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老西安,華僑城,深圳 January 3, 2016

Posted by hslu in China, Chinese Food, Restaurants, Travel.
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On our way to Hong Kong from Wuhan, we chose to stay one night at Shenzhen since we have never stayed here before.

We took high speed railroad at Hankou station in Wuchang and arrived at Shenzhen North station less than 5 hours later. We then walked to the subway station a few hundred yards away and took the subway to downtown Shenzhen. We got off at the Convention Center subway station, transferred to another subway line and arrived at 華僑城 or Oversea Chinese Town Station a couple of miles west of central Shenzhen. Our hotel, Seaview O. City Hotel Shenzhen, was less than 100 yards from the subway station exit.

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The Seaview O. City Hotel was surprisingly nice with modern interior, clean room and very friendly staff. The bell person saw us coming towards the hotel with our luggage, he ran to greet us, helped us with our luggage and rushed to open the front door for us. Check-in was swift and once the bell person bought our luggage to our room we walked a few hundred yards to a street lined with restaurants and boutique shops just around the corner from the hotel.

There were seven or eight restaurants along this promenade fittingly called 華僑城美食一條街.

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20151026_183847 20151026_184132 20151026_184203There were a Korean, a Cantonese, a Chaozhou porridge house, a seafood, a szechuran, a country cooking, BBQ place and a North Western cuisine called 老西安. I was sufficiently intrigued by the name,  its appearance and the open kitchen inside the restaurant, I decided to find out what 老西安 was about.

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老西安 was actually a modestly-priced restaurant with noodles, dumplings and many familiar dishes for people living in the north western region of China such as 羊肉泡饃,羊雜湯和孜然羊肉夾饃。老西安 served many western wines because many customers of the hotel were foreigners. 老西安 also had domestic wines and a few beers but it primarily offered many brands of Chinese national drink: 白酒. I opted for a small bottle of  白酒 called 西鳳小酒 for ¥22. We ordered 涼皮,一品豆腐,糯米排骨,家鄉槐花 and 松子魚。All except 家鄉槐花 were daily staples of 西北人家。

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西鳳小酒 was exactly what I have expected: refreshing with a light fragrance on the nose, dry but mellow with a hint of sweetness on the palate. It was smooth and didn’t have the unpleasant aftertaste. It sorted like 金門高粱 but with far less alcohol.

家鄉槐花 were flower and flower buds from Chinese scholar tree or 槐樹。I wasn’t sure how to describe it but it was kind like eating an under-seasoned but coarsely chopped vegetable with a rough texture with a slight bitter aftertaste. If I were to cook it myself, I would stir-fried it with salt, pepper, green onion, garlic, a lot of shredded ginger and seasoning. The hot dipping sauce came with the dish was so strong that it completely masked the taste of 槐花.

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I ordered 糯米排骨 to see how good it was because 粉蒸排骨 is a famous dish of my hometown in Hubei, China: Guangji County, 湖北省,廣濟縣。My Mom used to make it all the time. She’d start the dish with the most important ingredient of the dish: 蒸肉粉; seasoned long grain rice. The rice was first stir-fried, without any cooking oil, in a wok at medium heat with a fair amount of anise and some pepper until the rice was golden brown. This may take half an hour or mow depending on how much rice she wanted to make. At this time, the rice was infused with the flavor of anise and pepper and Mom would let it sit in the wok until it was cool to the touch. She’d then crush the rice with a rolling pen, divided it into smaller portions and stored them in a few bottles for later use. When Dad’s college friends came over to our house around the first week of the month (Dad got paid at the end of the month,) 粉蒸排骨 was usually a dish Mom’d make for them because it was easy to prepare and easy to cook. Mom’d first mix the meaty riblets with soy sauce, lots of sesame oil, salt, sugar and cooking wine. She’d then set it aside in a large bowl for half an hour or more. About two hours before the dinner, she’d mix the seasoned riblets with crushed rice thoroughly with hands, drizzled the riblets with some cooking oil and steamed it in the electric rice cooker, the old faithful 大同電鍋; twice if necessary. When it was time for a meat dish, Mom would serve it straight from the rice cooker. The anise flavor permeated the dinning room. as the dish was taken from the kitchen to the dinning room. Every piece of the riblets was covered with crushed rice which had by now soaked up the fat from the riblets. The hot, juicy, tender and flavorful pork meat just came off the bone so easily that it was so tasteful and so satisfying. Mom used to make crushed rice for us and I have tried to make it in the past. But all my efforts trying to duplicate her skill had come up short. More experimenting is definitely needed.

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