When I get stricken with a craving for Chinese food, it’s like being possessed by a most single-minded hunger that would walk hours or days for the merest whiff of glistening wok hei-bearing dishes, special ways with all kinds of onions, soft perfumed & pillowy rice and – if you’re very lucky and in the mood for northern Chinese – brow-melting face-numbing spiciness due to that special ingredient, the Szechuan peppercorn. (AKA the best drug invented since coffee, bien sur. )
As always, I have to consider the kitchen’s ability to provide fire, and Amigo’s flame was a low burner at best. We asked for spicy and got only a moderate level of heat, hardly any Szechuan peppercorns, and a little bowl of chiles in oil – not quite the firestorm experience I’ve had in the past! BUT - and this is important – this was some of the BEST Chinese food I’ve had since being in China and we were getting face burns anyway. …. from shovelling the hot morsels into our mouths too fast. ^^;;;;
We started with some wonderful Xiu Mai (pork dumplings, about 4$), rich, sweet and clean-tasting, on a bed of some very lucky cabbage that soaked up all that great flavour. We got wonton soup, too, which was basically the same dumpling in a slightly different shape floating in a soul-bolstering clear broth – so that was a silly order – but delicious nonetheless and a perfect start to the meal.
Our server was also incredibly helpful and patient with our questions about the menu, and was supercool during our dithering about dinner choices. Rad guy! Anyway, we eventually decided on the sizzling seafood platter (about 13$), a salt and pepper pork chops all-dressed dish (about 11$), and sliced beef with rice noodles (about 10$) – and what a perfect combination that turned out to be!
The food came incredibly quickly, hardly a few minutes passed before the insane aromas of chewy beef, sprouts and bouncy noodles came from the left (perfectly cooked, fat slices of onions throughout the dish a testament to an expert chef), and crisp-fried tender peppery pork with buttery rice, fried egg and bright bok choy came from the right (like KFC of the gods). Oh who cares about burnt mouths, we are going IN!! *munchmunchmunch* Ohg od. so good.
And then, one minute after that (one or two layers of skin later), the seafood platter arrived, sizzling like a crazy giant bumblebee, a veritable mountain of sweet scallops, perfectly cooked squids, insanely moist shrimp and even real flecks of real crab, in a clear and spicy sauce. It was at that moment that my brain simply clicked into joy mode, and we ate and ate and ate. It was so freaking good.
I think it was also at that moment that we remembered it was thanksgiving, and suddenly it all made sense, you know? So with no guilt for the gourmands, we stuffed ourselves silly, and left with happy souls and just enough room left for dessert. Not the 2$ fried ice cream at Amigo, for as delicious as that sounded we had other plans, and headed to Patisserie Harmonie for a strawberry milky tea to enjoy in the deepening dusk of Chinatown… feeling the last of the warm autumn airs on our elbows and rubbing our bellies and still singing the praises of the meal.
(next time, for sure… we’ll be asking about the all-Mandarin menu ;)