Chinese New Year Lo Han Jai (Buddhist vegetarian stew)
As I polish off for lunch the last of the lo han jai I made for Chinese New Year (recipe: http://www.chow.com/recipes/29362-buddhas-delight-jai ), I'm wondering if anyone found any restaurant versions worth noting.
I tried two this year at banquet dinners in San Francisco. The version at House of Banquet on Clement St was pretty gruesome. The bean curd sheets were inadequately hydrated and turned out tough and chewy. The bowl was freshened up with broccoli and had more of that greenery than the traditional ingredients. In fact, those at the table who were not familiar with jai referred to it as the broccoli dish.
The Garden Restaurant in Chinatown served up a credible version, stained slightly pink from nam yee (red fermented bean curd). Heavy on the fen si and they were clumped together in this dryish version. A rather luxurious version with fresh champignon and bai ling mushrooms as well as black mushrooms giving the dish more umami and depth. A few sugar pea pods livened up the presentation.
Neither one had any fat choy (black hair moss).
More about Bai Ling mushrooms