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Monday, December 1, 2014

Dinner #5 - Pok Pok

I went to Pok Pok over the fall, forgot to write about it even though the meal was anything but forgettable. In a sentence, the food at Pok Pok is alive with flavor, texture and aroma.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dinner #4 of 2014 - Purple Yam

Last week, we ate on Courtelyou with Dance & Stretch (last time out with them was Tanoreen) at Purple Yam. We had a great meal in a tweener setting. Tweener? Purple Yam doesn't have the atmosphere or Franny's (aromatic), La Vara (comfortable), or Hibino (elegant and hushed). It also doesn't feel like a restaurant in Chinatown or Curry Hill either. It's in-between.

Yet the food was terrific. We ordered and enjoyed six different dishes and loved them all, including a whole fried dorade. The chicken adobo came with a sauce equal parts tangy, rich with coconut, and full of garlic) but weirdly included chicken breast. So stewed breast is going to be dry and the breast meat was dry.

The only dish we didn't like was the Pincit Bihon. This is a stir-fried noodle dish that was bland.

The meal ended with a very exceptional dessert. We had this mango pancake (forgot the name) with a scoop of mango ice cream. None of us were hungry so we politely ordered one to share. Next time we'll ask if it's a special that day and if so, we'll order two fewer entrees.

Dinner #3 of 214 - La Vara

In June, I was fortunate to dine at La Vara on a quiet Wednesday evening with a client. My overall impression is that La Vara is a tremendous neighborhood restaurant, perhaps not worth traveling from faraway neighborhoods, unless you are looking for a highly-specific Spanish dish. I was looking for a specific dish, found and loved it. So I'll return soon.

On this evening, we started with the Garbanzos Fritos. Simply put, this is a bowl of perfectly fried chic peas. I've actually made it at home a few times since (similar to the chic peas in a pasta dish from Franny's). It's a great snack as you review the menu and consider the specials.

Just as the chic peas were nearing completion our Coca De Cebes arrived. This is torn pieces of flatbread tossed with vegetables and a healthy amount of sherry vinegar (I think). Lovely if not very memorable.

So the highly-specific dish: Fideua. I've read about this multiple times but never seen it on a menu. Simply put, this dish is a paella using narrow noodles instead of rice. Fantastic. The noodles are uniform and expertly al dente. Each one has taken on the broth's flavor and this rendition had nicely cooked clams (better than mine).

For dessert, I had the Natillas de Arroz con Leche. Rice pudding cooked so nicely that the rice has all but disintegrated into the custard with enough rose and cinnamon to make their presence known without overpowering the milk's natural flavor.

The staff helped us pick a fantastic Rioja. It was a little meaty and chewy for our dishes. Nonetheless, I drank half and had no headache the next morning. 

I didn't enjoy La Vara as much as Hibino (practically neighbors) but will be happy to return.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dover - a whole new world of chicken

Genuinely, I can't remember the last time we ordered chicken in any form besides eggs. The chicken entrée is usually the safest, most bland option. And I make spectacular roast chicken twenty-five times each year. Why do I need to order chicken?

Everything is changed because of Dover. Dover has a (nice) senior center cafeteria décor to go along with our favorite (thus far) meal of 2014. Located on a visible corner of Court Street, the staff is friendly, attentive and accessible. Now, nearly a month later, I still think everything we ate was outstanding. But the whole chicken for two stole the show. Dover serves it in two preparations and without stealing the excitement, I'll just say, if you go, order it.

Two things to consider:
  1. Dover is pretty French. You receive lovely gougere at the onset. There's amuse bouche. The bread is served piece-by-piece by backstaff using two spoons elegantly.
  2. This is an expensive outing (see attached)
Anyhow, I'm not going to provide a blow-by-blow. At a $100pp (tax and drink inclusive), it's not a bad value for the quality and originality.
Dinner for 4

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dinner #2 of 2014 - Hanjan

In early February, a former colleague (in town from DC) and I made it to Hanjan. On a random Monday night, the place was packed. And it was a nice crowd with a comfortable layout. Overall, we were happy with the meal, though it wasn't good enough to seek out again. Hanjan is has a better environment, but remains in the The Kin Shop strata for me: happy to go again, not great enough to make a point to go back.

We started with the cold tofu, which was nice but not comparable to Hibino. Then the Korean pancake (call it Pajeon!) was probably the most memorable. I love the crisp exterior with the soft, unctuous interior. Finally, our entrees were fine but completely not memorable. Both the kimchi/beef fried rice and the Bulgogi were fine, but not memorable.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dinner #1 of 2014 - Uncle Boon's

We visited Uncle Boon's early on a very cold Friday in January (I guess they were all very cold this January) with our former neighbors (we moved, not them.)

For food, Uncle Boon's was fantastic from beginning to end. The least enjoyable dish we ordered - Northern-style golden curry - was style delicious. Dishes like the charcoal-grilled octopus, seared chicken liver, and kabocha squash were fantastic. All the classic thai flavors were strong and pronounced. All the meats were juicy. Everything had great texture and enough sauce to complement.

The cocktails were not good. They were fine. I think if you're charging at or close to Weather Up, Pegu Club, Evelyn, then the drinks should be close. These were not.

We arrived and it was pretty empty (6:00). By the time we left, it was full with a considerable looking crowd.

2014 Restaurants

Three months late but the list exists! The 12 restaurants I'd like to try this year.
  1. Han Dynasty
  2. Hanjan
  3. La Vara
  4. Maison Premiere
  5. Mission Cantina
  6. Mission Chinese (if they reopen this year)
  7. Pok Pok
  8. Purple Yam (holdover from last year)
  9. RedFarm
  10. SriPraPhai (holdover from last year)
  11. Uncle Boons
  12. Xi'An Famous Foods (seems like they're everywhere now - even on the radio)