Home Is Where the Heart Is

It has been a few months since I've been home to Houston to visit my parents.  I realize as I grow older, the more I begin to appreciate all the things my parents have done for me.  I often feel foolish for the way I acted during my adolescence but being good parents, they handled me with great patience and love.  Every time I leave home, I am always sad to go -- granted I only live 4 hours away I miss being able to see my parents whenever I want to.

I had a wonderful time seeing my mom and dad, granted I did not have a traditional Thanksgiving, I had a wonderful one with both of my parents.  In the early afternoon, my father and sister and I along with some family friends went to eat at Kim Son -- where they featured a hot pot and Vietnamese/Chinese themed buffet.  I am not a big fan of buffets, only because I tend to always over eat at them.  And this time was no different...

Where to begin?  There were so many buffet lines that I felt a little overwhelemd -- a few for Hot Pot, Sushi, Hot Line, Cold Line, and Desserts.  They also had a side station where they served roast duck and soup noodles -- that was probably my favorite station.  The Hot Pot selection was fair, they really didn't have much of a meat selection -- I was hoping for a glorious spread of chicken, beef, pork and lamb but all I found was pork.  My father actually asked them "Where is the lamb?", they claimed it was frozen and after about 35 minutes they brought it out.  After getting an entire plate of lamb for the table, it turns out my dad doesn't even like to eat it but wanted to get his money's worth.  :) Asians always love a good deal.  The seafood spread was pretty extensive: shrimp, squid, various types of fish balls, tilapia, fresh crab, etc.

I always enjoy having hot pot during the winter, I have to say though that I think I enjoy having hot pot in the comfort of my own home than in a buffet styled restaurant.  The broth they provided was tasteless, probably because it was just tap water and to me that is one of the most important elements of a good hot pot meal.  I really enjoyed trying all the different Vietnamese dishes they had there -- fried rice cakes, spicy beef noodle soup (Bun Bo Hue), Vietnamese Crepe (Bahn Xeo) were some of my absolute favorites!  They also had an impressive spread of some traditional Chinese cuisine but I figured nothing could beat my mother's cooking so I ate mainly the Vietnamese food :)

They also featured "duck buns" which are pieces of roasted duck with green scallion and hoisin sauce nestled between a steamed sweet bun.  I ate at least three before moving onto the whole fried fish and the sauteed baby clams in black bean sauce.  The clams were so tender and very fresh too, the sauce could've used a little more punch but being at a buffet I guess beggars cant be choosers! You could also order plates of roast duck as well as udon noodles, vietnamese soup noodles, etc.

The dessert spread was really good -- a lot of traditional Vietnamese desserts like flan, sweet glutinous rice with beans, steamed yam cake, bahn rau cau and other various cakes and confections made from sweet beans and glutinous rice.  In many instances it was like Thanksgiving, a wide variety of comfort foods with friends and family and eating until you couldnt move.  For $14.95/person for lunch it was a pretty good deal, there was definitely enough variety that would suit everyone's tastes and there were many dishes that I thought were really exceptional.  Be careful, all the popular items like the Duck Buns and Crepes dissappear the minute the kitchen brings them out.   Since I am an intense eater, I waited patiently and then swooped in like an eagle the minute I saw the workers coming -- what can I say?  I know what I want :).

I also thought it was cool how they had an interactive cooking station -- here they are making Banh Bot Chien, a fried rice flour cake.  It's delicious, the rice flour cake is nice and crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside.  The batter is egg based and brings out the sweetness of the rice cakes and provides an interesting contrast in textures.   You can dip it in a sweet tangy soy sauce or eat it plain... *siigh* just writing about it makes me hungry for one.

For dinner, my mother took me out to eat lobster.  It was at this Chinese restaurant that I do not know the name of (I need to get it from my mom) but I was definitely skeptical.   I have never been a big fan of lobster, especially for the price.  To me, I've always felt like lobster just tasted like a bigger version of shrimp. After going here, I realize I felt this way because I've never had good lobster.

This lobster dish was amazing.  It was the only thing my mother and I ordered, Two Lobsters in a Ginger and Scallion Sauce.  I think this is a popular Cantonese dish and this restaurant cooked it perfectly.

The sauce was sensational -- rich but not oily, the flavors were so delicate with the ginger and scallion infused into the tender morsels of lobster.  They also cut it in easy to eat pieces, so you are not furiously digging for the meat.  The sweetness of the lobster was incredible, definitely not comparable to shrimp like I thought before.

I loved the light batter that covered the lobster shells, soaking in the delicious sauce while capturing the essence of the sea.  It was honestly one of the best lobster dishes I've ever had.  My mother and I finished the entire dish to ourselves, without a single shred of lobster to spare.

Being home has really brought me back to my roots, I realize since launching this site I have not really showcased my original background in food: Chinese Cuisine.  I realized how much I miss the flavors and the wide variety of ingredients used that I immediately became inspired to share my love for Chinese food with my readers.  I've mostly shyed away from making Chinese food because the resources for Asian products are quite scarce around Dallas and the selection is not always great.  However, I've found a market that I think will be able to provide great ingredients so I am excited to share some Chinese dishes with you so stay tuned!