Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best Lunches in 2015

I had a lot of good lunches in 2015 with only a few misses.

Anything from the lunch menu at WooRi in Arlington. Really! The banchan is always very good and the people are soo nice.

Outstanding hole in the wall for sushi at Toraya in Arlington. Could be located anywhere in Japan.

Sakura in Winchester for all you can eat sushi for $14.95.

The refurbished and reopened MuLan in Waltham never disappoints.

For some elegant Japanese food, I really like FuGaKyu in Lynnfield. Not the cheapest place but both the service and food is really good.

I usually end up at Capital Grille in Burlington for Christmas Eve lunch but found out that they had a very decent offering for Boston's Dine Out Week. In fact, I went twice.

The Best New Restaurant goes to Cha Yen in Watertown that is run by the powerhouse Manita Bunnagitkam. She's on her way to greatness.

Despite being in the mall, Besito in Burlington serves up some very affordable and delicious Mexican food for lunch.

Another great new restaurant is Gin U Dee in Stoneham. Their crispy calamari was outstanding.

Another very good (expensive) Mexican restaurant is Temazcal in Lynnfield. The bean dip is excellent.

Cheapest and tastiest price goes to Garcia Brogan's in Waltham. Actually, I think they have to share that with Taqueria El Amigo in Waltham.

Best newly discovered Indian Lunch Buffet goes to Soul of India in Sudbury. Three soup offerings on the lunch buffet.

Best ramen goes to Santouka Ramen in Cambridge. Parking is a pain but the ramen was worth the hassle.

We can't forget Sichuan Gourmet Billerica or their other location in Framingham. Both does outstanding Sichuan dishes and the specials in both places are really interesting. I'm not sure if I ever will get around to try their Sautéed Duck Tongue w. Dry Chili but if anyone is interested in splitting the dish, I'm game.

Del Frisco's Grille Burlington

For New Years Eve lunch another splurge is warranted, so I headed to Del Frisco's Grille in Burlington on a very pleasant and sunny day.

My Extra Extra Dry Martini was a bit smaller than the one at Capital Grille but it was also significantly cheaper.

The Ahi Tacos Tuna Tartare with Avocado, Spicy Citrus Mayo was, as usual, delicious with very fresh tuna.

There is a reason that the Iceberg Lettuce Wedge salad will always be on a steakhouse menu and it's because it's delicious! The menu said "Bacon, Tomato, Blue Cheese Dressing" but luckily there were no tomatoes to be seen but plenty of bacon.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Smashburger Medford

Smashburger recently opened their second location in Mass in Medford in a newly renovated plaza on Riverside Ave.

They are next door to Panera, so you get free Wifi.

No surprises inside, order at the counter and the food is brought to you. I took one of the hightops in front of the counter. Obviously, their signature is the smashed burger but the kitchen was enclosed so you couldn't watch them smash the burgers.

This is the Classic Smash, ordered large, ($6.69). The standard is a dollar less. "American cheese, Smash Sauce, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles & onion on an egg bun." I also ordered the Haystack Onions ($2.49) that comes with a side of Texas Petal Sauce. The smashed burger had a pleasant coarse grind and a good char and, I think, a beefy flavor. It was hard to find the beefy flavor amidst all the toppings and sauces. The burger was also sitting in a pool of grease, I guess from the burger that only partially landed on the bun. The fried onions were delicious! Light, perfectly fried and crisp with a nice seasoning and it didn't need the sauce at all.

Yes, the burger was smashed all right. Of course, it was cooked all the way through but it was still somewhat juicy. I must admit that I thought this was expensive at nearly ten dollars without a drink.

Smash Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Jack's Abby Framingham

Despite the horrible weather, I decided to hike down to Jack's Abby in Framingham for some lunch.

They are located on a side street almost in downtown Framingham.

Interesting interior with communal seating at the tables or you can grab a seat at the bar, which is what I did. You can see the brewing area on the other side of the windows.

They have a few beers on tap. The four flight tasting option seemed to be very popular.

The Nitro Coffe Smoke and Dagger (Half $3 Pint $5) sounded really interesting and I had to order one. I like dark beers and this one was really good and strong. I must admit that their pint glasses looked mightily small but I'm used to the British pint. This is the half pint version.

Time to splurge a bit so I started with an order of the Wood Fired Chicken Wings ($10) with Rosemary, Olive Oil and Sea Salt & Sauteed Onions. The wings were excellent but the rosemary was completely absent, there was green stuff present but it wasn't rosemary.

I followed that up with the Potato & Bacon Pizza ($14) with Garlic Cream/Cheddar/Scallions. Excellent pizza, very thin and with a really good crust. Could have done with some more garlic and of course, the potatoes lacked salt but apart from that, it was a really well crafted and tasty pizza. Service at the bar was very pleasant and you get a linen napkin (towel). On a crummy day like today, they were surprisingly busy with both the bar and the tables filling up. If you are a beer person, this place should not be missed.

Jack's Abby Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, December 28, 2015

Kabab Corner Medford

I used to go to Kabab Corner in Medford when the buffet was $7.95 with a dollar off on Mondays and Tuesdays and I remember the smallish buffet fondly.

They are still in business and I believe they have the same owners as Punjabi Tadka in Arlington.

What can we say about the interior? They have made the best out of a big square room.

The buffet is now $9.99 but now have a bigger selection from what I remember. Everything was HOT.

Condiments and desserts and salads. Naan is also available.

I was really impressed by the food, not only was it hot, but it was also very nicely spiced with the Eggplant and the Dal actually having some heat. The spinach was also tasty as was the Tandoori Chicken but the star was the Black Pepper Chicken. Moist and tender pieces of dark meat nicely spiced and it comes with chunks of onion. I also liked the mild Kadhi Pakora. The Dal Makhani was nice and thick. Overall this was an excellent lunch with a really impressive buffet.

Kabab Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Bullfinchs Sudbury

Bullfinchs in Sudbury does a live jazz brunch on Sundays and I was curious about this place, so I headed out there on this cold and overcast Sunday.

They are easy to miss on the busy Rte 20 and parking was a bit tight.

The reason for the full parking lot was that the place was packed even when I got here before noon. Nice interior and the band was in full swing.

The only seating left was in the also busy bar and that was fine with me.

You get a plate with bread, butter and jam. All the bread was really good and all of it was really light, especially the coffee cake (top right). Linen napkins are included.

I went with the Lobster Benedict (14). "Fresh lobster cakes topped with poached eggs and dill-hollandaise; small spinach salad." I'm sorry but putting sprigs of dill on top of an hollandaise sauce doesn't qualify as a "dill-hollandaise." The small lobster cakes were really nice and for once I got properly poached eggs. The spinach salad was nice with a light dressing, bacon and fresh mushrooms. This was a very pleasant brunch in the burbs.

Bullfinch's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ken's Steak House Framingham

Ken's Steak House in Framingham is another institution down here. The family has been in the restaurant business since 1935 when they opened their first restaurant.

The current location is just inches from the busy Rte 9 and it's big and there is plenty of parking.

I asked for a window table and that was kind of a problem since they don't have any, all of them has stained glass in them. The dining room was impeccable with good furniture and was really well kept.

The lounge area. There was another big dining room opposite this area.

I ordered a side salad ($3) and had to ask the waitress if the dressing comes out of a bottle? After all, Ken Steakhouse Salad dressing originated here. I was told that the dressings are made in-house. My Caesar Salad was lightly dressed with very tender croutons and the romaine lettuce was nicely cut, so I didn't have to wrestle with big leaves. It also turned out that the salad was included with the meal, so that was a nice surprise since it wasn't mentioned anywhere.

I ordered the Shepherd's Pie ($12) figuring that someone should be able to get it right. "Ground Porterhouse, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes." They certainly got it right, look at that stunning creation! Unfortunately, I think the forgot the horseradish in the mash but the mashed potatoes itself was light and the filling was very tasty and savory. I finished all of it, it was soo good. The service was very nice and friendly. Overall an excellent lunch on sunny Saturday.

Ken's Steak House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, December 25, 2015

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

Finding a place that's open for lunch on Chrismas Day can be hard but luckily there is always Taipei Gourmet in Lexington.

I decided to make this an appetizer day and started with the Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken ($7.29) that was, as usual, excellent with really tender dark meat chicken. Note to self, don't try to eat the sliced chili peppers!

Next was the Steamed Mini Juicy Buns ($6.99) with the vinegar/ginger sauce. Excellent and very tender with tasty pork inside. The original name is Xiao Long Bao or just XLB. There is a trick to eating these without burning up your mouth.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Capital Grille Burlington

It's Christmas Eve so let the festivities begin! I'm starting with lunch at the Capital Grille in Burlington as usual.

The house made chips are back! Extra extra dry Martini, straight up with a twist to start. This is really just a code for "give me a glass of chilled gin."

Lobster and Crab Burger with Truffle and Parmesan Fries ($$). This is all so very good and even the house made tartar sauce is excellent. I would be happy with just the fries, but the burger is soo good, just lobster and crab with no fillers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

La Qchara Melrose

La Qchara specializes in the tastes of Central and South America, and has an extensive breakfast, lunch, and drink menu.

They are located opposite the train station and there are free on street parking.

The inside is nice and bright and people seemed to just hang around with their drinks, but a good amount of people was having lunch.

I went with the Huevos Tanpiqueños ($11.95). "Sliced grilled skirt steak, two eggs, arepas, salsa, cheese enchilada, black beans." The grilled skirt steak was two minuscule pieces hiding under the eggs, apart from being small they were also underseasoned and very very tough, even cut across the grain. The poached eggs were also overcooked and the cheese enchilada was forgettable. I really liked the beans, but I do like lots of salt. I found this to be way overpriced and lacking in flavor, apart from the salty beans.

La Qchara Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Oishii Too Sudbury

What's better than some cold fish on a rainy and cold day like today, so I headed out to Oishii Too in Sudbury for some lunch. I probably would have had trouble finding this place but it's in the same hidden plaza as Chili Basil.

The entrance is where the green sign can be seen, if you look in under the big sign, the place looks closed since that window is dark. I had to ask them about the name since I couldn't make sense of it. There are two other Oishii's so this is an "Oishii too" except it isn't since they are all independently owned.

The interior is very inviting and they had plenty of specials on the board.

A big sushi bar dominates this side with three chefs working away.

My meal comes with a really decent sized salad that was very fresh. I think I got the better deal, they also had a Sushi lunch special for the same price and they got a much smaller salad plus shrimp and fake crab.

Sashimi Lunch Special ($18). The fish was very fresh and tasty and cut nicely and of really high quality. The wasabi was quite mild, but the pickled ginger was excellent and come in smaller pieces.

Of course, there was Miso soup included. You also get linen napkins, but that was expected. Service was very pleasant.

Oishii Too Sushi Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, December 21, 2015

Passage to India Cambridge

Passage to India in Cambridge opened in 1987 and haven't changed owner or location since. I remember going here shortly after getting off the boat in the 80's and the food was good then.

It looks like the awning has been there since they opened. Parking is available in the back.

The inside was clean and well kept. Nice and bright from the big windows.

Most of the menu is available for lunch or dinner, so the offerings were extensive. I went with the Fish Vindaloo ($7.99) that come with basmati rice. I was asked if I liked it spicy, and I, of course, replied Yes but it was only moderately spicy when it arrived, but look at that color! I have never seen a vindaloo that red. Apart from being spicy, it lacked the acidity of a good vindaloo and it needed some salt as did the very nicely cooked fluffy and aromatic rice.

Passage To India Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato