Beware the Chinese donut!

One of the highlights of our recent trip to San Francisco was sampling dim sum at the City View restaurant. Since the servers spoke little English, part of the fun was checking out the carts as they rolled by and trying mystery dishes. But when it came time for dessert, we didn't expect a mystery. The waitress clearly said "Chinese donut" and pointed to three long cylinders of dough coated with what we thought was icing. Since the answer to "Donut?" is always "Yes!", we pointed to the pastry and passed up the rice puddings, almond jellos, and sesame balls on offer.

The first sign of trouble came when the waitress snipped the rolls into three sections each and drenched them in what appeared to be soy sauce. But that couldn't be right because soy sauce on a donut = crazy talk. Kurt began to look skeptical at this point, but I naively assumed that it must be a sweet sauce of some sort.

Oh, how wrong I was. While I won't say the Chinese donut is bad, the soy drenched center and slippery, flavorless exterior were quite a shock at first bite. Apparently, the exterior is not frosting as I thought, but instead glutinous rice noodle. Whoops! There was no sweetness in the dish, only the salty bite of the soy sauce. The interior had a promising crunch at the edges but was overwhelmed by the soft, almost slimy noodle. Kurt ate one piece and generously said that I could have the rest. I managed a couple slices, but resorted to peeling the noodle off with the chopsticks to make it more palatable.

While I grew to (almost) appreciate the taste, under no circumstances would I consider it a dessert. When the next cart appeared, I took the safe route and snagged the almond jello with fruit. It was mild, refreshing, and not at all surprising. Just what I needed after the "donut" experience.


Craig Miyamoto said...

When selecting dessert at a Chinese restaurant, I always ... ALWAYS ... order an almond float.

Rebecca said...

The Google pics of an almond float look like what I was calling almond jello. It was a great way to end the meal. Gotta remember it. :)

Trin said...

Heh. Chinese donuts are a breakfast specialty. You can get them with or without the rice noodle wrapping - one of my childhood breakfasts was Chinese fried donut with hot soy milk. I'd take the donut, dip it in the hot soy milk and happily eat it. The other way to eat 'em is in a bowl of congee.

I do love them drenched in soy sauce topped with green onions though.

...And what the hell is an almond float?

Trin said...

And, as far as I can tell, the only thing that Chinese donuts have in common with regular donuts is that they're deep fried dough. Just that Chinese donuts are a lot more airy than regular donuts.

Rebecca said...

I might like a noodle-less donut with hot soy milk. Makes much more sense for breakfast than for dessert!

If an almond float is like what I had, it's cubes of almond jello mixed with fruit.

TMC said...

You're more adventurous than me! I never get dessert at Asian restaurants... they're never desserty enough!

Kat said...

Sounds like you were at Yum Cha! I do love those meals with the little carts and choice upon choice. :)

Loving the blog, I'll be reading it now when I can!