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Jie mo dui... Beijing mustard cabbage... zai nar?

Had this sinus-blistering delicacy at a fantastic Beijing snack shop south of Temple of Heaven park. I have yet to find it here in LA.

Please help!
Mr Taster

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  1. The last time I saw this was at Heavy Noodling in Monterey Park.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Which, unfortunately, is closed.

      Sounds fascinating -- and, since I have a cold, perfect. BAH!

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Has anyone checked to see if they have it at JYTH?

      2. I FOUND IT!

        After 3 years of searching (and coming dangerously close just one time... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6979... ), I finally found it. Haven't yet tried it, but I found it.

        There's a new restaurant (open since April 2010) perpendicular to the old Green Village in the top floor of the San Gabriel mini mall across from Mei Long Village/Hilton plaza shops (250 W. Valley #B2). The sign loudly proclaims that it is "BEIJING RESTAURANT". We had already had our fill that evening of fish and leek dumplings, seaweed, and the "Taiwanese tamale" (steamed rice dumpling with pork, chestnut and peanut steamed in banana leaf) at Qingdao Bread Food and so we didn't eat there. We did chat with the super-friendly Beijinger owner (why is everyone from Beijing an wisecracking extrovert?). We talked about some of the fantastic food we had in Beijing during our travels, and asked him about the mustard cabbage.... "I'm out of it," he said. "But I make a big batch at the beginning of the week, and I have it until it sells out. Come back next week."

        Fantastic!!! I hope it's as good as I remember..... the sinus clearing properties of the mustard we had in Beijing was Philippes to the 50th power. I have a video somewhere of my Lovely Tasting Assistant™ taking a bite and you could see the color of her face rapidly transform to a bright shade of crimson. Fantastic!

        Mr Taster

        -----
        Qingdao Bread Food
        301 N Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA

        9 Replies
        1. re: Mr Taster

          Were you able to confirm the suspicion in my posting that Beijing Restaurant is a new branch of Tiajin Bistro? If so it means your dish may have been there for the past year!

          1. re: Chandavkl

            I didn't see your post... can you please link to it?

            Mr Taster

          2. re: Mr Taster

            >> and the "Taiwanese tamale" (steamed rice dumpling with pork, chestnut and peanut steamed in banana leaf)

            Are you talking about zhongzi? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zongzi) That's the first time I've heard it called that. What's Taiwanese about it?

            1. re: Mr Taster

              Calling Mr. Taster - I had lunch today at Beijing. Unfortunately, I am still in the learning process and my Chinese is...well, lacking, so I couldn't communicate "mustard cabbage" to the very nice folks that run it (is it a couple and their daughter?). They made every effort to figure out exactly what it was I was asking about, but to no avail.

              After I wimped out and ordered the "Chinese Pizza", I noticed a menu item "Sauce Cabbage" - can't offer the Chinese characters, but is that it?

              Get back to me, because I really want to try this. I'm up for a sinus blast of mustard and cabbage is always good.

              1. re: JThur01

                The Chinese for (prepared) mustard is 芥末, so if that's the sauce in question you might be right.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Thanks Uber...d'oh on me. I'm at the stage where a little knowledge is dangerous - not to doubt Taster, but I knew what I was seeing didn't match "cabbage", so I got confused. So, it literally translates to "Mustard/wasabi stack"?

                  I'm getting good at character recognition, so I'll check next time.

                2. re: JThur01

                  Am currently on holiday in Caribbean Costa Rica eating many casados.... going to Panama in a few days. Will delve into the mustard cabbage deeper when I return....

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: JThur01

                    Oh oh!...made it back for lunch today (I'm typing this at a tea place with wi-fi). Servers spoke more English today. Ordered "Sauce Cabbage" - soy sauced. Asked the young woman server if they had "Jie mo dui" and she scrunched her face up and said "no".

                    And to confirm Chandavkl's suspicion, the owner/chef used to run the Tianjin Bistro. I'd love to take credit for that, but, it was featured in the Times food section June 24 ("The Find" by Thi N.) - which is framed on the wall of the restaurant and it's mentioned in Thi's nice article.

                3. Isn't this dish actually called jiè ​mò​ dūn​ (芥末墩)?

                  1. OK, it appears my 4 years of waiting and searching will soon be paying off!

                    We ate at "Beijing Restaurant" in San Gabriel last night. It wasn't very busy and the chef was sitting in the dining room with another woman. We took that opportunity to ask him about the mustard cabbage.

                    He told us that they don't usually make it anymore, because there's not enough demand. Apparently people think it's "too spicy". Too spicy? Just because it blasts your sinuses with an intensity of Philippe's mustard compounded by a factor of 20? Isn't that the whole point? Isn't that like ordering a Tito's Taco when you know full well ahead of time that they taste like nothing? Spicy, nasal mustardy intensity is the essence of the dish.

                    Anyway, we spoke at length with them, introduced the chef to our visiting Scottish friend (who we met in Cambodia, and eventually made our ways separately to the Beijing snack shop I referred to in my initial post). We recounted the sublime masochism of the dish, and how now- 4 years later- we still talk about it. Dreaming of it.

                    I am happy to report that our pleas were heard. They agreed to make a batch of the mustard cabbage for us. They will make it this weekend, and will serve it next week! (We'll be getting a phone call from them to let us know when it's ready.)

                    I'll be sure to report back with findings, photos, and detailed description of whether this iteration of Beijing mustard cabbage lives up to our memory of the dish in its homeland.

                    Mr Taster

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      Mr. Taster

                      When you mentioned your Scottish friend I could not get out of my mind the image of mustard cabbage deep fried. ;-) It could be done!

                      1. re: SeaCook

                        It wouldn't be the same, but it could be great..........

                        By the way, here's a pic of the dish from out time in Beijing.

                        I guess you could deep fry the vegetable and then smother it in the mustard..... hmmm!

                        Mr Taster

                         
                      2. re: Mr Taster

                        Congratulations!...and, dang it! I'd love to try it too. Actually, I'd love to walk in and inquire about it too, but...alas, my Chinese isn't good enough. As far as getting it at Beijing, see my post above about the waitresses reaction when I asked about "jie mo dui" there recently.

                        Has anyone checked to see if they can make it at JYTH, since it's the same family that ran Heavy Noodling?

                      3. We did not receive a call from the restaurant over the weekend, so we called last night to see whether or not we could secure our cabbage.

                        "We didn't pick up the supplies to make it this weekend. Maybe tomorrow."

                        Maybe tomorrow.

                        FOILED AGAIN!!

                        Jie mo dui, why do you tease me so?

                        I'll check with JTYH about this... though honestly I find most of their food under seasoned (those noodles are addictive though, and their massive platter of shen jian bao is stupid cheap)

                        Mr Taster

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          SUCCESS!!!

                          We called to verify whether they had it yesterday, fully expecting another disappointment, but lo and behold.... they had it!

                          We arrived around 7:30 and they knew what we were here for. The plate was dropped in front of us almost immediately upon our arrival. "Only Beijing people like this dish. It is too spicy for most people." Pointing to myself and my dining companions, I insisted that "Americans, English and Taiwanese people like this dish too!". Chuckles all around, ostensibly about my poor joke and not about my poor use of Mandarin.

                          The owner and the woman who prepared our cabbage (wife of owner? Not sure) watched with bemusement as we did the camera photo thing which has sadly become de rigeur these days (we used to photograph our food all the time, but since it has become such a popular thing to do we have grown self conscious of it). But the owners really seemed to enjoy the fact that we were photographing their food. "Put it on the internet!" she emphatically implored. No problem there.

                          OK, so photos were done, chopsticks at the ready, and the entire restaurant staff are peering at our motley crew from a distance, turning away and giggling when we notice they are looking. They can't wait to see what happens when we bite in to the stuff.

                          So, down to business.

                          First impressions... the cores of cabbage were smaller than we remember, and with much less of the sinus blasting mustard sauce, which is readily apparent when you compare it to my photo of the dish in Beijing.

                          We took a bite...

                          First wave... The cabbage in this iteration was more crisp, whereas the cabbage in Beijing was rather tender (but still firm.)

                          Second wave... The hot mustard sauce had a bit of sweetness to it, which we were not expecting. ("Yo tang, ma?" "Yo!!")

                          And then... the third wave.

                          HEAT.

                          A slow burn starting from the back of throat and growing rapidly forward, like a fireball, towards and into your sinuses, and finishing in your nostrils before the intense heat expels like a dragon blasting out a flame. It's intense, and then it's gone. Awesome!

                          Now, I have to say that Beijing Restaurant's version is not quite as intense as what we remember in Beijing. That could be due to three factors... 1) the sugar added to the sauce may cut down the heat and 2) the quantity of mustard sauce was less (though the interior layers of the cabbage trapped the mustard and were hotter than outer layers, so our initial bite was not as intense as we expected. 3) the intensity of the mustard sauce was not as strong.

                          I'm not sure which of those reasons contributed to the less intense experience, but we did make a request that next time she make the mustard sauce even spicier. She seemed amused by this.

                          Now, bear in mind that this was an off-menu order, prepared specifically for us (and it cost just $4.99). There are apparently several time consuming steps in making this dish, so they don't make it if there's no demand. If you'd like to try it yourself and your Mandarin is rusty, then please email me at gmail, username mrtaster and I'll try to help out. I would really love to see waves of foreigners demanding this dish. It's really unique for LA, and quite interesting (and healthy too!)

                          Mr Taster

                           
                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            A little extra information to help those interested in procuring this dish.

                            Copy and print out these characters, bring them to the restaurant and they should know what you're looking for.

                            芥末墩 (mustard cabbage, but this is written in traditional Chinese, and Beijingers read/write simplified. Perhaps a Chowhound who knows the simplified characters can print them here.)
                            鍾亞當 (they'll definitely know what you're looking for if you show them this)

                            And please do post here if you secure this dish. I'd love to hear what other people think of it.

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              芥末墩 , at least on my computer, looks like simplified characters to me. 墪 would be the traditional version of the third character, if I am not mistaken.

                              jie4 mo4 dun1 (jie mo dun'r with the beijing accent)

                              锺亚当 would be the simplified of the second set of characters. Your Chinese name, perhaps?

                              1. re: zruilong

                                Indeed it is :)

                                Thanks for the translation, zruilong!

                                Mr Taster