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

Phillip Tang Strikes Again

East by Northeast's pedigree has had hounds salivating for months: the chef is Phillip Tang, late of T.W. Food and Hungry Mother. There have also been intriguing bits of information dangled in local publications (Tang gets whole pigs from Vermont!) that amped up the anticipation.

Well, now it's open. Was it worth the advance buzz? Yeah, says DoubleMan, an early adopter: "Given the quality of the food and the lack of hiccups in service during the first week, this place definitely has the potential to be something really special. I can't wait to go back."

The focus is on small plates, with a small but carefully considered list of cocktails and beer to accompany them. Prices are quite low ($4 to $10 per plate), but portions are correspondingly tiny, expect to order several dishes per person. The regular menu is short, but there are normally at least three specials on offer as well.

Recommended items include:

• Housemade dumplings, particularly the shrimp.
• Smoked pork meatball noodle soup, with a savory/smoky broth and "toothsome" noodles, according to DoubleMan
• Crispy Maine shrimp: "actually crispy," reports barleywino
• Pickled daikon, beets, and rutabaga
Man tou bread with pork belly: "It compared well to the exemplary version of the dish at Shangri-La in Belmont, but had a deeper pork flavor with a great crispness on the edges," says DoubleMan

East by Northeast [Cambridge]
1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
617-876-0286

Discuss: East by Northeast - Open

Overheard on the Boston Boards

"I do know they make all their own bread and one has to think that if a sub shop cares enough to make their own bread daily, the pizza can't be half bad." - cannedmilkandfruitypebbles on Spencer Pizza House

"To my suprise, the sushi was really fresh! ... The best part is the price! At half off, 20 pieces a la carte is only 20 bucks." - Iron Chow on Zen 320

"In addition to the coucous, there were nicely stewed root vegetables (carrot, orange squash, yam) and cold olives, eggplant purée, fattoush salad and potatoes that together with the nicely spiced lamb, made for a lots of nice flavors." - gourmaniac on Crispy Crepes Cafe

Big Shout Out to Kolbeh of Kabob

"I noticed that no one's really giving much love to Kolbeh on these boards. I just wanted to give a shout out and say that their food is awesome," says caserole. Pick of the litter is the rice, which is "like a dream" according to caserole: "I didn't even know rice could be that enjoyable before eating theirs. Each little grain is cooked to perfection." The grilled meats and bread are good, and the falafel is also above par, "crispy outside with a really fresh-tasting inside."

caserole thinks the atmosphere still reeks of the sub shops that used to fill the space, and that the pricing is a bit off: "Basically, it's a little too expensive to just be the go-to 'I don't want to cook tonight' place. But it isn't fancy enough to make the cut for a special occasion place." However, it doesn't seem to bother the crowds of Middle Eastern families who go there.

Kolbeh of Kabob [Cambridge]
1500 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
617-876-9400

Discuss: Kolbeh of Kabob - Persian food

Deleted Dollar Signs Spell Bigger Profit

This just in from the terrifying world of neurobiological marketing: The human brain can be fooled into spending more money if you just omit any reference to dollars on your menu. Neuromarketing, a blog "Where Brain Science and Marketing Meet," reports on a Cornell study that looked at three restaurant price display techniques:

• Numerical with Dollar Sign: $12.00
• Numerical without Dollar Sign or Decimals: 12
• Written: twelve dollars

The researchers expected that the written/scripted prices would perform best, but they found that "the guests with the simple numeral prices spent significantly more than the other two groups."

Therefore the trick to selling stuff is get people to forget they're spending money.

Image source: Flickr member cuttlefish under Creative Commons

Old-School Seafood Charms

Seafare Inn has had the "same location, family ownership and, largely, clientele for nearly 50 years," says degustateur. They serve really fine seafood and some rare jewels of the sea, like fresh John Dory, shark, abalone, whole-body Ipswich clams, sand dabs, and homemade pickled herring. Delicious, plump, fresh oysters are a mere $13 a dozen, and the crab sandwiches are made with pure crab, no filler. In addition, the fried, battered shrimp are "second to none," says degustateur. There are daily specials. There are great chowders. There is excellent, mayo-less pickled coleslaw.

The Seafare Inn is a glorious old throwback to an earlier era—those hankering for a Midwestern sort of vibe might be deeply happy here. degustateur has been going here for 25 years without a single disappointment. And, says degustateur, the best day to go is Tuesday.

Seafare Inn [San Gabriel Valley]
16363 Whittier Boulevard, Whittier
562-947-6645

Discuss: MINI-REVIEW: Seafare Inn—Whittier's Heirloom of the Sea Seafare Inn

Vietnamese Without Fluorescent Lights

If you're leery of Vietnamese food on plastic tables and under fluorescent lights, go to Brodard Chateau. It could be, like, a steakhouse or something, all solid wood and friendly service.

Salt-pepper calamari is "nothing short of outstanding," says lil mikey, with large, delicate rings of fried calamari. Sole noodle soup is light, with large, tender pieces of sole in sea bass broth.

But the real winner is sea bass curry: large slices of shiitake mushrooms cooked to a perfect texture, with beautifully tender fish. The curry sauce itself is "so full of creamy curry flavor that it made you want to just drink from the bowl…which was a good thing, as it’s served with that excellent baguette that they make banh mi with," says lil mikey.

Brodard Chateau [Little Saigon]
9100 Trask Avenue, Garden Grove
714-899-8273

Discuss: Brodard Chateau—Upscale French Vietnamese in Garden Grove

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"There is a tiny, fantastic Armenian gem in Little Armenia on Santa Monica Blvd where it meets the Hollywood Freeway—The Golden Fork. Fantastic home cooked food—great grilled fish and meat platters." - Jeryy

"The cheeseburger at Clancy's on Central Ave is one of the little-known gems in the burger world... fantastic!" - mrshankly

"The best fish fry I have found is Harbor Fish just south of OC at 3179 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad. Outstanding!" - JeetJet

The Reubenesque Sandwich

Servorg has loved, and continues to love, the grilled Reubenesque Sandwich at R+D Kitchen. "This is one very filling sandwich that kept me eating until there wasn't a scrap left," says Servorg. It's "grilled corn rye with THE most tender and delectable corned beef layered with slightly sweet, mayo infused slaw," explains Servorg.

The fries are hot and perfect, too. And mimosas and excellent Bloody Marys are only $5 during the day on weekends, says mollyomormon. And if you want it spicy, they'll happily provide a whole bowl of freshly grated horseradish for you to garnish to your pleasure.

R+D Kitchen [Westside - Beaches]
1323 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica
310-395-3314

Discuss: Rubenesque Sandwich R&D Kitchen—Lunch Yesterday

New iPhone App Finds You Free Fruit

The people behind the website Neighborhood Fruit have just released an iPhone app called Find Fruit. The premise sounds pretty good: You are wandering the streets, want a snack, get out your phone, and it will tell you the closest public fruit trees to your location.

The app is 99 cents and currently covers Austin, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland (Oregon), San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Fe, and Seattle, but more trees are being updated daily according to the press release. When we tested it at CHOW HQ, we thought that the database was still in need of more trees, but overall we thought it was a good app, and liked features like the ability to filter trees by what is in season, and to get directions from our location to our tree of choice. Who knew there were a bunch of guavas waiting to be picked in San Francisco?

Olive Penguins, At Your Service

Serious Eats does all of us hosts and hostesses a major solid by providing clear and simple directions for creating almost savagely charming little olive-carrot-and-mozzarella penguins. And if you're finding yourself getting into the whole food-as-art thing, how about bento box art objects, a crazy melon-swan fruit bowl, cheese sculptures, or a zany pineapple-based gator? The Internet: It's chockablock with nutty food art.

Image source: Flickr member gamene under Creative Commons