Kurtis's Profile

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French hound coming to Seoul - Need a few insights

"I would love to have the experience of going to the market, picking my ingredients and having them cooked for me... I read about it, but feel a bit shy as a foreigner to do that, it seems that it would require much communication... or maybe not..."

If so, Rio, I think you may want to give this a try. While some level of verbal communication makes it easy, I think one can get by quite alright with a smile, good simple pantomimes, and a pocket notebook/iPhone for clarifying price. As all the small eateries around the market are quite informal, it wouldn't be rude to tilt your head down a bit and point to a plate/item other people are having, or walk by the tables and point to dishes there ( and hey you can always send a small bottle of beer to the table that helped you). It can be bit daunting at first, but my experience with this in most foreign markets were quite positive, and yes usually bit embarrassing but that never last beyond first few bites and sip of the presenting food. My visits to the markets in France is not so much different to be honest: I seem to forget most of words I practiced for the morning once excitement take hold, and end up with bonjour followed by pointing to mouth-watering terrines and cheeses along with my thumb and index finger showing the thickness of the cut I want.

Jul 07, 2014
Kurtis in China & Southeast Asia

Lunches, mostly on terraces, in and near the Luberon (Provence), early May 2014: La Terrasse (Goult); Le Galoubet (Menerbes); L’Artegal (Gordes), L’Oustalet (Gigondas); Le Petit Café (Saignon); and TGV picnic, courtesy of the Bonnieux Friday marche

mangeur, have I told you [lately] there's no one else above you?

Jul 02, 2014
Kurtis in France

Lunches, mostly on terraces, in and near the Luberon (Provence), early May 2014: La Terrasse (Goult); Le Galoubet (Menerbes); L’Artegal (Gordes), L’Oustalet (Gigondas); Le Petit Café (Saignon); and TGV picnic, courtesy of the Bonnieux Friday marche

Glorious sun of Gigondas and its jewels await your return ; ) We returned to this region last year with a reservation here which we couldn't keep in the end. Looking forward to having the somm take care of us as you were on our next visit ( perhaps we will steer lost goat or two this way...)

Jul 02, 2014
Kurtis in France
1

Indochine - a new Vietnamese in Baltimore with likely the best Pho in town

Thanks to hotel for tipping me to this place.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertain...

Visited here recently and had a large pho w/ fatty brisket. The broth here is richer, takes on more acid with semi-opaque browner tone than traditional ones. The noodle is thinner here but cooked just right with slight toothy bite. Brisket is decent. Bean sprouts, jalapeno and basil garnishes were very fresh. Probably didn't need lime to be added, but old habits are hard to break and, as always, this brightens up the broth. And yes, the bowl is served piping hot as it should be.

My go-to pho place in Baltimore used to be Pho Huong Moi in Security Square Mall which closed several years ago. I think pho here is overall better than one from Mekong Delta whose broth is more on the traditional side and lighter (if MD offers good nuoc mam on the side as part of their pho I would give another try as different variety).

Jul 02, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Baltimore Ramen!

I agree. See a new thread on this.

Jul 02, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

French hound coming to Seoul - Need a few insights

Rio, good to see you here and looks like you are getting some good recommendations.

While I am not able to give you specific as I return here once every couple of years, here's some things for you to consider as this is your first visit.

Similar to Paris, food of Seoul is a representative and evolution of all parts of Korea as it has been the capital for many centuries. As you work through the food, I think you will learn to recognize and seek out regional (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Pr..., plus southern-most Jeju) specialty restaurants. Within these, there are many restaurants that specialize in single main dish with sometimes a side dish or two that either is related to or accompanies it. You've already identified several of these (i.e. naengmyun houses in town will often identify their version with a city that it is styled after such as Hamheung, which is the most known, or Pyungyang- note both are northern provincial cities currently within N. Korea, and as such the dish is, at least for traditionalists, best enjoyed in cold weather) and I think they will be much more rewarding than shops that sells the variety though a good starting point.

In regards to Japanese food, the quality of Japanese restaurants in Seoul is very good and certainly one pays the price for it. Good quality Hwae, which is the korean version of sashimi, also don't come cheap, and main difference between this and sashimi is that hwae, like italian crudo, is usually white fish that has not gone through the aging process that Japanese sashimi usually does. Accordingly, hwae is more texturally-driven with toothy bite or crunch, and has developed less aged fish flavor. Texture aspect of food plays important role and for this reason many hwae plates are accomplanied with sea cucumber, sea pineapple or abalone. As hwae would be even harder to get in Paris as general quality of Japanese food there isn't great, I would recommend seeking this out if you like. Many Japanese restaurants in Seoul do have hwae as part of their menu, but see if you can locate a good specialty place for this which are abundant. Alternatively, visit Noryangjin fish market to buy items of your choice to be prepared for you which is what I do on my visits.

Also not to dismiss is the Korean version of Chinese food in Korea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_C...). While there are many of these abroad especially in US, most prepare a poor replica of ones I crave, and I always visit several of them when I am in town. Restaurants that represent this can range from your neighborhood hole to high-end, and they are very good on both ends of the spectrum and impossible to find elsewhere.

There are two traditional rice-based alcoholic drinks. Makkuli, and its unfiltered version Dongdongju. They are about 6-8% and bit on a sweet side but less so than the Japanese counterpart nigori. Again, there are specialty restaurants where these drinks are a part of their dishes such as various savory pancakes. As for soju, I will leave it up to you to find out amongst good drinking crowd ;

)

If you and your wife just about had enough of Korean food for a while and want a comfortable break away, try buffet restaurants located in major hotels. While the the these two words nearly always flash red flags in my instinct, these ones in Seoul are of very good quality and amazing variety. One I visit is Ritz Carlton Seoul; this is likely not in the top tier of hotel buffets, but I find it quite good with good wine list.

Finally, have fun, and trust your good instincts and follow your well-honed senses which I think you clearly have from reading and following your posts. Also, there are many destinations within an hr with easy access from Seoul, so should you feel the need of the countryside as I often do, train and buses are not difficult to maneuver and this is where you will find some real food.

Jul 02, 2014
Kurtis in China & Southeast Asia

Lunches, mostly on terraces, in and near the Luberon (Provence), early May 2014: La Terrasse (Goult); Le Galoubet (Menerbes); L’Artegal (Gordes), L’Oustalet (Gigondas); Le Petit Café (Saignon); and TGV picnic, courtesy of the Bonnieux Friday marche

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"

Many thanks Jake for sending me off on this delish armchair travel where we frequently and fondly revisit whenever a sip of Gigondas magically transports us back to those tables every time.

Pouring a glass of Clos des Cazaux Gigondas back to you w/ some photos of mine to share from the reported trip in 2011. (I have re-enacted this meal at home several times with varying degree of success in taste, but each time we are transported to a very special moment that adds colors w/ years)

Jul 01, 2014
Kurtis in France

Per Se Salon question

I had a nice relaxed 3 hr lunch here recently on a weekend at the Salon, but, even knowing that lunch resv are easier to be had, we were surprise to see only 5 or so tables occupied for the lunch in the main room, and us being the only couple in the Salon. Any thoughts?

Perhaps because of this, I found service to be very attentive, personal, and generous.

Jun 30, 2014
Kurtis in Manhattan

Lunches, mostly on terraces, in and near the Luberon (Provence), early May 2014: La Terrasse (Goult); Le Galoubet (Menerbes); L’Artegal (Gordes), L’Oustalet (Gigondas); Le Petit Café (Saignon); and TGV picnic, courtesy of the Bonnieux Friday marche

Jake, if you have a pic of that baby goat two ways from L'Oustalet, I am sure I will pour myself a glass of Gigondas and eat it...

Thanks for this very nice report that brings back many good memories.

Jun 27, 2014
Kurtis in France

It's Saturday. It's summer. I want shrimp. And NO I DON'T want to clean/make/prep/grill/ it myself at home.

Bangkok Golden's raw shrimp salad has my heart at the moment. It's a larb-style herb and seasoning with just barely cooked shrimp - pretty amazing.

Jun 25, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Dinners in and around Bonnieux, early May 2014: L’Arome, La Bartavelle, La Ferme de la Huppe, Le Fournil -- and a picnic dinner from Maison Gouin (Coustelet)

Beautiful report, Jake.

Here's two of my favorite quotes on La Bartavelle:

"From the moment we walked in and met and chatted with Regine Leichel and chef Gerard Lefevre, and throughout the evening, when both would take turns gliding effortlessly through the room, bringing and removing our plates and exchanging a few pleasant words, we felt we were in a warm and special place. And how lovely to stroll the quiet village late at night after dinner." -Jake Dear

"We felt privileged to be part of this truly local place, and grateful that we were never treated as outsiders. As couple after couple strolled away, each smiled and wished us an "au revoir" or a "bonne nuit." La Bartavelle is that kind of place, and Goult is that kind of village." - dfchicago

Jun 24, 2014
Kurtis in France

What sous vide cooked protein do you actually prefer to grill/pan-searing?

While I do like the idea of uniformly cooking the meat to desired temperature, I don't think I ever liked it enough to change the method of cooking a particular meat. Is there any meat you find TASTED BETTER cooked sous vide?

Jun 17, 2014
Kurtis in General Topics

Baltimore Ramen!

Came here on a couple of occasions and I think it's a nice neighborhood ramen joint and (un)fortunately the only one we have in Baltimore. While I think they miss/overlook on some details I think overall it will have me return here whenever craving hits.

I agree with hotel - the 90 minute wait is likely to be a hiccup - that in general their noodle is bit overcooked, and the cut of the pork more on a pedestrian side. But I find their broth pretty good and staff very willing. As they are not necessarily trying to compete w/ "high-end" ramen joints of NYC or DC I think they are making a great start.

I tried their guo tie (gyoza) and karaage and unfortunately both were subpar.

Jun 17, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Mediocre restaurants in Baltimore area with one exceptional dish

Here's anther from me but with some caution:

Garlic sprouts with pork sausage at Szechuan House in Lutherville.

This is a very popular local place that serves American-Chinese fares. For some reason this dish is under the title of "Light Fare Special" toward the back of the menu. I say with some caution, because it can be a hit and miss as when it's great it has a lot of wok hay but other times it can be average (but still decent). It's interesting though that under that title, there's several dishes that are quite authentic regional dishes; I tried most of them but they are not as good as similar offered elsewhere.

Jun 17, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Mediocre restaurants in Baltimore area with one exceptional dish

Haha, let's be sure that the chef is alive then...

Jun 17, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Bistro "b" in Bolton Hill

Thanks to you we recently visited here after reading your report and had a great dinner. Six of us had many dishes and they were all very good. Appreciated their WBTG selections that are off the beaten path and available in 5oz and 8oz pours.

Among the ones we had the standout was the harmonious and well-executed rockfish entree w/ celeriac puree, broccholini, little neck clams, w/ white wine herb butter broth; we've had many rockfish dishes in town but I think this is the winner. One of the weak appetizer was their terrine - it was dried out and lacked the flavor almost as if it was boiled and then put into the mold. Good cheese courses but our staff couldn't offer much info.

Caring and attentive staff even w/ outdoor seats -the weather permitted them to be fully occupied on Saturday by 6:30pm w/ only 2-3 tables with customers inside that had somewhat open view to the calm but bustling kitchen.

It's hasn't been often for us to be excited about a restaurant on a first visit in Baltimore (other recent one is Peurto 511) and so we are looking forward to coming back here soon.

Jun 17, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Mediocre restaurants in Baltimore area with one exceptional dish

Thanks for the tip. Good drunken noodle is hard to come by in Baltimore, so looking forward to trying it.

Here's one of mine:

Salt and pepper soft shell crab at Umi Sake in Cockeysville. Lightness in both the batter and deep frying with stir-fried garnish of onions, jalapenos, and I think some garlic. Most of the things here are not so good IMO, but this one shines above many I had in NYC. Goes excellent with a bowl of rice along with cold Sapporo or Kirin, and the portion is large enough for a meal for me.

Note: It's no longer on their menu but if you request that the staff ask the chef (I think he is chinese) he will make it for you. In Chinese menu it is also known as aromatic soft shell crab.

Jun 17, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

French Kitchen in Baltimore

Here's the Sun review:

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2014...

Any experiences? Their website is not in working order.

Jun 17, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Pabu Closing

"but we're modeling it after the top Japanese restaurants in the country—Nobu, Morimoto, Zuma, Blue Ribbon."

While these names are not my style or preference of high-end Japanese I am also looking forward to the new place.

Jun 12, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Pabu Closing

Here's link to the new restaurant plan in Pabu space:

http://www.baltimoremagazine.net/2014...

I can't agree with Alex Smith's reason why Pabu did not succeed in Baltimore - that izakaya was a tough concept for Baltimore. For me, Pabu was little bit of many Japanese styles while being below average to good at most thing as the menu comprises of limited items from izakaya (mostly good), robataya (poor), sushi (mostly good but quality of products and execution not consistent), and sake bar (very good).

Several visits here with most recent visit yesterday, I left each time with my personal thought of regret that it would do much better if there was more focus: give Baltimore an authentic izakaya, robataya, or keiseki, and see what happens.

Jun 12, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Pesky Yankees, cut the volume, please!

Certainly, it's hard to tune out hearing your own language, especially in a foreign land, especially if they are sitting next to you and misbehaving. Sitting strategically away from the potential noise is very helpful and often successful in our experience.

In a restaurant, I consider myself a guest ( "I am paying for my meal and I get what I want" types do not need to read further) and behave accordingly; I may say something to the waitstaff, but if the house is willing to let it be, my interference rarely will help the situation. Plus, with very little space between our thighs and beautiful evening ahead, attention to anything else is a wasted distraction.

Likewise, unless there's ethical issues involved, correcting stranger's misbehavior as a guest I find equally rude and unlikely be welcomed by the host. One is surely to ruin the evening for both involved. In varing degrees we've all misbehaved at least once in our lives in public spaces, sometimes with good reasons. Let them have their moment.

Jun 06, 2014
Kurtis in France

In and around Cote de Beaune (Puligny-Montrachet, etc.) end of April 2014: Le Montrachet, Christophe Queant/ Restaurant du Chateau de Pommard; Restaurant du Centre, L’Annexe (on a side-trip to Givry) and Le Vieux Vigneron

Jake, I am looking to follow your footsteps for these lovely trips, but I am afraid I would need to live many more lives to have the capacity to enjoy as you do. Thanks for the beautiful reports.

Jun 05, 2014
Kurtis in France

Escargot

Is it fair to say then that there's no discernible taste difference between canned and ones in shell? Perhaps due to nostalgia it's hard for me to imagine...

Has the practice of preparing the dish in-shell fell out of fashion more or less out of convenience? If so, and if I am in a restaurant, especially in France, I don't mind the inconvenience...

Jun 04, 2014
Kurtis in France

Escargot

(please sign the adaption papers we sent you...)

Jun 04, 2014
Kurtis in France

Escargot

Or two if from the Amazon.

Jun 03, 2014
Kurtis in France

Escargot

"Escargots are nearly always made from canned snails, so the season doesn't really matter."

Why is this so even in season?

Jun 03, 2014
Kurtis in France

Fleet Street Kitchen and Petit Louis

I too can't stand having to strain through dinner conversation. Hmm, we must go at different hours.

Sorry for the abbreviation. It means your mileage may vary.

May 29, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Fleet Street Kitchen and Petit Louis

tartuffe, I think I know what you mean, but I don't recall their service being pretentious. Rather, I do get waitstaffs who are undergoing training and their service more "by the book" thus less fluid/catered, and recitation of ingredients/preparation while looking up the ceiling. Still, I find their service quite accommodating. I don't remember their noise level to be too high either, but ymmv.

May 29, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Fleet Street Kitchen and Petit Louis

Agree - their cheese cart as well as the wine list are hard to beat both in price and quality.

Lately, I've been going to the Columbia location, and based one a few experiences I think the execution there is better overall, though both locations are quite accommodating and friendly.

May 28, 2014
Kurtis in Washington DC & Baltimore

Planning a trip in June to Avignon, les Baux de Provence and the Ardeches

mangeur, your description is enticing, and your addresses "uphill" and "around the corner" from nowhere and everywhere are impressive. Thanks!

May 08, 2014
Kurtis in France