When I was living in China in the late 90s, I ate so much fabulous food, including some very simple but delicious dishes. I have found nothing like it here, and certainly not the various forms of bean curd! I never learned enough Chinese to talk to wait staff about dishes I want, and I can't read Chinese, so I'm in the position of the average non-Chinese patron of a Chinese restaurant.
1) Some examples of groovy forms of bean curd that I pine for: [A] In Beijing I had tofu that came in the form of flat ribbons, served in a cold dish. [B] Elsewhere I had something (a fermented tofu, I think) that looked like green scrambled eggs (at a resto in/around Beijing that served very traditional dishes). It was yummy! [C] There was also a spiced tofu, very firm and very flavourful. [D] My all time favourite form of tofu was riben doufu, or Japanese tofu, with egg yolk in it. I have finally seen it in a store in Toronto, but I haven't seen it in any restaurants I've been to. I loved riben doufu. I used to have this dish that had broccoli, riben doufu and some kind of lemony sauce. mmmmmmmmm.
Where is there a GTA resto that serves doufu in forms beyond the usual, and where can I get dishes made with riben doufu?
2) I spent several months in Changchun and Shenyang and had all kinds of fab food there. I'd love to find a GTA resto that serves good DongBei food (DongBei = EastNorth, non-Chinese might think of the area as Manchuria). I especially love Di San Xian -- eggplant, potatoes, bell peppers, onions. Any suggestions?
3) In Beijing, I ate a delicious dish that was essentially a tangled mass of spicy deep-fried potato laces/strings. I forget the first word, but the last three words were Tu Dou Si (potato strings, I guess). Is there any place in the GTA that serves something like this or serves _any_ dishes made with potato? Until I went to China, I never knew that anyone there cooked with either potatoes or tomatoes.
4) Speaking of tomatoes......one of my favourite dishes, wherever I was in China, was scrambled eggs and tomatoes served with rice. There were usually spring onions in the eggs, and probably some very simple flavourings (garlic, maybe?). It's never listed on menus in GTA Chinese restos, and I don't know how to ask for it. Would _any_ resto serve this if I asked for it? Is there a particular place I ought to go to in order to have it?
Are there any other Chinese dishes with tomatoes that you can recommend?
5) Finally, I absolutely loved breakfast in China, and my favourite breakfast was xifan (rice porridge) with pickled greens and veggies (including something pale and crunchy -- daikon????) and half of a salted duck egg crumbled into it. One place in Xinjiang laid out tons of little dishes of things to add to xifan, including peanuts! I also had mifan (cornmeal porridge) at that place, too. I also loved mantou (plain steamed buns). Is there a place in the GTA one can go to get a northern style breakfast? And I'm afraid that Cantonese congee is just not the same thing as xifan with the pickles and salted duck egg.