August Gatherings

Chinese New Years always means a family dinner with the Boyfriend and his group of childhood friends and family. We’ve hopped around various Chinese restaurants in both Chinatown, Manhattan and on 8th Avenue, Brooklyn – usually eating somewhere new every year. This year, one of his family friends suggested August Gatherings on Canal Street. We’ve been to the previous restaurant before but it has now been revamped with new management and a new cook lineup.

I had brought two bottles of wine for dinner and the servers were super nice about helping us open them and providing wine glasses. The tiny snacks on the table – kimchi cucumbers, pickled turnips, and peanuts were all pretty tasty. We were all still munching on the delicious cucumbers when the food started arriving – our menu was already decided for us by management and the cooks since the Boyfriend’s family friend is a regular customer at August Gatherings.

First to arrive was their take on a Chinese dinner staple – Walnut Shrimp. The shrimp was lightly glazed with a dallop of wasabi cream. Instead of walnuts, they used Spanish almonds. I really liked how they brought out the shrimp on an individual plate for each person – the presentation was very nice. The shrimp was even better! There was a zesty and limey taste to it, which really helped open up the palate. The wasabi cream wasn’t too spicy either.

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Next up was the Kabocha Seafood Bisque, which was served in a pumpkin – fitting since Kabocha is typically known as a Japanese squash. The bisque was absolutely delicious – I ended up drinking two bowls of it! The bisque was very creamy – the pumpkin was sweet while the seafood was salty so there was a nice contrast in each spoonful.

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Next is the Lettuce Wraps, which the servers helped each person assemble. I thought that was a super nice touch since we probably would’ve made a mess – I know I would’ve! They even came back a little later to help assemble seconds for the people who wanted another one. The meat was tender, but the mushrooms in the wrap filling was definitely my favorite.

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Our next item was another personal dish – one plate for each person. Wild Scallop with applewood smoked bacon and truffle cream paired with bamboo infused sticky rice topped with Hawaiian black salt. This dish was my clear favorite the night – the scallop was seared to perfection and the truffle cream was one of the most fragrant things I’ve ever eaten. I used the sticky rice to soak up the truffle cream and it was literally one of the most perfect bites of the night.

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The follow up dish was a family style dish, much like the lettuce wraps – Broccoflower with Spanish Chorizo. Broccoflower, orΒ Romanesco broccoli, is a sort of broccoli-cauliflower crossbreed. I highly enjoyed this dish as I’ve never had Broccoflower before. It tasted a bit more like broccoli than cauliflower but I liked how it was softer. The chorizo was a tad spicy and paired well with the otherwise flavorless vegetables.

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Next was another personal dish – dry aged steak with mushrooms and a foie gras topping. The steak was very tender despite the fact that it was cooked past my usually medium rare. The foie gras gave a creaminessΒ to the dish – I love foie gras!

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Our next dish was another adaptation to a Chinese staple – longevity noodles. Longevity noodles are always eaten during major celebrations – Chinese New Years, weddings, birthdays, etc. Instead of the standard chow mein version, they served us a Black Bass and grape tomato version in a spicy sauce. The noodles were al dente and not mushy at all, which is usually the case with other Chinese restaurants. I was almost too full to eat anymore but I finished all my noodles!

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Our last savory dish of the night was a Pork Shank with two sauces – a raspberry yogurt sauce and a bonito stock on top of purple yams. I ended up eating the pork shank with a mixture of the yogurt sauce and bonito stock – it was surprisingly good together. The best part, however, was the purple yams – they were so sweet!!

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To finish up our meal, we had a “sweets” platter with egg tarts, almond cookies and their signature bun, a sweet pork bun with a pineapple bun topping. The almond cookies were delicious, the egg tarts were flaky but the best was the bun! I have no idea why no one didn’t think of this combination sooner but it was amazing – the best parts of two favorite buns in one. I love the crust of pineapple buns but usually don’t eat it because of the lack of filling. This completely solved the problem!

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Service was attentive throughout and I give huge props to our host, Henry, and the amazing woman at the counter (I didn’t catch her name) for an amazing meal. Also props to the cook because I never expected to have such an unique meal in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. I literally cannot wait to be back for more sweets and delicious food!

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