New Years at Peach Farm Seafood (Extended version)
Sorry about the delay, as those who attended last nite knew, I was without chowhound for 24 hours!!! Let me tell you, it wasn't pretty..Some local internet glitch, but I'm Ba-a-ack!!!
First of all, let me say that getting to order everything I ever dreamed of trying in a Chinese seafood restaurant, and sharing it with people whom I knew would savor it with such gusto, was the ultimate food fantasy!! Thanks to everyone for helping to make it come true!!
The staff at Peach Farm, once we mentioned the New Years dishes that we had read about on these very boards, pushed us to even greater heights when we asked for their very special suggestions for our feast..It was they who recommneded the eel preparation, which wasn't on ANY menu, but since it was the last dish I chose, they were clearly getting into the spirit of things...The stewed abalone and the conch and scallop in a nest was their doing as well...And the mysterious Tom, who only works there part time, but seemed to be running around the whole place while we were there, was great...
Okay, first course..Appetizer plate of Roast Duck, boneless duck feet (looked spicey!!), preserved pork and preserved beef, AND they added pickled jellyfish..Fresh-tasting, toothsome and succulent, over lightly sweet and crunchy cabbage!! I will leave the meat reviews to the carnivores; but it looked lovely.
Second course, Mixed Seafood Soup...Complete with fish maw! Semi-thick, clear soup, with egg drops and full of fish.
Third course, the delightful Conch and Scallop in a Nest..I thought this was going to be a dumbed-down dish, but hey, fried noodles ARE fun....WRONG!! The nest was made of a lacey filigree of crispy fried taro, not a thick, starchy bowl....And heavy on the delicately stir-fried conch and scallops, as well as some greens(U-toy? bok choy?)
Fourth course, the Steamed Oysters in Black Bean sauce...I can make a meal of these, and often have..I really think it's their best dish..HUGE, like 6 inch long, sweet, juicey oysters topped with a very well-integrated version of BB sauce...Salty, pungent and very lightly oiled, with just a touch of heat. If you go to
peach farm, get them!!
Fifth course, Fat Choy Oysters...Huge, dried oysters, wonderfully slightly-chewy texture...The preserving condenses that rich "belly clam" flavor, and it lasts through each chew..These were served over cooked lettuce, and topped with Black Sea Moss (The fat choy, I think??) The taste of the moss was unlike anything I've ever eaten. Dark and woodsey, like a cross between seaweed and truffles. I loved it. Humorously enough, it was the Chinese hounds who said they never liked cooked lettuce growing up!
Sixth course, the Fabulous Eel in XO Sauce! We added 2 people, so we were going to add an eel dish..I asked for something unusual..They responded with these pinky-sized pieces of eel, lightly corn-starched and wok-fried, then cooked with XO sauce, sesame seeds and topped with fried garlic slivers. The best eel I've ever had..It's not on the menu, and they called it something like "may kit" eel...They were justifiably proud of it.
Seventh course, Stewed Abalone with Mustard Greens..The abalone just tasted SO good!! Complex, and buttery, lightly stewed in a mahogony-colored broth.
Eighth course....Steamed Whole Cod, with ginger and scallion...Sweet, fresh, cooked just enough..A lighter flavored conterpoint to some of our other dishes.
Ninth course, Steamed Peapod Tendrils with garlic...The lightest version of this dish I've ever had..It allowed the sweetness of these shoots to really shine..Someone did quite a job gathering the tippy tips. We've seen how labor-intensive it is, and they gave their best..No stems here!!
Tenth course, the Melanie Wong-Jim Leff boned, stuffed chicken..A whole chicken, boned, then stuffed with sweet rice, Chinese sausage and chopped chicken...Then fried(?), or roasted..Head and all! It looked lovely on the plate, and it was definitely one of the favorites...I didn't ask my usual intrusive, fact-finding questions about the chicken and meat, because I was too damned busy stuffing my face, so this time I will defer to another hound who can do it more justice.
Eleventh course, Spicey Salt and Pepper-fried Squid...Lovely, tender,thick slices of squid, hustled right from the hot-oil to our table (They waited to cook them til we said OK, they thought we might not need them HA!!!!) very lightly battered, perfect..Not as spicey as I would have liked, but that's what chilis in oil are for.
Twelvth course, Dessert..Warm sweet soup of tapioca in coconut milk, with taro chunks. Not too sweet, and light on the coconut flavor..I loved it, and Steve loved it, but the rest of the crowd wasn't ecstatic..I would have eaten all of theirs, but I wanted to be able to get back up the stairs when we were done!
They were amazed at the appreciation we had for such authentic dishes..(On the phone, the famous Tom said, "You know, not many people who aren't Chinese like those foods") We gave them a round of applause...
They very nicely waived the corking fee for the three Sauv.Blancs that we brought. Rubee brought 2 lovely New Zealand ones, which she will describe, and I brought a Trader Joes selection from France, Ferrande, to continue a thread..They do have beer and wine, but the whites are chardonnay, chardonnay or Pink Zinfandel!! Tsing Tao is fine, but it was New Years!!
A couple of times, when PF is mentioned, I have read people post, "I had the cashew chicken, and it was horrible", or "The beef and broccoli was dull and tasteless"..It's Peach Farm SEAFOOD, people!! They do it amazingly well, it goes head-to head with anyplace in or out of Chinatown, and it won't bankrupt you. Don't go there for suburban Chinese, and don't go there if you want General Goa's Chicken. Don't go there if you figure, "It's on the menu, so they should be able to do it well". It's seafood, and the more authentic the dishes are, the better they do it..We only made the exception for the Stuffed Boned Chicken because it was a special preparation they were featuring for the holiday.
And now, a word FOR our sponsors..We all said over and over, that reading these boards really helped our experience in places like this, knowing what the regional specialties were, what was authentic, what was cool...As someone who had to wait all day to post this, I realized what a fun part of my life chowhound is; half of the fun of the meal is posting it, and telling people, who are salivating over every word, about it!! And I look forward just as much to revelling in descriptions of someone else's street cart snack of dumplings! For everyone who came last nite, and everyone who's reading this now, please help support my habit, and go buy some chow stuff now!! Remember, that cute little passport was only $5! And you too, can have the t-shirt that 9lives flashed for us!!
I know this is getting really long, but I must make mention of the post-game wrap-up that proceeded to Mantra, then Limbo. We were all enjoying each other's company so much, we just went on and on. Wise women like Amy and Ms.Bluebirds left early. But, for those of us who kept sampling pomegranite martinis, as 9lives said, "My fingers are hurting when they hit the keys!!" Be careful if you put Jeeves in charge of cocktails!!!!
This would have been earlier, funnier and better edited if I still wasn't so hungover!! BTW, my newest hangover cure is the felafal from King Tut's in Brookline Village...Crispey, a little oil, a lot of zest, a little hot sauce...That, and getting my chowhound connection back!
Great evening, great review from GG..as usual. This meal was like a dream come true for a Chinese food freak, sitting at a big table with lots and lots of exotic food..I think this may have been on of the first times I walked out of a restaurant in Chinatown and didn't look at other tables and think they might have had better dishes than us. If there is one drawback to the meal, it is that I am now spoiled and other Chinatown meals are going to seem boring by comparison...maybe we'll have to do it again..and not wait til next New Years.
Special thanks to Galley Girl..who put a great deal of time and effort into organizing this event..and to Ben, for his assistance.
GG, great write-up and (again) great job planning this fantastic meal! Oh, I loved the dessert soup too. I was just too full for words and in a bit of a food coma... (though there's nothing like a few different flavors of martinis to perk you up!) For the uninitiated, maybe it helps not to think of it as tapioca because that conjures up a thick pudding-like consistency, rather expect a sweet soup with teeny balls of tapioca for variety.
On a slightly different note, after such a splendid evening I feel, more than ever, compelled to do my share to keep this site alive. This was my first Chowhound outing, and this smart, friendly group made me feel right at home. For those of you who would like to attend an outing, but maybe feel intimidated by these regular posters (like I felt), just throw those fears away. Chowhound is not only a place to find delicious food, it is a place to meet great people. Support the site!
One more thing...
GG brought her Chowhound Passport to dinner, and this thing is great! It's a bit misleading on the website because they have it blown up really big so you can see the details, thus it gives the impression it would be pretty big in real life (and I was not about to flash a huge card to a complete stranger). But it's about the size of a business card and it's actually very sleek looking. I swear I am not saying this just to be nice, I actually really like it.
I'd like to chime in on a couple of things...
I am one of the carnivores, so I did sample the preserved beef and the duck skin appetizers, as well as the chicken. I really liked the preserved beef -- very thinly sliced peices of flank (I think) that had a texture less like jerky, as I was expecting, but more like dried out brisket. Not salty, just a rich, full, beefy flavor.
The duck skin was nicely crispy and remains one of my favorite heart-killing treats. Thanks to the other hounds who left one little piece as the lazy susan made its way around to me. (Sidebar -- we did a pretty good job overall of sharing the food, but next time we'll need to send out that pre-reminder that a banquet does not mean full plates, but rather a little bite of each item. If that sounds like a lecture, it's not supposed to be. It's just good luck to share.)
Finally, the stickyrice stuffed chicken was a thing to behold. Basically the chicken had been boned and removed of most, if not all, of the meat. Then the skin was stuffed with the sticky rice, bits of chinese sausage, and black mushroom. After roasting, the chicken fat soaks into the rice, making for a great schmaltzy taste. However, the texture was really the thing with this dish... crispy skin with rice. Mmmmm.
Finally, I want to echo Jujubee's comments - for those who might be intimidated by the thought of chowing with the hounds, get over it and come next time. It's really fun, the people are perfectly nice, and really the more, the merrier.
Chow on chowhounds.