The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Goodies in Chinatown

two santas
log o' cake!

You've probably heard of Buche de Noel/Yule Log, the French cake that looks like a log. (Or is it a log that looks like a cake? Hmmmmmm?!)

The origins of this most famous and delicious of French pastries can be traced back to the ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. On this day, the shortest of the year, the Celts would search for a large trunk of either oak, beech, elm or cherry and would burn it. The burning log was a symbol of the rebirth of the sun as well as an offering of thanks to the sun for returning to the earth. []

Uh huh. And that's why we eat it in frosting-slathered-cake form today: TO HONOR THE SUN! I have no idea when I last had Buche de Noel, but I know I've had it at some point in my life. They're not very traditional with the Chinese crowd, I guess (my family doesn't have any Christmas traditions, or any holiday traditions in general). However, I had to snap that photo at Fay Da Bakery for a few reasons. As you can see, it's got two Santas (100% MORE SANTA THAN THE LEADING COMPETITOR) and some funky, somewhat out of place whipped-cream dollop fungal growths. There's also this:

It's the log of Euro!

Euro Log. HAR HAR, OH, those Chinese bakeries; they're funny! I can only imagine how they chose the name.

"What should we call this dessert?"

"I dunno, isn't it a yule log or something?"

"No no, need something different. What the hell is a yule?"

"I dunno. Is it European?"



Then they got drunk and chose "Euro." More examples of drunken debauchery:

Merry Christmas and...
Merry Christmas, without caps
Santa tramples blueberries
Santa tramples blueberries

The cakes aren't ugly, but I feel like they'd be better off without the dioramas. Otherwise, they're kind of cute. Kind. Of. I love how they have such a wide variety of plastic Santas, as though they ordered a grab bag of assorted Christmas-themed decorations (from the Assorted Christmas-Themed Decoration Depot) and tried to figure out how to position the mutant poinsetta alongside the red-faced Santa and the "my legs are permanently stuck in this goo, please get me out before Santa eats me" deer as naturally as possible. Or is that as unnaturally as possible? (shrugs) Whatever, I'd still eat it.

I went to Chinatown yesterday with Diana and Lia for some Goodies. Interesting name, no? If you look at the I as an L, it becomes Goodles, which I think someone should name a restaurant after. Their slogan could be "Goodle's Got the Goodies" or something...oh god, nevermind. (Oo lookie, there's a! KOREA TOOK MY GOODLE!)

soup dumplings
soup dumplings

The first thing the waitress asked us is if we wanted soup dumplings. Man, who DOESN'T? (...Vegetarians? Oh, right.) Lia asked for pork dumplings and then there they were...a million minutes later. Or less. (Probably less since a million minutes is almost two years.) It seemed to take quite a while is what I'm saying. I'm really bad at rating soup dumplings ("Mmm, tastes like...that other soup dumpling I had at that other restaurant that might be totally different") but I'd say that these weren't as salty as other ones I've had and the pork was especially...porky. Yup. There's your review. I would've liked them if they were more soupy (this is what we need: "Soup Dumpling Deluxe") but they were still great and I'D EAT THEM AGAIN, YES.

steamed flounder
steamed flounder

We started off with steamed flounder since, aside from the dumplings, this was another dish that the waitress suggested. Or rather, she said, "WANT SOME FISH?" Uh...okay! I like fish. And I actually really like this kind of steamed, whole fish in light ginger and scallion sauce. Diana helped serve the fish by scraping the delicate meat off the skeleton with a large spoon. Otherwise, I probably would've just dug in and made a pokey bone-filled mess.

eggplant with garlic sauce
eggplant with garlic sauce

I've rarely had eggplant in my life and the times I have had it, they weren't great. They were more like the opposite of great. The phrase, "Why would anyone eat satanic eggplant, WHYY?!" comes to mind. However, I've never had it in a Chinese restaurant before and they make it differently, as in "higher in tastiness, not affiliated with Satan". Lia described eggplant as a meaty vegetable. I look at it as kind of starchy and creamy, oozing with fatty goodness after it's been doused in cooking oils. Mmmmmm, you know you want it. I'd love to eat this again.

vegetable dumplings
vegetable dumplings

Diana's vegetable dumplings were pretty good! Lots of filling of the typical vegetable dumpling type. If I could describe them, I would. Unsurprisingly, I CANNOT. Oh well, you'll just have to try some yourself.

sauteed eel in hot pot
sauteed eel in hot pot

Under the "specialities" section of the menu, I spotted this eel dish. Eel! Does eel not conjure up images of super deliciousness? WELL?! I love eel, and you should too. I've only had Japanese-style eel before, but I figured Chinese would also be palatable.The eel doesn't come in one fillet but in a gazillion thinly sliced pieces in a bowl of sweet and spicy sauce, bringing to mind some sort of eel spaghetti. Another difference is that while unagi is grilled to a buttery-soft texture, this eel was...not. It would be a bowl of eel porridge if it were that soft, so thankfully this eel had more toughless than unagi. Mung bean sprouts went well with the eel because the eel on its own would be really...eel-y. Y...yes. I didn't have any rice so it was important that I have something to cut through the eel. (As for why I didn't have rice, they just didn't give me any. It was kind of neglectful since I asked for it twice, but it was for the best that I didn't eat any since I was stuffed in the end and as you probably know, I eat a lot of carbs.) Although I prefer Japanese eel, I still loved this dish and would eat it again.

chestnut cream tart
chestnut cream tart

Since we were stuffed, we naturally strolled to Fay Da on Mott Street to stare at their Christmas cakes and get dessert. I've tried most of what they sell (or can at least imagine what a lot of it tastes like) so I had a hard time deciding. Their chestnut cream tart stood out as something Mont Blanc-esque: a pastry crust filled with whipped cream and chestnut puree, somewhat randomly topped with a strawberry half and a melon ball (I could've done without the melon ball). It was pretty good, although the whipped cream was disappointing. Many Chinese pastries tend to have disappointing cream, but...but why? Nooo! NOOOO! I wish the chesnut puree were sweeter but it did had a good chestnut flavor. My suggestion for this dessert would be to lose the fruit, make better whipped cream, and double the sugar content. THERE, ALL BETTER.

I'm tired. Today my diet has consisted of chocolate, bread, a clementine, an Asian pear, and some too-salty Whole Foods potato chips. This is the kind of diet the USDA would recommend against. I'm gonna go relax and digest/get fat.



mzn / December 25, 2005 11:27 AM

Your family should invent some holiday traditions. Perhaps the central activity could involve eating large quantities of supercalorific sweets. Or you could all convert to Judaism. Our midwinter traditions include doughnuts.

I love all the things you ate at Goodies, especially eggplant and dumplings (but not so much vegetable ones, I think) and also steamed fish with ginger. Looks like I love all of it.

Happy Holidays!

spanky28 / December 25, 2005 1:42 PM

Haven't been to Goodie's in years, but I still lust after their braised pork meatballs (lion's head?).

I think Joe's Shanghai has better soup dumplings just purely because of their thin skins, but I hate dealing with their crowds.

Wei / December 26, 2005 11:36 AM

Wow.. those dishes looked good. I think when my bro comes to town, we'll check that place out. Oh.. and I love the engrish on that yule log.. heh heh.

MM / December 27, 2005 4:34 PM

Hi Robyn,

I bought a buche de noel for the first time this year...I haven't had one since 7th grade (French class teacher brought one in).

It was a Grand Marnier variety from Financier.

If you haven't been to Financier on Stone Street (south of Wall Street)...I suggest doing so. Great pastries.



aeolin / February 8, 2006 11:53 AM

i found your page while googling chestnut cream recipes. and i'm glad i did. very funny.
...don't you think "euro" IS the word -yule- spoken with a chinese accent?

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