The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Beijing food @ Lao Hu Dong Yi Ju, Tokyo

Oops, it's been almost two weeks since I last promised to write about our mini reunion lunch on Chinese New Year's eve at Lao Hu Dong Yi Ju in Roppongi Hills. I've had my hands pretty full, and figured that since we were going there again with friends the following weekend, I'd have more dishes to write about. It was my friend S who suggested this Beijing-style restaurant since it appeared to be kids-friendly because they had high chairs available for babies. And it sure was. In fact, we walked away from lunch that first weekend extremely satisfied with how accommodating the waitstaff were to us having a 3-month-old baby for company. The following weekend, we had the pleasure of having S and her husband L for company at this same restaurant.

Zak fell asleep en route to the restaurant on our first visit, and stayed asleep all throughout our lunch, with the snow suit and the baby carrier still fastened to him. The staff kindly put two chairs together, facing opposite directions for Zak to lie safely:

This restaurant claims to be the only Beijing-style restaurant in Tokyo, and I'm not sure how accurate that claim is. Lao Hu Dong Yi Ju's signature dish is the Beijing-style Sweet and Sour Pork [1400yen] (Kuro-su Buta is the dish's Japanese title, which literally translates to "black vinegar pork"), and we were curious as to how it differs from the sweet and sour variety that we were used to. When the plate arrived, I have to admit that I was rather surprised to see two balls in a pool of thick pitch black sauce (and I discovered that it is surprisingly difficult to get a photogenic shot of two balls on a plate). The acidic aroma of the sauce wafted up to our noses as Rob cut into one of the balls, and the meat was so tender that it just fell apart into chunky shreds. Eating this was a textural delight on the tongue, with the crispy fried outer coating and juicy tender meat. The dark gooey sauce was surprisingly not overpowering, only mildly sour and a touch of sweet. This was just a plate of surprises (I notice I used the word "surprise" several times in the last few sentences). The balls of meat came accompanied with a thick slice of renkon (lotus root) and a hunk of sweet potato, which I also found were enjoyable to eat because they provided a nice contrast of texture to the meat (crispy lotus root and soft sweet potato). This dish was excellent.

The sweet and sour pork. See how tender the meat was:

We'd ordered two dishes when it was just the two of us eating, and the other dish we selected was the Hotate Asupara Itame aka Stirfried Scallop and Squid with Asparagus [1890yen]. This was very well prepared, with the scallops and squids very fresh and cooked perfectly (not overcooked as is the practice in most Australian restaurants). The squid was really tender, and I'd love to know the cooking technique to achieve such tenderness. The scallops were the star(s) of the dish - sweet, tender and juicy. This was a simple but excellent dish that allowed the seafood to shine.

The lovely scallop and squid:

On our second visit (with S and L), we let them take the rein of ordering. S felt like having spring rolls, so three pieces of Ebi Ika Harumaki (Prawn and Squid Spring Rolls) were ordered [800yen for a plate of spring rolls which comes with two long spring rolls, and an additional 400yen for each extra roll]. Why only three rolls for the four of us? Because I was unfortunately suffering the unwelcome visit of a mild tummy bug that day, and I was staying away from greasy food. I did have a tiny bite of Rob's share, and I thought it was quite tasty, but S said the prawn taste was a little too overpowering for her liking.

Spring rolls, which were rather long:

Hotate Tomato Tamago Itame (Stirfried Scallop and Tomato with Egg) [1350yen] was next, which I thought was nice, but nothing special. This dish also contained prawns and bamboo shoots and perhaps had too much going in one plate, which is a shame because I could not fully appreciate the prawns and scallops.

The scallop and tomato omelette:

We also ordered the Seafood Claypot with Rice Vermicelli [1580], which came hot and bubbling to our table. They were generous with the seafood (squids, prawns and octopus, if I recall correctly) and there was plenty of vegetables like cabbage, red and green capsicum/pepper and bean sprouts. I love claypot dishes, and this gets my thumbs up. A tasty winter warmer.

Yummy seafood claypot:

Dessert offerings are quite standard, like mango pudding and a few ice cream flavour. On our first visit, we had the Kuro Goma Aisu (Black Sesame Ice Cream) [470yen] which was yummy but not outstanding.

Sesame ice cream:

Overall we were quite happy with this restaurant, especially with respect to how baby-friendly it is.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks guys for a yummy lunch!
    I'm craving that pork already!!
    We'll wine and dine again soon!