General Discussion


Not So Hot And Sour Soup


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Not So Hot And Sour Soup

Dennis | Dec 22, 2003 02:54 PM


I have an observation to make.

Okay. A rant.

I dine out at what I guess can be described as a lot of "fusion" restaurants in my area. Most of these restaurants have an excellent reputation and are consistently listed as among the top restaurants in my area, usually winning our "Golden Fork" awards every year. Indeed, these restaurants are very reliable for turning out delicious food the vast majority of the time.

With one exception. Sometimes, I look up at the chalkboard specials and see that their "Soup of the Day" is Hot and Sour Soup.

I love good Hot and Sour Soup. About two years ago, I recall reporting on the "Southwest" board how I went to Las Vegas and had Hot and Sour Soup at a different restaurant every night during my week long stay.

Each time the Hot and Sour Soup was different. Yet, each rendition was excellently prepared and delicious.

I have also had some outstanding Hot and Sour Soup in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Now then. Without exception, all of this good Hot and Sour Soup I enjoyed was at a bonafide Asian restaurant.
Mostly Chinese, but also a few Thai restaurants as well.

A few days ago, one of the hottest and trendiest new fusion restaurants in my neighborhood, one which even has an Asian theme, was offering Hot and Sour Soup. This was a permanent addition to their brand new menu. Given the Asian influence of its cuisine, I thought this would be a good bet. So, I ordered it.

To my disappointment, it was just a watery broth, barely hot and barely sour, with a few chunks of celery, onions, carrots, and mushrooms thrown in. They might as well have called it "Mystery Soup" as it certainly did not resemble any Hot and Sour Soup I ever had before.

Even my quickie "poor man's" Hot and Sour Soup I sometimes dish up for lunch with Ramen Noodles, hot oil, and vinegar was better than this.

I have had similar experiences at other fusion style restaurants in my area as well. Every time they offer Hot and Sour Soup, it usually resembles and tastes like anything but. At best, a pitiful imitation of the real thing.

In my opinion, if a fusion style restaurant is going to offer Hot and Sour Soup, either as a special or a regular menu item, I think it should, at the very least, attempt to come up with a genuine preparation. One that will resemble a decent Hot and Sour Soup found at a good Chinese restaurant.

Why do these restaurants insist on mutilating Hot and Sour Soup? What are they trying to prove? All they are doing is insulting those customers who savor a good bowl of authentic Hot and Sour Soup.

I can honestly say that I have never had a passable bowl of Hot and Sour Soup at any restaurant which was not a traditional Asian restaurant. Have you?

If you're curious, I live in Norfolk, Virginia.

Comments welcome.


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