Ass is good.
Take that as you wish and in whatever way you do, I would probably agree with you. In this case, however, I am talking about the animals. Donkey is pretty damn tasty.
While I was in Europe, indulging in luxuriously fatty cheeses, meats, olive salads, and other decadent things, I was missing the peasant food available back in the Lair, particularly my favourite place, Dong Bei Ren, which I have written about before.
It’s a chain of ethnic food restaurants featuring north-eastern Chinese food (literal titles are handy and yes, China has many different ethnicities and like Indian food, it’s not the same. It’s a big frickin’ place). It’s hardy fare. Meaty and saucy, with crispy green veggies and sometimes delicate spices like the mutton with coriander we had last night. Donkey is a specialty and is often gone. Last night, it wasn’t, which I attribute entirely to it being my birthday dinner (could have chosen any restaurant). It is mild and pleasant, surprising if you are expecting the pungent tang of goat and other animals that taste like they smell
(wonder if that applies to people? If there is ever a zombie uprising –and here I mean real zombies as opposed to the hordes of meandering and mindless tour groups I saw in Florence with their cattle-eyed stares, I am going imitate a typical club-going douchebag and douse myself in cologne)
but a relief.
The dinner started with two little plates from the roving cart of delights. Some veggies with something like pine nuts, and what I thought was pickled cabbage like kim chi. Both were delicious, but the cabbage was actually meaty. I wanted to know, so Lucy asked the waiter and they had a short but wordy discussion in which the word “meat” was mentioned several times.
It turned out to be a subtitle experience: Lucy just said it was a dong bei specialty with some kind of meat, but she couldn’t understand what kind. Yes, three minutes into one sentence. I was suspicious but continued to eat because it was so damn tasty.
I always have their zhaozi, or dumplings, which are fantastic, and this spiralled flat bread which I use as a gauge for measuring other dong bei restaurants. Dong Bei Ren wins all the time. Fresh, and piping hot, the bread is magnificent. Some super fatty brie melting all over it would be heaven.
I ate until I couldn’t eat, then I ate some more. I ate until my veins pumped digestive fluid.
Amazingly, I remember that the first time I ate more. How, I don’t know. I am still full, and it’s 16 hours later.
Later, Lucy admitted to slightly misleading me about the mystery meat. It is a dong bei specialty, prepared from the skin of an animal particular to the region. Specifically, some type of frog.
I devoured a heaping plate of frog skin.
Not so bad since earlier that week I was at a congee restaurant eating a hot pot of frog along with a congee of pigeon and eel. And that was good, even if I can’t do frogs legs and damn, some of them are really, really big, like they have some kind of mutant turkey frogs somewhere.
But that sentence makes me a bit queasy and I am not sure I could eat another plate. It’s the words: “Frog” and “skin”. Really, it’s “skin”. I have no problem with muscles and even tendons, marrow, and other inner bits (not a big lover of offal, though), and chicken skin while on the meat is good, as is fish skin, but I don’t know about a plate of just skin. I can’t do pork skin like they do here, what with little follicles and such, and the layers of subcutaneous fat wiggling away underneath.
God, it’s good to be back here. Tonight we are off to a concert on Er Sha with dinner at La Seine and tomorrow to a new Indian restaurant.
Guangzhou is an eater’s paradise, but only if you leave enough room and don’t go el bloato; sometimes don’t ask before you eat but just point and go; and, sometimes, never ask.
Dong Bei Ren, for those who are curious, is on Tian He Nan Lu, Second section. Head to Grandview Mall and walk to Ti Yu East (dong) road. Cross and turn right. Turn left at the next road (Tian He Nan Lu Er Duan) and walk and walk until you see a restaurant with a green sign and a bright red interior on the right (south) side. It may also have groups of people sitting outside drinking tea and spitting sunflower seeds onto the sidewalk. There are others in the franchise, but I have it on good authority that this is the best one.