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I ate a lot in New York City.

I ate a lot in New York City.

Since we are moving so far away, we decided to scrounge up a couple extra days to attend my grandparents’ birthdays in New York City this past weekend. I was always too busy to make it every year, and even though we’re 10x more busy now than before, I realize that a hectic schedule should never be an excuse. Plus, it looks like I have a theme going weekly now, called ‘I ate a lot in ___________ (insert city)’.

We celebrated each birthday with a traditional Chinese banquet. I don’t have many family photos here because I didn’t know if they’d be comfortable on the blog. So I’m only showing food.

So, what’s in a Chinese banquet? The photo above is some stuff I took from the appetizer dish, which consisted of a variety of foods served cold. I’m going to name them to the best of my ability. The noodle like substance on the top left corner is jellyfish with pickled turnips. It’s one of my favorites. It has a jelly-like texture (surprise surprise, right?) that closely resembles noodles, with a sesame oil flavor. On the top right is fried pork chops with salt and pepper, bottom right is beef tongue, and the bottom left is fried onion rings with pepper.

You’re probably wondering ‘if you eat beef tongue, does it taste YOU???

….or is that just me?

Anyway, these dishes were for my grandmother’s birthday, at a restaurant in Flushing, Queens.

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Next is the soup dish. This was a seafood soup with scallops, shrimp, crab meat and tofu. You have the option of drizzling some red vinegar into your soup to cut the fishiness. It’s not necessary, but I like the vinegary flavor.

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Top – Deep fried tofu with shrimp

Middle – Stir-fried beef with shiitake mushrooms and onions

 Bottom – Deep fried shrimp with deep fried custard and broccoli

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Lobster stir fried with egg, pork and scallions.

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Crispy chicken with prawn crackers, served with cooked salt for dipping.

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On my plate is snow pea leaves sautéed with garlic.

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And for the last course is a sweet red bean soup.

On Saturday, we attended my grandfather’s 95th birthday in Chinatown. This is what we had:

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The first course is a cold appetizer. This is a fruit salad with shrimp, covered in a mayonnaise based dressing. I know the flavor must be totally out there for most of you. And people either hate it or love it. But I liked it, even though sometimes it feels weird to eat so much mayo. Then again, I like mayo.

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The second course was deep fried tofu with shrimp, conch and vegetables.

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Third course was black mushrooms with dried scallops.

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Fourth course was shark fin soup.

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Fifth course was crispy chicken with prawn chips.

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I had to get a picture of the head here. It still makes me chuckle that some people freak out when they see the head, since it’s never been an issue in our family.

I mean, it’s the best part of the chicken to eat.

Just kidding. Nobody eats the head.

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Sixth course was lobster stir fried with scallions and ginger.

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Seventh course was abalone with shiitake mushrooms and bok choy, covered in oyster sauce.

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Eighth course was deep fried steak.

The deep-fried part was just too much for me. Yes, even me.

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Ninth course was deep fried fish with gai lan.

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Tenth course was Yi Mein stir fried with vegetables.

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Eleventh dish was Fried Rice.

The starchy dishes are always served at the end, in case you didn’t fill up on the other dishes. Usually most of these dishes sit there untouched and somebody gets to take them home.

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And the last dish was a sweet soup, I believe with red beans.

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My grandfather is the one in the blue shirt. When he was in the cab on his way to the restaurant, my mom asked the cab driver to guess my grandfather’s age. He answered 70.

Of course, the cake only had 2 candles since 95 might’ve been a little too excessive.

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The cake was covered in fruit, whip cream and is pretty light and spongy. It’s not too heavy. Chris ate my slice and his own.

After this dinner we went to a bar to watch the Yankees game, drank a couple beers and ate nachos.

Yes, nachos.



16 thoughts on “I ate a lot in New York City.”

  • I’m full just reading that. WOW, that’s a lot of food! It looks yummy and most of it I’ve never had. Well, all but that chicken head looks yummy… LOL

  • Please don’t eat shark fin soup! Not only is the finning of sharks barbaric, but their indiscriminate slaughter at an unsustainable rate is pushing many species to the brink of extinction. Since the 1970s the populations of several species have been decimated by over 95%. Here you can read more: http://www.stopsharkfinning.net/

  • We offer our best wishes to you and your grandfather on his birthday. We value diversity and tradition and yet we hope your next celebration will exclude shark fin soup. According to CNN and a wealth of other sources, the demand for shark fin soup is tragically altering oceanic ecosystems around the globe. Nearly 100 million sharks are savagely slaughtered annually, for soup. Please read more about the cost associated with shark fin soup at the link below.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/12/10/pip.shark.finning/index.html

  • Lisa and Richard – Thank you for your comments. I understand the controversy with shark finning and agree that it is a barbaric and unnesessary slaughtering of sharks.
    Personally, if anyone ever asked me if I would recommend Shark Fin Soup, I would say no. I have never ordered it myself in the past, nor will I ever do so in the future.
    Older generations tend to order delicacies associated with the traditional style banquets, which include Shark Fin Soup. Out of respect to my grandfather’s 95th birthday, and the older generations before me, I would lay off them this time. They don’t consider themselves barbaric, I don’t consider them barbaric, and everyone else can think what they wish. Younger generations don’t tend to order shark fin soup, and eventually this part of the tradition will phase out soon over time, due to our knowledge of shark finning and how it affects the world.
    And lastly, this post was merely documenting that I attended a celebration in which these dishes were served. Let’s leave it at that.

  • I echo best wishes to your family and many more b-days to your grandfather. Having said that I refer to your comment that eventually “the practice of eating shark fin soup will die out.” which may be true. Unfortunately the shark population may not survive that time frame. Your position in the food media industry could be used as an educational platform to help put an end to the wasteful barbaric methods used in harvesting the fins from the sharks. Please consider this before ot’s too late. Thanks

  • I definitely concur that this would be waaay too much food for me to consume in one sitting. I hope your grandfather had a wonderful birthday being surrounded by his family (95? That’s amazing!) and that you and Chris has a wonderful visit!

  • Happy birthday to your grandfather. He certainly does NOT look 95! (How old did his parents live to be?)

    Many of those dishes look too pretty to eat! What are prawn chips?

    Others…well, let’s just say I’m afraid I would be a very disrespectful guest. Makes me wonder, are there any Chinese who are picky eaters? Do Chinese look at American dishes and think, “Eeew, how can they eat that?!?”

  • Chey – I have no idea how old his parents lived to be. I never even thought to ask. 🙂 Prawn chips are these puffed chips that are flavored (with prawn), and when put into a deep fryer they puff up into crunchy chips. They are really good.
    Honestly, I try everything once to be respectful since it’s on the banquet list, but I don’t necessarily like or eat all of it. I was REALLY picky for a long time (I only wanted pizza, hamburgers and spaghetti). So to me, it’s ok if you don’t like something as long as you gave it a shot. It took me a long time to learn how to eat. I can’t speak for all Asians, but I feel like Asians eat a lot of variety, and prefer the adventure of trying new dishes. They’re sort of raised that way. And in American dishes, everyone gets their own entree and you eat a lot of the same thing. Which is understandable too, I mean if you already know what you like, it’s garaunteed to be a safe bet. But I’ve never heard them go “Eeew, how can they eat that?!?” 😛

  • ZOMG at all of these dishes! Looks like you had so much fun! I love to gather around a huge table and eat with my family too. Your gandfather looks so young for his age 🙂 I wish him many more birthdays. Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful pictures!

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