Monday, March 8, 2010
I've been good.
I've pretty much kept my daily caloric intake to about 1400 a day.
I've been working out 5 days a week, some days at a pretty high intensity.
And I've lost 15 pounds since I've started this Biggest Loser challenge about 6 weeks ago. Not too shabby, eh?
But that 15 pounds lost hasn't all been a result of me being good. It is also, in my opinion, a result of me being very, very bad.
No matter how many tasty and healthy recipes I have up my sleeve, day after day of low calorie, low fat, low sodium, low carb, mayo-less, bacon-less, whole grain, high-fiber, sugar-free, dressing-on-the-side bullshit makes me want to eat the couch. So if I didn't allow myself to cheat on my diet once a week, I would literally consume upholstery. Topped with cheese and butter, of course.
One of my most recent cheat meals involved an oil-laden, fried, fatty, carbo-loaded feast at Shufeng Garden. And yes, this Rowland Heights mini-mall Sichuan did indeed do its job of fending off those late night upholstery cravings as well as punishing this unfaithful dieter with red-hot, spicy pain that hurt so much I liked it.
I'd remembered photos of an oil-slathered fatty pork dish on some local blogs and knew right away that this was exactly what I needed. Thanks to a Mandarin Chinese speaking coworker, printouts of photos of the dish from local blogs' jaunts to the restaurant's second location in San Gabriel, as well as an email from SinoSoul with the names of recommended dishes in Chinese, my non-Mandarin speaking, non-Chinese reading, Chinese self was able to get some Pork Butt in Garlic Mud into my now-smaller belly.
The cool, thin slices of half meat/half fat stripes bathed in spicy chili oil definitely satisfied my fat-covered-in-more-fat craving. I'd imagined them to be a little thicker and served warmer, but the dish was good nonetheless.
The large pot of Water Boiled Fish we ordered looked like something out a movie: a virtual sea of orangey-red angry with red pepper flakes, like a vast body of fluid over which you'd be rowing a decrepid boat in hell. The cauldron of white fish fillets and assorted vegetables soaked in a spicy red bath wasn't as spicy as I thought it was going to be, which is either good or bad depending on your tolerance for spice. I personally would have liked it to be spicier and perhaps a little more tangy, but it was still a nice accompaniment for a hot bowl of steamed rice.
Zhong's Dumplings were al dente pillows of pork-filled goodness served with a healthy dose of (you guessed it) chili oil. A sprinkling of sesame seeds added a nutty bite to these smoky and spicy little pouches.
It was perhaps the restaurant's Dan Dan Mian that put Shufeng Garden on LA's foodie map to begin with--what with having made Jonathan Gold's Best Dishes of 2009 list--and for good reason. It looks like a none-too-exciting small bowl of noodles topped with ground pork and spinach upon first glance, but after mixing the al dente noodles up with all that's in that bowl and taking a slurp, it's a multi-dimensional flavor experience that will both enlighten and numb your tastebuds. It's spicy, acidic, herbal and smoky all at the same time, with flavors that work together but that are distinguishable separately as well.
A cheat day can't be called a cheat day without something fried, so infidelity in the form of the restaurant's Shufeng Spicy Chicken and Intestines in Chili & Wild Pepper were pure guilty, spicy perfection. Fried meat morsels are fun, but not as fun as when they're fried with as much chilis and pepper as there were pieces of meat. I especially liked the fried intestine which were fried to a beautiful golden crisp on the outside which gave way to a slightly bouncy funkiness on the inside--a funkiness that only offal enthusiasts can appreciate.
After having inhaled three bowls of hot, steamy rice and five tongue-tingly good dishes with enough chili oil to grease up my newly toned biceps, I was more than ready to go back to 400 calorie a meal "budget." Until the next cheat day, that is. Sometimes you just have to be bad to be good.
18459 Colima Road
Rowland Heights, CA 91748