Friday, August 13, 2010

At the Peony Restaurant

The Peony Restaurant

A Xiamen specialty: jellied sea worms, with a mixture of peanut, chili, and wasabi sauce. They were eaten with toothpicks.

Jellied sea worms

The white bits in this dish are pieces of fish. I think the were made into a paste, extruded, and then steamed:

Fish with vegetables

This is another Xiamen specialty, noodles with different mushrooms:


A cute crab:


A big fish:


This was a fancy restaurant, with lots of private rooms; two or three servers to a room, bringing in dishes and serving beer in glasses.

Everything was served family-style (except the noodles), so each dish was placed on a big lazy-susan and we took whatever bits we wanted. There were more dishes than I have pictured here, and they were all subtly flavored. Each was brought out one at a time and we were given small dishes of vinegar and soy sauce to dip our bits of food in. Nothing was sweet or salty. I think this was Catonese-style cooking, and they didn't seem to like spicy either. Most Westerners would consider the food bland, but you really had to focus on the textures and how each dish tasted compared to the others. It was a cerebral eating experience. I'm sure some of the pleasure comes from eating unusual things, just like an American experiences eating sushi.

The serving style lent itself to eating slowly, so there was a lot of time for talk, which was great because we had such a nice host.

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