PF Chang’s in Sacramento, CA

dynamite shrimp

So we came here because Joe had a PF Chang’s giftcard. I’m 28 years old and I have never been to a PF Chang’s before. Joe has been a few times but not recently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

salt and pepper shrimp

salt and pepper shrimp

 

 

spicy chicken

spicy chicken

 

 

mongolian beef

mongolian beef

 

P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon

Shandong Restaurant in Oakland, CA

Shandong Restaurant
328 10th St.
Oakland, CA

salt and pepper fish

salt and pepper fish

Joe and I headed into SF for a day, and decided to give Oakland chinatown a try. Joe had been here a few times before, and I’ve been here once before. Joe had a hard time trying to find a parking spot, so I went in to grab a table before they all filled up. It was a good call to, cuz by the time Joe came in, there were no more free seats. Anywho, anytime I go to a Chinese restaurant, we always try the salt and pepper fish which is a good way to judge their batter and frying technique.

 

black bean chicken

black bean chicken

This was one of those impulse purchases like gum while standing in line for the cashier, I was alone in  a Chinese restaurant without my Chinese chaperone and thought this might be a good dish to add to the other ones we had discussed. While overall our meal was delicious, this was probably our least favorite and could have done without this particular dish.

steamed pork dumplings

steamed pork dumplings

AMAZING DUMPLINGS! This place is known for their steamed pork dumplings and may I say, bravo! I put the order in for this right away cuz I figured it might take a while but they have a dedicated dumpling station and that guy was jump pumping out dumplings left and right. They were fresh, hot from the steamer, and delicious with their chili oil sitting on the tables.

spicy meat noodle

spicy meat noodle

But all dishes take 2nd place to the spicy meat noodle dish. Growing up, my grandparents took me out for the korean version of this dish, jajangmyun, and so I have lots of fond memories with this dish. This particular dish was a little on the sweeter side but still delicious. The hand drawn noodles were a sweet touch. I love the consistency of hand drawn noodles, the perfect al dente that just dissolves in your mouth.

 

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Four Seasons Gourmet Chinese food in Davis, CA

Four Seasons Gourmet Chinese Food
1601 Research Park Dr.
Davis, CA

shrimp dim sum

 

shrimp with long rice noodle

salt and pepper fried fish

 

sesame seed balls

After scrolling through these photos, you’re probably thinking, damn! that looks pretty yummy! Guess what! This all came out of a gas station! I kid you not! My husband and I were driving around Davis after checking out a Korean church and he said, let’s grab lunch before we go back to Sacramento. I figured, sure! why not! Davis is known for pretty good food. Well imagine my surprise when my loving husband pulls into a gas station parking lot, I was like, you idiot, if you need gas pull up next to one of the pumping stations. But he said, nope, this is lunch. I was like in shock as I walked into the left side of the gas station and realized that there were 4 tables and a chinese menu on the wall. My first thought once this settled in was, “WHAT THE DAMN HELL?! IS THIS  A SICK JOKE?!” How hygienic can this be? They don’t even have a wall separating the gas station from the chinese restaurant.

Once I accepted the fact that my lunch would be coming out of a gas station, we decided to go with the most popular dishes on yelp plus a few of my favorite dim sum dishes since it was a Sunday, and I was hungry.  Out of all the dishes we ate, the salt and pepper fried fish was by far the best. The batter was crispy and savory and the fish was well coplemented by the saltiness of the batter. The dimsum dishes weren’t anything special and we got the sesame seed balls cuz I like to end my meals on a sweet note. Now every time we drive by this gas station on our way out from Davis, Joe asks me with a smirk on his face, “dinner?”

 

Four Seasons Gourmet Chinese on Urbanspoon

The Dumpling House in Davis, CA

The Dumpling House
129 E St.
Davis, CA

cute sign

Our program director (who is Chinese) mentioned that this place has amazing hand made dumplings. So since we were in the area, we decided to have lunch here. Parking was surprisingly easy considering it was Davis downtown (near where the Farmer’s market is).

5 spice fried chicken

On yelp, this chicken dish got amazing reviews so we checked it out. It was pretty good. It was white chicken meat, lightly breaded and deep fried. And then tossed in a Chinese 5 spice mix. They were surprisingly good. (when is deep fried chicken not good?)

pork and chive dumplings

We were trying to figure out which dumplings to get and the cutest lil ol Chinese grandma (aka the waittress) came up to us and started to tell us about how fried dumplings are called “pot-stickers” and boiled dumplings are called “dumplings.” We asked her for her favorite type (cuz there were so freaking many) and we went with the pork and chive dumplings. They were pretty good for hand-made dumplings ( I could see into the next room and saw a Chinese woman working away at it). There is also an option to order a batch of frozen hand made dumplings (to cook at home), but 1 order of frozen dumplings is like $19 and 1 order of those same dumplings cooked to order is $7. Whoa! So I definitely won’t be ordering any frozen dumplings, but I may definitely come back when I’m in the mood for good dumplings.

Old Tea House on Urbanspoon

J & J/ Jin Jian in San Gabriel, CA

J & J/ Jin Jian
301 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776

J&J was an authentic Chinese restaurant I found in a little Asian plaza in San Gabriel. I couldn’t read any of the Chinese signs but I did see a market and a foot massage place so I knew it was legitimate.

crab and pork soup dumplings

All the reviews online talked about the crab and pork soup dumplings. It was nice, on the east coast, the soup dumplings are humongous and difficult to bite into because it’s so hot but on the west coast, the soup dumplings are bite size. These little gems were packed full of flavor. Very delicious and I could see why all the hype.

Shanghai noodle

Another popular item on the menu was the Shanghai noodles. Flour noodles tossed with soy sauce, veggies and beef. I didn’t think this dish was as great as the xiao long bao (soup dumplings). If I’m ever in this area again, I will definitely return for the soup dumplings.

J&J Restaurant (Jin Jian) on Urbanspoon

Nu Cafe in Houston, TX

Nu Cafe
9889 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX

snow flake ice

This place is known for their Nu Ice or Ribbon ice. Nu Snowflake Ice has the consistancy of ice cream, the deep rich taste of gelato, and melts in your mouth like snow. I had the green tea flavor which was phenomenal! I added the mango syrup and pineapples. Anything else would have been additional costs.

 

 

Nu Café on Urbanspoon

New Jumbo Seafood in Boston, MA (Chinatown)

New Jumbo Seafood
5 Hudson st.
Boston, MA

This is a Chinatown staple, I was a bit worried  because of a lot of negative reviews but then I saw the fish tanks for myself and saw how clean it was. My worries disappeared! So I knew that the restaurant would be packed and saw online that they took reservations and so I called ahead to make a reservation for us. What a good call! When we got there, the place was packed and the line was practically out the door. Imagine the looks we got as we walked to the front of the line and said we had a reservation and were seated right away.

sizzling steak

The first dish to come out was the sizzling steak dish. Not too sure what makes it sizzle, the extremely  hot black rock? So usually at a chinese restaurant, they offer you chopsticks. I didn’t realize that Chinese people eat their rice with chopsticks too. Have you ever attempted such a feat? Their rice doesn’t stick together like Japanese rice and Korean rice. Anywho, trying to eat the steaks with chopsticks was a bit of a task. Luckily, I spotted their silverware drawer and ransacked it for all the forks and knives I could hold in one hand.

Lobster in ginger and scallion sauce

Since this place is known for their seafood, i mean it’s in the name, we got the creme de la creme of the ocean, Lobster! They brought out 2 huge lobsters which were boiled and then cooked in a ginger and scallion sauce. I wish they had brought out one of those seafood shell cracker-thing-a-ma-jiggys cuz it would’ve helped to eat some of the smaller pieces. But overall, the lobster was cooked fine and the sauce was good.

Seafood Treasure Nest

My mom insisted on getting the seafood treasure nest. Scallop, shrimp and calamari inside a taro pastry shell with a light sauce. I really liked the contrast in texture between the shrimp/scallop versus the taro pastry.  Can you tell I was a huge fan of the taro pastry shell?

Fried tofu with shrimp on top

We were trying to decide between the fried tofu and the stuffed tofu and the waittress told us that the fried tofu was better. It came out with shrimp on top. Yum! I wasn’t a huge fan of the

pan fried noodles with beef

We were looking for a carb dish for our feast and it was down to noodle vs fried rice. We decided to go with the noodles but weren’t in the mood for the thick rice noodle and went with the pan fried noodles. I love how the heat from the beef and sauce soften the crispy fried noodles. It was really delicious and complemented the rest of our meal perfectly.

 

New Jumbo Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

101 Noodle Express in Los Angeles, CA

101 Noodle Express
1408 E Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA

ambiance

I happened to be in the Alhambra area and knew that a prominent Chinatown/Little Tokyo also happened to be in that area. Since I am partial to hand-made noodles, I made the decision to check out the chinese scene. Parking was quite easy with its own free lot.

hand drawn noodles

I started off with hand drawn noodles with ground pork in a soy sauce. I had promised myself to give my GI system a break and not make it spicy but once the dish came out, I found myself shoveling the hot chili oil on the table onto my dish. The noodle texture was only OK and the flavors were a little on the bland side thus the need for the chili oil kick.

soup dumplings

We also split an order of the mini soup dumplings.  Soup dumplings has always been a very complicated dish for me but apparently on the west coast, it’s quite common. The soup dumplings were all right, not much compared to Joe’s Shanghai in NY where you have to be careful to not burn the roof of your mouth when biting into one of these.  The dumplings were lukewarm but the flavors were ok.

beef roll

OMG! The beef roll was the star of the meal! the flaky outer wrap with the well seasoned beef and freshness of cilantro. Plus the chili oil, this dish is unstoppable! This was by far my favorite dish of the night, they should just put a huge picture of this dish on the front of their menu so people know what to order. But when I looked around at the other tables, I saw that other patrons already knew to order it because I kid you not, there was a plate of beef rolls on each and every table! Plus all the patrons were Chinese which is always a good sign for  Chinese restaurant.

101 Noodle Express on Urbanspoon

Xiong’s Cafe’s in Houston, TX

Xiong’s Cafe
9888 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX

I mainly try to eat at where the local Chinese residents would venture to in Chinatown. This is one of those spots. I mean sure, you can expect any restaurant in Chinatown to be filled with Chinese people, but still, this place is small and it was packed with Chinese people! Always a good sign!

spicy wonton

Wonton is a specific type of dumpling, made with a square wrapper and folded into a rectangular shape. It is tossed in a chili oil. I love the chili oil they offer on the side. The filling was ground pork and onion, it was pretty good.

sichuan noodles

The Sichuan noodles was a pork lo mein in garlic sauce. I was surprised that it wasn’t spicy at all because I usually attribute Sichuan food to spicy food but this was not spicy. The garlic flavor definitely permeated every bite. It wasn’t a raw garlic taste though so that was nice. The side chili oil was key! The garlic flavor was pretty 1-dimensional before the chili oil.

Za Jiang Noodle

Pork lo mein with sliced up cucumber. The ground pork definitely added a nice flavor but the chili oil added a nicer flavor. The texture of the noodles was delicious, not soggy nor undercooked.

Xiong's Cafe on Urbanspoon