It’s always fun to dine with fellow "food geeks." But it's especially fulfilling when those fellow gastronomes happen to be Rosie Saferstein and Jason Perlow, two pillars of the NJ food writing community, whose collective knowledge of cuisine is as broad as the globe itself.
We dined together at Gourmet Chopsticks in Fairfield, NJ. Really? Not Ninety Acres? Not Elements? Not daryl? No - Gourmet Chopsticks, formerly Hunan Cottage. The restaurant came highly recommended from Rosie, and if she says it good – I’m going to give it a go!
Gourmet Chopsticks serves Taiwanese and Shanghai style cuisine. What separates Shanghainese and Taiwanese cuisine? Approximately 425 miles. The same distance between NYC and Akron, OH, or NYC and North Carolina.
Though there are many types of regional Chinese cuisine, Shanghainese cuisine, in particular, has had an enormous influence on the development of Taiwanese food culture, which may explain why they share a menu at Gourmet Chopsticks. The most notable difference between the two cultures may be the Taiwanese predominance of seafood due to geography. Another difference is the a lack of beef due to the high population of Buddhists in Taiwan. (Yet, that doesn’t quite explain the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup Paradox?)
Now, as to our meal, Jason did most of the ordering from the daily specials menu. Our server, Leo, brought the food to us family style, and presented selections on a big, glass, and lazy Susan in the middle of the table. As the usual suspects like crispy pork egg rolls and steamed dumplings, began to appear, the lazy Susan got quite a work out as we grabbed for the tried and true favorites.
I veered off the daily special menu a bit and ordered a serving of Jellyfish. Why? Who knows! I had to try it. Though the flavor was quite pleasant, the crunchy, gelatinous texture left more than a little something to be desired.
AA vegetable, anyone? Even if you don’t know what this engineered green vegetable is, the definitive answer is yes – you want it! Think bok choy, crossed with spinach, crossed with Swiss chard. The double AA vegetable (which apparently doesn’t stand for any particular words that begin wit “a”) was beautifully verdant, crispy, and full of garlicky goodness. What a way to eat your greens!
Next we shared shredded mushroom with Chinese bacon, which were absolutely killer good! The mushrooms were finely shredded – almost julienned, and the texture was crisp. And combined with the Chinese bacon - in a word: delish!
The homemade shanghai style noodles with pork soon became the table favorite. Rich roasted pork and classic Three Cup Chicken followed this, and, as you might suspect, the lazy Susan spun round and round, all night long.
The prices at Gourmet Chopsticks are quite reasonable, and the atmosphere is comfortable. It’s a great place to go with a group of varied ages. Visit the gallery to see more pictures from our meal.
14 US Highway 46
Fairfield, NJ 07004