VTB's Profile

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Horseradish; the other Cash Crop? [DTW]

I feel the same frustration with horseradish. But, it has been less painful for me since my wife has stopped eating rare meat, and thus I almost never now make prime rib. Sorry, Fairway Meat Packing :-(
Regardless, Srodek's on Mound just south of M59 brags that their homemade (fresh) bottled horseradish will take one's breath away. I keep meaning to get over there and test it. Maybe I'll braise a chuck eye roast or something, so I have something on which to run my test?

Jun 23, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Jamaican Pot [DTW]

Wow, that looks good. Thanks for the tip. Not as far as I thought. Between Coolidge and Greenfield. Have you tried the goat curry?

Jun 21, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

You've been trying to avoid them, but they're COMING AFTER YOU! [DTW area]

Ha! Thanks for the warning and the giggle.
Food trucks (in return for a cut of the profits) are now allowed in my employer's parking lot. Fortunately, the selection has been better than Andiamo's.

Jun 16, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Tried Estia Greek (Chipotle/Piada style resto) in Troy [DTW]

Right across from Whole Foods, next to the Zoup, the yummy "New York City Pizza," and the Eco Nails (just say No to pedi's using formaldehyde and toluene, Girl!...truly, I'm not being sarcastic, because that stuff is dangerous, especially for the min wage people who have to breathe it 8hrs/day).

Regarding Sakura, I feel (w/limited data points) that their Japanese dishes are edible, though overpriced for the knockoff quality received. Will I be back? Yes. But only when I'm in a pinch and feeling rich. The service always comes with one frustration or another, yet it really is pretty nice inside. There are 20% off coupons floating around if you look hard, BTW. And, I'll not accuse them of small portion sizes. 

(Boy, would my wife and employer be pissed if either knew I was doing CH at1AM...Cheers.)

Jun 15, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Tried Estia Greek (Chipotle/Piada style resto) in Troy [DTW]

It’s a good year in Troy. Sakura Japanese Steakhouse opened, which at least serves a couple good Chinese dishes, given that the owners are the same from Golden Harvest. Punjab, as previously mentioned, is up on its feet, one of my favorite Middle Eastern places, La Saj, will soon open on Crooks, and perhaps the biggest prize is the soon to open Fresh Thyme grocery on Big Beaver at Rochester Rd.

Anyway, Estia Greek “street food” also opened last week (Maple at Coolidge). Once I can narrow-in on a couple specific dishes/toppings from the many that are on offer here, I think I’ll be really happy with this place. It is a takeoff on Troy’s Kalamata Greek Grill, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Like Chipotle, you start at the counter with a wrap, bowl or salad base, and then you walk down the line adding stuff, to say your gyro, like spreads (hummus, tzatziki, etc.), meats (roasted chicken, pork or gyro meat), and finally you go thru the wide selection of salad bar items like olives, beets, onions, peppers, feta, cucumbers spinach, etc., etc., and nice fresh dill. All for $6.50. The bread is grilled from dough while you wait, and is offered in white, whole wheat, multigrain, etc.. Gotta love that, right?

For a buck more, you can have a rice bowl instead of bread. The rice options also include wild rice or quinoa. The white rice was so-so. Before one of those aforementioned spreads and meats are added, a sauce is liberally used to moisten the rice (Greek tomato sauce, or oregano broth). The oregano broth was surprisingly nice. Once I had hit the rice with broth and tzatziki, followed by salad bar items such as beets and feta, I did, however, have a rather disgusting looking amalgam going (my wife’s opinion), with nobody to blame for the pile-on but my greedy, gluttonous self.

The chicken, lemon rice soup side dish was edible, as were the gyro meats and roasted pork (may be better when hot off the grill?), but the chicken was surprisingly good. Spanakopita also was on offer as a side dish…maybe I’ll get lucky one day and find moussaka offered, too! Either way, I’ll be back. The owner is friendly and there is enough on offer, once I figure things out, to concoct a pretty darn good meal for just $7 !

Jun 14, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Punjab Sweets & Indian Cuisine - Troy [DTW]

Neehee’s may never grab the opportunity to expand into the under-served* Indian food scene of Troy (*relative to the large Indian population). At least Punjab Farmington Hills has now taken the initiative to branch out. Sure, Punjab Sweets & Indian Cuisine might not stand out amongst the thick competition around its home base on Orchard Lake, but it is a very welcome new, take-out oriented, place for Troy. Located on the southwest corner of Long Lake at Livernois. Same general intersection as Thai Taste. Given that Neehee’s prices increased after it relocated to a more upscale location and its popularity further rose, Punjab’s prices now comparatively seem like a deal--- about $8 per entree.

Being a not remarkably charismatic, white guy, I did find the person/people working the phone and the counter to be a bit challenging, though I do think I will find them to be fine folks once we get to know one another (the young, handsome busboy certainly already was going out of his way to check on and ensure everyone was happy). In any event, the website and the mailer coupon led to numerous confusions, regarding at which of the two locations certain menu options are available and when, at each, the doors or buffet are open. Also, the mailer said Punjab is located on Long Lake at ROCHESETER Rd, which is a mile away from the real location, west of LIVERNOIS.

Getting on to the food…The family was very pleased when I got it home. The Masala Dosa was served with respectable chutneys and excellent sambhar dipping soup. Yum. I will reserve evaluation of the ample dosa, itself, in compliance with Sir Boagman’s decree regarding fresh-from-the-fire doughs/batters: “If not immediately consumed, then not shall one pass judgement (especially in the case of thin crust pizza).”

I also brought home chicken biryani. The meat was juicy. The rice seemed optimally cooked. I liked the flavor. Toasted onion was prominent, rightly or wrongly. Will get again. Maybe goat next time, and then returning to chicken.

The Bagara Baigan (eggplant in tamarind-coconut-sesame gravy) was very tasty, but it was too hot for me, and I go very hot. Wow…killer. Punjab doesn’t ask customers for heat preferences. You get it how it comes. I respect that. But, ouch. The vegetable masala over rice was quite good. Rich, but not overly oily; maybe a bit heavy on the cubed onion, but the fresh, tender okra was a big reward. I might try the vegetable korma (Navaratan) next time, but surely will have that sweet masala again.

OMG, I also saw someone eating large banana peppers stuffed with spiced potatoes, then battered and deep fried (mirchi pakoda), with chutney dipping sauces. These looked fantastic, but I already was well on the way to blowing out the diet allowances of me and wife. If you live or work (talkin’ to you CyE) in Troy, this joint is well worth a stop, every now and then!

Jun 06, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Homemade Flour Tortillas

May 30, 2015
VTB in Recipes

Anybody have the inside scoop as to when Katoi is opening? [DTW]

Thanks! Guess I'll go check out the A2 location in late June.

May 21, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Corny name- Bombay Wraps - but anybody tried? Canton, MI [DTW]

Got the picture I needed to investigate Bombay Wraps (BW) myself. My wife refused to make the long drive unless I promised her we’d also stop at Ikea, which is just up Ford Rd from BW. So, this one cost me.

Anyway, I bought the Groupon and tried four different dishes. Lamb Biryani, Bhel, Chicken Achaari wrap and Reshmi Chicken Tikka wrap. The wrapping is made of a fresh (daily) whole wheat paratha flatbread. It appears to have a lot of ghee or oil in the dough but otherwise seems healthy, and is tender and delicious.

We loved our wraps (comes with raita yogurt dipping sauce); though, to some, the grilled chicken/peppers/onions may be too reminiscent of a fajita. But, at least I think everyone would agree that the chicken does not seem like frozen pre-sliced breast meat. It seems like fresh chicken that has been sautéed with spices in a big batch, then sliced and returned to the sauce, to sit chilled until an order is made, at which time an individual portion is heated up on the griddle. Finally, a bit of Indian relish is added.

I was kind of hoping for a bunch of ridiculously rich, restaurant-style, reduced curry gravy to be inside, a la Zayeqa on Orchard Lake. But these wraps are a bit lighter, like an Indian mom might whip up at home for her kids’ lunches. And, since my family is not Indian, we were urged to order mild. Particularly after having recently returned from Southern India and since my kid slurps Sichuanese broth in gulps, it was a clear mistake on my part to defer to the server. I should have insisted on spicy across the board, and you probably should, too.

The lamb biryani also was nice. Frankly, at $11.99 on a styrofoam plate, it better have been nice. There were about six or seven 1” cubes of lamb. They had been stewed, so they were very moist and thus basmati rice stuck to them over the entire surface. Because I couldn’t get a good look at the coated lamb, I had muted expectations. But, these chunks turned out to be wonderful. The dish’s rice was sparsely spotted with curry leaves, cardamom pods, etc. Again, not a powerful showpiece. Just something that an adept mom would throw together for her family at home. In this case, I think the chef really was a mom, who’s kids may have been working the register. However, she was a rather charismatic woman who probably had a PhD or MD back in the old country, so I don’t want to paint too much of a “Bless her cute little heart,” kind of picture.

In any event, everyone there was super friendly to us. We were the only non-Indians among four or five families. If BW wasn’t such a long drive for me, I could definitely see stopping there once every couple weeks. But, given that it is a heck of a drive from Troy, and that sometimes when I go to Ikea I like to stop at Neehee’s or Best China, it may be quite a few months before I return. I hope they are still there (if not relocated to Troy!).

PS—BW makes these big spiced deep fried balls out of mashed potatoes + mashed chickpeas which look fantastic. That is, if you can deal with deep fried...

May 10, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Best Bread in Detroit Region

Thanks for the great tip!

May 09, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Vinotecca?-- Fool me thrice, then shame on me. Royal Oak [DTW]

I've long been critical of the promises unkept at Bastone. These professional food service investors also have an adjacent offshoot named Vinotecca, which shares the same crappy kitchen. I went there recently for a Happy Hour glass of wine. Good, and very nicely priced. No clowns elbowing me for space, either. Getting bored, I perused the half off Happy Hour menu:

A) Steak bruchetta with potobello, heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella and rosemary walnut oil - $5.
B) “Gourmet” beef sliders (2) with herbed goat cheese and house cured pancetta, plus “belgian style” frites - $4
C) Braised beef cheek empanadas with vegetable slaw - $6.50

Pretty tempting. But, based on past experiences (granted, from long ago) I resisted. Anybody actually try this place and find that it now is improved and genuinely good?


May 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Corny name- Bombay Wraps - but anybody tried? Canton, MI [DTW]

Bombay Wraps tells an enticing story, has attractive pictures and a yummy sounding menu. Great prices, too, especially with a Groupon, etc.. Anybody tried? It is a long drive for me. Why do they have to locate themselves right by Neehees??!! There are Indian food lovers all over. Spread the joy, geographically speaking. Arghhh.

May 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

The Root - White Lake, MI- Detroit area

Thank you for the tip RS. Armed with this new info, my sorry a** just looked for a brunch reservation at The Root, on Open Table, for this Sunday's Mother's Day. No dice. Menu looks good, as expected. Guess I'll have to go on another weekend. (pounding own forehead)

May 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Michigan meat..where to buy farm direct?

Back Forty Acres farm shut down more than a year ago, so there went my Tamworth pork source. It now looks like a long favorite Melo Farms, with their Berkshire hogs, is struggling and seeking support.

May 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

New: El Guanaco Taqueria @ 139 Fourteen Mile, Clawson, MI

They relocated the original restaurant just around the corner from where it was. Now on Livernois just north of Maple. Yum. The Clawson location is an additional one, which happens to be almost across the street from Mojave Cantina (which serves edible "Mexican" food in a fun setting).

May 06, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Nice Modern Creamery, Madison Hts. [DTW]

My diet and pocketbook won't let me eat "Nicecream" every week, but I wish it were so. Inside the Biggby's Coffee shop on John R at 13 Mile some guys are leasing the back area to sell made-to-order ice cream. And, no, the wait isn't long, because they chill the custard by squirting liquid nitrogen into it. It's fun and the people are nice. I think one of the guys works in the kitchen at Bacco or something, and then moonlights at Nice. Don't quote me on that. At least check out the website.
Really good, and you can see what is going into it. As a spokeslady might say, "smooth and decadent." The only one I didn't love was a flavor of the day which had finely crumbled cookie in it, because the crumbs froze into what felt to my tongue like ice crystals.

Apr 29, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Gangnam Chicken, Royal Oak [DTW]

Went with a friend this eve and tried the Tofu Kimchi Bokkeum (fried pork belly). Not cheap ($15.95), and I can't say whether or not it is "authentic," but it was FANTASTIC! Damn.
How can this place be so empty these days? It sets itself apart from the 95% of silly places in Royal Oak, and deserves better.

Apr 29, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Anybody have the inside scoop as to when Katoi is opening? [DTW]

The brick and mortar Katoi, not the food truck. Mmmmm, Thai food.

Apr 29, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Plain soy yogurt in metro Detroit?

My Whole Foods in Troy no longer carries unflavored soy yogurt. Who would have thought?
My go-to place for making yogurt is the Cultures for Health website. I've never tried to make soy milk yogurt, but it looks like it takes some finesse.

(they are aggressive with your email address, but otherwise are reputable people


PS--I have an Anova immersion circulator that I bought second hand from a person on this board, and it works great for when I make (dairy) yogurt.

Apr 29, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Dearborn recs

Antonio's Cucina Italiana is very good for adults and kids alike. A little more expensive than Panera, but still a good value. Dearborn Hts and Dearborn locations.

Mar 22, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

ISO Lamb ribs dtw

Hassan Bros. Meats at the SW corner of Dequindre and Long Lake. Enjoy!

Mar 19, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Good vegetarian - Cleveland?

Thank you. We ended up a little short on time, so my vegetarian friend ran thru the awesome indoor tunnel under the Cav's arena, over to Tower City Center (big food court), while I held off and ate at B-Spot in the arena. Wish I had made a reservation at Chinato across the street (surprise) from the arena. Next time we'll check out the other places you guys mentioned, maybe for brunch on the morning after.

Mar 10, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Good vegetarian - Cleveland?

Driving from Detroit to Cavaliers game tonight. Need rec for Cleveland restaurant having some good vegetarian options. TIA !

Mar 07, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Gateway Deli (Southfield MI)

The Carrying of a Concealed Weapon.

Mar 02, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Victory Smokehouse.  Yup.   Warren [DTW]

Another barbecue review.  Yawn.

But, since Warren lost about its only barbecue places* when both Rub and Red, Hot & Blue closed, I’m going to go ahead and push one on you.  (*Yes, Lazybones delivers to Warren, but they are located in Roseville, so just stick with me here.)

The Victory Inn at Mound and 12 Mile is a bar and grill which has been around since the closing of WWII (hence, the name), and at least since the seventies has primarily been catering to UAW guys who work in office buildings and are obsessed with hunting toys.  To the proprietors’ credit, they raised one of the NFL’s great offensive linemen while operating the bar, a boy who is considered one of the key blockers for O.J. Simpson during the greatest rushing 14-game season ever (the original 2,000+ yards, year). 

If I don’t yet have you hooked, let me also add that a little over a year ago, a couple entrepreneurs rented some space in the parking lot behind Victory Inn and welded together two 40 foot sea containers to make a rustic “barbecue annex.”  For whatever reason, that permanent looking annex only operates on Fridays and Saturday’s from11am to 8pm.

Though the independent entrepreneurs (calling themselves “Victory Smokehouse”) claim to have an advanced-design smoking contraption, it does seem to be lacking in one feature:  a vent.  All the smoke just wafts into the slicing and wrapping area.  Perhaps this explains why the poor guys can only bear to work two days per week at the facility?  Dear Guys:  I want you to add a vent so that you will not get respiratory disease and so that you can stay open seven days per week.  From the bottom of my heart.

Finally to the food.  I ordered pulled pork, “brisket,” and cheddar kielbasa.  I also tried to order smoked pork belly (whoa!), but they were out.  Darn, gotta go back.  Okay, the pulled pork did not grab my attention.  The portion was the most generous of all, and it was moist (arguably over-brined/watery).  Many people will like this pulled pork, particularly on a sandwich.  Still, it struck me as boring for whatever reason, fair or unfair. 

The brisket was a bait and switch.  It was tri tip, not brisket.  I should have been offended by the misrepresentation, particularly since I love brisket.  But, the tri tip was super interesting and new to me.  Just, wow!  Really tender, without needing to be heated and broken down for hours and hours.  Almost medium, rather than well done (as required by brisket).  Practically like a well-marbled smoked prime rib.  Serendipity. 

Next was the custom-made cheddar kielbasa.  Victory smoked the heck out of it, to the point where the fat liquefied and the casing became chestnut-colored and delicately brittle.  I loved it.  Oh, but a warning:  all three meats, much to my surprise (rightly or naively), had been slathered in a mild tomato barbecue sauce!!!!!  The mellow sauce turned out okay for me, but I was a bit horrified when I got home and first opened my boxes to see a bath of thin, candied-apple looking sauce.

Finally were the sides.  All were okay.  Not great.  They took an industrial can of pork and beans and stirred in a very generous portion of leftover pulled pork.  Fine.  Did the trick.  I personally felt the mac and cheese had very nice flavor, but I would expect others to debate the dish’s virtue.  Lastly was the homemade coleslaw.  Edible.  Some will like it.  At least it was an original recipe. 

Some time I want to try one of their sandwiches, which purportedly come on a homemade bun.  If next time is at the dinner hour, though, I’m going for the smoked pork belly, and maybe beef ribs (beef!).  Yup, I urge you to give these guys a try some Friday or Saturday if you live in, or close to, Warren.  You can also eat there at the inn and catch a game on the TVs, but I’d recommend you not deliver any minor door dings while in the parking lot or anything that could be construed as a politically-tinged statement while squeezed into the dining area, as it is a rather crusty crowd.


Feb 27, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

2Booli (Troy) happy hour report [DTW]

Happy Hours are for cheapskates (and, I suppose, also for meeting professional singles getting off work).  Usually the Happy Hour (HH) food items are special concoctions of garbage purporting to uphold the quality of the general menu while crashing way short (Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, for instance…gag).  Being cheap, myself, I can never resist falling for the trick.  My favorites—or bests of the worsts—are Ronin (R.O.), Bigalora (R.O.), Kona Grill (Troy), Northern Lakes* (Troy), Roast (Detroit), and a couple others that just aren’t coming to mind. 

*I’ve waited several months for our beloved ConeyWithEverything to write her Lakes update, but will probably soon need to give up and write one myself.

I now need to augment my HH list.  2Booli of Troy (Rochester at Big Beaver…intersection from hell at rush hour) has a quality deal, particularly for those who lean towards heavy eating over heavy drinking.  Indeed, there are hardly any drink specials, but almost all the REGULAR appetizers are only $5 at HH, and they are good!  Definitely order the Appetizer Trio (generous portions of hommous, baba ghannouj, tabbouli and fresh bread), normally $9.79, but $5 at HH.  Meal in itself.  Also on offer for $5 are Falafel with tomatoes/radishes/lettuce/tahini/turnips/bread, as well as Beef Grape Leaves, and also Fried Kibbee, etc.. 

2Booli has upper echelon ambiance for a M.E. place, notwithstanding its cringe-worthy name.  Sure, some argue it is run by a food industry pro, rather than being family or artisan run, and that it is slightly “Americanized.”  Still, many of the recipes are so simple that they would be hard to ruin as long as honest effort and fresh ingredients are used.  Which, they truly are.  The social scene is no Kona Grill (king meat market for aspiring suburban Detroit yuppies), but 2Booli’s food prices and healthfulness are very good.


Feb 15, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Need a rec within (Macomb MI area) reasonable distance to this:

Not a lot of good options. I'd go to Bad Brad's, even if I weren't in the mood for smoked meat. Pretty good all-around place.

Feb 15, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Chennai, India - Classic dinner at Jamavar

Just wanted to comment to you klyeoh that your reports are fantastic. I can't wait to try some of these places in March. Thank you!

Feb 12, 2015
VTB in India & South Asia

Oysters on the half shell, DTW

I'm not a big oyster guy, but it seems the latest newsworthy places for oysters are Plymouth's Sardine Room ($1ea@h.h.) and Birmingham's Bistro Joe's ($29/doz...hey, it's BHam).
For the record, I too adore Clarkston Union, and they've been serving oysters for 17+years, so I'm sure they got it figured out, too.

Feb 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

What are the hot restaurants in Ann Arbor these days?

I love Jolly Pumpkin beer. Wild living yeast with a sour organic taste. Real beer. Haven't tried the food but the menu looked good. (couldn't get my guests to stay there with me for the food...we all ended up at Heidelberg, which was eh, okay.)

Feb 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes