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

Tea Drinkers Demand Equality

Coffee drinkers are taken seriously, so seriously that there's now a job title ("barista") for those who serve the brew. Tea drinkers are lucky if those same baristas even deign to drop their tea bag into the hot water. But not at these hound-recommended spots, where fine teas are given their proper due:

• Cardullo's Gourmet Shoppe in Cambridge has a large selection, including teas from Concord importer Mark T. Wendell.
• Tea Zone in Somerville is, as smtucker puts is, "a very nice shop. You could visit once, note which teas interest you, and they will do mail order for you as well."
• West Newton's Timeless Teas serves "some of the best tea that I have ever tasted," avows veggielover, and has a particular focus on teas from Ceylon.
• And finally, if all that fails, lipoff advises that Cynthia Gold, tea sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, will sell loose tea: "If you are really serious about tea it is worthwhile to arrange a tea tasting at the Swans Cafe at Park Plaza and talk to her about what teas you might enjoy."

Cardullo's Gourmet Shoppe [Cambridge]
6 Brattle Street, Cambridge

Tea Zone [North of Boston]
15 A Elm Street, Somerville

Timeless Teas [MetroWest]
15 Spencer Street, Newton

Swans Cafe at Park Plaza [Downtown]
50 Park Plaza, Boston

Discuss: Where to find a selection of loose tea? Real tea, not the fruity ones

Overheard on the Boston Boards

"Volle Nolle on Hanover in the North End makes a tasty Cuban sandwich ... lunch only. Not the same as 'authentic' South Florida, but very tasty." – 9lives

"Had excellent biscuits and gravy at Highland Kitchen's Sunday brunch. White gravy (needed more pepper) and lots of tasty sausage. Got mine topped with two perfectly fried eggs. Very good fluffy biscuits." – yumyum

"Sofra's in Watertown makes an orange blossom lemonade that is fantastic." – robertlf

Maker’s Mark 2.0

Maker's Mark, the internationally known producer of perfectly good, expertly marketed, slightly overpriced bourbon, is trotting out a new product. This is no big deal in the world of Pepsi, Coke, and Miller beer, where new brands and varieties roll out every 10 or 15 minutes to capitalize on some new flavor additive or highly touted, poorly established health benefit. But the new Maker's Mark product represents the first time in the distillery's 52-year history that it's rolled out a new line.


Where to Eat in Paris

I haven't lived in Paris for almost four years, and yet friends and family are constantly asking for food and restaurant recommendations. Of course I have my favorites, which I happily share with them, but it's always a niggling reminder that I haven't been back to these places in a long time and that I have little pulse on what's current in the Parisian food world besides checking in on a few blogs once in a while. READ MORE

Eat Well? Why, Thanks, I Will!

Most people interested in local and organic eating have the basics down pat: Stay out of the center aisles of the grocery store, sign up for a CSA, visit farmers' markets. But those simple systems tend to break down under anything besides day-to-day conditions, say, when you need to bring hot dogs to a barbecue or a birthday cake for your kid. It just seems easier to stop by the grocery store for something nonsustainable and factory-farmed. READ MORE

The Food Is Out to Get Him

This Funny or Die promo for the upcoming season of Man v. Food is moderately amusing, mostly because of the shot of the Fruit of the Loom apple guy guarding the torture room door at the end.

Gigantic, Perfect Korean Buns

Near kimchi specialist Seoul Do Soon Yi in Garden Grove, hounds have found Myung Im, another Korean hyperspecialist. The restaurant specializes in wang mandu, which are huge steamed white buns, very similar to Chinese baozi but much bigger. Like, one will probably fill you up. We're talking gigantic.

Myung Im cooks them to order, which is awesome, says Lau, because they come out superfresh. The steamed dough is fluffy, and not quite as sweet as the Chinese version. Fillings are excellent. The kimchi and meat dumpling involves quality ingredients, finely minced, in a perfect filling-to-bun ratio. Meat dumplings are even better: There are mushrooms in the filling, and you can really taste the quality of the meat.

Myung Im is in the food court at the H-Mart, and there are about six Korean specialists there. It takes 10 to 15 minutes for the buns to come, and Lau was told that for absolute primo enjoyment, you should wait an additional 15 minutes for them to fully steam out.

Myung Im [Little Saigon]
8911 Garden Grove Boulevard #3, Garden Grove

Discuss: Myung Im - awesome korean wang mandoo (gigantic steamed korean buns) in Garden Grove

Crispy Pork Belly in Silver Lake

"Wat Dong Moon Lek's pork belly with crispy spicy green beans is my new favorite thing to eat in Silver Lake," says Hershey Bomar. It's "crispy, crunchy, spicy, rich, sweet. I've gone back for the last two days in a row."

"This dish is all I ever get when going to Leks," says crema. It's the balance of basil, green bean, crispy pork, and spicy, lime-y intensity that does it. The owner once suggested that crema try the dish Thai style: with a fried egg on top. It is, indeed, supertasty that way, reports crema.

Other good dishes: Rambutan salad with coconut milk and fresh onions is light and really interesting, says Hershey Bomar. Larb tod is good, sort of like Indian pakoras. Wat Dong Moon Lek noodles come recommended, as do pork soup and Hainan chicken with rice.

"It's small and has a tight, focused menu and everything I've had there has been good to excellent," says soniabegonia.

Wat Dong Moon Lek [Silver Lake]
4356 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles

Discuss: Wat Dong Moon Lek's pork belly with crispy spicy green beans

A Kimchi Specialist in Garden Grove

Seoul Do Soon Yi Kimchi is a superb kimchi specialist. It's a tiny store, with a bunch of refrigerators filled with various types of kimchi. In large sizes. Be prepared to buy a lot of kimchi. Completely worth stopping by for their goods, says Lau.

Their regular kimchi is genuinely great. It's not overly sweet, with good flavor and spiciness. It's just solid kimchi, says Lau. Their kkakdugi (pickled daikon) is even better.

They also have shik hae, a sweet Korean rice drink that's yellowish, with bits of rice floating around. It's excellent: refreshing, with a very particularly correct texture of rice. "One of the better versions I've had in a long time," says Lau.

Seoul Do Soon Yi Kimchi [Little Saigon]
9972 Garden Grove Boulevard, Garden Grove

Discuss: Seoul Do Soon Yi Kimchi Co - awesome kimchi store in Garden Grove

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"Super Sal Market in Encino has a relatively newish and expanded hot food section at the front of their market. They now serve Israeli-style schwarma. By that I mean you can get it in a baguette and dressed with amba, pickled mango sauce, with all the accoutrements." - trojans

"I'll add another vote for Quan Hop for pho in a nicer setting. It was probably the first, non hole-in-the-wall Little Saigon pho shop where the kids driving M3's would take their dates for a nice, but cheap, date. They still have to make payments on that Beemer after all." - Professor Salt

"Their mayo-eggplant (babaganoush) in the cold case is the best I know in Los Angeles. They make it themselves and you can taste the a good way!" - liu on Eema's Market