Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bon Chon Korean Fried Chicken, Annandale, VA

I went to Bon Chon Korean fried chicken in Annandale, VA. As with all such places, the fried chicken takes at least 20-30 minutes to prepare, so we called ahead our order to cut down on the wait time.
We ordered wings in both flavors they offer- the soy garlic and the spicy version as well. They were both amazing and delicious with their crispy skins and juicy interior.
I brought some friends who had never had this style of wings before and they were blown away. I also liked the side of pickled daikon that came with the wings.
We also ordered the dduk bok-kee, the spicy rice dumplings. Theirs came with pieces of fish cake mixed in. Also really good.

6653 Little River Tpke
Annandale, VA‎
(703) 750-1424‎

Chicken Around Baltimore

In the past week, it's been about trying some chicken places around Baltimore. First, I went to Perchi's Peruvian style rotisserie chicken in Glen Burnie, MD. Their chicken is roasted over charcoal, and the result is a nice smokey and well seasoned bird. For sides, I tried the black beans, rice, and yuca. Perchi's includes as condiments a spicy green salsa and a nice yellow mayo.
This year, the Baltimore City Paper rated the fried chicken at the Prettyboy Market in Freeland, MD as the best of Baltimore. The place is a nondescript gas station with a market and deli inside. I tried the fried chicken- it was delicious- seasoned really well and nice and juicy inside. They had several sides to choose from including mac & cheese. I had the corn pudding. Not sure if it's worth a trek out there just for the chicken, but if you need to travel up 83 to PA, it's worth a stop.

103 Crain Hwy N
Glen Burnie, MD‎
(410) 787-0052‎

Prettyboy Market
20200 Middletown Road
Freeland, MD
(410) 329-6420

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fiesta Grill, Chapel Hill, NC

In 2007, Gourmet magazine had a profile of the Mexican and Latin American restaurant scene in the Raleigh-Durham triangle of North Carolina. When I was visiting this past weekend, I went to a place mentioned in that article, Fiesta Grill along a highway in Chapel Hill.
I started with a carnitas taco with a corn tortilla. I would have liked the tortilla to have been a little fresher, but the carnitas was delicious. They gave a generous portion that was very flavorful.
Since it was Sunday, I got a bowl of menudo to sample with the meal. The tripe was delicious, and the soup was savory- not spicy though. I added a little hot sauce to give it the kick I like.
My favorite item was the pork tamal. It was smothered in a brown sauce and cheese. The tamal was moist and delicious.
Kelly got the vegetable quesadilla which was impressive- the tortilla must have been 18 inches in diameter and it was packed with squash, peppers, mushrooms and cheese.

Fiesta Grill
3307 Nc Highway 54 W
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 928-9002

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Acme Food & Beverage in Carrboro, NC

I went with Kelly to Acme Restaurant in Carrboro, NC this past weekend. It's a restaurant that serves local food with nice Southern flavors.
We started by sharing a soup of curried apple topped with crème fraîche. The flavor reminded us of autumn - it was warm, sweet, and spicy.

The menu has a nice selection of small and large plates that you can mix and match as appetizers or entrees. Kelly got the spaghetti squash with roast beets, goat cheese, corn, and arugula pesto.
My dish was the pecan crusted fried chicken smothered with a wild mushroom gravy and served with Yukon mashed potatoes and butter beans. Both dishes were delicious and the ingredients were really fresh.
To drink, I had a Foothills Rainbow Trout ESB from Winston-Salem, NC- it was nice.

For dessert, we shared a twin crusted apple pie with vanilla ice cream- also outstanding.
Acme has a real neighborhood feel to it and definitely worth trying out again.

Acme Food & Beverage Co.
110 East Main Street Carrboro, NC 27510
(919) 929-ACME

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Los Pinos, Cream Ridge, NJ

We were at Six Flags Great Adventure and spotted a Mexican place in a teeny strip mall down the street. It was a total crap shoot, but ended up being pretty good. I got mole poblano -- the chicken was pounded thin and tender, the crema was delicious (so much better than American sour cream), good beans and rice -- total comfort food. Redneckhunter got Bistec Mexicana, which came with a stack of corn tortillas -- he gobbled it up with everything mixed together and wrapped in tortillas.

Only complaint was the salsa they brought out to the table with chips - way too sweet... Probably the chef has a bit of sweet tooth, as everything (the mole, the sauce on redneckhunter's steak) was just a little on the sweet side.

Los Pinos
571 Monmouth Rd
Cream Ridge, NJ 08514

Ray's Hell Burger, Arlington, VA

DC is currently the place to get seriously amazing hamburgers. There's a burger place opened by Spike from the last Top Chef series.
However, the best place in town might be Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington. In the same strip as Ray's The Steaks, this unmarked burger place makes burgers- that's it. For a reasonable price, you get a 10 oz burger with your choice of toppings. For a little extra, you can get a cheese of a choice ranging from cheddar to epoises. There are some preparations and toppings as well including au poivre, foie gras and bone marrow.
Pictured are a few specialty burgers: The Mack (like a Big Mac with its own special sauce) , Soul Burger Number One (a bacon mushroom burger), and B.I.G. Poppa (au poivre with blue cheese and mushroom).

1713 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22209

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thai Tida, Lambertville, NJ

We have a severe lack of good Thai food in our area, so I was happy to go try Thai Tida in Lambertville. We only got to try a couple of dishes, but they were intriguing enough to warrant a repeat visit to try some more standbys.

We started off with a bunch of appetizers - chicken satay, spring rolls, and these stuffed chicken wings in which the wings were deboned, the meat removed, minced, and mixed with spices, then restuffed into the wing under the skin. You gotta love how the Asians "play" with meat.

I ordered my entree from the section of the menu subtitled, "Family favorites, requests from friends: dishes we can recommend for your kind consideration" -- Hoi Ob Song Kruang, steamed mussels with Thai herbs, with curry on the side for dipping. The broth was delicious and full of Thai basil flavor. Redneckhunter got a perennial favorite - drunken noodles (Pad Kee Miow Gai). This of course was not nearly as good as Sripraphai, but redneckhunter still enjoyed it. I want to go back again and try some other favorites -- larb, green papaya salad.

Since it was our friend's birthday, the restaurant brought out coconut pudding and sweet sticky rice with coconut milk for her.

Thai Tida
236 North Union Street
Lambertville, NJ 08540

ph: 609-397-6701

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Late Night Dinner At Joung Kak Korean BBQ, Baltimore

This past weekend, later in the evening, I met up with some local foodie friends for Korean BBQ at Joung Kak in the Charles North section of Baltimore. This 24 hour Korean BBQ place is unique in that the grills are heated by charcoal, which really turns up the flavor over places that use gas grills.
Of course with every Korean meal, you get a numerous variety of small plates including kim chi, chap chae, steamed egg, soup, pickles, and fish.

We ordered a variety of meats including kalbi, bulgolgi, pork, and tripe. Cooking with the charcoal was really good, and this was also the first time I've had tripe at Korean BBQ. It's good with the salty sesame oil.
We also got one of the hot pots- we chose one with kimchi, sausages, and SPAM. It also had sticky rice cakes (nian gao). It was nice because the SPAM was like a meat sponge absorbing the flavor from the soup.

18 W. 20th St.
Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 837-5231

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wegman's Cooking Class with Jason Ambrose of Salt

I went to Wegman's in Hunt Valley last week to go to their monthly cooking demo with area chefs. This time, it was the chef for Salt, Jason Ambrose. The program is nice because you get to sample each of the dishes as he demonstrates how they're made.
He started making a corn and oyster chowder which was nice in that he added some chipotle to give it a nice bite to it.

For a salad, he combined edamame, sweet peas, chickpeas, roasted peppers, gorgonzola, and watercress with a lemon vinagrette. The taste was really fresh, and interesting in that he chose two Asian flavors.

For the main entree, he made a stroganoff with braised lamb. The lamb was really nicely prepared- soft, falling apart, and tasty.
For dessert, he made a goat cheese doughnut topped with honey and vanilla sea salt. It was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I loved how the sweet and salty flavors combined.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jim's Steaks, Philadelphia

We were at Jim's Steaks on South St. in Philadelphia recently. Their cheesesteak is good- personally, I prefer mine with Whiz and mushrooms. The bread is also good, with a nice crust.
See, even Dustin Nguyen agrees.

400 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 928-1911

Friday, October 03, 2008

Restaurant Donde Luis, Trenton NJ

Debbie's friend Carlos took us to a Costa Rican restaurant in Trenton called Donde Luis. Redneckhunter, Kim, and I arrived first and entered through the bar. It was like a movie - the music stopped, and the bar patrons turned to look at us like "You're not from around here." When the waitress took us to our table, she was a bit concerned, "Do you speak Spanish?" she asked, because she only spoke a little English. We assured her that the Spanish speaker was on his way.

Debbie and Carlos arrived shortly and took over the ordering. We started with ceviche tico de pescado (costa rican fish ceviche). Then we got two of the soups, really more like stews: the sopa marinera (seafood soup with rice), a house specialty); olla de carne (meat soup with rice). The seafood soup had a delicious broth flavored by crab, fish, squid, and clams. I could have just kept eating the broth with rice all night. The meat soup had yucca, chayote, and corn, along with hunks of beef. Both of the soups were big enough for a full meal, perfect for sharing.

We also got an order of arroz con pollo, and we shared 2 platters -- Churrasco con camarones en salsa diana (sirloin steak with shrimp in yellow cream sauce), and Bisteck encebollado (Costa Rican plate with beef steak).

The churrasco was really tasty. Rice and beans were perfect with some of the spicy sauce they brought to the table - really nice kick.

Throughout our meal, we'd hear cheers and shouts from the bar in response to the futbol game on the TV, but the party really started kicking up in the bar when the karaoke started. The waitress brought out the list for us to peruse - I think I only found 3 songs in English I could have sung - Christina Aguilera, Lou Vega's Mambo No. 5, and Mariah Carey.

Donde Luis
346 Emory Ave
Trenton, NJ

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Girls Cooking Night: Lobster

Our last girls cooking night didn't have a theme per se, but everything revolved around Marian coming back from Maine with live lobsters. I made gougeres -- basically French cheesy poufs.

They're made by bringing butter and milk to a boil, then mixing in flour to create a choux pastry like the kind used for cream puffs, only seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. Then 2 cups of cheese are mixed in. They were delicious, but next time I will be less lazy. After grating a cup and a half of gruyere by hand on the microplaner, for the remaining 1/2 cup, I just used coarse grated parmegianno. I think they'd be prettier and fluffier if it had all been finely grated cheese.

The lobster was sweet and delicious, accompanied by a salad. It was the perfect end to the summer. Followed by Brownie's pumpkin cheesecake, welcoming us into the Fall