Monday, April 21, 2008

Ribbit, Ribbit

Some friends and I recently had one of those experiences that make you lose your appetite. It was at one of our favorite restaurants, somewhere we eat weekly if not more.

The ultra-relaxed Chinese fusion cuisine restaurant Luogu (Drum & Gong) is located on Nanluogu Xiang, a rebuilt hutong alleyway area in the Dongcheng district that is home to many cafes, restaurants and shops that cater to laowai (foreigners) and well-heeled Chinese. They serve one of my favorite Chinese dishes: a Sichuan-style whole carp that's been simmered in oil and broth, covered with red chili peppers and black peppercorns. When the fuyuan (waitress) brings the dish to the table she removes many of the peppers with a slotted spoon to make it easier to access your fish. There are many small bones to beware while eating but the flesh is incredibly delicate and the flavor is delicious. Other favorite dishes include fried pumpkin strips and a mouthwatering eggplant dish that is simmered with onions, tomatoes and cheese. It's not listed on the new menu but the waitstaff know the dish when we order it.

On Saturday we finished eating our meal, with a plate of broccoli and garlic sauce to provide some green and offset the affect of the grease on everything else, when we noticed a member of the kitchen staff standing near the large aquarium along the wall. His hands were full. At first we weren't sure what he was holding but then it hit us.

The menu has several dishes with croaker and bullfrog in the name. Some of our fellow diners had ordered one of them.

The frogs were large and fat, probably very juicy.

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