LFM: Sensi and Acacia

I know I’ve been a slacker with blogging lately – no new recipes for weeks now. But most of you know I’ve entered the wedding business and cooking anything worth blogging about with a full-time computer job and the season in full swing is truly impossible.  I cannot tell you how many pounds of buttercream my trusty mixer has churned out – so much so that I have committed the recipe to memory that I do not have to spend 15 minutes looking for my cheat sheet.

Anyway, before all the “marryment” began, Hubby and I indulged in some restaurants that we’ve been meaning to return to. Richmond has a pretty fair share of non-chain restaurant per capita. Some get rave reviews for reasons I don’t understand and some just do not get the recognition they deserve.

Richmond peeps, if you have not tried Sensi, you are missing out on one of the best Italian restaurants in town (which is why HH was first in line at his Broad Appetit booth). Paolo Randazzo is the master of his craft. He has the best fried calamari I’ve ever tasted – and believe me “Hungry” Hubby and I have tried plenty – never rubbery, always perfectly crisp and melt-in-your mouth tasty. And if he happens to offer the grilled variety that night – get it. If you like squid, you will not be disappointed. Just to let you know how much HH loves calamari, on our cheat day while we were on the Body for Life program years ago, we went to Franco’s ( Paolo’s old restaurant) and he wanted two orders of calamari for dinner all to himself – he would not share them with me. So I ordered one for appetizer and he shared that too. Our server was cheeky and she said out loud that she doubts HH can finish all the calamari – and she was right. J

Anyway, my entrée on our visit to Sensi was Maine Lobster over orzo pasta in caper cream sauce. This was one of Paolo’s signature sauces and each “grain” is just coated enough to deliver that medley of complex seasonings to your palate. But it was “Hungry” Hubby’s ginormous veal chop – all 16oz of it- that was a revelation. We almost never order veal because we think of it as a pretty boring meat (veal parm or scallopini anyone?). But since it was Sensi’s most popular dish, HH decided to give it a try.

Vealchop 

I was beyond impressed and I would have gladly eaten my dish as well as his. Each bite was a study in succulence and flavor. Buerre noisette added the buttery dimension while the garlic chips extended the savory punch of a flawlessly seared exterior.

Paolo always has the same trio of desserts which he executes fabulously.  And Sensi is the only place in Richmond where I never leave disappointed in the last course.  The trio is a warm flourless chocolate torte, a creamy goat cheese budino (Italian crème caramel) and a hazelnut semifreddo. Uh…can I say orgasmic! The warm torte offers robust chocolate flavor which I find lacking in many Richmond restaurant desserts, the budino was oh so deliciously creamy which my tongue gladly savored.  I was too stuffed to finish the semifreddo but HH had no problem being the disposal.

This dinner was weeks ago and I took my time to write about it because none of my words would have given justice to the sheer pleasure I had with this meal.

 We also finally paid a visit to Dale Reitzer’s Acacia Midtown. A far cry from his former place, this new establishment boasts a cosmopolitan chicness. No doubt about it, I love the ambience!  The food though was sort of a let-down, but not necessarily bad.

I had to try very hard to discern a taste of foie from the foie gras terrine.  However, I did enjoy our second course of pan-seared scallops, mache greens and mushrooms immensely – it’s hard to go wrong with mushrooms after all. HH and I both ordered the soft-shell crab special for our main course.  Without a doubt it was perfectly cooked – lightly breaded and crisp – but both HH and I took issue with the overall flavor of the dish. This very well might be classified as nitpicking, but with Acacia Midtown being run by a chef who was awarded as one of the best new chefs in 1999 by F&W, one cannot help but analyze the logic and creation behind  his offerings.

 What can I say, I am my father’s daughter and he had a habit of dissecting dishes too.

 I think soft shell crab is, by nature, very rich and heavy – taste saturation comes quickly, so we thought it could use more tartness to cut through all that glorious crabby fat. I think it came with a lemon butter thyme sauce but the taste of lemon was but a nuance. It was brilliant that it was served with German potatoes though, as the mustard did aid in balancing out the overall dish. But you know that feeling of wistfulness whenever a dish would have been nirvana if… that was how we felt with this dish.

Ahh…dessert. Unfortunately, this has been my continued pet peeve with Acacia. This time it was probably my fault for ordering the devil’s food cake knowing from the looks of all the box mixes I've seen at the supermarket that this would never be my kind of cake even if it was baked with panache by a skillful chef. I took the first bite and I was done by my second cursory one.  Again, this was partly my fault…somehow I was expecting big chocolate flavor when it was not in the character of this particular cake. But then there was nothing that appealed to me on the dessert menu either so I settled…

But let me tell you, Acacia was packed on that Wednesday night.

So I wondered and pondered: maybe this was the type of fare people wanted over here.  And suddenly, the daunting dilemma that faced all the great chefs of Central Virginia dawned on me. Richmond is right smack in the middle of the East coast.  Not quite south and not quite north, you’ve got a mix of folks who want conservative southern cooking but you’ve also got the folks who have been exposed to bolder flavors available to the north of the city like Washington DC and New York.

And the reason why Dale Reitzer’s cuisine works?   It’s mostly upscale south with some European flair mixed in. I’ve been highly enamored by his crabcakes over cheesy grits (and I generally do not like crabcakes) and his rendition of polenta with mascarpone was simply to die for.  And though I admit ignorance with southern cookery and desserts, I hope that he would come up with a knock –the- socks- of-me apple tart next time – please?

 

LFM: Edo’s Squid and other eats

I know I set a rule not to say anything negative about locally-owned places but this particular restaurant has such  an established clientele that I doubt that the opinion of a little blogger like me would even matter .  Besides, it's been theorized that it is not good for one’s health to keep strong sentiments bottled up inside especially since now they've now been percolating for a week. And this IS MY personal blog where I can rant and rave as I wish.  So I should have the right to put this question out there:  “What is the big deal with Edo’s Squid anyway?!”

                My first visit two summers ago was compelled by a gushing recommendation from a friend.  A recollection from that visit reminds me that our dishes were a disaster and tasted like the chef dumped their entire supply of salt on them – yes,  every single plate from appetizer to entrée, and yes, both entrees, were unequivocally salty.

                And yet, to-date, I have been reading and hearing that Edo’ Squid was undoubtedly the best restaurant in Richmond. Hype?  I had to find out – again. So for my hubby’s birthday we decided to give the squid another try.

                I didn’t mind that the stairwell seemed like I was walking up a cheesy motel and neither did spying the cook in a tank top bother me at all ( I was just glad it was not a hot and sweaty summer yet!)  This restaurant has not been known for excellent service but I was still visibly peeved when our server did not even care to ask the chef when I inquired if their duck special had skin on or off. HH had to pointedly request her to go ask the chef, which she did, but not after some obvious show of irritation on her part.

                Our appetizer of squid in a soy broth initially reminded us of our first visit.  I know the Chef likes Full Kee and probably decided to try an Asian-European fusion number but the dish left me wondering what it would have tasted if it had Bok Choy instead of Belgian Endive – in addition, I was yearning for rice instead of the accompanying bread to soak the liquid with.

                Our dishes were similarly luck luster. Hubby’s chicken cacciatore tasted very ordinary and my shrimp diavolo had a very watered down sauce that all I tasted was the hot pepper. Admittedly the entrees did not taste bad, but truly there was nothing special about them. (I had an outstanding lobster diavolo at Franco's before and was expecting a similar experience)

                For dessert, I had a tiramisu I would rather forget (2 bites and I was done…I don’t even remember why I did not like it!) and the HH’s gelato had ice crystals in it.  I know that Edo’s Squid gets their ice cream from Gelati Celesti  - I just hope they don’t end up giving this ice cream maker a bad name as this is HH’s favorite gelato place.

                And yet I see droves of people waiting to be seated.  I guess Edo’s Squid and my taste buds don't really agree or maybe I was simply waiting for a life-altering meal that never came and the disappointment was so palpable. HH made me promise that I would never ask to go back…

 In some other Eats:

                Café Rustica never ceases to impress me with their mastery of mussel cookery.  Whether cooked in spinach cream, red or white wine, they are always perfectly succulent and with broth so tasty you would want to request more bread just to lap up every last drop! So if you are partial to this bi-valve mollusk, time to go there –NOW!

                Amici . I had an impromptu (at least on my part) lunch with Rva Foodie , House of Marina and Mommy Gourmet. I thoroughly enjoyed my pollo limone. The chicken was tender, flawlessly browned, and had the ideal blend of tart and salty (it had capers) and was served over a bed of wilted spinach. I left most of the spinach on my plate that prompted RVAfoodie  to  ask me if I did not like wilted spinach. Of course I liked it (especially with fried rice) but vegetables are admittedly my least favorite part of any dish. Oh, and I thought the Amici folks did a fantastic job renovating the place. Thanks for lunch to RVAfoodie and Sadler who picked up the bill for lunch J. I thoroughly enjoyed talking food and food politics with the three of you! (read more of this meeting at Eating Richmond)

                Can Can.  Our good friends wanted to take us out for dinner for sharing our space in the basement to store their stuff while they staged their house for sale. This French brasserie is always a fun place to visit. HH’s onion soup gratinee’s broth had the obvious desired deeply caramelized onion flavor, and our brisket appetizer was equally yummy ( Warning: it had a good layer of fat, however, the pickled vegetable that accompanied it was the perfect foil.) My combination platter of braised and roast lamb was at the same time a hit and a miss. The braised part was falling off tender and flavorful, the roasted part was slightly tough and rather tasteless. HH, who ordered the same dish, did not enjoy it but that was because he did not like dishes that are like pulled meat – this braised lamb had a tendency to be this way.  Both our friends ordered the Can Can burger that recently received a rave review from Style Weekly. I twittered Brandon (the reviewer) that the one time I ordered that sandwich, what was served was a choking chunk of ground beef. She suggested ordering it medium rare and I wish I had recommended that to my friends, except that our server described medium rare as cold pink in the center and somehow that did not appeal to the couple. So both ordered theirs medium which was described as warm pink all throughout. When their burgers arrived, I told my friends to check the temperature - the first was warm pink and juicy which quickly turned dry and overdone, the second one was already at well-done. My theory is that the meat is very lean; and because of the sheer size of this thick burger it had the capacity to retain more heat and continued cooking longer than other normal-sized burgers. Ordering the burger medium rare as Brandon suggested may be the best way to go.  Personally, I like anything with ground meat well-done, which is why if I were to make burgers at home I would get 80/15 or 80/20 ratio of ground beef so it has enough fat to remain juicy. I also wish Can Can would serve better desserts, their apple & sage tart and walnut ice cream tasted peculiar; my friend enjoyed her chocolate and peanut butter pyramid, but I'd rather save my calories intake for something else.

                Cappricio’s Pizza.  Finally, there is a restaurant in Richmond, VA that specializes in thin crust pizza. Our first visit there was very promising. We tried the Quattro – a combination of prosciutto, green olives and artichokes. We added Italian sausage to it because I thought that it did not have enough meat. Both hubby and I felt that the pizza sauce might need more spicing up but since this was our first visit, it was too soon to tell.  We also had the calamari as an appetizer and were happy that it included the tentacles and not just the rings.

               

LFM: More adventures in Richmond’s Little Chinatown

Roastpig 

*Roast Pig with crispy skin-  picture above taken with a camera phone - darn thing can't focus!

I've been a frequent visitor to Full Kee lately having had a recently awakened appetite for authentic Chinese food. Not sure when this started…Chinese New Year maybe? Or it may have been my brother's fault for constantly raving about all the tasty places he had been to lately.

 Anyway, in the past week alone, I've dined there twice. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Hong Kong Style noodle soup with roast duck - You can request this with vegetables which adds tremendous flavor to the broth. I would also remember to request breast meat always as the leg can be too tricky to eat in a soup.

2. Roast pork – they make a pretty good char-siu- not to be confused with roast pig.

3. Roast pig with crispy skin - ooh-lala , my heart was singing as I was crunching down on this heavenly dish of porcine goodness. Definitely a must-try if you are not averse to pork fat.

4. Dim sum goodies - luv..luv their tofu skin rolls, shrimp balls and spare rib with tao-si.

Today I ventured into their menu that said "Delicacies" which featured selections such as pig's feet and jelly fish. I couldn't make up my mind so I ordered :

5. Marinated assortment – Oh Yum! I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was the same dish that my grandma used to make – soy sauce marinated pig tongue and intestines. I realize it may sound gross to some but I was thrilled to find this long lost flavor from my childhood.

And for dessert:

6. Dahn tahts – melt in your mouth custards

7. Sweet tofu - silken tofu nestled in a seductive sweet syrup. I had it for take out last weekend and it had been my breakfast and after-dinner sweets for several days…sooooo addictive.

Style weekly mentioned Full Kee's sweet sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. I inquired about it and was disappointed to find out that it had meat in the middle which I've always disliked. I've always preferred this plain or with salted egg.

After lunch, I stopped by Tan -A supermarket to pick up a couple of things. One item (see below) I bought simply because I was curious as to why Pim said one would have to pry the tube out of her cold dead hands.

Kewpie 

I also bought some frozen Unagi (they come already cooked)..thought instead of spending $14.00 each time on Unagi Don I will try to make it myself. Will let you all know how that turns out…

LFM: Dinner at Dalat -$25, Endorphin High – Priceless

It was a rough week…or rather Wednesday. That afternoon I was supposed to get a database refreshed and get the ERP environment set up so our developers can apply a Tax-update for the American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009. It was simple enough, except the previous day I was given a new computer and had some software that needed further configuration.  It was getting so frustrating I finally decided to just switch back to the old computer only to find out that I needed newer software that was installed on the new computer. 

            If I was not too embarrassed to swear at work there would have been really very unladylike curses “*#@%!&(((&!#$$$” streaming from my lips. I marched up to my boss and said “I am about to go postal on my two pcs!!” He said “That’s okay – just get it done by the end of the day.”

            By the end of the day, I was ready for a big glass of wine.

Yesterday, the hubby took pity on me and said we should go out to eat and I can take my pick of places. Where I lived, pickings are slim and we were lazy to drive towards the Fan/Carytown area where the restaurants were something other than suburban chains. So I gave him a choice of three places “Dalat, Ipanema Grill or Umi.”

We went to Dalat.

Hubby went for #26 – Pho Sate (rare sliced beef with sate). I went for some soup myself – #29 Mi Do Bien (Egg noodle with shrimp, scallop, squid, fishball and crabmeat). Both were huge bowls and were $6.95 each.

            I did not eat chili till I was in my 30s. My brother and mom were the ones who would have dipping sauces of vinegar with crushed siling labuyo (Philippines fiery bird’s eye pepper) with each meal – carefully preparing them each time as if they were having their last supper.

            Anyway, it was not until I had an apartment mate here in the U.S. who was addicted to spicy food and would dip fried chicken wings from a Chinese restaurant with vinegar and hot pepper that I realized what I was missing out on. Sure there was that sting on my tongue…but there was pleasure in that pain.

            So back to Dalat. Mimicking the same ritualistic reverence done by my brother and mom, I scooped up some noodles and shrimp into my soup spoon and topped it with chili sauce and put the whole thing in my mouth just as the hubby interjected “It’s really spicy!!!” Too late, my eyes teared up, my upper lip broke up into a sweat and my mouth was on fire.

 I was crying and laughing at the same time.

            I’ve embarrassed myself already so what the heck. Scoop and repeat. The customers around us probably thought I was one crazy Asian woman.

            Years ago, another friend of mine explained to me why Thai Diner -another restaurant in the West End -has an avid following for their spicy noodle soup.  “It’s the endorphins,” she says “really spicy food releases endorphins which is responsible for that feeling of euphoria.” I have seen my friends sweat over that bowl of Thai-hot brothy concoction and they just keep on going even as they sniffle and wipe the sweat off their foreheads after eating each spoonful.  There is no scientific proof to this claim, endorphin release might be a secondary effect by the pain triggered by eating chili…a little research on google came up with these two articles. So read away if interested.

I did feel elated after my big bowl of tear-inducing noodle soup, more so after I saw our bill – $25.00 for 2 spring rolls, 2 bowls of soup, 1 soda, 1 hot tea and 1 take-out order of grilled shrimp and beef on broken rice – not bad eh?

A week of Trader Joe’s

When Trader Joe's first opened here in Richmond, I was not a big fan of this grocery store. For one thing all I saw were these whole sections of snacks that I probably will never eat.  "Hungry" hubby and I are not big snackers. When I get hungry between meals, chips are the last thing from my mind. I'd rather drink a few ounces of milk or as it had been more frequent lately – melt some good quality chocolate in it to have a nice espresso-size shot of thick hot chocolate. Sometimes, I feel so embarassed when I have impromptu guests and they're looking for chips and salsa and I have nothing to offer them…but that's how my pantry goes.

When the economy soured and we had to cut back on eating out, we decided to give Trader Joe's a second look. Now, I know I'm not helping the economy if I tighten spending, we still do eat out – we just feel really annoyed spending $80 on dinner we'd rather forget. That's why I'm glad to have a one-stop source for foodie news to wade through restaurants views - I do want the good establishments to survive.

Okay, back to Trader Joe's. Here's what I found worth the buck starting with the best:

#1. Beef Short Ribs , Korean style – 6 pieces of thinly sliced short ribs for $7.99. They were enough for one dinner for 2 plus one meal leftover. You can always extend this by scrambling some eggs. Great with steamed white rice. Since I decided to work out after coming home from the office, I defrost these in cold water while I exercise and then pop them into the toaster oven…flip them once and they should be done in 12 minutes. Basmati rice from Costco cooks very fast too.

#2. Any of their chicken sausages with garlic – they used to have a teriyaki flavored one that I loved. Cook these with eggs and your set. You get 5 links for $3.99 (one link around 68g).

#3.  Pesto Pizza organic -$4.69 – maybe good for one or two depending on appetite. I was first leery when I saw broccoli on it but I preferred this over the all-meat pizza (forgot what it was called) 

#4.  Lasagna Bolognese – hubby said this was pretty good, I do not have the price.

#5. Chicken Fajita Burrito Grande – $2.99. I argued with the hubby because I said that for a few bucks more you can have fresh burrito from Chipotle. But HH said it was really tasty even if it was of the frozen dinner variety.

Now, I am not saying the above is gourmet, but they are really decent as quick meals during weeknights.

We were disappointed with:

#1. Pad Thai – this was in a take-out style box. Empty the noodles into the box and pour the sauce over it and microwave. Had a weird after taste – will not buy again. I really should just go ahead and try Pim's version.

#2. Chicken Teriyaki with soba noodles – too much sauce and sweet taste on the noodles. I think most of their chicken entrees are around $6.00…for this price I'd rather go to Chipotle.

I've also heard their mushroom turnovers ($2.99) are fantastic. We just bought them today and will try them later this week. For the Korean Style short ribs, I've heard good and bad reviews about them. Like they were too thin (duh – they are supposed to be thin) and too fatty – well  what I've had so far had a good ratio of  meat to fat. I've bought 3 more packets today so we'll see.

I know I had not been blogging new recipes lately. Reduced staffing at work really eats up a lot of my time and energy. We fortunately got major projects into production in the January-February time frame so I can see more of my weekends freeing up. :)

LFM: U of R Center for Culinary Arts

Cookingstation 

Long time readers of this blog know that I have a weakness for cooking classes. No matter how simplistic they may be , I always feel that there is something new to be learned. I have been taking classes at the University of Richmond Culinary Program for the past two years hoping to graduate with a Certificate from the school. My last class last January left me disillusioned. The subject was chocolate and I was so excited to see what it was all about. It started with the instructor calling my beloved chocolate, Scharffen Berger  – Sharffenberber and it went downhill from there. I lost interest in taking my final exam and decided to go take cooking classes in other cities.

Anyway this past September they opened  a new facility called Center for the Culinary Arts. I – and a hundred other people- was invited to the open house and was appropriately impressed with the new cooking school. I eagerly checked their class offerings and found one that I was interested in taking: Fish and Shellfish Identification, Prep and Cookery taught by Dave Booth, manager of the Yellow Umbrella seafood store. If there is something I am the least confident about it is fish. I really do not know how to identify fish specially when they are whole which is kind of sad.

The class started with how to choose a Fishmonger you can trust. The store should not smell "fishy" but should smell like the ocean. The staff should be knowledgeable and should be able to tell you when the fish was caught, ways to prepare it and how to store it when you get home.

We then proceeded to how you can choose a good quality whole fish and the chef brought out a lovely whole bass. I probably know this in theory: clear eyes, cherry red gills etc… but it helps a lot when you are able to see the fish itself, touch and smell it. He also showed us how to fillet a whole fish.

Lastly he talked about judging the quality of steaks and fillet which I kinda knew but it helps to have that knowledge reinforced. The fillets should have a moist sheen with no hint of slime. The fish fillets should appear slightly transcluscent and not opaque.

Fish should be stored at a temperature of 32F which is unattainable in a home refrigerator. So it is best when you take your fish home to put a bag of ice on top of it.

Classfacilities 

One important tidbit I learned is how to estimate cooking time of whole fish and fillets which are approximately the same.

For roasting at a temperature of 450F : 10 to 12 minutes for every inch of thickness at thickest part.

Braising : 10 minutes for each inch of thickness.

Sauteng : 10 minutes fo each inch of thickness.

Poaching : 8 to 10 minutes for each inch of thickness.

Steaming : about 8 minutes for each inch of thickness since steam is realllly hot.

See a magic number here: 10 minutes give or take.

For our group exercise we each had to fillet a half of a whole fish. Since there were only three in our group , I got to fillet an entire beeline snapper. And I did pretty well with little wastage. I just imagined I was deboning a chicken breast . Same concept, let the bone guide the knife.

Even if I was not a fan of salmon, I did choose to go to the group that did the it because the technique here was poaching and I really wanted to try it.

Salmon with Leek Sauce

  • 3 tbs butter

  • 3 leeks, w hite part only finely chopped

  • 5 shallots, minced

  • 2 tbs. flour

  • 2 cups fish stock or clam juice

  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche

  • salt and ground white pepper to taste

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 3-lb salmon fillet or six 6-ounce fillets, skinned and boned

In a saute pan or skillet, melt 2 tbs of butter over medium-low heat and saute the leeks for 10 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.

In a small saute pan or skillet, melt the remaining 1 tbs butter over medium heat and saute the shallots for 3 minutes, or until transcluscent. Sprinkle with flour and stir for about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the fish stock or clam juice to make a smooth creamy sauce. Stir in the creme fraiche, leeks, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

In a large saute pan or skillet, bring about 3 inches of water and a pinch of salt just to simmer over medium-low heat. Add the salmon and poach for 8 to 10 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Carefully remove the salmon and transfer to alrge platter or individual plates. Pour leek sauce over and serve immediately with boiled or steamed potatoes.

* In the absence of creme fraiche you can substitute sour creamed thinned out a little. It’s going to break a little but would smoothen out after a few minutes of cooking

The salmon was delicious even as I said I was not too fond of it. I found out a couple of years ago that they put coloring in the food of farmed salmon to give it that color otherwise their color would be grey.

Cookingstation2 

The University of Richmond Culinary program is really geared towards the hobby cook and is not a speck as gruelling as the Bootcamp classes at the CIA which can be used to judge whether you want to go into the culinary profession or not. 

These U of R programs are more for recreation and enjoyment rather than for professional culinary training and if you accept that that is the objective of the class … you will have fun…specially when you can drink wine while you cook ;).

Seafoodspread   

If I find anything interesting with the next segment of the class where we will be dealing with shellfish I will post about it.

LFM: The Best Chinese Restaurant Period

Dahntaht

I've signed up for Jaden's Cookbook testing and needed some ingredients from our local Asian Supermarket called Tan A. Richmond, Va has its own little Chinatown centered around Broad St. and Horsepen. Here you'll find a cluster of Asian stores and restaurants and they are as authentic as you can get – down to the brusque service. I don't think it's because they are mean, I think it's more a communication issue and they lose patience trying to interpret what you want. Anyway, I am Chinese and I do speak a degree of Cantonese but not the type that is spoken there. I think the dialect is more slang Cantonese called 'Sang-Wa' which is the language in Hong Kong or maybe Mandarin?  

Before I went grocery shopping, I decided to go to Full Kee for some Hong-Kong style noodle soup. It is served with chunks of succulent roast duck and thin egg noodles and a tasty broth. If you go on Sundays – and I suggest you go early like 11am because they get crowded fast- they have a rolling dimsum cart which I think is pretty good and can get you into a whole lot of leftovers if you eat with your eyes. A safe bet for dimsum are the shrimp balls , bean curd sheets and spareribs in black bean sauce. If you are feeling more adventurous have the chicken feet and enjoy all that collagen :) – my dad still made the best though. One time I ordered Peking Duck, it's the best I've had in the U.S. but sadly, still not comparable to the gastronomic nirvana like the ones to be had in Hong Kong. If you want to sample Peking Duck, I suggest you call ahead because it takes around 50 minutes to prepare.

Full Kee is not a place to have General Tso's chicken or Kung Pao chicken. I think they  do not make  "Americanized" Chinese food very well as experienced by the "Hungry" Hubby who tend to go with tamer fare. For that I would recommend Chen's Restaurant in the West End.

They also have a section where you could see whole sides of roast pig, whole roast ducks and char-siu hanging on hooks. These are great take-out items and you can just tell the guy behind the counter how much you want. I think the roast pig – replete with ultra-crispy skin – comes a kilo per order. Goodness, I'm getting hungry just writing this!

The egg tarts pictured above are dahn tahts. I think they were $2.50 for three little pieces. The missing one was eaten on the way home. As you all can see, the crust is so flaky and the custard itself was on the border of being set and not - it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Also, one not to miss is their sweetened tofu dessert – I think it is similar to our taho in the Philipines.

Full-Kee might not be for everyone. It is very low-key in its decor and don't expect the waitstaff to pander to your every need, but if you want to eat "real" Chinese food this is the place to go.

During my last visit there, I spied a whole roast pig being ushered out the door and out of curiosity asked the lady behind the counter how much it was and how many days notice was required if you wanted to order. Well, it costs around $200.00 and they needed about a week notice.  Hmmn….pig roast party anyone?

Full Kee

6400 Horsepen Rd.

Richmond, Va 23226

804-673-2233