With the Stay at Home orders in place, you may have noticed an increased number of Asian restaurants in our blog lately. This has happened for two main reasons. First, we have recently discovered this amazing cuisine, so we are catching up on all of the great options around our hometown. The second reason is that these types of dishes travel well, which is important when you are on a carryout only basis. During a weekly visit from our daughter, we ventured a little farther from home to grab dinner at ABC Cafe, located at 10001 W. 87th Street. Their diverse menu allowed us to assemble a creative Cantonese dinner.
Make It To-Go
We sure are missing getting to have the complete experience at new venues. Part of our visits was to show what the interior looks like and give a feel for the atmosphere. So many of the restaurants are only doing curbside service, so it was nice to have an opportunity to step inside. At least now we know what it will be like when we get a chance to actually dine-in at ABC Cafe.
Starting with the Basics
Since there were three in our party, we figured we would go big and then go home. Having a couple of base dishes to tie our plates together was important for us. Besides, it means there is a better chance I will get leftovers. Our two choices wound up being Shrimp Sauteed with Rice Noodles and Chicken Fried Rice. Both dishes were light and did not present overpowering flavors. These made a good base to cleanse our taste buds between bites of the creative Cantonese dishes that accompanied the meal.
Exploring Dim Sum
As we unboxed our meal, we loved discovering each of the attractive packages of goodies. The translucent wrappers on the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings looked so delicate. Inside was a delicious mixture of shrimp and vegetables. It had such a light taste and pleasing texture. There are a variety of fillings available, so we also selected a serving of Pan-Fried Chicken Dumplings. It was interesting to note the difference in taste and texture that the two cooking styles impart on the dish. In hindsight, I realize I never got a closeup shot of our Siu Mai. These delicate steamed pork dumplings are accented by diced ginger and water chestnuts.
Creative Cantonese Cuisine
You can bet that if I am involved in the meal, there is sure to be at least one hearty meat dish. Seeing the BBQ Pork Roast on the menu sealed the deal for me. This dish takes a while to prepare, and many find it too much work to include on the menu. It begins with marinating the meat in a sweet BBQ sauce. After being roasted, many restaurants will also add a short step of “fork roasting”. This requires the meat to be roasted over a small pot of charcoal to achieve the crispy caramelized edges.
Our serving of Saut Ching Kang Choy added a punch of green to our meal. This dish brings the flavor of cabbage with the appearance of Swiss chard. Some people confuse this with Napa cabbage, but Bok Choy will usually have a stronger flavor.
An Old Favorite
It would be unlikely that we would pass up an order of Crab Rangoon when dining on Asian cuisine. This puffy treat has its roots with American Chinese culture. The origin of this crispy pastry can be traced back to the original Trader Vic’s in San Francisco. Since those days, it has morphed into an iconic appetizer that is synonymous with Chinese take-out. We have tried a vast variety of fillings, including some dessert Rangoon at a local KCK Chinese restaurant. While many of the ones we have sampled end up on the sweet side, the ones at ABC Cafe were impressively savory.
On the Sweet Side
Since we were going all out on our order, we just had to include a couple of sweet treats. The Coconut Rolls are a traditional roll found at most Asian bakeries. These are not overly sweet and include the taste of coconut. A good transition from the savory dinner dishes. We also ordered a serving of Red Bean Buns, which was a first for us. Our daughter has enjoyed these creative Cantonese delicacies and wanted us to sample them. The pillow-soft shell had a texture reminiscent of marshmallow, without the sweetness. Don’t be fooled, because buried inside is the sweet red bean paste from which the name derives. The filling has a distinct earthy taste that reminded me of sweet potato. Definitely a dish to be tried again.
Creative Cantonese Carryout
You would think that all of that food would have overwhelmed the three of us. Not quite. While we had some noodles and fried rice for lunches, the vast majority disappeared in the initial sitting. I imagine part of this is due to the unique flavor combinations we were experiencing from our creative Cantonese carryout. Now that we have learned that each Asian culture brings a variation to their dishes, we are eager to sample even more. Keep your eyes peeled for more interesting options as we explore the restaurants in and around our hometown.