At ABC Café on 87th Street, between Farley and Switzer, you’ll find a hodgepodge of Chinese dishes, mostly Cantonese. There’s salted and preserved fish stir-fried with rice, funky and delicious (a dish I’ve been craving since before I was born, according to my mom), and a collection of traditional dim sum items, like sticky chicken rice steamed inside of a lotus leaf, and turnip cakes, those creamy, griddled squares I love so much, flavored with pork and dried shrimp.
Like much of Chinese food in America, ABC Café also takes a creative license, cooking up inventive half-breeds for the American palate. Here, they cut those turnip cakes on the dim sum menu into bite-sized cubes, deep fry them, and serve them with a side of “XO sauce,” a garlicky sauce traditionally made from seafood. They’re not traditional, but they’re pretty tasty. Fluffy and flavorful within, crisp on the outside, you’ll find them among the appetizers for $5.88. (You’ll notice that most of the prices on the menu end in $0.88, because 8 is the number of prosperity in Chinese culture.)
Bonjwing Lee is a food writer and photographer based in Kansas City, Missouri. Most recently, he photographed and co-authored “bluestem, the cookbook,” with Colby Garrelts, a Food & Wine Best New Chef and six-time James Beard Award nominee, and his wife, Megan. Bonjwing’s photographs also have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine Magazine and Scanorama Portfolio. He is a regular writer and photographer for KC Magazine and author of the blog “the ulterior epicure.” In “I’ll Have What He’s Having,” Lee puts tastes to the test exclusively for KC Magazine.