Posted in Food, Restaurant

Restaurant Review: The Smoke Pit

For my review comeback, I’m doing another restaurant that our friends introduced us to and we enjoyed. This particular restaurant review is for their branch in Salisbury. They closed the location we ate at and moved to 509 Faith Rd. Salisbury, NC 28146. I’m hoping it’s still the same and will give you a feedback when we head there again on our monthly run to Charlotte.

The Smoke Pit restaurant is voted the Best BBQ restaurant by Trip Advisor in 2021. When we visited the place twice, we had roughly 5-10 mins wait. The place is packed and they do both take-out and dine in. Parking is street parking so it’s a hit and miss if there is a space in front of the restaurant. Store Hours: Mondays (Closed), Tuesday-Saturday (11am-9pm), Sunday (11am-8pm).

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Posted in Food, Restaurant

Restaurant Review: Dame’s Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and waffle combination is not something that I’ve tried until I moved to North Carolina. Waffle for me is sweet and eaten for breakfast. Fried chicken is usually associated with savory taste and a dish served for lunch or dinner. So combining chicken and waffles as a meal just boggles my mind.

My husband keep praising this restaurant in downtown Greensboro which he says serves the best Chicken and Waffles. The first time I tried it was when my brother came to visit last Christmas. Since it was still COVID, the number of tables available were few. We’re lucky that we didn’t have to wait and was seated right away. When my brother tried it, he said he wanted to come back as it was so good. He ordered a waffle and 4 chicken legs. As for me, I enjoyed my food and take back what I thought that chicken and waffles is not a good combination. One thing I love about this restaurant are their shmears!!

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Posted in Restaurant, Travel - Beijing

When In.. Beijing!

For the past 10 years, I’ve called Beijing my home. I’ve eaten in a lot of restaurants, been to a lot of places and experienced life living like a local. If you plan to visit Beijing, the top 4 places to visit would be Forbidden City, Great Wall (Mutianyu section please!), Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. However, if you talk about food, I give you fast 5 of Chinese cuisine you must try in Beijing: 

1. Beijing roast duck (aka Peking Duck): a must-eat food when you visit Beijing. The duck is roasted with wood in a stone oven rubbed with spices and no oil. Best to order this dish when you reserve a seat as it take quite some time to cook. The duck will be carved right in front of you for Instagram shots!  Notable restaurants are: Quanjude (Hepingmen Branch only, don’t bother with the other branches), Da Dong, Duck De Chine, Made In China (Grand Hyatt hotel). 

2. Jianbing and soy milk: the Beijing’s version of the breakfast of the champions. You can find them at street corners near office buildings. You have the option to go vegetarian or loaded with meat.   You may think it’s not too hygienic but nobody died yet!  Pair your jianbing with a hot soy milk.  

3.  Hotpot:  there are a lot of hotpot places that you can try in Beijing.  For the budget-conscious traveler,  Xiabu Xiabu (呷哺呷哺) offers the best deal.  For mid-range, go for Haidilao (海底捞) or Dong Lai Shun (东来顺).  Haidilao offers entertainment if you ordered their handmade noodles.  Dong Lai Shun serve their hotpot in a traditional pot.  There are different soup base to choose from (clear, spicy, tom yum, tomato), meats (lamb, pork, beef, seafood), vegetables, noodles/dumplings, sauces.

4.  Dumplings (饺子):  if noodles are considered the staple of the south, dumplings are considered the staple of the north.  A must-eat dish especially during Chinese New Year.  Families prepare their own dumplings and boil them to cook.  I miss the Chinese dumpling restaurant in front of our office building which serves good dumplings.  You can opt for vegetarian, meat lovers, seafood lovers or mixed fillings.  Some dumplings are wrapped in different colors from the usual white.

5.  Lamb Skewers (羊肉串):  the days where you can find in every corner a lamb skewer vendor who grills them as you wait are slowly dying.  My friends and I sometimes just sit outside on a warm balmy day with a bottle of cold beer and just these lamb skewers for dinner.  However, as the local government wanted to ensure the cleanliness and authenticity of the skewers, they are now mostly available in restaurants.  

There you have it!  Enjoy your stay in Beijing!
Photo credits:  Vivian Tang, thebeijinger
Posted in Beijing, Cooking

Sichuan Spicy Chicken (辣子鸡丁)

One of the most loved dishes by foreigners is the Sichuan Spicy Chicken or La Zi Ji.  A typical dish would have either chicken cubes with bones or boneless.  The difference between the two is the flavor as the one with bones will taste much better than pure chicken meat.  However, even though it’s flavorful, it’s more difficult to appreciate if you have to remove the bones once in awhile while eating it.
So with nothing to do during Valentines Day, I grabbed the chance to learn how to cook this dish from Hutong Cuisine.  It was quite a learning experience for a non-chef like me.  The teaching method was perfect for newbies and in the end, I can’t believe that I was able to prepare such dish by myself.

Sichuan Spicy Chicken

  • 150g Chicken Breast fillet
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Ginger, same amount as garlic
  • 1 strand of Spring Onion (white portion only)
  • A handful of dry chillies
  • 2 tsp Sichuan Pepper
  • 1 tsp Chili paste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 beaten egg
  • 2 tbsp corn starch

Ingredient preparation:

  • Dry chilies:  cut into sections and remove seeds by moving the chilies left to right using a cleaver.
  • Spring onion:  cut into 1.5cm sections the white portion
  • Garlic:  slice into thumbnail sizes.
  • Ginger:  slice into thumbnail sizes in similar amount as garlic
  • Chicken:  cut into 1.5cm cubes.  Create a light crisscross pattern on one side of the meat to retain marinade and coating.

Cooking instructions:
1.  Put chicken in a bowl and mix in the marinade mixture of 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp rice wine and 1 tsp light soy sauce.  Let the mixture seep in the chicken for 15 minutes.

2.  Add 2 tsp of coating (1/2 beaten egg and 2 tbsp corn starch) into the chicken and mix well.
3.  Put 3 tbsp cornstarch in a container (ziploc bag or tupperware), put chicken inside, seal and shake it well.  Make sure that the chicken is well coated before putting it on a plate.  Let the coated chicken stand for 15 minutes until the cornstarch turns wet.

4.  In a wok, pour enough oil to cover all the chicken over middle flame.  When the oil starts to warm, add the chicken inside and deep fry for 3 minutes.  (Note:  To check if oil is warm, dip a portion of the chopstick or fork with some starch in the oil.  If the portion with starch, bubbles continuously, the oil is ready for deep fry).

5.  After deep frying for 3 minutes, remove the chicken from the oil and turn to high flame.  When the oil starts to smoke, put the chicken back in the oil and deep fry till it changes to golden brown color.
6.  Take out the chicken, remove excess oil and put it in a plate.
7.  In another wok, put half a small bowl of oil in the wok over low flame, add ginger, garlic and spring onion.  Cook till slightly burn.
8.  Add chili bean paste, stir, add sichuan pepper, stir for 1 minute, add dry chili, stir till chili turns slightly brown in color.

9.  Add chicken and sugar.  Continuous stir-frying is required for a few minutes.

Enjoy!  I guarantee you it’s good!  Now I need to re-create it without the teacher hovering beside me. 

Posted in Restaurant

Hooters (美国猫头鹰餐厅)

ka1Hooters in the US is known for their beautiful, well-endowed servers.  When Hooters opened in Beijing in 2007, foreigners particularly men flocked the restaurant hoping to be served by these beautiful, well-endowed servers.   However, they were disappointed as Asians are not known to be blessed with big breasts.  Reviews at that time were focused on their servers and not their food.

In any case, I only got the chance to visit this place last month after church.  It wasn’t full as it’s a Sunday and to make up for their lack in bust size, they perform a 30 second dance routine almost every half an hour.  Service was great and the place is filled with flat screen TV tuned in to different sports channel.

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