Friday, June 13, 2008

Weekend Dim Sum

Go out and get some Dim Sum this weekend.

Although I still lean more toward Little Panda as my favorite dim sum place, Golden Wok has many bragging points... not the least of which is that on the weekend, when they have the carts, they can go wild with new varieties.

A couple of things we had recently:

Water Chestnut Cake
Water Chestnut Cake looks kinda odd and foreign to Western eyes, but it's not really that exotic. I suspect most would like it. It's a very thick gelatin, lightly sweet and faintly vanilla, with crunchy chestnuts inside. It's also been pan fried, which might seem odd, but it's GOOD that way. The cart lady said it was very refreshing for summer, and she was right. (Those cart ladies usually are.)

Fried Custard Dumplings
Custard Filled Fried Dumplings. These lovely delights are a lot like our favorite sesame balls. The wrapper is made of sweet sticky rice flour -- so it's very chewy, crisp on the outside from being deepfried. Inside it has a nice light custard, not too rich or too sweet. It's thick so that it doesn't all goosh out when you bite into the chewy wrapper. I don't know if the black sesame seeds on top are always a sign of a custard filling, but you can always ask.

Barbeque Pork Pastry. These are just a different shape than the ones I mentioned in the Dim Sum Primer. (They often play with different shapes at Golden Wok.) I like this shape best, because the ratio of meat to pastry is good in every bite.

Mango Chicken. Sorry no picture -- I didn't have my camera with me the day they had these. They brought it out JUST as we were completely stuffed and getting ready to leave, but they looked too good to pass up. It was made of strips of chicken and mango, wrapped and breaded in coconut, then deep fried. They were creamy, and rich, but not too sweet. I want to try them again when I'm not too stuffed.

Here is Maude Cat doing an impression of what we looked like after coming home from Dim Sum that day:

The down side of eating dim sum from the traditional "roving cart" method, is that it encourages a Competitive Eating mentality. You don't want to miss anything, and it all looks so good.... you end up buying and eating more than you intended. This can be okay if you are going straight home afterward with leftovers, but if you are, say, going to a movie, you must exercise a lot of self-discipline. That or leave time to run home and put the leftovers in the fridge before curtain time.

(BTW: Sesame balls or the custard-filled dumplings mentioned above are primo snacks to smuggle into a movie. Just remember that they are deep fried so they'll get some grease on your fingers -- though no more than popcorn will -- and they're a little sticky. My recommendation is to bring a ziploc bag for the smuggling part, and make sure you have a napkin. Oh and, uh... Mango Chicken ISN'T a good snack to sneak into a theater.)

Golden Wok is in East Lansing, at 2755 E Grand River Ave. (517) 333-8322. (At the corner of Northwind Drive, across from Oriental Mart, and near the E.L. Food co-op.)

(Little Panda is on the west side of Lansing, at 5439 W Saginaw Hwy, across from Lansing Mall in the Target shopping area. (517) 323-2450.)

BWL Chili Cookoff Tonight

For afficianados of chili (which I am not, so I can't critique anything for you) the Board of Water and Light has it's annual Chili Cook-off at the Lansing Center tonight (Friday 13th) from 5-9pm. They're raising money for the Impression 5 Science Museum and HOPE schalarships.

Five bucks will get you a wrist band that lets you sample lots of chili. (I don't know if there is any other entrance or cover charge, but I don't think so.) There are also beverages and ice cream, live music and a mechanical bull.

Call Board of Water & Light at (517) 702-6735 for more info.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amici's New York Deli -- Real Pastrami!

It says "Hot Corned Beef" in the window, and with a deli, that's always a good sign. Pastrami and Corned Beef are NOT processed meat products with a little extra pepper. They're delicious, rich, piquant meats that deserve the right treatment -- moist heat.

You don't need mustard when you have a hot pastrami.

And both the Pastrami and Corned Beef at Amici's are kept steaming in a chafing dish until the moment they make your sandwich. You can also get the usual turkey, ham, roast beef and bacon. Lots of interesting combos and toppings. They have good deli pickles and they carry premium chips from that Michigan company whose name escapes me. (You know, the yellow bag. They serve them at Roma's too.)

The only thing lacking is bread that can stand up to the hot steam, or the slurpy toppings of a good sandwich. I don't know, maybe Zingerman's has spoiled me for regular bread. I have to admit that I haven't found a place with good bread in Lansing, except for Roma's, where they use a crusty sub bun, but don't have deli bread. (I.e., no sliced rye.) I can only warn you that if you get a hot pastrami on rye for take out, pull open the plastic wrap before you leave, or your bread will wimp out on you.

They are a "premium" deli, and their sandwiches are in the 7-8 dollar range, which is too expensive for a cheap sandwich, but not that expensive for a great sandwich. In my opinion, they would do better to buy better bread (like maybe ...Zingermans?) and up the price a little. Or even offer a better bread as an "extra" for a buck more. (Just don't get Great Harvest, it's really too heavy and moist to be sandwich bread.)

Amici's New York Deli is at 521 N Clippert, in Lansing, across from Frandor.