Year of the OX Celebration. Some Help, LWong?!!!
I'm a bit peeved that most of the web sources say the Lunar New Year Parade will take place on Monday the 26th during Regents Week when most of my kids can't play hooky even if they wanted to....But I digress...
This year about 30 people are joining us for a big dim sum and the only place I've not explored is the big fancy one up from the funeral home on Linden place...We're usually at Ocean Jewels or Gala Manor or the big one that used to be Gum Fong whose name escapes me atthe moment.
Should I go with the one on Linden Placet his year for a change of pace, or is it all style no substance.
Gung Hey Fat Choy!
Happy upcoming Year of the Ox to the Zenfoodist family!
When you mention the “Linden Place” catering hall, we would assume that is the place where a diner encounters a time warp in being transported several hundred years back into the past in the era of Louis the XIV with all the faux French furniture and decorations?
We had read about the “Linden Place” catering hall when it first opened restaurant service to the public several years ago and articles described the restaurant with across the spectrum words from opulent, grandeur, gaudy, tacky, to garish. We finally went to Linden Place for Dim Sum several years ago and when we first entered the restaurant, we thought we were in the wrong restaurant, since the décor of faux French furniture, European pictures on the wall, murals on ceilings, fake balconies, and other European architectural features, gave no hint that this was a Chinese restaurant, other than the many Chinese customers and the Dim Sum smells from the numerous carts being rolled around.
The Dim Sum at “Linden Place” on the one occasion we tried it was ordinary at best, although to be fair to “Linden Place,” we had gone later in the afternoon at around 1:30 PM, which is not the best time to go for Dim Sum in terms of variety and freshness. And as we have mentioned in our previous posts on Chowhound, Chinese restaurants are notorious for being inconsistent, where one might have an enjoyable experience one week and a disaster experience another week. The better Chinese restaurants would have less “volatility,” if we can use a financial analogy, but essentially most Chinatown Chinese restaurants have some aspects of volatility in the quality and taste of their dishes. Hence the one experience we had at “Linden Place” could have been a day when “Linden Place” had a bad day, their best day, or somewhere in between.
Although Linden Place had pretensions of being a high end restaurant, with their very expensive renovations and décor of the restaurant, the “Linden Place” restaurant still appeared to have the same proclivities as run of the mill Chinatown restaurants in preferring to be paid in cash. Although our Dim Sum lunch cost very close to $30 (tax and tip included) by a dollar or so, when we presented our credit card, we were brusquely told by the manager that only bills in excess of $30 could be paid by credit cards, even though most merchant credit card agreements forbid the rejection of credit cards for not meeting minimum dollar amounts. Of course, being experienced Chinese diners, we always bring sufficient cash with us whenever dining at Chinese restaurants and there was no issue in paying cash. As mentioned on another Chowhound posting regarding cash payments in Chinese restaurants, we could only smile when one Asian poster wrote that customers usually paid cash even for the very largest wedding banquets (many are 50 plus tables).
Although our family does not go out for Dim Sum as much as we did in the past, our family has tried most of the large banquet hall Dim Sum restaurants in Flushing (Gala Manor (under new management now and with a new name; the new restaurant was recently offering special dinner dishes at 50% off), Ocean Jewels, Perfect Team, Jade Asian (the old Gum Fung), but have not tried Tung Yi Fung yet), and generally find most of them satisfactory, although the last two times we were at Ocean Jewels for lunch, the Dim Sum was quite good.
Over the years, we have heard numerous stories that many of the larger Dim Sum restaurants in NYC contract out the making of many of their Dim Sum dishes to smaller companies, who will sell to all comers. This would explain the similar sameness in taste of various Dim Sum dishes at the many Dim Sum banquet halls. Probably not all restaurants do this, but many do and unless you are allowed into the kitchen to see which of their Dim Sum is made fresh in their kitchen, one can never really know.
Our recommendation for the holiday Dim Sum gathering, assuming that your guests adhere to the Chinese saying, “the food is the thing,” is to take the safest option and go with the tried and true restaurants, until you can personally evaluate the quality of the Dim Sum and the ambience at the “Linden Place” restaurant yourself. We assume that being the “selector” of the Dim Sum restaurant, you would not want to lose tremendous “face” in front of your large Dim Sum gathering by choosing a less than desirable restaurant. (LOL)
Assuming that you do not encounter negative “Volatility” (a bad day) when you go to any of the large banquet hall Dim Sum restaurants in Flushing, you should have a satisfactory experience at the many Dim Sum restaurants mentioned earlier. As stated above, we have had good experiences at “Ocean Jewels” the last two times we were there, where the Dim Sum dishes were very fresh with much variety, and interesting variations from the typical Dim Sum served at most restaurants. You just have to be lucky that you will encounter high positive “volatility” (a very good day compared to the average Dim Sum served) at the restaurant that you choose.
Unfortunately for the Zenfoodist family, your lucky year was last year during the Year of the Rat, when the planets were aligned perfectly for the Zenfoodist family due to having two “Rats” in the family.
Perhaps the Zenfoodist family will have a number of “Oxen” among the 30 people in the planned holiday gathering?
According to the amateur review link below, the “Linden Place” restaurant appears to be open for dinner to the public in the evenings also, when there are no banquets.
Amateur review on Linden Place with pictures giving you some idea of the décor at the “Linden Place” restaurant (scroll about one half the way down the page): http://thewanderingeater.com/2007/08/...
Hope the Year of the Ox will be another auspicious year for the Zenfoodist family.
All I can say is "Wo-AI-Ni." Is that right? As always, your posts are spectacular, well-thought out, and illuminating. I think I'll stick with Ocean Jewels since it's our favorite. I wanted to mix things up a bit. More than 40 people are coming- we try to expose a lot of our son's friends and their families to the "mysterious" revelry that takes place a mere two and a half miles from our homes - and I have warned everyone that we will probably not be sitting at the same table. I 've sent dim sum primers to the first-timers and children's books "Yum Yum Dim-Sum" and " My First Chinese New Year" to the Kindergarteners at our son's Catholic school. His teacher's aide is Chinese, so I know she has some projects planned which makes me happy. Now on to harassing the Board of Dread to acknowledge the Lunar New Year as an "official holiday" so many of my students who are up for "perfect attendance" awards and are forced to go to school can enjoy the festivities. It peeves me.
Thank you so much for the good wishes. Our Rat year turned out to be one of the worst- bouts with vertigo, intestinal obstructions, panic disorders; I could go on and on. However our little chowpup is happy and healthy ( poo-poo! Superstitious..) and we are happy to have one another, our amazing extended family, and of course our beloved students.
I wish you and yours all good things now and always.
We have been advised that "Wo-AI-Ni" is indeed good Pinyan Mandarin. We see that your evening enhancement classes are a two way street with your students teaching you much Mandarin or “Lizard Talk” as we call Mandarin due to the extensive use of the tongue slithering back and forth in forming words. (LOL)
Unfortunately, making the “Lunar New Year” an official NYC school holiday is as always in life, based upon money, power, and politics. Until the Asian population grows to sufficient size, becomes wealthy, and most importantly, acquires political power by voting and making political contributions, there will not any official NYC schools “Lunar New Year” holiday any time in the distant future.
There is also the present arcane and archaic New York State method of funding schools based upon very complex rules, one of which is based upon the daily attendance at the school systems, which would certainly discourage the “BOD” from the creation of any new school holidays, since this would lower State education funding. And with the legal requirement to schedule a minimum number of school days, the number of school holidays is essentially a “zero sum game,” where the creation of a new school holiday would necessitate the deletion of another school holiday.
But as you are aware, with Asian parents, education comes first before any “Lunar New Year’s” celebrations, since among many middle class Asian parents with their obsession with success, “Education” is synonymous with “Success.”
Enjoyed your discussion about your ongoing cultural cross fertilization program among the Zenfoodist family relatives and friends, as Dim Sum (a regional food of the Canton province) is a good introduction to Chinese food for non-Asians, as it does not require much knowledge of Dim Sum or Chinese language skills and only requires the “Point and Shoot” method of ordering the food, as one can choose anything that looks good on the many Dim Sum carts that rolls by one’s table. And choosing a dish that one does not enjoy is not a serious blow to the pocketbook, as most Dim Sum dishes are around $3.00 or less, other than special and more expensive dishes like roast suckling pig, black bean clams, noodle dishes, and others.
Sorry to hear about the less than stellar Year of the Rat for the Zenfoodist family. But without the two “Rats” in the family, it might have been worse. But as noted in your posting, the more important elements of life (family and friends) were in harmony in 2008.
“Ocean Jewels” is a good choice for Dim Sum, and if our several experiences there for Dim Sum there last year are any indication, the odds are with the Zenfoodist family that they will have a pleasant Dim Sum lunch there this weekend before the “Lunar New Year.” However, due to the no reservations policy, the Zenfoodist group will be separated among four tables scattered all over the restaurant. But luckily, each separate table should be able to manage reasonably well with the “point and shoot” method and with prior instructions from the seasoned and knowledgeable Zenfoodist family regarding the ordering of Dim Sum.
Are you going to recommend two of our favorite Dim Sum dishes (pictures below) below to your gathering?
a. “Chicken Feet”
b. “Omasum Leaf Tripe” – This should not be a difficult dish for the Zenfoodist family, since tripe is a part of the Zenfoodist family food heritage.
I think you will be disappointed to know that as a rule I do not consume offal; there is a reason it sounds so much life "awful" in my humble opinion. Don't even start with the "lawyer/liar" similarities lest my attorney husband is reading along...
Chicken feet were indeed on our table, however, mostly for my Vietnamese cousin-in-law who was celebrating Tet. In addition to the usual dim sum suspects we ordered salt and pepper crab, long life noodles, and choy sum ( we were given a platter of stringy stems and my cousin in law immediately took umbrage as she insisted New Year's greens should be leafy to reflect money- my usual friend and maitre'D, "Johnny" was not there at the time, so I had little recourse) . All offerings were excellent and hot.
Afterwards we meandered across the street to Flushing Mall to my beloved hand-pulled noodle spot where we bought beef brisket soup for all of our relatives to take home and eat...tomorrow. ( we warned them about a vegetarian meal on New Year's Eve....can't fool us!) The children, like me, were mesmerized by the noodle hand-pulling. My son refers to the gent who magically transforms the dough as "his favorite artist." So glad he appreciates the beauty of it all. I quite missed the pigeon of yore sitting on the pipes of the ceiling. It gave the place a real charm that drove my germphobe mother in law over the edge the one time I brought her. After noodles, we were off to Ten Ren for some almond teas and warm green tea. All of my students tell me that the little bubble tea place on Roosevelt across from Old Navy in the Taco Bell ( ?) mall is superior, but I still enjoy Ten Ren more even though it was, apparently, a former emplyee who deflected and started the mall place. Something about Ten Ren makes me happy.
Sadly, there were no lion or dragon dancers to be found. I imagine there are rules about beginning after the start of the new year? However what with the performance of the Divine Arts Lunar Show at Radio City the day before ( a gift from my students) , our little chowpup had a great New Year- and thanks to the show, is very interested in Falun Dafa. The kid is a sponge!
As for today, I encouraged all my students' parents to allow them a day off to be with family and to reflect my sincerity, cancelled all of my own classes. In this age of Barack, school or work on such an important day for so many seems Un-American! :)
The ZenFoodist family wishes you health and joy this year of the ox and always,
How is our Italian in this cross cultural fertilization exercise in stating, “Cara mia, ti voglio bene” or “Ti amo,” which from our understanding of the meaning from Internet sites, indicates that the two phrases has a slightly different meaning depending upon who says the phrase and when. According to the Internet, it is very dangerous for a single person to use the second phrase unless they really mean it. (LOL)
We have listened to Italian songs where they use the words, “Cara mia,” but we never knew what the words meant until we looked it up just now.
An Italian family doesn’t eat tripe? Is this the Americanization of the Zenfoodist family?
Yes, we are just as amazed as your son in watching the noodles being pulled into extremely thin strands right before one’s eyes. Here are several Youtube videos of hand pulled noodle demonstrations for your son:
a. Noodle Pulling Demonstration in China (and the noodle maker has a sense of humor also at the end): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3owp8PFKuw
b. Noodle Pulling Demonstration from Flour to Cooked Noodles and Cold Ja Jie Mein: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucPvi4err-I&feature=related
We are always amazed at the ingenuity and hand skills of humans in making all the wonderful useful products and things in this world.
If the Zenfoodist family enjoys “turnip cakes,” our family was in Flushing on Saturday and bought some “turnip cakes” from the Tai Pan Bakery. The “turnip cake is being sold in a large red colored box for $8.80 (the numeral “8” are lucky numbers in the Chinese culture) weighing about 2 to 3 lbs. Just cut them into bite size slices, fry them in oil in a pan until there is a nice brown crust, and then dip them in a little (not too much though) oyster sauce (we recommend Lee Kum Kee, Premium Brand – the one with the picture of a woman and boy on an oyster shell on the bottle). The “turnip cakes” from the Tai Pan Bakery are not too bad for a commercial product. Not as good as a Chinese mother might make it, but in these “rush rush” modern times, it is a reasonable substitute for limited time households.
Have the Zenfoodist family tried the “Mango Slush” drinks during the hot summers at “Ten Ren?” The “Mango Slush” drinks are quite good and refreshing at “Ten Ren” on Roosevelt Ave.
Usually Lion Dances and fireworks are performed to ward off evil spirits during the Lunar New Year, hence there should be Lion Dances after the New Year. According to the Queens Chronicle (http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?ne...), the Flushing Lunar New Year’s parade will happen on 31 January 2009, hence there will certainly be Lion Dances next weekend, plus many other Chinese cultural activities at the Public library on Main Street and at other venues. Also since the Lion Dances are performed by Martial Arts or Kung Fu clubs, and this would usually be on a weekend when the students and members of the clubs are available, which would usually be the weekend after the official Lunar New Year occurs.
Your family and son can still see the Lion Dances, if you go to Flushing next weekend.
Enjoy another Dim Sum lunch outing next weekend, or if the Zenfoodist family enjoys Xiao Long Baos (XLB’s or soupy dumplings) go to the Nan Xiang Noodle restaurant on Prince Street opposite the little Municipal Parking Lot. We were there several weeks ago and the XLB’s were surprisingly good compared to a rather disappointing occasion at Nan Xiang another time when several of the XLB’s had no soup in them. If you might go in the future, if we remember correctly, there is no English signage indicating the Nan Xiang restaurant, but only in Chinese characters. But inside the restaurant on the rear right hand side in a glass enclosure, there will be a bunch of workers making XLB’s by hand. And hopefully, you will get fresh XLB’s and not dried out XLB’s like we did on one occasion.
Any scallions in your son’s backpack to celebrate the Lunar New Year? (LOL)
Best Wishes again for the “Year of the Ox.”
LWong, I think we live parallel lives. "Lo Bak Go" ismy nickname. I adore those turnip cakes and love to fry them up myself to get them extra crispy. Mango slush is another fave and as for Nan Xiang, we love their Xiao long bao although our chow pup has completley sworn them off as the last time we were there ( In early September, the day before Kindergarten began, he begged to go straight from the airport after Bermuda for what he deemed "real" food) he ate TWO WHOLE TRAYS himself in addition to a lot of other things and spent the entire night "yawning in technicolor" as we like to say. He refuses to accept that he ate too many. Alas....
Thank you for the noodle links. We're trying not to make the pup any weirder than he already is. On his last playdate he insisted I make lion's head meatballs for his Irish and Croatian buddies which prompted a concerned call that evening from a parental unit who " thought lion meat was illegal" Don't ask.
And yes, caro mio, there was a a lovely boquet of scallions in my chowpup's backpack disguised as a sword in aluminum foil lest it reek the class. We need all the luck we can get!
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
oh man, that is . . . . a great nickname. but you gotta step it up and search out the taro cakes! same thing but with chunks of taro as well as taro worked into the cake instead of turnip . . . . delicious. not sure where to get a good version in a restaurant or takeout since my mom always makes it but you can usually find the two types hanging out with each other.
Knowing how much I like turnip cakes, today o e of my Stuy Seniors brought me a New Year's gift of "nua gow bing" (At least that's what it sounded like phonetically) Basically slabs of pumpkin and flour "dough" with some walnuts inside as well as little flattened balls of the same dough filled with redbean paste. We pan-fried them and oh...HOW-CHUR!!! Yummy.
The Tai Pan Bakery also makes a version of the Taro Cake during the Lunar New Year that is acceptable, but the “Lo Bak Go” that Tai Pan makes is better in our view. Tai Pan also sells a premium version of “Lo Bak Go” called “Golden Lo Bak Go” that contains dried scallops at a much higher price of course. Our family was unable to try the “Golden Lo Bak Go,” since the “Golden Lo Bak Go” was already sold out, and as the Tai Pan Bakery only makes a limited number of Taro/Turnip cakes for the Lunar New Year celebration, hence once they run out, one is out of luck, but we hope to give the scallop “Lo Bak Go” a try at the next Lunar New Year.
However, no store bought Taro/Turnip Cake can beat a Chinese mother’s version, especially one’s own mother’s version.
Mmmmm, is your nickname from your students due to your prolific consumption of “Lo Bak Go,” or does it have to do with the similar phonetic sounds of “Lo Bak Go” that could possibly mean “Old White Dog?’ (LOL)
Since your nickname is “Lo Bak Go,” here is a very simple variation of “Lo Bak Go” for limited time households that our family makes that dispenses with the steaming step. Cut up some dried shrimp into very small pieces, shred some turnip, squeeze out the water from the turnip and save, mix the shredded turnip with rice flour together with the chopped up dried shrimp and some of the turnip water – mixture should not be too watery (about 80% to 85% turnip to rice flour ratio; may change ratio depending upon how much your family enjoys the turnip flavor; our family really likes the turnip flavor), and add soy sauce to taste. Mold the mixture into small patties and pan fry them with oil until golden brown on both sides. This recipe has a very rich turnip taste compared to the typical store bought “Lo Bak Go” that has a much higher ratio of rice flour to turnip. In this variation of “Lo Bak Go,” since the steaming step is skipped and there is much much less rice flour, the “Lo Bak Go” has a different mouth feel in not being as smooth with a much rougher texture, but with a fuller and richer turnip taste and texture.
Yes, that is definitely a lot of XLB’s that your little Chowpup ate, plus other items at the “Nan Xiang” restaurant. We assume that you have tried the “Nan Xiang” restaurant’s scallion pancakes, which are pretty good with multi-layers and a chewy interior and slightly crunchy exterior. At 6 XLB’s per order, that means your kindergarten son ate 12 XLB’s! Most adults can barely finish 6 XLB’s. We can just imagine the “technicolor yawns” later that evening of your Chowpup.
One caveat that we must caution you is that if you continue with your all encompassing Chinese indoctrination of your Chowpup, when he grows older and thinks about starting a family, with all his needs for “real food,” only an Asian spouse will be able to meet his “real” food requirements, and due to the fact that in the Chinese culture, the groom’s family has the responsibility to pay completely for the wedding, the complete opposite of non-Asian cultures, the Zenfoodist family will be out quite a bit of dinero, especially if your Chowpup chooses unwisely and you get a future daughter-in-law with a very large family who asks for 40 tables at the traditional Chinese Wedding Banquet! At today’s prices, wedding banquet tables typically go for $700 and up per table. That would require a whole lot of after school “enhancement classes” and “liar” billable hours. You have been warned! Now indoctrinating a Chowpup daughter in the Asian culture would be an entirely different story, as the Zenfoodist family would save quite a lot of money on the wedding celebrations with an Asian son-in-law.
From your hilarious story about the “Lion’s Head Meatballs,” it would appear that there is tremendous need for more cross cultural fertilization programs among Irish or Croatian adults in NYC. You should be glad that your Chowpup did not ask for “Ants Climbing A Tree” (minced pork with noodles), “Squirrel Fish” (Mandarin Fish Shaped Like a Squirrel), and especially lucky that the Zenfoodist family does not like the “Thousand Year Old Duck Eggs,” otherwise if your son had asked for the “Thousand Year Duck Eggs,” one of the parental units might have called the Dept. of Heath on the Zenfoodist family.
Have you made another version of “Lion’s Head Meatballs,” called “Pearl Meatballs” that is much smaller and rolled in sweet rice prior to steaming that is very good also. In case you haven’t, here are two sites with their versions of “Pearl Meatballs” (several pictures from the sites below of Pearl Meatballs are below at the bottom of this post):
As we learn more about the Zenfoodist family’s Chinese food knowledge and exploits, including learning about the Zenfoodist’s nickname of “Lo Bak Go,” we may seriously have to consider waiving the eating of “Thousand Year Old Duck Eggs” as one of the hardcore requirements for the bestowing of the “Honorary Chinese” honorific.
This has been a very enjoyable and funny Lunar New Year’s Chowhound thread.
P.S. Much thanks and "Happy Year of the Ox" also to the “Chowhound Police” for being extra lenient in allowing much non-germane “subject topic” wanderings in this wide ranging “Lunar New Year” thread post.
We passed by “Linden Place” this Saturday afternoon and noticed that the name of the restaurant had changed and assumedly is under new management.
The assumption is that there would be changes under the new management.
The key question is whether the changes are for the better or for the worse.