10 January 2012

2 Days in Philadelphia

I hung out for 2 days with SP before the semester begins (tomorrow)! We ate a bunch of food (no surprises there...):

1. Falafel food truck on 35th and Market St.
Thought I had escaped from rice since I'm not going to be home until at least March. Guess I was wrong. At least it isn't plain ol' steamed white rice (actually, the older I get, the more and more I appreciate eating plain ol' rice. Maybe it's because I have just grown to love food/carbohydrates, in general).
The falafel was kinda dry and crumbly and uniform in texture.

2. Ramune (Japanese drink with the marble that seals it until you push it down).

3. Singapore Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant 1029 Race St. (six stars out of five)
 Dim lighting (how utterly romantic!), cool tablecloth*, light green tea, and multiple utensils (fork, spoon, and chopsticks that seemed to be made out of a really absorbent wood). When passing me a fork, the owner (?) of the restaurant jokingly asked me, "Do you know how to use this?", and I replied "I'll try...he'll teach me [referring to SP]." (because SP isn't ethnically Chinese, but I am). Since moving to the US over five years ago, I've used chopsticks maybe 20 times in total, usually at restaurants that don't offer alternatives. My favourite eating utensil is probably the metal teaspoon.
 Stuffed tofu with amazing chunky ginger-peanut sauce. Dude. I could drink this sauce! I realise that I would probably be terrible at getting a guy via a dinner date. Especially with the picture-taking and my indecision. Particularly if there is a vegetarian menu with sections labelled "Beef", "Poultry", "Pork", and "Tofu" (all made with soy or gluten, of course).
 VEGGIES!! I am going to make stuffed tofu one day. I think they stuff the tofu AFTER stir-frying it, else the veggies would fall out.
 We also got dumplings. I want to drag SP here for dim sum one day, just because I love dim sum, and every time my family and I go to some dim sum place, most of the stuff has animal pieces. I didn't particularly love the dumplings because the filling was kinda mushy, and there was a lot of extra space inside the dumpling. SP liked them though.
 SP got a curry hotpot, and the veggies at the bottom were still tongue-burning-hot by the time the meal was over. It was pretty amazing, although I got my tongue burned a bit. I was going to get curry with gluten (read on the menu as "Curry with Beef") but I ended up getting Crispy Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs (gluten). I was debating between that and Sweet and Sour Pork Loin (soy), but the owner (?) recommended the gluten, so I got it. I mean, what do vegetarian chefs substitute animal bones with, right?
The sauce was really sweet. There were chunks of pineapple, tomato, pepper, carrot, and broccoli in the dish. I'm glad that this restaurant uses sundry vegetables in all its dishes (unlike other Chinese restaurants that pair broccoli with EVERYTHING) -- well, duh, it's a vegetarian restaurant.
The gluten ball tasted a bit like potato, a bit like gluten, and sort of had the appearance and texture of pig flesh. It obviously didn't taste like pig flesh. The sauce masked everything, though, which was neat. I'm going to believe that the "bone" part is just a potato fry, because that's what it tasted like. It was odd chewing the "bone". Seriously. It's like having an edible popsicle stick.
Note the brown rice.

At the end, we got 2 orange slices, 2 fortune cookies (grr) and 2 fried sesame balls with custard filling. My fortune was "The weather is nice". Great.
I think that for a sit-in vegetarian restaurant in the city, the meal was reasonably priced. With presumably fresh ingredients and a lot of veggies in the dishes, dim sum at night-time, a regular customer sitting in the corner reading a book (who ate a meal and also ordered take-out before leaving), and pretty tablecloths*, Singapore Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant is quite charming. SO BRING YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER(S) THERE!

*In looking at pictures of this restaurant online, I realised that they also have pink tablecloths. I prefer the paisley blue ones more)

4. Lotte Koala's March (cookies) - not a huge fan of them but SP loves them.

5. Lovash Indian Cuisine on 37th and Spruce St.

 More rice (long grain, rather cold -- but that may have been due to the weather, but the peas and paneer cheese were still warm). Some of the peas were still a bit hard, which means that they use dried peas, and not frozen ones. I love frozen peas and frozen corn. I eat frozen corn while it's still frozen, and I intend to do that with peas too, in the future (for other frozen things I eat, read here). The panner was less plasticky/smooth compared to paneer I've had before, and I'm not sure if that makes it more/less authentic.
 SP got chicken with something...It looked good because it was in a plastic container while mine was in a styrofoam one.

6. The Crepewalk, 36th and Spruce
Nutella crepe. Obviously better than the crepes that I made (which SP said were too thick). These are pretty much translucent!

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