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Oct 20, 2013 05:17 PM

Grace Garden: Dishes not on the Menu

I thought it would be good to start a new thread on this as current magnum opus started by crackers is bit long to sort through. Here's two I had recently when the chef asked me if I wanted to try something new - offer I never would refuse...

1. Deep fried pork rib garnished with fried lemon grass, onion, and garlic: nice crunchy flavor of fried lemon grass adds to the garnish of other fried aromatics in this simple but satisfying dish.

2. Stir fry with XO sauce: strips of pork, squid, along with chives, peppers, and dried small anchovies have layers of flavors and each component that come together nicely.

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  1. Thanks. The latter looks and sounds a lot like the dish at New Big Wong that KWagle and I were discussing in the "Ethnic Dives" thread a couple of weeks ago -- a new favorite of mine there. Would love to taste and compare Chef Li's version.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Marty L.

      What is it called at NBW? The chef here called it as what I wrote.

      1. re: Kurtis

        On the NBW menu it's something like "Sauteed Vegetables and Squid in the King," but I'm told that's not even close to the actual translation.

        1. re: Marty L.

          Here's something they had a few years ago, a bunch of the specials on construction paper. The other one is one of my other favorites, which is finally on the menu after being one of their best kept secrets for years.

    2. I bet the pork rib is awesome! Is it available at lunchtime?

      1 Reply
      1. re: flavrmeistr

        Had this on a weekday dinner. I would call to find out if he has the pork ribs.

      2. House Special Chilly Pepper Chicken- Dry Version.

        This one isn't likely to be new to most fans, but this dry version of the one on the menu is one of my all time favorites. Chef brought out an extra plate to cover the dish for a minute or so to infuse ma la into the chicken pieces which works beautifully. We've been bringing home the leftover pepper/ma la mix for home made ramen (or store bought) broth as recommended by the chef, and it gives nice smoky peppery ma la flavor to the broth.

        2 Replies
          1. I've had that squid stir fry I think. It's amazingly delicious.

            It's not very much like the NBW dish (whose Chinese name is something like 小炒皇 "small stirfry king" meaning the house special, since 'Wong' is 'king'.) The NBW dish uses dried squid, while Chef Li uses fresh squid, and the fish are also quite different, Chef Li uses the matchstick-sized ones. I believe the NBW dish uses a completely different mix of vegetables as well.

            I highly recommend you try them both. I need to do that also, maybe on Saturday. He also made us a second version of the pictured dish with pork belly, which was good, but not transcendent like the original.

            10 Replies
            1. re: KWagle

              Quibble: 皇 is huang, like huangdi, or emperor.

              1. re: mookleknuck

                Quibble with them... they do use the word 'king' in the name of the dish. A photo of the receipt shows the character in the name of the dish as 王. But the character on the front sign seems to be yet a different one, and I can't actually make it out.

                1. re: KWagle

                  =D I was correcting the translation/transliteration in your original two posts, without knowledge of the character NBW uses in their software.

                  旺 looks like the character on the front sign and is another wong.

                  Which dish did you like better, the one with fresh or dried squid, and why?

                  1. re: mookleknuck

                    Three Wongs in one restaurant. Sheesh.

                    I like them both a lot, but if I had to choose it would easily be Chef Li's dish--it has a brightness and freshness that the other dish doesn't, and a truly perfect mix of ingredients and flavors, and this is true of many of his dishes. The fuqi fei pian, for example, is qualitatively better than any I've had elsewhere.

                    He's one of the best cooks on the east coast, IMO, and I don't just mean Chinese food or ethnic food. It boggles my mind that so many of you balk at driving even an hour or two to eat there. Maybe I'll drive down on Saturday, though it's too late to order any of the other special dishes.

                    1. re: KWagle

                      High praise. I must try his fuqifeipian the next time I am able. Thanks!

                      1. re: mookleknuck

                        It's amazingly good... spoils me for every other version, and I love the stuff.

              2. re: KWagle

                Ok profs KWagle and mookleknuck, a lesson in chinese is nice but why not after generous sharing of other hidden dishes? : )

                1. re: Kurtis

                  Yes-- so who's going to organize a "Hidden Treasures" trip to Grace Garden?

                  1. re: curioussheridan

                    I think YOU are the master of hidden treasures at Grace Garden!

                    We had the ribs today and they were excellent, though I didn't eat the garnish. We also had the stir-fry, but it didn't come with XO sauce, and I know this because we had the chicken with XO sauce, which was also excellent.

                    1. re: curioussheridan

                      I'll be available the second weekend of December; might I be able to interest anyone (Kurtis?? curioussheridan?? you do seem to know quite a bit) in organizing a "hidden treasures" trip to Grace Garden? My email is in my profile.

                2. I finally had a chance to visit Grace Garden. I ordered 3 dishes - fish noodle, Sichuan Home-Style Beef Tendon, and shanghai bok choy stir-fry.

                  The fish noodle certainly is unique. I love the texture of the noodle - slightly firm but not the least bit fishy. Since the noodle tasted like noodle, I felt there should be more than a tiny bit of sausage and mushroom to give the dish more flavor.

                  The beef tendon is best described as mapo tendon. The ground beef sauce tastes like the sauce used in mapo tofu (but I haven't had their mapo tofu). Unfortunately, some chunks of tendon were undercooked, i.e., more rubbery/chewy than optimal. Excellent flavor in the sauce though.

                  So I haven't had the other highly touted dishes but based on what I had, I'd say it's very good, comparable to Hong Kong Palace (which is where I usually go).

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                    I love Grace Garden's stir fried greens. I don't understand how Chef Li stir fries the bok choy whole. I always have to separate the stalks from the leaves. Otherwise the stalks are still undercooked when the leaves are done cooking. I thought it was the high heat, but that didn't make a difference for me (and not something I want to try at home again any time soon, either.) It's so simple, but on my list of top 3 items there.

                    1. re: bmorecupcake

                      The leaves can withstand some extra cooking time. I cook baby bok choy whole at home as well.

                      1. re: bmorecupcake

                        The key for me is cooking them under very high heat, with veggies completely dry so not to create any steam, and not cooking too much at one time unless you have a hugh pan.

                        While tasty, I find their greens in general are a bit overcooked for my taste...