Friday, January 02, 2009

A Familiar Taste In A Foreign Land

Today we had the chance to sample some of Harbin's finest dongbei cuisine. We stopped for what was supposed to be a "snack" at Da Fengshou. Advertised in Frommer's as serving China's answer to garlic mashed potatoes, as meat and potato people, we felt compelled to stop by.

After ordering some beverages (more on that in a later post), and the tudouni, we began to try to decipher the all Chinese language menu.

Deciding that we might seem out of place in a restaurant where every patron was eating the American equivalent of Thanksgiving dinner, given the quantity of food at every table, we ordered some delicious pork dumplings. Just then, a dish was delivered to the table next to us. It looked so familiar to us that we just had to inquire about it. "Steve," I said, "Ask them what they're eating!" (I do this in restaurants all the time when I spot an interesting dish go by, so Steve pretty much expects it now.) "Fuwuyuan," Steve said, "Zhe ge cai jiao shenme?" At that point, the waiter pointed to the characters on the menu that coincide with the dish, and Steve said, "Yao yi fen zhe ge." ("We'll take an order!") Today's selection? Stew! Just like my Mom makes (well, almost!). I know you've never seen stew on a Chinese take-out menu...Me neither! All I can say is the Russian influence on Chinese cuisine works for me! Given my Eastern European heritage, what could be finer than this type of fusion on a cold winter's day? Add that to the hong chang we feasted on earlier in the day (which tasted strikingly similar to Grampy's Hungarian kielbasi), and we're talking comfort food.

Some snack, huh? (And all for 104 kuai!)



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