Monday, June 24, 2013

Land of Plenty

A few weeks ago, one of our really good friends from college and best man at our wedding, Chris, happened to be in New York for work and had a night off, so we made dinner plans. Back in college, Matt and Chris delivered Chinese food for a take-out place, which resulted in a lot of free meals and a love for the food. This made the decision easy when we were trying to decide what type of food we should eat. 

Usually when we're craving Chinese, we'll head down to Chinatown to one of our favorite restaurants, but Chris was coming in from Queens so we wanted to find something more convenient. During my restaurant search, I came across Land of Plenty, which offers authentic Szechuan Chinese food. The menu was extensive and the reviews were good so it sounded like a winner to me!

It's always a good sign when the majority of customers in a restaurant are from the same country/region as the food. I was happy to see that all of the tables around us were predominantly Chinese. The menu was enormous, which made it really difficult to choose only a few options (we were only three people after all!). I had read reviews online beforehand to see what others recommended, so I had a list of a few options, just in case.

We started with pan seared pork dumplings, which we inhaled before I remembered to take a picture. They were crispy with a flavorful pork filling and soy dipping sauce, a solid start to the meal.

A feast for your eyes
We chose three entrees to share, and boy were we in for a treat. The entrees were huge, way more food than three people could possibly eat without feeling like your pants were going to burst. I loved the braised fish filets with silky tofu. The fish was delicate and mild in flavor and the silky tofu just melted in your mouth. Both of these were a great complement to the spicy broth and crunch from the chopped peanuts.

Chris recommended ma po tofu with chili minced pork since it's one of his favorite Chinese dishes. The dish was definitely the spiciest of the three, but equally delicious. The tofu was a bit chewy while the sauce and pork gave a nice kick and substance to the entire dish.

The third choice was double cooked pork belly with chilies and leeks. The pork belly was very rich and velvety, which was a nice balance to the other tofu-driven dishes. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but one of the chili pieces looked like a green pepper to me so I stuck the whole thing in my mouth and started chewing. My mouth was on fire! I was stuffing rice in my mouth to try and dull the pain. Lesson learned - remember what your dish is called before making poor decisions.

After we stuffed ourselves silly, I wanted something sweet but light to finish off the meal. I asked our server what she would recommend so we ordered the stuffed sticky rice balls with sweet black sesame based on her suggestion. The broth was very subtly sweet and the rice balls were filled with a black sesame paste that was a great palate cleanser after a very rich and spicy meal.

I know I'll be back since I'm pretty sure we only ate about 1% of the dishes on their huge menu. Land of Plenty - such an appropriate name. An enormous selection of dishes, all of which are huge portions in and of themselves. I can't wait to stuff myself again next time! Frog legs, I'm looking at you.

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