Food Friday: Hospital

16 Mar

Hospital is the name we have for the tiny, hole-in-the-wall dive that is located next to (in?) Sichuan University’s terrifying local hospital. The hospital itself is pretty ganky; god forbid I ever have to go there for treatment of any kind. The restaurant is a total dive and if “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” came to Chengdu, I’d point them in Hospital’s direction. It’s a family run place, and since it’s cheap and right next to the old dorms, it’s a particular favorite. Ann, Katia, and I had our order down to a science. We come in, sit down, ask if they had kong qing cai (a stir fried veggie, spinach maybe?) and when they said no, we’d order the same damn thing every single time.

Tang su lian bai. Sweet soy cabbage for Katia.

Fen qie ji dan. Scrambled egg and tomatoes for moi.

Hui guo tu dou. Spicy pork and potato for Ann.

Sometimes we’d mix it up on our fourth dish with a soup or another veggie (wan dou cai, pea plant), maybe with a fried potato concoction that looked like a plate sized hash brown doused liberally with red pepper spice, but for the most part, we got those three dishes and a bowl of rice each. And oh my god, they are so amazing, you need to find your own hospital to go to.

Let me be the first to say that if any of these dishes had any nutritional value to start with, they lost them in the cooking process. Salt, fat, bad cholesterol, whatever poisons live in Chinese wok oils*, all added to make each dish particularly delicious. I personally blame hui guo tu dou for any extra pounds I might be carrying and you can’t convince me otherwise. (No exercise and too much chocolate, you say? Blasphemy.)

The orders usually come out lightning fast, unless it’s super busy. This is normal for Chinese diners, in the sense that most dishes take about three minutes to stir-fry tops. Mostly, it’s a question of timing and whether or not another table ordered the same dish.

Sweet soy cabbage is technically a vegetable dish, but is sort of sweet, like getting a really sugary carrot. The cabbage is cooked, but not mushy, and the sauce is light and not stew-like. It’s nothing like Panda Express.

My personal favorite is fried eggs and tomatoes. I have no idea why. It’s basically scrambled eggs. But there’s something in the eggs – crack, probably – that makes me devour it like there’s no tomorrow. I’m betting it has something to do with the flavors of the wok itself. Then again, I also go like crazy for egg and tomato noodles, so it might just be me.

Ann managed to get the rest of us hooked on hui guo tu dou, which is potato slices with pork and awesome. It’s a spicy dish. The potatoes are soft on the inside and deliciously crisp on the outside. The pork is like 95% fat, like all cuts of meat here in China, but still yummy. Basically, hui guo tu dou is bacon and french fries with soy sauce and chili pepper. Enough said.


*Supposedly, something like 3 out of 10 woks are using recycled oil. This is not a good thing or being green. This means it’s oil that was thrown out, and then scooped up by some enterprising soul from the gutter.


3 Responses to “Food Friday: Hospital”

  1. gkm2011 March 16, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    I love the tomatoes and eggs fried together too! So much so that I made my boyfriend (who’s Chinese) teach me how to make it. When I tell my coworkers that I can do that they all laugh – I think it’s the first dish mothers teach their sons when you start to cook. Great post!

  2. Steph March 20, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    The delicious hollow vegetable that is like spinach but 1000x better is:

  3. Dad March 26, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    Now I am just hungry – 10 miles running up and down the hills and trails with Wynn this morning. The Pork and potatoes sounds perfect. I do have CC cookies so it’s tea, cookies, and tub time.

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