Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hashima: Chinese Forest Frog Fat

Hashima

This was interesting. The Chinese have a dessert called hashima, which is apparently oviduct fat from a female forest frog, if my information is correct. Prepared in a very thin cold broth together with some Chinese herbs, this allegedly has all sorts of health benefits (like bird's nest soup, another Chinese dessert of similarly strange origins - saliva from a swallow - although I'm told that hashima is basically a cheaper version of bird's nest soup). As nasty as it sounds, it really didn't taste like anything. All the taste came from the mildly sweet broth and the Chinese herbs rather than that jelly-like hashima, which seemed more like a mildly crunchy and tasteless fungus than anything. I won't get cravings for it, but its light nature was admittedly refreshing after a long dinner.

Anyway, this was the only interesting highlight from an otherwise lackluster meal at Teahouse (China Square Level 3, 6533-0660), which is a Tung Lok restaurant. For some reason, it only dawned on me tonight that Tung Lok (and its rival big restaurant chain Crystal Jade) is basically just an Asian version of a chain restaurant. Just as with mass chain restaurants in the States (or Australia?), they have a steady stream of customers thanks to their clean ambience, consistency, and safe food. That's also why I hate chain restaurants: they are so safe that the food - while certainly not the worst food that I've ever had - is simply boring (the hashima above is apparently standard issue at many Chinese restaurants). Oh well...I've had this place's dim sum a couple times too. It wasn't too bad, but again, it's not a place that I'd get cravings for.

9 comments:

Mister Fedward Hyde said...

amigo, you love Morton's don't you? and if that isn't a chain...(as is din tai fung, wink..and so is nobu!)

bma said...

Technically Morton's has multiple locations, so one could try to argue that it constitutes a "chain." But you know what I mean by chain restaurants - the plasticky Chilis, Applebees, Red Lobsters of the world that have proliferated across every town in suburban America, thus making them look horrifically identical to each other.

Morton's is clearly not a "chain restaurant" in that sense.

If you really were to define "chain" restaurants as simply having multiple locations, then McDonald's would qualify too. But I think you'll agree that that's fast food, not a chain restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Tung Lok branches vary in standard. Teahouse to me is terrible but the Paramount Hotel one is good, my family was regular there when we lived in the East. Liang Court is supposed to be good but it was so darn crowded we couldn't get in unless we waited at least an hour so will have to try another time.

Tung Lok at Raffles Town Club is truly excellent and always crowded although the rest of the club is dead.

- Cindy Q

Mister Fedward Hyde said...

ye gotcha, was just d*ckin around a bit. you know what we need here man, while still on the "chain" tangent..a decent burrito place (wouldn't mind Chipotle, whose earnings at home are still rising)

The only burrito i found here (taco bell doesn't count) is at that Orchard hotel (close to the end of orchard..) but 18dollars (in purchasing power parity) for a (mediocre) burritto feel like robbery..

Anonymous said...

i heard hashima is frog sperm though hmm

bma said...

Is this what you meant by the burrito place at Orchard Hotel?

annie said...

Hasma (Harsmar, Hashima) is a Chinese dessert ingredient made from the dried fallopian tubes of true frogs, typically the Asiatic Grass Frog (Rana chensinensis). Hasma is often mistakenly described as toad or frog fat,

Chaeles Bagli said...

my relatives on my mom's side of the family tried to make me eat it. i think i had the same problem at the time i heard it was bird spit. but for the sake of health, I am now taking it regularly.

btw, i don't buy the super-expensive kind like old people do. the ready-to-drink kind at the stores are pretty affordable. (e.g. www.geocities.jp/hongkong_bird_nest/index_e.htm)

Timothy said...

You sure do find some interesting dishes when you eat out of your comfort zone, I'll have to ask the chef at my Yo Sushi London to see if he can whip me up some 'oviduct fat from a female forest frog' or 'slaiva from a sparrow' dessert...