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Restaurants & Bars

Ay Chung (Richmond) update and 168 Comparison

ericf | Nov 28, 200503:48 AM     1

I've been eating quite a lot at Ay Chung since I last posted on the place a little while back. It has stayed pretty consistent over that time; very solid, if anything better.

When I first started going there were four menu items that they had not yet gotten going, including stinky tofu and satay beef rice. Two of the four are for sure available now, and my impression was (though I don't remember specifically) all four remaining items are now available.

One of the items I know is now available is the stinky tofu. A coworker of mine has had it and said it was good. I've tried to order it twice in the past two weeks, but it's been sold out both times. You can definitely smell it, though, so they're not having me on.

My last several visits they've consistently had as a special "Taiwanese Style Sausage" either as a side or as one of the rice plates. This is somewhat similar to the more widely known Chinese Sausage in flavor, but more moist and springy, like a link or brat. Served with raw garlic slices and/or slivered scallions on the side. My mom used to serve it to me with the garlic and I'd eat one slice of garlic per slice of sausage, but now, for politeness's sake, I'll only eat a few bits of garlic. I've found this dish pretty satisfying.

The Fried Crispy Chicken appetizer I mentioned is also available as a rice plate, which is the better value, including the egg, rice with sauce, pickled mustard and radish condiments. This dish has grown on me a lot.

The chicken thigh rice is similar, but a large "steak" of flattened deboned thigh. The meat is marinated more intensely than the Crispy Chicken, and is slightly more flavorful, but not as "convenient," given the bite-size nature of the Crispy Chicken.

Finally, I have really gotten to like the "Meat Stew." This is some kind of seasoned pork meatball made into irregular shapes, and stewed in a starch-thickened sauce with a fairly strong, rich flavor that has a hint of fish (in the same way that bonito flavors Japanese stocks). A friend tells me that that element is from dried oyster. It's available with various noodles (wheat, rice, or bean thread, #'s 35, 36, 37) or rice #21. Probably an acquired taste but then I acquired it rather quickly.

The 168 Restaurant also in the mall has a few similar dishes. I have not tried all of them, but I want to make a note of the Pork Chop Rice, which at $5.50 is slightly more than the version at Ay Chung, but it seemed somewhat larger in portion, and I liked the pork chop better (more seasoned). They also have "Hock Rice," which is similar in format, but served in a large bowl. The "hock" is soy-stewed pork shank, which I found very satisfying, if a little tougher than optimal (overly high stewing temp, I suspect). Both dishes came with some sauteed cabbage and soy-stewed egg (as opposed to the fried egg at Ay Chung) as well as the pickled mustard green. No sauteed preserved radish, but the Pork Chop Rice included some of the stewed minced pork/pork belly on the side. For these two dishes, I though 168 comparable or better than Ay Chung. Overlap of menus, though, is not high.

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