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Archive for the ‘Beijing-style’ Category

Last Friday a bunch of my friends and I headed to an interestingly-named Shanghainese eatery in Jordan. The Chinese name has nothing to do with its English name, Osama Tony. Cryptic, I know…is this the name of a new hipster band? I recall reading somewhere, though, that its meats are halal (or something like that) so maybe that’s where the “Osama” comes from? It’s also the sister restaurant of another Osama Tony in Kowloon City which, inexplicably, serves Japanese food. Ahh, the mysteries of Hong Kong.

In any case, Osama Tony caught my eye because on Openrice there were a bajillion photos of their wonderful “dim sum” selections, especially my favorites: xiao long bao (小籠包) and sheng jian bao (生煎包). They also have a variety of traditional northern and Shanghainese dishes such as stir-fried green beans with pork (乾煸四季豆) and stir-fried nian gao (炒上海年糕).

The reader’s digest version of this place is that the dishes are decent, but they’re a bit salty on their own. That being said, you must, must, MUST come here for their stellar selection of scrumptious baos and dumplings.

I went with a group of five friends and when we arrived around 7:30, the place was packed. They kind of have a front “VIP”-ish room with roomy booth seating all around the edge, but alas! I did not book. Anyways, the staff were quite accommodating and helped us cobble together a makeshift table after only about 10 minutes of waiting. We promptly ordered a variety of dishes and waited eagerly. (Side note: There is also an English menu!)

The first things to arrive were our dishes, including kung pao chicken (宮保雞丁), the aforementioned green beans, and hui guo ruo (回鍋肉), or twice-cooked pork.

The kung pao chicken impressed me because they gave us cashews instead of the traditional peanuts. I felt like that was really zhi, or good-value-for-money (it’s the Chinese in me coming out, I guess!). The green beans were pretty typical, though I wish they were a bit more burnt and crispy on the edges. The twice-cooked pork was quite salty (a problem that kept recurring, which I’ll discuss later), but the red peppers in the dish added some much-needed sweetness and tang.

Later on the ma po tofu came out, which was definitely not spicy. It was still good, but the flavor profile was basically the same as the others. In fact, my main concern with all of these dishes is that even though the portions were great given the prices, they were sal-TY! It’s what my parents would call xia fan cai, which literally means “dishes that help make the rice go down”! I think they’d have been better if we had ordered white rice. But, on their own, I definitely got the impression the taste was one-dimensional – all kind of the same soy-sauce-salt-garlic flavor.

So that was the not-so-good.

Here’s the GREAT: the dim sum selections! Order as many of these as you can, especially the xiao long bao! We got one for each of us and these little gems came out steaming hot, cutely dimpled, and oh-so-soupy. The thicker wrap perfectly cradles the abundance of soup, which comes crashing into your mouth at first bite. Heaven.

Another must-order is the sheng jian bao, or pan-friend buns. The wrap is fluffy and full, and the inside also has a little bit of the xiao long bao soup, making the filling moist. The bottoms of the bao were crispy and crunchy, and the toasted sesame seeds on top were a nice touch.

The gwok-tip (生煎鍋貼), or potstickers, were also a hit, pan-fried to the same crispiness. They were plump and pillowy, with the wrap a little bit thicker than many dumplings/potstickers I’ve had in Hong Kong.

Lastly, we got the spring onion cake (葱油餅). Even though it’s still called a bing, the difference from normal Beijing bing is obvious at first glance – I call this a 3D bing, a veritable ring of flaky crust and plentiful green onions. J told me this may be how the Shanghainese make their bing, as she’d seen it this way many times before. The onions were a bit salty when you got a mouthful but they seemed to be spread far enough to keep this dish balanced. I really loved the way the bing softly melted in my mouth.

So the conclusion is, if you’re a huge fan of xiao long bao or sheng jian bao, you need to visit Osama Tony. Their soup dumplings are on par with many in the city, including IMHO, those of Crystal Jade and – yes – even Din Tai Fung. Another added bonus is that each order of these dim sum selections comes in two, so it’s easy to eat on your own. Of course, who’s to say you shouldn’t get two orders on your own? With bao this good, eating four by yourself is a given.

Osama Tony
122 Woosung St.
2755 5090
Cost: ~ $60-80/person 

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Last weekend, W, J, and I indulged our Chinese sides by visiting a Beijing/Shanghainese restaurant and ordering all our favorites from childhood. I found Wei Yi on the internet and after I saw the stuffed Chinese pancakes (北京餡餅), which is one of my favorite foods EVER in the whole wide world, I had to try it.

Right, so W and I arrived at this little place on Hau Fook Street just before noon. The little street is just off of Cameron Road in TST, and is lined with many little restaurants, mostly of Asian persausion. There are giant green signs outside with the most mouth-watering photos of all sorts of Northern Chinese goodies. Don’t worry if your Chinese hasn’t moved beyond “mm goi!”; there are pictures of menu items all along the interior AND an English menu.

Outside the Temple of Heaven. I mean, Wei Yi Noodles.

Photos to help the Chinese-challenged (myself included!). Note: My favorite dish on the menu is in the second row, on the right.

Before J even got there, W and I had scoured the menu, salivating, and ordered the following: One Beijing stuffed pancake (北京餡餅), one hot and sour soup (酸辣湯), one onion pancake (蔥油餅), a bowl of preserved vegetable and pork noodles (雪菜肉絲麵), one bowl of plain soup dumplings (净水饺), two soybean milks (豆漿) for J and I, and one salty soybean milk/soup (咸豆漿) for W. Perhaps it was ridiculous for three girls to split as much as we did, but perhaps it was just the much-needed fulfillment of a long-term craving.

Anyways, the salty soybean milk/soup came first (I call it soup because…well, see the photo below). I must admit I was too scared to try it, but W said it was high-quality; apparently, salty soybean milk should curdle if it’s good. Both W and J mentioned it’s easier to determine the properties of good soybean milk from the salty kind than its sweet counterpart.

A photo of J and my cold (sweet) soy milk is also below. I was very satisfied with how it brought me back 20 years to my times as a wee one in China. Wei Yi makes all of their soy milk on their premises, too, so you know it’s fresh.

W's guilty pleasure at Wei Yi

Soy dream, eat your heart out

Afterwards the bings came out with a vengeance! The green onion pancakes (蔥油餅) were a bit bland in my opinion (I would have preferred a bit more salt), but I loved the texture of the pancake. The outer layers were crispy while the inner parts were soft and moist. There was a nice proportion of green onion to flour.

This is my bing-bing

Afterwards was the stuffed pancake. It was plump and toothsome, oozing a bit of soy sauce and vinegar from the filling. All three of us said “MMMMMMMM” after biting into our pieces, appreciating the savory, juicy beef-and-chive filling.

Have I mentioned this is one of my favorite. dishes. in. the. world?! Great to finally find it in HK!

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille"

The hot and sour soup came next, and while it was chock-full of mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and all the good stuff for a really dense soup, the spiciness of the dish overwhelmed the vinegary, sour flavor. Out of the dishes we ordered, it was actually my least favorite.

A bit too "hot" and not enough "sour"

The last two dishes were absolutely delicious; I would order them again in a heartbeat. The preserved vegetable with pork sounds a bit strange in English (I mean, old bodies and prunes are the only things that should be preserved, right?), but the saltiness from the preserved vegetables flavored the soup nicely. Aside from the broth, I also liked the consistency of the noodles – they had great “chew power” or jiao ji-er, like hand-pulled, homemade noodles. Once we slowed down with our binge eating, I was worried the noodles would get soggy in the soup; however, they held up perfectly.

You need these noodles

J was obsessed with the plain dumplings in soup. It was the same broth as the noodles, though the taste was lighter as there were no preserved vegetables or additional meat to season the soup. The wrap-to-filling ratio of the dumpling was a bit heavy in the former department, but as I like chewy wrap, I can’t complain too much. The filling was pork and chives, and it was so smooth, prompting W, J, and I to lament the one time we all tried to make dumplings to no avail (our homemade filling was tough and, as W described it, “healthy-tasting”). In any case, the filling also had the soy sauce and vinegar mixture found in the stuffed pancake, which flavored it nicely.

They may have been called plain, but these dumplings were all sorts of amazing

When the bill came, there was even more to cheer about. After ordering five dishes and three drinks, our bill came to about $45 HKD/person. Awesome.

I really, really like this restaurant and, to be frank, W, G, P and I went back four days later to eat even more! If you’re a fan of northern food, I’d definitely recommend giving this place a whirl – just don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving it over and over.

Wei Yi Noodles (Despite its Chinese name, meaning “only one,” there are outposts in Sham Shui Po, Sha Tin, and other locations)
10 Hau Fook Street
2311 1498
Cost: ~$50 HKD/person

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