Yesterday was Chinese New Years in Baltimore, complete with parade, a rain of firecrackers, and feasting. To help celebrate, BaltoEllen and BritBoy (thank you both!) gathered 21 inveterate chowhounds and friends at Chinatown Café (323 Park Street) to enjoy a special multi-course banquet, wine, karaoke and even some raffle surprises.
Every table was full about one hundred hungry souls in all, as the procession of courses began. Photos are linked below. We were first presented with some tidbits of roast pork with standard hoisin for dipping. This was followed by a platter of glistening jellyfish, cooked ham, cuttlefish and pork with a tangy red vinegar sauce, and assorted marinated vegetables. Another opener of deep fried shrimp balls arrived, then a Four Pleasures soup - a thick blend of shredded bamboo shoot, dried fish, mushrooms and ground seafood.
After that, a personal favorite Goodluck Oyster Year platter smokey oysters swimming in a seaweed broth, with bok choy and mushrooms. Bamboo shoot peels with mushrooms on a bed of Chinese mustard greens added another unique texture and taste.
Then the entrées a spectacular presentation of double baked ginger scallion lobster, whole deep fried chicken(head included of course), and a surprise platter of whole steamed flounder with scallion and ginger, with a beautiful bonus - a fat roe sac.
Rather bland young chow fried rice and braised noodles with bits of vegetable came next. But thankfully at that point some potent Chinese rice wine was being passed around, with plenty of kick of its own. And finally we were served bowls of red bean dessert soup a thin sweet brown broth with sweet beans floating about.
The staff did a tremendous job of keeping everything coming around the room,explaining each dish, and the break mid-meal for a raffle drawing proved fruitful for both BaltoEllen and BritBoy, the evenings grand prize winner (a dvd player). We all greatly enjoyed the multi-lingual karaoke that followed. Next time we'll get BaltoEllen up there.
Chinatown Café may be short on décor, and the location is a little dicey, but it more than makes up for it with enthusiasm and effort and tasty feasting.