Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not Your Average Chinese Dinner

Last year, I had the opportunity to join the MyBlogSpark network, which gives bloggers the chance to "review new products and services and participate in exciting giveaways, surveys and events." Through MyBlogSpark, I've been able to give away Pillsbury cookies and Stop & Shop gift cards and typically, get coupons to try different General Mills products.

That is why I was surprised to see an email from MyBlogSpark offering a special event for bloggers, including a four course dinner at Myers + Chang, free drinks and even a gift card to cover gas/travel expenses for me and a guest - um yes, please! I was excited at the thought of attending my first blogging event and even more excited by the fact that I could share the experience with Andrew (really, hide behind him if I felt too awkward at the event!)

I didn't know what to expect from the event, but the day of, I ended up checking Yelp for ideas on what to order and checked Myers + Chang's website and menu. While on the site, I noticed that the whole restaurant was going to be closed to the public for the MyBlogSpark event, which made me anticipate what was going to happen that much more.

We were one of the first to arrive at the restaurant.

The first sign of things to come was the waiver they had us sign handing over rights to any picture and video taken. That's right, video, since there was a camera man and sound man setting up in the corner. I was a bit confused since we had signed a waiver via email beforehand but after consulting with my attorney, I was given the go ahead to sign.

When we got to our table, I was charmed by what I found. In addition to Myers + Chang's usual decor (Chinese newspaper table mats and chopsticks at the table), we found little fortune cookie place card holders describing the four courses and options we had for each. 

Sign number two that I should've paid attention to - I recognized the options for the first two courses but remember thinking and telling Andrew that I didn't remember seeing family-style entrees on Myers + Chang menu online. Again, I didn't think much of it since I assumed I had was looking at a special event menu.

Our waiter was pretty friendly and chatty, and was willing to snap a picture of us at the table. At this point, I was grinning in anticipation of the meal ahead of us.

With a list of exotic drinks with Asian ingredients to choose from, it was hard to make a selection:

I decided on the Lotus Blossom, since it included ingredients I knew I liked: St. Germain Liqueur, sparkling chenin blanc and soda - it was light and refreshing as it looks:

For our first course, Andrew went with Mama Chang's Pork and Chive Potstickers - the dipping sauce was deceptively spicy, as in it took a few seconds for the heat to hit your tongue but it was GOOD!

I easily could've ordered the potstickers myself but decided to go with another favorite of mine - Crispy Spring Rolls with garlic chives, bamboo and shitake mushrooms:

Did someone say second course? Andrew went with the wok-roasted mussels with lemongrass and garlic grilled toast. Andrew said these were the most flavorful mussels he's ever had (also spicy) and the two times he had mussels since (sorry Publick House), it's paled in comparison to these:

I went with the chilled dan dan noodles with fresh peanut and chili sambal - I love noodle dishes and this one didn't fail to deliver. Since it was also spicy, I love how the spicyness contrasted nicely with the cool chunks of cucumber:

By the time the third course rolled around, we were pretty much already stuffed. Perhaps it was because we were marveling at our good fortune to be eating all this good food for free, but suddenly, Andrew remarked that wouldn't it be funny if General Mills had planned to trick us by serving us one of their meals instead of something from Myers + Chang. Note, this was as we were just trying the first bites of the orange chicken that Andrew had selected (meals are served "family style" at Myers + Chang, which means they are delivered to the table as soon as they are ready). As soon as the words left Andrew's mouth, we looked at each other and realized how much sense it made. With this in mind, we were trying to be analytical as we tried the sweet and spicy shrimp. I have to admit, I had my doubts on whether Andrew was right. The vegetables were crisp and didn't have the typical "frozen food" texture. The same for the shrimp. I felt like the rice wasn't frozen, but Andrew noted that it easily could have been served on rice from within the restaurant. We agreed that the details that made us suspect it could be frozen included its overly sweet sauce which was not as delicately balanced as the previous courses. What do you think? (Apologies, we were so involved with figuring out the frozen vs. fresh dilemma that I forgot to take any pictures until we had already dug into the shrimp dish):

The problem was, how could we verify our suspicion? We were tempted to ask our waiter but didn't want to come across as insulting if we were wrong - "Excuse me, your restaurant's food tastes like it's frozen - can you verify this fact?" Plus, we were one of the first tables to get the entrees, so it was hard to gauge the reaction at the other tables.

So I ordered another drink (the house Shanghai sake sangria) which to be honest, was blech in my opinion so thank goodness it was free. I seem to have problems liking any drinks with pear liquors in them. But it pretty to look at (note, picture was taken before I tasted it):

As stuffed as we were, we definitely saved for dessert since we knew that they were supplied by Joanne Chang's Flour bakery (Joanne obviously being the Chang in the restaurants name) - Andrew was a bit undecided but was convinced by the waiter's recommendation of the chocolate and cocoa nib terrine with Vietnamese coffee sauce. Since I'm not a big chocolate dessert fan, I'm not able to give an expert opinion but Andrew liked it:

My coconut cream pie with lime whipped cream was DIVINE. Truly worthy of all caps. It had a delicious shortbread crust and I loved the touch of toasted coconut on top. I don't recall tasting the lime in the whipped cream but the whole package was amazing. Andrew wasted no time in helping me clean the plate and thought it was definitely his favorite dessert of the two:
After our desserts were served, the MyBlogSpark and General Mills representatives in the room passed around fortune cookies bearing a special message:

That's right, Andrew's suspicious were right. Our entrees were really frozen meals from General Mill's new Wanchai Ferry line. I have to say that the meals were good enough that I don't think I would've guessed that they were frozen on my own. Not as good as the first courses, yes, but not frozen.

So thanks to MyBlogSpark and General Mills for an evening of good food and mind games. I'm praying that we don't somehow end up on a commercial for Wanchai since Andrew and I were stiff as boards in front of the camera. In fact, I think our conversation went like this: "This is good."  "Yeah." It wasn't quite the mix and mingle I was expecting. Iin fact, I missed out on the opportunity to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Beantown Baker since she was seated in the one location in the restaurant where her back was to me, and I didn't see her. However, you can still read her account of what happened at the event.

And in case you were wondering, yes, Andrew was smug the whole ride home (the whole day after, in fact) about being right. I hate when he's right.

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