Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hot hot hot pot

My parents were free earlier this week, and my mother called to say she wanted to do some shoe shopping. Now I'm not much of a shopper, but since my mum had called saying she hadn't been to the David Jones (think Saks) store in years, I couldn't refuse.

So we met in Chinatown for some yum cha, since it's been years since I'd had some decent siw mai - I have to say the dim sum in New York's Chinatown were a bit of a disappointment, but that's for another post - and joined the throng of people queuing up for a table. Clanging plates, screaming babies, and the general murmur of people tucking into their dumplings was a hoot to boot.

Stuffed from dumplings, egg custard tarts and the like, we headed uptown to downtown Sydney. Dad opted out of our shopping expedition and headed to his qi gong doctor for a well earned back massage.

My mother has always taught me of the importance of good foot wear, but the idea of spending over $200 for a pair of shoes is a ridiculous concept to me. But she wanted to buy some new shoes, and new shoes she shall buy.

Or so we thought.

Her favourite brand of shoes has had a bit of a price hike since her last purchase. $200 shoes now cost almost $500 (?!), and I saw a pair of very sexy (read: too-high-to-walk-in-let-alone-stand-in) Manolo Blahniks for $1,000. Crazy. Shocked but not defeated, we headed to another section where she purchased a lovely pair of gold ballet flats for a respectable $120.

A few more hours of window shopping and it was dinner time. My aunt had called to say there was a great hot pot restaurant in Chinatown we had to check out. So we headed back to there and met up with my dad, aunt, and some of my many, many cousins.

Red Chilli Restaurant

Red Chilli is located on Little Hay Street in Chinatown. We climbed the three flights of stairs to the main dining area and were immediately hit by the aroma of spice and chillies, the kind that makes your eyes water as you breathe in. Northern Chinese cuisine is renowned for their spicy dishes, and this place was no exception.

Spicy and not so
Spicy and not so

We chose the half plain and half spicy broth, as some of us couldn't eat spicy food. My aunt, who can probably eat a red chilli whole and not break into a sweat, ordered the mildest spicy broth they had. I asked her if mild would be hot enough for her, and she merely winked and gave me a "you'll see" smile.

The waiter wheeled over a trolley laden with raw meats and vegetables and we patiently waited for the broth to come to a boil. Growing impatient, I dipped my chopstick into the spicy broth for a taste test.

At first I couldn't taste much, but slowly the heat from the chillies, peppercorns and various herbs in the broth caused my tongue to first tingle and then burn. Beads of sweat formed on my upper lip, as my whole mouth and throat felt the full effects of the "mild" broth. My mouth was on FIRE.

Time to dig in
Time to dig in

As the broth came to a simmer, we started putting in the various ingredients to cook. After tasting the spicy broth, the plain broth tasted rather bland. So I stuck to my guns and ordered more iced water.

Most of the ingredients looked familiar, thin slices of beef and lamb, fish balls, some green vegetables and bean sprouts, and my favourite vegetable of the month, enoki mushrooms.

My mother handed me a plate of pig's bloody jelly, and I politely refused. I am adventurous in what I eat, but anything containing the words "blood" and "jelly" is a bit too much to digest.

Pig's blood
Pig's blood jelly - not for the faint hearted

All up it was a delicious experience, and I will definitely go again. Probably when it gets a little colder, and yes, I think I'll stick to the mild spicy broth.


At May 04, 2006 8:18 pm, Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

hhmm...coagulated blood....used to eat them way back in the 80' way

At May 05, 2006 8:42 am, Blogger PiCkLeS said...

Pig's blood as horrible as it sounds and as weird as it looks is delicious!!! you must try it nexttime you go yum cha! =P

At May 12, 2006 3:04 pm, Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

depending on whether u know the source of the cogulated blood or else its kinda hard to swallow. I know its delish and love them with lots of innards soup. but now...with my fatty liver condition, i have to let them go...


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