Egg Foo What the Fuck

eggfooyoung  browngravy

One of my favorite scenes in Sleepless in Seattle is right after Tom Hanks (Sam) and son (Jonah) drop off Hanks’ new-ish girlfriend at the airport. Jonah is, idonknow, 8, and his mom just died and he of course isn’t all that into the girlfriend.

After the drop off, Sam tries to explain dating to Jonah. Sam wonders why girlfriend twirls her hair, wonders why she laughs in a certain way, wonders why she…well, whatever weird girl things she does. And Sam tells Jonah that he’s willing to get to the bottom of it. Understand her. She’s like a glove and he’s trying to see if they fit. If they’d make a pair. Or something like that. You know, just go watch the movie.

Well, I feel this way about egg foo young. I’ve always been curious about the dish, you know, there being egg in the title and all. But I’ve never ordered it. So when 80P and I ordered-in Chinese the other night, I went for it: vegetable egg foo young.  (We ordered from Great Wall Szechuan House, a top pick from the WaPo food critic. And holy crap – best Chinese ever. The eggplant with garlic sauce. Wow. Silky, soft purple nuggets. Do it.)

I pretty much hated the egg foo young. Greasy. Just greasy. And I love grease. But it appeared as a mangled mess of batter and grease and batter-stained broccoli and weird fried parts and slabs of omelet-style eggs and diced carrots. And I really just don’t know what else. Accompanying this concoction – gravy. What? Yes, totally not anything special brown gravy.

But you know what. I’m intrigued. I’m willing to investigate. I will follow this egg fascination around the globe. I will get to the bottom of egg foo young.

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Ask Tom, Answer Gansie


breathing fish: From a sentence in your recent review – fish so fresh it was breathing when it hit the table. I’m no vegetarian, or member of PETA, but that’s just wrong. It’s morally wrong. While I do believe in animals being a source of food, as higher-intelligent beings aware of concepts like pain and suffering, I think we’re ethically bound to dispatch our food as quickly and as humanely as possible. I don’t care if it is your job to experience all types of culture and cuisine, sometimes a line should be drawn. Sometimes you should refuse. I’m disgusted. And the fish wasn’t breathing, it was struggling as it suffocated. Really disgusted.

Tom Sietsema: Sorry to offend you, reader. But that’s the way the food was offered up to me in the Chinese restaurant. The fish had been “stunned” by a quick dip in boiling water before being brought to the table.

I’m curious if others were/are offended by such?

Disgusted? : Nope, not a bit. While I agree animals we consume should be treated humanely and raised in an eco manner, I don’t think you can always pursue that in your current capacity nor do I believe you should have to. If you -personally- were offended you should have left. Since you weren’t you did the right thing and reported things as they happened. Kudos.

gansie: Now I think most people are pretty desensitized to the whole eating crazy shit trend, with popular shows such as No Reservations, Bizarre Foods and Man v. Food. But my whole issue is: why do people care so much about what other people do, eating or otherwise. Gay rights? Abortion? Veganism? Why does it matter if Britt wants to cook a loving, albeit limited, dinner for his boyfriend?

But then I hear myself say obnoxious things like:

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Ask Tom, Answer Gansie


Washington, D.C.: I know you’ve mentioned your dislike of waiters “auctioning plates,” but I’d like to raise the issue again — with a twist.My boyfriend and I eat at restaurants pretty regularly — 2-3 times a week, at a mix of price points. But one thing that’s become pretty constant lately is waiters delivering our food and automatically assuming the salad or the fish goes to me — when 9 times out of 10, it’s what my boyfriend has ordered.

He’s the health nut. I’m more apt to order something involving pork belly or red meat.

It would be funny if it wasn’t happening so often.

Tom Sietsema: Restaurant Rule No. 234:

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Ask Tom, Answer Gansie: Get Your Hands Out of My Lap


A semi-regular feature where gansie gets to pretend she knows as much about dining as the Washington Post food critic.

Does anyone really want the waiter to keep pouring their wine?: To me, that’s as intrusive as the (short-lived) fad for waiters to put the napkins on diners’ laps as soon as they sit down.

Tom Sietsema: To each his own. Some people like to have their wine poured for them throughout a meal, others don’t. If people feel strongly about the subject, they should let their server know at the start.

BTW: I’ve had my napkin placed on my lap twice this week. And it’s only Wednesday! In other words, the “trend” is hardly “short-lived.”

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Ask Tom, Answer Gansie: Bad, Bad Blogger


NW D.C.: I was out with my wife at a well-known, hard-to-get-into place this past weekend and overheard a conversation at another table. The diner was complaining at their table about the service and indicated that “He is a senior member of a well-known area food blog, and the lack of service will be noted.” Well, the waiter calmed him down and comped the person a full bottle of wine. I checked the blog (will not mention) and sure enough there was an entry, and there was a mention of the lack of service, but no mention of the comped wine. Do the boards hold that much sway over restaurants that they are fearful of bad posts?

Tom Sietsema: It’s a big, bad — but never boring! — world out there in the blogosphere. I think restaurants DO care what is posted about them online. And I think some online scribes are taking advantage of the fact.


Re bad blogger: Restaurants, like so many other places, rely on reputation. This chat has demonstrated that a bad reputation can devastate a restaurant. For a blogger to take advantage of that is despicable. The blogger in question should be outed. I for one would like to know who is blackmailing restaurants and I’m sure the restaurants would like to know who should no longer be considered a decent blogger.

Tom Sietsema: Ah, that’s a sticky, sticky path! I think it’s up to the monitors of the boards to police their chats and/or discussions. Here at the Post, for instance, reporters have editors — a safety net for which I’m very grateful. I don’t think the same can be said for many amateur food sites.

gansie: I’ve only wanted to do this once. Every other dining experience, good, bad or drunken, I’ve never felt the need to disclose the fact that I am reviewing the place. Clearly by the fact that I write this Ask Tom feature, I closely follow his guidance: never announce your critiquing presence. Even when my friends have wanted to leave little notes saying check fill-in-the-blank publication, I always take the high ground. But, no dining establishment tempted me as much as…

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Ask Tom, Answer Gansie: How-To Edition

hot tamale man

Through my work with Express, I’ve become a sell-out. I’ll explain. I’m in bed with the PR folks. The PR folks will host a “media dinner” I will then eat for free and in return write a *totally non-biased* review. I swear.

Anyway, at my latest comped meal Angie and I ate our way through a deliciously free meal at Restaurant K by Alison Swope, which I then reviewed.

As you’ll see, we tried the tamales. As Angie is from Texas and has a Honduran mother, she knows her tamales: even knowing the difference between the Tex-Mex and Central American versions. So while she clearly knew what to make of them, I am still sorting my way through the technicalities of the dish. Which made me totally laugh when I saw the following thread during Tom Seitsema’s WaPo chat.

one / tom is sure one hot tamale

Ashburn, Va.: This may sound stupid, but I have never ordered tamales at a restaurant just because I have no idea how to eat them. Do I pick them up, or do I eat with a fork? What do I do with the stuff covering them? (And what IS that? It’s not edible, right?) Do I put sauce on them? Please help end my tamale illiteracy!

Tom Sietsema: Tamales, which involve corn meal dough (typically) wrapped around cheese, vegetables or meat, are bundled in husks, which must be removed before you dig into the steamed filling. I eat tamales with a fork. Sauce is optional.


Tamales. ..: true story. I’m an adventurous eater. My first time at Red Sage some years ago, I saw tamales on the menu. Having never had them, of course I ordered them. I didn’t know how to eat them so I ate them all. It took me some months before I figured out why the waiter had such a quizzical look on his face when he removed the plate.

Tom Sietsema: Funny!

I’ve admitted in this forum that I, too, ate my first tamale — part of it, anyway — with its husk on. Decades ago, I should add.

gansie: like i said before, i’m not so familiar with the tamale (read the review – i compare the dough to a matzah ball!), although i should be – it’s quite delicious! and i can’t lie, i’ve absolutely tried to eat the husk before.  and one more thing, does anyone know where the phrase “hot tamale” came from?

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Hott Links: Bring In ‘Da Noise

noise maker

Maybe because 80P is always telling me to keep my voice down, I never notice how loud or quiet a restaurant is – I just scream regardless. But apparently I might be the only person that feels this way. According to a 5-part investigative report by Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema, noise is the number one complaint about eating out.

He explained the severity through this over-the-top story:

Brown, a 35-year-old senior finance manager at a Washington nonprofit, planned to propose to Rebecca Oser at Central Michel Richard downtown just before Valentine’s Day. Fueled by a few drinks, Brown says, he pulled out a gift-wrapped box containing a sapphire ring from his jacket pocket before the dessert course. It should have been a memorable moment. Instead, Brown found himself competing for Oser’s attention with a bustling open kitchen, CNN anchors on overhead TVs and a conversation at the next table that got louder when another person walked over to say hello.

Despite the distractions, Brown popped the question: Rebecca, will you marry me? He’s not sure if he actually heard the reply, but he got the response he was looking for. Oser, a 29-year-old project director, slipped on the ring and came around the table to sit beside him.

First off, public engagements should be outlawed. You’d think that for this most special of all nights people would want to be in private. I know I don’t want to see a blubbering bride-to-be flashing a diamond around to people she doesn’t know. Get a room! (The best engagement story I’ve heard so far is from my friend, Jules – she was in her sweatpants when Gary proposed! And, she’s letting the bridesmaids sport these gorgeous, absolutely re-wearable dresses! Love you, Jules!)

Anyway, I’d absolutely rather enjoy food in a loud restaurant (my fav place, Bistrot du Coin, was rated the nosiest place in the city!) than in a setting where I have to whisper for fear of everyone hearing my conversation.

When 80 took me to Vidalia for my birthday, we actually both hunched over the table (well, maybe I was hunching because I was hungover) so 80 could whisper to me the details of the previous night’s Happy Hour without completely appalling the neighboring table.

But here, take a look at Tom’s articles and let me know your thoughts on restaurant noise.

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