20 March 2008
Buchi, My Old Friend
I grew up a fan of buchi. Before knowing what cholesterol was, I was forever stuffing my face with these deep-fried, sesame-covered globs of sticky balls. There was something irresistible about the popping little seeds, the crispy exterior of the glutinous rice wall (and its equally chewy interior), and the soft, sweet bean filling. However...
When I was a wee lass of eight, I tagged along with an uncle to the divey Chinese joint Mr. Ho Tsin Ho Noodle House in Manila. It was around midnight, a very scandalous hour for a little girl to be awake, but the motivation was that he would treat me to anything I wanted, in any quantity I pleased.
Not being a fan of other Chinese food in general, and exhibiting early signs of the satiate-yourself-sick behavior I still occasionally manifest, I ordered a disgusting amount of buchi platters. After consuming them all, my young palate came to know the horrible sensation of extreme nausea due to excessive unctuousness. I abandoned buchi for more than a decade.
Only recently have I been brave enough to try them again, emboldened by my streak of oily street food adventures in India. Even so, I make sure I dab the whole ball in tissue, and have hot water or tea around to counter the bad vibes and regret.
However, I have found one buchi that is surprisingly light, and beats all the greasy SF Chinatown contenders. Asian Pearl in Millbrae makes them well, with only around US$ 5 for 6 pieces-- still more expensive than the US$ 1.40-for-3 Chinatown deals, but way more edible. In fact, I had three of them without gagging. They are just the right sweetness and delicious!
If you're coming from SF, you have to ride a BART down to Millbrae and take a SamTrans bus or walk down El Camino. The restaurant is super-popular among the Chinese set, and get packed during weekends. We've never bothered to have a sit-down dinner, but we get the buchi to go.
Asian Pearl Peninsula Chinese Restaurant
1671 El Camino Real
(+1650) 616 8288
BART Station: Millbrae
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