Ni Hao Café

10 05 2010

The end of the spring semester is just around the corner, and Chris and I are finishing our junior year of college. Since we’re currently busy studying for finals and wrapping the semester up, we unfortunately do not anticipate a lot of cooking going on until after finals are finalized.

Today, however, we went to Ni Hao Café, which is a Chinese restaurant located right on the Corner (a popular food spot for students, locals, and visitors alike). Ni Hao Café caters mostly to undergrad and grad students, as the food is pretty quality and the prices are relatively cheap. Typically, it is under $10 for an entrée. During lunch, there are $5 specials that come with rice. They even have Happy Hour, Mondays-Fridays from 4-6 pm!

Chris and I have actually been to Ni Hao Café several times, mostly with our classmates. However, today, we decided to go there for lunch! We were the only ones in the restaurant for awhile, although there were some people who came in for takeout and eventually by the time we were ending our lunch, two groups of people came in. Chris and I both ordered beef noodle soup (the third time NRM has come up in our blog!). We wanted to compare their NRM to ours.

The first thing I noticed about Ni Hao’s beef noodle soup is that the noodles are very thick and wide; Chris calls them fat rice noodles. The noodles we used were pretty thick and wide too, but I don’t think they were as wide as Ni Hao’s. The beef seemed pretty good. Chris thinks that it was more restaurant-style than the traditional NRM. It wasn’t spicy and didn’t have a very distinguished star anise-taste like ours did. Overall, it was pretty good beef noodle soup and I would recommend it to friends/family/strangers and eat it again.

Ni Hao Café's beef noodle soup

Yum! Next time we go to Ni Hao, we’ll be sure to try other delicious dishes. I’m especially interested in their dim sun plates! :)





Beef Noodle Soup + Sushi!

8 05 2010

This past week, Chris and I made beef noodle soup (牛肉麵 aka NRM) again.

We still had Chinese green veggies, tomatoes, noodles, mustard greens, and star anise from last time, so all we had to buy was beef shank. We went to Harris Teeter again and bought the much-needed beef shank for our NRM.

At home, Chris first cut the beef shank into cubes.  Then, I placed the beef shank into cold water heated until just boiling.  Chris strained the beef and rinsed it with cold water.

Then, Chris first sautéed a little bit of ginger, sesame oil, and spicy chili bean paste.  After the mixture was hot, he added the beef to pan-sear the meat. Afterwards, Chris added a little bit of water and rice wine together to cover over the meat along with the star anise, garlic, and some sugar. He let it boil for ~30 minutes. He added chopped tomatoes in, reducing heat down to simmer for about an hour.

Meanwhile, I boiled some water for the noodles in the rice cooker.

When everything was ready, Chris ladled the NRM soup and veggies and then added some noodles on top. He added some chopped mustard greens and placed it on top of the noodles along with the boiled green vegetables. Chris added some cilantro and green onion as a garnish at the end.

The NRM was very successful; in fact, several of our hallmates came to the room, commenting on the overwhelming smell that was wafting down the hall. So we ladled some soup and noodles for them as well. Overall, another successful NRM story :)

NRM Finished product

Beef Noodle Soup!

I almost forgot to mention! Chris and I also made sushi the other day! We bought a large cucumber, avocados, and surimi. Ching-san gave Chris a bag of Japanese sushi rice (Premium Grade Rice Nishiki). So, we cleaned everything and then Chris chopped the cucumber into very thin, long slices and cut open one avocado and chopped them as well. He also cut the surimi.

Meanwhile, I prepared the sushi rice in the rice cooker and then Chris added rice vinegar to the sushi rice when it was all cooked and I mixed it up. After everything was chopped up and cooked, Chris spread the sushi rice onto a piece of cling wrap on top of the bamboo sushi mat we borrowed from Ching-san. He used a spoon to flatten the sushi rice and then placed pieces of avocado, cucumber, and surimi. Then, he rolled the sushi and cut them into California roll makizushi-style sushi (the most familiar kind to foreigners). Unfortunately, we forgot to buy nori (seaweed), but it’s okay because the sushi was really delicious and tasted exactly like California roll sushi!

Chopping sushi ingredients

Chopping the avocado for the sushi

Rolling the sushi

Bon appetit!