Throwback Thursday- Family Style Chinese food

Ever since I was a child I would have family style Chinese food. This is not your typical Chinese American cuisine. Majority of authentic Chinese restaurant are identified based on the number of Chinese customers eating there. There are two family style Chinese cuisine I have eaten at, both in Elmhurst. Every year I always have to celebrate my birthday with Chinese food. I grew up with the belief of consuming noodles on my birthday signifying long life.  When I eat at these family style Chinese restaurants I always request an order of pan fried noodles. Recently I had a craving a found a recipe to make it on own, which was recently posted here under Traditional Tuesday. In addition to the pan fried noodles we would order a crusted t-bone steak and honey walnut shrimp.

The top collage was taken place at China Pearl Chinese Restaurant, one of the original Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $300.

The bottom collage was taken place at the recently opened Broadway Seafood Chinese Restaurant also located in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $170.

The major differences between the two restaurants is the quality of food. China Pearl had the better house special soup, steak and honey shrimp walnut while Broadway Seafood had more street food options such as lamb chops and roast pig and duck and soy sauce chicken.

The pan fried noodles with seafood is better at Broadway Seafood than in China Pearl.

Stay tuned for more eating journeys…

Flashback Friday – Pho Bang 

Happy Friday! One of my family’s favorite spots to eat on a lazy night of cooking is Pho Bang, a Vietnamese restaurant in Elmhurst, NY. This restaurant also has several locations, one in Flushing and the other in Chinatown. The restaurant accepts cash only but it is a great family spot especially for quick and cheap family dinners. The dishes are not only cheap, but it has been recognized as one of the top restaurants in Elmhurst by Zagat.

My father would end up with the bill and from my recollection of the costs the total including tax was less than $30 for three people.  Even better the portions are family style! 

The awesome thing about this restaurant is their prep and presentation of their beef and abundance of vegetables. There are variety of pho to choose from, but we usually go with the Tai Chin Nam Gan Sach without the rice noodles, which is a beef soup with fresh eye round, navel, tendon and omosa. The dish comes with noodles, but we love the flavor of the beef broth plus it is carb free. The beef just cooks in the hot broth as it is served to maintain its tenderness. The vegetables of bean sprouts and mint with lemon enhanced the flavor of this refreshing hot soup. 

Another dish that we love to order is a specialty called Nam Nuong which grilled pork hash balls that come with picked carrots, shallot and radishes along with steamed rice wrappers and green leaf lettuce. This dish is refreshing and versatile where you can use the rice wrapper and place the ingredients in it. You can even go paleo and do without the rice wrapper and use the lettuce to make a wrap. 

Pho and Nam Nuong

Other dishes to try include their spring rolls which are made out of rice wrapper. Can’t go wrong with the summer roll, bun (rice vermecelli) dishes and grilled pork chops. 

Last month a fire broke into the restaurant. The restaurant is currently closed but it is undergoing renovations. Can’t wait to return to this restaurant once it opens again. In the meantime, check out the other Pho Bang restaurants in Flushing and Chinatown. 

Traditional Tuesday – Pan Fried Noodles

In the past week or two, I have had this craving of pan fried noodles with some type of gravy sauce.  When I was child I was considered a picky eater.  My father who is a chef would bring home a variety of dishes and even cook some too.  I was told I had expensive food tastes as my two favorites were sharkfin soup and pan fried noodles with beef.

Even though my food palate has evolved over time and I eat everything now, I will always have a love for an order of family style pan fried noodle dish with either beef or seafood during my family outings at a Chinese restaurant.

I went grocery shopping last week and came across a packet of “Hong Kong Style Pan Fried Noodles”.  Immediately, I had a huge craving for this dish so I purchased a packet and searched online for the best recipes to replicate the dish in most healthy way possible with the ingredients I have at home.  As a result, this recipe is adapted from two recipes that I found made the best pan fried noodles.

During the creation of this dish, my phone decided to not cooperate with me so unfortunately I do not have my usual photo of my ingredient layout.  In addition, there is no exact calorie count.

Please note that leftover cooked vegetables (carrots and cabbage) were used in stir fry portion of this dish.  This dish serves 2 people.

Chicken & Marinade adapted from RecipeTinEats:

2 Boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced (120 calories/serving)

1 teaspoon of reduced sodium soy sauce (3 calories)

1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil

1 tsp flour or cornstarch

white pepper

  1. Slice chicken breasts into thin slices
  2. Add all ingredients and combine
  3. Let it sit in room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

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Pan Fried Noodles adapted from Serious Eats 

1/2 lb. of Hong Kong style pan fried noodles (300 calories/serving).

2 tablespoons of Canola oil (120 calories/serving)

1/4 cup of water

  1. Add 1 tbsp. of canola oil to the wok
  2. Separate noodles by hand and add them to the oil in medium high heat.
  3. Pat noodles to make it into a pancake for about 1 minute
  4. Add water to create steam so the noodles would not burn.
  5. Swirl the pan so the noodles on the periphery could get crispy.
  6. Slide the noodles unto a big plate, obtain another big plate and invert the noodles to transfer.
  7. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. of canola to the wok.
  8. Return the uncooked side noodles to the pan and repeat steps 3-5.
  9. Slide the noodles unto the big plate.

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry adapted from RecipeTinEats

Sauce

3 tbsp. of flour or cornstarch

3 tbsp. of water

3/4 of chicken bouillon dissolved in 3/4 cup of water

1 tbsp. oyster sauce

2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce (20 calories)

1 tsp. sugar

  1.  Combine above ingredients to create this stir fry sauce.

Stir fry

1 tablespoon minced garlic (15 calories)

1 tablespoon olive oil (120 calories)

2 shallots, chopped

leftover cooked cabbage and carrots.

  1. Heat olive oil and add garlic.
  2. Add marinated chicken and stir fry until golden brown
  3. Add shallots and cooked vegetables
  4. Add stir fry sauce and let it simmer for about 1 minute.
  5. Place stir fry and sauce over the noodles.

Unfortunately I do not have the finished product as my phone died and I was hungry.  The dish was less starchy and salty compared to what I have eaten at Chinese restaurants.  The texture of the dish was pretty close.  The dish was cheaper to make than ordering it at the restaurant.   Creating this dish was an experience in itself and the techniques used to cook at home versus at a restaurant is different due to space and availability.  I definitely want to make this again using different ingredients so stay tuned!

 

Flashback Friday – Ayada

Happy Friday, after a week of planning and cooking healthy meals on a budget for Cinco de Mayo, it is time to head to one of my favorite Thai restaurants to date.  Ayada Thai is a neighborhood gem and a great place to eat with a group of friends.  I usually take my relatives from out of town here and even have held small birthday parties here.

Ayada Thai is located in Elmhurst, Queens.  The restaurant offers authentic, affordable and tasty Thai food that will feed an entire family.  The restaurant received a lot of press and awards for their amazing cuisine.  They have been covered by ABC NewsNew York TimesVillage Voice, New York Magazine, and even was voted as one of the best Cheap Eats and best Thai Restaurants in Zagat.  More importantly they received recognition of  Bib Gourmands by Michelin Star.

I can definitely testify to Ayada’s success by the food portion and quality of food that is provided to us.  Below are images of my family and my personal favorite dishes:

BBQ Pork $10

BBQ Beef $10

Satay Chicken $7

Shrimp in a Blanket $5

Crispy Chinese Watercress Salad $15

Crispy Catfish Salad $15

Shrimp Pad Thai $11

Chicken Pad Thai $9

Beef Pad Cee Eiw $9

Fried Banana (only sold on Saturdays)

Thai Ice Tea $3

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1) BBQ Pork 2) Beef Pad Cee Eiw 3) Fried Banana (sold on weekends), 4) Crispy Catfish Salad, 5) BBQ Beef and BBQ Pork 6) Chicken Satay and Shrimp in a Blanket, 7) Crispy Watercress Salad, 8) Shrimp Pad Thai

Best times to go is during lunch and early dinner before 7pm.  I have not tried their lunch special yet because I work on the weekdays.  Given that half of my heritage is Thai I can testify to the authenticity and taste of the food.  Food is overall consistent and I will definitely return for another family meal.