02/08/13 12:04am
You know Chinese New Year's almost here when they start selling red panties outside Golden Mall.

Chinese New Year’s nigh. They’re selling red panties outside Golden Mall.

This Sunday is the beginning of the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration. To kick off the Year of the Snake The Gastronauts and C+M are hosting a very special banquet at Uncle Zhou’s. As a way to reward the burgeoning C+M community I’m giving away two seats to the February 12 dinner at 7:30.

What’s on the evening’s very special menu you ask? The fête kicks off with a cold platter of beef tendon, chicken heart, beef tripe, tofu skin, quick pickle, and headcheese. Then in true Gastronaut fashion, there will be lamb testicles, quick fried beef genitals, red and white carrot with pig tripe, spicy rabbit, and pig kidney.  As a friend of mine likes to say, it’ll be a meal of many parts.

To win the dinner for two, write a haiku that references Uncle Zhou, offal, and whatever else you find apt. The writer of the winning poem wins two seats at the banquet table. Please be sure to place responses in the comment section of this post. The contest ends Monday at 12:00 p.m. That gives you a whole snowy weekend to find something poetic to say about beef penis.

01/17/13 11:12am

Legions of Gastronauts stormed Sik Gaek for a seafood feast.

When it comes to dining out I’m not one for the communal table, I prefer to dine in small groups, or alone an eating army of one if you will. And as far as eating clubs go I take the Groucho Marx approach.  That said I make an exception for The Gastronauts. The club for adventurous eaters was started by Curtiss Calleo and Ben Pauker over a Malaysian meal seven years ago and the ranks have swelled to 1,300 folks eager to try everything from goat’s eyes to horse meat. As I mentioned I have no need to be in a club to be an adventurous eater. An affinity for the nasty, squirmy, and often spicy bits is an integral part of my genetic makeup. And it doesn’t get any squirmier and spicier than the seafood feast some 50 Gastronauts gathered at Sik Gaek in Woodside on Tuesday night to enjoy. That’s because one of the eight courses was san nakji, or live octopus.

For whatever reason a meal at the soju-drenched Sik Gaek always begins with eggs cooked over a table top grill. This was followed by a grilled mackerel whose skin was so crisp it tasted like it had begun to confit in its own Omega-3 rich fat. Then came the live octopus. Truth be told it was some of the sleepiest live octopus I have ever encountered.

Surely this must be the Octopus’ Garden that Ringo Starr sang about.

Surely this must be the Octopus’ Garden that Ringo Starr sang about.

Octopus and lobster, both still very much alive, were the centerpiece of the next course, a Korean bouillabaisse of sorts. Clams, abalone, mussels, baby octopi, prawns,shrimp, calamari, and plenty of veggies bubbled away in a spicy broth. The steam that billowed forth was like spicy seafood aromatherapy. And the broth was quite simply one of the best seafood soups I have ever had. Once the lobster was cooked our waiter came over and cracked it open, and we all greedily dredged the pan for the precious flesh.