a

afong56's Profile

Title Last Reply

Santouka Ramen Coming to Harvard Square

for toronto, the santouka franchise serves an above average bowl, although some consider it the best in the city. i found that their tsukemen is the best ramen to order, fwiw. imho, their noodle is superior to their broths. . .no doubt it will be a solid addition to boston's ramen scene.

Sep 12, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

Whitby/Durham restaurants that don't suck

hey breadcrumbs, i reviewed 'the table' a few posts up. . .solid place. . .

Whitby/Durham restaurants that don't suck

tried the wok box back in may. . .

in a word, regrettable. tried the butter chicken w/ rice box, and the dan dan noodles box.

neither were particularly authentic, and i left with the strong sense that i was not their target audience. sorry if i offend, but if you are a suburbanite that has never had a foray into the actual city where decent asian food awaits, and you think ketchup is a condiment that accentuates most foods, then the wok box is for you.

i don't know what i expected from a franchised chain like this, but i got what a strip mall food outlet is capable of.

case in point: naan bread was the factory produced option that you can buy at costco in plastic-wrapped bundles. you can look all you want for a tandoor--you will not find it. . .you will not come close. . .

Whitby/Durham restaurants that don't suck

about 10-15 minutes from whitby, on simcoe st. in oshawa is 'the table'. . .they are a breakfast to lunch place only (open 7am, close 4pm, m-f, similar hours on saturday, closed on sunday).

i would consider this place a hidden gem. this is not michelin star dining, and it reminded me of euro-style cafeteria dining that i experienced in germany and italy, and for those who remember movenpick here in the gta. nevertheless (and most importantly), all of their food is fresh and tasty, and their menu basically caters to those who appreciate healthy, nutritious foods--you will not find greasy, fat-laden gut bombs here. this place will not appeal to everyone, but it should.

if you've ever eaten at the various locations of "fresh" in the gta, consider 'the table' to be a durham version, with a lot more communal grace, and a lot less pretension and hipsters. they are a soup/salad/sandwich place, with available vegetarian and vegan options all over the menu.

on two separate visits, had an excellent grilled turkey panini, using real roasted turkey (not processed), a tasty 'little italy' breakfast sandwich (with pesto mixed right into the egg), and a wonderfully moist and tasty vegan sweet potato/walnut muffin. we also had a salad sampler, which nets you the opportunity to taste up to 6 different scoops of their various salads.

we sampled a kale and cabbage salad, a quinoa salad, a wild rice salad with peanuts and dressed with fragrant sesame oil, a roasted carrot salad with a zesty and spicy pepper dressing, a wonderful lentil salad that was redolent with sweet garam masala, and finally a chick pea salad that was simple but filling. it was exciting to sample six salads and discover that each had a unique flavour and texture profile.

they have comfy armchairs at the front for a cafe feel, and a large, long bench-style 'table' at the back for a lovely sense of communal eating.

yes, it's in an interesting part of town, but well worth it, and we will be back. for the moment, they are cash only, until they resolve their point of sale terminal issues (which i'm told they are working on).

Whitby/Durham restaurants that don't suck

should have posted this months ago, but had a couple of pies at 'pie' back in the spring (may?). . .

they were overcooked and like yours, burnt. there was nothing remarkable about either pizza (we had a quattro formaggio, and a 'porky pie'). . .

really wanted to like this place, but am now convinced to revisit maraschino's. . .

BERO has closed

this is such a weird thread. . .

full disclosure, i have not eaten there, but it was on my short list.

not sure why there is such hate for this man, and after reading the posts here, watching the linked videos, and perusing his website, i still don't get it.

correct me if i'm wrong, but he ran bero as a chef's tasting menu restaurant only, without a la carte. therefore it's pretty much implied when you choose to make a reservation that you are putting yourself in the hands of the chef and trusting their judgement. it's not like he will fail to accomodate allergies, et al, as he clearly mentions that with proper notice he will try his best to do so.

yes, to some, he may sound douche-y but that is really a subjective assessment; and yes, he may have been guilty of employing the wrong word to describe his work and product, but again, that's wide open to interpretation. yet, i suspect that most who view their chosen profession with a high degree of passion often fall to using hyperbole.

and if tweezers happen to be the instrument necessary to compose a particular dish the way a chef wants it, why does it matter? could the same result have been accomplished using their fingers or some other implement? perhaps, but unless the restaurant has an open kitchen, will a diner know the difference when their plate is presented? will it make one iota of difference in the consumption experience?

and finally, what meaningful value does a chef's perceived personality have to do with how we should judge a restaurant? if he's arrogant, pompous, and a douche--but treats his staff impeccably, does that make him worse than a humble man who nevertheless is an absolute tyrant with his brigade? or vice versa?

judging from the people who have eaten there, his food sounds delicious, and based on charles' photos it looks like there is a considerable degree of effort made to compose dishes (moreso than some restos i've eaten at that were michelin and james beard award winners). . .

fwiw, once he settles into a new place, i for one would be interested in eating there, and no, i'm not buying into his rhetoric about food is art, blah, blah, blah. . .

richmond station -- what to order?

returned for the burger today, and we also sampled the quinoa salad and a swordfish sandwich, both meals were accompanied by rosemary fries, and a delcious mustard seed mayo for dipping. . .happy to report that richmond station is still excellent! service was superb, and the portions were, for us, more than filling--it made for a substantial lunch that neither of us could finish. . .

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

the ontario board would welcome any inquiries--it's pretty active there, and there are some fantastic hounds there with significantly more experience and expertise than me. . .if opinionatedchef were to post there, i would certainly do my best to return the favour in terms of advice!

Aug 18, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

many thanks again for your valuable advice--in the end, we dropped no. 9 park in favour of craigie, and had to flip around some reservations as craigie doesn't open on mondays. . .

Aug 18, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

i have come to the conclusion that americans just do fried dough better than we do. i also hope to have some time to add a report on some of the drinking establishments we visited, our dinners, muqeuca, and the pem in salem.

Aug 18, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

let's not forget that at the end of the day, it's still a donut, lol. . .these were good, but not revolutionary--hopefully you'll enjoy them as much as i did!

Aug 18, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

part two:

despite hearing that donuts may not be a standout for the boston scene, we did have the opportunity to sample a few exemplars:

ohlin's, betty ann food shop, and kane's

many thanks for the advice about calling ahead to ohlin's, as we arrived in town later than expected. judiciously timed, we called when they were down to their last 8 or so, and had some boxed and waiting for us when we arrived at around 4pm. verdict--solid, but not mind-blowingly exceptional. the ohlin's fritter is substantial, but not freakishly so. shaped like a flattened disc, it is flecked with smallish nuggets of apple, and depending on which one you get, can be anywhere from delicately infused with cinnamon, to coursing with massive veins of the spice. the fritter itself is dense and coated completely by a thin coating of simple syrup. this glaze kept the fritter fairly fresh and moist, even later in the day, and allowed for successful reheating the next day (and even the next). just as a personal preference, i prefer apple fritters to have more apple presence, with ample large chunks of the fruit. this was more like a very good glazed cinnamon flavoured donut.

betty ann food shop sells old school donuts, in a minimalist setting, at old-school prices. easy to miss, the signage for the corner shop is not exactly eye catching, but at 9am in the morning, the donuts are still warm, and sold by the satchel-ful for less than a dollar a piece. the raspberry jam filled donut is the standout here, the filling warm and sweet and bursting from the donut with each bite, as the grains of sugar that coat the surface spill down your shirt. the old fashioned cake donut is a solid representation of the donuts of my childhood--modestly sized, dense enough to be dunked into coffee or hot chocolate, and not overly sweet. the lemon-filled donut is a disappointment, with the filling much too sweet, with not enough tart or zing, and a weird, chemical aftertaste.

kane's donuts, imho, would lay waste to the toronto donut scene. how a shop like this survives in its location is beyond me--other than the evidence of a steady stream of customers, most who seem like both locals and regular patrons. they have an astonishing selection of old standbys, more boutique flavours, and 3 daily flavours tossed in for good measure. at $1.75 a donut, it is a relative bargain, imho. a mixture of old and new, a kane's donut certainly has the size of a contemporary donut (maybe not quite as large as some of the behemoths from doughnut plant in nyc) but blends both traditional and new approaches to the finished product--a caramel apple donut is filled with huge gobs of apple pie filling, and then neatly topped with a sweet caramel icing dip; a pb&j donut receives a jam filling, but is hand-finished with swoops of real peanut butter on top, spread with what looked like the flat of a butter knife--a far cry from the nyc-dplant version with pb glaze and little dabs of filling in each corner of a planetary-sized gut bomb. yet, these same donuts could be sold in a boutique-style storefront at twice the price here in the gta, and trust me when i say i've had worse and paid more.

as an aside, i did venture into toscanini's and was able to come away with a small cup of their burnt caramel flavour--deep and rich, i definitely see why bostonians rave about t's. . .it's excellent, and during the hot, humid days were were in town, it was a perfect option.

Aug 16, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

part one:

we have returned, and would like to add a trip report to the board and thank everyone who helped with thoughtful suggestions that i tried to incorporate as much as possible (and perhaps should have tried harder). . .disclaimer--the original itinerary was ridiculously optimistic, and our final hounding did not match our intentions--lol, although i suspect that is often the case with all plans

(apologies in advance for not crediting by name every ch'er who took the time to post, and for not basing my opinions on any expertise with regards to criteria by which certain area items are 'traditionally' deemed 'the best')

cannoli: mike's/modern/maria's

we opted to compare the original, ricotta-based version, flavoured only by a light dusting of confectioner's sugar. verdict: maria's, with modern a very close second. maria's was flaky, with a crisp and delicious shell that shattered on first bite, spilling out a creamy and sweet filling that tasted more like fresh vanilla cream than ricotta cheese. modern was so close, and so similar. mike's finished last, in large part to being pre-filled. when we arrived at 2pm, the place was not busy, and we actually had no line to contend with, which probably explains why we received pre-filled--they expected more turnover, and when they didn't get it, we suffered with a shell that was slightly soggy, hard but not crisp, and managed to maintain its shape despite being bitten into--if i hadn't known that both modern and mike's shells came from the same factory, i would never have guessed. mike's filling was good, albeit more cheesy and less sweet.

oh, and the lobster roll at maria's? great suggestion! what a confection! a massive, flaky, and delicious variant of a cream horn that was impossible for one (and almost two people) to finish. was not expecting this, and was frankly overwhelmed by the pastry.

as for actual lobster rolls, our stomachs could only manage two places during this visit--neptune and row 34. we arrived at neptune just as they opened, and only dealt with a short lineup as we were seated very quickly. since our server was quick to inform us that they 'were known' for their warm, buttered version, that is what we ordered. the place is lively, and there were lots of talkative diners that were very vocal about their love for neptune's offerings, something that doesn't happen too frequently in the gta. contrast that to row 34 in fort point, where the atmosphere is decidedly up-market, with a lot of suits gracing the tables and tasteful lighting to enhance the mood.
as for the food, i'd have to say that while people are correct about the size of the mound of fries that come with your roll at neptune, the actual roll was better at row 34. the bun at neptune was soaked in melted butter, and disintegrated by about the third bite. the butter was laid in so thick, that the roll lay in a small lake of it. meanwhile, at row 34, the herbed bun is toasted and buttered, a split-top bun that held its contents better despite being equally lathered with butter, and while there was less overall meat quantity, i noted that the chunks were larger, and contained more tail meat. row 34's roll also came with a small ramekin of vinegared slaw, and a pile of house-made crisps that were perfectly fried and seasoned. while both were good, i'll take row 34's better quality over neptune's slightly greater quantity. as for experience tho, neptune wins hands down, even though row 34 has a much larger venue and seating is harder to come by at neptune.

Aug 16, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

Bastourma at Marche Adonis: Yum!

my understanding is that it was turkish, and spread through the ottoman empire to countries like egypt, where i ate it regularly. interestingly, the versions i had in cairo were much milder than the one i recently purchased in toronto, from an egyptian grocer--the taste of fenugreek was very, very strong this time. just ate the last of it yesterday, cooked with some eggs. . .excellent!

Want to get a taste of Canada for a family vacation

Fwiw, op is apparently from new Jersey and there's a beard papa on the uws in NYC... Bridge and tunnel that one and save time for your other suggestions... I happen to love Saskatoon berries but I think they are an acquired taste for some.... Hope they can find some of the jam... Superb on toast

Cocktails before Richmond Station this Saturday night.

fyi, i think op has come and gone--his dinner was last saturday, iirc. maybe your tips will help the next patron at richmond station. fwiw, i thought richmond station did decent cocktails of their own. . .

Bad Service - Libretto's on Ossington

bms, thanks for the suggestion to re-read the thread--you are correct. i was responding to bby, and when your post dropped into the mix as a reply to my post. . .hence my confusion.

gold, jerry, gold!

Bad Service - Libretto's on Ossington

okay, i thought i understood your post, but now i am definitely more confused.

first off, i was actually agreeing with you that vpn is 'kind of bs', when i said that the certificate doesn't guarantee quality. my comment was not a 'digression' as far as i can tell. . .

but, are you suggesting that comparing motorino to libretto is apples to apples? when did motorino actually become certified? don't get me wrong, they do a solid pizza. . .but, comparing these two is an example of what i suggested was problematic. . .

unless your point is suggest that a non-vpn joint can be as consistent or more consistent than one that is certified vpn. on that point, i agree--totally possible. however, your blanket statement that when 'comparing vpn joints in nyc and toronto' you would spend your dollars in nyc is puzzling since i don't believe any of the places you mentioned in the five boroughs is actually vpn-certified.

for the record, libretto has been consistent every time i've been--good, not great. maybe i just got lucky?

as for taking offense, none taken--given that vpn sets those restrictive guidelines, it makes it pretty hard to make truly terrible vpn pizza (but not impossible). that's why i have a hard time with your statement that nyc vpn is 'way better' than toronto.

yes, every city has something they specialize in. i don't think in either case (ny or toronto) that thing is vpn. if we're talking ny pizza, imho, that specialization is coal oven.

and btw, i've had good, bad, and great pizza in naples as well

Bad Service - Libretto's on Ossington

vpn is no guarantee of a good pie, that's for sure. the spectrum of quality that hides behind a certificate is very broad, and viva napoli is a great example to pick.

my point was only that if a vpn joint with the limitations placed on it by the organization is compared with a place like don antonio, that serves a similar style, but can do things like drop their formed dough into a fryolator before saucing and topping their pie--not sure that comparison is fair.

as for that style in nyc, i have come to the conclusion that i'm going to stick with john's on bleecker if i want pizza in nyc from here on in. there are some places in brooklyn (roberta's and juliana's) that i still want to try, but coal oven style is imho, the best that nyc offers for pie.

Bad Service - Libretto's on Ossington

okay, thanks for the clarification. so when you originally said you've had far better vpn in nyc, you really meant neapolitan style pizza, not vpn.

having eaten at keste, motorino, don antonio, and forcella, i'd say that there are some good neapolitan style pizzas in nyc. none of them, imho are consistently better than our top places here.

and yes, it may just be pizza, but to compare vpn certified places (with all of their constraints) with neapolitan "style" pizza joints--not sure that's always a fair comparison.

nyc has plenty of bad pizza, for the record. . .dollar a slice places hawking utility slices dripping in orange grease, come to mind.

Bad Service - Libretto's on Ossington

just curious as to which restos you think are the top nyc pizzerias for vpn, the ones that are better than pep, qmp, or libretto. . .

Bad Service - Libretto's on Ossington

vpn also is commonly used as an abbreviation for 'virtual private network', hence jules' comment. . .

fwiw, i think nyc doesn't do vpn any better than toronto. . .

The Costco Thread - Ontario - 2014 - July to September

looks like they finally sourced a quasi-replacement for the superfoods greens mix they discontinued this spring, by carrying the baby kale.

wonder what size the bag is--i've been buying and using straight kale in my morning smoothies ever since they dropped the mix.

cheers for letting us know about this add. . .

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

at that point in our itinerary, we will be in a car, so transportation will not be an issue and getting the bikes out of the car will only take a minute. . .cheers to everyone for the advice on salem. . .

Jul 24, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

thanks sm--temperature pending, i guess a wholesale re-think on swapping ice creams for fried batter may be in order! between t's, jp lick's, and christina's, looks like there are a lot of options. . .thanks to opinionatedchef for the tips. . .

Jul 24, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

Easy question: Any good *dinner* buffets in Boston area?

the bus loads of asian tourists in buffets probably has more to do with two things:
first, not everyone travels wholly or even in part for the food. sometimes it is just about seeing the places, and perhaps the people. for these people, food that is comfortable or approximates what is comfort, is primary consideration when it comes to filling their belly. . .utility food will do.
second, the tour operators depend on venues that can handle bus-size groups and are flexible enough to deal with the vagaries of traffic and undependable schedules/reservations. a lot of these tours run on very thin margins as well, so no-frills buffets fit the bill. not to mention, they work well with really tight timetables that might only have a 1-hour window for a particular meal--hard to do in any real restaurant that requires waiter service, proper ordering, etc.

just my .02 cents worth

Jul 23, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

jpan--thanks for the tip--yeah, that has been my experience with most places--by late afternoon (sometimes before noon!), they are either sold out or liquidating their supply (depending on demand) to empty their shelves. i guess we will roll the dice and hope for the best.

chef--yes, those next morning fritters, warmed up a bit and supplemented with the right caffeine source, are a nice gut bomb to begin the day! if we get the chance, we will call ahead. . .cheers

Jul 23, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

allstonian--thanks for the background on salem--imho, museums tend to be done better in the u.s.--the rom is a hectic, jumbled and very busy experience. you get twice the number of exhibits in 2/3rds the size of venue. it's like they have all of this material and they desperately want to have it on display. meanwhile, in american museums, i notice that they take a bit more time to curate their holdings and this adds to the experience of the patrons.

Jul 23, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

snowflake--will keep the idea of a short nosh at icob in mind, thanks! phoenix landing is going to be a fall back if the weather doesn't cooperate on any particular night, but good to know about b&m. . .

allstonian--yeah, i did in my mind have a map of where the two were, and calculated that they were not terribly close, but if they fall within our path (of destruction, haha) then it still might work. . .

Jul 21, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area

three nights in boston -- please help, lots of questions! (warning--long post)

mrs santos---great info! thanks!

lol, that 15 min rule seems like an invitation to binge drink and behave badly. . .tempting to un-retire the old funnel from university days. . .kidding

Jul 21, 2014
afong56 in Greater Boston Area