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College visit...first time in Seattle!

Argosy Cruises runs a 2.5 hour tour through the Government Locks -- half by boat and half by bus. It leaves from downtown. It's a wonderful experience even for a long-time visitor -- good even in bad weather. You'll get to see a lot of Seattle you can't see from land.

Mar 30, 2015
EHBrown in Greater Seattle

Pisa - Osteria della Faggiola

Jen, Your tips are always fantastic. We ate lunch last Wednesday at Trattoria Sapienza in Naples. What a great place! I wanted to thank you for your always reliable reports across the years.

Oct 09, 2012
EHBrown in Italy

Driving through the SE on 95- any easy, must hit stops?

Dear Littleman,

Based on a random sampling, your list is absolutely wonderful. Your suggestions were excellent. We had a splendid lunch at Skippers Fish Camp in Darien, Georgia (wow, fish and grits..). What a beautiful location on the water. I sure would like to know the architectural history of those nearby grey, warehouse like buildings with the enormous buttresses. And, thanks to you, we had a fine southern buffet dinner at Fuller's Old Fashioned BBQ in Lumberton. We even liked the Rocky Mount Hampton Inn you suggested.

We thought about going to the Pink Restaurant in Rowland, NC, but their phone has been disconnected.

Thanks so much, Littleman. You sure do know your way around the I95 corridor.

Dec 31, 2010
EHBrown in Southeast

Recent Trip to China

The exact name of the restaurant in Beijing is Liu Zhai Shifu. It's at 8 Meishuguan Dongjie, opposite Sanlian Bookstore, Dongcheng, Centre. You should reserve your table.

Recent Trip to China

The restaurant was on the main road up to Mutianya, and we really liked it, but there are several restaurants that sure looked similar and I'll bet they are just fine. We only tried the one. And I'll try to get you an address for the restaurant in Beijing. The food was Beijing style (lots of oil, for example), but, to the extent I could understand the menu, certain dishes had certain health-related qualities.

Recent Trip to China

We try not to look too closely at the sanitary conditions of any restaurant or food stall where there is a big crowd of happy diners and the food is excellent. But, having said that, we suffered no ill effects from eating everything we could at Xiang Xiang Da Pen Ji and it remains a high culinary point of our trip. And, come to think about it, the conditions really didn't look that bad to me. Thanks for the link.

Recent Dining in India (continued)

Thanks again for your kind words, Jen. We were only in Aurangabad for about 24 hours, and one of our meals was at an unmemorable tourist road stop near the Ellora Caves (although the Caves, I might add, are totally memorable). But the one recommendation we had was to eat "the grill"at the Taj Residency Hotel where we were staying. As it turned out, there weren't enough guests in late May for them to light the grill, but we dined nevertheless under the stars on mixed kababs and muttar biryani and dal and a lovely cold bottle of Sula Chenin Blanc. We figured if we liked Indian beer we would like Indian wine, and we were right. I'm sorry we missed the grill, but the meal was delightful.

Jun 24, 2010
EHBrown in India & South Asia

Recent Trip to China

Yikes! It looks like I got the name of the fabulous chicken dish wrong. It's “Da Pan Ji” (大盘鸡). But it does translate as "Big Plate Chicken"

Recent Trip to China

We returned last month from a trip to India and China. I reported on some of the Indian restaurants we liked on the India Board, and I thought I would put down a few thoughts on some of the restaurants we liked in China here. We were in Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai.

My favorite restaurant in China was in Xi'an. The name is Xiang Xiang Da Pen Ji and it's at 264 Chang Yen Nan Lu (boy, I hope I wrote that down correctly). The speciality of the house is Badaling Chicken ("big plate chicken"). I think it would be worth a trip to China just to eat this dish. I learned about badaling chicken on Chowhound and other websites, but for the life of me I can't find a recipe for it on line, or a restaurant that makes it. If anyone knows of such a place, please do let me know.

"Big plate" chicken consists of a whole chicken (head and feet included), cut up and sauteed until it is deeply brown. It's served with delicious hand cut noodles mixed in, and hot peppers and, of course, the juices from the saute itself. This brief description is utterly inadequate, but it's the best I can do. I gather it is a speciality of Xi'an, but the guide told us that this restaurant is the best. The other Chinese diners were also eating badaling chicken at lunch time in this large and fairly modern establishment in a business neighborhood.

With our badaling chicken, we ate steamed buns made of buckwheat (the buns came in two colors: yellow and brown) with depressions in the buns into which you put diced duck meat and vegetables. We also ate a fantastic dish of "fungus with white walnuts" and, for dessert, sweet steamed buns served with thickened condensed milk for dipping the buns. Chinese whiskey was a good accompaniment to this meal, which cost (for 3 of us) about $17 and was a high point dining experience for me of all times.

We also had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant along the road from Beijing to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall As you drive along, you see lots of restaurants with adjacent ponds advertising fresh fish. Our guide told us that these country restaurants are very popular with Chinese families visiting the Wall. He selected the Mu Tian Yu Yu Kan Restaurant for a lovely late lunch at an outside table near the pond. Naturally, we ordered the fish.

The fish was a large trout (or at least it was described as a trout) plucked from the water as we watched. It was served roasted with cumin and was magnificent. And so was the spectacularly good wild chicken stewed with ginger and onion in a brown sauce, and the roasted eggplant with tomato and peppers and the dumplings stuffed with wild seasonal mountain vegetables (served with vinegar for dipping). This feast (including Tsing Tao beer, of course), for the two of us, and our guide and our driver (although hthe driver only ate noodles) was about $35.

In Shanghai, we had lunch at Chun's Restaurant at 124 Jinxian Lu (6256-0351). This was one of R.W. Apple's 10 favorite restaurants in the world (to read about another one, Trishna, see my post on the India board), and the Wall Street Journal also wrote it up fairly recently. You know, fame does not appear to have gone to Mrs. Chun's head in the least. It was a wonderful meal.

We arrived at the restaurant around 1 p.m. to find it empty because, according to Mrs. Chun's son, Kevin, we were too late for lunch. I never did figure out what time people eat lunch in Shanghai. But Kevin suggested we wait for his mother to return, so we sat around the little four table restaurant and found out what good English Kevin speaks. When Mrs. Chun returned, she was most cordial and said she would be glad to feed us. Her only question was if there was anything we would not eat. Our answer, of course, was that we would eat anything Mrs. Chun suggested.

So we got, for the two of us, without ever seeing a menu, red shrimp in oil and a whole fish in brown sauce and cold wine poached chicken and wonderful little crabs sauteed with their roe in wine sauce. Washed down with Tsing Tao, the meal was about $30. Given the difficulty of getting a reservation at Chun's, we felt like the luckiest people in Shanghai.

We had other wonderful meals in China, of course. In Beijing there was the rather exotic Lao Fung Restaurant, packed with Chinese diners drinking a red beverage from large pitchers (not enough English spoken here for us to figure out exactly what it was, but I think it was a fruit juice with healthy properties). We ate shrimp in red oil (very spicy) and braised mutton (with sesame salt for dipping) and peas "with flavor" and noodles with bean paste and meat. And for dessert, we had the most wonderful and amazing apples in toffee -- the burning hot apples covered with caramelized sugar are dipped into ice water by the diner, creating the most amazing spider webs of toffee when they emerge hardened from the icy bath. This entire meal was an astounding $25.

And in Shanghai, of course, we ate wonderful dumplings at the ultra fancy, very modern, Fu Lin Xuan at 300 Huaihai Zhong Lu Phone 6538-3699. This establishment is on the second floor of a posh mall, and the customers were well dressed to say the least. We spent about $17 on crispy pigeon (with a wonderful lacquered skin) and shrimp balls and fresh, cold cucumber in garlic and steamed buns (yeasty and filled with sweet and sour meat) and wonderful soup dumplings (after all, here we were at the Fount of Soup Dumplings) and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf wrapped in wax paper, packed with such things as egg and fish. Egg custard (fresher and flakier than even the best we've had in New York City) and freid sesame balls filled with sweet lotus paste for dessert. And a lovely and attentive staff to boot.

It's hard to write it all down. All I really want to do is to go back and start eating again.

Recent Dining in India (continued)

Jen had suggested I report on a few more restaurants from our recent trip to India, so this is an extension of my post of a couple of weeks ago. By the way, am I the only one who has tried Brown Sahib (the restaurant we loved so much) in Delhi? It's very new, but I thought some other reader must have been there by now.

In New Delhi, we ate twice at the Nizamuddin branch of Karim's. It's at 168/2 Jha House, Hazrat Nizamuddin West. The phone is 2435-0018. The neighborhood is fascinating and certainly induced huge culture shock in us on our first night in New Delhi. The main shock was how astoundingly crowded the narrow streets were: apparently there was a religious festival the first night we went to the restaurant, and the taxi driver had to drop us off several blocks away. The crowd on the street was immense and there were plenty of people asking for money in a fairly determined way. We never felt threatened, and we always felt at ease, but being tapped on the shoulder every step of the way takes a bit of getting used to. Plenty of street food available too, but we headed for the restaurant instead.

On the first visit, we ate nihari, a weekend special made of mutton and marrow, and a very good chicken biryani, with splendid firni (rice pudding) for dessert. Most of the diners were men, by the way, but with the friendliness of the staff and the pleasure of the air conditioning (it was about 115 degrees outside), we felt very comfortable.

We returned a few days later for lunch with a guide who had taken us around Delhi and ate roast lamb and tandoori chicken and more of that excellent rice pudding. The restaurant was not very crowded either time. Dinner, by the way, cost about $20 for the two of us and the same menu appeared for lunch. Plenty of things to choose from, that's for sure.

Also in New Delhi, we ate in Chor Bizarre (Hotel Broadway, 4/14A Asaf Ali Road (near Delhi Center) Phone 2327-3821). There have been several posts about this restaurant, and we quite liked it. The neighborhood was spookily deserted and the hotel apparently has seen better days, but we were warmly greeted and quickly ushered into the atmospheric and thinly populated dining room. Atmospheric because, I believe, the proprietors collect antique items from older times in Delhi and, in some ways, the room is almost museum like. Among other things, an old car serves as the salad bar. You get the idea.

I was afraid Chor Bizarre would be too touristy but, after all, we were tourists and, in any event, the other diners appeared to us to be locals.

We ate fried spinach leaves with yogurt and mango, and minced chicken meatballs in Kashmiri cream sauce and a vegetarian thali which included paneer in tomato, dum aloo (spiced potato), spinach, fried lotus stem, eggplant, cauliflower and rice. Firni (again) for dessert -- you can't go wrong eating rice pudding in India. This feast (including several Kingfisher beers) was about $30. A very pleasant evening to say the least.

And finally, in Mumbai, we had dinner in the famous Trishna restaurant, a haunt, apparently, of the rich and famous. My hero, the late R.W. Apple, listed Trishna as one of his 10 favorite restaurants in the world. Actually, we hit another of his 10 favorite restaurants in the world on this trip -- Chun's restaurant in Shanghai -- but I'll report on that on the China board..

Trishna (7 Rope Walk Lane, Sai Baba Marg. Phone: 2270-3213) is one of Mumbai's most famous seafood restaurants so, not surprisingly, we ate seafood, lots of seafood: king crab (out of the shell) sauteed in butter, 2 enormous tiger prawns barbecued with a mint marinade, a pomfret Hyderabad style with a peppery coating (a large, rather mushy fish, I'm afraid), Kingfisher Ultra beer (first we had seen that) and kulfi (excellent ice cream for dessert). Not cheap to dine where the movie stars dine -- at about $90, as close to New York prices as we got the whole trip. But a lovely way to spend an evening.

I could write more, but we mostly drove between cities, so we ate at lots of highway rest stops which were perfectly fine, but sort of blended into one another (as did the gift shops featured by all of them). And, in light of how hard it seems to be to run a restaurant, it's not my style to talk about places we found less than swell. All in all, our two weeks in India were quite thrilling in every way -- the people, the sights, the cities and the food. I can't wait to return.

Jun 20, 2010
EHBrown in India & South Asia

Recent Dining in India

Dear Jen,

Thanks for your kind words, Jen. Your posts are always so excellent. -- I've been reading them for years. I did a ton of research on line and in books, and, once we got to India, I started reading local magazines and newspapers (in English of course) and asking people what they recommend.

Jun 02, 2010
EHBrown in India & South Asia

Recent Dining in India

We returned recently from a three week trip to India and China and, while I'll also post a few recommendations on the China board, I thought I would talk about India first.

We were in New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mumbai and Aurangabad and ate splendid meals everywhere we went. For me, one of the outstanding meals was at the Brown Sahib in New Delhi. The Brown Sahib is a very new restaurant, located in a very large, very air-conditioned, very fashionable shopping mall. To be specific, it's on the second floor of the MGF Metropolitan Mall at District Center. The phone is 4082-0027. It's about the last place we expected to find such a fine restaurant.

Brown Sahib specializes in the food of Punjab, and while we were there, they were preparing special food for Polla Beishak, the Punjab New Year. So, for example, we ate Mocchan Ghanto -- banana flowers sauteed with almonds. But their regular menu was also commendable -- delicious chello kebab (minced chicken cubes in butter) and wonderful duck vindaloo. The lentils were excellent, and for dessert, the sweet nut filled pancakes with cream and the mango rice pudding were superb.

All of this, and lots more, was about $70 -- hugely expensive by local standards, but well worthwhile for a really nice restaurant run by lovely people eager to be sure we were happy with our meal.

In Jaipur, we had a delightful lunch at Niro's Restaurant on Mirza Ismail Road. The phone is 2374493. As far as I could tell, the place was packed with local business people and shoppers (along with some tourists, of course). We tried the Rajasthan specialties: Sarson Ka saag (mustard greens in yogurt sauce), Makkiki roti (griddled corn bread), Gatta (besan flour dumplings in spicy sauce -- bright red on the inside and quite, quite spicy). We spent about $25 on our feast.

We had a magical dinner under the stars at the rooftop restaurant of the unlikely looking Jaiwani Haveli Hotel in Udapur. The phone is 91-294-2411-03. Even our driver had trouble navigating the narrow streets and finding the place. We looked out over the lake, and listened to the sounds of the city below as we dined on Gotta dumplings in yogurt and lemon sauce and lemon chicken and rice with cumin. We had the restaurant mostly to ourselves, probably because it was about 110 degrees during the day and people were afraid to come out, even though the night was cool and delightful. The bill was about $30. And the beer was nice and cold.

And in Mumbai, we had a wonderful and relaxing lunch in the air conditioned splendor of the Konkan Cafe in the Taj President Hotel. We don't usually eat in hotels, but the menu was so inviting, we couldn't resist. We were right: a delicious seafood thali (malabar fish curry, prawns, rice, dal, fried fish, three kinds of break, soup, kulfi and fried pastry for dessert -- all you can eat, in fact). And, to go with all of this, excellent fish steamed in banana leaves. The tab was about $60.

And, of course, because they were in season, we devoured a couple of alfonso mangos back in our room.

There were lots more meals, of course, but these were the real high points for me.

May 31, 2010
EHBrown in India & South Asia

Bolete Restaurant in Bethlehem

Since I learned about Bolete on Chowhound, I think I should report how wonderful this new restaurant really is. We went yesterday for Mothers' Day brunch. Based on the menu they have posted on their website, we ate what must be a "normal" brunch for Bolete. The meal was fantastic -- crispy duck confit with poached eggs, way above the usual steak and eggs, a splendid "appetizer" called "The Egg" consisting of a whole soft boiled egg (out of the shell of course) standing on a small raft of toast in an pool of fantastic mushroom ragu, and wonderful salmon on a bed of spaetzle and greens. Ah, I could go on and on.

Some very interesting cocktails, too. We tried "The Brit" -- Hendrick's Gin, Lavender Essence and Kumquat in a martini glass. And a bottle of wonderful, ice cold, very pale Zardetto prosecco.

And the people are really very accomodating. Erin and her staff were a pleasure to meet.

So, we haven't had dinner there yet, and it's a bit of a ride from New York City, but the changes in the city of Bethlehem in the last 20 years are astounding, and Bolete would sure make a nice stop after a day in the Pennsylvania countryside or in the city itself. Since we can't ever find any place to eat in the Poconos, I think we'll start to come here when we are visiting my parents in Stroudsburg. It's not that far, and we can't wait to come back.

Bolete is at 1740 Seidersville Road, a mile or so from the downtown Bethlehem business area and still very much in the city.

Haven't had a better Mother's Day meal for years, and this rave is by New York standards.

May 12, 2008
EHBrown in Pennsylvania

Grand Sichuan Midtown and Nice Chinese Restaurant

Hell's Kitchen

Jul 09, 2007
EHBrown in Manhattan

Grand Sichuan Midtown and Nice Chinese Restaurant

Imagine the shock of finding the stalwart Nice Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown shuttered tightly forever, as we did yesterday morning. It was open and bustling just a few short weeks ago. Sure, it's had its ups and downs (tough to weather those rave reviews 10 or 15 years ago), but its Chinese crowd seemed to have returned in force and, after dining there for over 20 years, I sure will miss it.

And this sad surprise follows by only a month or two the sudden closing of Grand Sichuan Midtown, a Chinese restaurant so good it often seemed unnecessary to travel all the way to East Broadway.

Anyone know what happened to these two places? High rent? Retired owners? They sure disappeared without a word of farewell.

Jul 09, 2007
EHBrown in Manhattan