January 23, 2018
After walking to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, I headed east back to my hotel from what looked to be the only way out of the Forbidden City. After just a few blocks, I was in capitalist-pig central with shopping malls, fancy hotels and restaurants lining the streets. I tried a place called Judehuatian for a very early late lunch, and it was excellent. It's clear menus in China aren't considered gauche for having photos of their dishes and being 30 pages thick. Of course, having such a large menu calls into question the freshness of some of their products.
Next came an order of steamed squid served with rice noodles, garlic and scallion. This dish was fantastic, and other than wishing for smaller than family-sized portions, I wouldn't have changed a thing. The squid was pretty tender, and the sauteed garlic and fresh scallion were the perfect ways to dress up the dish. The glass noodles were good, though by their nature, they don't have much body or flavor to them.
Steamed squid w/garlic:
What came out first was a beef dish in a bowl full of hot chili oil and this reddish, brown sauce. The beef was decently tender but had this slick film running over it. I don't know if it was corn starch or what, but it gave the meat an unappetizing texture. And they're not kidding about the word "oil" in chili oil as there must've been half an inch of it floating above the sauce.
The oil and texture aside, what made this dish appealing was the level of heat provided by the chilis; it was constant and even, though it certainly didn't set your mouth on fire. And hidden in the sauce were the wonderfully aromatic peppercorns that gave the beef a delightful, herbal flavor; I think the peppercorns might've tempered the chili peppers.
Poached beef in hot chili oil:
The last dish I ordered was fried rice with baby shrimp and egg. I don't know what "emei" means, but it was listed in the title of the dish. The grain was short and with its brown hue, my guess it was prepped with a good amount of soy sauce, though it certainly wasn't too salty.
I wouldn't be surprised if the staff were chatting amongst themselves saying that I ordered enough food for three adults, but that's OK. I simply rolled myself two blocks to the hotel.
Emei fried rice w/shrimp:
The third dish to arrive was cauliflower dressed with garlic, red onion, scallion and thinly-cut pork belly. The dish was very tasty, but what made it so unique was the type of cauliflower it was. It looked more like young broccoli that was bleached white than the regular cauliflower we're used to seeing in the US. It wasn't as nutty a flavor as "regular" cauliflower, but it was very tender. Garlic and scallion are a recurring theme in lots of Asian cuisines, but I certainly don't mind.
Braised cauliflower w/pork belly: