Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Philadelphia Chinatown: Tai Lake - Restaurant Review

For dinner on Wednesday we tried a new Chinatown - the one in Philadelphia. One of the servers at a favorite restaurant, who has known Dave's family for years - invited us to eat real Asian seafood with his family. We went to the Tai Lake Seafood Restaurant, a place out friend (also conveniently named Dave) has gone since the 1980's. We met Dave and his wife and son at the restaurant and let him order for the table. The results were diverse and certainly interesting.

The dish on the left was the first to arrive at our table. Baby octopus, shredded jellyfish (that's the white stuff) and pig intestine. I was not a huge fan of that plate. The intestine almost did me in before dinner had really started, but damn it, I tried everything. On the right is rockfish, not to be confused stonefish (or, The Worst Pain Known to Man). The fish wasn't bad - a bit on the bland side, and many little bones to watch out for.

On the left are clams with pork bits and scallions. That one was pretty good, considering I'm not a big mollusk person. On the right we have tofu (that brick in the back), some sort of vegetable that even our friends couldn't identify (tasty though), black mushrooms (undoubtedly the best part of the meal - as meaty as steak and very garlicky) and in the front left: sea cucumber. For those of you who have never seen a sea cucumber in action, here you go:

That's right. We ate something that looks like a poop, that does nothing but... poop.

Dave and his mother have tried chicken feet before (I declined, thank you very much) and weren't fond of it. So here we have goose feet. Not much more than skin and bones. Dave seemed to like it, I only got a few nibbles before it became so cumbersome every time I tried to eat it it would swing around in my chopsticks and kick me in the chin.

On the right is lobster with scallions (just OK - living in Maine has spoiled me for lobster anywhere else) and pork chops in a sweet sauce. That was my favorite dish, I am sad to say. It was nice having a mammal on the table.

Last we has salty soft shell crab - very salty, but very good - and for desert, mung bean soup. It was thick and sweet and rounded off the weirdness nicely.

The two Daves ate everything that was left over, and vowed to enter a hot dog eating contest some day. On the right is my tribute to Jin, our Korean friend, who taught us how to make awesome chopstick holders with the chopstick wrapper.

I must admit, after so much new (and let's face it, strange) food, my stomach was a bit displeased. We were able to find a bakery/bubble tea cafe still open, the Mong Kok Station Bakery and while we bought an insane amount of baked goods I drank a ginger bubble tea that settled my stomach right down. It even had ginger shavings in it. So good.

If you ever plan on trying lots of new things, make sure to go with people who know what to order. Just be prepared for some unexpected flavors and textures.

Oh yea, and all that food? Split 6 ways it was $26 per person. Including tip. Hell yes.

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