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Emily L Eats Zongzi

June 4, 2019

Last night was another epic beer pairing dinner at The City Beer Hall. It was fun to hang with some of the Yelp crew, see some of my beer friends, and to taste the imaginative food of chef Dimitrios. But it was longer than most, and when it was done, I popped over to Excelsior Pub for a few rounds of pinball.

Suffice it to say, I was not writing the blog. Thankfully, Emily L had submitted a guest post about one of my favorite local restaurants, Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro. She tried a seasonal specialty, which we thought you should know about.

So without further ado, here’s Emily’s post.

Zongzi at Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro
by Emily L

I love Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro. I’ll stop in on the weekends and for $10, pick up twelve delicious baked goods, far superior to a dozen donuts from Dunkin’. For lunch, an order of steamed duck dumplings will fill me up for just $6 (though I can’t just stop at one order during dim sum.) But on a recent trip for lunch, I was treated to a seasonal speciality only baked in May known as zongzi.

Zongzi is a glutinous rice dish stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves. Made traditionally during the Dragon Boat Festival in mid-May, our waitress explained this is also eaten during a regional Chinese festival honoring the dead. Hong Kong Bistro’s zongzi is filled with salted pork, salted duck egg yolk, mushrooms, chestnuts, and green beans.

Opening the dish, a puff of hot air came steaming out of the bun. This thing was hot. Served with a side of salty sauce, we teared into this seasonal treat. The rice was just that; extremely glutinous and sticky. Almost impossible to tear apart, it stuck to the inside of my mouth. The rice had been cooked with some sort of fermented vinegar and had a very strong taste to it, unusual for rice. It was hard to decipher the different fillings, but the egg yolk had somehow stayed intact and gooed out. Though not as filled as I would have liked it to be, the combination of the filling was delightful. It was hard for to overcome the strong taste of the rice, but I enjoyed everything else about this dish.

Hong Kong Bistro and Bakery will be serving this zongzi for a few more weeks. They seem to be the only restaurant in the area serving it for the Dragon Boat Festival. For $9, it was more than enough to serve person. But if you are like me, you won’t be able to just stop at just one thing.

First let’s address the elephant in the room. Nine bucks? My experience with zongzi has been with dumplings that were much much cheaper. But after doing a little bit of digging, I came to find there’s a wide range of zongzi. Some are quite inexpensive, others are a bit higher priced. And it seems the difference has to do with the fillings.

After doing some comparison shopping online, the zongzi at Hong Kong Bakery are solidly in line with the market for what the type.

Personally, I’m a fan of the chewy rice, so I hope these are still available. Emily sent me this story some time ago, but there were other stories to tell. Plus, I wanted to save her post for a rainy day. Or, you know, a sunny day where all I want to do is crawl back into bed and catch up on the sleep I abandoned for a few extra rounds of pinball.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2019 12:10 pm

    I am wondering why these are called “dumplings” when they are equivalent to lo mai kai, eg glutinous rice and fillings wrapped in leaves. Not a complaint about the post because I see the label says that, and also they are referred to as dumplings when you google it.

    As to price, I was at Hong Kong Bakery recently and was surprised to find many dishes are now in the high teens or even over $20 price-wise. It’s become one of our more expensive local Asian places.

    • June 4, 2019 12:37 pm

      Deanna Fox had a simple definition of a dumpling: It’s one food tucked inside of another food. If you can find fault with that, let’s discuss.

  2. Ewan permalink
    June 4, 2019 12:23 pm

    I figured that after the CBH event went _so_ long that pinball was off! It certainly was for Jenny & Hope. I was pretty disappointed in the evening. Oy veh.

    • June 4, 2019 12:43 pm

      Lauren, Chris, and I had some epic pinball battles. The AC/DC machine got most of our quarters. But we also took it for several free games. Those CBH dinners are challenging. There is just so much damn love put into each of those places. But the pacing was glacial, as were some of the elements. It’s a killer to see all that thought and preparation be scuttled by the final execution of the plates. Still, I’m glad to see (and support) someone stepping up and swinging for the bleachers.

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