The CHOW Blog rss

Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

At Raoul’s, Belly Up to the Bar Steak

The durable Soho bistro Raoul’s has a dependable crowd-pleaser in its bar steak. Flavorful and faultlessly cooked, it comes with a heap of good fries, a mesclun salad, and a basket of crusty baguette with sweet butter. Great steak, inviting neighborhood vibe, and a decent deal at $22, reports chow_gal. “It is one of my simple pleasures in life,” declares Sweatshirt Guy.

Raoul’s Restaurant [Soho]
180 Prince St., between Sullivan and Thompson, Manhattan
212-966-3518
Locater

Board Links

Bar Steak at Raoul’s–SOHO

Dim Sum Diary

In the run-up to the holidays, it seems like a while since we’ve talked about dim sum. Clare K hit Triumphal Palace recently and left about as stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey.

Spare ribs in black bean sauce look more like nubs of bone with a little meat on them than the kind of spareribs you can pick up with your fingers, but they’re wonderfully chewy, fatty, and flavorful–everything there is to love about pork.

  • Shrimp egg roll is just juicy shrimp and crispy fried egg roll skin, without a speck of grease.
  • Steamed BBQ pork bun is light as a cloud, filled with the sweet and savory pork mixture.
  • Pork shiu mai are moist and plump with shrimp and ground pork–delicious.
  • Pan fried turnip cake has nice tangy turnip flavor to contrast with the thin, fried crust.
  • Barbecued duck here ranks among the best, says cfylong, with crispy skin and moist, flavorful meat.

henrychan888 highly recommends the Szechuan eggplant hot pot.

Two can eat very well for less than $30. There are no carts–instead you look at the menu and fill out a form. No more worrying about flagging down your favorite items.

New Capital has wonderful dim sum, says cfylong. It’s really fresh and comes on carts. Banquet dinners are gloriously excessive, and seafood generally stars. Lobster in green onion sauce is fab, and so is steamed rock cod.

Triumphal Palace [San Gabriel Valley]
500 W Main St., at Fifth, Alhambra
626-308-3222
Locater

New Capital Seafood [San Gabriel Valley]
7540 Garvey Ave., Rosemead
626-288-1899
Locater

Board Links

Triumphal Palace dim sum in Alhambra–thank you ‘hounds!

New Capital Seafood Restaurant on Garvey: Any recent experiences/recommended dishes? Going 2nite.

A Good Hard-Shell Taco Is Hard to Find in Silverlake

A good hard-shell taco is a rare beast these days, especially in Silverlake. But DanaB was pleasantly surprised by Rick’s, a dive with a makeshift drive-through right near the 5 Freeway.

“The hard-shell taco was everything I’d want it to be–home-fried shell, kind of casually tasty meat, but stuffed with cheese, tomato, and lettuce, and served with a tasty red chile sauce. It was good. It was actually very good.”

Other than the tacos, the burgers are on par with Fatburger, and their chili cheese fries (with their chunky, meaty chili) are better. Onion rings and veggie burgers come off surprisingly well.

Cheap, tasty breakfasts are also popular–about $5 will fill you up. Try the breakfast burrito with bacon, or chorizo with eggs. Their potatoes are tops.

Rick’s Drive In & Out [Silverlake]
2400 Fletcher Dr., at Riverside Dr., Los Angeles
323-660-5988
Locater

Board Links

I found the hard shell taco place in Silverlake —Ricks.

Thin Super-Cheesy Omelette for Two, and a Nifty Omelette Cooking Tip

niki rothman has achieved her own platonic ideal of an omelette at home, and she wants to share it with you. It’s golden yellow, with not a touch of brown, with 1/4-inch thick layers of egg folded around a stunning half-pound of cheese. “It’s beautiful, delicate, tender,” she raves. Here’s how:

Use a fork to beat 4 eggs with about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of water. Grate 8 oz. cheese of your choice. Melt about 1 Tbsp. butter to cover bottom of a 12-inch non-stick pan over very low heat. Pour in the eggs, and cover with a flat (not domed) lid. Do not uncover for 5 minutes; when eggs appear set, spread on the cheese and some very thinly sliced scallions if you like, cover, and turn off the heat. After 2 to 3 minutes, fold the omelet in half with a wide spatula to enclose the melted cheese, and serve.

Here’s a great tip for those who prefer to cook their omelettes on both sides before adding fillings, courtesy of korriekiss’s teenage sons: You’ll need two skillets, one to cook your omelette in, and a second that’s greased (use oil, or the pan you’ve cooked your bacon in) and heating. After heating the buttered omelette pan and pouring the eggs in, crank the heat on the second pan and when it’s almost smoking, put it on top of the omelette pan and turn both burners off. The omelette cooks from both sides this way; in a couple minutes, take the top pan off, top with cheese/toppings and fold the omelette in half–it’s done.

Board Links

How to Make a Perfect Omelet–So Easy

Best Bread(s) for French Toast

Top chowhound votegetter for perfect French toast bread is challah, sliced thick. It’s appreciated for its ability to really soak up the eggy batter and form a slightly crunchy crust in the pan and keep a soft, eggy interior. A close runner up is King’s Hawaiian bread, another egg bread that’s slightly sweet. Other hound recommendations include brioche, Portuguese sweet bread (which is similar to King’s Hawaiian), bread from Chinese bakeries, and for a super-rich variation, croissants. This time of year, great French toast can be made with pannetone, the rich Italian sweet bread made with preserved fruit and candied orange peel, available imported and often made by local Italian bakeries.

Board Links

Best Bread for French Toast?

Pumpkins

All pumpkins aren’t created equal when it comes to pie-making.

The decorative pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns is bred to have a thin outer skin so they’re easier to carve. They’re watery, stringy and not particularly sweet, Karen_Schaffer explains. Winter Luxury Pie is the best variety for pie making, she says. Sugar Pie pumpkins make good pies too. The best way to test for a good pumpkin is to taste a bit of it raw. The better it tastes raw, the better it will be once cooked. Robert Lauriston says the best pie squash is the butternut.

Squash varieties with pictures.

Board Links

About Pumpkin Varieties

alright, i need a pumpkin pie recipe using fresh pumpkin….....anyone???

Hershey’s Has Gone Bananas over Elvis!

The interwebs are abuzz with the news that Hershey’s is rolling out an Elvis-inspired confection that’s fit for a King.

In honor of Presley’s 30 consecutive years of probably being dead, the chocolatier to the masses is releasing chocolate peanut butter cups topped off with a sinfully delicious layer of banana cream. Whether in mini, regular, or (of course!) king size, every cup is a loving tribute to the fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches that Elvis gorged himself upon during his tragic parabolic descent toward a drug-addled demise.

Expect the whimsical memorial treat to hit the shelves next July.

Does It Matter Whether You Use a Glass or Metal Baking Dish?

Does It Matter Whether You Use a Glass or Metal Baking Dish?

It depends on what you're making. READ MORE

The Cookies Didn’t Last a Day

San Francisco bus stops are cookie free today after an advertising campaign that infused the scent of chocolate chip cookies into city bus shelters has been shut down. Hungry commuters will have to sniff elsewhere.

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, the California Milk Processor Board-sponsored ad campaign (the “Got Milk?” folks) gambled that the cookie scent would inspire a craving for a nice glass of cold milk (Pavlov would be so proud). The fragrance came from strips infused with cookie scent that were affixed to several bus stops in the city.

But the Municipal Transportation Agency, under pressure from activists concerned about those with scent or chemical sensitivities, called a halt to the program almost immediately. Now the transportation board is looking at banning all scented advertisements.

While some are calling it a victory for those with environmental illnesses, others are calling foul. At Slashfood, Nicole Weston points out, “Honestly, if you can’t handle the scent of chocolate chip cookies, how on earth can you handle taking a bus in a big city? Do these activists actually walk around San Francisco? It’s not the cleanest-smelling city in the world.”

This was the first attempt at outdoor scent-based advertising, and the sponsors knew it would likely be controversial. According to the Chronicle, “A spokeswoman for the board went as far as to say last week that if the campaign could fly in San Francisco, it could fly anywhere.” While the scented adverts were removed, the company that planned the promotion was quick to point out that the strips do not contain chemicals.

So it’s back to the smell of car exhaust and garbage at the bus stops; for that fresh-out-of-the-oven scent you’ll have to head to the bakery (I know, how boring). As for the dreamed-of run on milk, that was just never going to happen, cookie scent or no cookie scent.

But at least they earned the press they were looking for. Good job, guys. Want a cookie?

Wine Geek Boat Trip

New London, New Hampshire

After a day of swirling, spitting, and grasping for just the right flavor adjectives, today Jack and Thelma announced we’d be doing champagne brunch on a boat.


Deb and Jim, all bright-eyed and bloaty.


I catch Andy sneaking a soda.

Sixteen hung-over titans of industry in a small boat on a stormy lake might be a recipe for trouble …

But no problem, ‘cuz here comes Thelma:


(“Thelma,” obviously, spells fun.)

Champagne certainly helps!


Jack and Thelma.

Jack and Thelma get down to my funky solo trombone recital:

After the boat ride, we tore into a bunch of Burgundy. This is slightly shocking, as Jack and Thelma are staunch Bordeaux partisans. Their friends have long been trying to spark their Burgundy interest, and this year they’ve finally capitulated, arranging an informal Burgundy tasting at lunch.

It was a good chance to record some discussion of the two wine regions. You needn’t be a wine geek to enjoy the following discussions:

Podcast 1—MP3: Thelma contrasts Bordeaux with Burgundy.

Podcast 2—MP3: Thelma explains why Burgundies are more suited to big tastings (plus: the proper way to drink Bordeaux at a big tasting).

Podcast 3—MP3: Bob Feinn, owner of Mt. Carmel Wine and Spirits, is one of the most knowledgable experts in the country, and he (like a number of American wine lovers) has grown infatuated with Burgundy. Thelma and I lightheartedly argue with him as he tries to account for his preference.

Podcast 4—MP3: Debate resumed (with wine in hand), we get to the gist: It all boils down to diet.

Podcast 5—MP3: Thelma and I catch Jack waxing rhapsodic over a Burgundy, and I fear for their marriage (needlessly, it turns out).