Lydia is now my new partner in crime. There is something that binds us together – food! And it helps that Lou, her husband, is not a picky eater and would eat almost anything.
Today we explored Argyle-the Vietnamese Chinese district in the North side of Chicago. This time it’s ladies outing so Lou stayed home.
Who’s a better person to bring to a Chinatown but Lydia. She’s pure Chinese! I can’t tell you how much I have learned about Chinese food from her. For years my family, friends and I ordered the same things over and over again when we go there. Even though we consider ourselves adventurous eaters, we’re still afraid to try something new if we haven’t known anyone who’s tried something and could guarantee us that it’s worth trying. Or maybe we just don’t want food to go to waste not to mention our hard-earned cash also. Well that three bucks could get us one more of our favorite stuff, right?
We went out early because Lydia mentioned she wanted some tofu or soya curd (we call taho in the Philippines) and they go real fast. So to make sure we catch it, we were there early and she was surprised that the area was almost empty. It is very soft tofu, silky almost, like a creme brûlée but steamed, with a light watery caramel sauce. Back home it comes with pearl balls or farina balls for texture. We know of a bakery where we could get them, literally a whole in the wall, where a bunch of Chinese men regularly drink their coffee. Before Lydia, my sister have always sent me to there to pick up some dim sum (siomai) and I would buy some winter melon cookies as my treat.
Aside from two containers of the soy curd, I also got some tikoy, made out of sweet rice flour (sweet rice is different from regular rice – sweet rice is sticky) which is commonly sold during Chinese New Year. There are more stuff which I would like to try too next time.
Lydia let me finish my grocery shopping before we went for dim sum. A big bag of Jasmine rice, pork belly, veggies for my sister and seafood for me. I found some real nice shrimps too which I would like to cook when they come for dinner.
There is this old cookbook I ordered from Amazon and lately I’m inspired to cook Chinese so I was looking for an extra size bamboo steamer but all they got are the small ones. Maybe I have to search the internet for that.
When all the food shopping was finished, we ended up in Furama before the big crowd came. I’ve been there with my family and I’ve been complaining about their limited offerings, I guess we just didn’t know what to order. This time with Lydia around, it’s like a whole new world opened for me. Chinese world I mean, which I like.
Since it was cold outside, Lydia said one always has to take something warm to fill your stomach. This time we had congee with century egg. This is only my second time to have that egg and I didn’t realize it has a silky texture. It is an acquired taste though, I don’t think it is something I will keep in my pantry.