‘Tis the Season to try something different

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

Before we nestled the children all snug in their beds,
We had to eat and feast, as after all,
‘Twas the night before Christmas!

Now, we were going away for a few days, so the thought of planning a traditional ‘Réveillon’ was overwhelming. So I suggested we would follow a long-establisehd Jewish tradition and eat Chinese food for Christmas.

The kids were confused, so I had to explain. It’s been documented a-plenty that North American Jews have been patrons to Chinese eateries while Christians are celebrating. Historians believe that the tradition began in New York’s Lower East Side, at the tail end of the 19th century, with an early wave of Eastern European immigrants. Chinese immigrants were settling down nearby, in what became Chinatown.

First thing, many Christian-owned and operated restaurants were closed on Christmas Day. Chinese shops didn’t follow the same calendar. A match made in heaven! It also helped that, when it came to kosher law, Chinese restaurants didnt use dairy and therefore, there was no mixing of meat and dairy. That one is easy.

But what about pork? Pork is not kosher food (neither is shrimp) and it is used in Chinese cooking. But it is usually concealed inside something, like a wonton or an egg roll. Apparently for many, if you can’t see it, you can’t know it’s there, making it safe to eat. Plausible deniability! A true Christmas miracle!

And so the decision was made to order from Ding Ho, a Gatineau restaurant located in small strip mall, at the corner of St-Louis and the Alonzo bridge, in a space that was occupied for the longest time by a Patio Vidal franchise. Five years ago, Vidal was gone and Ding Ho was opening for business.

Now, we basically never order Chinese food for several reasona. For starters, Ms. Waffle is wary of MSG and the kids are not too familiar with this type of food. So this was a momentous occasion! Ding Ho’s menu is classic Chinese-Canadian fare: Chop Suey, Chow Mein, Foo Young, Fried Macaroni, Fried Rice, etc.

Ms. Waffle was weirdly excited by this and took control of the online order. Chow Mein and other noodle dishes were ruled out, she has strong opions regarding what she terms slimy noodle dishes.

The only existential question I was asked was, Spring Rolls or Egg Rolls?
“It’s Christmas. Let’s get both!” I magnanimously pronouced, like a Wise Man packing Myrrh for the Messiah.

Ms. Waffle made sure to order the classic Chicken Balls and added some Breaded Shrimps for good measure. A Chicken dish, a Beef dish, some Spareribs for Mini-Waffle et voilà! Bonus, our order being over $50, we were getting an extra Chicken Fried Rice for FREE, a saving of $8.95!

1 x Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls$12.95
4 x Egg Roll$6.80
4 x Spring Roll$6.80
1 x Salt and Pepper Chicken$14.45
1 x Garlic Spareribs$12.95
1 x Beef with Green Peppers$13.95
1 x Breaded Shrimps with Garlic Sauce$14.95
1 x Chicken Fried Rice (Special) FREE

The food arrived in the planned time frame. A whole bunch of styrofoam containers were soon emptied into more presentable dishes. The table was set and we were ready to celebrate!

‘Tis the Season to try something different

Most certainly, it smelled good and looked good! The Waffle jr. is not keen on fried rice, so we added some leftover white rice to the table to keep her content. We all filled up our plates and dug in.

The Chicken Balls were meaty and actually quite decent. Nice white meat, not overdone. The fried batter was a bit doughy but the ratio was good. That was not the case for the Shrimps, where there was too much dough. I ate mine with the Cherry Sauce and left the garlic sauce alone.

The rolls were pretty good. The Egg Rolls were nicely crispy, with plenty of delicious filling. The Spring Rolls were not as good, a bit oily in my opinion. I stayed with the classic Plum Sauce to eat them.

The Garlic Spare Ribs were uneven, as is often the case for this dish. Some were really meaty, nice and tender. Others less so, with more cartilage than flesh. Luck of the draw or expert eyes will get the best pieces! There was plenty of the sweet and garlicky sauce. It was a tad fatty.

The Salt and Pepper Chicken was a nice, simple, crispy dish. The chicken had been deep fried than mixed with very simple sauce, not too salty with a good peppery flavour. Lots of chicken too, with some onions and a few pieces of green peppers.

The Beef and Green Peppers had a different ratio, with lots more veggies than the S&P Chicken. Which is fine, I guess, considering that it is called Beef and Green Peppers. The beef was crispy yet tender. The peppers were still firm. Some sliced onions, too. Pretty good dish even though I would like more beef!

Finally, the Chicken Fried Rice was also good. Nice and salty from the soy sauce, the chicken flavour was punching through too. Nothing to complain about this freebee!

All in all, we all enjoyed our Chinese Christmas meal. The portions were quite generous, so there is plenty more left for us to enjoy at a later day. The food was plenty hot and we all had a fortune cookie. Apparently, one of my investments will bring solid returns.

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