At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Somewhere in Suzhou (中國江蘇蘇州 'jung gwok gong sou sou jau') a computer server sent visits to my blog. Which baffles me, because I cannot for the life of me figure out what would interest Chinese people here. Indeed, Chinese script is often used, but entirely in an English-explicative context, aimed at people who speak English as their first language. I presume that Chinese-speakers have their own formats for cruising the net and looking up random things. And while I often view Chinese sites and read articles, my doing so is anomalous behaviour fuelled by a curiosity which I do not expect to be shared or matched much.

Now that I am free of the bucket, I explore the world.
From the comforts of my arm chair.

Somewhere in deepest darkest Jiangsu a machine-intelligence is following some of my moves. There may be humans adhering to its reading recommendations, but I doubt that.


Before it became a modern electronic and clothing manufacturing powerhouse, Jiangsu province (江蘇省 'gong sou saang') was already densely populated and agriculturally rich. After its inclusion in an expanding China two and a half millenia ago the region became a fundamental part of the core. Around fifteen centuries ago the Grand Canal (大運河'daai wan ho') was completed, linking north and south in trade and cultural exchange, by the early Song Dynasty (宋朝 'sung chiu') the rise of a wealthy bourgeoisie fuelled literary scholarship and the arts.

Suzhou is famous for its gardens, cuisine, and lovely women.
I cannot attest to the latter; female beauty is subjective.
Nor really to the first, having never been there.

But food, yes. Jiangsu food is excellent.

Little fried yellow eels. Squirrel fish. Hairy crabs. Fried buns.

Frazzled eel in gravy (响油鳝糊 'heung yau sin wu': "ringed oil eel paste"): yellow eel small-chunked, seethed in oil, sauced with winter bamboo shoot, ham, rice wine, soy sauce, garlic, and sugar. It's deservedly famous.
No proper Suzhou or Shanghai restaurant should not have it.

Clear broth sharksfin (清湯魚翅 'ching tong yü chi') is also a superlative representative of Jiangsu-Zhejiang food (江浙菜 'gong jit choi'), but many white people might kick up a fuss at the senseless death of so lovable an animal, so restaurants in America probably will not have it. Chicken, rice wine and bits of ham for a basis of refined stock, with ginger and scallion, strained, featuring the sharkfin. Garnished with a little flat-leaf parsley.

What I really like, however, is something that one can easily find: 韭菜水餃 ('gau choi suei gaau'), which are chive dumplings. Common enough, but the Suzhou-Shanghai approach is the best. Delicate skins, refined filling, and then steamed instead of boiled. Wonderful!

Right where Jackson crosses Kearny there used to be two Shanghainese restaurants, one with refined dishes, the other serving noodle soup. They are long gone, and there are fewer Shanghainese in the Chinatown area. The merchant who sold music tapes in the basement space there retired, the tailor making elegant qipaos (旗袍 'kei pou'; "banner gowns", meaning both cheongsams and looser old-style garments) is also history.
The Shanghainese students at the croissant place?
Probably far elsewhere.

The odious brat who found two hours of Chinese class every week onerous probably now has odious brats of his own. In the suburbs.

By the way, I highly recommend the Bund Shanghai Restaurant.

640 Jackson Street,
San Francisco, CA 94133.
Phone: 415-982-0618

Great chive dumplings, superlative pork dishes, spicy fish, eel, and chewy noodles. It would be a perfect spot for a cozy date with a food aficionado, but I'm just guessing, seeing as I haven't gone on a date in sheer aeons.
It's empty between lunch and dinner, but can get bustling.

What I find particularly noteworthy is that even the Shanghainese speakers here understand my Cantonese, and there are a few folks from Hong Kong on staff. As a single man dining in Chinatown, that is incredibly nice.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


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