Noodles and dumplings to make friends over

6 06 2011

Shi Lin's Noodles with Sesame and Peanut Sauce

IT WARMS the heart whenever my friendships extend to the better halves.

And when someone’s hubby tells her something like, “Let’s have dinner out.  I’m craving for those noodles from eNTeNG,” I feel like my being a foodie wannabe – not to mention my current fixation with a restaurant – gets the validation it hasn’t sought deliberately.

I think there’s also such a thing as the elusive x-factor when it comes to food.  Sometimes the palate is enticed by a secret ingredient that could make you go “mmm …” and ask, “What is that?”  And before you know it, you’re hooked.  Sometimes, it’s all a matter of excellent execution of a dish that you’ve always had at home, or for which you have your own recipe (which you purport to be the best).

For me, lately, this one dish has been Noodles with Sesame and Peanut Sauce, something I’ve been whipping up to considerable success at home.  It’s been haunting me incessantly these past couple of months that I’ve often found myself suddenly turning to the superhero to my right, in the middle of a hectic workday, blurting out, “Let’s have dinner at Shi Lin!”  And as of last check, we’ve had for three nights, each one spaced just a couple of days apart from the other.

When you realize the kind of commute that I have to take to make it to Shi Lin – from all the way down south of Manila to Mandaluyong, braving the rush hour, unperturbed by unpredictable tropical weather and the parking lot that is EDSA – you will come to acknowledge the passion I have for this bowl of noodles.  After all, I console myself with the thought that Spaniards centuries ago did commission expeditions that circumnavigated the world in search of spices.  My little sacrifice to make it to the third floor of The Podium where Shi Lin is on, clearly pales in comparison.

I discovered Shi Lin on my own and have since dined there by my lonesome on four occasions.  I would relish every opportunity to say “table for one, please” and every time demanding to be seated at the booth section.  I was not trying to be a difficult customer.  I just always knew I needed all that table space.  I may only be one, but I eat for two – sometimes, more.  This is a fact that cannot be denied when I go through my receipts – my lists of “constants” around which “on-the-whim” selections would be made.

My “constants” make my first round – the Noodles with Sesame and Peanut Sauce, the Mushroom & Vegetable Dumplings, and the Fresh Tofu.  The star of the noodles is the noodles itself – Chinese in provenance, but almost Italian in texture.  I say “almost” because unlike Italian pasta taken off the boil a few minutes short of package instructions, Shi Lin’s noodles don’t have a slightly uncooked center – but do have that “give” that at first would seem resistance to your bite.  I love how the noodles’ paleness becomes awash with the deep orange hue of the sesame peanut sauce, perfectly thinner than I had expected.  The lone bok choy felt more ornamental than intended for sustenance.  But the generous sprinkling of onion leeks more than made up for the greens, its sharpness the perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the sauce.  I could go through a couple bowls of these easily, as had almost always been the case.

My first bowl

What usually becomes of my first bowl. Hehehe.

This was a second bowl. Yes, I eat for two! So sue me! Hahaha!

I’d borrow The Flash’s reaction to the mushroom & vegetable dumplings.  “Boss, ma-umami talaga yung mushrooms, noh?  And ano kaya yung greens?  Medyo may konting pait sya pero very nice with the mushrooms and the dipping sauce.”  (Boss, the mushrooms really burst with umami goodness!  What could the greens be?  They’re kind of bitter but go very nicely with the mushrooms.)  A quick check with the kitchen revealed the greens to be bok choy.

Mushroom and Vegetable Dumplings

The dumplings are chockful with real fresh shiitake mushrooms and bok choy. No extenders!

The fresh tofu was freezing cold, but its temperature was never an issue in enjoying it – I actually think it wouldn’t work as well when hot – unlike its delicateness that put my chopsticks skills to a test the first time.  But the difficulty the dish’s texture foisted on me only made the first bite worth it.  Silken tofu, swathed all around with a special dark sauce (hoisin?), served as the canvas Jackson Pollock-ed with savory bonito flakes and thinly sliced onion leeks.  Jiggly in my chopsticks on its way to my mouth, the gleaming smooth curd danced in explosions of creamy and sharp flavors.  Such a tease!

Fresh tofu... super love love L-O-V-E this!

This first round, with all its scrumptiousness, actually satiates – but not quite.  Not because the portions were lacking.  But because food at Shi Lin is just so good.  My second round usually consists another noodle dish – either the Braised Beef Noodle Soup, the Beef Noodle Soup, or another one of the sesame peanut – and a couple more dumplings – the Xiao Long Bao (finely ground pork dumplings in broth-filled dumpling wrappers) and the Pork & Shrimp Shaomai (pleasing to the eyes in its artistry, as to the belly in its soupy goodness).

Xiao Long Bao

Freshly shredded ginger is taken with the xiao long bao! Ninong super loves ginger!!!

Pork & Shrimp Shaomai

Now, that really is an edible work of art!

Dumplings galore!

Sometimes, we'd ask for the Salt & Pepper Squid.

Being in Shi Lin makes me feel like I’m in the shrine of amazing Taiwanese cuisine that I’m bound to follow my own tradition.  The first round.  The second round.  Then, a couple of drinks.  The Organic Plumberry Iced Tea and the Organic Passion Berry Iced Tea wash everything down perfectly.

It’s amazing how my fixation has made me dine here for three times in the space of seven days.  What’s more amazing is that I’ve forged, over noodles and broth-filled dumplings, new friendships that’ll last me a lifetime.

And yes, the kind that extends to the better halves.

Bonding over great food recommended by me: The Flash, Thea (my newfound friend and SunLife Advisor), and Iron Man. And oh, "the LV Speedy" in a special participation.

The Flash, my one and only Ninong, me, and Thea.

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

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2 responses

6 06 2011
Alexis

It looks yummo!

I do miss you!

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6 06 2011
mickymac

Nice entry! Thanks for mentioning me! Thea cannot help but share it, while I’m immersed in the book that I’m reading. You have a talent for writing. Please do continue!

Hope I can join you in your next food adventure!

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