The Tianjin people have Zan Zhao's customers handed down from the past, the diet culture also receive Yan the Zhao customs handed down from the past the influence, the style by the thick line primarily, has "eight large bowls" "in a big way, four digs up" and so on, use the multipurpose large bowl bulk to dish the vegetable, the fish, the meat is big piece, although was inferior to the south vegetable of carefully and fastidious, but has Yan and Zhao large bowl to drink tea, the bulk eats the meat the straightforward gas.
For the past hour, I've tried -- and failed -- to make sense of the above verbiage, a clear contender for some of the most befuddling, albeit entertaining, wordsmithing I've come across in a long time. Fact is, I was doing a simple search on food from Tianjin and this is what Google gave me as my first choice. What the hell does "bulk eats the meat the straightforward gas" mean?
And why do I care?
See, it's like this. I had lunch yesterday at China Jade, a joint at 12203 East Iliff Avenue in Aurora that has two menus -- a bright yellow take-out menu that you should ignore and a fascinating, separate Chinese menu that makes all sorts of food references to Tianjin, a huge city in the northeast part of China that, from what I can gather, has its own native cooking style that's similar to Beijing cuisine.
Equipped with that useless sliver of knowledge -- and not much else -- we held our server hostage with a gazillion questions about the menu: For example, what was "braised pork food?" Even he was flummoxed. After tossing out a bunch of wild guesses, he finally concluded that it was really braised pork feet. I'm pretty sure it was pigs' feet, but I have no idea, because we bypassed those to inquire about the "omasum in red spicy oil."
For the record, I'll eat just about anything, including a tarantula (which I did in the presence of my editor). I have no issues with trying, at least once, bits and pieces from an animal's stomach compartments or abdominal cavities -- of which omasum is a part -- but the person I was with wasn't so sure. So we went back and forth -- how bad could it be? -- and eventually skipped it, which I'm now regretting because I dig freaky goods and if that photo (the one you can't stop staring at) is any indication of what the kitchen at China Jade was planning to put on my plate, then I totally missed out.
And that's the beauty of this place. The Chinese menu -- "cuminum cyminum" lamb (brilliant, by the way), pickled cabbage with pork intestines, Szechuan-style eel, housemade wontons puddled in chile oil, Shanghai-style smoked fish and Tianjin-style lo mein (equally brilliant) -- is unbelievably cool. And if you talk to the people eating here -- most of them Chinese -- they'll swear on their fortune cookies that this is the best Chinese restaurant in Denver. Better than JJ Chinese at 2500 West Alameda Avenue and better than Chopsticks, the Chinese spot at 2990 West Mississippi Avenue. That's saying a lot.
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SHOW ME HOW
But I'm thinking that these people might be onto something because while I was deciphering the menu, I overheard someone mention that China Jade was a nominee in some contest. Actually, it's a big deal competition, one that determines the top 100 Chinese restaurants in the country.
Chinese Restaurant News launched the first awards competition in 2004 in New York. "After five years," states the website, "the annual awards competition has gained recognition and authority by American consumers; at the same time, the Top 100 awards have become a standard and goal for all restaurateurs to work towards."
The competition is open to all Asian-themed restaurants in the United States. To cast your vote for China Jade, or any of the more than 2,000 restaurants currently up for consideration, visit www.top100chineserestaurants.com/vote/list.asp.