This past Friday night, Howard and I went out to dinner in Chinatown to celebrate 100-days for his cousin Felix's new baby, Simon. I have to admit I wasn't very excited about it mainly because I'm so limited in what I can and can't eat when in a Chinese restaurant because I very easily get sick from the greasiness, the high fat content, and the MSG. Part of it, I think, is related to not having a gallbladder, but I'm sure it has to do with the rest of my less than stellar GI system. I remember when I was a kid, I could eat the MSG-laden dim sum items without any issues. I loved anything fried and eagerly devoured anything I wanted without a problem. As I got older, I knew I had to drink hot tea with the food so prevent feeling any ickiness. Then a few years later, even the tea wasn't a cure all. Since then, I try to be careful about what I eat at Chinese restaurants because 98% of the time, I will pay for it for the next day or two. There have even been times when it affected how I felt for the following work week because my body was just thrown off.
With that being said, although the food really wasn't something to look forward to, the highlight was definitely seeing the baby. All the "I-can't-wait-to-have-my-own-baby" feelings came back, but don't worry because the "we-should-go-to-Disney-without-kids-at-LEAST-one-more-time" took over once we left the restaurant that night, haha. Plus, if my sister-in-law is having a baby, we can enjoy him for the next few years!
Howard snapped pictures of just a few of the dishes because they were presented in this grand masterpiece kind of way. The first course was actually hardboiled eggs that were dyed orange red, which is just one of the traditions for Chinese babies. I didn't eat mine so my hubs and father-in-law split it. I absolutely love eggs, but I must be in a mood for them to enjoy it. Otherwise it reminds me of the many times I was sick and the smell of eggs made me feel worse.
The next dish was this crab deal. The little spoons held a weird combination of strange tasting, salty ingredients. Howard and I weren't fans of this although it did remind us of Top Chef and how they sometimes make the "cheftestants" create an amuse bouche. I don't know if I'd rather eat this again or Michael Midgeley's Cheeto/Snickers vending machine one, haha. I passed on the crab too because I'm slightly allergic and can get hives with crab and its shell. I did, unfortunately, get a few hives that night, but they passed quickly.
This is the typical "appetizer" plate during Chinese banquets. I'd equate it to the antipasto in an Italian meal as the majority of it is slices of meat. The dish isn't hot, so it feels light and refreshing although it's full of fat in the same way the Italian cured meats have a lot of fat in it too. I had some jellyfish and a few other pieces of meat. Howard and I joked about the cucumber slices though because we had recently watched videos on YouTube on cutting all these veggie garnishes.
One of the other courses was shark fin soup. I have such a fear of choking on shark fin, so I'm always in deep concentration when it's in soup. Of course, the server came around and asked who wanted more to finish up the huge bowl as you can see in the picture below, and I choked a little when I told him no. By the way, banquet soup in a Chinese restaurant is essentially MSG. It can very easily make me sick, but because it's usually one of the first few courses served, I'm usually somewhat okay at that point of the meal.
Howard skipped taking pictures of the other dishes because neither of us were really into it at that point. We were exhausted! He worked an extra long day and was actually extremely busy all week because his boss's wife just had a baby and was at home. I also felt tired from grading at school earlier in the day. He did get one of the abalone, sea cucumber, and "dou miao" (apparently that's how it's spelled in English, but I would've written "dow miew," haha). That's basically pea shoots or pea tips. I absolutely love snap peas and other pea goodness, but this is the best part of the plant. My mom loves it too although I remember how she hated having to prepare it because it is extremely time-consuming when you actually peel off all the little "string" parts. The portion I was served was rather large (maybe about twice Howard's portion in the picture below), so I enjoyed the vegetables even though it too was drenched in the sauce that wasn't really good for me. I gave Howard my sea cucumber because I'm not a fan, but he really enjoys it so win-win. By the way, I thought it was funny how a lot of people around the table put down their chopsticks and picked up the knife and fork to cut the abalone to eat in pieces while I just bit into it and chomped away since I was using a fork all along. I'm an ABC; what can I say?
One of the final dishes was noodles with dumplings. There were more than enough dumplings in the big bowl, so the waiter dished it out and said in Chinese to decide whether we wanted one "gow" (dumpling) or two "gow" and take accordingly. I said to Howard in Chinese, "No 'gow'" for me, and we laughed for quite a bit about it. That's why Howard took the pic this way because it shows how I had none in front of me.
All these pictures of food and no picture of the baby?! Well, here you go! Felix and his wife Miho walked around to each table with baby Simon. We didn't hear him cry at all throughout dinner although when we went to give them the gift and say goodbye at the end of the party, Felix did say he was crying. Maybe it just wasn't audible in the loudness of a typical Chinese restaurant.
At the end of the meal, we were served fruit and sweet soup. The only "dessert" soup I ever REALLY liked in a Chinese restaurant was the one that tasted like peanut butter. There were times I also enjoyed the red bean soup too, but it has to be super hot and not too runny to be tasty, in my opinion. I was done eating many courses before because I was already feeling sick, so I didn't have this either. Unfortunately, I skip out on the fresh fruit as well because of the acid content. Yes, I'm a fun girl to be around, aren't I? When Howard and I have fruit, it's more often before dinner so that I don't feel the acid in my esophagus and stomach at night.
Last pictures of the night were of this balloon! It was attached to my sister-in-law's chair who was sitting right next to me, so we couldn't see the top of the balloon when it was floating, so I thought it just said "Boy To Love & Hug," which I found rather entertaining thinking it wanted to almost be an Engrish balloon, but as you can see, we just couldn't see the beginning of the phrase.
Though it was definitely tiring, I can still enjoy these moments with the hubs because we can find fun almost anywhere. Even so, we were very ecstatic to be back home so that we could go to sleep and let our stomachs recover the next day!