Dinner at San Wong?
Chowhounds, sorry for the delay in this post. Maybe the delay has caused the anticipation to build! The Sam Wong dinner was a feast, by any definition. All dishes were fresh, sparkling, and huge. We enjoyed so many dishes that some of them had to be stacked on the edges of others. Here's the report:
1. Hot and sour soup - Flavorful. Not too goopey. Had generous portions of seafood and meats.
2. Water dumplings - These were steamed. Dough had appropriate thickness and chewiness. Meat was fresh and juicy.
3. Clams with jalepenos and scallions - There were so many dishes, I never got to these!
4. Happy family - seafood, meat, and vegetables in harmony. Included sea cucumbers. These are a delicacy and quite expensive. Sign of an authentic restaurant catering to those who know their chow.
5. Pea sprouts - fall in love with this new spring vegetable. These were sauteed simply with garlic and salt. No need to dress it up. No grassy taste. Tastier, less expensive, and more viable as a long term favorite than wheat grass.
6. Peking duck with buns - beautiful presentation and flavor.
7. Baby shrimps and hot peppers - shrimps were coated in flour and deep fried. Sauce was mildy sweet and balanced the hot peppers.
8. Hot and cold meats and vegetables with mustard sauce. Appetizer with Korean influence. Noodles underneath were either vegetable or rice derived.
9. Chow mein and handpulled noodles - nice, but could have been chewier, in my opinion.
10. Steamed fish - most of us had filled up when this finale arrived. A little boney for some.
Sam Wong's staff was friendly and attentive. The tab came to $18/person, a true bargain. Note that there is extremely convenient, reasonably priced parking in the garage across the street.
re: elise h
Thanks for posting, Elise. A few comments before dashing off to the next chowhound event - our ordering included the family dinner menu (in Chinese inside front cover) that's $55 for 4 people. To this we added the pea shoots, duck, dumplings, noodles, and chow mein for a total of 10 dishes.
1. H&S soup - very different than the ubiquitous generic versions circulating around. Not that hot or sour and more driven by the flavors of the ingredients. Loved the slithery bits of fresh shitake mushrooms. Also an unusual coffee with cream light tan color. Have been reading about Shandong cuisine's "milk" soups and wonder whether this was an example.
2. Water dumplings - These were just right. Shandong style are boiled, not steamed.
3. Clams - this was my favorite dish. Smoky, spicy, lots of garlic, fermented soy bean, and that hot wok taste. Big wow!
4. Happy Family - when I asked our waitress to translate the family menu for me, glancing on the white faces a the table, she said "they" won't like it, jelly fish, sea cucumber, etc. I said that everyone wanted to try new things and we'd order it anyway. She then asked me whether they should leave out the sea cucumber from this dish, and I said no. I hope everyone got their fill of sea cucumber this time, there was a big pile of them left on this plate. (g)
5. Pea shoots - so fresh and delicate, doubly good as it's not at the peak of the season. Sauteed with garlic and fresh champignon mushrooms.
6. Duck - I'm starting to think this was the tea smoked duck and not Peking-style, delicious nonetheless.
7. Baby shrimps with hot pepper sauce - this was Ruth's recommendation. Thought I ordered the kung pao tiger prawns, but this came instead. More sweet and sour (but not the gloppy red-dyed sauce) with diced carrots and peas.
8. Appetizer platter - this was described as a Korean-style appetizer plate and made me think about Michael Yu's posts on Korean-style Chinese food. This was one of the dishes he described. Many, many different tastes here with an assortment of poached chicken, sliced boiled prawns, mussels, jelly fish, sea cucumber, sauteed pork strips, giant squid, black mushrooms and lots of veggies. The other dishes came on so fast, I didn't spend much time with this one. This is a quite a bargain included with the $55 family menu. The cold delicacy platters on the a la carte menu which would have a bigger proportion of sea cucumber and jelly fish ranged from $25 to $50.
9. Combination chow mein - paid a buck more for the hand-pulled noodles. Finer strands (and therefore more laborious) than others who attempt this.
10. Steamed flounder - the sauce was on the heavy side and the fish was not as pristinely fresh as needed for this style of preparation. As far as bones, part of Chinese table manners is knowing how to serve oneself fish off the bone. One slip-up here and you're a social pariah. I should have given a lesson on this and bones would not have been a problem for anyone. Also, the fins on flounder are quite delicious (repository of adipose tissue, if you want to get scientific) and I would have been upset if the fins had been cut off as Western restaurants do. Think halibut fluke served at sushi bars. With practice, you too could learn to scoop the fatty fins into your mouth, maneuver the tasty bits off, and spit out the bones in a fine stream onto your plate.
re: Melanie Wong
just getting around to reading this (where have i been?) and am sorry to say again that i wish the fish had come at a more appropriate time, ie. with the other seafoods. i for one would definately have been game to try that fatty fin. (maybe in another life my hips had some purpose after all...)
i wish one of us could adequately describe the buns, which were very different than any duck bun i'd ever had. not round, not taco shaped. but more like they'd taken a rectangle of dough, laid it out, put a long mound of telephone-like cords of other dough inside, wrapped it up, sliced it and steamed it. so when it came to the table you saw all these "telephone lines" of noodles inside the bun. inadequate way of describing, but i really am at a loss as to put it any other way.
thanks to both elise and you for the lovely descriptions of a delicious meal. definately a place i'll return to.
Well, you can play the fin bone spewing game at home too, folks. Whole sole steamed with ginger and scallions is one of my favorite things, usually 7 mins or less cooking time. Be sure to have steamed rice for the juices.
I marvelled at those duck buns too. Although this seemed to be more for decorative purposes than functional...
Sublime. Wonderful food, wine & company, what more does one need? Melanie orchestrated a feast as a result of her exceptional knowledge of Shandong cuisine. Rochelle coordinated the event with elan, I got to see an old friend in Bob Foster that I had not seen in 12 years and I got to make new friends in Celery, Nancy, Julia & Elise.
Succulent clams, outrageous duck, spicy prawns, tender dumplings, sweet and delicate pea shoots and juicy scallops, all washed down with pinot gris, gewurz, riesling,petite sirah and sauvignon blanc. Our needs were well met by the staff and frivolity was had by all. We left a happy group, committed to more chowing as the sprit moves us and secure in the knowledge that we can dine in a group, some of whom never laid eyes on one another prior to this engagement. I enjoyed it immensely, enjoyed meeting all my new friends and seeing an old one. On to more chowvents!!
P.S. Melanie, our gorm is boll is boontling for our food is good.
re: Randy Salenfriend
Randy, it was a pleasure to meet you in person! And, I'm happy that my boring geography lesson (...Shandong is the northern province that adjoins the Korean peninsula and is the home of...) and efforts to highlight the differences in Chinese regional menus left an impression.
I said I'd tackle the wines, so here goes from memory.
2000 Handley Pinot Gris Mendocino - This grape tends to make a bronzish-colored wine, and this one had a faint pink cast that was very pretty. Celery said that it had extra time on the skins. Aromas of spring flowers and apples, light and crisp texture, just the right thing to cleanse the palate for the meal to come.
??? Adler Fels Gewurztraminer (Sonoma?) - Didn't get the vintage, but of a recent year judging from it's youthfulness and aggressive fruit. Oodles of lychee, grapefruit and gingery spice, plenty of intensity to stand up to the baby shrimp in hot pepper sauce (a sort of sweet/sour style), nice weight on the palate and powerful finish.
2000 Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc - From the producer that set the standard for New Zealand wines. Plenty of ripe melon and tropical flavors, not as sauvage as earlier vintages and only a hint of grassiness. Vibrant impression with clean citrusy finish softened by a touch of residual sugar. Tasty and imminently quaffable, but a little out of balance with a tad too much alcohol for the fruit extract.
1994 Von Hoevel "Oberemmeler Hutte" Kabinett (Riesling) - From one of the world's coldest winegrowing regions, Germany's Saar River Valley (as in Mosel-Saar-Ruwer). Showing some development of the middle to advanced years with plenty of petrol, honeyed fruit, floral and the distinctive slate mineral quality. Beautiful carriage. Plenty of lively acidity that has rounded out with the years to balance the slight sweetness.
1996 David Coffaro Dry Creek Valley Estate Petite Sirah - From a lighter vintage and approachable now with plenty of black plummy fruit, licorice and pepperyspice. Bold and upfront with juicy berry flavors, yet carries through solid mid-palate to long full finish. Full-bodied with ripe velvety tannins.
P.S. Thanks for the Boontling lesson!
re: Melanie Wong
Likewise Melanie and the geography lesson was not boring in the least, how often do you get the opportunity to learn about a province that I would venture to guess, is unknown to a majority of Westerners.
The Adler Fels Gewurz was indeed just an infant, from the 2000 Vintage, Russian River appellation. I found the Penelope Casas book, what a treasure, Thanks!! Also found some terrific recipes from various web sources, now I must simplify things by culling the most desirous of the dishes and determining how much prep time each requires added to the time I wish to invest in each to complete the equation. I am getting hungry just thinking about some of the dishes!!
Rochelle took notes and someone has them to post with all the food and wine details, it was another successful Chowhound dinner.
It was nice to see and meet everyone. Thanks to Bob for encouraging this, Rochelle for organizing, Melanie for ordering so well. And everyone for making it fun!
It was the least expensive dinner of the ones I've been to and I think the most food. I couldn't believe how much we ate!
Vague details (I really should start taking notes when I eat) ... everything was pretty delish. The food had some Korean influence as well - they brought out a kimchee like dish as appetizer - Whole steamed flounder, peking duck, spicy/sweet shrimp, dumplings (these were really good), noodles, spicy clams (yes lots of seafood) and so much more.
Wines were all really good too - Pinot Gris, Gewurz, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Petit Syrah (hopefully someone has the details on the wines too)
There was talk of a tapas dinner next.... stay posted!
ps - Randy, I brought the latest issue of the AVA for you but totally forgot it. According to them, Pepperwood was sold and the planning commission has postponed the tasting room decision until the new owners (who it didn't mention in this issue) do some work required to up their production levels.
Oh! so delish (was that one of the "yummy" words?)!
we all ate until we could eat no more and still took food home with us.
i would definately recommend it to anyone who enjoys asian foods.
melanie did the ordering with the first portion of our meal selected from the paper taped on the inside of the menu written in chinese. appearently this banquet menu is much more reflective of the seasons and locally available fresh meats, fish and produce. i believe this started us off with 5 dishes to which we added 5 more as melanie said for the chinese to truely have a banquet you must have 10 dishes.
i won't attempt to describe our meal, as my notes here are not from the table, just from my recollection, but my favorite things were hard to pick, as everything with the exception of the steamed flounder appealed to me. and it wasn't that the flounder was bad, it was just that it came at what seemed to me an awkward place in the meal. the very last dish, just after we'd all devoured a delicous duck bun like you've never seen slathered with hoisin. i think if we'd had it at the same time as the clams my experience would have been different, altho it was rather fishy and may have lent itself better to another preparation.
the hot and sour soup which we started with was a shining example of what that soul satisfying bowl should be. prawns, meat, tofu, heat, gelatinous flavorful broth. ummm
i'll leave the descriptions up to elise, but wanted to tell everyone who made it thank you. it is such an unusual experience to be in a group of people whom you don't know, but share such a passion with you feel as if you do.
some of the conversation about our obsession with chowhound was hysterical. randy, i think, is the one to be responsible for the upcoming thread on chowhound obcession and our spouses.
we also talked about the tapas dinner celery mentioned as well as a hopefully large gathering at some point this summer, so keep your eyes open. dinners are really quite enjoyable and something to be looked forward to.
thanks again to everyone who came and made it such a fun filled culinary adventure--even if we didn't have the three delicacy platter!
ps randy and bob,
can't lay hands on the sangria recipe, but i've found 3 others that look really good, so i'll post them asap. i'm out for the next 3 days, but look for them after that.
Quick Sangria recipe since you mentioned it:
My wife spent six months in Spain, and her "family" there made Sangria like this:
1&1/2 Large (2L) Bottles plain orange Soda (Fanta-types - not Slice, etc)
3 Large Jugs Rose wine - must be a Rose - Gallo, etc.
1/2 750 (375 ml) bottle of medium cognac ($20) - if you go too cheap, it's hangovers for sure
granulated sugar @ 1/4 cup
slice up oranges,apples, lemons and limes (2 to 1 on the apples/oranges to the lemons and limes)
Mix this all up in a large stockpot/vat and let sit overnight - this allows the soda to go flat and the fruits to marinate and mellows it all out.
The next day, taste and if it's too tart, add a little more sugar/soda - just adjust too taste. Everytime my wife has made this, I swear she makes too much, but it's always gone way before the end of the night.
re: Melanie Wong
bob and randy,
finally found the recipe i was telling you about, tho you may not need it now as steven's sounds really good and very traditional. the first three are not so terribly different, just twists on the old tho the last is ever so non-traditional.
sparkling fall sangria for 12
5 lady apples
1 bunch seedless green grapes
1 bunch seedless red grapes
2 bottles chilled white wine, such as a late harvest reisling
16 oz. chilled sparkling apple cider
3 oz pear eu de vie, such as poire william
place fruit (i like to slice all of mine but yoou can easily leave it all whole, i just like the added juices) and ice in a punch bowl add liquids, stir and serve
red sangria serves 6
24 oz rioja or medium bodied red wine
6 oz black currant juice
12 oz fresh oj
2 T superfine sugar
1/2 oz brandy
6 oz club soda
1 medium black plum, sliced
1 navel orange, sliced
combine all the ingredients in a larg pitcher and fill with ice
rose sangria serves 6
6 oz assorted types of grapes
24 oz. rose wine
3 1/2 oz grapefruit juice
1/4 c + 3T superfine sugar
3 1/2 oz tequila
3 1/2 oz cranberry juice
freeze the grapes in one layer on a sheet pan overnight
mix chilled liquid ingredients and add frozen grapes
Bobby Flay's Bolo's Passion Fruit sangria
2 cups passion fruit puree ( you can often find this frozen, especailly in hispanic markets)
2 bottles dry white wine
3/4 c simple syrup
1/2 c triple sec
3/4 c brandy
3 @ sliced lemons, oranges, granny smith apples
stir together, add ice and serve
simple syrup: equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar dissolves (for this recipe you might want to do a very small amount 3/4 c each) then cooled
some conversions: 1/2 oz= 1 T, 1 oz=2T, 2oz=1/4 c, 4oz=1/2 c 8oz=1c
Thanks Rochelle-Sangria sounds like it rocks. Yummy and refreshing. Also, fyi following your initial post and subsequent thread about Arizmendi, we will be stopping by there on Saturday to try it out. Perhaps we will run into some fellow Chowhounds on our journey.
Extraordinary mustard lineup, I must say. The de rigeur condiment no? Alas, it made me so hungry I had to run out and pick up a sandwich, which surprisingly only contained 2 of the varieties of mustard from your list. Ahhhhh well, the pedestrian nature of some establishments leaves much to be desired.
Will work soon on the two items we discussed at dinner on Tuesday. Finally, if you want to read Kitchen Confidential, let me know and you can borrow it. Thanks again for the Sangria tips.