once again inspired by the board, on wednesday night I stopped by Zoe's on Beacon St in Somerville to sample the wares...following the lead of the last chowhound fundraiser, i got the chicken with sheet jelly. Wow, was this ever interesting...wonderful bits of chicken with noodle-like strips of translucent goodness. I don't honestly know what all this is--is it some sort of gelatinized substance that is cut into strips, or is it closer to an aspic as posited in the previous posts I read? I'm unsure at this point--but it was good. Also got some crunchy lotus root in sweet and sour sauce--great texture on this, and it came with strips of red pepper. A little spicy (not bad for me, but my significant other didn't like it much--but she's a real heat wimp) and very unique. I often have looked at the lotus roots when I make Chinatown shopping runs, but I never knew how to cook 'em. I also ordered some "spicy dumplings", which weren't very spicy but were tasty, the pork seemed to have a cinnamony flavor to it--really nice. (I suppose I should also say that I'm such a sucker for dumplings that you could probably pick something up off the sidewalk and wrap it in a dumpling skin and I'd proclaim it to be incredible). Lastly I tried to order the spicy scallion and cilantro salad, but alas I was also told that there was no cilantro, just like the chowhounders at the last gathering....and I did hike over to Shaw's while I was waiting for my food an lo and behold they had lots of decent looking cilantro on hand (which was a shock--usually here the cilantro looks like it expired weeks ago!)...so I dunno. Maybe they just don't make this anymore. I asked for a substitute + the guy there suggested some sort of cucumber sald. This turned out to be slighly pedestrian--chunky cucumber in what seemed like rice vinegar + a peppery sauce. Decent, but not too exciting.
Yesterday, since it was Chinese New Year and all, I thought I'd hike downtown and pick up some takeout to bring home with me--as the rest of my New Year's night tribute involved watching my sparkling new Celestial DVD of Cheng Pei-pei in The Shadow Whip. I went over to Taiwan cafe and ordered the chilled spicy yendon, xiao long bao and the Chinese bacon with Chinese leeks. The xiao long bao were a revelation to me--I'm inexperienced when it comes to these, but wow were these tasty. Pretty delicate wrappers encasing juicy pork filled with amazing flavor--really great. They're probably even more incredible when you eat them right there as they come out of the kitchen--but even at home I really loved these.The Chinese bacon with Chinese leeks were also wonderful--fatty pieces of pork combined with sprightly green crunchy leeks. Not really spicy, but filled with bright, bold flavor. The chilled spicy tendon was where I struck out--after wandering down to Eldo Cake House to snag a couple curry beef turnovers to kill the twenty minutes while they made my food, it turned out they had no tendon. Rats. As a sub they made me chilled roast beef with five spice--this was good but not great. The beef was flavorful enough with a nice delicate hint of the five spice, but the texture wasn't the greatest. Certainly worth eating--but I do wish that the tendon had been in stock.
A last note: while rambling around the streets killing time, I noticed that in the window of the location where the market used to be in the site of the old Pagoda Theater there were brand new building permits.(and an aside: I've seen this referred to here as having been a "porn cinema". In my experience this wasn't really the case--I used to go to the Pagoda in the 80's to see Hong Kong action films and such like Chow Yun-Fat in God of Gamblers, etc....I think they may have sometimes shown those sexy ghost story films and maybe some Cat III softcore--but for the most part I remember it being a showcase for straight HK stuff. But I digress....) The new permits were dated 1/20/04 and seemed to imply that removation work and remodeling were allowed to proceed, so maybe they're now getting ready to do some remodelling here and to open back up. There was also a handwritten sign with the name of the place, but I'm a little too brain dead to remember what it said. (C Market, perhaps?). In any case, it seems like they might be getting going on reopening the store eventually.