Tag Archives: Chinese

Man vs Lobster @ Zheng He

TheCalmDev @ Zheng He - Man vs Lobster
TheCalmDev @ Zheng He – Man vs Lobster

Unfair fight. Lobster alive or on the plate, notwithstanding.

Little did I know that I was going in for combat when I walked in with my dearest friend at Zheng He by the waterfront at Mina’a Salaam. Priority seating, with uninterrupted views of the Burj Al Arab changing gels in the evening, was quite the highlight. And then the food started rolling out.

The Dragon Boat Festival @ Zheng He
The Dragon Boat Festival @ Zheng He

To celebrate the dragon boat festival, there was a special dimsum menu. Truth is, whatever the festival, I am always up for dimsums. Chicken, prawn and mushrooms, tempered, and stuffed inside delicate translucent steamed bags is something I can do on repeat mode every evening.  The only thing that beat it was a crispy golden king prawn in Chinese mustard and spicy mango. Our kind hostess from the Orient, oriented us and patiently answered our questions. Spicy mango, not spiced mango, said she. This appetizer is highly recommended. In fact, I do not mind having it as a main course.

And then on followed a kingly sight of soups, duck, shrimps, octopus and scallops. My co-eater asked for the whole Canadian lobster in black pepper sauce. It didn’t alarm me, as I thought it would be an equal share of the crustacean. When it arrived, I was left to wrestle it all by myself. Understand this, I had half the Tasmanian Sea inside my stomach and then I had to eat the entire lobster! (Ideally this line would have sounded better with an expletive.)

The lobster on the far right. What I ate was bigger!
The lobster on the far right. What I ate was bigger!

And so, I set out for the impossible. The head and the tail shells on the plate taunted me as I slowly reached out my chopsticks for the chunks of juicy lobster meat flavoured with the essence of the Sichuan area. The taste was incredible, as was the texture. My hands picked up momentum, picking and delivering piece after piece until my mouth was unable to keep up. Chewing and swallowing on an almost-full stomach is not an easy task. I was thinking of greater glories like my name on Zheng He’s aesthetic walls discussing my superhuman feat; or comforting things like eating in my loosest pyjama in front of TV. I wasn’t prepared to give up easily on this deliciousness on my plate. I was about 7 pieces more to go before fame and glory would throw their garlands around my neck. I wasn’t looking at the Burj, or at the table next to me with 5 gorgeous girls daintily eating their Chinese food. And then there were 3, left. Lobster pieces. I felt like Achilles in the siege of Troy. To destroy a 1.5 kilo lobster all by myself is no less satisfying. With my plate polished off clean, I stood up akimbo, much to the surprise of my bemused friend, the 5 beautiful co-diners and our Chinese stewardess. I told her stoically that I was adjusting the lobster inside my stomach and she did have a strange look on her face. Hah! You should have seen mine – it was like Po with his mouth filled with buns.

Ni hao! And how!

#BurpAndBelch Meter: 5 buuuuuurps (sorry, was I too loud?)

#5WordFoodReview: Eat Pray Eat! Then Repeat!

Zheng He's - Mina A' Salam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Koreana – authentic Korean cuisine

The world has been conquered by hakka, schezuan and noodles. The elite dribbled with sushi and pad thai. A few outliers showed off their liking for bun cha. Hence, I didn’t think much of Korean cuisine since I was happy with Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, bits of Japanese and Vietnamese. I knew they used a lot of garlic, when I met Chan from Korea while finishing high school. Not because he said so, but because he smelled of garlic all the time. Years later, my globe-trotting father-in-law mentioned Korean grub while he was making ‘khimchi’ at his New Delhi home. Adding some fuel to the Korean fire was my friend and fellow food blogger Gopika who wanted to try Korean after she got hooked to their TV serials (there is a connection here).

Learning Korean from my father-in-law
Learning Korean from my father-in-law

So, wife and I, along with my father-in-law (who is visiting us) decided to hop over to Koreana in Al Barsha, next to Al Zahra Hospital. This has been a totally educational outing and I took my FIL’s direction and recommendation.

The restaurant reminded me of the Far East as seen in umpteen films and comics. The menu was an extensive, bi-lingual booklet with occasional pictures just so that you know what the tongue-twister looked like.

Banchan - demostrative picture
Banchan – demostrative picture

First up, six side dishes or ‘banchan’ were plated, complimentary. It consisted of ‘khimchi’ – fermented cabbage with overpowering garlic. Other dishes were spinach with sesame seeds, ‘namul’ – spicy bean sprouts, egg-plant in brown sauce and soy potato is sweet honey broth. I was happily attacking each banchan with my flat steel chopsticks while FIL finalised the order.

We started off with steamed chicken dumplings. If you are holding on to any Chinese taste in your head, then you are in the wrong restaurant. The dumplings were served with a mixed dark sauce that was primarily soy with a hint of sweetness. Dunked dumplings tasted perfect.

Samgyetang sitting to the right of some crunchy lettuce
Samgyetang sitting to the right of some crunchy lettuce

Next up was Samgyetang – a one-pot dish that is braised chicken stuffed with ginseng and sweet rice. The flesh falls off the bone with the slightest touch of cutlery. Chicken soup for the soul and chicken / rice for all else. If you are nursing a flu or a broken heart, Samgyetang will heal it.

Grill is setMeanwhile, the table was set for the next dish – spicy pan-fried chicken. the grill was set, crunchy lettuce leaves arranged, freshly cut garlic and peppers promised the extra heat along with a tangy, nutty, spicy sauce.

Spicy Pan Fried ChickenChicken strips, onions and greens, happily marinated in a sweet chilli marinade was spread over the sizzling hot grill. One can grill it the way one wants. The extra batter started caramelising and we started arranging it to eat – chicken strips in the lap of lettuce, add in the garlic and pepper, add a touch of the sauce, fold up the lettuce taco and eat it. If you do not have any words, then don’t blame yourself – it is very good indeed. In Korea, this grill is more popular with beef than chicken. You can try it with prawns too, just dont leave them on the grill for too long.

A meal for 3 cost us approx AED 180.  Dont bother picking up a menu – there isnt home delivery and thankfully so. Some things need to be eaten in restaurants.

Sumptuous and satiated, I am now adding some Korean to my gastro-repertoire. Gamsahabnida!