Sunday, March 31, 2013

Phuket Wakefield

Went back to Phuket in Wakefield for a Sunday lunch and I had the whole place to myself, not really surprising since there is a holiday today. The parasols were up today for the patio seating but it's still too cold, yesterday it probably would have worked.

Got another complementary sample appetizer to try today, this time it was the Crispy Veggie & Rice Cake. I liked this one, crispy on all sides so you got more crunch in every bite and also more basil. It was only mildly spicy despite having two peppers on the menu.

Hot & Crazy Noodles was stir fried Udon noodles that were cooked perfectly with a nice chew left on them. Perfectly cleaned string beans, red peppers and basil was the ingredients and not too exciting but everything did come together nicely and the veggies were still crunchy. This was marked as three peppers and it was HOT! Maybe not actually three peppers but certainly two. Got my nose going... I also really like that their prices are in whole dollars, looks so much more elegant on the menu. Instead of the normal $7.99 you see only "8" and it looks so much better.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

Finally some good weather so it was a nice drive to Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington for some more excellent lunch and I wanted some dumplings!

Shang Dong Pan Fried Dumpling is a house specialty according to the manager and they were scrumptious! Crispy on the outside with a very thin wrapper and filled with pork, yellow chives, carrots and shrimp made this a really nice dumpling. The dipping sauce was fairly mellow and could have used some zing. Asking the staff what was in the dumpling yielded "Pork and veggies". Duh, I already figured that out.

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings was a hefty 10 pieces of perfectly cooked breaded wings, crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. They had some heat to them but nothing significant just mildly spicy but they were really good and a great value as well.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Summer Winter Burlington

Despite being in the Marriott hotel in Burlington, the Summer Winter restaurant is a bright modern place filled with sunlight from the big windows that overlooks the terrace where greens and plants are growing. Well, it might be only plants now for the greenhouse burned down at 2AM about four months ago but until then the greenhouse supplied the restaurant with its produce.

The dining room is long and sleek and flanked at both ends with a stone wall that hides the waiter stations. Copper clad tables and really comfy chairs add to the nice vibe in this place. When you walk in you can see the bar to the right, might be a bit gloomy and dark, the open kitchen and the raw bar are straight ahead. The dining room is recessed down to the left.

Garden Chopped Salad Three Lettuces, avocado, jack cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, chick peas, sunflower seeds and buttermilk chervil dressing was my choice for the appetizer for this Restaurant Weeks lunch today. I asked for the dressing on the side since I'm not a fan of buttermilk, but it turned out to be delicious.

Maryland Crab Cake with petite salad, champagne vinaigrette was my mains and I thought the crab cake looked a bit small but it was all crab with a very light binder, a few capers and onions added for brightness and this was probably the best crab cake I have had since having one at the Commanders Palace in New Orleans. Service was impeccable, but the staff dress code seems to be blue jeans underneath the long aprons, seems a bit casual in a place like this. The silverware was, of course, replaced in between courses.

Summer Winter on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blue Ginger Wellesley

I really don't need an incentive like the Restaurant Week to visit Blue Ginger in Wellesley for lunch because I love the food here anyway but with the prices being what they are this helps.

They expanded the bar area a couple of years back and it now looks really nice with booth and bar seating. The dining room(s) is really nice decorated and the open kitchen add to the ambiance.

Water and bread basket was quick to arrive but then everything went to a standstill. The table next to mine had their waiter doing a disappearing act so they snagged my waiter so now my server was virtually absent as well. If he just had taken their order, then taken mine it would have been fine. Instead he took their order, checked their questions with the kitchen, got them drinks, walked around doing nothing then finally remembered me. I'm not in a hurry but 55 minutes to get my appetizer from when I sat down is a bit too long even for me. Normally the service here is impeccable but not today.

Shiitake-leek spring rolls with three chili dipping sauce served with a crunchy slaw was as good as ever. There certainly isn't anything Restaurant Week sized about the portions here, they are the same size as on the normal lunch menu.

I rarely order fish when eating out so I kind of surprised myself by ordering the Spicy salmon burger with cucumber kimchee and preserved lemon aioli but I figured that if I order it really rare it would be like eating sashimi on a roll. It was served with a bit of very nice crunchy slaw and some chips and I forgot to ask what they were since they certainly weren't your run of the mill potato chips. The burger was outstandingly good with both cucumber and kimchee underneath the burger and it was cooked perfectly.

Blue Ginger on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Aquitaine Chestnut Hill

Boston Restaurant week is in full swing and this is an excellent opportunity to try some new restaurants for lunch. Too bad that there is so few serving the two-course lunch aka Light Lunch. $15.03 is fine for a two-course lunch but $20.03 for including a dessert that I really don't want or need, nope. Aquitaine in Chestnut Hill is part of a small Boston chain serving bistro food in a casual setting.

Interior is nice and does give you a bistro feel with posters on the walls and a lot of mirrors. The staff is immaculate in long aprons and nice vests. Do you get linen napkins? Not really but you get kitchen towels to use as napkins.

I started with the Lobster Bisque with Vanilla Poached Lobster and Cognac and much to my surprise a glass of wine was included in the price! The lobster bisque had a very foamy texture to it, not sure if I really liked that. The bisque was OK with a few bits of lobster included.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Pommes Robuchon, Young Farm Vegetables, Pickled Pearl Onions and Cabernet Jus was really delicious with tasty and tender short ribs and vegetables that were cooked perfectly and there was also a morel mushroom included. I even ate the carrot and I'm not much of a carrot person, but this one was still crunchy and tasted of carrots.

Aquitaine Bis on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

It would take me more than a year to try the whole lunch menu at Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington, not to mention trying all the noodle soups and the rice plates. Both the soups and the plates and the stir fried noodle dishes are all priced between $6.25-$7.95 with the majority in the lower range. I might have to force myself to go here more than once a week.

The Dumpling Noodle soup here seen with the flat noodles comes in a very mild broth. The chicken/seaweed broth also has some pickled veggies on the bottom. You get six basic pork dumplings and they were the best part of the dish. The flat noodles were nice, but boy, were they slippery! I did ask for some chili oil on the side to spice things up a bit. I wish they had a better description of the soups on the menu, I mean House Special Noodles Soup? Or Taiwanese Noodles Soup will obviously have the Taiwanese noodles included but what else?

Friday, March 22, 2013

PHUKET Wakefield

Just noticed when I went to PHUKET in Wakefield for lunch today that they will have outdoor seating on the small patio in the summer. Now all we need is an actual spring and summer.

They know that I posted a picture of their Phuket's Wings and they said that now everyone want the wings so that might have something to do with me getting a complimentary Spicy Corn Cake appetizer today to start with. Sweet corn cake drizzled with a spicy mayo on a bed of greens was a delightful starter. Nicely crisped up and tangy from the mayo, this was really nice. Everyone in the place is very nice and they all seems happy too!

The lunchbox selected today was the Grilled Spareribs one. Marinated spareribs in sweet pineapple sauce with rice, salad and two crispy rolls. Three really meaty ribs made for an excellent lunch. The ribs were cooked to an almost fall of the bone state but remained to still have some chew left. I was afraid this was going to be too sweet for me, but it all did come nicely together. The salad was fresh, very light dressing with a hint of the sweet and spicy sauce that you get with the wings.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

Went looking for another exciting lunch at Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington on a sunny day after yet another snow storm. Where is that Spring Thing?

The soup today was again pork and seaweed soup. I wish they would do the normal Hot and Sour soup, this one doesn't really do anything for me.
Twice Cooked Pork from the lunch menu was today's selection. First of all, this is done with Pork Belly so I was happy right off the bat. There was a lot of cabbage and some sliced hot green peppers and some black beans and all of it drizzled with chili oil. This is a very nice rendering of this classic dish, but I kind of missed the smoked tofu that you normally see. It had some heat especially if you mixed in the green peppers with the cabbage. There was also another bean in there that was spicy but I have no idea what it was and I finished all of them before thinking about asking the staff. I continued to eat the rice and cabbage even after the pork was gone so this was a really good dish. And then when I was really stuffed

the owner brought out a sample of Beef Tendon and Shank in Chili Sauce appetizer for me to try! This was delicious. The tendon was perfect and the beef was tender and flavorful and the chili sauce covered everything. It was not overly spicy, but she said that they keep the heat down and could make it spicier on request.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pho #1 Woburn

Seems to be something almost Pavlovian about this! We get 6+ inches of snow and I crave some Pho. Today I actually drove down to Pho #1 in Woburn despite it being within walking distance, but the weather redefined walking distance.

The Pho was actually quite good today or I was really hungry. Apart from the rare flank I also got a good amount of well-done brisket. Sadly both the tripe and the tendon were mostly absent. When a Pho is good it's such a nice contrast in texture, you get the beefy brisket, the silken tendons and the crunchy tripe and the rare flank adds more beefiness. Dipping the meats in the chili oil adds yet another dimension and slurping up the noodles adds fun. I haven't really figured out how doing the noodle slurping without getting broth all over myself so a napkin tucked into the neck is my savior.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blackstrap BBQ Winthrop

Armed with a Groupon I set out in search for Blackstrap BBQ in Winthrop. Winthrop is one of those places you can't really get to easily, and even following my GPS, not really easy to get out of either.

This little funky BBQ place in a maze of one-way streets has the menu written all over the walls and seats maybe 15-20 people. Order at the counter and the food is brought out to you when ready. The person at the counter was really nice and friendly and I did like that hard rock was blasting from the speakers.

While waiting you can peruse the available BBQ sauces. I tried the hot BBQ sauce and it was nice and HOT and I also tried the Honey Mustard one and really liked it. A good mix between sweet and hot.

For the duo of meats, I selected the Memphis Dry Rubbed Pork Ribs and the sliced Texas Brisket. Sides were baked beans and mashed potatoes. The baked beans were very sweet, think Boston baked beans, and so undercooked that they were not edible. The mashed potato was completely devoid of seasoning. The ribs were fine, with a good crust and a nice spicy rub. They were cooked well with a good chew left on the meat. Unfortunately, one rib was missing a good chunk of the meat on the bone. I asked for some fat on the brisket and got that. The brisket was fine, could have had more smoke flavor but was tender and nice. The smoke ring was very thin and really just under the surface of the meat. A good amount of food with plenty of leftovers.

Blackstrap BBQ on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 15, 2013

PHUKET Wakefield

I couldn't wait to get back to PHU KET in Wakefield for some more delightful Thai in this nice restaurant. I'm still confused about the name and asked about it today and was told it's two words, but their other restaurant's website has it as PHU - KET. There are also a few dishes on the menu named Phuket something or other and that didn't help either.

Spicy Duck Fried Rice was my choice for lunch today, marked as 2 peppers for spiciness. It had some interesting veggies in there including Broccoli Rabe. There was a good amount of boneless duck included and overall it was a very good dish but the duck was reheated and was slightly dry but it was very flavorful and tasted great and the fat was nicely rendered. All the veggies were nicely cooked and still crispy. The spice level was about 1 pepper, but the nice waitress said that she could bring out some chili oil if I wanted it spicier, but it was OK as it was. There was also a fair amount of business at lunchtime as well as takeout being picked up.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

Paid another visit to Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington to try something else, I must say that there is a LOT of interesting dishes on the menu.

Beef Stew Noodles Soup was today's choice, didn't specify the type of noodle and got the Taiwanese Egg Noodle. The size is much similar to thin spaghetti, but I think I would have liked a thicker noodle. The bowl is HUGE! The broth was delicious, beefy and very fragrant but despite the red hue it wasn't very spicy at all. Both the manager and the waiter asked if it was spicy and looked surprised when I said no. In fact a lady at the next table who had the same dish also mentioned that it wasn't very spicy. Again, no big deal. The beef was served sliced rather than in the chunks you normally see. Since I like this place I will say that the beef was pleasantly chewy but also very tasty :-).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

Phuket in Wakefield opened just a week ago, well hidden on a side street in Wakefield Center and getting over a cold, I thought that was a good reason for paying them a visit today for lunch. Much to my delight they serve lunch specials 7 days a week.

It's a small place but beautifully redecorated inside and with good quality furniture.

Phuket's Wings appetizer was 6 pieces of delicious sweet and slightly hot chicken wings fried to a crispy perfection. Best crispy wings I have had in a long time.

Lunches are called Lunch Box Specials and come with a Tofu soup. I must admit that this sounded awfully boring, Tofu soup? but much to my delight it was really good. There is seaweed in there in addition to the tofu and also a good amount of roasted garlic. Surprise of the day. Notice the nice silverware and the linen napkins. Classy! In addition to the Lunch Box Specials, there are also lunch sized portions available from the regular menu. Big selection of curries, not just the red/green/yellow that you normally see.

The Lunch Boxes also come with two crispy spring rolls with a sweet dipping sauce. A very fresh salad is also included as is rice. Seafood Combo contained mussels, shrimp, scallops, squid, mushroom and string beans and a few more fresh veggies. Everything was cooked perfectly including the big pieces of squid. The sauce was really complex and interesting. This was listed as two peppers but was really just one pepper, no big deal, I can just ask for it hotter the next time. The only miss was that the rice was cold but I wasn't planning on eating too much of it anyway and the string beans could have been cleaned better, still had the little tip attached. The scallops were the real thing since I got the little abductor muscle stuck in my teeth from one of them.

Phuket on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

The good news is that Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington are serving from the lunch menu 7 days a week. It was fairly quiet today at lunch time.

Today's soup was Seaweed Soup, it was OK but not very exciting.

I decided to try the Chili Chicken hoping for something authentic, but this is what I got. I got so distraught when I saw the food that I forgot to take a picture of the serving dish so this will have to do. This is your standard chicken in a brown sauce with celery, peppers and a few onions cooked with some chilies. The only redeeming feature was that it was actually spicy! Not overly so but better than what it looked like. Portion size was certainly adequate.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Simply Khmer Lowell

I had to go to a Walmart and I usually go to the one in Chelmsford since there is civilization nearby as opposed to the closer one in North Reading. This was also a good excuse to revisit Simply Khmer in Lowell. I was dead set on getting the Crispy Chicken Wing and Rice lunch special but found to my dismay that they don't serve the lunch specials anymore and the prices have also increased.

I ordered the Bai/Cha Kroung Rice plate with Pork described as steamed rice served with stir fried meat, stir fried with garlic, onions, lemon grass, red/green bell peppers, holy basil, jalapeno, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and red chillies. There were no traces of either the jalapeno, kaffir lime leaves, galangal or the red chilies so this was another disappointment.

To get over my disappointment of missing the wings, I ordered an order of Wings Angkor Style to go. This is Chicken wings stir-fried in onions, red/green bell peppers, jalapeno, scallions, red chilies. This is HOT and the wings are crispy, tender and absolutely delicious even if they might knock you out! The menu used to say 10 wings, but they are now down to 8.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

I'm coming down with a serious cold so I wasn't too hungry and having found out that Taipei Gourmet in Lexington are actually serving the famous soup dumplings I decided to try them today.

The soup dumplings are listed on the menu as Steamed Mini Juicy Buns and I did inquire during my first visit if this was in fact soup dumplings and was told no, so I never tried them until today. You get 8 small dumplings with perfect skins and filled with delicious pork and soup. The skin was tender but strong enough to hold the soup and the only drawback was that there could have been more soup inside. The dipping sauce was OK, but I must admit I liked the sauce at Szechuan's Dumpling up the street better, it had a stronger vinegar and ginger flavor. The jury is still out on who had the better dumpling, I'll try SD again later when they have settled in a bit. TG now offers free Wi-Fi.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Punjab Arlington

I haven't put in an entry for Punjab in Arlington for a while, but I have to give them a shout out for their Chicken Tikka Masala that has ruined all other versions for me. This is my regular Monday Lunch place and they never disappoint.

The little terrace corner next to the big windows is a nice and bright spot where you can enjoy your meal. Would be even better if the elusive sun would reappear again.

Lunch comes with a cup of lentil soup. It also comes with linen napkins and excellent service.

The Chicken Tikka Masala always has very tender chicken cooked in the Tandoori and served with a creamy tomato based sauce that also have a hint of smokiness. I'm assuming the smokiness come from the chicken being cooked in the Tandoori oven. Ordered medium it has a nice spicy bite to offset the creamy sauce. The medium actually borders on hot. The condiment containers are always impeccably clean.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tenoch Medford

Tenoch in Medford is having their 1 year anniversary this Friday and Saturday so naturally I had to stop by and congratulate them.

Interior is the same, the kitchen staff is (almost) the same, saw one young new guy, the menu is the same, but some new and exciting specials were on the board.

I haven't had their signature torta since the first time I was here so I decided today was a good day to see if it was as good as I remembered. Torta Campechana Telara bread, carnitas, chorizo, chipotle mayo, beans, onions, tomatoes, avocado, Oaxaca cheese and all this for only $6.50. This is such a good sandwich! It has everything, heat, crunch, stringy cheese, delicious pork and chorizo.

Here's another picture to show you all the goodness inside. Did I mention avocado? Yum!

I was offered to try their new taco, the Taco de Surtido made with pork from the shin. This was delicious, especially the crispy bits of pork skin. I also got to try the Tepache, fermented pineapple drink and that was nice too.
Good food, such nice people and I're so happy that they are doing good. They are working on opening a second location in the North End. Wonder if people are going to come in and ask for the red sauce?