It’s funny how your original goal (to introduce Dan to Chinese shaved ice) can morph into something utterly unrecognizable. In an epic rock-paper-scissors battle, it was decided that the spot would be JoJo Taipei in Allston. And when I saw pig intestines on the menu, how could I resist?
Actually, pig intestine showed up in 2 of the appetizers and 3-4 of the entrees. There was pig intestine in “fire casserole” (unclear), pig intestine in you noodles, pig intestine fried, pig instead steamed. It was a heaven of porcine entrails.
But that left many more options, since it would be hard to make a meal entirely of intestine. The waitress dropped off our complimentary roasted peanuts and pickled cabbages (delicious) and I did the ordering in Chinese. She seemed determined to speak Chinese, actually – usually waitresses pick up that my language skills are a little rusty, and switch over to English, but Dan only got a few quick admonitions to use his spoon and I did the ordering.
“We’re not very hungry,” I explained, requesting some suggestions.
“Ok, I’ll bring over stinky tofu and ‘xiao long bao’ (soup dumplings) then,” she replied immediately, already writing down our order. I was relieved to not have to make any decisions.
My camera crapped out after one picture, so dear blog reader, you will be treated to a far fancier camera this post.
Stinky tofu arrived first. As soon as she set it down, the eponymous stink immediately hit you – like a breeze had blown over a manure pile. The dish itself was pretty disappointing – dry, with a the texture of a delicate sponge, and flavoring came only from a thin chili sauce that refused to cling to the fried surface of the tofu. Dan took one bite and made a face. “Like a barnyard in your mouth,” he said. I found that subsequent pieces didn’t have the same effect. You get used to the smell very fast.
Here is the pig intestine, with a nice peanutty dipping sauce and stuffed with chives. It reminded me a lot of the meat found on pig’s feet, with the same chewy, gelatinous quality.
Our waitress brought his over, along with soup soons. I was confused on eating technique and just popped the whole thing in my mouth and struggled not to let a boiling mouthful of soup and pork overcome my physical capacities. Definitely something you have to eat hot. The skin of these buns are unleavened, so they have a thinner, translucent quality.
Finally, dessert time. It said to choose 3 toppings, but the waitress just smiled and said she’d put everything on a large shaved ice for us. It arrived on an enormous platter, every bit as bizarrely and richly satisfying as I remember – kidney beans, mung beans, red beans, tapioca pearls, condensed milk, some kind of sweet syrup, soft, mealy peanuts, all haphazardly lobbed onto a fluffy, finely grated bed of ice.
A worthy finale to an adventurous meal.