Saturday, February 05, 2011

Strawberry buttercream shrimp

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Photo hoisted from Trip Advisor.
While Fresno is  a bit depressing these days, what with the shuttered shops, yard sales on every other block, 17% unemployment, and all-around disspirited vibe, I can't complain about the food.

Best Chinese dinner in memory on Thursday night at the Hunan. I was going to go somewhere and have a salad, but then I read about buttercream shrimp. Sounded like a joke. Sounded disgusting. Sounded too good to be true!  I was in the car before I'd finished arguing with myself about whether this could possibly be a wise diet choice. I already knew the answer.

Hunan is an unlikely restaurant to find in Fresno. There's a story to this restaurant. The upshot: lucky Fresno. I ordered dan dan noodles, which were hot and red and crazy delicious, and had the shrimp for "dessert." I left some of both on my plate, which was a feat.

How to describe those shrimp. . . warm, firm and crunchy, sweet, suave, buttery. I know this dish sounds weird and questionable, but I'm telling you: it is magnificent. I'm considering returning tonight for more and if you are ever within 30 miles of Fresno, go.

Yesterday I spent some time looking for a Hmong restaurant, as there are a lot of Hmong people in Fresno. But all my leads petered out, the places I'd read about had been closed.

Not just closed -- abandoned, defiled, gutted.  I gave up on Hmong food, which is how I ended up at the well-regarded Lao Cafe 2.
I met some real charmers in front of the liquor market.
Excellent restaurant. I ordered nam khao. Here's a factual description of how it's made. Here's how I experienced it: sour and crunchy, salty and meaty, spicy, addicting. I would rather have this than any cake and I could not stop eating. I intended to eat about 1/3 of what they served me, but ate more like 4/5. Skipped dinner.

I've been to Fresno before and really liked it. But while I've had some pleasant experiences here these last two days, met a couple of lovely people and gone to several interesting museums, they feel like tiny islands in choppy and cold waters. I've written a lot of travel stories about unlikely places, but this time I'm having trouble seeing it.

If anyone has any ideas, please send.

Today: Finish coffee. More museums. Historic house. Armenian bakery. Tower district. Zoo. Strawberry buttercream shrimp?

58 comments:

  1. The "medium" house-made sausage at Piemonte's Deli on Olive are wonderful -- just the right hits of heat and fennel. A native turned me and other friends on to these.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Any more info on the Buttercream Strawberry shrimp ingredients? Or do we wait for the article to come out (Sunset?)?

    How are the goats doing? Will they be giving birth this spring?!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Anonymous 1 -- I got your note about Piemonte's too late to act on it. I had passed the place earlier in the day and wondered about it. Too bad!

    Anonymous 2: No. I need to find out more about both buttercream shrimp and pregnancy status of goats.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've never been to Fresno, but apparently it was just named Drunkest City in America: http://www.slashfood.com/2011/02/07/do-you-live-in-americas-drunkest-city/

    ReplyDelete
  5. gourmetbebe2/12/11, 1:54 PM

    Kao tod may be one of my favorite dishes ever. It's not on the menu at my beloved local Thai restaurant - run by Thai/Laotian family - but every time they have the ingredients to make it I'm greeted with "Hi! We have kao tod for you today". I have never left without it.

    Piemonte's sausage is the best. Definitely worth swinging through on your next road trip south.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you come back to Fresno, try some Mexican food at "Chris Meat Market" on E st downtown. My friend from NYC had a "brains" burrito there three years ago when he visited me, and is still dreaming about it. Very good tacos too.
    Also, Don Pepe's on Blackstone and Gettysburg, I think their fish tacos are the best I've ever had. And the beer comes prepared (tapatillo, lemon, salt, and a big shrimp on top).

    I like your take on Fresno. Islands on choppy cold waters.... I've been here 5 years, but never heard anything informative about Hunan or the cafe you went to, at least nothing that would make me want to go there like your blog just did... and that's because the good things are, as you said, pretty isolated, and people tend to segregate.

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