Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ba Guo Bu Yi

Attended: Michael, Lisa, Dougie, Mele and Sam


I can no longer objectively review Chinese food.
I ate one bite of the weird dish-the noodle thing.

Tastes even saltier than it looks.

I had a few bites of the house special fish in chilli, until a cut in my lip put an end to it.
The pork dish tasted too piggy.
Even the chicken tasted too much like chicken.
I ate quite a lot of the chocolate tartufo, an item I last saw on the menu of an Italian wedding in the 1980s . It tasted good because it wasn’t Chinese.

No doubt made by an ethnically stereotypical chef.

I am suffering what our friend Michael has termed ‘The Supersize Me’ effect.
I now have a psychological ‘revulsion’ response to Chinese food. After the jellyfish with raw chicken, congee with kidneys and liver, vegemite noodles and countless other weird dishes, I cannot face any further inedible parts of animals, which included Ba Guo Bu Yi's DUCK TONGUE dish and the broiled pig’s ears.
Come on, people, I was a vegetarian for eight years.

The worst sign of my malaise is the fact that I am actually relieved we are eating at the Talbot Hotel next week. No food reviewer in their right mind would think such a thing. The ‘Animal Graveyard’ culinary tour of Gouger Street needs to end for me.

I think I will be choosing weird vegetarian things from now on.


We expected bits of animals fried in flavoured sauces.
We did not expect a revelation.
We arrived early at Ba Guo Bu Yi and set about examining the menu of Sechuan Chinese dishes.

And some not so traditional ones.

One thing became abundantly clear: we both dread going to these restaurants.
Not the charming ennui-laden dread of the fabulously well-heeled: "Oh I'm just dreading another weekend in St Moritz. Yacht parties are so boring."

Instead, we are possessed of the very real and creeping dread you had when you were a kid getting an injection. The needle. The adults holding you down. You gotta get stuck. You gotta.
Each restaurant visit has been tainted by the knowledge that at some point, we're going to have to eat something that we'll probably find repulsive.

Maybe this was on the menu, maybe not. We don't even know any more.

We've had enough. We started this Epic Adventure to discover new dishes, new places and to open up the entirety of Gouger beyond the same two restaurants we always go to. Part of that means trying new things, things we wouldn't normally order. This, as you have seen, has devolved fairly briskly into an extended game of Truth or Dare.

So we're declaring an end to disgusting. Scoff if you must, but we have dined upon dread and found it not to our tastes. The '"weirdest thing on the menu" rule was invented to force us to order something we wouldn't normally try. Okay - fine - I'll be honest: it was basically a ploy to get me to stop ordering pork every single time.
That has worked.

But replacing it with something I'm going to try, dislike and pay for isn't really a very helpful or useful food review. Hilarious, I'll admit, but we're bored with it. We've done 'yuck'. We're bored with 'gross'. We are through with the 'every part of the animal' philosophy of urban dining. We ain't starving in the Yukon no more. We don't have to eat things that people only started eating in the first place because food was a privilege and flavour secondary.

Goodbye, jellyfish.
Goodbye, offal.
Goodbye, anything clipped off an animal and cooked in flavour sauce.
Helloooo new horizons.

And now to my review:

An utterly impressive restaurant. This is the reason we started this journey in the first place: to discover new things.

Deep Fried Pork Ribs with Salt and Sugar

Delicious! Tender, yet deep-fried and the salt/sugar combination is really the end of war and the beginning of peace on earth and love between all beings (except for pigs).

Chilli Fish Soup

We ordered this oily soup "mild" so that Mele could actually eat it. The bowl arrived teeming with fresh chopped chillis. The "mild" part happens when the waitress gets a slotted spoon and removes about half of the chillis. They really do cater for all pallets.

So, my friends, onlookers and double-darers. Go to Ba Guo Bu Yi. But don't order anything you really don't want, because you will end up sad and ridiculed for not eating badger's noses and jaguar's ear lobes or whatever it is they're serving.

Next stop: The Talbot Hotel

An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32