Friday, November 19, 2010

Super Bowl - Rockville, MD

Last Sunday, a few friends suggested we try a new Asian noodle joint that just opened up earlier this month. Super Bowl is located in the Ritchie Center shopping plaza on Rockville Pike, only a few shops down from one of my favorite bubble tea and Taiwanese fried chicken eateries, Bubble Express. Whenever there's a new Asian joint in town, my heart skips a beat and my knees tremble a little bit. This feeling increases exponentially when that restaurant is in Rockville because I know the competition is fierce, and the authenticity is generally a cut above the rest of Maryland. And on top of that, for me there's nothing out there that tops a simple bowl of delicious noodle soup as comfort food. Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, 'cuz I'm eating e'rething out here.

I helped myself to the Beef Noodle Soup, which is actually prepared in the traditional Taiwanese style. Beef Noodle Soup (紅燒牛肉麵) is actually a staple of Taiwanese cuisine and I guess it could be equated to how the Vietnamese enjoy their pho. My mother and my aunt make some ridiculous Beef Noodle Soup so I am quite particular about this dish. I'm pretty much a BNS expert (self-proclaimed). Also I just made up that acronym. For what it's worth, this did not really stack up to my homegrown expectations. While it was still very hearty (as it should be), I felt the flavor of the broth was kind of bland. I needed to add a self-destructive amount of chili sauce to make the broth taste like anything. The meat itself was pretty solid though. The meat is slow roasted so it is very tender and easily tears away in your mouth. The noodles were thick and perfectly chewy (or QQ as the Chinese say) like I likes it though. No complaints there.

Even though I wasn't the biggest fan of Super Bowl my first time around I'm definitely going to give it another shot. They have a few very traditional Asian/Chinese dishes that I cannot find elsewhere and that I need to taste before I give my final verdict. Just wait 'til I scrounge together a few bucks to go again... (don't hold your breath).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mt. Washington Tavern - Baltimore, MD

Perhaps I'm growing increasingly jaded in my old age, or maybe its just poor decision making in restaurant selections, but I just feel more and more like I'm having less than favorable things to say about recent dining experiences. In the case of Mt. Washington Tavern, it was a downright poor experience.

I have been to Mt. Washington Tavern on several occasions to meet friends for a few drinks at happy hour, maybe nibble on some bar snacks. Everything has always been at the very least serviceable. So when some friends came up from out of town and the tavern was brought up as a group dinner option. I figured why not. A perusal of the website before our night out didn't show anything particularly exciting, but nothing that a restaurant of 31 years should be able to screw up too badly either.

To start off with the pleasant, our reservation of eight was greeted politely and seated quickly. Our server was prompt, pleasant, and accommodating throughout the entire meal. The ambiance of the dining room was quite inviting, and the noise level wasn't invasive at all, though it was quite sparsely populated for 7pm on a Saturday night.

Then there is the not so pleasant, the food. I don't know if this is an owner leading a kitchen staff astray, or a kitchen that thinks its smarter than it is. The offerings are uninspired, way overpriced, and in some cases even just flat out incorrect. Tuna Tartar is described as "rare sushi grade tuna with sesame, over endive" - lets stop right there. So you are cooking a tartar.....interesting. I then inquired about the Fruits De Mer "Pan-Roasted Jumbo Gulf Shrimp,Day Boat Scallops, Littleneck Clams, and Rockfish in a Light Tomato Broth with Garlic Crostinis." The menu description was a little odd, and the server confirmed my suspicions. This Fruits De Mer is served as a hot entrée.......hmmm. Great dish? Perhaps. I'll never know because I wouldn't order a dish that is tagged as something that it isn't.

Ok, so enough of what I didn't have, what did I actually eat? I opted for the Steak Frites, medium rare, figuring it was a safe option. Rather than the more traditional flat iron, this offering was with a NY Strip covered with a "wild mushroom demi-glace" (someones being too clever) "and served with either sweet potato fries or roasted red potatoes." I ordered it with regular fries because it is listed on the menu as STEAK FRITES. All of the steaks at Mt. Washington Tavern are described on the menu as "Aged USDA Beef Selections," whatever the hell that means. Dry aged? Wet-aged? Sat out for week in the trunk of a car? Who knows?!! What I was served was without doubt, the worst steak I have ever had in a restaurant. This piece of beef had either been frozen and then quick thawed, or had been sitting unused for a very long time(perhaps this is where the aging part comes in) until it became oxidized to death. The cowhide slapped on my plate was so tough that I actually chewed one bite for several minutes to no avail, then tried to just hunk it down in one large swallow. This resulted in about 30 breathless seconds before I finally dislodged it from my throat. YUM!

A friend across the table didn't fare much better with The Tavern Steak. This, a pepper encrusted piece of leather, served with crispy onions and cheddar grits. The grits were like a molded ball of Playdough. Tough and tasteless rather than rich and creamy. I did try a bite of one of the Artisan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Which was decent enough. I would have been amazed if they managed to screw a grilled cheese sandwich up.

Want a nice place to stop by for a pint after work? Go for it. If you are looking solely for decent ambiance and good service. This is your place. Want good food? Get the hell out of Mt. Washington Tavern.

Mount Washington Tavern on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 25, 2010

My First Vegemite Experience

My Aussie friend just moved to the States from DOWN UNDA *ignorantly poor Australian accent*, and brought along a little taste of home. Besides their love of Outback Steakhouse, Foster's Beer, and the slogan 'No Rules, Just Right', Australians apparently also love Vegemite. Vegemite is a food spread made from yeast extract, whatever that is. It sounds like some sort of stomach parasite, which I guess isn't that far from the truth considering it's made from yeast. The packaging also looks like something that the Acme Corporation from Looney Tunes would sell. I'm in.

First thought: Kraft makes this?! Second thought: I'm hungry. F' it. My friend was kind enough to make some toast, spread a light layer of butter, and then slather on the Vegemite for me. I'm not actually capable of making food for myself. Today I threw a bunch of deli meat into a bag of spinach and ate it straight. Just like a real grown up. True story. Anyways, I took a bite of my toast and immediately fell in love with this spreadable delight. It's much saltier than butter, but also much more savory. There is also an oniony undertone and a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste. The salty flavor of the Vegemite mixed perfectly with the semi-sweet butter. Apparently Vegemite is an acquired taste for most, but I'm already on board. Now all I need to do is find a grocery that carries it...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pioneer Pit Beef - Windsor Mill, MD

Look at that picture. Look at it carefully. If you didn't notice, Pioneer Pit Beef looks like a dump. Suffice it to say, this joint is not taking your fancy credit card. The shack is located on some random corner near Security Square Mall. Don't worry though, it is easily identified by the horrible puke yellow/green color scheme, the all-caps screaming of 'PIT BEEF' painted on the roof, and the gigantic picture of the food product they sell on the front facade. Nothing says classy like a big ass picture of sandwich + meat, and thats how I likes my food establishments, classy as sh*t. But what is this? Tucked away under that jail cell window is a sign that says 'World Class Pit Beef. Nobody Does it Better.' Lemme tell you something son. They ain't lying.

For those of you not from the Baltimore area, pit beef is our very own distinct style of BBQ. A large hunk of top round is grilled until the meat is blackened on the outside, but juicy and rare on the inside. The beef is then thrown onto a deli slicer and carved paper thin. Typically, pit beef is served on a kaiser roll with tiger sauce, a mixture of horseradish sauce and mayonnaise, and Pioneer's model is no exception. The staff at Pioneer asks how you want your meat cooked, and then slices off a fresh bite for you to sample. This tactic is brilliant by the way. The sample I was given was so juicy and full of flavor that I decided to order a larger sandwich. Every meaty bite was tender and melt-in-your-mouth awesome. The decision to up size turned out to be rather unnecessary though. The 'regular' size along with some boardwalk style hand-cut fries would have been more than enough to satisfy me at lunch time. Good thing I'm a complete glutton.

Pioneer Pit Beef on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oishinbo (The Gourmet)

Recently, a friend introduced me to something that combines two of my favorite things, comic books and food. The fine people at Viz Media have imported one of the most popular and long-running mangas of all time, and selected some choice chapters to translate into English. Each chapter reflects on and gives insight into the overarching theme of each volume, ranging from Japanese cuisine as a whole, sake, sashimi, all the way to Japanese pubs. Its dorky I suppose, but I'm Asian and I'm totally into it, for whatever thats worth.

Oishinbo follows Yamaoka Shiro, a slacker journalist for the Tozai News, as he attempts to put together a story on the 'Ultimate Menu', representing all that is great about Japanese cuisine. Yamaoka also happens to have a very refined palate and a strong all-around knowledge of cuisine. His rival in this endeavor is his very own father and mentor, Kaibara Yuzan, who has been hired by a competing newspaper to create their own 'Supreme Menu'. While the premise might seem a bit silly, the author does a great job of illustrating the complexities of Japanese cuisine and the exquisite care that goes into its preparation while infusing humor into each scene. Within each battle or challenge, Yamaoka explains the techniques required to cook each dish, discusses the quality of the ingredients going into the dish, and generally makes me incredibly hungry for whatever the characters are eating.

I've just finished the 1st volume and, other than an extreme craving for sushi, I already feel like I have a much higher comprehension of Japanese cuisine. Definitely incredibly psyched to start the 2nd volume: Sake. Finally I will understand what my Japanese pal Yuya is jabbering about when he gets drunk. Check out the series if you get a chance!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Celebrity Chef Tour - Coming to Baltimore!

Normally I would be against posting a pay event like this, that is unless I really wanted to go; but this is for charity and there are some great chefs attending.

The October 21st event will be hosted by chef Sean Curry at the sophisticated Baltimore Renaissance Hotel Restaurant. The event features guest celebrity chefs Marc Anthony Bynum, who appeared on The Food Network’s Chopped, Jennifer Carroll, a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef, Marc Murphy, featured judge on The Food Network’s, Chopped, and Amanda Cook, nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Proceeds will go to benefit the James Beard Foundation — a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.

If you are a Visa Signature cardholder – just look to see if your Visa Card says 'Visa Signature' across it – you get savings on ticket purchases. Your evening includes the unique opportunity to meet the chefs and engage in a Q&A session after enjoying a reception and a multiple course dinner with wine and beer pairings. It's sure to be an unforgettable evening. Tickets are available now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A World Without Kimchi, Not A World I Want to Live In

South Korea is running out of Kimchi! The world's greatest condiment is running low due to ruined crops of Chinese Cabbage (Napa cabbage if you wanna spend more on it).

"And on Monday, the Seoul city government began a kimchi bailout program, in which it is absorbing 30% of the cost of about 300,000 heads of cabbage it has purchased from rural farmers so it can be sold for less to consumers.

Depriving Koreans of their kimchi, many say, is like forcing Italians to forgo pasta or taking all the tea from China. The dish of fermented cabbage, radish and chile paste has such iconic status here that there is a museum dedicated to kimchi in Seoul, and portions of it were blasted into space with the country's first astronaut in 2008.

Served with virtually every meal, kimchi is believed by many to ward off aging, reduce cholesterol and fight disease. South Koreans together eat more than 2 million tons of it each year.

The shortage has raised tempers and led to intemperate political statements. When President Lee Myung-bak announced he would eat only kimchi made from what he said was cheaper round cabbage common in Europe and North America, many people erupted in anger.

The round cabbage, Internet users pointed out, was only slightly cheaper here than the Chinese variety, suggesting the president's claim was out of touch with the needs and concerns of the working class.

"For the president to say something like that is like Marie Antoinette saying, 'Let them eat cake!'" one blogger groused.

The shortages have come at the onset of gimjang season, when families lovingly hand-prepare the kimchi they will consume during the winter and spring. Many prefer kimchi that has fermented for months or even years in earthenware pots.

In a play on words, people now refer to kimchi as gold. (The two words are similar in Korean.) In restaurants, where customers wrap beef and pork in a slice of cabbage, they joke that the custom should be reversed, because the cabbage is now more costly than many meats."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

R&R Deli - Elkridge, MD

I had an intense internal struggle with whether I should share this gem because I didn't want my favorite taco joint to be overrun by the Columbia lunch crowd. Then I realized there's like five people who read this blog, 2/5 of the readership being myself and Nick. So anyways, R&R Deli is a little taqueria attached to a Shell station, that I actually discovered while fueling up one fateful Summer's eve. Imagine that, getting gas before eating tacos! THAT WAS FUNNY. DON'T JUDGE ME.

From what I know of Mexican cuisine (nothing), this place seems totally legit in terms of authenticity. Regardless of your choice of protein, each taco ($2) comes on a corn tortilla, topped with freshly chopped onions and cilantro, with fresh lime slices and chili sauce on the side. My personal favorite is the Taco de Lengua (Tongue) which is always juicy and delicious. They have a variety of meats to choose from, and everything is well seasoned and extremely tasty. I will say that sometimes the meat can be a little overcooked, as it is chopped into small pieces and cooked on the grill in mass quantities. I usually wash everything down with a cold Mexican Coca-Cola (real sugar!). If you're looking for something a little bit more hearty, I'd suggest trying the Carne Asada or Blackened Chicken entrees. The entrees come with a sizable portion of meat, rice & refried beans, grilled onions & peppers, and a few tortillas on the side.

In any case, R&R is dope as hell, which really goes to show you that excellent food can be found anywhere, even in some rando suburban gas station. I hope you don't believe me, because I don't want to wait in line for my damn tacos. R&R gets 125 fictional gold stars, and 20 post consumption deuce points.

R&R Deli on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Love to Get Burned?

An interesting topic came up last night with some friends over an Indian meal. Why do we as humans (some of us anyway) love the pain/pleasure mix that comes from spicy food? An interesting article over at Gizmodo gives a little insight into the process

Original Article:

Why Do Humans Love Spicy Self-Torture?

Only food prudes are afraid to dabble with a little hot sauce occasionally. But why do any of us enjoy it at all? Capsaicin, the chemical behind hotness, causes your brain to literally think your tongue is on fire.

Scientists are at a loss as to why we adore spicy stuff, says The New York Times. Beyond culinary taste, there are verified medical benefits—spicy foods lower blood pressure, potentially knock out other bodily pains, and maybe even help fight microbes. But humans have been pouring hot things on their food since long, long we had any understanding of our bodies—evidence of hot pepper cultivation dates back to 4,000 BC.

Maybe, some scientists think, we're just wired to be gluttons for pain. The University of Pennsylvania's Paul Rozin thinks each time you slater your sausage with some kind of atomic pepper death paste, you're exhibiting what he terms "benign masochism." A recent study of Dr. Rozin's showed that subjects, when consuming an increasingly hot pepper sampler, chose as their favorite the one just bearably hot. Which means people still love getting burned. And we might just be doing it for the quick thrill: "Mind over body. My body thinks I'm in trouble, but I know I'm not," says Rozin.

It may just be one of those strange quirks of being a human. "Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce," quips Yale psychologist Paul Bloom. And Tabasco sauce is the least of it. Typical extreme hot sauces, favorites of benign masochists everywhere, run up into the hundreds of thousands of Scoville heat units—that bottle of Tabasco in your kitchen is only 5000, tops. And radical pain peppers are a huge business in the US, from the hundreds of varieties you can purchase at enthusiast shops to corporate giants like McCormick to issue an annual Flavor Forecast—a report of which spicy trends will grace edibles anywhere from Doritos to the chicest haute cuisine eateries.

The whole red-faced industry may verge on the lunatic at times—I mean, really, some of the sauces can only be sampled on the tip of a toothpick without sending you to the emergency room—but there is something comforting about our uniquely human taste buds. The rest of the animal world either lacks the neurological faculties to experience the burn of a chili, or avoids the stuff altogether. In fact, the presence of capsaicin in peppers might be decidedly anti human, a defense mechanism to keep curious foragers from taking a bite—scientists have found the chemical stings us the exact same way as tarantula venom. But here we are, dumping it in our soup, and daring one another to slurp a spoonful down. It may be a little perverse, but it's our little perversion.

Send an email to the author of this post at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sushi Sono - Columbia, MD

As a welcome to Eric joining the humble Baltimore blogosphere, I thought I would write up a little review of the place he chose to go for his birthday. Be warned, if you offer to take a well traveled, continually educated, but rarely employed person out to lunch, it will not be cheap. Such is the choice Eric made in Sushi Sono.

Everything at Sushi Sono was run of the mill for your standard suburban Sushi place. This isn't knocking the place at all, but being that I live in Towson where we literally have 8 places for sushi within three blocks, I just start to think these restaurateurs buy a package set up. Kimonos and bandannas behind the bar, floor seating in little recreated private rooms, and nothing on the menu that would scare the Gaijin clientele.

The quality of the fish I ate was excellent. Was it the best I have ever had? Not even close, but these people are trying to do the best they can. I have been so overexposed to contemporary suburban sushi that I think I am totally jaded.

The service was almost overbearing. Remember when Babu Bat was waiting for Jerry to take a sip of water so he could promptly refill it? It was like that. This place is fine, it just isn't exceptional. To have lunch, as we did, for the price we paid; I better have something mind blowing, and it just wasn't. To pay $65 before tip for three people to eat a light lunch struck me as wrong. Again, I am spoiled. This place does nothing wrong or even less than satisfactory, but if you are going to be this expensive, I want Tokyo.

Sushi Sono on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Blog Has Been Outsourced to an Asian

So I have been invited to take on some responsibility as a contributor to this blog so I suppose I should introduce myself. The site layout has also been revised so it doesn't look like it was put together by a...insult escapes me...Nick. I'm Asian so please excuse my tentative grasp of the English language (if you smiled you are a racist).

I do not have a particularly discerning palette. In fact, I will eat pretty much anything and enjoy it. Seriously, I've eaten some f'ed up stuff. I could wax poetic about texture and presentation and la-dee-da what have you, but it's not like I actually know what I'm talking about. My friend once called me a foodie so I karate chopped her in the neck, and while she was catching her breath on the floor, I stood over her and proudly said, 'I, good sir, am not a foodie, just a fatty. BWAHAHAHA.' True story (ed. not true at all...also, I don't condone hitting girls). I am, however, very adventurous and consistently eating out at the most random of places. Hopefully I can introduce you to some interesting places in the DMV area. Like I said, I'm not very discerning so my reviews will generally be way too positive, but if it makes you fatter and I look skinny in comparison, then I'm all for it.

First post is coming when I scrounge up enough change to purchase myself a meal. Handouts welcome.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Need a Logo!

If you read this blog (there aren't many of you,) you will have noticed the incredible plain nature of the page. I need something to jazz up the design a bit. Sadly though, a reasonably well trained primate could probably accomplish more with Photoshop than me. So I call out to you foodies and nice people of the internet. Please help me in my quest! I am not looking for anything super fancy, just something that would fit my name and style.

In the meantime, the logo will have to stay with what my buddy Eric so fiendishly created in about two minutes of MS Paint. It made me laugh, so here it will stay until I find something more befitting.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Whole Foods - Everywhere USA

I had a work appointment downtown in Harbor East this week, and happened to be right near the local Whole Foods store. I had never been inside one and wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. I have to say that I was quite impressed in their large selection of produce and hard to find products. What I was most enthused with though, was the meat selection!

I have never seen properly made English banger sausages outside of a butchers or specialty store. The moment I saw them behind that counter, I knew I was making Bangers and Mash for dinner. I have to say that I was slightly skeptical about then quality that could be provided by a major chain supermarket. There was no reason for my apprehension. These things were absolutely fabulous. As soon as I took a bite, there was a slight snap of the casing, followed by a rush of childhood flavors flowing through my mouth. My grandmother in England would have enthusiastically approved!

I saw some dry aged beef and chorizo that caught my interest as well. If they end up being half as good as the bangers, I will start living inside Whole Foods!

Below is a snippet from the whole foods website that illustrates their excellent commitment to high standards for all meat they sell.

Farm Animal and Meat Quality Standards

Meat Quality

Here's a brief summary of our benchmark standards by species:


  • No antibiotics — ever
  • No supplemental growth hormones
  • No animal byproducts in feed
  • Range raised for at least 2/3 of the animal's life

Veal Calves

  • No antibiotics — ever
  • No supplemental growth hormones
  • Group housing only, no tethering or individual crates
  • No animal byproducts in feed other than cow's milk
  • Unlimited access to grain


  • No antibiotics — ever
  • No animal byproducts in feed
  • No gestation crates
  • Sows provided freedom of movement in farrowing (birthing) pens
  • Bedding required to satisfy natural rooting instincts


  • No antibiotics — ever
  • No supplemental growth hormones
  • No animal byproducts in feed
  • Pasture raised


  • No antibiotics — ever
  • No animal byproducts in feed
  • No beak trimming for broiler chickens and game hens
  • Appropriate beak trimming for turkeys allowed when necessary*
  • Appropriate litter provided for comfort and to satisfy natural foraging instincts

Monday, August 2, 2010

Uncle Liu's Hot Pot - Fairfax, VA

Finally! I have been dreaming of authentic Sichuan hot pot constantly since I first tried the spicy cauldron of yummy in China a few years ago. For those not familiar with hot pot, imagine fondue, but replace cheese or chocolate with a spicy cauldron filled with spicy hot peppers, and numbing Sichuan flower peppers. I have been searching for this dish fervently around my area, and I ended up finding it by accident while working in Fairfax. Not how I expected to find it, but I will gladly take it!

There are variety of options of broth choices. Classic spicy, classic non spicy, fish head, and a mushroom. We opted for the half and half ying-yang dish of classic spicy and classic non spicy. I asked for the spicy half to be mind numbing hot, but my server seemed to doubt my abilities to handle the full blast. Sadly in my experience I feel as though I am often given the gringo treatment when ordering spicy items in ethnic restaurants. In fact, my only real gripe with the entire experience is that the broth could have actually had more in the way of peppers and spice. This is not as hot as you will receive in Chongquing or Chendu, but its probably about as good as you will find stateside.

We ordered a huge array of sides to cook in our broth. Thin sliced beef, pork belly, Chinese cabbage, noodles, vegetable dumplings, pork dumplings, duck feet (my favorite), tofu, and broccoli just to name a portion of our order.

While it wasn't quite as spicy as I may have hoped, it was still probably hot enough for the majority of people out there. Just the smell when walking in the front door of the restaurant took me right back to China. Hot Pot is such a great social dish. You can eat it with a large group of people at your table and share a little bit of everything. I truly hope that more places start trusting that there is a market for this type of food out there. Uncle Liu's, I salute you!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hunan Chinese Gourmet - Fairfax, VA

Any reader of mine knows that I have a certain penchant for Asian foods of every variety. Since I have been in Fairfax, VA for the past month to do some work training, I have regrettably not had the opportunity to do much blogging. That is not to say however, that I have not had a chance to do some serious eating. This entire area is absolutely inundated with authentic, quality Asian food. Sometimes even inside a shopping mall! Inside of the Fair Oaks Mall, the standard variety of Panda King Americanized garbage Asian food is instead replaced with quality renditions of the real deal. One such establishment is Hunan Chinese Gourmet.

There are some of the run of the mill offerings on the menu. This is in a shopping mall after all. Though, behind the veil of Lo Mein and Fried Rice are some real treats. My eyes centered in directly on the many offerings of authentic Noodle Soups ($9.50.) All of these are available with various noodle styles (Homemade, Rice, Flat, Egg, and Catonese) of your choice. As soon as I got a look at the menu, my eyes centered in directly on the Szechuan Beef Noodle Soup with homemade noodles. The fact that this dish also happens to be pictured on the front of the menu confirmed my belief that I chose the right thing. I was given a HUGE bowl of soup loaded with large pieces of beef, stewed greens, Chinese cabbage, green onion, and inundated with nuclear chilies. All of this magic floating in a rich and aromatic beef broth. Readers of my blog will know that I have been to China, and more specifically relating to this dish, Sichuan Province. I can say without reserve that this is the closest and best bowl of noodles that I have had since my time there. The homemade noodles tasted fresh and were cooked perfectly. The heat of chilies complemented every slurp of noodles and bite of beef as sweat began to bead across my forehead the further I went into the dish. There are many other offerings on the menu that I’m sure would please the less spice inclined, but for my money, this may just be perfection in a bowl.

I really hope that places in the Baltimore area can start to believe that they can find a market for these types of authentic dishes. There are people out there that want to eat the real thing. Keep up the good work Hunan Chinese Gourmet, I will be back!
Hunan Chinese Gourmet
11725-L Fair Oaks Mall
Fairfax, VA 22033

Hunan Chinese Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cheap Ice Cream for All!!!!

I'm not really a huge fan of ice cream, but I know that I am largely alone in this. So I thought I would pass on this little gem of information for the few of you that actually read this blog.
Baskin Robbins (store locator) is having a 31-cent scoop night tonight, April 28 between 5pm and 10pm local time

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rocket to Venus - Baltimore, MD

I'm not sure where I first heard about Rocket to Venus; a hipster fun restaurant in the Hamden area of Baltimore City, but I do know that as soon as I saw the menu about a year ago, I knew that Kim and I had to try it. We decided to try it on a Monday evening as her birthday was over the previous weekend and her dad was nice enough to take us out. I was delighted to see a nice buzz in the modest dining room and bar, even on what is usually an off night for eateries. From what I have read over the past year online, the menu at Rocket to Venus seems to rotate every few months or so. This means you can go several times over the course of the year and try new foods all the time!

Starting off the meal I decided to have a cocktail. After browsing the menu, how could I possibly turn down a Jalapeno Mojito? Originally thinking it just had to be some sort of clever novelty, the drink was actually surprisingly refreshing with just the right kick of spice.

There are a number of appetizers at Rocket to Venus that I plan on returning to try. One that I HAD to try on this visit was Kimchee Pierogies - Five pan fried pierogies stuffed with housemade kimchee, potato and asiago, served with lime tartar sauce. ($6) You must understand that I live for Kimchee. I keep various types in my fridge throughout the year and eat it with a variety of meals. With cheese and lime though? I am happy to report that the delivered dish was a revelation. The slight spice of the kimchee actually worked very well with the asiago and the lime tartar was the perfect accompaniment.

As our main choices, we decided on Banh Mi - Vietnamese sandwich of country pate, pickled daikon and carrot, jalapeno, lettuce, cilantro, cucumber and mint aoilion baguette. (Also available with grilled chicken, blackened catfish, beef bulgogi,or kimchee and tofu,) ($11) and
Beef Bulgogi - Korean style marinated beef with fried sushi rice ball and assorted sides. ($13) There were plenty of other interesting dishes on the menu, but I am a total sucker for Asian food as is clearly evident in my appetizer selection. I opted to have my sandwich with bulgogi, hoping that the traditional pate would still be included, but alas it was replaced. That isn't to say that It was in anyway bad. The baguette was perfectly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle (something that is painfully missing from supermarket baguettes.) The meat was well marinated and everyone at the table agreed on its deliciousness. The fries that came with my sandwich were spiced nicely, but I was sad that they were a little on the soggy side.

Then we have dessert. As I have said many times before in this blog, it takes a great effort for a dessert to really speak to me. The kind folks at Rocket to Venus have tapped directly in to the pleasure centers of my brain and reconnected me with my fondest childhood memories. All in a deliciously evil way. Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly ($7) is battered in pancake batter and deep fried, then topped with ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. If you plan on ordering this dessert, make sure you have a few people to share it with, this confection, is rich and huge. Melted peanut butter with warm crispy batter may be a new flavor and texture combination that I will be chasing for a good time to come. Clearly this isn't something that anyone should eat on a regular basis, but you definitely have to try it at least once!

Rocket To Venus
3360 Chestnut Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21211

No Reservations via E-Mail

Chef: David Carleton
: Kenny Sanders

Rocket To Venus on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bolivian President is Against Gene Mod Food - Not Really For The Right Reasons........

The same genius man who blames capitalism for global warming, now has this to say about genetically modified foods.

TIQUIPAYA, Bolivia — Bolivian President Evo Morales said Tuesday that men should stay away from chicken if they want to maintain their hair and virility.

Morales told an environmental conference that chicken producers inject the birds with female hormones "and because of that, men who consume them have problems being men." He also suggested eating too much chicken for too long could make men go bald.

Morales' warning may be out of date: Chicken producers in Europe, the United States and many other countries say they abandoned the use of hormones in poultry several decades ago and many if not most Western nations ban them outright.

The president also blasted Coca-Cola, saying, "It is harmful. ... Imagine what it contains."

Morales blamed "the west," a reference to industrial countries such as the U.S., which he said "bring us more and more poison."

The secret ingredient in Coca-Cola is widely rumored to be something Morales himself once grew as leader of a coca-producers union — a version of the plant with the psychoactive substances removed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saigon, Vietnam - Summer 2008

Goooooooooooooooooood Morning.....ummm.......what was the last word in that saying? Oh well I'm sure it will come to me. I landed a few nights ago in Saigon, to say it was a bit of a shock after 4 days in Tokyo, would be a major understatement. These two places may only be a few hours by plane, but they truly are worlds apart. When I exited the airport upon arrival, I was of course flooded by a bunch of guys trying to take me in a taxi. I argued my way down to $6 for a ride to the area of the city where my hostel is located. Well apparently the guy who I was haggling with had absolutely nothing to do with the cab itself, because all he did was flag down a cab for me and start talking to the driver. I'm certainly glad that I hadn't given him any money at this point. The driver was clearly not too happy about the agreed upon price because I was asked to get out of the cab by the driver, then the tout (a word for people who hassle you) told me I could get back in. At which point the driver punched the tout and we were happily on our way. Quite an international introduction.

I spent the first night here wondering if I had made a good choice coming to Saigon. No one at the hotel said a single word to me while I was checking in, and it seemed as though people on the street were only interested in selling me things or ripping me off. I'm certainly happy to say that my experience that first night was most definitely not what I have come to know as the norm. Sure there are people trying to bug you to buy things all over, but if you just ignore them (literally), they will go away. After a few days they just wont even bother with you at all. I think they may have back alley meetings at the end of the day. "The big guy with the funny hair, he no want nothing." The city of Saigon is a vibrant and intriguing place. The constant whizzing by of the moto's, the proud streetside pho vendors who are all to willing to introduce you to the glory of Vietnamese cuisine, and the overall feeling that you get after a couple of days here.

Yesterday I took a bus trip to the Chu Chi tunnels. These are the famous underground passageways that the Vietcong created during the American war. I am quite abject normally to taking organized tours of anything, but I had met a couple of guys at the bia hoi (fresh beer) joint down the street and decided it was better than going at it alone. It truly amazes me when surrounded by other tourists; how hell bent some people seem to be on having a bad time. On the way to the tunnels the bus stopped so we could "see the local crafts people." You would have thought the bus had been hit by a missle and these people had limbs hanging off. Every tour ive ever been on of this nature does the exact same thing every time. Its designed to squeeze money out of you people. You payed 5 bucks for a guided day tour on an AC bus, who cares if you lose an extra 20 minutes!?!? The tour started off with what we will call an instructional video. Anyway, I now know that I am an evil American capitalist pig dog! Horay for the educational benefits of world travel! After going down into the tunnel entrances hidden in the jungle, it was time for a bit of action. This comes in the form of a firing range. They had a wide variety of guns, but I decided to indulge my World War II fantasies and fire ten rounds from an M1 rifle. Quite proud to say that I was the only one in the group to take down the small targets laid about 50 yards down field. The pictures are amazing, and I'll get them online as soon as I can.

Today I wandered around the famous Ben Than Market. Well I say wandered around, but ate my way around is really a much more accurate description. I was on a quest to follow in Tony Bourdain's footsteps and eat Hot Vit Long, or fetal duck egg. I think they call it Balut in the Philippine's. Its basically a duck egg that is matured to the stage of fetus, and then hard boiled. Sounds yummy, no? Well sadly I was out of luck, but there is another market up the street where I may have a better chance tomorrow. I also enjoyed some snake wine at a local watering hole. Any takers?

Tokyo - Shibuya - Summer 2008

So last night I met up with a Gaz, whom I was hooked up with through a mutual friend. He was the best guide I could have possibly hoped for, and a really cool guy. I was given a look around some local spots in Shibuya I would have never seen wandering on my own. It always pays to go out with a local. I only wish that I had taken more photos throughout the night, but I guess that just shows how much fun we were having.

Shibuya at night is pure sensory overload. The sights, the people, it's pure Japan and I loved every minute of it. We started the night out at an Izakaya that was jammed to the gills with Japanese students that seemed to only have the ability to chug whatever was in front of them, then go puke, then repeat. It was loud, disorderly, not at all what I thought I would see in Japan, and an excellent experience. The simple sushi platter we ordered was far and away the best sushi I have ever had, and every sushi experience in the states from now on will pale in comparison. Know one thing. If you eat fish in Japan, any fish; it's better than what you are eating in the rest of the world. Fresh, fresh, fresh.

After this we met up with a few of Gaz's co-workers at an Irish style pub. It had an outdoor balcony that looked out onto Shibuyu, and was quite traditional for a foreign pub. The night finished as most nights out in across Asia do, with karaoke! After butchering some Billy Idol and Meatloaf songs, it was time to head home.

I was just in time to make one of the last running subway trains of the evening, but unfortunately after only a few stops the train came to a halt and I was told it was done for the night. I walked out of the station to reluctantly grab a cab back to the hostel. I certainly didn't have any clue how to get back and I was just praying that I would be able to explain where I was trying to go. Getting back wasn't a problem at all, but the cost of the taxi was shocking. It cost me around $38 US to travel about 4 miles. So if you come to Tokyo, support public transportation.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bourdain Coming to Baltimore!

I am both extremely excited and totally let down that this man is coming to my town. Excited because I think Anthony Bourdain is the greatest writer in the world, and saddened because I won't be able to attend the talk due to previous obligations on that day. Eric Ripert is also one of the chefs I most admire. The two of them together on stage should be nothing short of magical.

Press Release from the Hippodrome Website:

The infamously grumpy, sharp-tongued host of NO RESERVATIONS, Anthony Bourdain, is coming to the Hippodrome Theatre on May 22. Anthony Bourdain is the acclaimed TV personality, best-selling author, public speaker, weary world traveler, gourmand, punk-rock aficionado, proud New Yorker and, most recently, doting father. Eric Ripert, Chef and author and host of PBS' Avec Eric has been honing his talents at the three-star Michelin restaurant Le Bernardin, as executive chef and co-owner, for the last 18 years.
NO RESERVATIONS - AN EVENING WITH ANTHONY BOURDAIN AND ERIC RIPERT is a frank and provocative back and forth about what really goes on behind the kitchen doors - from both ends of the spectrum. Through illustrative anecdotes, stories and a Q & A, the night will include highlights from Eric's career and lurid lowlights from Tony's career and gives you a real-world understanding of what it takes to survive in the cutthroat culture of fine dining restaurants. The frequent tag team have appeared often together - at the Gourmet Institute, on Martha Stewart, the 92nd Street Y in NYC. Both have been regular judges on Top Chef. They have little else in common, other than friendship.

NO RESERVATIONS will be followed by THE HIPPODROME THEATRE'S first ever FOODIE EXPERIENCE. Baltimore's Top restaurants including Woodberry Kitchen, The Wine Market, Dogwood, and more will be sampling gourmet menu items. Come taste wine and spirits from around the world while mingling with your fellow foodies, Anthony and Eric in the best venue in Baltimore!

Price Range: $29-250*

$250 Ticket includes a Meet and Greet with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert as well as access to the HIPPODROME FOODIE EXPERIENCE.

$89 Ticket includes access to the HIPPODROME FOODIE EXPERIENCE.

Event times:22 May 2010 (Sat)
8:00 PM
Ticket Information:Tickets on sale now!

Call 410.547.SEAT
Come into our Box Office Mon-Sat 11a-3p

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bacon Obsession - Planters Smoky Bacon Peanuts

Everyone enjoys peanuts, right? I certainly always have. Recently someone thoughtfully gave me a bag of the new smoky bacon flavored peanuts by Planters. I have had the bag in my possesion for about three hours now, and I have knocked out more than half of it. Addicting and delicious. From what I have read online, this flavor is part of a series of new BOLD flavors from Planters. Wasabi anyone? If any of the others are half as good as bacon flavor, I am in.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pollo Amigo - Towson, MD

Great Peruvian chicken places are littered all over the D.C area, but here in Baltimore, the offerings are much more sparse. In fact, the only one that I am aware of, is Pollo Amigo in Towson. There isn't much in the way of ambiance that this small strip mall eatery offers, but we are here for the food, dining room be damned.

The menu offers an interesting selection of authentic Mexican and Peruvian offerings. The Peruvian rotisserie chicken is without a doubt, the head attraction for most first time visitors, and it does not let down.

I ordered the half chicken platter ($6.95,) which came along with two sides. I went for beans and fried yucca (I wrote plantains before, what was I thinking?!?!). The chicken was moist and delicate - delicious in every way possible. Then there is the skin. My god the skin! Covered with a mixture of spices and seasonings that compliment the crispy, fatty texture of the surface in the best way.
Kim opted for the Carnitas Tacos($7.95). Actually, this is a lie. I ordered everything that I thought sounded good under the agreement that we would share. I was very happy to see the tacos were double wrapped and served with a side of pico de gallo in the traditional style. Very simple, very traditional, very tasty.

For the price of this amazing food and the portions delivered; I cannot fathom why anyone would ever eat generic chain-made, frozen, bland, sub par Latin food.

Pollo Amigo
714 York Road
Towson,MD 21204

Pollo Amigo on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jasmine Asian Bistro - Timonium, MD

We received a gift certificate to this newly opened restaurant in Timonium for Xmas and thought it was time to give it a whirl. Jasmine was previously open in Towson where my beloved Pho Dat Thanh now resides. Seeing as they had failed in the previous location, my expectations were not incredibly high. My impressions at the end of the meal were somewhat of a mixed bag.

Walking in to the new space, it is clear that the owners have invested a great deal to make sure the area is aesthetically pleasing. There is a great deal of intricate woodwork throughout the restaurant with simple details that create a warm environment. Outside of the normal booth and table seating, Jasmine also offers tatami rooms. These are the small private Japanese style rooms with shoeless floor seating. This alone will undoubtedly attract a curious crowd.

Generally it does not speak well of a place that tries to do too many things at once. The menu at Jasmine is advertised as a mix of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai offerings. I admire the aspiration to do a little bit of everything, but I think doing one thing well makes you just as special.

We started the meal with a Spicy Korean Soup and Thai Beef Salad. The soup was spicy as promised, and had a whole assortment of meats, seafood, and veggies. The only thing that tasted traditionally Korean was the broth, but it was still a nice start to the meal. The Thai beef salad consisted of a pleasantly med-rare sliced steak over some assorted vegetables. It was about as westernized as Asian food can get, but the steak was nice.

For entrees we chose the Thai Red Curry with Chicken and Crispy Sesame Tofu. I requested the curry to be as spicy as possible, but as often happens, I was given the white boy heat. Flavors in the curry were mostly spot on accurate to what I was expecting. The use of spice and seasoning could have lifted the dish to the next level, and yet I feel as though the kitchen purposely holds back. The tofu dish was actually something I would order again. It was not overly sweet and was properly fried. The portions of both dishes were more than either of us could finish and one dish probably could have fed both of us.

Just to make sure we had hit every major region of Asia during the meal, we ordered a bottle of Sake to accompany the food. The waitress was very supportive of our decision, and the sake was quite nice. Jasmine boasts a full bar and a very respectable selection of different Sake. What really perplexed me was the inclusion of a variety of Tiki drinks on the alcohol menu. I can only picture the conversation that led to that one. "Americans love drinks with umbrellas served in huge heads! Remember the sixties?!?"

I had a difficult time being my normal judgmental and embittered self when it came to Jasmine. The staff and service were incredibly pleasant and accommodating. The owner even stopped by our table to ask how everything was and inquired as to how we had learned of their opening. It's quite clear that they are making a very heartfelt attempt at putting their best foot forward with every aspect of the restaurant and I applaud the effort.

If you're an admitted snob when it comes to Asian food like me; and demand authenticity, then this place may not be for you. For the more casual diner, I think Jasmine will find a loyal following. With the exertion they seem to be putting forward thus far, they deserve to find one.

Jasmine Asian Bistro
(410) 252-5672
2141 York Rd
Timonium, MD 21093

Jasmine Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon