Archive | January, 2011

Pho

31 Jan

I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus, since I got a really nasty cold from my little one and have been pretty well out of commission. I’ve been so sick in fact, that I didn’t even get my favorite cure-all, a bowl of Pho.

I have a few favorite places to go for pho. Mai Village, Quang, Pho 79 (duh) and Trieu Chau.

I’ve been told pho is best home-made, but I’ve not had the opportunity to verify this. My favorite variety of Pho is Pho Tai. My older daughters favorite version is something she made up that the folks at Mai Village call broccoli Pho.

 

It is exactly what is sounds like. Broth, noodles and broccoli. What I like about pho is that it’s a simple dish with really complex flavors. It is one of my favorite “on a budget” meals.

Now, if I could only get good at saying it!

Current Favorites-updated

27 Jan

I can be a bit fickle, and I go in and out of phases but this is my top 10 restaurant list at this moment. I expect to update this list periodically.

  1. True Thai
  2. Mai Village
  3. Victor’s 1959 Cafe
  4. Origami
  5. Emily’s Lebanese Deli
  6. La Sirena Gorda
  7. Cafe Latte
  8. Sea Change
  9. Oceanaire
  10. Obento-ya (warning: this site plays music, so if you’re trying to be stealthy, don’t click!)

There are a number of reasons for my choices above, it’s usually a combination of quality of food, price, although some are much more expensive than others, and overall experience when I’ve dined there. They are in no particular order, although I would have to say that True Thai does usually top my list.

I realized I’ve missed a few, these all deserve honorable mentions but didn’t make it on the current list of 10.

  1. Punch – The one in Highland Park, none of the others
  2. Adelita’s – recommended by a friend, simple but tasty and not spendy, which is always a plus.
  3. Buon Giorno, the deli, not I Nonni, sorry Frank!
  4. Sakura – service can be spotty, sorry Miyoko!

More sushi

27 Jan

This is sort of cheater post, since I’ve been sick and haven’t written much, so instead I’m just filling up the space with pretty pictures of sushi and other assorted Japanese fare. Don’t hold it against me. I promise I’ll have lots more to say after the antibiotics do their worst.

Bonus post: Best sales pitch for apples I’ve ever seen

22 Jan

Just when you thought buying apples wasn’t fun!

Sushi

21 Jan

Among my favorite foods is Sushi. I wasn’t cool like many others, and it took me a little while to really develop a taste for it. (Even now I’m not a very big fan of the fishier fish in nigiri.) However, since I’m married to a man whose family is from Japan it was a pretty inevitable that I’d have plenty of opportunities to try sushi. In fact, my husband loves telling this story that on one of our first dates we went to Sakura, and he ordered for us, since I didn’t really know what I was doing. I think I’d eaten sushi once before that, and that was in 7th grade for our “cultural awareness”day. Anyway, the big plate of sushi comes and the typical pickled ginger and little mound of wasabi. In my very limited knowledge of Japanese cuisine I figured I was safe with a chunk of the green stuff, since everyone knows that green equals not spicy (not true, but I was like 18). I take this huge bite of wasabi as my husband is trying to warn me. Needless to say, I was completely shocked. I remember the sensation of my entire nose clearing and feeling an intense powerful whoosh of spice unlike anything I was used to. He burst out laughing as tears started streaming down my face, and I was trying not to laugh as well.

That was ten years ago and I’ve had a pretty healthy respect for wasabi since then. Sushi though, nigiri or sashimi specifically, I have really developed a taste for. I have a few favorites that I go in phases with. Lately I’ve been really in to hotate, raw scallop, which with a little lemon juice is just amazing. I also really like ika, squid, if it’s fresh and cut right it has this buttery, melt in your mouth flavor. Sake, salmon is always a favorite, and I like toro, the tuna. Sometimes I really like the super white albacore, but lately I’ve been less interested in that. My last and maybe all time favorite is the ama ebi, or sweet shrimp. The body and tail come raw and is sweet and buttery, then most restaurants deep fry the heads, sometimes they are lightly battered, and bring them out super hot. You eat the heads and shell and it’s salty and crispy. Delicious. Although without fail we always do get some strange looks when eating the heads.

Dim Sum, Part I

19 Jan

Dim Sum in the Twin Cities seems harder and harder to come by. Mai Village recently stopped doing it as it is a huge staff and food effort, and let’s be honest, how many times a year do you go out for dim sum? Using my family as my measuring stick, we go out for dim sum maybe three times a year. For restaurant who subsist mainly on bringing in business for dim sum, that is sadly nowhere near enough. Especially considering how staff intensive it is to do it well. This has been clearly shown by the closings of Yummy’s, Mai Le Hoa, and again most recently Mai Village tossing in the towel on dim sum. (Mai Village is still serving their regular menu, so don’t panic.) I know a few other places in town do dim sum, but I haven’t been. That’s one of the reason’s I’ve titled this Dim Sum, part I plan to go to as many Dim Sum places as I can in the next few months and then write-up a more comprehensive review of who does it well, and what I’d like to see improved.

Additionally I’ve been thinking about how many times the average person goes to dim sum in a year. As I said earlier I think this is the reason that it’s hard to keep good dim sum in the Twin Cities, What do you think?

I-talian Food, Part II

18 Jan

This is me at Buca. Yes, I was invited, which is why I’m there. Yes, this is typically what I look like when at the generic Americanized-Italian restaurants. No, I have no plans to return in the future until, inevitably, I’m invited again.

It really isn’t just the food, although that is a large part of it. (See I-talian Food part I for further explanation) It’s also the feel of the place, the whole ambiance, if one could call it that. Stereotypical mobster photos, faux vintage advertising posters and famous Italian actors/musicians plastered across every possible surface hardly constitutes decor in my book.

Ah, well. To each his own. I just stumbled across this photo and thought it was too good not to share.

In all honesty, I shouldn’t really pick on Italian restaurants. I’m sure part of the fun of owning a restaurant is decorating it, but I feel like there is a line between fun and garish. This makes me wonder if other “ethnic” restaurants annoy people of those cultures in the way that I’m annoyed by Olive Garden.