June 6, 2012

May Eats - Prague & Beijing

May literally came and went: semester finals, Prague farewells, sojourn to China, move to NYC and now the first week of June is already reaching its conclusion. With the end of May, it also meant the end of my travels (and eating) through Europe. I am so extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to experience not only Prague but all of the  vibrant culture and history that each city I visited had to offer. I know for a fact that this will not be the last time that I journey to Europe (especially with many countries left to visit!). It also really does not feel all that long ago that I was blogging from NYC  about all of the ramen and cupcakes I was planning to feast on for the summer. Now, here I am once again in the Big Apple having completed yet another week of training (ironically, it was the exact same training program) - what a weird sense of dejavu. So here is the official wrap-up of my  final days in Prague and an overview of my eating adventures in Beijing.

1) Back to Aromi 
+ Seafood tomato soup with fish sashimi on croutons

Linguine with crab and tomato; Agnolotti filled with cooked ham and ricotta served with asparagus

Aromi quickly became one of my favorite restaurants in Prague. With michelin level quality of service and a bowl of authentic pasta for around 15USD - its one of the nicest experiences I discovered in Prague, too bad the only place you can find a deal like that is in Central Europe. Compared to the pastas that I ate in Italy - Aromi's pastas are easily just as good as what you would get from the home country.  During our visit, we were given an amuse bouche of smoked salmon and a hummus-like puree as well as a refreshing lemon sorbet drink. I never got a chance to post the pasta dishes I had for my first visit at Aromi (mostly because I devoured too much of my meal before I remembered to take a picture) but those dishes we ordered were also amazingly good and that was right before my Italy trip.

2) Completing the trio - Mlynec 
Veal Sausage with Celery puree; Deer Medallions with potato dumplings; Crispy Roasted Duck with bread dumplings
Mlynec is owned by the same restaurant group that also owns V Zatisi and Bellevue (probably one of my favorite restaurants of all time). The three together are some of the most popular and prestigious restaurants in Prague. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to post about V Zatisi or Bellevue since all of those food pictures are on V's phone (maybe I'll have a nostalgia Europe post on all of the eats that I missed). Mlynec is located right next to Charles Bridge and the menu has a heavier emphasis on Bohemia and Czech cuisine compared to its sister restaurants. The meal was hearty and satisfying and pretty much what you would expect when it comes to Bohemian cuisine.

3) Oh Hello Beijing & Ding Tai Fung
Spicy Wonton dumplings; Dan dan mian; Seaweed & tofu cold salad

Shanghai juicy buns: original pork and crab roe (look at those 18 folds on each dumpling!)
Sweet red bean buns; grass jelly ice dessert
Remember the last time I was raving about Ding Tai Fung? (here), yes it was in Hong Kong and I had just sampled real Shanghai juicy buns (aka soup dumlings aka xiaolongbao) for the first time in my life. I vowed that the next time I was back in China, I was going to eat DTF everyday. Ok, so I only had it twice - but that was more than any other restaurant I went to. And guess what? the 2nd and 3rd times were even better than the first.

4) Duck at Da Dong
Spicy chicken (kung pao chicken); jumbo shrimp with sweet mayo; yang zhou fried rice

Duck condiments; duck pancake wrap; duck skin dipped in sugar; duck skin and breast
Another China institution is Da Dong. In just a few short years since its inception, Da Dong has become the duck place to take visiting friends, foreigners and family. Its claim to fame? Finding the perfect way to cook duck so that it is not greasy but rather: juicy and crispy. They've also introduced the concept of dipping duck skin in sugar - sounds strange doesn't it? But holy cow, it was THE BEST thing I have eaten all year. Ok maybe not THE BEST thing but easily top 3. The blend of sweet flavors with a crunchy texture rounded out with the fattiness of the duck skin is literally perfection. The other food on the menu is also quite tasty - its your standard Chinese fare served in smaller portions, at a marked-up price and ever so slightly Americanized. But who cares about the other food - I'm still not over the duck skin and sugar...

5) Hotpot at Dong Lai Shun
Snapshot of the traditional hotpot pot heated with coals, lamb meat & veggies
No China trip is complete without a dinner trip to hotpot - Dong Lai Shun is the oldest hot pot restaurant in Beijing. Note the hotpot pot - still heated with coals instead of electricity! The experience was your typical traditional hot pot experience, a bustling restaurant with plastic tables, rickety wooden chairs and servers screaming out commands to each other across the room. When it comes to hot pot though, I think I like the more  modern developments at places like Xiao Fei Yang (a hot pot chain) better.

Whew! That was a brief and fast overview of China and Prague.  Already a week in NYC and that means NYC eats!! Hopefully, I'll have time to make a quick post this weekend about what else but ramen and macarons.


  1. i love the sweet red bean buns at din tan fung :)) hope interning is going well !

  2. Ahh I hope you had fun in Beijing! I love those restaurants.