Stir fried banana flower


In South East Asia not just the fruit of the banana tree is eaten, but also the flower. A new restaurant serving food of the Chinese province of Yunnan was offering a banana flower stir fried with bacon. My friend and I decided to share a portion, amongst other things.

When it came out you could see that the entire flower was used and cut into strips. You could see parts of the leaves as well as stamen and carpel. There was no distinct taste to the flower. The taste was overtaken by a kind of gassy flavor, that I assume came from the oil. The texture was a little more interesting, with the outer parts being quite tough and leathery, and the inner parts a lot softer.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6


Tiramisu Oreo thins


imageI’ve previously discussed a few varieties of extra thin Oreos here on my blog. This week’s flavor is tiramisu. Chinese people don’t generally eat a lot of desserts, but they seem to have gotten a taste for tiramisu. You can find tiramisu flavored everything.

These thin Oreos did remind me of tiramisu flavored things. It had that mixture of coffee flavor and sweetness that always reminds me more of rum raisin than of actual tiramisu. I’m guessing no tiramisu was hurt in the making of this snack. Still tasted good though.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Pepsi Pink gummies


imageAfter Pepsi Blue came Pepsi Pink Pink. It makes sense then that the Pepsi Blue gummies are followed by Pepsi Pink gummies. Like its predecessor these gummies where shaped like cola bottles, only these ones were pink. Obviously. They seemed like perfectly normal candies to me. There wasn’t anything special about them, except the packaging. They did taste slightly fruitier than the Pepsi Blue gummies though.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Mapo tofu slider


imageOne of the most famous and well loved dishes here in China is “mapo tofu”, a spicy tofu dish from Sichuan province with lots of chilies and Sichuan pepper. I’m not usually a fan of Sichuan pepper, or soft tofu for that matter. I prefer the firmer variety. Regardless of that I did order a mapo tofu slider at White Castle in Shanghai.

The slider came quite minimally prepared with just a thin beef patty on a mini burger bun, topped with a piece of spicy tofu. That was no problem though as I usually throw away the tomato and lettuce anyway. The tofu was a lot better than expected. It wasn’t at all soft, and the Sichuan pepper wasn’t overpowering. It actually worked well with the beef as well. I do think it could have been a little spicier.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 7

Green tea mochi ice cream


imageI’ve mentioned green tea plenty of times before, but mochi has only come up once. It’s a chewy, sticky ball made of rice flour that has a texture of say play dough. Haagen Dasz’ latest limited edition ice-cream is a matcha & mochi one. Matcha mochi. Matcha mochi. Try saying that ten times while keeping a straight face.

The green tea ice-cream was perfectly balances. Not too bitter, not too sweet. The interesting part came from the mochi though. All throughout the ice-cream were pieces of this rubbery substance. You would get some with just about every bite. After the ice-cream had melted and dribbled its way down your throat, you’d still be chewing on the little rice flour balls. That is a good thing, believe you me. A good thing indeed.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 8

Pink Pepsi


After Pepsi Blue, Pepsi Pink recently hit the market here in China. The subscript on the bottle advertises it as an energy drink. That made me quite weary indeed. It’s bad enough I have to resort to drinking Pepsi purely for the entertainment of my readers, now I have to drink an energy drink at that. If it tastes anything like that horrendous Red Bull I might just be forced to give up this blog. Now luckily it wasn’t that bad and I can post another blog entry tomorrow, but it wasn’t exactly good either. Like Red Bull it had that berry smell and flavor, but thankfully not quite as strong.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 5

Cappuccino pretzel sticks


imageI’ve tried a fair few Pockys and pretzel sticks over the last few months. Some of them have been quite unusual in their flavor pairings, such as Beijing duck flavored ones. These cappuccino flavored ones are not actual that weird, but I tried them out because they are unusual in the sense that we don’t normally see this particular kind of Pretz on the market. These sticks actually tasted exactly how they were advertised, which makes a nice change of pace. They really did taste like cappuccino, and not just like coffee.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Sambal cheese


IMG_6784Though Dutch cuisine is quite bland, we tend to spice things up a bit with the help of our former overseas territories. As a kid I was no stranger to “sambal”, a spicy chili paste hailing from Indonesia. I’d even put on my cheese sandwiches. I guess I was not alone in doing so, as I found a sambal flavored Gouda in a cheese shop in Amsterdam.

Upon further inspection I could see quite a few chili flakes in the cheese, which I took as a good sign. The cheese did indeed have a bit of a chili kick. Sambal is more than chili, though, and I couldn’t identify any sambal flavor in the cheese. Had this cheese been labelled as chili cheese, I’d have happily given it a higher score.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Pandan layer cake


imageHaving been to Indonesia and Malaysia a couple of times I’m no stranger to pandan leaf desserts. Pandanus is a kind of tree that is similar in appearance to a palm tree. Although it bears fruits, it’s the leaves that are most often used in cooking. If you’re ever in South East Asia and you see a green dessert, chances are it has pandan as a coloring agent.

I bought a pack of pandan flavored layer cakes at the supermarket, hoping to be transported back to Bali. Unfortunately the amount of pandan flavored cream that was sandwiched between the layers of sponge cake was so low that it was hardly there. That little bit of cake that did have some cream, did indeed taste of pandan. The flavor is hard to describe. To me it tastes most like basmati rice, fragrant yet subtle.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Pork rind


imageAs a kid I never liked any fatty cut of meat, such as pork belly. A hunk of chewy pork rind was the most awful think I could think of. Later, as I grew older, my taste got more adventurous and I started eating things I didn’t like as a kid. In the Philippines I was stuck on a broken down bus for hours and was so hungry I had to make do with the local snack chicharron, which is basically crispy fried pork rinds. I hated it. It just tasted like a petting zoo to me.

Then another time in Hong Kong I tried some pork scratchins from a burger place, which is pretty much the same thing. I hated it. At that time I was convinced that pork rind just isn’t my thing. Now this blog entry is about a more recent exposure to crispy pork rind. That came when a new Yunnan restaurant opened up here in Lanzhou. Food from the province of Yunnan is actually more like Thai food then Chinese. A few bowls of snacks were put out dinner including a set of pork rinds. These ones actually tasted like pork, and not like pig. I rather enjoyed munching on these. That just goes to show that you shouldn’t just try everything, you also need to give things a second chance. Or in this case a third.

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 7