And once again, it looked like I dropped everything and dashed off on a whirlwind of activities.

To be honest though, I have no excuse to offer for the past 2 weeks of inactivity, but I do have an excuse for the inactivity before that. And the excuse is that -drumroll- I graduated! I am officially a University of Michigan alumni after 3 years of snow and occasionally some sunshine.

The ceremony was wild because President Obama, yes, that’s right, THE President of the US of A was the Commencement speaker. Regardless of mine, his, and your political views, it was a pretty darn exciting. I was only five rows of chairs away from him and my friend joked about how he could probably spit and sweat on us with a good wind.

And, speaking of wind, the weather that morning was terrible. My parents and friends had fought their way into the Michigan Football Stadium at around 6 in the morning and I had also been at the field at around 6 in the morning–all to get close-up seats. I think everyone thought it was worth it though. After all, how often do you get to see a sitting president up close?

After the graduation ceremony, my parents and I flew to NYC to visit my grandmother. And I think we can all agree that NYC=good food. I hadn’t had such good Chinese food for so long…so this post will be me going on and on about xiao long bao, or the Shanghai-nese soup bun at Joe’s Shanghai, a restaurant in Flushing, and some other random good food that my aunt took us to.

Joe’s Shanghai is located in Flushing, one of NYC’s outlying boroughs (I think that’s what they call it). I think the majority of people there are Asian, and there are plenty of Asian markets and stores in any given area. Flushing even has their own Chinatown right next door to Manhattan’s Chinatown.

The restaurant is primarily known for their soup buns, otherwise known as xiao long bao. For those unfamiliar with one of the most delicious things in the world, xiao long bao is a steamed bun a little larger than a ping pong ball. Inside is some pork and occasionally crab roe along with a savory thick broth. Eating can be difficult if you accidentally puncture the thin skin and the soup leaks out, which is why it’s normally eaten with a soup spoon.

Some rules for eating xiao long bao.

1. Eat them hot. There should be steam rising from the steamer.

2. Don’t use a fork. I repeat, DON’T use a fork. Even if you don’t know how to use chopsticks, resort to using two spoons if you must or the tongs, but DO NOT use a fork. The point of eating the xiao long bao is for the rich soup inside. If it leaks a lot…well, then it just becomes a bao/bun.

3. Be careful not to scald yourself. This means don’t drop the entire thing in your mouth because you’ll only feel a burning sensation. I normally bit off a tiny portion of the bun wrap and let some of the steam out before sipping some of the soup and seeing if it’s a good temperature. Some people like to add a bit of vinegar into the soup, and this is a nice option, but I normally drop a large amount of shredded ginger and pour the entire bun in.

4. Despite me saying how it’s dangerous to puncture the skin of the bun, it happens all the time (as seen below). At Joe’s Shanghai, they roll out the dough so that it’s extremely soft and thin, so punctures are a normal occurrence. Don’t feel like you’ve broken a law if it happens.

On a side note, the service here can be extremely bad. They automatically tack on a tip and think that people will still come back, which is kind of true. Their food, to an extent, makes up for the sour-faced waiters and crashing plates and steamers, but if you’re looking for excellent service, this place is really not the place to be. Good food, yes, good service, no.

On another note entirely, my aunt took us to another restaurant in Douglaston. I haven’t had these flat rice noodles and a malay steamed cake for ages…