Category Archives: Snacks

XLB Obsession

My fellow dumpling seekers, Kristen and Andrew

Little XLB beauties

I crave certain foods. Like really crave it. And once I get it in my head, all other meals are meaningless. That’s a very bold statement but I’m known to make an exaggeration here and there. Great storytelling runs in my family and my grandpa did and mother still does add on some mild embellishments every time a story gets told. Anyway, Andrew planted the seed in my head a few weeks ago, and I’ve had buns on the brain ever since. We made plans to grab lunch this past Saturday and he, his girlfriend Kristen, and I were seated at Gourmet Dumpling House a few minutes after we arrived. We promptly ordered the pork XLB and the pork and crab XLB. And then we promptly ordered another round. The three of us ate 32 dumplings and in reality, Andrew and I ate around 13 each.

Under normal circumstances, I would be a complete wild woman and beast all over these buns. Two things stopped me and my embarrassment to eat like a truck driver in front of Andrew and Kristen is not one of them. The first is the temperature. These little suckers are filled with scalding hot liquid. They’re not dubbed soup dumplings for nothing. The second was my extremely ballsy decision to wear all white to lunch.

That being said, it should come as no surprise that there is a proper way to eat this without any spills or injuries. Please refer to the pictorial instructions below so nicely enacted by Andrew:

Andrew wins ‘Best Sport’ award

1. Get your dipping sauce ready – Chinese black vinegar with a nice heap of shredded ginger
2. Carefully pick up your dumpling with your chopsticks, taking care not to pierce the skin.
3. Dip bun in dipping sauce.
4. Nibble the side of the bun and suck the broth inside. If too hot, let the broth pour into your large soup spoon and drink once cooled.
5. Add more ginger and vinegar (optional) and eat the rest of the dumpling.

Won’t see any spilled soup on my plate!

It was my first time at Gourmet Dumpling House. I tend to shy away from the establishment because of the hefty line that accumulates on weekends. Because it has the recognizable word ‘Dumpling’ in it, I find that many non-Chinese folks gravitate here. The xiao long bao was wonderful here AND they take credit cards. If you’re prepared for wait, definitely check this place out. Otherwise, you can go just around the corner to Taiwan Cafe, which I think has equally delicious xiao long bao and a whole menu of other delicious treats. The only downer is that it’s a true Chinatown joint and is cash only. Long story short, bring your appetite and cash/patience.

Gourmet Dumpling House
52 Beach St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 338-6223

Ray Wu’s Lonely Hearts Club

I hope everyone had a fun and sexy Valentine’s Day. I’ve been single for basically forever, but for some reason, I find that I’m not usually too down as one would expect a single to be on Valentine’s Day. Sure there are years when it seems that everyone is coupling up or getting a date leading up to the day, but the sliver of optimism in me seems to show itself every February 14th. Being a hopeless romantic and thinking that everything will work out for the best, I have to spin things in my favor to make the best of the holiday as I see fit. Working at an awesome company with an awesome boss and co-workers definitely helps too. In summary, there was a building party, 2 team parties, an office party, I got video conferencing to work with my boss in our Chicago office and I got to have dinner with a friend at a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try. This year was probably a top 3 of all time.

Last week, a friend at work decided to organize “Eat Your Feelings Day,” and I agreed to make… wait for it… Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies. In addition to that gem, someone on a team that I’m suppose to be transferring to in the near future asked if I was planning on doing anything on V-Day (like how I put together a Sweets Exchange during the holidays). Hence, “Ray Wu’s Lonely Hearts Club” was added after the “Eat Your Feelings Day” celebration. We booked a conference room and brought our laptops to work while we gorged on sweets, listened to love jams and put a crackling fire up on the projector. I even stayed late at work one night to make a corny flyer.

Overall, it was a pretty big success with a steady flow of people stopping in to grab some treats. In addition to the red velvet cheesecake brownies, I made coconut macaroons with a caramel drizzle, peanut clusters, and some origami flowers for decoration. Let’s just say that the commute that morning sucked, but it was all worth it.

Coconut Macaroons, Caramel and Origami Flowers

Coconut Macaroons with Caramel Drizzle

Peanut Clusters

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

M&M Blondies

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

So next year, if you’re feeling down on Valentine’s Day, just get cookin’ on something delicious. And if you are a lady, ask me out on a date. Either or.


drop the ‘d’ brah

This past weekend, Ray mentioned we went to Hampton Beach in NH on the way back from Portland. Living in Boston makes me realize how much I miss the accessible beaches of Long Island — private to LI natives for the most part (silly city folk), clean, and fine sand.  Desperate for a cold thirst quencher – I’m pretty sure it was 90+ on Sunday, I saw a small stand near the local arcade selling Hawaiian Shave Ice.  Note, there is no D in shave ice.

This is what I got — shaveD ice… as in with the D for hot mess Disaster.

Back in 2008, I graduated from BU and spent a nice chunk of my summer in Hawaii.  Looking back, I could have been studying for the CPA exam, but I figured I’ll save that for my official adult life.   It’s a good thing too!  If I hadn’t gone to Hawaii, I would have missed the true shave ice experience (and the absolutely gorgeous beaches and hot surfers).

Shave ice is a sort of treasure.  It’s like finding colored snow without the unsaid fear that a dog might have just marked its territory. The flavored syrup absorbs into the snow, so you’re not left with the typical thick syrup soup at the bottom. Unlike our normal mainland snow cones, this ice is like real snow. This is achieved by literally shaving a huge blocks of ice, rather than throwing it in an ice crusher. The latter just screams crunchy, granular ice.  That ish is poho (slang for nonsense or waste of time).  Go ahead, tell me you’re impressed with my seamless integration of Hawaiian slang.

Already, you can see the difference.  The shave ice is much finer.  You can also tell that the snow holds onto the flavor, unlike the first picture above where you can see the ice on top is beginning to lose its color.  You may have also noticed the white in the picture directly above.  That shave ice is covered with a drizzle of condensed milk, a typical condiment for this cold treat.  I thought it added just the right about of richness without being too heavy.  Mmmmm.   I ate that baby three years ago, but I remember it so vividly.  I would go back to Hawaii right now for a good shave ice.

Or maybe this.

I’ll toast to that!

There is a laziness that goes along with vacations. While in Paris, I tried to take advantage of the cute market nearby without having to cook with too much heat in our non-air conditioned apartment. I grabbed a baguette, some extra virgin olive oil, ricotta, figs, orange, honey, and black pepper.

The recipe is simple. Cut the baguette on the bias, giving yourself as much surface space for crostini goodness. Toast the bread slices until golden brown. Mix orange zest, juice of half the orange, and ricotta. Spread the toasts with the ricotta mixture and crack black pepper on top. Place sliced figs and honey on the bread. Eat, smile, smile some more, and repeat.


Snacks from Foreign Shores: Oh Yes Choco Cake

I came across a Korean market in Central Square and bought rice cake for my chao nian gao recipe. I also picked a few items for another Snacks from Foreign Shores piece. After walking up and down the snack aisle, I went back to the piles of snacks near the front of the aisle to pick something that was obviously calling out to me. As I looked at a box of choco cake, I was thinking to myself, “should I get this?” Little did I know the answer was already written in front of me. Oh Yes! Choco Cake.

Oh Yes Chocao Cake!?!?

The box included 12 individually wrapped square cakes. On the wrapper it reads “You know that sweet things make smile. We love to see you smile with your people. So just taste this cake.” Sold and sold. Each choco cake consisted of two thin pieces of white/pale yellow cake with a thin layer of chocolate between each piece. The entire cake is then coated with another layer of chocolate. Sounds deadly doesn’t it? Don’t worry, Asian treats like this will not taste nearly as unhealthy as an American treat like say Entermann’s. Overall, a little to bland for a snack cake. I’m still sticking with biscuit and chocolate related snacks.

Individually Wrapped Treats

The anatomy of Oh Yes