The second in the Chinatown Lunch Series was held on Friday, 3/19, at Hunan Home's. We had a great turnout this time that included not only some brand new faces, but even an out of town visitor. Thanks for coming everybody.
Dishes consumed were:
Succulent Fried Bread - slightly sweet, vaguely donuty bread. Tasty, and a good tool for sopping up extra sauce.
Hot Sour Soup - not ordered but brought out automatically as we sat down. Your standard HS soup with an especially potent kick of black pepper at the end.
Xiao Long Bao - this place doesn't get it. We asked for two orders, and all 12 were crammed in the same large steamer basket. Several had already broken and were dripping soup. Melanie would have none of it so we asked that they be redone. Two smaller baskets emerged later, but with six each still also crammed together. Some of us were able to separate them without tearing, and were rewarded with rather tasty XLB.
Hot Braised Fish - very good, fresh sea bass with garlic and pork sauce.
Pork intenstines and blood - the one item on the menu that is not translated into english (it's at the bottom of the pork section). Very earthy flavor with chewy sections of intestines and cubes of coagulated blood. One of the spiciest dishes also. Good and interesting, but not something I'd likely order again.
String Beans a la Hunan - Very good, wrinkley, crispy beans with garlic and ground pork.
Smoked Pork - slices of smoked pork stir fried with carrots, cabbage, and onions. Not very interesting, I much prefered the smokier, saltier, spicier version I had at Henry's Hunan last week.
Tea Smoked Duck - by far the best dish. Flavorful, smokey, dark pink meat with crispy skin and a delicious and thick layer of fat. One of the most delicious ducks I've ever had.
Scallops a la Hunan - similar stir fry as the smoked pork. Scallops were cooked well, still somewhat soft and translucent in the center, but the overall flavor of the dish was uninteresting for me.
Orange Beef - large chunks of fried breading with little (if any) beef inside, all in a sticky sweet sauce. The dried chiles themselves were spicy but the heat had not moved into the rest of the dish. Not good.
Mapo dofu - Flavors didn't register at all for me, though it was the last dish I tried so I might have reached saturation by that point.
Total cost was $18/person after tax and tip. We probably ordered at least two too many dishes.
Spiciness was fairly tame overall, assuming you avoided eating the dried chiles in most of the dishes.
If I return, I would definitely order the outstanding tea smoked duck. Other strong dishes were the fish and green beans. If I could somehow convince the waiter to tell the chef to make the XLB without them touching in the basket, I would order those. I would pass on all of the other dishes we had today.
Earlier in the week I stopped in and tried the Hot Spicy Crispy Chicken, which was fairly tasty and better than all the dishes we tried today other than the duck, beans, and fish. It was a bit much for one person as a rice plate, and not very spicy, but would make a nice dish to share.
Everyone else -- what did you think?