My favourite CNY snack – Arrowhead Chips

Happy year of the HORSE!  I know Chinese New Year celebrations are over but I’d just like to drop a little post about what has become my favourite CNY snack for the past few years. For most of my life, I had always looked forward to munching on crispy shredded taro balls (wu har/芋蝦), homemade pan-fried radish cakes and  nian gao every CNY. Nowadays, the one thing I cannot spend new years without is arrowhead chips. More specifically, Da Shi Jie’s arrowhead chips.
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Now what the heck are arrowheads? The chips look like they can pass off as potato chips. In fact, undiscerning tasters may even think they are just eating potato chips. However, the arrowhead is actually a flowering plant with edible tubers that the Chinese decided to deep fry into chips. They have a fancier name called Sagittaria sagittifolia, but in China they are called cí gū 慈菇, which literally translates to “benevolent mushroom”. I’m not too sure why they are called mushrooms, though they do have an earthy aroma that is redolent of mushrooms. The reason I love them is that they are super crunchy, with a woodsy bitterness that makes them seem like extra-refined, sophisticated potato chips.
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Some people might still prefer supermarket potato chips for the variety of flavours – these arrowhead chips are hardly seasoned! Regardless, that is exactly how I like to savour their superior natural taste. At HKD 118 per pack (easily finished in 3 minutes) they are on the expensive side, but afterall they are not potatoes.

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Mind you I do normally fancy my mass produced, MSG covered potato chips from the supermarket. But when it’s Chinese New Year, I think it’s only right to spoil myself with superior snacks like benevolent mushroom chips.

These Da Shi Jie arrowhead chips are orderable online at  http://www.dashijie.com.hk  just before and during CNY.  GET’EM NEXT YEAR if they’ve run out this year!  Just FYI, Da shi jie, whose real name is Mak Lai Man,  is a food loving lady from Hong Kong who quit her big shot job back in 2007 to start making yummy seasonal food (particularly from the Canton region) and to write foodie articles in local papers. Big ups to the lady running for dreams and spreading love for wonderful food!

 

Xi’anese Food @ 有緣小敍

Went on a weekend getaway in Xi’an last month and was majorly disappointed with most of the food I had there. Despite the research efforts I put in my quest for the best pao mo, rou jia mo, dumplings and noodles in the city, the best thing I had turned out to be the knife-cut noodles they offered for breakfast at the Shangri-la.

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Perhaps Xi’anese food is just not for me.

However there was one dish that I did not have time to try while I was in Xi’an, and this was the Biang Biang Mian (Biang Biang noodles). Whatever “Biang” means, I don’t know. I don’t know anything about it apart from some vague, guessy explanations on Wikipedia. What I do know is that the chinese character for “Biang” looks crazy, with 58 strokes.

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Being a big fan of noodles of all sorts, I felt that I had to do Xi’anese food justice by looking for this Shaanxi region specialty in Hong Kong. I made a quick search for “Biang Biang noodles” on openrice.com and found a little shop in Jordan. I have actually never been to Jordan before but coincidentally I had an errand to run there that week so it was perfect timing 🙂

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The shop is tiny with only one large table and a few seats facing the the wall. As expected, most people were having the infamous biang biang noodles. I also noticed that at the side of the table there stood a few mini terracotta warriors.

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I have a habit of drinking soy milk whenever I have spicy chinese food, so I started off ordering these to drink. If you are fussy about soy milk then you will not like these at all. They taste disappointingly artificial so if I ever come again I will definitely opt for cola. On the other hand my shredded potato appetizer was delicious! It smelled so good I would have liked to eat one whole portion or even two myself.

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Soon after I devoured the shredded potatoes the first bowl of biang biang noodles in my life appeared infront of me. I ordered my bowl with some fennel dumplings and donkey meat.20131105-185816.jpg

Yes and this was the donkey meat. I believe this was also my first time eating donkey. It was slightly smokey and seemed like an extra gamey version of turkey. To be honest I only ordered this because I never had donkey meat before and after eating one slice I did not want any more. It was dry and quite bland. 20131105-185841.jpg

And so I started mixing the noodles to let the spicy sauce cover every milimetre of chewy noodly goodness.20131105-190419.jpg

The fennel dumplings were also nice, though I don’t normally like fennel. The reason I ordered these was that I did not know what “fennel” in chinese was and just pointed at whatever my mom did not order because I knew I would steal some of her lamb dumplings anyway.

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And here is a pic of the same biang biang noodles, but with lamb dumplings. 20131105-185833.jpg

I actually liked the lamb dumplings better than my fennel dumplings.  As a dumpling devotee I believe that the texture of the dumpling’s skin makes the dumpling. Although most of the time people rave about “thin-skinned” dumplings which are smooth and chewy at the same time, the skin here is on the thick side. However, this is the way Xi’anese dumplings are supposed to be and the thickness here is in fact what makes the skin extra chewy (in a good way) and is still very smooth.  I would describe these as having the perfect dumpling skin to meat to veggie ratio. 20131105-190444.jpg

At the end I also ordered the roast lamb flavoured with cumin. At 180 HKD this small portion seemed a little expensive for a restaurant like this, but I’ll admit that it was one enjoyable dish. In conclusion, although I would not travel all the way here again just for this meal, if you ever want to try Xi’anese food in Hong Kong or just happen to be in the area, I’d recommend this place 😀

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Address :

Shop 3, G/F, Keybond Commercial Building, 38 Ferry Street, Jordan  (P.S. this place does not seem to have an English name at all so you will just have to go by this address if you don’t read chinese!)

佐敦渡船街38號建邦商業大廈地下3號舖

Link: http://www.openrice.com/english/restaurant/sr2.htm?shopid=47432