Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Udupi Bhavan Nashua NH

I was in Nashua today for my dental and decided to stop in and see how Udupi Bhavan in the Sun Plaza was doing. Was going to put a link in here to the website but the only site I found was the original site pointing to Udupi Bhavan in Lowell with no mentioning whatsoever of the Nashua location so I'm assuming that this place has new owners since I was last here in August. I also didn't recognize any of the staff but wrote that off to my long absence.

They have a fairly extensive vegetarian buffet and everything is clearly marked not that it helps much unless you are familiar with the Indian names of the dishes, and as it turns out, so much was misspelled that the labels didn't do much good after all.

Condiments and dessert and papads are also available. Some serious spicy chutney is also hiding here.

A Dosa is also included in the very reasonable priced buffet. The Sambar soup was really nice but had something green in it that was inedible, a tough and stringy fibrous thing, Dal Makhani was nicely spiced and thick and I really like the daal that way, it's not a soup. Next is Chalnice Frice. That's what the label said and I even took a picture but my googling turns up nothing even similar. This was potatoes fried with onions and pepper and coated with something, not sure what but this was an absolute delight! Spicy, potatoey and almost chewy, the winner dish of the day. Kasmir Biriyani (again, their spelling and they also forgot the s in Basmati rice) was a nice rice dish. Last dish is Ennai Katrikai and here they got the spelling almost right, this was a tangy eggplant dish and it was also quite good.

I must say that the filling in the Masala Dosa was a bit sparse but what was there was nice and spicy and the dosa itself was excellent.
I also noticed that the Gourmet Indian restaurant that opened about a year ago in the same plaza was already closed. It was the same owner who has an Indian restaurant in the Burlington Mall food court, that is, in fact, quite good.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DooWee & Rice Somerville

Went back to DooWee & Rice in Somerville to try the beef side of the menu.

He has added a few more Bao's, but I was going to stick to the grilled steak one.

Two of the delicious spring rolls with the dipping sauce and the grilled steak Bao's. Medium Rare Marinated Steak, $5 for two. (Secret marinade, Vietnamese chimichurri, scallions, crispy shallots, NO SALT ADDED. These were really good, very tasty, tender beef.

I asked if I could try a chicken heart since it sounded intriguing, but I wasn't sure if I would like them and this is what I got as a complimentary treat. They were frigging fantastic! Crispy, spicy, tasty and super tender little nuggets of goodness. What a treat!

Char Grilled Steak and rice $9 (Secret marinated steak, grilled medium rare unless specified otherwise, seasoned rice, Vietnamese chimichurri, great white sauce, side of salad, pita, and hot sauce). Looks a bit of a mess but was really delicious. Most expensive item on the menu but it's a lot of food, and good food as well.

Doowee & Rice on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tuscan Kitchen Salem NH

I was in the area so I decided to revisit Tuscan Kitchen in Salem, NH. It's just off Rte 28 and you can actually see it from Rte 28. I didn't realize how close it was since the last time I arrived it was from Rte 93.

This is a custom built building and it is as gorgeous on the outside as it is on the inside. They have a big private parking lot that was packed at noon on a blustery Monday.

I got a nice high top today in the bar area so I had a nice view of the open kitchen. 

The bread really deserves its own picture and is seen here with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. The bread is made on the premises and is super crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. A beer and this bread basket could make an excellent light lunch. In fact, this and a half order of any pasta dish will probably be my choice at the next visit.

INSALATA DI TONNO Rare Seared Tuna, Fresh Arugula, Wood Roasted Tomatoes, Caramelized Onion, Sicilian Olives, Roasted Fennel, Balsamic Glaze is what the menu said. I asked for something else instead of the roasted tomatoes and my waitress suggested roasted red peppers and it was a nice replacement. This is not your tuna salad out of a can! Look at the quality of that tuna, this was a really nice lunch for just about twice what I paid for a lunch at Popeyes yesterday. Well, maybe three times with the tip but an outstanding lunch like this isn't really that expensive if you look at what you get.
I also noticed when I left a new similar looking big building nearby called Tuscan Market that seem to have just opened and there is more info on the website. Looks like something worth visiting.

Tuscan Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thai Moon Arlington

Seems to be a Thai week and I wanted something that wouldn't fill me up before a big dinner tonight so I stopped by Thai Moon in Arlington.

Not sure if this was the right dish for "light". Seafood Noodles had one shrimp, part of a scallop or it could have been one of the small ones, two mussels, and some really nice squid. The noodles were pan seared and I really like them when they have some chew left. Was marked as two stars and it was nice and spicy, probably just under two stars but the whole thing was very tasty. I did finish everything..

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Mughals Burlington

I had to share today's buffet takeout from The Mughals in Burlington. Not only is the food excellent, it's amazing what you can fit in a small takeout container with some planning. Yes, the container did close without using force. The papads were carried outside the container.

Starting at top left we have a Garlic Naan, Daal Makhani (Lentils), 3 Papads. Top right, Tandoori Chicken, four Eggplant Pakoda and two Onion Bhaji, Chicken Chettinad, Chhole Masala (Chickpeas), Dhaba Chicken and Aloo Palak (Spinach and Fried Potatoes).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lemon Tree Burlington

Decided to give the Lemon Tree in Burlington another chance on this bitterly cold day. Unfortunately, it was a bit chilly inside as well but some hot and spicy food took care of that.

This is the big room at the far end of the restaurant with a smaller room to the left. On the right, you can see all the way out to the sushi bar.

Wild Boar Basil. Tender pork pan fried with mushrooms, young peppercorns, Thai basil leaves, hot chili peppers in Thai spices sauce. They left out the eggplant in the description who otherwise was very accurate. This was listed as three stars and it was hot, not deadly hot but very hot and it did have green peppercorns in the sauce as advertised. A good amount of pork and this is probably the best dish I have had here so far.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Popeyes Methuen

It's sporktime! A Popeyes moved into a location previously occupied by a KFC just over the border on Rte 28 in Methuen. This is just about my only exception to not eat fast food and there hasn't been a Popeyes outside Boston for ages so I was really excited about this one, especially since it's just up the road from the shelter at Nevins!

The interior looks about the same, I think since it was ages since I visited the KFC here.

2 PC spicy Dinner with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy and a biscuit. It was delicious! Well, not really but it was good enough, the gravy is excellent even if it probably contains as much sodium as a salt shaker. The spicy breast piece looks a bit crummy from this angle but was a pretty big piece of tender and juicy breast meat. It certainly was enough food for lunch, but I'm still debating the price. $5.65 including tax isn't exactly cheap but on the other hand it was a fair amount of food so I guess am OK with it. Noticed it said on the back of the receipt that if you take a brief survey you get a 2 pieces of chicken and a biscuit free with the purchase of a large soda ($2.7? Something).

Friday, January 18, 2013

99 Restaurant Woburn

I used to go to the 99 Restaurant on Fridays after my shift at Nevins for their Fish and Chips lunch, but it kind of fizzled out. One of the reasons was that the last time I ordered the Country Fried Chicken I got two strips of chicken that more resembled two chicken fingers instead of the advertised chicken breasts.

Popcorn comes free and they are OK. Some are drizzled with butter and some are not.

I decided to give the Country Fried Chicken another chance. Comes with corn (pass) and garlic mashed potatoes and a honey drizzled biscuit (pass). Ordered it with extra gravy and got that. The cranberry sauce arrived after a slight delay. Everything was fine, tender and moist chicken with a nice crunch. The garlic mashed potatoes and the gravy were both fine and tasty. The two "Chicken Breasts" could have been bigger but was adequate. Service was as always very prompt and friendly. I still think it's a bit expensive at $9.99.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pho #1 Woburn

The snow finally let up so I decided to walk down to my local Vietnamese restaurant, Pho #1, for some Thai food. The walking bit might have been a mistake, there was sleeting freezing rain and of course I had the wind against me walking down there.

Wild Boar Pork. Stir-fried sliced pork with string beans, mushrooms, red bell pepper, bamboo shoots and eggplant in a Thai kang pa curry sauce. The pork was very tender and the beans were crispy and apart from the miserable looking mushrooms this was a very enjoyable lunch. Should have been spicier but barely got up to one pepper and the walk home was much better.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

Went back to Taipei Gourmet in Lexington for some lunch today and was happy to see them somewhat busy at lunchtime with a number of tables occupied by natives sampling the specials and also the traditional Taiwanese dishes.

I ordered Noodles with Ground Pork in Peking Sauce advertised as spicy and it wasn't really, just a hint of heat. There was also a lot of tofu mixed in with the ground pork and there was also some bamboo shoot for a bit of crunch. The noodles were plentiful and well cooked and overall it was a nice lunch. Not very exciting but nice. The sauce could have been a lot thicker so that it would stick to the noodles a bit better.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blue Ribbon BBQ Arlington

With a Living Social voucher for $8 for $15 worth of food, I headed back to Blue Ribbon BBQ in Arlington for some ribs.

I got my usual half slab platter with mashed potatoes and baked beans. Well, I thought that I ordered the baked beans but got the green beans instead. I might just have said beans, counting on Jill to do the right thing! When I asked to have them replaced I just got a side order in a container so now I have an extra side. Never even having contemplated ordering the green beans this gave me a chance to try them. Way to overcooked, as expected, for me but they still had an interesting vinegary taste and was quite good. There have been some complaints on some boards about the ribs, but they tasted and looked fine to me, maybe not as smoky as when they were smoked in-house instead of the central commissary. Baked beans were also their usual tasty self. This time I remembered to order the cornbread as a corner piece, the burnt edges are the best! Enough food for at least two meals and I also have a small container of the pickled cucumbers.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sichuan Palace Chelmsford

Went back to Sichuan Palace in Chelmsford hoping for some spicy food. They finally have a pretty nice website. I have been here a number of times before, mainly for the duck lunch specials. (Here and Here). The duck dishes are now incorporated into the regular lunch menu and you get a good amount of duck.

The Hot and Sour soup wasn't really either but mostly salty, but the consistency had improved since my last visit.

The fried Chicken Wing was really good, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.

Chinese Style Kung Bao Chicken. I know this dish from when the chef was working at Top Garden in Tewksbury and it wasn't on the menu, but you could ask for it and it was really good, crispy chicken and LOTS of heat but what I got here was basically Kung Pao Chicken with added chilies in your normal sweet brown sauce. They give you the nice plastic chopsticks now instead of the wooden disposable ones.

This is what the same dish looked like at Top Garden. Dry fried chicken with lots of heat.

They still have two ugly signs above the tables with the table numbers on them.
There is an (old) Boston Globe review that is quite amusing. They review a Sichuan restaurant and order Chicken and Broccoli! "A dining room designed by a feng shui master"! It's a rectangular room in a strip mall for god's sake. "All of our house specials are traditional Sichuan dishes that you can't find anywhere else in the suburbs,". Wasn't true then and certainly isn't true now.

Sichuan Palace on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Strip-T's Watertown

Strip-T's in Watertown has been in business for over 24 years in a quiet neighborhood and not much was happening until the owner's son, Tim Maslow, returned from New Your City where he worked under David Chang at the Momofuku Ssäm Bar. Tim Maslow is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, but hat alone will not get you a job in a David Chang's restaurant, you need to excel in what you do and Tim does. Almost immediately, this small restaurant started a pretty serious buzz here in Boston and I finally made it there today for lunch.

It's a small place with a dining room and there is also counter service in the front room and a few more tables. Interior is nice, handwritten menus on chalkboards and there is also daily specials that incidentally looked very good but I was here on a mission and could not get detracted.

The Eggplant Bánh Mì is what it's all about! Japanese eggplant with crispy tofu, pickles, cilantro and spicy mayo. The eggplant was cooked into a soft mess with crispy tofu on top and the whole thing was absolutely delicious with the different textures and a bit of kick from the Sriracha laden mayo. It was served on a locally baked crispy baguette. I must admit that I'm not a fan of eggplant or tofu, but I'll happily eat this one again. Service was very friendly and the waitress couldn't have been nicer or more enthusiastic about the food.

From the outside, you would never guess what delicious food hides inside this gem of a restaurant. Free on street parking and at least at lunch there was plenty of parking.

Strip-T's on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 7, 2013

Macaroni Grill Reading

Ran into a $10 off a $20 order coupon today for Macaroni Grill and decided to try it for lunch. It was takeout only and you had to order online but that worked fine, but you had to specify what dressing you like to have on your Caesar Salad. As far as I can see, if you order a Caesar Salad it comes with Caesar dressing otherwise it's not a Caesar salad, right?

The Caesar Salad ($3 extra) was nice enough and you also get some dipping oil and a big piece of warm crusty bread. Unfortunately, this was the best part of the meal.

Pan-Roasted Pork Chop (Explicit ordered Medium) fresh pea & mushroom risotto, Chianti-mustard sauce was the menu description and it sounded good. Unfortunately, the pork chop was dry and not just a little bit either, it was so overdone that it was hard to cut. The risotto was also overcooked and was way to liquid. The Chianti-mustard sauce was also very salty. They also missed the pickup time by being 15 minutes late, not sure what the reason for that was since the restaurant was completely empty at the 11:45 pickup time.

Romano's Macaroni Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 4, 2013

Border Cafe Burlington

Nothing really exciting at the Border Cafe in Burlington but they are very consistent in their preparation of the food and the service is quick and friendly and the prices are very reasonable.

Ceasar Salad with Cajun Shrimp and Crawfish is OK with a good amount of spicy shrimp and crayfish. Salsa is also OK as are the chips. The chips might have been slightly overcooked since they had a very faint burnt taste. They also give you a gigantic water-glass and I like that, no wait for refills. Shortly after noon this place was packed and LOUD and that's about the only drawback.

Border Cafe (Burlington) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DooWee & Rice Somerville

DooWee & Rice in Somerville is not a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. "We specialize in fusion cuisine borrowing techniques, ingredients, and ideas from around the world". It has got really good reviews on the web so I decided to try it for lunch today. It's fairly close to 93, take Rte 16 into Somerville and it's near the big rotary.

It's very small with about 4 tables and the food is brought out to the table by the newly hired counter girl (Her first day today). Be careful where you sit, on a cold day like today you get hit by an icy blast of cold air when the door open and closes if you are in the wrong spot. I was.

The Spring Rolls ($1 each) were nice with a tasty filling (shrimp, pork, carrots, jicama, vermicelli, garlic, and spices) and I really liked the homemade garlic and chili sauce. Check out the cool picture on the table.

The Bao Baos was an extremely soft bun with a porky filling (Slow braised tender pork, sweet sauce, scallions, crispy shallots, garlic chili sauce). You get 2 per order ($5) and they were good. Can't wait to taste the Medium Rare Steak ones.

DooWee's Chicken and rice (Secret marinated chicken, seasoned rice, topped with great white sauce, side of salad, pita bread, and hot sauce) ($7) was nicely cooked dark meat chicken and their own white sauce with plenty of rice. Not sure what the white sauce contains but other have speculated that it's a mayonnaise/yogurt based sauce with some lemon and vinegar. Calling a few leaves of lettuce a salad might be overdoing it a bit ;-). Overall very nice and filling. Also looking forward to trying the Char Grilled Steak and rice. The menu states "cooked medium rare unless otherwise requested" and I think that sums it up. This guy understands food.

Doowee & Rice on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best lunches in 2012

There were some really outstanding lunches in 2012 :-) and a few that was not so outstanding :-(.

In no particular order:
Toraya Arlington
Beautiful food and a kitchen that really cares about what they serve. That the place is so small that the waitress have to walk around sideways just adds to the charm.

Blue Stove Burlington
Love to sit at the counter and watch the chef prepare the food. Small portions but beautifully prepared food. I seem to always get something extra here. Doesn't cost the restaurant much but makes for a very happy customer.

Pasha Arlington
Excellent food, lamb and beef are very tender and always cooked perfectly. Really nice service and it's too bad that the French Fries are from the supermarket but we are working on that ;-).

Fishbones Chelmsford
I gave up on this restaurant after a few tries after they opened since they couldn't cook a piece of tuna rare but decided to return this year and they are now getting it right and every time too! Sitting at the counter or outside is equally pleasant. Excellent food and service.

Best New Restaurants in 2012

Gene's Flatbread Cafe Chelmsford
Everything is strange here but everything here is also really really good and tasty and Gene is such a nice guy! Too bad it's in the middle of nowhere but the food is worth the drive.

Taipei Gourmet Lexington
Nothing is really outstanding here but everything is really nice and tasty and cooked well and with care and the woman who runs the place couldn't be nicer. I really hope they make it, but the location is also in the middle of nowhere unless you live in Arlington or Lexington.

The Mughals Burlington
What a nice addition to the area not to mention that it's about 10 minutes from home. Really nice lunch buffet with food that is actually spicy AND has heat to it, not very common for a buffet. Really nice people running the place and very nice service. Now doing takeout for most of my lunches here since that way I get a free dinner.

Asian Gourmet Concord
This place has had a checkered past, but I hope they will now make it. Excellent Taiwanese food and quality service. Busy on the weekends and filled with Asian customers.

By far the worst Lunch in 2012

Gyro & Sandwich Village Woburn
Terrible and the restaurant have since then closed. Not very surprising.

Asian Gourmet Concord

Not too many places open on New Years Day but you can always count on the hardworking Asian population to have their restaurants open. I like Asian Gourmet in Concord so that was my destination for this sunny day.

Squid with Basil Leaves was the choice today amid numerous Taiwanese families complete with screaming children and grandparents but I kind of expected that. The squid was perfectly cooked, crunchy and tender and pleasantly spicy with crunchy bits of something on the bottom. I was happy to see that you also get the tentacles since they are the best part.