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New Year, New Foods

February 10, 2016

How long after January 1st do you continue to wish people a Happy New Year? A few weeks at least. So even though Chinese New Year was officially on Monday, it’s still not too late to get out and enjoy a Chinese New Year’s feast.

I’ve done these before in the past at Ala Shanghai with groups of various size and composition. Last year I brought together a bunch of Yelpers. Before that we had a gathering of people from AOA.

But this year, Ala Shanghai did not put together a composed Chinese New Years menu. They offered special individual dishes. And those dishes look great. However, I do really enjoy the idea of having a traditional meal composed for me without having to make the impossible choices presented by the menu.

Don’t forget, the tragedy of my life is that I want to eat all the things, but I can’t eat all the things.

Fortunately, Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro stepped up, and had several menus from which to choose. Of all those menus, one especially caught my eye. The only catch was that the meal was only for six people, which opened up the window to an entirely new group of eaters.

The Food Bloggers. There are a few of us still left. But if you look down the right hand column of this blog, you’ll see all those great old food blogs that walked off the field.

Albany Jane came out along with Jon in Albany, J+R from Chopsticks Optional, and Ms. Garlic from the Capital Region Dining Blog (which is hopefully just enjoying an extended sabbatical). As excited I was about the company, I was equally excited about the food.

There’s a Jewish custom. We believe the new year is a time for new food. It’s always fun to do a bit of cross cultural sharing. So I was thrilled that Menu A for six people had two foods I had never eaten before. The first was abalone. The second, amazingly, was pig’s feet. As it turns out, I mistakenly thought fish maw had to do with fish head. So after last night I can cross that off my list too.

The fish maw soup was good. I loved that the fried chicken platter was decorated with an orchid. And I delighted that upon closer inspection, the flower was being held in the deep fried beak of the deep fried chicken head. Thankfully J scooped out the brains, so they didn’t go to waste.

Abalone was a treat. It clearly came from the sea, and had a tender, delicate flavor closer to lobster or monkfish than giant clam. But it also had a tender, meaty density to the flesh which wasn’t entirely dissimilar from the shiitakes that went along with the dish.

However, the superstar of the night was probably the salt and pepper sampler platter. That came with salt and pepper ribs which were fantastic. And in the center was a pile of sliced jellyfish on top of a daikon and carrot salad.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 8.45.22 AM

Pig’s feet were good to try, but they’re really quite gelatinous. I suspect that there is someone out there who could make me a swoon worthy version. But these are not going to the top of my list.

Man, it’s fun to hang out with other bloggers and eat. I’m really fortunate to have stumbled upon all these communities of people in the Capital Region. The longer I’m here, the more I find. Like the craft beer community with which I seems to share a lot of my natural affinities.

Whatever may happen this year, it’s off to an auspicious beginning.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2016 11:08 am

    Funny – I thought the pigs feet were on the firmer end and could have benefited from being more gelatinous.

  2. February 10, 2016 1:21 pm

    Great time last night. Salt and pepper plate stole the show. Really enjoyed the meal. Many things i had never had before…maw, pigs feet, abalone, red bean/tapioca soup. Usually I’m not very good with chopsticks. Only thing i dropped last night came off a fork.

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