Tag: Chinatown

Stuff Korean people like

Thursday, March 6th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

For lunch at Marco Polo Noodle Shop this afternoon, I ordered the Buddha’s Delight. (Somehow, it seems we’ve become regulars at this restaurant on Baxter.) The version served here is very different from the dish at Amazing 66 — less a stew than a thrown together assortment of sliced vegetables and canned items over fresh noodles: bamboo shoots, baby corn and fried gluten, sometimes seen in Asian markets as “vegetarian duck,” “vegetarian chicken” or seitan.

Buddha’s Delight

SYB, of course, ordered his usual: Noodles with Peking Sauce. During the post-lunch chat with our waiter, it came up that this Northern Chinese dish is a favorite among Koreans for its similarity to “Ja Jyang Myeon.” That Korean dish derives its name from the phonetic translation of the Chinese “Zha Jiang Mian” (literally, “fried sauce noodles”). The Korean version of Peking Noodles is darker, pastier, more vinegary, and according to my friend, made with shredded zucchini.

In Korea, Ja Jang Myeon is traditionally eaten on “Black Day.” On April 14, one of a whole slew of love-related 14th day celebrations, those without significant others gather around bowls of comforting dark-sauced noodles to wallow in their singledom… which I suppose makes it the Korean equivalent of Ben & Jerry’s.

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Busy scissors

Friday, February 29th, 2008 | All Things

As usual, I left the salon this evening feeling that my cut was too short. But it’s worth going in just for the head massage that comes with getting my hair washed.

New York ran a feature last November about the dramatic expansion of the spa/salon industry, and the attendant mushrooming (and exploitation) of workers in this relatively new field of labor. Services that were once considered luxuries are now “social imperatives” and deemed necessary for maintaining an overall sense of well-being.

There may be something to that latter point; another theory not espoused in the article is that all these massages, mani-pedis and waxes have become, in part, a symptom of urban isolation, of individuals growing increasingly beyond the reach of one another, despite such close proximities. An entire (legal) industry built up around providing human touch and connections.

Chinatown produce stands:

Chinatown stands

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Buddha’s delight

Thursday, February 21st, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Friends

Since that first visit in January, we’ve been averaging a trip to Amazing 66 on Mott Street every couple of weeks.  At the restaurant this Thursday afternoon, we had the serendipity to stumble upon the high-powered board meeting of new Asian American literary journal Kartika Review, i.e., our friends RL and SL. If there is any better way to conduct business than over a whole Peking duck, I do not know it.

We joined them and their fellow editor DW at a large round table, where their meal was already in progress.

Peking duck

Although the trio did generously offer to share with us some of their delicious-looking duck, I stayed strictly vegetarian with my #62 lunch special: Vermicelli with Buddha’s Delight.

As the name suggests, this dish is enjoyed traditionally by Buddhist monks, most of whom maintain vegetarian diets. (Buddhism’s Five Precepts prohibit killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, engaging in false speech and taking intoxicants, to avoid accumulating negative karma.)

Buddha’s delight

This slow-braised dish usually consists of a fairly long list of ingredients, cooked in a soy sauce-based liquid with other seasonings until tender. The specific items used vary greatly both in and outside Asia, and often carry some auspicious significance: black moss (fat choy) is a homonym for prosperity (as in “Gung Hay Fat Choy); ginkgo biloba nuts (bak ko) mimic silver ingots and therefore also bring good fortune; fried tofu and beancurd sticks (foo jook) represent blessings to the house; bamboo piths (jook tseng), wood ear fungus (ha mok yi) and mung-bean threads (fun see) symbolize long life.

No animals were harmed in the making of this delight.

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