Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe Chelmsford

Finally got a chance to get here on a weekend to try the Xi'an Chilled Noodles. He serves them only on the weekend since they take about two days to prep. The dough is made and then he separates the gluten and the result is this:

Silky smooth cold noodles served with bean sprouts, minced garlic and chili oil. The separated gluten is steamed and then served with the noodles. Quote from Gene: "First I separate them and then I put them back together again". Life is good when you get a chance to try a dish like this. He also has a new dish called Xi'an Cold Noodles so don't confuse the two!

The cumin and chili encrusted lamb skewers are crusty, tasty nuggets of lamb charbroiled to perfection. They used to be weekend only but now I think they are available during the week as well but might be done in the deep-fryer during the week.

He shares the building with a liquor store and there is also outdoor seating to the right.

Friday, June 29, 2012

MuLan Waltham

It's going to be a hot weekend so why not start with a really HOT lunch at MuLan in Waltham.

This is one of my favorite dishes here, Chicken in Chili Sauce Lunch Combo Plate. Crispy slices of crunchy and tender chicken fried with tons of dried chilis, fresh chilis and Sichuan peppercorns. Today's vegetable was Edamame Beans (love those things!) and there is also a chicken wing hiding behind the salad. The place was packed today and why not? Excellent food, big portions as you can see, Hot and Sour soup is really good and you can chase the free peanuts around while waiting for your food. Not that the wait is that long.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meena's Kitchen Nashua

Visited my dentist in Nashua and decided to have lunch at the delightful Indian vegetarian restaurant Meena's Kitchen in downtown Nashua. 

They serve a six-course meal for $9.99, but they don't tell you about in anywhere! Not on the website or in the menu but there is a description on the table but again no price. The six-course menu is updated daily on their website.

The soup was a lentil soup with pepper (and lots of it).

Apps was a plain dosa with coconut chutney and zucchini battered with chickpea flour and then deep-fried. Both was very nice.

Mains and dessert. Not too fond of cabbage but this was good. The eggplant was supposed to be spicy but wasn't. The Chitrannam (basmati rice with lemon and stuff) was probably the best dish. Really really tasty. Not much for yogurt but the Raita did look good with stuff in it. Too much food so I left the bread alone but have tried it before and it's excellent.

It's a really nice place, high-quality furniture, nice window tables, open kitchen and, of course, linen napkins!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Three Country Bistro Woburn

I tried Three Country Bistro shortly after they opened and wasn't to impressed. On a recommendation from the Chow board I tried it again. Somebody had recommended the Country Pad Thai as being very good but it wasn't but I suspect that they meant to recommend the Crispy Pad Thai.

This was just a normal Pad Thai made spicy. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, both of them, but the chicken was bone dry. Otherwise, the Pad Thai was OK.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Zocalo Arlington

Lunch plans didn't work out when trying to visit a new Korean restaurant in Arlington (No staff available at 12:10) so I went back to Zocalo for some Mexican food. 

Salsa as usual was excellent. Pureed base with fresh diced tomatoes and onions thrown in, chips are out of a bag, but the salsa is so good that it makes up for the chips.

Make your own Quesadilla with braised pork and creamed poblano peppers was outstandingly good. It comes with guacamole (hidden under the opened flap), sour cream (hold that, icky) and pico de gallo. All this for $6.50! Did I say it was tasty?

They did good business today, two more customers not visible and one table in the front room occupied as well. Seems to be two alternating people working here at lunch, one seriously grumpy guy and a lady who couldn't be nicer "Nice to see you again, how are you doing etc".

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nevins Farm Methuen

Today's lunch is the same as yesterday's and Fridays, a couple of slices of Pizza at the desk in between doing adoptions here at Nevins Farm.

Thanks to the staff for providing pizza for us volunteers during the special 3-day promotion with the adoption fee reduced to $50 for all cats 1 year and older.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tulip Stoneham

I heard about and have seen reviews about a new Chinese/Japanese restaurant in Stoneham but didn't remember the name or the location so I ended up at Tulip in Stoneham and I don't think this was the right place. This is one of these places with a humongous buffet with everything from onion rings to cake. Sushi included! Yeah, right, some vegetable maki and one maki that had a minuscule sliver of tuna in it.

Some apps and maki to start with. The orange ball is a lobster ball and that was a rubbery thing that tasted faint of lobster. The big maki closest to me I have no idea what was in it, not even after tasting it. The maki with asparagus had perfectly cooked asparagus in it. The onion ring was mostly batter, but the fried shrimp was OK. Chicken wings were crispy and moist.

The various shrimp dishes were OK as was the green beans. Curried chicken not so OK. Pepper chicken in the back was a bit dry otherwise OK. Best was the BBQ pork slice, tender and really tasty.

In the back, there is a Teppanyaki table where they cook Chicken, Beef and Shrimp and a few veggies to order. Skipped the chicken, ordered the beef rare (it was) and the shrimp and veggies were nicely cooked. I did see half a side of baked salmon out there that looked really good. Service was good, water was refilled and they were really attentive in removing plates. The food on the steam tables was also refilled frequently (on all four of them). All this for $10.50. I could go back and eat the pork and the shrimp and be pretty happy about it. You get a knife and fork by default and you have to ask for chopsticks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Border Cafe Burlington

If you are looking for a quiet lunch place Border Cafe in Burlington is not for you. It gets really really loud at lunchtime and it also gets incredibly busy. They advertise as Creole and Tex-Mex food and they are not doing a bad job of it. This is not fine dining but really decent food for reasonable prices. They don't have a lunch menu so some dishes are really out of my lunch price range, but it's OK to splurge a bit sometimes and they are not really pricey. My catfish at $11.88 is among the more expensive items. I have no idea where they got the .88 from.

Chips and Salsa get on the table quickly. Salsa is good with a nice flavor, not too spicy. The corn chips are fresh, mine was still too hot to touch when they got to the table.

Catfish New Orleans is a big hunk of deep-fried catfish with a basil shrimp cream sauce served with rice and beans. Perfectly cooked fish, nice rice and excellent beans! If you don't want to spend the big bucks they have a Shrimp and Crawfish Ceasar Salad for $7.85 that is also very good.

More tables to the right and to the left. This is a big and loud place!

They do have outdoor seating but on a 90+ day like today, the AC rules. The staff is very efficient and your chips and salsa is refilled without prompting. They also seem to enjoy working there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chili's Burlington

When signing up their email list you get a free Skillet Queso, Cheese dip with seasoned beef. Served with warm tostada chips and our house-made salsa.

Sounded OK but this is what arrived! Brown runny goo in a skillet with bits of stuff in it, could have been the aforementioned beef but it looked like browned onions. Tasted OK I think and it was edible. The "house-made salsa" was a watery runny tomato based something. It tasted OK if you didn't have any expectations of Salsa. The chips, on the other hand, was fresh and paper thin and really delicious!

Lunch was Chicken Club Quesadillas. Layers of grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, Fire-Grilled Corn Guacamole, sautéed onions, bell peppers, Monterey Jack cheese and ancho-ranch dressing. Served with sour cream and house-made pico de gallo. This was actually pretty good but $10 for this? I think their low-end Burgers with Fries is a way better deal. 
- Do you want that (leftovers) to go?
- Yes, Please.
- I'll get you a container!
What happened to box it up for you? Self-service doggie bags?
B&N is next door so I could pop in and make a note of new releases, used to write them down and get the books from the library, now I just snap a picture and go find them as ebooks.
Further down the street is a Trader Joe's so that cost me another $30 bucks.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Masa Woburn

Went back to Masa in Woburn today for their Fiesta Brunch after a long absence. I used to go to about every Saturday but got disappointed in their inability to poach an egg and to scramble an egg. Most of the time, they were overcooked. I did complain, but nothing changed so I left. I'm also friendly with the general manager and he was aware of the problem.

The Fiesta Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday ($7.95 for two courses with free coffee or tea). Fresh fruit to start with, nice and fresh, no strawberries today.

I was a bit nervous about the Santa Feet Eggs Benedict given my previous experience but what do I get? Two perfectly poached eggs, crispy fried potatoes with caramelized onions. There is also some nice Guacamole on the very tender biscuits. Add a bit of hot sauce and it was excellent. The only drawback was that the Green Chile Hollandaise might have been a little bit too acidic. This is really such a good deal in a very pleasant environment.

Masa on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 15, 2012

Taqueria el Amigo Waltham

This is another small restaurant that according to people who know might serve some of the best Mexican food in Boston. I have no idea, I just like the food and a lot of the customer are Mexicans, I think since they speak Spanish to the staff.

Hole in the wall? It's actually smaller than that ;-). I would guess it seats about 16. There is another 2 seater that doesn't show up in the picture, otherwise this is it!

Free Chips and Salsa. I will not say anything about the chips but the salsa? Outstanding, super fresh, spicy, really nice flavor and it really makes up for the chips.

Plate Mexicana consists of one Quesadilla with Chorizo,  one Chimichanga with Chicken, one Beef Taco. A quesadilla is normally lightly fried, here it just a folded tortilla, same with the Chimichanga, a rolled up tortilla, rice and really nice and tasty refried beans. All drizzled with crema. Looks like a mess, right? It does, but it goes down really easy.

This is what the outside looked at 12:30 when I left. A party of 5 arrived at a busy lunch time and I'm not sure how much thought they put into this when they only have 4 tops available. I'm sure they worked it out. You can get 4 soft tacos, choice of two fillings (They do have tongue and cheeks), no sides for $5.50 with fresh double wrapped tortillas and free chips and salsa.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Toraya Arlington

I friend of mine was part owner of Toraya in Arlington when it opened many years ago and then sold to what I believe is the current owner who made a HUGE success out of it. Reasonable prices and outstanding quality fish and a top notch sushi chef worked for him.

This is a small place, really really small, about 24 seats including the seats at the sushi counter. This is another place where it pays off to get there early. On weekends, there is usually a long wait for a table and for takeout. One waitress, one sushi chef and whoever works in the kitchen. Service is super friendly and efficient.

I had a picture of the included miso soup that you get with your bento box, but a bowl of miso soup look like any other bowl. It was nice but not worth a picture. My bento box was the Sashimi one and isn't it pretty! I can't even start to list all the stuff that was in the appetizer area! Look at the molded rice. What a pleasant meal this was.

Today's specials. Capelins, Octopus, Chicken Hearts, Beef Tongue. Well, your everyday menu it isn't.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rega's Grill Lawrence

Went back for some more all you can eat buffet today since I probably won't be in the area again for a while.

Started with some soup and yes, it's a slice of Jalapeno floating in there. I can eat a plate of the banchan so I got one instead of fiddling with the small dishes. Wasn't sure if I would like the seaweed and I didn't, but the zucchini that was added since last week was delicious!

Not sure why I tried the stir fried veggies and the potato they were not very exciting in fact they were very much just bleah! The Spicy Pork with Zucchini was missing the zucchini but was otherwise excellent. I even tried some wrapped in a lettuce leaf since that's common to do Korea and it was nice, but I got juices running down my arm so a little more practice is needed.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Asian Gourmet Concord

Back to Asian Gourmet in Concord to try the actual lunch menu instead of pigging out on the Dim Sum. 

Fairly small room with a big Hibachi table in the middle. Lots of Asian customers as usual.

Hot and Sour soup was interesting, not really hot or sour but with a really deep complex flavor. Much to my surprise I found myself keeping on eating the soup.

The main dish was the 3 Cup Chicken, a Taiwanese traditional dish. The name comes from the way the sauce is made that the chicken is simmered in. A traditional Chinese recipe calls for a cup of rice wine, a cup of sesame oil, and a cup of soy sauce. The Taiwanese version, which is what I believe I got, calls for soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar, with added ginger and basil. The chicken is bone in so you have to be really careful and look out for bone splinters but apart from that it a really nice dish. I usually end up with leftovers but this one I finished.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Punjab Arlington

Back again? Yes, this is such a nice place that I keep on going back and basically eating the same three dishes over and over again.

If you take a table in the back you can watch the chef performing his magic in the Tandoori oven where not only the Tandoori chicken are cooked but also the bread.

Chicken Vindaloo, medium spicy is a tangy dish with a little bit of heat. Add some Onion Chutney and it's perfect.

Not sure if the restaurant is named after the state of Punjab or the Punjab region that starts in Pakistan and includes most of the Northwest area of India.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Blue Ribbon BBQ Arlington

After the Chili's rib fiasco, I needed some real BBQ and what better that the trusty Blue Ribbon BBQ!

Half a rack of Ribs Platter, Mashed Potatoes and Baked Beans. As you can see this isn't just any wimpy ribs but real meaty guys with a nice smoke ring. At $14.99 it's outside my lunch price range but with a Groupon ($8 gets you $15 worth of food) and considering that this will serve one lunch and probably two dinners its a good deal not to mention that the ribs are really outstanding. Look at that nice bark on the outside! Some Chipotle Mustard BBQ sauce makes them even better.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rega's Grill Lawrence

Rega's Grill in Lawrence has new owners since about 3 years ago. I used to eat lunch here when it was Hee Bin since my mechanic was across the street, drop the car off for an oil change, have an OK lunch here. He since moved but when I read that they now serve a cheap lunch buffet I decided it was time for a revisit. They are literally 2 min off 495 on Rte 28.

The buffet is located in a corner that was never used previously and it's nice and light with plenty of food. A big sign saying "No MSG" is hanging in the corner.

You select your own side dishes (banchan) that included a pretty good kimchi. On the plate we have a very nice fried rice, marinated pork and zucchini, eggplant, a pork and cabbage dumpling, fried chicken rubbed with gochujang, the Korean chili paste (not very hot), eggplant and kalbi? marinated beef. I think the marinated pork was very good as was the chicken.

To the left is the banchan selection and to the right is the buffet. I must say it was a nice selection and well worth the $8.95. You can also do takeout from the buffet at $5.95/lbs A big plus for leaving a pitcher of water on the table, wish more places would do that.

The thought of the Day.
Left my Credit Card at Chili's on Wednesday at lunch. Took until today (Friday) to notice. Big spender, I am..

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sichuan Garden II Woburn

This is another restaurant that have become a chain with multiple locations all getting accolades for their Sichuan cuisine. The one in Woburn is located in the historical Baldwin Mansion in North Woburn.

Being an old mansion means that they have a multitude of small rooms so the noise level is OK even when fairly busy. They also have bigger function rooms upstairs. Their lunch menu is mostly American Chinese and hence not very exciting. I often do takeout from here for dinner and the dishes they do well are outstanding.

Lunch comes with soup, here's the Hot and Sour soup that is really really good despite the spilled soup that they didn't charge extra for. Really deep and complex soup and piping hot. Too bad you only get a few spoonfuls before the next dish arrives.

This is Mapo Dofu (Chef's Ma Paul Tofu with Minced Pork on the menu) and Yes, it contains tofu, silken tofu to be exact. This is the dish that forced me to change my opinion about eating tofu. I asked for it extra spicy and this time it actually worked and it come with a good bite of heat and also with some ground Sichuan peppercorns sprinkled on top.
The Chicken Wings are a delight! A crispy batter on the outside and perfectly cooked inside.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chili's Reading

Realizing that the coupon for a free appetizer didn't have a limit to it, except for being valid only for Mon-Wed, I headed to the Chili's in Reading next to Home Depot for a second visit and a second free appetizer.

I had the half rack of dry rubbed baby backs with fries. No picture, completely forgot until I was done. The Ribs was dry, really dry, and the only thing you could taste of the rub was salt and more salt. Chipotle BBQ Sauce was quite forgettable as well. Service was spotty even if the waitress was really nice and we talked about animals for a while (I had my Nevins Volunteer Tshirt on). Took forever to get the check but I might have thrown them by requesting a different table from the one that I was offered.

The free appetizer I picked was Southwest eggrolls. Sounded good one the menu. Not sure how they will reheat since they were soggy when I got them home.