nanzhou hand drawn noodle house

Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House is one of the first places I ate at when I moved down to the area about 2 years ago. It’s a real tiny place, seating maybe about 40 or less. On busy days, you may have to knock elbows with strangers at the communal round table (I’ve done it before). It’s worth it though, you can get a pretty tasty (and cheap) bowl of noodles.

Their noodles are fresh and hand drawn right in the back. You can see em from the dining area. I was fascinated when I saw chefs in China doing this and was glad that I found a place here that pulls noodles!

The following was ordered at our table:

beef noodles

seafood noodles

lamb noodles

peanut sauce noodles

I don’t go to Chinatown as much as I used to, so it’s been a while since I made it back here. You bet I’m glad I stopped by though. Everything was pretty good, though I’d stick with the beef noodles. I went with the lamb this time and it just wasn’t as awesome as I’d hoped. There were a lot of bones and it just wasn’t as enjoyable as the beef (beef was my go-to previously). My brother got the seafood and he seemed to enjoy it. In addition to everything, I ordered peanut noodles to share. They’re only $3, so why not! Pretty fantastic too. I was totally craving these for lunch yesterday….if I only worked nearby…

Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House
927 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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cooking: fried tofu w/ spicy ginger sesame sauce

I’ve had bad luck in the past trying to fry tofu. It just never came out how it was supposed to. I now know how important it is to blot out as much water as you can!

I’m a F&W subscriber and when I saw this in the pages of the December 2010 issue, I knew I had to try it. This was my chance at fried tofu redemption.

Redemption was accomplished. The dish came out great! Definitely going to make this again.

Fried Tofu w/ Spicy Ginger Sesame Sauce
adapted from Food & Wine
serves 2

-2 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
-1 tbsp sugar
-2 tsp crushed red pepper
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp sesame oil
-2 tsp ginger, grated
-1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
-1 package firm tofu (14 – 16 oz.)
-veg oil, for frying
-1-2 scallions, thinly chopped
-white rice

Slice tofu into 8 even slices. Place on paper towels and blot with extra paper towels until most of the water is gone.

In bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, red pepper, garlic, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Set Aside.

Heat around a 1/4″ of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet until shimmering. Place tofu slices in pan and fry until golden brown, flipping once (about 4-6 minutes on each side). Once done, drain on paper towels.

Stack 4 slices of tofu on top of each other. Top with sauce, then scallions. Serve alongside white rice.


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cooking (fail?): five-spice pan fried tempeh

I have never cooked with (or eaten) tempeh, so last night was a whole new experience for me. I’m warning you now (in case you follow the recipe), I don’t think it turned out that well. Totally open for suggestions and/or comments on what I may have done wrong here or what I should do differently.

Five-Spice Pan Fried Tempeh
serves 2-4 w/ rice

-8 oz. package of organic soy tempeh
-1 tsp five-spice
-1 2/3 tbsp light soy sauce
-1 tsp mirin
-1 tbsp sesame oil
-2 tbsp peanut oil

Steam tempeh for 15 minutes to allow it to “swell” so it absorbs marinade better.

In a large bowl, combine five-spice, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil. Once tempeh is finished steaming. Toss tempeh in marinade until coated on all sides. Let sit for a couple minutes.

Heat a skillet over med-high heat and add the peanut oil. Once hot, fry the tempeh for about 3 minutes on each side, until browned.

Serve with rice. (Try to?) enjoy.

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chifa: duck week

chifa duck

The moment I got the newsletter from Garces Restaurant Group regarding Duck Week at Chifa, Chef Jose Garces’s Peruvian/Cantonese restaurant, I knew I had to go. Duck is one of my favorite meats and what better opportunity for me to indulge! I’ve been here once before for Restaurant Week and had a great experience, so this one was sure to be something special.

manchego/yucca puffs w/ sriracha/guava butter

first course

solterito salad – edamame, long beans, tomatoes, queso fresco, toasted garlic dressing
marinated olives – yuzu-marinated peruvian olives, pickled white onions
duck ceviche – duck confit, cherry puree, foie gras torchon, brioche croutons

second course

mussels – white rum, coconut broth, thai basil, lemongrass, jalapeno
duck buns – roasted duck, hoisin glaze, pickled diakon & carrot, togarashi mayo
duck chicharron – crispy duck, green curry lentils, pickled ginger and napa cabbage, cracklins

third course

yu choy – ginger-soy glazed snap peas, chinese water spinach, enoki mushrooms, fennel
duck chaufa – wok fried rice, duck confit, soy glazed duck breast
chifa duck – served with hoisin, scallions & sichuan peppercorn crepes

dessert course

foie gras ice cream – pistachio cookie, caramel apple paint, cracklins, pink peppercorns
Those puffs that were brought out at the start were AMAZING. Absolutely delicious on their own and the spicy and sweet sriracha/guava butter set them over the edge!

I don’t love or hate mussels. I eat them, but I probably would never order them at a restaurant if it were to be my entree. Nothing quite reels me in about them. The broth of Chifa’s mussels though…oh boy. I’m pretty sure I took my spoon to it and finished it all. That could very well be the cause of my stomach ache the next day or so..that or the mass amount of food consumed.

The pork chicharron dish was great. It had a very homestyle, comfort food feel to it and was extremely flavorful. The ginger packed a punch!

I really enjoyed Chifa’s take on peking duck. It was served along with the traditional ingredients, hoisin, scallions, and a pancake/crepe to wrap it all up in. Chifa puts their own spin on it with the addition of sichuan pepper crepes. What a great idea that was! The crepes had a touch of sweet with a hint of sichuan peppercorn, which was great, since a lot of sichuan peppercorn can be extremely overwhelming. All together, it made for one delicious peking duck dish.

Everything was fantastic and if there’s to be another Duck Week in 2011, count me in for sure!

Huge thanks for hockey teammate/friend Samer for tagging along, glad you enjoyed the meal!

Chifa has a Weyerbacher beer dinner coming up on October 28, get to it!

707 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Chifa on Urbanspoon

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han dynasty

It all started Monday morning as I was reading my tweets and checking e-mail. Michelle of An Empty Fridge gave me a heads up about Han Dynasty’s monthly tasting. Every first Monday, Han Dynasty holds a $25 tasting and they bring out all kinds of dishes that you can try. When I read previously that Han Dynasty was a Sichuan restaurant, I was immediately interested in checking this place out at some point. I used to live in central NJ and there was an awesome Sichuan restaurant there that served legit Sichuan food, with hua jiao (Sichuan peppercorn) and all…NOT your typical American takeout Chinese garbage. Since moving to the Philly area, I haven’t found any places that quite satisfied my craving for authentic Sichuan cuisine…until now…

I was out on inspection on Monday, so that was the only thing that could have stopped me from attending this dinner since I wasn’t sure what time I would be finished. Around the lunch hour, I felt pretty good about our progress and gave Han Dynasty a call…

“Walk in’s are for suckers!” Han Chiang said to me on the phone as I told him I might call back if work runs too long. I laughed…but at the same time a little shocked at what just happened. Then he said he was joking and said it was no problem if I couldn’t make it. Just that little interaction made me wanna go even more. This guy was hilarious.

Anyway, when I got to Han Dynasty, there were tables of all sizes placed adjacent to each other (rounds, squares, rectangles). I luckily sat at a table with a lazy susan, closest to the kitchen. They started to bring out the food to our table, eventually bringing out other plates to some of the others after.

fuqi feipian (夫妻肺片)

They started off with two cold apps, a beef tendon dish with a chili vinaigrette and one of my favorites, fuqi feipian (夫妻肺片), which is a beef offal dish consisting of thin slices of tongue and lung with a chili vinaigrette of some sort. That fuqi feipian was delish. It was tasty and had a lot of ground hua jiao, which numbed my lips and tongue just after a couple bites.

mung bean noodles

The next appetizers they brought out were Taiwanese sausage w/ slices of garlic and spicy cucumbers. The noodles came out soon after. There was a spicy mung bean noodle, a chili noodle, noodles with minced pork (or beef – don’t remember), and my all time favorite Sichuan dish, the dish that got me so into Sichuan cuisine…dan dan mian (擔擔麵). The dan dan mian was fantastic. It had a good amount of spice, with the perfect hint of sesame paste in the sauce. Ahh, it was heavenly. I’ve bought a Sichuan cookbook since my time in Shanghai a few years ago and learned to make dan dan mian…but I still can’t quite make it like this. Han Dynasty’s dan dan mian is close to what I had originally. This dish alone is reason enough for me to come back!

dan dan mian (擔擔麵)

rabbit dry pot

After the noodles, the entree dishes started to make their way out. There was a frog dish which was great. It reminded me of a similar frog dish I had at a Hunan restaurant in Shanghai. Some of the other dishes served were a dish of Chinese broccoli sauteed with garlic, fish w/ veggies, pork in chili sauce, a rabbit dry pot, and a dish of crispy beef slivers.

frog dish

crispy beef slivers

The final dessert was a sort of tang yuan, a sweet soup with glutinous rice balls.

tang yuan

I was officially stuffed and entering a food coma towards the end of the meal…though at the same time, I was euphoric. Some buddies and I got caught up in conversation that we ended up being some of the last people there. Han came by and gave us some boxes to take home some of the leftovers! Dan dan mian leftovers for later! Woot!

Han, thank you so much for filling the Sichuan sized hole in my stomach. I’m so glad you are close by and I will certainly be returning. I still have to try one of my other favorite Sichuan dishes, mapo doufu (麻婆豆腐).

Huge thanks to Michelle for the heads up on the tasting. I’m glad I made it out!

Sidenote: Dan dan noodles at Pei-wei Asian Diner are nowhere near the taste and flavor of true Sichuan dan dan mian, don’t be fooled.

Han Dynasty
108 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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