It’s pretty rare that I enjoy being proven wrong but when there is food involved I’m up for anything. I must give many, many, thanks to the lovely Cathy for introducing me to North China Gourmet despite my insistence that “there’s no good Chinese food in Tallahassee”. As a result, the total on my “Chinese restaurants where I could take my father without shame” list has been bumped up to two.
The restaurant is a cozy little thing in Market Square (Killearn) that just opened about 2 weeks ago. Cathy seemed to know everyone in there and she introduced me to the owners (the people that used to own Ming Tree) and everything(not that they actually cared). I took her advice and abandoned my usual chicken and broccoli for things I would probably have never picked on my own. We started out with pan fried jalapeño bun. I’m not sure how authentic that is but it was good stuff. It sort of reminded me of jalapeño cornbread but with a completely different texture (which of course tells you absolutely nothing).
Bubble milk with dark matter
Then she ordered me a honeydew flavored “bubble milk tea with tapioca pearl” or bubble tea for short. Non-frozen milky drinks don’t usually do much for me and this was an iced milk drink with fruit flavoring and little balls of tapioca clustering at the bottom. Little black balls suspiciously resembling Nibbler’s dark matter pellets or possibly over sized caviar. As the delightfully sealed plastic cup didn’t come close to 10,000 pounds or smell of fish offspring, I ignored the first instinct and prepared to be politely ambivalent about the taste. Another point for Cathy because my preparations weren’t needed. I enjoyed every drop right down to the last pellet– ahem… pearl. I even tasted the coconut flavor she ordered (and immediately wished I had gotten that one).
Where’s the beef?
At this point my hunger pangs were subdued and we haven’t even gotten to the meal. Following her lead again I ordered beef noodle soup and she ordered ma po bean curd. There was a bit of a wait because tiny place was packed but it was well worth it. We agreed to share both orders which I wasn’t to sure about until our orders came out. The soup came in a bowl bigger than my head with a small cow worth of beef (wonderfully tender) and lots of homemade noodles, bean sprouts and those pretty green watercressy type things I can’t remember the names of. It had a really subtle flavor that was hard to get into after the bean curd but definitely something that could stand alone.
To-funny you should mention that
The ma po bean curd came in it’s own little Bunsen burner with bottomless rice bowls. Tofu (bean curd) and I don’t usually get along. I have suppressed memories of my father (the experimental chef) using tofu in various dishes that were otherwise wonderful (like scrambled eggs or chicken noodle soup) to “see if we would notice”. He also liked (likes) to use various soy and tofu substitutes like “veggie dogs” and “veggie cheese” and a horrible bright idea about some sort of soy ice cream. As a protective measure my body developed a healthy allergy to most soy products, especially those with “clever” names like “Tofurkey Jurky“. Who do they think they’re kidding anyway? But I digress… In spite of my bias towards tofu, the bean curd dish was my favorite. It was kind of sweet and very spicy with big chunks of tofu that had an eggy texture and shredded pork and other unidentifiable sauce type ingredients. It took my other curdled soy milk experiences and pimp-slapped them across the face. It is a very good thing.
Eat at Joes
At the end of the meal, we were both stuffed and we still took home half of the bean curd and a good 2/3rds of the soup. At 7.95 for each the portions quite exceeded the price. In case you couldn’t tell by the 6 or so paragraphs where I described my dinner, this was a recommendation. Go visit. Now. And take me with you.North China Gourmet
1415 Timberlane Road (Market Square)