Monday, January 7, 2008

Han Ah Reum, Upper Darby

Last Thursday I stopped by to get a look at the place and grab some lunch.

The Korean supermarket section was smaller than I expected, but I did like the 2nd floor, with its food court and selection of local Korean stores.

I had a dolsot bibimbap, which was tasty, but probably not my favorite bibimbap. I'll definitel stop by the food court there next time for something else though.

The food court had: a sushi joint, a place serving Chinese food from Korean perspective, a place serving American type foods, a quick-serve Korean place (where I ordered from), and a small bakery type place.

NYC trip, (long delayed) part deux

After Chikalicious, we wandered around a little bit, then meandered over to the hottest new spot in Manhattan, Momofuku Noodle Bar (@ 171 1st Ave, NOT 163 1st ave, looks like they just moved.)

We just stopped in for a snack of their spicy smoked chicken wings. They were okay, flavored with pickled chili peppers, garlic, and scallions, but I didn't think they were anything to write home about. Oh, and I had a little serving of their house (read: cheapest, I think) sake, the Momofuku honjozo.

I had originally planned to go over to a happy hour at Lure Fishbar with $1 oysters, but that ended at 7, and there was no way we were going to walk over to Mercer and Prince in time, so we decided to go in another direction. We went uptown, to Beard Papa at 2176 Broadway, around 76th.
Now why, did we go all the way up here to this one, when there were Beard Papas on Broadway around E 9th, not to mention 5th and 41st or 6th Ave & Carmine?

Because instead of looking up Beard Papa's website, I just googled it, and the first one that came up I took to be the only one. Doh!!!

C'est la vie. Both the creampuff and the molten chocolate cake were VERY GOOD, as was the hot chocolate, which I believe is a scoop of hot chocolate syrup mixed with boiling hot water. Oh my chocolatey goodness!

The dessert binge continued when we went back south to BRGR, a place that purports to make some of the best, freshest burgers you've ever had. I can't attest to that truthfully or not, because we went there for the ice cream sandwich, which sadly was a letdown. I was hoping for a freshly baked cookies sandwiched around homemade vanilla ice cream. What we got was prepackaged cookies sandwiched around packaged ice cream. I shoulda known that when I saw the $3 price. Que sera sera.

By this time, we wanted to start getting ready to come back to Philly, so we took the subway back to Chinatown. We finished off the meal by going to Joe's Shanghai, reputed to have the best soup dumplings in NYC. If so, then I was disappointed.
We ordered 8 soup dumplings, a winter melon soup, and

The soup dumplings were okay, but nothing special. I think the soup dumplings at Dim Sum Garden on 11th St. in Chinatown are better. The sweet potato noodles (served cold, a dish from northeastern China) were fine to me, but my companion has had them in China, and say they were far inferior.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

After a long layoff (sorry, nothing blog worthy-either food or real estate),
I spent yesterday on a daytrip in New York City.

From the Chinatown bus dropoff point (roughly East Broadway and Forsyth) I made my way to Doughnut Plant at 379 Grand St. to have some coffee and donuts. Well, my companion and I specifically had a blackout doughnut, a gingerbread doughnut (both cake doughnuts without yeast), coffee and chai tea.

Man, those were some good doughnuts. All told, spent about $6.75, plus another $.70 on a garlic bialy from Kossar's a few doors away.

Then we made our way north to a little shoebox of a place I first went to 5 or 6 years ago at the corner of Clinton and Houston, Clinton Restaurant. I first had a cubano there then, and the one I had yesterday was as good as I remember. Companion and I shared a cubano and a small beef tripe soup, also very very tasty.
Another $9 and change out the door, plus tip.

After this I was set to go to a First Avenue Focacceria for a tripe sandwich, but found that it was replaced by a restaurant.

So we made our way over to our highest-end dining experience of the day, at Chickalicous Dessert Bar, at 203 E 10th St.

We each had the $12 prix fixe (standard first course, choose a second course, shared petit fours), with a first course of a cranberry/raspberry sauce over a sorbet and mini coconut cakes, mini almond cookies, and mini something else (sorry!).

For my second course, I chose a sweet potato brulee, and my companion had a grapefruit sorbet.

The servings here were tiny, but creative and very well done. Friendly and professional service.

Okay, that's part one.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday night, we checked out a suprise soft opening for Yakitori Boy, a new Japanese place on 11th between Race and Spring Sts in Chinatown.

It's not really open for another few weeks, but I know the owners.

It's a really nice place, done up very nice, with furniture the color of dark wood that Japanese prefer, and generally a black and white decor.
There's a decent sized bar on the first floor, another decent sized bar on the second floor, a 40-60 person dining area on the first floor, and about 10 or so karaoke rooms on the second floor. Current plans is for the basement to be changed into a sports bar type place with pool tables and the same food served.

My problem right now is that while all the food was generally good, nothing really stood out as being something the place can hang its hat out as a dish people will really associate with the place, either by being especially good or something no one else has.

That said, it's the first yakitori place in Philly, and has okonimiyaki, takoyaki, and a few other things I've been waiting to see highlighted more in Philly.
They were out of a few things on their menu, but then, it's not officially open, right?

The okonimiyaki (Japanese pancake) was a little too thick, but otherwise tasty. Half as deep would have been great. Didn't try takoyaki (octopus balls fried and topped with sugary mayonnaise and ponzu sauce.)

(grilled items on skewers)Yakitori:
chicken gizzard was too salty, while the chicken heart was good. The beef was good, no particular flavor though. Bacon wrapped around quail eggs is good, but how many of these can a person eat? Pork belly was tasty, but would have been a great candidiate for a special flavor like honey.

(raw fish) Sashimi:
yellowtail, salmon, tuna all tasty enough

(rice with topping tied/placed) Nigiri:
Salmon roe, octopus

Cooked items:
kimchee stir fried with a few noodles was okay, but had no real flavor other than being hot and spicy.
mushrooms sauteed with bean sprouts was a little tastier.

Edamame pea pods: we got 2 different orders, 1 that was about 30 seconds undercooked, and another that was probably cooked and put aside to be served later.

I like that the place will have karoake rooms above, and the food will be served there if you like.

Friday, December 14, 2007

forgot about Sunday

I totally forgot about Sunday.

Sunday I checked out this buffet I had heard so much about, Minado.
I've heard about it for a little while, but not as long as I thought, because it's only been in its East Norriton, PA location for about 2 years.
It's a Northeastern chain of sushi buffets, with other locations in:
Little Ferry, NJ
Carle Place, NY
Morris Plains, NJ
Natick, MA

Contrary to all the other buffets I've tried in the area, Minado is very very well done. In decor, food quality and creativity, cleanliness, and service.
They get an A+. Plates cleared very promptly, staff very polite and professional, great variety to their sushi and creative stuff I've never seen anywhere else.
Crepes, mini eclairs, etc.
Great tofu maki variations.
Decor akin to a nice suburban restaurant.

Minado
2915 Swede Road
East Norriton, PA 19401
610-277-7375

Of course, it's at least 50-100% more expensive too, at $25-27 pp at dinner for an adult.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

dinner at Rising Tide

So we had dinner tonight entertaining clients, potential clients, etc. that I'm not sure about even bothering to post, because it was a fairly normal dinner for me in
Chinatown.

We had a cold platter with jellyfish (and other stuff which I missed), steamed shrimp, fish maw soup, frog legs with yellow chives, beef short ribs with green peppers and onions, snow pea leaves with garlic sauce, salt baked lobster and Dungeness crab, steamed lo mein.

All fairly normal stuff for me in 2007 Chinatown. Not bad, but nothing special.

ADDRESSES

Rising Tide: 937 Race St. Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.925.6079

Pan Dol Re: 6773-83 N 5th St. Philadelphia, PA 19126 (shopping center)

Cafe Soho, 468 W Cheltenham Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19126 215-224-6800

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pan Dol Re

My Korean culinary education continued this past Wednesday, and I found another damm good Korean restaurant.

A group of bigtime food folks like myself dragged me kicking and screaming (yea right) to a Korean dinner. We originally were going to go to Su Won Sung, a place at 5th and Chew that didn't have an English language menu, and waitstaff spoke minimal English. We had decided to wing it, and printed up Korean names of some dishes that we were going to see if they had.

Alas, all our preparation went for naught, as the place was closed, I assume just for the night, because the gate was down, but looked like it was otherwise in business any other night.

So the 5 of us made our way north to Pan Dol Re, over the other choice of Seo Ra Bol.
I was pushing for this place in particular because my ulterior motive was to also be able to have some Korean chicken wings that night, and Pan Dol Re was right around the corner from my favorite (and only) provider of this, Cafe Soho.

So we sat down at Pan Dol Re, and damm boy, we went to town!
Note: Pan Dol Re has no Korean beers, although they do have glasses with the Obi logo on them.

We ate: pork for 2, ribeye for 2 (both on the BBQ)
goat hotpot, with dark leafy green vegetable
dumpling with rice cake soup
spicy tofu and pork hotpot
dolsot bibimbap
seafood pancake

Pedro liked the banchan better than other places, but I preferred Seo Ra Bol's myself.
I think I would have preferred another kind of pancake to the seafood version we ended up getting. The texture was fine, but I didn't especially like the way the flavors melded. I think at least 1 dining companion agreed.
The dumpling with rice cake soup was very good, the rice cakes in it reminded me of Chinese Fujian food, which I've really only had once or twice, and the most recent time had very similar rice cakes.
Everyone thought the dolsot bibimbap was good, I thought it fine, although I can't really remember where and when I last had bibimbap at all.
Everyone loved the goat hotpot and spicy tofu & pork hotpot. Mighty tasty!
And both the ribeye and pork on BBQ were very tasty with the lettuce leaves!

Although we had leftovers, I wanted some chicken wings as long as I was up here, and I managed to cajole some of the overs to go over to Cafe Soho. Fairly easily, since it was a 3 minute walk around the corner.
We had a few drinks and 20 wings. Well, sort of since we took home at least 10 of the wings. Try though I might, I couldn't get anyone else to take any of the leftovers home. More for me!