Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sichuan Gourmet Billerica

Still working on the New Chefs Specials at Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica for my Sunday lunches (and dinner).

I started with Youpo Handmade Noodle W. Fresh Cucumber ($5.95). It looked prettier when it arrived, but I promptly mixed everything up before I remembered to take a picture. This is basically Gene's #4, but with much more uniform noodles. The noodles were fine, with a nice texture, but I discarded half of the pile of chopped garlic that was on top.

The waitresses are nice and efficient, but can't describe the dishes if their lives depended on it, so I blindly ordered the Chengdu Street B.B.Q. ($15.50). Chengdu usually means dry fried and spicy and BBQ is BBQ, right? Much to my surprise, I got a big plate of crispy fish and dry fried veggies. It turned out to be a really nice dish with everything nicely seasoned and somewhat spicy, but everything was cooked perfectly. The crunchy bits were crunchy, and the soft bits was soft without being overcooked. I was surprised at how much I liked this dish. Again on a Sunday lunch, they were almost at capacity with a ton of takeout going out the door.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Temazcal Lynnfield

Back to Temazcal Tequila Cantina in Lynnfield for another Saturday lunch. I might have to rethink my Saturday lunches here since Rte 128 is very slow around the 93 intersection. On the way back I stopped at the Home Depot and picked up 4 60W LED bulbs for $10.

Time to try the Fish Tacos (was $13 now $15). FRIED SEASONAL FRESH FISH, PICKLED CABBAGE, RED JALAPENO, CHIPOTLE AIOLI, FLOUR TORTILLA. I now had the option to get this blackened, so I opted for that. The fish, hiding underneath the radishes, was tasty and cooked well, but lacked heat. The rice wasn't very exciting, but the black beans were. They were, in fact, excellent and so was the black bean spread that comes with the warm chips and condiments. Despite the price, this is a very pleasant lunch and the service was, as always, excellent.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fishbones Chelmsford

I went back to Fishbones in Chelmsford for some more excellent lunch. My favorite dish here, Sesame Yellow Fin Tuna Sandwich has now gone up from $11.99 to $13.99 and is now in the expensive range.

Fish and Chips, on the other hand, is only ($10.99). Well, on the menu it's FISHERMAN’S SANDWICH. "Fresh new England scrod is lightly battered and deep-fried golden brown, served on a potato roll with lettuce, tomato, pickle, homemade cole slaw and french fries", but if you skip the bun you have Fish and Chips. Excellent cooked fish and the coated fries are delicious. The slaw and the tartar sauce are both just OK, but this is a really nice lunch with excellent service and linen napkins.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sichuan Palace Chelmsford

I haven't been back to Sichuan Palace in Chelmsford since November when it was freezing inside, but with the heat on outside it should be safe to go back. I recognized two of the waitresses who have been there since they opened. They still have to humungous signs above table A4 and A5, and they have been there since they opened.

The menu said Pork Pickle Noodle Soup ($7.95). It was a fairly small bowl, but full of thin noodles that were cooked nicely and the pickled vegetable was tasty. The pork was a bit mushy, but not bad and the soup just got better the longer the veggies was in there. Overall a very nice lunch and they were impressively busy today.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Red Pepper Framingham

I have heard good things about Red Pepper in Framingham, so I decided to make a road trip today and head down there and check the place out. They label themselves as Authentic Sichuan Chinese Cuisine, and after looking at the menu, I think I agree. All the common Sichuan dishes are there plus some rarely seen. Frog with pickled pepper anyone?

I decided to go with some of my favorite dishes to see how they stack up against the competition. I started with Dan Dan Noodles ($5.95), and it was a big bowl of noodles and pork with plenty of the preserved vegetables (Sichuanese ya cai) on top. This was served as a warm dish, and it was tasty.

Next was, naturally, Sliced Poached Pork with Fresh Garlic ($7.95). Tender pork with plenty of garlic and chili sauce. The serving looks bigger than what it was, there was a mound of bean sprouts underneath the pork. You can see some poking out at the bottom. So far, Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica has the best version and the biggest. 

The picture doesn't really show the size of the Deep-Fried Chicken with Dry Chili Peppers ($12.95). The plate was easily three times the size of the apps plates. Tender and crispy chicken and the heat level was OK, looks much worse than what it was. The prices are from the takeout menu, and they are not accurate, but fairly close.

Weird interior with a very low ceiling and it felt like you were sitting in the basement due to the lack of windows, but I'm happy in a restaurant where I'm the only white guy. Not a beef with broccoli in sight. They have been in business for a while, but they have no website for some reason. Update, the website for their Worcester location seems to have the same menu.

Click to add a blog post for Red Pepper on Zomato

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Yard House Lynnfield

Despite Rte 128 north being a parking lot today, I preserved and finally ended up at the Yard House in Lynnfield in the Market Street complex.

This is the GRILLED KOREAN PORK BELLY Street Taco ($12.35) with radish kimchi, black & white sesame seeds, chili threads and it's served with rice and beans. Tacos were excellent, a good amount of crisp pork belly and the beans was tasty and piping hot. The same could not be said for the rice since it was cold, but it was tasty.

What was everyone doing today? Yes, eating outside. Finally a warm and pleasant day.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cha Yen Watertown

On this sunny but cold Saturday, I decided to return to Cha Yen Thai Cookery in Watertown for some more delightful Thai food. Parking is a pain, but it's only 50¢ per hour.

I got my window seat and started with the Poh Piah ($6). The menu said Cucumber, bean sprouts, spiced tofu, scallion and eggs in soft rice flour. I think they forgot pancake at the end. Not sure what the dressing on top is, but it was sticky and sweet, a nice offset to the fresh veggies. There was also sliced jalapenos on top.

I had never had Sukothai before but ordered it with duck ($10). Choice of egg noodles or rice noodles with soft-boiled egg, fish cake, fish ball, peanuts, green beans, bean sprouts, scallion and cilantro. I selected the egg noodles. The beansprout was absent, and it was served with the spices unmixed. Peanuts for crunch, lime for sour and sugar for sweet and chili flakes for heat. I removed some of the sugar before mixing everything up. The egg was runny, the noodles cooked really nice, and the duck was outstanding, tender and moist. Now I see why people pay $3 for the extra duck. This was a really interesting dish, and I wouldn't mind having it again.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Besito Burlington

I love the food at Besito in Burlington, but seriously dislike the mall parking, and I spent 5 minutes trying to find my car after lunch.

New to me was the Pescado a la Parrilla ($11.95). Grilled fish tacos (choice of soft or hard tacos), roasted pumpkin seed, jalapeno and cilantro salsa, organic romaine and cabbage. The salsa was excellent but, unfortunately, the fish was seriously dried out. The warm chips and crushed tomato and garlic salsa is always a delight.

The beans were also very tasty, but the rice now has roasted pumpkin seeds and green onions added, and that took it to a whole new level. This was a serious improvement! I was quite full after I finished my tacos but kept on eating chips and black beans anyway.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Great Chow Malden

Nice day for a drive so I headed out to The Great Chow in Malden to try a lunch dish again, really the only one I have liked so far.

This is the Cheng-Du Spicy Chicken ($7.75) lunch special with white rice. Crispy tender chicken with some heat included. A generous portion and the chicken was juicy and tender and crisp.

A surprise arrived, two Pan Fried Pork Buns With Cabbage. They will be doing Dim Sum on Sat and Sun starting in a couple of weeks and was promoting that. Not a fan of buns but the underside was nice and crispy, and the pork filling was tasty.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuscan Market Salem NH

I was lucky enough to be invited to Tuscan Market in Salem for a promotional lunch, and they are just over the border in NH, so it was a quick ride up Rte 93 on an overcast and gray day.

The Tuscan Market is located next to the Tuscan Kitchen, and they now also have a location in Burlington with a smaller market.

A small sampling of what's available. All pasta, bread and sauces are made in-house. Look at the Mohawk rib-eyes that are dry aging up top, they are dry aged for 15 days.

After founder Joe Faro had told us about the background of the company, he started Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta and Sauces that become the biggest supplier of pasta in the country, we got a tour of the facilities, including behind the scenes areas. Everything was impeccable clean and very impressive. They are starting to make and age their own Salumi Artisan Cured Meats.

Butternut Squash Cappellacci is being made and later appeared on our table.

Grand Tasting of Artisan Cured Meats and Specialty Cheeses, Notable was the Burrata as well as the Parmigiano Reggiano, that you dipped in the Truffle Honey. Everything was excellent, who doesn't like cured meat?

But wait, there is more! They referred to this as Speck, and it refers to Italian Speck, a type of prosciutto, not the more common meaning of fat. Need I say it was delicious?

Next was the Paninis. New York Italian “Grinder” Sopressata, Spicy Coppa, Prosciutto di Parma, Mozzarella Fresca, Hot Pepper. This was my favorite and I also really liked the Porchetta with Sliced Pork, Seasoned Mascarpone, Pear Mostarda, Roasted Onion, Rucola. Also included was a Caprese and a Chicken Parmigiano and a Pollo with Grilled Chicken, Rucola, Fire Roasted Pepper, Aged Provolone, Lemon Garlic Aioli.

Then the pasta arrived. First was the Rigatoni Alla Bolognese, Orecchiette with Braised Sauce of Beef and Veal, Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano followed by

Ravioli ai Quattro Formaggi. Parmigiano Reggiano, Burrata, Fontina and Fresh Ricotta San Marzano “Alla Vodka” Sauce. The filling was really good, and the pasta was thin and cooked perfectly.

Then the aforementioned Roasted Butternut Squash Cappellacci with Sage Brown Butter Sauce, Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano appeared. I'm not a fan of butternut squash but this I will eat.

The Truffled Mascarpone Gnocchi was my favorite dish. Mushroom Mista, Fava Beans, Shaved Pecorino Tartufo. The gnocchi was featherlight and filled with ricotta, and the sauce was outstanding.

Are we done yet? Not at all. Featherlight Tiramisu arrived followed by

a lemon tiramisu.

Last it was House Made Artisan Gelato & Sorbetto Tasting. What I could try at this point was all very good. I did try to restrain myself, but now I was seriously stuffed.

The seating area in the Market. They do serve alcohol here, and they have an extensive selection of wines available, some are exclusive to the Market. In the Burlington Tuscan Kitchen, they serve Opus One by the glass. A deal at only $89 a glass.

This was complimentary by Tuscan Market and organized by Florence Tambone, but all opinions are my own.

Trattoria at Tuscan Market on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 18, 2015

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

I was going for my normal Monday Indian meal, but after having my eyes dilated, I decided to stop at something closer, and that turned out to be Taipei Gourmet in Lexington.

I had the Da-Lu Mien ($8.59) described as Noodles Soup with Seafood once before and really liked it and went for it again today. The soup is thick, and there was plenty of shrimp and pork on top of the noodles, and the whole thing was again delicious. Yep, leftovers encore.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sichuan Gourmet Billerica

Finally, it's warm enough so that I'm starting to defrost from this miserable winter and it was a really nice top down ride to Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica for some more Chef's New Specials for lunch today.

I started with Sichuan Cold Noodles ($5.95), and it was delicious and SPICY! Some peanuts for crunch and there was black vinegar on the bottom and after you mixed up everything it was soo good.

Spicy Handmade Noodles with Lamb ($10.95) said the menu. Not sure what happened in the kitchen but both dishes were seriously spicy today, on my previous Sunday visits, the spice level has been moderate but now I was really happy with the level of heat included. The noodles were very uniform, so I'm not sure how "handmade" they were, but they tasted great and was also really toothsome. The lamb and the broth were also excellent and did I mention spicy? Another busy Sunday for them and lots of leftovers for me.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

FuGaKyu Lynnfield

It wasn't really that warm today when I headed out to FuGaKyu in Lynnfield for some Saturday lunch, but for the trip home the sun finally showed up.

I didn't remember there being so many carrots in the FuGaKyu Noodle ($12.50) offering and looking back they were not there on a previous visit. This time I ordered the seafood version with Udon Noodles and the curry broth. I know that ordering seafood or shrimp, you will get the least amount of protein possible, but wanted to try it in the curry broth anyway. It was good, and I really like the curry broth.

A salad is included, and it's fresh with all the dressing on top, never understood this, unless the kitchen is just lazy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sakura Winchester

Now that spring is here, at least I hope it is, it's time for some all you can eat sushi at Sakura Sushi in Winchester.

My regular selection of Nigiri and the White Fish with crisp Maki. Everything was excellent as usual and served with a smile by Jay.

The options from the kitchen were my usual half order of Shrimp tempura and Scallops. The scallops were nice and crispy today. Not a bad deal for $14.95 but I wish I could eat more.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Beijing Chinese Dining Lexington

Beautiful day for a top down ride, so I ambled over to Beijing Chinese Dining in Lexington for some lunch. Now it's warm enough that I can take advantage of the free parking and then walk down to the restaurant. Two managers on duty and one waitress.

Twice Cooked Pork Belly ($7.95) ordered extra spicy but, I don't think that it worked. The pork was delicious anyway with some mildly spicy charred peppers and onions. The fried rice is really excellent, cooked well and still firm but sticking slightly together so it's easy to eat with the chopsticks.

The never ending saga that it's the Hot and Sour soup here, always different. Today it was hot enough but tasted sweet as well, like they had added Thai Sweet Chili sauce.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Masa Woburn

Sunny and nice day but there were dark clouds on the horizon while driving to Masa in Woburn for lunch.

I have been waiting to try the lunch offering of "order two tacos", and you also get beans and rice, so I ordered two Crispy Fish Tacos ($4.50 each). The fish tacos were nice, two corn tortillas each and they come with Pico de Gallo Salsa and Chipotle Mayo. The mayo was nice and spicy, and the fish was crispy, but the highlight was the beans, they were really tasty and cooked well. The rice was almost al dente, so it was also prepared really well.

As usual, you get a breadbasket, spreads and linen napkins and excellent service.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

Time for some duck at Taipei Gourmet in Lexington.

At $7.59 the price is right for the Crispy Duck Rice Plate but, unfortunately, the duck wasn't. Today it was very dry and not very pleasant at all. The egg, in the back, was good as usual.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bonefish Grill Burlington

I haven't had brunch at the Bonefish Grill in Burlington for a while so, on this (finally) hot day I headed over there.

They were fully booked today, so the only seating left was in the bar. Since it's mothers' day they only give you the dinner menu unless you asked for the brunch menu.

I had my normal brunch dish, Bang Bang Shrimp Eggs Benedict (11.3) with (undercooked) Potatoes Au Gratin. The eggs, on the other hand, was poached perfectly.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cha Yen Watertown

I have been dying to try Cha Yen Thai Cookery in Watertown since they opened late last year but never got around to it until now. Boy, did I miss something! They are located on a busy street in Watertown, almost on the Belmont line, and parking can be tricky. I finally found a spot, not as close as I would have liked, and after doing a few u-turns. After I had parked a cop got out of his car nearby, didn't see him either, and he proceeded to lecture me on my illegal u-turns, but let me go after he had realized I was just a tourist in Watertown, so the day started out well.

Small on the outside and even smaller inside, three stools at the window counter and two two-tops are all that's available, but I got lucky and took a window seat.

The menu is written on a chalkboard, but they also have real menus, but be sure to check out the specials on the board.

From the starter section, I started with the Roti ($5) that was described on the menu as "Grilled pancake with chicken curry sauce". Not sure if I agree with that. It was a delicious and oh so flaky and crispy Roti with an amazing Massaman curry dipping sauce. The curry had some incredible finely diced veggies in it.

This was followed by a Larb Salad ($8). Choice of ground chicken, ground pork, or assorted mushrooms with chili, toasted rice powder, mint, and red onion. Despite not being a huge fan of mushrooms, I had heard so much praise for the mushroom variant that I had to try it. I think this was the first time that I had a Thai dish that was seasoned appropriately and not dumbed down. This was SPICY but in a really good way and all the other flavors were there as well, and the toasted rice powder added a nice crunch and texture. Can't wait to try the pork one.

From the Grill Section, I ordered the Calamari ($7). Marinated in ginger soy sauce. Cooking calamari isn't easy, but again the chef excelled and produced a perfectly cooked dish. The calamari still had texture without even have a hint of rubberiness. Watch out for the dipping sauce, seriously spicy and sweet.

Open kitchen, so you can see how all the goodies are produced and everything are, of course, cooked to order. Now when I have figured out how to get here, just using just backroads, I'll be back to try more interesting dishes from this delightful little place. The people working there could not be nicer, and I also found everything to be really good value.

Cha Yen Thai Cookery on Urbanspoon