Monday, December 05, 2005

Dim Sum and Then Some: Dine and Dish #5

I started my day with dim sum at Mark's Duck House. The place is impossible to find (it's inside a strip mall, and has a tiny, illegible sign) and pleasingly filled with people of Asian descent. Since the restaurant is quite near "Little Vietnam" in Falls Church, VA, the real Hong Kong/Chinese authenticity may remain unproven. But authenticity or not, their barbecue roast pork buns are fantastic. Known as bao, these steamed buns couldn't be tastier. Seriously people, I dream about these buns. They're quite sweet, and my regular dim sum companion and I agree they remind us--more than a little--of that Southern picnic staple: pulled pork on potato rolls. We also love the gingery chicken and straw mushroom version of the bao, and the super-sweet baked version filled with pineapple custard.

Our other favorite is the dish we refer to affectionately as shrimp eyeballs. No, this isn't a bowl of painstakingly plucked crustacean peepers--although Mark's Duck House does serve a tasty dish of spiced duck tongues, so they're not above that sort of thing. These plain shrimp dumplings are so pure, so perfectly round, and the wrapper so delicately translucent, that they resemble nothing so much as four eyeballs staring out from the steamer when they are lifted from the circulating carts.

As if that weren't enough consumption to satisfy the Asian Persuasion-themed Dine and Dish hosted by The Delicious Life, I also had Chinese for dinner. I left the ordering decision up to the Human Vacuum, who came through with a great selection: Meiwah's Shredded Pork with Pickled Mustard Noodle Soup. Since mine came in unattractive takeout containers, I cribbed a picture from the Internet to give you an idea of what I ate:

The vinegary bite of the pickled vegetable contrasted with the warm meaty broth, and the surprisingly high-quality pork was a bonus. Meiwah also cooks up a mean spaghetti with meat sauce. Apparently, they take seriously the claim that spaghetti bolognese was originally conceived as spaghetti cantonese. Meiwah's version is fast becoming a takeout standby for us. Its egg noodles are springy and fresh, the sauce is spicy and dotted with sliced mushrooms. And it manages--through judicious use of cornstarch and/or MSG, we suspect--to approximate the texture of spaghetti with meat sauce quite accurately.

One word to the wise: I wholeheartedly recommend that you eat at Meiwah, but the steamed dumplings are crap--they're chewy and flavorless. Get your dumpling fix at Mark's Duck House instead.

No comments: