Once upon a time there was an old gas station on Rutledge Street downtown. The old building presented quiet an eye sore until it was recently renovated with a bright seafoam colored door. Now let me in that door!
The restaurant is called Xiao Bao Biscuit and it specializes in Asian southern soul food. When I walked in, I immediately loved the atmosphere. It’s a very small restaurant, low lights, beautiful exposed brick walls, and a great local vibe. Now Asian restaurants are not my specialty…regardless of my Asian background being named Susu and all. I am so out of my element when it comes to Asian food. Even living in New York City, the King of Asian take-out food, I always found myself ordering the most basic dish: vegetable rice and chicken….BORING.
My friend Brendan on the other hand loves Asian cuisine and helped with the ordering so I didn’t go wrong. The menu is fairly small, which made this easier for me. I had skimmed it earlier at work and noticed a Japanese pancake dish called Okonomiyak. It is made from cabbage and kale and has a fried egg on top…Asian or not, I know this sounded incredible. AND come to find out later, this dish is actually rivaling with Mike Lata’s oyster sliders from his restaurant, The Ordinary. I specifically went to The Ordinary after reading Robert Moss’ article about the sliders in the paper and I am changed for the better. Final verdict: this pancake might have topped it. Who knew that kale and cabbage when cooked down together could really create the same substance as a pancake? It was delicious and had a bit of kick to it from sriracha, which I was surprisingly able to handle. Oh and the egg on top definitely made it.
For my main dish I got the Congee. This is a rice porridge dish that has vegetables in it with cilantro and large pieces of tender pork mixed in. This dish had some heat to it as well and at one point I had to take my scarf off. I am a baby when it comes to spiciness, which is why I think I don’t eat a lot of Asian food. Let me take that back, I’m not a baby I just like what food taste like in general and don’t want to fight through heat to get to it! I did really enjoy my dish though and thought the pork was cooked perfectly and the taste and texture of the porridge was a great pairing.
Now Brendan got the spiciest dish on the menu. It was a duck drum in a scary broth-y soup that just looked painful with very pretty cubes of bright orange butternut squash. Let’s just leave it at he was sweating. I tried it and can’t even understand how one enjoys that level of heat. I think he said 1 through 10, this dish was a 9 ….NO THANK YOU!
Definitely enjoyed widening my food culture and s-l-o-w-l-y accepting some heat here and there 😉