful mothers contribute plentiful types of meats. From spicy chicken to pork to pig ears, there’s something for everyone.
The meat dishes are, of course, supplemented by plentiful amounts of vegetables, noodle dishes, and bao zi (Chinese rolls). My parents and their friends take their spicy food seriously, and it’s not uncommon to see pepper or some other spicy-looking sauce liberally tossed on top of most dishes. The lotus and cauliflower and leeks and chicken dishes are favorites of my family’s. Spicy tofu soup is also a staple of every year’s dinner. As someone who unfortunately can’t handle much spicy food, I usually try to mitigate the burning sensations of too much spicy with copious amounts of rice.
I’ve always had a weakness for the dessert options at these parties. The soft sweetness of the red bean cakes and handmade red bean mochi by family friends complement an otherwise very savory and rich meal. Red bean filling is the most unique part of an Asian dessert dish.
There’s one more dish that I haven’t mentioned: the pork dumplings that my family makes. These dumplings are particularly special to me, because my family actually comes together to help mix the filling, knead the dough, and fold up the finished dumpling into their signature bow shapes. It’s almost difficult to eat the dish that so accurately represents the labor and love that goes into creating a Lunar New Year Dinner.
I have always looked forward to celebrating Lunar New Year with my family. The food, of course, is wonderful, but the sense of joy and community of so many people coming together to eat and celebrate is something unique to this special day.
Just when you are about to give up hope-you’ve eaten out at every semi-affordable place in the Square and all that’s left is eating your way through CVS’ snack aisle- something, a miracle, occurs. That miracle is the Crema english muffin. Yes, a simple english muffin, and probably the singular best deal in Harvard Square that has ever existed.
Amidst the warm-lighting and coffee scented mist of Crema Cafe, the english muffin is certainly not the most exotic-sounding menu item. With the enticing Crema classics, such as the sweet potato sandwich or banana date walnut bread, it’s hard to imagine anyone would think to order something as basic as an english muffin. This, however, is not the english muffin you were forced to eat at Brain Break when everything else was gone, but on the same level as your Mom’s english muffins if she were GOD.England, a country famous for its bad food, is undeserving of these esteemed muffins. Better would be King muffin, Saint muffin, or just Obama.
Now here’s what’s going to happen: you order an english muffin with jam and butter on the side because that way they give you MOARRR. Then, you’ll have the choice of apricot or raspberry jam—we recommend apricot if you want a more supple experience, and raspberry if you want a razmataz to balance out the fat.
Once you get it, ask for more butter. This is essential. Then, take the specimen to whatever table space you can find and commence the critical operation. Butter first. Jam second. Bite third. Notice the extreme complexity of the crust simply made with a misunderstanding of how much butter is a good idea.
These muffins are made by first cutting flour into mounds of butter, kneading the dough, and letting it rise. They are then baked in a popover pan with even more butter, and finally eaten with a fine and generous spread of gratuitous butter. At the end of it all, that crispy, flakey outer rim serves as a perfect vehicle for your butter and jam.
As is the case for most holidays, my favorite part of Valentine’s Day is always the food. Although many cast Valentine’s Day as merely a commercial holiday or a sad reminder of one’s loneliness, to me, there is nothing better than a day that encourages you to eat chocolate and drink wine (whether by yourself, with friends, or with a special someone). Regardless of who your celebrating with, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to go try some fun, new restaurants, especially those that are running special deals in honor of it. Below is a list of suggestions for where to eat this Valentine’s Day:
A tried and true Harvard Square favorite, this Belgian waffle joint never fails to please. If you’re looking for somewhere relatively well-priced, conveniently located, and romantic, this is your place. And of course, we can’t forget about their delicious waffles, topped with whatever your heart desires.
This cozy Venezuelan restaurant, tucked away on JFK street, offers a warm and inviting ambiance in addition to hearty, flavorful fare. Be sure to try the datiles, or the bacon-wrapped dates! They do not accept reservations, so try to go at an off-peak hour if you aren’t willing to wait for a table.
For those of you who view Valentine’s Day as an excuse to eat all of the dessert in sight, then you must go to Max Brenner. Located conveniently near the Copley Square T stop, this is definitely the place to go get chocolate wasted. In addition to real food (which is pretty good in itself), they offer a variety of decadent sundaes, milkshakes, hot chocolate, lava cake, fondue, and chocolate-inspired cocktails. Be sure to make a reservation or call ahead, though, as they do get very busy!
For all of you Quadlings, Temple Bar is a tempting choice due to its proximity. Not only is their location prime, but they also are offering a three-course prix fixe menu, as well as a vegetarian tasting menu, in honor of Valentine’s Day! Dinner is $49 per person, or $39 per person if you go before 6pm. For the 21+ crowd, add wine pairings for $19.
Another Harvard Square favorite, Russell House Tavern is offering a special three-course prix fixe menu, featuring seared Gloucester monkfish loin and cider glazed heritage pork shank. Dinner is $59 per person, or $79 with wine pairings. If you go between 5pm and 6pm, there is a $10 discount on the prix fixe menu. Be sure to make reservations!
The sister restaurant of Harvard Square’s Beat Hotel, the Beehive offers a cool ambiance, an extensive champagne list, and a mouthwatering Valentine’s Day menu. Start with appetizers like their fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs or lobster chowder, then choose from a variety of delicious entrees, and finish with strawberry cheesecake, chocolate pot de creme, or the dessert du jour. Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. Sunday – Tuesday. On Valentine’s Day, their prix fixe menu is $65 per person, but they are still offering their specials on the 12th and 13th as well. Don’t forget reservations!
In 2001, Ana Sortun opened her landmark restaurant, Oleana, in Somerville. After an incredible tour of Turkey, Sortun returned to Boston to introduce the city to exotic Eastern Mediterranean flavors. The restaurant exploded in popularity, and in 2005, Sortun was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast. As Oleana was filled consistently, Sortun began looking into a new project, Sofra.
Sofra Bakery and Café was inspired by Turkish bazaars, which offer food, drinks, spices, and other ingredients in a small area. The store has two separate sections with a café in one section, then a market space that sells condiments, wines, and spices. Upon entering, you encounter the vibrant aromas of the Mediterranean like cardamom, cinnamon, and coriander. A quick glance at the counter reveals an extensive menu with a wide assortment of baked goods. Sofra followed the meze style of dining, so there are many small vegetarian dishes as well as some larger dishes with meats. With staples like falafel, shawarma, and hummus, the menu might seem generic at first; however, upon closer inspection, the subtle complexities shown through. Sortun’s goal is to make Mediterranean flavors and spices approachable to the American palette, so many local ingredients are incorporated into the complex “foreign” dishes.
As my exhausted group of friends and I collapsed into Sofra after a run, we glanced over the counter at the menu. After we caught our breath, we placed our orders and cooled down from our run. A short while later, my spinach falafel wrap, pumpkin turnover, and grape sharbat arrived with my friend’s orders of chicken shawarma and a red-dragon iced tea.
The spinach falafel wrap was served with a little tahini, beet tzatziki, pickles, and fresh greens. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern dish, prepared by grinding fava beans or chickpeas and then frying it. While the dish may be simple, there is a complexity to the dish, with a unique mix of spices and textural differences giving it almost meaty impression. Sofra’s rendition was mixed with spinach and accompanied by rich, creamy tahini and acidic pickles. Unfortunately, the exterior of the falafel lacked the distinctive crispness I expected. Thus, I was slightly underwhelmed as the wrap had a uniform texture, but the refreshing bitterness of the greens and crunch of the pickles improved dish immensely.
While ordering, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices for the baked goods. With cookies, tarts, breads, and a plethora of other seasonal baked goods, Sofra prepares a number of traditional Mediterranean pastries as well other European baked items with Mediterranean influences. Fortunately, the cashier provided a quick recommendation of the pumpkin turnover. While the recommendation seemed plain, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavorful sweet and savory pastry. With the traditional pumpkin spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, the flavor was incredible with the flaky buttery turnover. The fresh sweet pumpkin inside was a nostalgic reminder of autumn.
Normally, I do not comment on the drinks that are served in my restaurant reviews, but the seasonal sharbat was sensational. With a strong grape cardamom concentrate mixed with sparkling water, the drink left a powerful sweet flavor.
A mere two miles away, Sofra serves as a cheaper destination for those seeking the Mediterranean experience. The more accessible sister of Oleana, Sofra delivers similar flavors in a cozier and more comfortable environment. While the food may not have been as elevated as at Oleana, the identity of the restaurant as an approachable café was apparent. If I ever desire a falafel wrap or a savory, spiced pastry, I will run in the direction of Sofra.
Sofra Bakery and Cafe
Location: 1 Belmont Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Stand out dishes: Pumpkin Turnover (Seasonal), Grape Sharbat (Seasonal)
There is a Cambridge debate over ice cream: Toscanini’s vs. Christina’s. Central Square vs. Inman. Cocoa pudding vs. chocolate mousse (below left, along with cactus pear, right).
A couple weeks ago I went to Toscanini’s, and this week I tried Christina’s.
Starting with location, Christina’s takes it. Just 10 minutes down the road from CGIS, I wondered why I didn’t go to Inman more often. Fun restaurants (including Punjabi Dhaba serving great cheap Indian food), cute shops, and a branch of the always amazing 1369 Coffee House.
Walk inside and Christina’s has a completely different vibe. Whereas Toscanini’s feels almost hipster—minimalist décor, flavors written in chalk, people coding over ice cream—Christina’s feels like an institution. This is not a shop designed to impress; rather meant to let the flavors speak for themselves.
The range of flavors at Christina’s is impressive and there is an excellent combination of standard favorites with creative offerings. There’s maple walnut, black raspberry, rum raisin, and pistachio. But also Adzuki bean, banana cinnamon and Khulfi.
Some of the flavors were amazing; some were less impressive. The butter almond was fantastic, but after a few bites I realized the peanut butter chip wasn’t one to order again. Cactus pear sorbet? Such an interesting option (and color). But while yummy initially, it was just too sweet and left me with a taste of pure sugar. The chocolate mousse is fantastic (better than Toscanini’s cocoa pudding in my opinion) and their chocolate chip cookie dough is great (as all chocolate chip cookie dough flavors are).
My best advice is to taste before you buy (and taste extensively). Depending on what flavor you order, you will leave with an entirely different impressive of Christina’s. Find the right flavors and this might be your favorite Cambridge ice cream.
You can also find Christina’s at the weekly Farmer’s Market in the Science Center. Albeit serving just a few options, the mobile Christina’s is great way to try the ice cream closer to campus.
Toscanini’s vs. Christina’s. I’d have to say that I come out of the side of Toscanini’s. But when we’re talking about good ice cream, why would we even have a debate? The more good ice cream options, the better.
Petsi Pies is a hidden Cambridge oasis tucked behind a residential street. With four locations in Massachusetts, the establishment clearly knows what it’s doing since opening in 2003. From eponymous pies and baked goods to spicy soups and flavorful sandwiches, Petsi is much more than a café.
There’s a decent amount of coffee choices, and most customers sip a cup while typing away on their laptops thanks to free wifi. I ventured in around 2pm, and every table was filled, explaining why the display case was looking a little desolate compared to the cornucopia of pies and treats it usually contains before lunchtime. Learn from my mistake – get there early, get a seat, get pie!
If you have a favorite filling or are looking to take a whole pie to go, you’re better off placing an order over the phone. Daily selections vary, but everything is freshly baked. Possible choices include a classic apple, cherry crumb, chocolate cream, blueberry, Mississippi mud, brown butter pecan, pumpkin, and more.
I selected the delectably messy mixed berry with a crumb topping. And here’s another tip: have them heat a slice up for you. Now that it’s getting colder, there’s nothing better than a warm, gooey treat, and this slice of berry pie did not disappoint. The texture was chunky enough to know it was made with fresh fruit, but soft enough to let it melt in your mouth. Plus, the crumb has a nice cinnamon kick to complement the hint of sour from the blackberry and sweet from the blueberry.
Needless to say, I understand the crowds, and I am all for keeping Petsi a secret spot. The more pie for us, the better! Be careful how often you frequent the café, though. It may be tasty, but my slice was $5.
It was worth it as a special treat, but maybe not as an everyday dessert.
If you’re looking for a change of pace from dining hall cookies, grab a cup of warm coffee, a plateful of pie, and relax in the bustling ambiance of Petsi’s.
The 37th Annual Oktoberfest was a wonderful celebration of food, music, and the city of Cambridge. For those who couldn’t make it and for those who went and want to relive the experience, here are some of the highlights:
Liquiteria’s “Royal Flush” juice is a tangy hybrid of pineapple, apple, and ginger. (Liquiteria, 18 Brattle St #352)
The “Liquid Volcano” was extremely popular, primarily due to the dry ice in the drink that made it look like it was smoking.
Delicious slices of smoked beef from El Jefe’s Taqueria.
Three traditional Indian dishes from Punjab, an authentic Indian restaurant. (Punjab, 485 Massachusetts Ave.)
A Schweinedecke (pig in a blanket) from The Sinclair. (The Sinclair, 52 Church St.)
Roasted Pork Bao from the Thai restaurant, NAGA. (NAGA, 450 Massachusetts Ave.)
Snap Boogie, a world famous street performer that was featured on America’s Got Talent.
The Turkey Hill brand gave out free hazelnut gelato samples.
Authentic German Bratwurst served in a bun with sauerkraut.
Taverns elicit images of energetic environments, buzzing with activity as waiters and patrons rush through the space. Russell House Tavern, a hot-spot in Harvard Square, fits that description exceptionally well with a stellar alcohol selection and inventive mixology. The tavern is frequently packed to capacity as a popular post-work destination for students and faculty alike. However, Russell House Tavern stands heads and shoulders above the stereotypical tavern by serving food well beyond cocktail peanuts and stale pretzels. Seven days a week, Russell House Tavern prepares inspired American cuisine with flavors inspired by global influences.
Walking down Kennedy Street, I could see that the restaurant was brimming as a queue extended out into the sidewalk. Fortunately, with a reservation for three at 9:30 pm, my party was promptly greeted by the host and seated. A quick view of the menu presented a diverse arrangement of exceptional bar food and eclectic entrees for a more complete meal. The menu was almost perfectly suited for a tavern, where large groups of people with unique preferences could gather and share portions. In particular, the pizzas on the menu stood out as perfect dishes to be split among a group. With a plethora of options, we began arguing which dishes to order and eventually decided on two pizzas and an assortment of other sharable small plates.
After an unexpectedly long wait (or maybe our empty stomachs made it feel longer), our hot and steaming pizzas arrived. Immediately, I grabbed a slice of the Cape Cod clam pizza ($13) and delivered it to my mouth. The strings of stretched cheese burned my hands and the sides of my mouth as the savory slice touched my tongue. In an odd way, the pizza reminded me distinctly of an incredible clam chowder. With the flavorful clam and rich pancetta mixing in my mouth with the melty cheese and white sauce, I was transported to the harbor, sitting over a steaming bowl of clam chowder. Breaking out of the daze, I hungrily took a slice of the heirloom tomato pizza ($14). To contrast the salty, savory clam pizza, the tomato pizza was perfectly sweet and refreshing. The namesake heirloom tomatoes had a complex sweetness and cleansed my palette with a juicy freshness. Combined with the flavorful burrata, a cheese made similarly to mozzarella, and marjoram, an herb with citrus notes, the pizza returned me to my senses.
Soon after, the small plates arrived: tuna tartare ($13), Jonah crab cakes ($13), steak frites ($25), and steak tartare ($14). The tuna tartare, a preparation where raw fish/beef is chopped into a fine grind, was a slight disappointment. While the tuna was clearly incredibly fresh, it suffered from an overwhelming sweetness from the melon. The crab cakes were similarly underwhelming, as there was a lack of seasoning. Strangely, the crab cakes were panko breaded, which helped the cakes keep their shape, but masked the flavoring, leaving a bland dish.
Personally, I was looking forward to the steak frites because it is such a classic French Bistro dish. Expecting a tender medium rare steak with crisp fries, I was mildly disappointed. The steak was a little too tough for my liking, and the fries were simply average. While well-cooked, there was something left to be desired in the dish. Overall the night so far was passable, but nothing spectacular. Until…
The steak tartare was presented with a golden deep fried egg and a peculiar black smear. The waiter explained to cut the egg open to release the yolk and then run the steak through the black smear and the egg yolk. Heeding his instructions, each of us gingerly placed the raw steak into our mouths. I closed my eyes as I chewed the tender steak disintegrated in our mouths and a savory flavor proliferated in our mouths. The gentle balance of the steak with the fatty egg yolk and spicy horseradish was excellent.
As the night wound to a close, my expectations were satisfied, and I am delighted that such a restaurant operates in Harvard Square. While some dishes were slight disappointments, Russell House Tavern is an establishment that I revisit frequently, due to their solid execution at later hours (12 pm Su-Th, 1 am F-Sa). For those looking for something a little more elevated at those hours, Russell House is a strong recommendation.
Russell House Tavern
Location: 14 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge MA 02138
Reservation: OpenTable, or by Phone at (617)-500-3055
Stand out dishes: Steak Tartare, Heirloom Tomato Pizza
One week ago today, Liquiteria opened its doors to the public for the first time, its bright blue and yellow interior the only beacon of hope on the otherwise dismally cold June day. While the New England weather may not always show it, Liquiteria radiates the tastes and smells of summer, offering an extensive variety of smoothies, cold pressed juices, cleanse kits, and to-go food items.
Sitting on the corner of Mass Ave and Church St. (translation: right near the once 24-hour CVS, or 20 steps from Johnston Gate), this outpost is the first to open in Massachusetts. The original three locations reside in New York City where Liquiteria began as cold pressed juice shop. Cold pressed juices became very popular a few years ago, as big names such as Starbucks and ‘the west coast’ caught on to the trend, and Liquiteria seems to have benefitted from the juices’ widespread success.
So what’s the difference between cold pressed juice, and well, regular old juice? Chances are the apple juice your mom used to buy at Walmart is ‘hot pressed juice,’ made by heating, boiling, or steaming the fruit so that its skin and pulp will separate. The pulp then becomes very easy to press, making for a smooth, skinless juice. However, with the benefit of easy-pressing comes the risk of losing flavor and nutrients. When juice is heated, volatile flavor compounds are the first to go. (If you are familiar with the use of what are called glass, or cellophane, noodles in Asian cuisines, these noodles absorb the volatile compounds released while stir-frying vegetables, retaining the flavors that would otherwise be lost in the cooking process. This is conceptually similar to what happens when making a hot pressed juice, except these compounds are lost.)
Cold pressed juices are a different story. To eliminate the negative effects of heating, thousands of pounds of pressure go into squeezing all the juice possible from the fruit or vegetable, a method known as high pressure processing. Furthermore, as compared to hot pressed juices, much more produce goes into a single bottle of juice. For example, some companies claim that up to 6 lbs of produce can go into one 16 oz bottle of cold pressed juice, whereas Tropicana orange juice (a hot pressed juice) has less than 2 lbs of oranges per 16 oz bottle. Thus, cold pressed emerges as the nutritionally, and most likely flavorfully, superior choice.
Liquiteria offers twelve different juice flavors daily, ranging from the obligatory All Greens (Kale, Spinach, Romaine, Parsley, Celery, Cucumber) to some funkier blends, such as Turmeric Tonic (Turmeric, probiotic, lemon, maple syrup), the unfortunately-colored Skin Trip (Parsley, Spinach, Cucumber, Carrots), and my personal favorite, the refreshing, much-needed-wakeup-call-to -your-taste-buds, the Killer XX (Apple, Lemon, Ginger, Cayenne). As a seasonal extra, they are currently offering Watermelon juice, which essentially is like drinking the 4th of July from a plastic bottle. Each juice flavor comes in a 16 oz bottle, and is always available in the grab and go section.
A particularly intriguing set of options on Liquiteria’s menu are the fruit juice cleanses, sold in either 1 or 3 day packs. Four cleanses are available, ranging from the introductory/beginner level in which one is still allowed to snack intermittently throughout the day, to the final level which is described simply as “aggressive.” If you’re interested in giving your body a boost, or just want to see if you can “drink your body weight in ounces of spring or purified water per day”, check out Liquiteria’s website for more information.
While I was only able to try one smoothie flavor during my visit, the smoothie options seemed on the whole very promising. Whether you’re feeling fruity, craving peanut butter, dreaming of açaí, or still can’t get enough of kale, there’s a smoothie for you. Even if you’re not sold on the pre-made combinations, you can customize any of the smoothies to your liking, as well as substitute almond butter for peanut butter if you have an allergy. There is also the option to add boosters to your smoothie—chia, vitamin c, aloe vera, spirulina (a blue-green algae purported as a “superfood”), bee pollen, and flax seed oil, to name a few—and many of these ingredients are also featured in the 1 oz juice shots in the grab-and-go section.
Sure to be a campus-wide favorite, during my visit I decided to try the too-good-to-be-true Hangover Cure smoothie. While I admittedly did not have the proper qualifications to participate in a controlled study of its efficacy, I can attest to its perfectly blended texture, and mild, satisfying taste. I would say this smoothie as a whole lacked any sort of “wow” factor in terms of taste, but this may be mainly the fault of the typically milky taste of its main ingredients: papaya, peaches, and bananas.
[But then again, no one who actually needs this smoothie would want anymore surprises after hearing from their blockmates what happened last night…]
The service at the newly opened location is the perfect blend of excited and sassy. Having gone through an extensive training before the opening, the staff have memorized the ingredients of each item and are also capable of speaking to their health benefits. They also have had time to pick favorites. One staff member raved about the PB&J Parfait, as well as the Blue Velvet smoothie, which she said tastes like you’re sipping blueberry cake. Sounds good to me.
Besides the great staff recommendations, Liquiteria is notably staffed with enoughpeople, and also enough blenders, to get the orders out quickly. This cannot be said of all smoothie places— I know I have waited considerable amounts of time for blended drinks, as most places only have one or two blenders, and not always enough staff on hand.
So… what’s the catch? As you might have already suspected, Liquiteria is not exactly a bargain like our beloved Noch’s or Felipe’s. While theoretically we should all invest in our general wellbeing (remember, there could be up to 6 lbs of produce in one 16 oz bottle of juice), up to $9 for a juice or smoothie seems outrageous for the average college kid on a budget. With that being said, the staff were quick to mention that many of the smoothies contain whey protein, meaning they can serve as a meal substitute in terms of the nutritional content. In that sense, $8-9 does not seem too terrible, especially if you are in a rush between classes and don’t have time to chew.
Only time will tell if Liquiteria lives up to all its pulp and circumstance.
To give you a better idea of how Liquiteria fits into the current smoothie-scene on and around campus, check out the chart below!
*Walking distance with Harvard Yard as the starting point.
As my friends and I sat down for dinner on Thursday night, they had no idea what HUDS had in store in the servery. I, on the other hand, had been anticipating this meal all week: a Chinese New Year celebration. After doing my research, I learned that the traditional meal served on New Year’s Eve typically includes both meat and fish, as well as eight individual dishes which reflect the number’s significance as a good luck symbol.
HUDS certainly delivered its version of the traditional Chinese New Year feast. I walked away with a full plate, excited to try the dining hall’s take on (the vegetarian) Buddha’s Delight, the hoisin glazed salmon, spicy green beans, peking cabbage, and some egg fried rice.
While I might be alone on this one, I was most excited for the Buddha’s Delight (pictured below). The elaborate vegetarian dish is one often served by families on Chinese New Year, and the dining hall staff created a great replication. Their version included tofu, water chestnuts, carrots, pea pods, baby corn, broccoli, and scallions, with soy sauce and sesame oil tossed in, and topped with a nice blend of ginger, sugar, and garlic. While the ingredients created a perfect combination, the dish was a bit too saucy, but a tasty addition as it leaked onto the cabbage and green beans underneath.
Continuing to break outside the normal veggie offerings this evening, the Chinese New Year fare included spicy green beans (read: green beans with crushed garlic, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and cumin) and peking cabbage. The green beans definitely had an extra kick, making them an exciting and delicious break from the usual, but not quite what I would call spicy.
The fried foods were all table favorites: vegetable egg rolls (top) and pork dumplings (middle). I can speak for the egg rolls, and they were spot on this evening. Perfectly crisp on the exterior, without too much breading, and enough to give all of the inside veggies just the right flavor. The egg fried rice (bottom) was also well executed – filled with celery and mushrooms for an added touch.
Last but not least on my plate was the hoisin glazed salmon, cooked just right. Hoisin sauce, similar to American barbecue sauce, is made from a combination of soybeans, garlic, sugar, sesame seeds, and chili pepper. The slightly sugary sauce adds a sweet and savory marinade to the dish without taking away from the main attraction.
HUDS’ Chinese New Year meal was a complete success if you ask me. With a few tweaks and improvements, next year’s edition could be even better, but watching my friends walk into the dining hall to find the surprise was worth my full week’s wait. While my Chinese friends were able to celebrate a taste of home, my American ones (myself included) were able to enjoy a cultural experience we won’t forget.