A plate of chicken with chile, Hunan-style, comes to the table with glistening whole garlic cloves and thick ginger slices that dot a sea of deep red whole chiles burying a mound of crisp, fried chicken cubes. Eyes water and noses run, but after the initial burst of spicy heat, a symphony of umami emerges and each bite becomes more intriguing than the last.
Say what you will about the thrill of a capsicum rush, but the earthy, rough-edged cooking from Hunan in south-central China is less about pure heat than about subtle layers of flavor and a harmonious balance of salty, tart, fermented and smoky tastes. [[ read more ]]
At dusk, electronic billboards light up all along Vermont and Western avenues. Their glowing images flick and spin, pumping life into Korean-language signs advertising everything from karaoke bars to old-country herbal cures. The aroma of garlic wafts out of countless restaurants over the largest Korean enclave outside Asia. [[ read more ]]