Occam's fortune cookie at Mu Lan

Last week, I dined with professor M at Mu Lan, an unassuming looking Taiwanese restaurant not far from Kendall square in Cambridge.  We ordered #54, sauteed shrimp with asparagus and #133, soft bean curd with green mustard and some brown rice.  The shrimp and asparagus were mild and done just right.  When #133 arrived, I at first thought we had received the wrong dish.  The tofu came as sheets, not the silken chunks I expected, and the mustard greens (we assumed they had transposed the words in an imperfect translation) were chopped finely and mixed with whole soybeans.  The waitress confirmed that it was what we ordered and we tucked in.  I can't say that the tofu sheets had much flavor but they were more interesting texture-wise than the usual kind, and much easier to eat with chopsticks.  The greens (and I'm still not 100% sure they were in fact the "mustard greens" you find in southern cooking) were tender but still crunchy, lightly seasoned and redolent of fresh-cut grass. There are lots more Taiwanese dishes on the menu that you don't see at the typical Cantonese or mainland Chinese places, so we'll have to go back sometime. It was a very satisfying dinner - we even brought back leftovers - but at the same time, I can't help but feel cheated by the Chinese lesson on the back of my fortune.

mang-guo

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