January 30, 2018
I had lunch at a joint near my hotel called Pujiang Essence. It's a nice sit-down, stand-alone place that has a full menu along with a wide range of dim sum offerings.
This serving of ha jiao was one of the best I've ever had. Each dumpling was packed with shrimp, and there was this wonderful, briny flavor to them. I often have to spice things up with hot oil or bitter mustard to make ha jiao tasty, but that definitely wasn't the case here.
The second dish served was steamed rib tips. I thought I was ordering some sort of spare rib, but not so. I've never been a fan of this dim sum offering because there's usually more bone than anything else. The dish was fine, but it tasted exactly like how I've usually had it in the past.
Steamed rib tips:
I believe the protein in this last dim sum offering was goose. The server said it wasn't duck and that she didn't know the name of it in English. Once I mentioned "goose," she agreed immediately. Anyhow, these dumplings were fantastic. The neck and head is a wooden decoration. Each dumpling was slit at least 20 times before frying. And sesame seeds were used to underline the bottom of each dumpling. These things were light and so tasty. I'd never had anything like them before. And like the ha jiao from earlier, I didn't need any kind of sauce to jazz them up.
Next up was a shrimp soup with house-made noodles resembling linguine. I don't know what made the orange soup orange and almost creamy...tofu was probably used. The shrimp were super tender and the noodles were tasty in the soup. The soup alone, however, was just a bit bland.
Shrimp and noodle soup:
Here was another new dish for me. This baby duck was slow-roasted perfectly, the meat tender and fatty, the skin crisp and seasoned beautifully.
Though I finished this whole fish, for the most part, I really wish I'd picked something else from the menu. This was a recommendation by the server. Chinese sailfin sucker, or Chinese high-fin banded shark, (it's not actually a shark) is a fresh-water fish native to China. Unfortunately, the meat on this creature was almost too soft and tender; it had no body to it. And there was a ton of small fish bones to combat the whole time I picked away at it. The sauce and seasoning were fine. I know it's just a function of the style of cooking, but almost all the sauce poured onto the dish remained and was discarded. That much sauce just seems so wasteful; it also seems to mask the flavor or quality of the protein its trying to augment. Anyway, I'm glad I tried it.
Chinese sailfin sucker: