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PandaHugga

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About PandaHugga

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    grouper
  • Birthday 09/25/1964

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  • Interests
    Wonton excess...
  • Location
    Fairfax, VA

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  1. Thanks for the update! Next time you see Chef Zhang, be sure to tell him I have relocated to Beijing in order to be able to guarantee my supply of Sichuan dishes, now that he has left the DC area!
  2. For anyone looking for a Sichuan fix in London, you might want to check out the new Bar Shu on Frith Street. It was opened recently to phenomenal accolades, and features a chef plucked out of the hugely popular South Beauty chain in China and Fuchsia Dunlop (the author of what I consider to be the seminal Sichuanese cookbook in English) as consultant. It comes at a price, however, with meal for four at around GBP 120, but what meal in London comes cheap? You can read about it from Fuchsia herself here: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/e8852bd6-e19f-11d...00779e2340.html
  3. I don't remember the Lake Windless Prawns having a breading, but I am also not a big fan of that dish, so perhaps it does.
  4. We ate at Hanks last weekend and enjoyed it very much. We got there at 6:32pm, and were just too late to get the last remaining 4-spot table, so we were told it'd be a 30-minute wait. They took our cellphone number and we retreated to Trio's for some drinks and some chips with guacamole (I wonder how many diners wind up doing the same?). At precisely 31 minutes after we left Hank's my phone rang and we were seated. Dinner consisted of several oysters on the half shell per person, 1 oyster shooter per person, and then we each ordered mains. The oysters were great, though the presentation was a bit boring (no good way to present that many, perhaps). The shooters were a waste, however, since you really cannot taste the oyster in there. Our mains were very good in 3 of 4 cases--two of us had the soft-shell crabs, which I thought were great; one of us had scallops that were also very well prepared and very tasty, while the one dud was a white tuna filet that was way overcooked. Surprised that they had no desserts, but they did bring us a couple of hunks of broken up chocolate to go with coffee. Not a bad place.
  5. I just cannot keep silent on the subject of the golden powder ribs. I have heard and seen people go crazy over these ribs, but having had them twice I cannot see what the fuss is about. They were good ribs and all, but the fried panko-like crust was nothing special at all and hardly did anything for the dish. What was the big attraction?
  6. A friend of mine works with a friend of Zhang's, and she says he's GONE. I plan to use this connection to get a copy of my favorite recipe of his (the Chen Cang beef with buns) and maybe get some more of the story.
  7. I'd love to do a $20 Tuesday at A&J sometime; and yes, they have several outposts in the PRC.
  8. I am actually kind of surprised that Zhang left so suddenly, but it appears to be true. Poor Jerry at China Gourmet must be Jerked like crazy, since all his plans hinged on this guy coming to work for him, and he has now hired a slew of (terrible) staff to complement Yao who now he'll probably have to let go. Add to that the fact that throngs of Washingtonian readers are now descending on the place daily only to find that the food is awful. During Zhang's last few days I ate there three days in a row for various reasons, and at each I was very disappointed by the number of dishes that were not available and then by the poor quality of what we ended up getting. Thank goodness China Star is still on its game (I wouldn't be surprised if they bought the place in Atlanta for Zhang to move to, to bring business back to them from China Gourmet).
  9. OK, it seems that the deal is pretty complicated. First, I don't think he's gone yet, but it seems pretty clear that he is leaving. He bought a place in Atlanta and is supposed to be leaving for there pretty soon, though exactly when is unclear. And the reason for leaving is that the folks at TemptAsian are harassing him over leaving them to go to China Gourmet.
  10. There is a rumor afoot that the peripatetic Chef Zhang is about to depart China Gourmet as early as this coming Monday! According to my source, who would not reveal where she heard this, he has been receiving "threatening phone calls" and has decided to decamp to the relative safety of the State of Georgia (Atlanta, not Tbilisi). As a service to the DR community, we are heading there tonight to try to learn more about this, and of course, a full report will follow. I will note in the meantime, however, that we were there last night for dinner and were shocked by the number of patrons there (a lot, mostly non-Chinese, though mostly ordering from the Zhang menu) and by the number of dishes not available. Also shocking was the fact that all but one of our dishes were not particularly good.
  11. Here's my promised comparison of lunch at China Gourmet with dinner at China Star. Two dishes from lunch were also ordered at dinner (ma po tofu and Sichuan chili chicken); in the case of the tofu, I think CG came out ahead, but that might have been because we had a vegetarian at dinner so we ordered the dish without meat. The chicken was pretty comparable between the two places. Over all, comparing the two meals as a whole, China Gourmet won out by a slight margin, but that could be due to better ordering (the dinner crowd included not only the veg, but also some older people with spice-sensitive palates). In a pinch, either one is perfectly acceptable.
  12. We just had lunch there today (Sunday) with a group of Chinese speakers, including three actual Chinese people who had never before had Zhang's cooking, though have heard of him. They left the ordering to me for some reason, so I tried to pick out the top dishes: chicken broth wontons, Chen Cang beef with buns, Sichuan chili chicken, "boiled" fish, "fei teng" fish, ma po tofu and the golden powder spare ribs. Everything was outstanding, but the real vindication was when the group got ready to leave and everyone started to fight over who got to take what dishes home. And the real test will come tonight when we go with another group for dinner at China Star. Report to follow...
  13. Hello everyone from Beijing. I just got back to my hotel from the bookstore, where I bought a culinary dictionary so that future translations of CG's (and other restaurants') menus will be slightly more professional. In the course of looking at the books on offer, I checked them all for their entry on "Husband and Wife Lung Slices" and learned the following: there was a restaurant in Chengdu, Sichuan, that was run by a husband and wife named Guo. They served a particularly tasty dish made of slices of lung in a hot and numbing sauce. They then started to use other cuts of meat in the dish, but the dish became known as Husband and Wife Lung Slices, regardless of the meat used. Mystery solved.
  14. As a last minute thing before taking off tomorrow for China my partner and I headed for dinner to China Star. We had not been there since Chef Zhang arrived at China Gourmet, and we were shocked at how empty the place was, but fortunately the food has not lost its edge. We had several old standbys--the 'roasted' fish with the bamboo tower, the chicken with chilis, and the dry-braised string beans. The fish was as good as ever, and the chicken was probably the best we have had there. The beans were good, but not great, but this is a dish that seems to vary a lot from one time to the next in all restaurants. So, with China Gourmet packed--and slow--on weekends, China Star remains a very good alternative.
  15. A Chinese friend of ours (who also joined the initial Tuesday DR dinner with us a few weeks ago) told us that she had a similar experience on a Saturday, and that the restaurant was definitely not set up yet to accommodate the large numbers of patrons that Chef Zhang is attracting. When we were there on Friday night, however, there was no such problem.
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