Saturday, August 31, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

Finally back at PHU KET in Wakefield for a Saturday lunch. The place is still very quiet at lunch time. One customer that arrived after me had lunch there every day this week so it's not only me that likes this place.

Salmon Rad-Prik lunch box was todays choice, ordered four star spicy, come out at maybe two or three. The salmon is normally deep fried and that made it very dry so I ordered it pan fried and that also made it very dry and way overcooked. I forgot to specify that I wanted it on the rare side so I'm partly to blame but both the top and bottom was rock hard. I did appreciate the baby asparagus and the rest of the veggies and the crispy rolls and the salad was good.

Friday, August 30, 2013

MuLan Waltham

Despite all the other new Taiwanese restaurant that are closer, MuLan in Waltham is still worth the trip even if you have to pay for parking.

Pickled cabbage, Peanuts and Hot and Sour Soup  are all included. The H&S soup wasn't their best, still very good.

This is one of my favorites, Lunch Combo Chicken in Chili Sauce, despite being severely misnamed. The chicken is HOT HOT and has visible Sichuan peppercorns as well as the dried chilies and jalapenos. The chicken wing was crispy and juicy, the "salad" was interesting to eat with chopsticks. The mini sweet corn on the cob was surprisingly good. As usual they were packed at lunchtime.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bonchon Lowell

Bonchon in Lowell is hard to find, from the Drum Hill Rotary you have to go past the Ford Dealership and take your next right and they are on the left side. They just opened on August 15th so I waited a while before going for lunch today. Their other locations in Boston have gotten rave reviews.

I was expecting some fast food like place and was pleasantly surprised by the nice restaurant like interior. Obviously this was my first visit to any Bonchon.

They do have other Korean dishes, but the fried chicken is the star. They do have a lunch special, $7.95 for 8 wings and a side. There are other combos as well available at lunch. As you can see, the wings are small but my side of French Fries was a good sized portion of nicely cooked coated fries. I ordered the wings half & half, half with the ginger/soy coating and half spicy. The spicy wasn't very spicy and the ginger soy seemed to be mostly salt. The wings took about 5 minutes to arrive as opposed the stated 30-40 minutes so that was good, but they were on the verge of being dry but the coating was really nice, really really crisp. Service was very good, water refilled without prompting, but the place was almost empty with plenty of staff around. Overall not a bad lunch, not sure if I would have been happy waiting for 40 minutes for this.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

Made a visit to Taipei Gourmet in Lexington for a lunch of appetizers. Apps are food too, right?

Szechuan Spicy Wonton with spicy peanut sauce. This was OK, not too exciting. Wonton had a small amount of meat in them and the whole dish was a bit gritty like it had sugar sprinkled on it. A bit strange.

This is an old favorite Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken now in a new and improved version without bones and this is a big improvement since the previous version was mostly bones. Now you get a heap of tender and juicy fried chicken with fried basil and sliced birds eye chillies scattered in there. A really well executed dish now.

This is what it looked like when I left just before 1:00PM, only a few tables left. Glad to see them busy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Punjabi Tadka Arlington

Returning to Punjabi Tadka in Arlington for my Monday Indian Lunch fix. Found parking right outside and was greeted by a waiter that used to work at Punjab up the street and he did remember me.

Generic Chicken Curry from the lunch menu makes a really boring picture but at least it shows off the nice flatware they are using. I did get a papadum today and was, for the first time ever, asked how spicy I wanted the food. I ordered it medium but that didn't really work and I also found the curry to be somewhat one dimensional and a bit sweet. A copious amount of onion chutney helped a bit. When I left at one, two more customers had arrived.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nevins Farm Methuen

Lunch today was eaten at the desk at the MSPCA Nevins Farm in Methuen while helping adopting out 75 adult cats during the Adoption Fee Waived two day event.

Free Pizza and that's all I can say about this but it was for a good cause.
Update. A total of 120 adult cats was adopted over the two days.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

Time to try another traditional standard Taiwanese dish at Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington.

Taiwanese style Pork Chop Rice Plate. Nice on the bone sliced up pork chop, nicely breaded and very tender over a big mound of rice. There was some stewed pork underneath the sliced pork chops with the juices soaking into the rice. Traditional pickled veggies and the tea/soy soaked egg that is delicious. The surprise was the Broccoli (yuk!) and the Kimchi (yes!). The Kimchi was excellent, tart and crunchy and added another dimension to the dish. This is really an enormous amount of food for only $6.25.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Twin Seafood West Concord

Nice day for a shortish road trip and I'm off to Twin Seafood in West Concord cruising the back roads with my BFF, the radar detector.

Found parking in front of the entrance, outdoor seating, meter already paid, how's that for a good start? Forget the fish sandwich, forget the fries from my last visit. This is the way to go, tuna sandwich, ordered rare and onion rings. They managed to get some char on the good sized tuna while keeping it rare and the onion rings were just scrumptious! I left the coleslaw untouched, but I thought the tartar sauce was a bit tastier today. I asked what the bread was and was told it was a Hoagie roll, but I doubt that since it wasn't crusty at all, so the bread is still a mystery.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Punjabi Tadka Arlington

It's just over a year since my first visit to Punjabi Tadka in Arlington and I haven't been here for about six months so I decided it was time for another visit.

Unfortunately, the appearance of the condiment tray has not improved and it still looks yucky. The onion chutney does taste OK.

My standard dish is the Chicken Saag and it comes with basmati rice. You used to get one or two papadams with lunch, but nothing showed up today. You do, however, get linen napkins. The good thing was that the dish for the first time had flavor including a bit of heat and was really enjoyable. Not sure if they changed the chef or what but something definitely have changed. You get a good amount of chicken, the competition up the street is now really stingy with the protein, this is at least twice the amount. Service, on the other hand, was just about absent, they seemed more interest in having a LOUD conversation behind the bar instead of looking after their only customer. I had to ask for the chutney and I had to get their attention both for a water refill and for the check. Maybe it's just me since this is twice in two days when the same thing happened.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Simply Khmer Lowell

I was in the mood for some spicy wings on this quiet Sunday so I headed to Simply Khmer in Lowell for some lunch.

I suspected that they would be busy and the place was packed when I arrived at noon.

I really didn't need an appetizer but why not? Nam Chow is ground chicken, shrimp, lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro, served with tuk trey pa-aim (sweet fish sauce), (wrapped in rice paper) on the side for dipping in crushed roasted peanuts (choice of added peanuts). It was nice enough and the dipping sauce was OK but was no match for the peanut dipping sauce at Pho 88. The rice paper was wet on the outside and that was kind of off-putting.

The reason for the visit! This is another appetizer and is simply called Hot Wings. Chicken wings, chilies, scallions, jalapeno, sweet and hot sauces are what the menu said. No chilies, scallions or jalapeno was present, but the crispy freshly fried SPICY wings were delicious. The sauce was sweet with plenty of heat. Really messy to eat but worth it. Service was sub par today, I was completely ignored and had to flag down a waitress for water refill and also to get the check and there was no shortage of waitresses.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Toraya Arlington

I love Toraya in Arlington despite it being such a small place. Funny enough, their website is really hard to find and has no web presence at all. About 24 seats including the sushi counter seating.

You better get here early to snag a seat. This is how it looked at noon on a Friday. One two-top left and 4 seats at the counter. They also have a table for one, makes me feel better for not hogging an extra seat.

Mr Toraya in action behind the counter.

Most items come with Miso soup and it's quite good even if I'm not that big fan of miso soup. No spoon, so slurp away!

I had never even heard about Chirashi until very recently and decided to try it. It's an assortment of fresh fish, eggs and vegetables over sushi rice. At least that's what the menu said. There was some marinated mushroom underneath the fish and I guess that qualifies as a vegetable. The fish was VERY fresh and the rice was just right, maybe a tad sweet. If I counted right it was 10 different types of fish plus the fake crab and the egg. I hated mackerel as a kid, not so much now.

Today's specials. I wonder if that really is meant to be Boiled marinated tuna belly or should it be Broiled?

Toraya on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pho 88 Lowell

I wanted some Pho today and I haven't been back to Pho 88 in Lowell/Chelmsford for a long while so it was about time.

Not that I needed an appetizer but I ordered the GOI CUON anyway. Fresh Spring Rolls, Shredded Lettuce, Carrots, fresh Mint and Rice Vermicelli, combined with a choice of Shredded Chicken, Sliced Pork, Shrimps or a traditional combination of Sliced Pork, and Shrimp, then wrapped into a softened Rice Paper. A low-fat favorite served with peanut dipping sauce. The dipping sauce is outstandingly delicious! You could eat that with a spoon, and I did.

Again I ordered the #14, XE LUA. Extra large Beef Noodle Soup. Our largest bowl of our most popular Beef (Bo) Noodle Soup combining rare Beef, well-done Brisket, Beef Flank, Tendon and Tripe. As you can see, I got everything and the picture doesn't really show the size of the bowl but it's big. Even the smaller size is big. The broth was rich and delicious, plenty of meat and if you drop in a slice of the pickled jalapeno from the condiment tray, it gets really interesting at the end of your meal. Service is always quick and pleasant here and also good looking.

Pho 88 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mr Chan's Bistro Burlington

Not sure what to do for lunch today so I ended up at Mr. Chan's Bistro in Burlington. I'm trying to eat my way through their Traditional Chinese Menu. Nothing really exciting so far, but you never know. Dishes are reasonable priced and the service here is always good. It was very slow at lunchtime today. They now also serve beer and wine.

Another Rice Plate, this time the "Veal Ribs with String Beans and Onions with Rice". Apart from being a pain to eat, I was happy with this dish, the beans were still crunchy, the onion was nicely cooked as well. You really had to eat the ribs with your fingers so this was pretty messy and the ribs had some sinew left, but that was kind of expected. Remember, "Traditional Chinese". The waitress was quick to point out that this dish had bones in it. Are Americans really that adverse to eat food that has bones left in it? Or, is this just a Chinese misconception?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

Decided to visit Taipei Gourmet Lexington for their weekend Taiwanese Dian Xin, it's similar to a Chinese Dim Sum and it's served on the weekend 11:00 AM-4:00 PM. Was it popular?

Yup, at noon the place was filled with Asian people, mostly families. There was one other table apart from me, that was non-Asian. Be warned, it was LOUD in there. They do have a special Dian Xin menu and it can be found on their website.

I had the Mini Juicy Dumplings (Soup Dumplings) and they were completely devoid of soup inside and the skin was a bit thick today but the filling was tender and juicy. Tasty but would have been better if the soup wasn't missing. I even checked underneath, but nothing had leaked out.

The Taiwanese Pan Fried Dumplings, on the other hand, was excellent. Thin wrapper, crisp on the bottom with a nice filling and an excellent dipping sauce, not sure what went into the dipping sauce and they were too busy to ask. It's just called the dumpling dipping sauce, but it was spicy and flavorful.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sakura Winchester

Went back to Sakura in Winchester for some more all you can eat lunch, needed something to cheer me up on this rainy Friday.

Decided to try the Curry Pork from the kitchen and this is what I got, not exactly what I expected. The veggies were nice, the pork was very dry and I'm not sure what the sauce was, certainly wasn't the curry I expected.

They mistook my neatly written 3 for a 5 and that wasn't a bad thing since the salmon was excellent. Tried the crab nigiri and it was, as expected, fake crab. Don't remember what the menu said but the fish roe was fine as was the tuna and the red snapper nigiri.

I still had room left so I again ordered the shrimp tempura and it comes out perfect. Not sure if you have to order it later so that the fryolator is up to temp, but it was much better than the last time. Also not sure if the manager is hard of hearing, but he's LOUD!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

I have heard good things about the Mapo Dofu at Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington so I decided to try it for lunch today.

I ordered it as a rice plate, it's also on the lunch menu but who needs the watery soup? I asked for it extra "MaLa" and it was spicy enough due to the finely sliced birds eye chillies that were added. If there were Sichuan peppercorns in there I could neither smell or taste them. There was a very small amount of ground meat in there. As a Ma Po To Fu (menu spelling) it was forgettable. They were just reviewed in the Boston Globe and they had the same comment as I and almost everyone else have, not enough heat. Bringing it to their attention get the comment, if we make it too spicy it gets sent back. I wonder if they have actually tried it?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fishbones Chelmsford

A perfect day for some lunch outside and I realized that I hadn't been back to Fishbones in Chelmsford for a year so it was about time.

I decide to forego my usual rare tuna sandwich when I realized that the fish sandwich was the same price as last weeks at Twin Seafood in Concord. What you get here is a good sized piece of perfectly cooked cod, excellent coated fries, an OK slaw and an OK tartar sauce. You also get perfect table service, silverware, linen napkin and your water is refreshed. You also don't need to clean up after yourself. Well worth the trip! They also have a fish market.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

Headed over to PHU KET in Wakefield for some nice Saturday lunch. Had a nice drive here on the back roads since Rte 128 decided to come to a standstill.

Bird Nest from the normal menu. Shrimp with oriental greens, red peppers, baby corns and straw mushroom on top of the crispy yellow noodle. Not only was it spicy but it was also delicious! The sweet and spicy sauce soaked into the bottom of the crispy noodles so that you got crispy and soaked noodles at the same time. Everything cooked perfectly, of course. I wish they had removed the tail shell from the shrimp, doesn't make any sense to leave it on.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shangri-La Belmont

Shangri-La in Belmont has gotten very good reviews from people I trust so I really looked forward to my lunch here today.

Fairly small restaurant, there is a row of booths against the right wall and I got a nice window table so things are looking good.

Lunch items come with a small bowl of Hot and Sour soup (no choice) and despite looking a bit funky it was really good and it was actually both hot and sour.

Then things went a bit downhill. This is Shredded Pork with Hot Peppers and a chicken wing. The chicken wing turned out to be a winglet but it was tasty with a crisp exterior. The Shredded Pork with hot peppers lacked both pork and hot peppers. There were some slivers of pork and no hot peppers at all so this was a big disappointment. I know that ordering from the lunch menu isn't the best idea, but I wanted to see what I got having never been here before. The service was good and the portion was big. This place has such a good reputation that I will be back and try more items.