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Tag Archives: Chinese


Cafe 101

After all the homey comfort food we’ve been eating for the last week, Jeff and I were both craving a totally different sort of comfort food – Chinese.

If you’re familiar with Atlanta, then you know that Buford highway is the place to go for “ethnic” restaurants. There’s tons of great Korean barbecue, Vietnamese pho and bahn mi, slow-roasted Mexican pork in hand made corn tortillas, and of course some awesome Chinese offerings that go far beyond the general take out fare.

Cafe 101 is easily our favorite Chinese place. It’s a quirky little round building with sort of a clamshell roof, you can’t miss it.

Cafe 101

The walls are absolutely covered in magazine clippings and ceiling is a bit like a cathedral.

Cafe 101 inside Cafe 101 ceiling

We started with some hot jasmine tea to warm up from the cold weather we’ve gotten hit with this week. Floral and soothing like chamomile.

Cafe 101 jasmine tea

And we’re always given these little starter dishes of spicy cucumbers that have been only lightly pickled and a type of seaweed that I’m completely unsure of the name of.

Cafe 101 spicy cucumbersCafe 101 weird seaweed

And here’s where we proceeded to order entirely too much food, starting with some pork dumplings and some hot and sour soup.

Cafe 101 pork dumplings

Cafe 101 hot and sour soup

The dumplings were so soft and flavorful and the soup was full of tingly pepper that clings to the back of your throat.

We were both dying for mapo dofu, a crazy-spicy dish of tofu in a chili-heavy sauce. It was so good! The tofu actually had a distinct bean flavor that is sometimes missing from commercially-made tofus, and the sauce was the kind of spicy that makes you sweat and pant like a puppy.

Cafe 101 mapo dofu

We also got the duck buns, crispy-skinned duck on hot steamed buns with sour plum sauce and green onion. They actually brought all the fixins to the table and assembled the duck buns right in front of us.

Cafe 101 duck buns being prepared

I love this type of Chinese steamed bread, it’s so pillowy like a marshmallow. The duck was pretty fatty and I ended up picking off the larger hunks of fat, but it was still amazing.

Cafe 101 duck buns

As if we weren’t about to explode already, the server brought us a few slices of fragrant Chinese melon for a dessert and palate cleanser. Cool and crisp.

Cafe 101 melon dessert

We took a ton of food home and had it for lunch the next day. Mmmm, mapo dofu for lunch.

Cafe 101 is kind of a special place for me. I remember the day we got our wedding rings in the mail. Jeff and I agreed to meet at Cafe 101 for lunch and to see our rings for the first time, but they were closed when we got there. We ended up going to another Chinese place in the area yet for the longest time I completely forgot that that happened and was convinced that we’d saw them at Cafe 101 for the first time. So now that place is kind of tangled up in that memory and for some reason means more to me than the restaurant we actually ended up at.

Do you have a restaurant that is special to you for no real reason?


Chinese tea eggs

Finally, I got em’ right!

Chinese tea egg 3

I have been trying to get these Chinese tea eggs to come out beautifully marbled and full of salty smoky flavor and I finally did it!

Egg in sake cup

Tea eggs are a common Chinese snack found in street food stalls and also made at home to eat with a hot cup of tea. The intricate marbled lacework across the white comes from soaking in a marinade of soy sauce, Chinese black tea, and spices. Here’s how it’s done….

If you can boil water, you can make tea eggs. I used this method of hard-boiling eggs to make sure they came out the perfect consistency and it worked marvelously! Place up to 6 eggs in a pot that isn’t too huge for them but also not crowded. Add 1 and a half quarts of water and start heating it up.

Eggs in cold water

As soon as the water comes to a bare simmer (rising bubbles are starting to make the surface bounce and quiver but not yet roll,) remove the pot from the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.

Eggs coming to a simmer

Then rinse the eggs under cool water until they are cool enough to touch.

Now comes the fun part, bashing them up!

Crack with spoon

Use the back of a spoon to break the egg all over, making a fine meshwork of cracks. There is a membrane just under the shell that will hold all the pieces in place so don’t worry about breaking it apart, just don’t hit it so hard that you jam shell pieces down into the egg!

Crack all over

Add the eggs back to the pot and add just enough water to cover. I use the same water that the eggs boiled in and just pour some out.

Add soy sauce, mirin, cinnamon sticks, anise, black peppercorns, and any style of black tea you can get your hands on, though a traditional Chinese black or pu-erh is best. Heat the marinade just until you can smell the spices infusing and the tea leaves are unfurled and soft. Don’t let it boil or even simmer, it’ll overcook the eggs!

Eggs in tea marinade

In China it is common to let the eggs sit in the marinade for 2 days to fully absorb the flavor. I let mine sit overnight, on the counter until cool and then in the fridge in a sealed plastic container. If you really wanna eat them sooner, 4 hours should do it.

Then they’re ready to peel. I have not found a good way to do this without half-mangling the egg whites, so if you have a preferred technique by all means use it. One good tip I do know of though is to try to get under the membrane so that you can peel up more of the shell at once.

Eggs ready to peel

Serve with tea or any time!

Chinese tea egg 2

Chinese tea eggs

Hard boiled eggs marbled with fragrant soy, spices, and Chinese black tea.


  • 4 to 6 eggs
  • 1.5 quarts water
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 2 tbsp. or 2 teabags of black tea

Cooking Directions

  1. Put eggs in cold water in a saucepan that is just big enough for them.
  2. Bring heat up to a bare simmer, remove from heat and let sit in hot water for 10 minutes.
  3. Run cool water over eggs then crack all over with the back of a spoon.
  4. Return eggs to pot and pour out all but enough of the water to just cover eggs.
  5. Add seasonings and sauces and turn heat to medium-low to infuse spices and tea into liquid.
  6. After the marinade smells fragrant, turn off heat and let eggs sit in the liquid for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Peel eggs carefully and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Chinese tea egg 1

The flavor is faintly smoky and lightly salty with a slight tickle from the spicy anise. I love to keep of few of these in the fridge for a healthy and satisfying snack in the afternoon. They are perfect to pop right after a good workout for a protein punch! But mostly, I like to savor them in exactly 4 bites, each with the perfect proportion of creamy just-set yolk.

Chinese tea egg creamy yolk

I hope you try them, they’re worth the wait!


Chinese tea shipment is here!


Our shipment of tea has finally arrived from China!

Chinese package addressPieces in package

First of all, I am so excited to to unwrap my very first bing of real pu-erh tea. That’s what it’s called when it’s pressed into a disc shape, it’s called a “bing.”

First pu-erh bing

Bing wrapper

I’ll go into what all the numbers and such on the packaging mean when I get around to reviewing it.

I pressed my face into the back and took a deep whiff of it immediately. It has a smell of wet blond wood, kind of like a wine cork but without the wine smell, of course.

We also picked up two samples of other pu-erhs, I forget what these are. The packages do not appear to be resealable so I chose not to open them yet, though I’d really like to smell them too.

Two sample tea bricks

We also got a gaiwan, which is a lidded cup that you can either brew tea directly in or just use to sift particulate out of brewed tea. The lid helps to hold back any bits you don’t want to drink.

Gleaming gaiwan

It is carved out of chalcedony, and is charmingly imperfect.

And now, the crowning glory, our new Yixing clay teapot…

Ornate teapot box

Carefully wrapped teapot

Our new Yixing beauty

See those speckles? To know that you have a pot made from real Yixing clay, it should have these speckles imbedded in the clay, not just on the outside. Some pots are colored to seem authenically speckled, but it’s just a coating, not a property of the clay itself. Fakers.

You can’t just pluck her out of the box and start brewing though, oh no. In the next day or two I’ll show you how to clean and season a new teapot and tell you all about why we needed a new one for brewing pu-erhs when we already have one. Really neat stuff.

Done geeking out now!