Monday, August 31, 2015

Brunch at Myers and Chang (Boston, MA)

Myers + Chang is one of the most popular restaurants in Boston, with Joanne Chang's Asian-inspired small plates. I finally made it there for brunch with a group of friends. Since there was a vegetarian mong us, we ordered the Wok-roasted wild mushroom omelet ($7)

Myers and Chang
This was a great breakfast dish, so savory and satisfying.

We also got two different dumplings: Mama Chang's Pork and Chive ($6) and edamame wasabi ($6)
Myers and Chang

Surprisingly, I actually liked the vegetarian edamame gyozas better. The pork dumplings were good but the edamame wasabi is more special and unique. Just like the mushroom omelet earlier, I enjoyed the vegetarian dishes here quite a bit.

Friday, August 28, 2015

WHISK Monthly Pop-Ups at Fazenda Cafe (Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA)

Whisk, a pop-up restaurant run by chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta that has been going around Boston, has purchased Fazenda Cafe in Jamaica Plain. They're making changes slowly and still serving Fazenda coffee so loyal cafe customers would not lose their regular place, but they've added some new items and once a month they run a pop-up dinner. For the dinner, Whisk tries to serve produce from within 20 miles of Boston, as much as possible. I attended one recently themed "WHISKy Ramen".

We'll get to the ramen soon, but let's first start with some Island Creek oysters, cucumber ice, raspberry, wild onion ($12 for 6)
Followed by more oysters! You can't have too many oysters. Roasted oysters and biscuits, whipped apples, forager's butter, nasturtium, poppy ($15 for 3)
The roasted oysters were amazing and I loved the whipple apple and butter on top of the biscuits. A great combo.

Watermelon & Thatcher Ricotta, blue basil, husk tomato, flowers ($12)
The perfect summer salad. This is one I could eat every day in this warm weather, with a light ricotta, the aroma of herbs, and sweet watermelon and tomatoes. A lot of the produce in this bowl and other dishes came from Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA and Eva's Garden in Dartmouth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Calgary Food and Art Tour (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

I visited Calgary for the first time (OK, second time, but the first time was only for 2 hours so that doesn't count) earlier this summer. A great way to explore the city and especially its dining scene is to join Calgary Food Tours. I got a blogger discount through the Calgary Tourism Board so I took my cousins along! There are a few different tours you can choose from and in different areas of Calgary - I chose the Palette to Palate tour since it combined both food and viewing art in the surrounding area.
The meeting point was Hotel Arts in the downtown area, an appropriate place for an art tour.

Calgary Food Tour
Calgarians love their horses

Hotel Arts displays quite a few interesting modern art throughout the first floor - many of them are local artists from the Alberta area. Our guide (a lovely former Texan called Regan) took us through some of them, discussing the background and meaning of each.
Calgary Food Tour

For our first food stop, we stopped at Yellow Door Bistro, which was inside the Hotel Arts. Chef Duncan Ly from Yellow Door prepared some of the best carbonara pasta our group has ever had, topped with crispy pancetta and crisped basil leaves. The sweet, local tomatoes cut the richness of the dish.
Calgary Food Tour
They paired this with an Australian Sauvignon Blanc, which was quite nice.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rick Bayless Opens Red O in Santa Monica

by guest blogger @btsunoda

Celebrity chef  Rick Bayless, recently extended his LA base of operations to include another Red O. Located on picturesque Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, it’s just a hop skip and a jump from the iconic Santa Monica Pier.

A pre-grand opening party was recently held there. The menu is similar to their original location on Melrose: appetizers, ceviche and raw bar, soups and salads, steak and seafood, other entrees and sides. Thanks to corn being the staple starch in Mexican food, almost everything on their menu is gluten free.
The interior is modern chic. Premium tequila and mezcal bottles attractively line the walls.
During the party, an impressive “Red O” tower of seafood commanded the interior.
It was surrounded by two different types of Mexican ceviche, oysters on the half shell and crab legs.

One of my favorites that evening was the Shrimp & Calamari Ceviche.   IMG_1800

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Guide to Cheap Eats in Kauai

A vacation in Hawaii isn't cheap. The flight is expensive, the hotel is expensive, and the food is expensive ... but it doesn't have to be. There are many local restaurants and shops were you can get affordable, delicious food! Here are some of my suggestions for cheap (for Hawaii) food in Kauai, the Garden Island. The guide below is separated by neighborhoods, and there is something in each side of the island!

EAST KAUAI: Lihue / Kapa'a

Hamura saimin
Hamura Saimin
2956 Kress St, Lihue
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In Hawaii, it's not about ramen - it's about saimin. Originally a Chinese noodle soup, the Hawaiian saimin receives influence from other cultures like Japan and Filipino. Hamura is a simple eatery that is popular with the locals, especially late at night - they're open until midnight on the weekends. A small size of regular saimin is less than $6 or you can get the special saimin for $8, topped with wontons, boiled egg, roast pork, fish cakes, ham, and vegetables. Slurp away but save room for the lilikoi chiffon pie ($3.25 per slice).

Plantation Coffee Co
Plantation Coffee Co
2970 Kele St, Lihue
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This little coffee shop is hidden in a nondescript office building off the main street in Lihue, but it's a great place to grab breakfast or some sandwiches for the road. They serve good coffee and even use coffee ice cubes for their iced coffee. Try their popular sandwiches like the chicken mac nut or wabi sabi (pictured, a tuna salad with wasabi sandwich topped with tomatotes and sprouts). A sandwich combo with chips, cookies, and a drink costs $9.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Beautiful Revamp of Esterel at Sofitel LA

Esterel Restaurant inside the Sofitel hotel in Beverly Hills just had a major renovation, and its patio dining area is worth a second look. From this gorgeous bar with the romantic lights and vines in the background  ...

... to the covered outdoor dining area. It's a charming spot that would be perfect for dates.
The inside dining room also feels more casual and open than the previous setup.
The menu is relatively small and simple, but the food is done very well here. We got the Lamb Meatballs ($13) served atop couscous.

Followed by Pan-seared scallops ($17) which were fresh and cooked just right. I love the texture of seared scallops when they're done well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

La Tostaderia: A Cut Above

by guest blogger @iam_robot

There’s more that meets the eyes to this tiny booth inside Grand Central Market than its namesake tostada – imagine everything you like in a seafood and amplify that sea flavor with fresh salsa verde, chipotle cream sauce, or crème fraiche. I saw the menu and I was dancing with joy! Situated strategically near the entrance and across from Belcampo Meat, Fernando Villagomes (of carnitas fame Las Morelianas) and Chef Sandra Felix (formerly Campanile) are serving up modern ceviche, tacos, and tostadas utilizing traditional recipe and fresh seafood from Baja and the Pacific Coast.

Expect to see thick slices of halibut, wild Mexican shrimp or grilled octopus swimming in a sea of yuzu juice, verde, or habanero sauce. Progressive yet refined and traditional in flavors. Other than the bright neon mermaid sign, there’s nothing in this stall that’d suggest this is a ritzy joint. Instead, the vibe here feels like your favorite cafeteria with its black and blue ceramic tiles, chalkboard menus, and 12 counter chairs. Bring a friend and grab a Michelada from Las Morelianas, I think you could have a memorable Mexican feast for under $30. Here are a few of my favorite things from the menu:

Sarandeado Shrimp Tacos: sautéed shrimp, seasonal veggies, salsa verde and chipotle cream sauce

Generous serving of sautéed shrimp contrasts nicely against the bright salsa verde and sweet caramelized onion. The chipotle cream sauce adds tang and cooling underneath. Definitely one of the more delicious tacos I’ve tried in LA.

Corvina Fish Tacos: corn tortilla, avocado purée, pork cracklings, salsa verde, and pickled red onions.

Another winner! Fish is skillfully fried to golden brown perfection while the zing of the salsa verde meshed delightfully with inherent sweetness of the avocado puree and red onions. I appreciate the addition of pork cracklings here, it adds saltiness and crunchiness to the party.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

$1 Oysters and $2 Grilled Cheese at Dante (Cambridge, MA)

Having graduated from a lowly paid graduate student to a still-lowly-paid postdoc, I'm always on the hunt for cheap food! Cambridge is not known for that, but you can still eat cheaply with a view of the Charles River to boot. How? Head to Dante at the Royal Sonesta hotel on Tuesday early evenings.

See, Dante serves $1 oysters everyday from 4-6pm. I went with a friend once and splurged on some Moon Shoal oysters. The oysters here are fresh and cleaned properly.

If that's not enough, on Tuesdays, Dante also offers $2 grilled cheese in the bar and lounge area.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Shake Shack Introduces Roadside Shack Burger

Shake Shack just introduced their newest limited edition burger: The Roadside Shack. Inspired by many traditional roadside burgers, this beef cheeseburger is topped by caramelized onions that have been simmered in bacon and beer.
I asked for a double patty which costs $8.99 ($6.19 for a single)

Shake Shack
If you haven't had Shake Shack before, they use 100% Angus all-natural beef burger, and it's a great burger patty. I thought the caramelized onion wouldn't be that heavy, but thanks to being simmered in bacon, this burger was quite rich and made the burger even juicier! It certainly takes you back to eating on the side of the highway, but this time with better ingredients.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sept 12 is New England Indonesian Festival

One thing I'm really missing after moving to Boston is Indonesian food. I can hardly find an Indonesian restaurant in this city, other than Kaki Lima which pops up every once in a while, but their prix fixe menu is pretty pricey for Indonesian food. If you know any Indonesian restaurant in the area, please let me know!

Indonesian festival

At least, once a year, I can satisfy my cravings when the New England Indonesian Festival hits town. Organized by PERMIAS Massachusetts (the Indonesian student association), this festival brings in many Indonesian food vendors from the suburbs (who typically only offers catering), from Philadelphia, Washington DC, and others. This year's festival will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at Copley Square.
The vendors will be selling various satay, curry (like rendang!), desserts. I just moved from LA last year so I hadn't been missing Indonesian food for that long, but this year I might have to go all out.
Indonesian festival
Here are some things you might want to look out for :

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ladies' Night Deal at Abby Park (Milton, MA)

Mondays are Ladies' First at Abby Park in Milton, where they are offering a 3-course meal for $30 and includes your choice of beer or wine! I thought it was a pretty good deal, with a generous portion of the entree and a good selection of wines and beers on tap. There are 3-5 choices per course, including a vegetarian option.

The appetizer choices include clam chowder, but we decided to be somewhat healthy and opted for the two salads.

Caprese salad (vine ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, crostini, balsamic glaze)

Abby Park

Caesar salad (Romaine salad, garlic croutons, shaved parmesan, creamy Caesar dressing)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Forma Restaurant: A Cheese Lover's Heaven (Santa Monica, CA)

Do you love cheese? If your answer is yes, then you need to head to the new Forma in Santa Monica right away. "Forma" is what they call a cheese wheel, and this restaurant boasts four different dalla forma pasta preparations, which means that the pasta is finished off in the cheese wheel. Four different pastas, four different cheese wheels.


The dalla forma pasta is not the only cheesy goodness you can get here, though.
Try the Filet Mignon Tartare with avocado, Fresno chile pepper, capers, shallot, parmigiano, grilled bread ($16)
The tartare is topped with freshly shaved raspadura cheese. This is a traditional cheese of Lodi. It's actually a Bella Lodi cheese that's not fully mature, and it's shaved using a special knife that bends, shown below.

The overall effect of the bite of tartare, combined with the avocado, cheese, and grilled bread? Perfect.

Forma also has a cheese bar featuring 36 different cheeses. The best part? You don't have to get a cheese platter, but you can actually order each cheese individually, so you can create your own platter, or just get the one you really want to try.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Tour of Island Creek Oyster Farm in Duxbury, MA

Because it's National Oyster Day, I wanted to share with you my recent visit to Island Creek Oyster farm in Duxbury, MA. Island Creek has some of the best oysters in the North American east coast!

Island Creek Oyster Farm
One thing I did not know is that the waters in this area (Duxbury, Cape Cod, etc) is actually too cold for oysters to spawn. They can grow and live here, but not spawn because the water never gets warm enough. Still, there are 3 acres with 24 osyter farmers out in Duxbury bay now.
Island Creek Oyster Farm
Island Creek used to buy seeds when the owner, Skip, started growing oysters in 1994. But recently, they've started their own hatchery. These colorful tubes contain various types of algae that they use to feed the spawning and growing oysters in the hatchery.
Island Creek Oyster Farm

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Viento Pop-Up at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza

by guest blogger @btsunoda

With the exception of Las Vegas, hotels usually don’t make an effort to attract diners that aren’t already guests of the hotel. There are only a handful of hotel restaurants that I can think of that I dined at without being a guest. The Breeze Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency Century City Plaza Hotel is attempting to change that perception. The Breeze kitchen has experimented with a few different themes and I had a chance to sample their new pop-up restaurant located just off the lobby.

I learned that the Hyatt Regency team will rotate the kitchen in six month pop-up efforts, each one operating under a different name. I had the opportunity to attend the initial pop-up named “Viento”, a Latin small plates concept.
During the dinner hours, Viento serves tapas such as pork belly sliders and mini duck sopes, alongside larger dishes like mole platters and Achiote Salmon. They also change the restaurant’s interior design by swapping out tables, chairs, and decor elements as needed. DSCF7723

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Drinks and Beyond at Drink (Boston, MA)

Drink Drink in Fort Point is arguably Boston's most famous cocktail establishment. There's no cocktail menu at Drink, just a crew of highly talented and highly trained bartenders under the direction of Ezra Star. They're ready to make you any drink you want, or suggest a cocktail based on your taste preferences. Everyone seems to always be working on something new and interesting.

The line and wait at this place can get pretty crazy, but if you come early (they open at 4pm), there's no line and you can get the full attention of the bartenders.

Because of the status that Drink has in the city, they also can get their hands on some exclusive you can hardly find elsewhere. We tried some special Del Maguey mezcal, a San Pedro Taviche, a blend of Espadin, Tobala, and Tepextate.

We also had a daiquiri made with pineapple infused Plantation rum. Don't let your mind go to Malibu or something like that, Plantation is levels above that. This was a really lovely rum with nice tropical aromas, and it was not yet available in stores.


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