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Bringing My Own Knife to Restaurants from now on. -_-

A sharp knife isn't necessary to eat steak, but it is certainly more pleasurable to use. When I break down meat primals, I constantly hone my knife so that it glides through the muscle. Same goes for raw fish when preparing sushi. The fish is by no means tough, but a dull serrated knife is not the ideal tool to do the job. I like having the knife go through the food with one swipe and minimal effort.

Jul 21, 2014
fledflew in Cookware

Bringing My Own Knife to Restaurants from now on. -_-

I usually carry a pair of chopsticks and a knife with me. The Vietnamese and Japanese restaurant that I frequent have disposable chopsticks that are splintery and warped. They are also handy for certain foods that are usually not eaten with chopsticks (oysters on the half shell, leafy green salads, etc).
I keep a knife around for the same reasons the OP mentioned. I'm unclear on why some steakhouses seem to think that a crude knife with large dull teeth is the best thing to use on a piece of meat. With those, I end up tearing up the meat when sawing through it. A sharp, non-serrated knife glides through the meat. I do need to hone/sharpen it on a regular basis though because porcelain plates tend to dull the edge fairly quickly. I suspect that one of the reasons a lot of restaurants don't have decent smooth bladed knives (whether they know it or not). Mine is not an extravagant knife - I got a 4 pack from the restaurant supply store for about $10.

Jul 21, 2014
fledflew in Cookware

For those who love offals, which are your favorite?

1 - Tripe
2 - Feet (chicken, pig, duck, etc)
3 - Giblets (hearts, gizzards, etc from poultry)

In that order.

Jul 18, 2014
fledflew in General Topics

How often do you drink at lunch during the work week?

By day, I'm a part time freelance IT guy, but rented space as a tenant within an ad agency for several years. If I took lunch with some of the creative guys from the agency, we'd all have a drink or two or three. If I have to be in my office for something (but am not actually working), then I'll often have a drink in the office while watching television or reading. Some of the creative guys at the agency have mini fridges of beer in their office and one guy even has a mini bar in his area. Downstairs, there is a kegerator, all sorts of liquor, and a fridge full of champagne, mixers, wine, etc. Oh yeah, there was a cocktail bar next door that we'd sometimes have impromptu "meetings" at too. That being said, people there work hard and you weren't wandering around drunk. The booze usually didn't get flowing unless it was later in the afternoon and usually towards the end of the week.
If I'm at a client site then no, I generally don't drink because I don't know what their alcohol policies are.

At night, I bar back part-time and the booze definitely flows there.

Brain surgeons, elementary school teachers, limo drivers, and the like - I get the no alcohol thing. But I feel for people who work office jobs and want to enjoy a glass of wine with their lunch but can't due to company policy. More than a few times, I've received the "Man, I wish I was allowed to have a beer right now" comment from the table next to me when I was out to lunch.

Jul 18, 2014
fledflew in Not About Food

Chinese stuffed duck?

I had it a couple years ago with my family at a restaurant in Cupertino. I do not know the restaurant name, but it was on Stevens Creek Road just east of Wolfe next door to a vacuum cleaner shop. Hopefully somebody can help with the name,
I believe it is a special pre-order item. Although it was roasted, it was also braised and the meat didn't seem to have much of the rich duck flavor that I love. We also had the braised pork belly which was the memorable dish of the meal.

Smoking my first Beef Tongue

When I prepare braised beef tongue, I boil it in water for about 25-30 minutes first. This tightens up the muscle to make it easier to handle and allows me to remove the skin more easily. Some pieces of the skin peel off, but I do end up having to trim off quite a bit of the skin as well - I find a sharp boning/filet type knife works well for this. Regarding the pastrami spices, I would maybe coat it the day before to let the spices penetrate the meat. I'd be careful not to oversmoke the meat. Besides that, I can't comment on the rest of your process since I've always used a moist cooking method. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

Cheap eats for foodies?

Regarding cheap eats - I'm a big fan of Fat Choy at the Eureka Casino on Sahara. The proprietor used to run a food truck in town and is known for his baos (duck and pork belly). The restaurant now serves asian and american food - burgers, wonton soup, short rib grilled cheese, duck rice, etc. It's an awesome spot!

Jun 30, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Best Char Siu

BBQ King on Spring Mountain just west of Lindell. They have a bunch of hanging HK style BBQ items (char siu, roast duck, roast pork, etc). I've had better in other cities, but they turn out pretty consistent and quality stuff for LV.

Jun 26, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Dinner near Arizona Biltmore

Noca and Tarbell's are two other excellent restaurants close by the Biltmore.

Jun 25, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

What food items have you only had canned but never fresh?

Smoked oysters
Pickled jalapenos (in escabeche)
Baby corn

Jun 18, 2014
fledflew in General Topics

Recs for Lunch and Dinner at Mandalay Bay

I really like RM - I think they do a fantastic job with their seafood. Drinks are also very good in the lounge area.

I would advise you to skip Fleur. The menu isn't really outstanding or notable in any way, but the service can be real hit or miss. I've eaten there 4 times over the past couple years. I've had average service twice and really negligent, lazy, and dismissive service the other two times. They were never especially busy during any of my visits and I couldn't put my finger on what the causes were.

Jun 09, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Mexican or Asian in downtown Las Vegas

Le Thai is an awesome spot for a tasty meal. They have one of my favorite versions of Thai beef noodle soup.

Mar 27, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

help pick one fab dinner

For one chance to make it fabulous, go with Joel (not Atelier). An alternative on the same level to Joel Robuchon would be Guy Savoy's place at Caesars.

Mar 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

The Strip vs Fremont/Downtown

As mentioned above, the food downtown isn't anywhere near as refined, but it is magnitudes cheaper. If you want very good food (not comparable to best on the strip though) without breaking the wallet, there are plenty of places off strip that can meet expectations. If mobility is an issue, the Barrymore near Wynn/Encore is an excellent choice. You can get a decent steak on Paradise for considerably less than on the strip. Also check out Charlie Palmer's Cut of the Week. If the menu works for you, it's a steal. There are a few hidden gems (some on and some near the strip) that will probably serve you well at an acceptable price point. Depending on when you're planning to go has an impact as well. Lots of top notch strip restaurants offer an unpublicized/locals prix fix menu during the off season.

Mar 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Visiting Phoenix - Looking for Oaxacan or good Mexican

Take a look at Gallo Blanco. Great spot in central Phoenix.

Mar 04, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

Cow Tongue

I've seen it at the Ranch 99 market on Spring Mountain in the past. I'm not sure if it's always in stock, but they were whole and unpeeled in the case next to the cow tripe and tendons.

Mar 04, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

best craft cocktail bar?

The Downtown Cocktail Room is an excellent spot.

Feb 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Anybody on this board seen or done a WHOLE SWORD FISH over fire?

Sweet and spicy glaze sounds great. For the volume that you're dealing with, the quantities of gourmet jelly can get pretty expensive though. Maybe buy a bunch of apricot or raspberry jam from Costco as a base and doctor it up with pureed jalapenos, chipotles, herbs, some champagne, and wine vinegar for the glaze.
I think a very liquidy salsa (I'm thinking pico de gallo with lots of lime juice and salt to draw out the tomato moisture) would do well to moisten any dried parts of the fish.
Would you be opposed to turning any of the cooked fish into a second dish like swordfish enchiladas?

Weekend in Phoenix!

A great burger can be found at Delux. Although "gourmet" burgers can be found almost everywhere in Phoenix these days, they often use commodity ingredients and are simply overpriced. Delux uses Niman Ranch beef, has a great beer selection, and is open late.
Another favorite burger of mine is at St. Francis - their French onion burger. Brioche, gruyere, smoked bacon, and onions.
If you are available on Saturday afternoon (they close at 4pm, I think), hit up Rito's in the Garfield district of downtown Phoenix. It's located in a residential neighborhood and has been around forever. Outstanding green chili burritos. It's amazing soupy green chili inside a tortilla. If you think you might have trouble eating liquid in a burrito without making a complete mess, then get it enchilada style so you can fork and knife it.
A couple blocks away from Rito's is Playa Hermosa. It's a fantastic Mexican seafood restaurant. Ceviches, campenchana, fish and everything else is fantastic here.
Unique hot dogs can be found at Sit and Stay on Roosevelt and 1st Street. It's the brick and mortar incarnation of the short leash food truck. Very creative and inventive hot dog creations.
Other great places are Welcome Diner, Federal Pizza, La Piazza Locale, Bink's Midtown, Gallo Blanco, Vovomeena, Barrio Café, The Vig Fillmore (drink on their patio), Jobot (coffee and a crepe on the patio), and Tuck Shop.

Depending on when the last time you were in town, there are a whole lot of new spots (both bars and restaurants) in the central Phoenix and downtown area.

Feb 12, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

Anybody on this board seen or done a WHOLE SWORD FISH over fire?

I have never seen a whole swordfish cooked over a fire. That being said, I would think that the cow rack that you're going to utilize might need the gaps between the grates reduced to reduce the possibility of the fish falling apart and through the holes as you turn it during cooking. This would depend on the cow rack itself, of course. You could accomplish this by lining the cow rack with a metal mesh or maybe a bed of woody herbs (something like rosemary??).
As mentioned above. an uneven bed of coals would address the issue of variance in meat thickness.
It may be advantageous to serve the whole fish several different ways after it comes off the fire. Mix some sort of mango or pineapple salsa with the shredded meat that comes from the tail section because it may be more cooked and not as moist. It could be served with chips the same way you'd serve a ceviche. The large chunks of moist meat near the head might do well over a bed of greens with a vinaigrette type dressing. The middle section put into flour tortillas to make tacos.

Central Phoenix - Sunday evening meeting restaurant?

Coco's on 7th Street just north of Mcdowell would match your price point and location requirements

Jan 29, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

Spin-Off: What gins to people love?

My favorite gin is Citadelle. It comes across as complex with a lot of aromatics and a bit of citrus. It utilizes 19 botanicals. Unfortunately, I rarely see it when I'm out.

When I'm at a restaurant or bar, I like Tanqueray with my tonic water. Sapphire in my martinis. Every once in a while, I'll have a Hendricks and tonic with a bruised cucumber.

Jan 09, 2014
fledflew in Spirits

What is your choice of drink in the morning?

I developed some negative reactions to caffeine a few years ago so I had to cut out green tea, which I used to drink in large quantities. Sadly, the occasional toddy or coffee is also no more. These days, it's fresh squeezed OJ a couple days a week. V8 maybe once a week. Fresh tangerine mimosas or screwdrivers on weekends.

Jan 09, 2014
fledflew in General Topics

Restaurants not in hotels/ casinos

I second this rec on Ferraro's. Everytime I've been there, the food was very good, the service excellent, and the prices were very reasonable. They should be able to accommodate a group of 20-25 very comfortably.

Jan 07, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Leftover roasted vegetables

Enchiladas, frittata, panini,, pasta dish

Jan 07, 2014
fledflew in Home Cooking

Where to order a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving?

Sprouts carries a very good fresh turkey this time of year. I've gotten them 3-4 times in the past and have had excellent results. In the past, they've always been $1.49/lb. I think it's magnitudes better than a supermarket frozen turkey, maybe not quite as good as a heritage bird that one would order from a whole foods or farm. I say maybe because I think it depends on what you're used to eating and what you're looking for in a turkey. I know you can call ahead to reserve one, but I would confirm that they are open Thanksgiving day.

Nov 07, 2013
fledflew in Las Vegas

What's your favorite recipe for a whole chicken cut up?

I like doing a pan roasted chicken with sauce. Not so much a recipe, but a technique.
Take the chicken pieces and brine them if you want (not necessary though).
Preheat oven to 400 f.
Lightly dust the chicken pieces. Hopefully, the bird is cut in to 8 pieces. If not, break it down to 8 pieces.
Heat a pan on med high heat and add a few tablespoons of oil.
Brown chicken pieces on all sides.
When chicken is browned (about 7-8 minutes total in pan), put the whole pan into the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through. Check with a thermometer if in doubt.
Take out the chicken pieces from the pan and set on a platter to rest.
Build a pan sauce with the drippings. I usually use some shallot, white wine or dry vermouth to deglaze, and add some herbs or mushrooms (whatever I have around). I sometimes add a splash of cream if I have it. Finish with a knob of butter and then pour it over the chicken.

Nov 06, 2013
fledflew in Home Cooking

Need Phoenix advice

Kevin Binkley opened Bink's midtown a couple months back. Very good local stuff and much closer to the city than his other location.
http://binksmidtown.com/

Nov 05, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix

Fatback in Phoenix

You might try asking at the meat counter in a Sprouts store. They make several types of sausage onsite and I imagine that they have to use fatback themselves.

Oct 31, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix

Bargain eats in Vegas? Plus, Lotus of Siam still good?

I apologize for my wording above. I should have and meant to say that many of the sauces and curries taste canned. I do not know for a fact whether or not they are. What I do know is that they are not the same ones that they were serving several years ago. Of the people that I've spoken with at length about this, many of them have noticed this as well. Previously, the curries had a more distinct texture from the galangal, chiles, etc. Now it's an extremely smooth paste. Additionally, the sharp flavor from fresh aromatics and the fruity complex character from the chiles is no longer present in the panang that they're serving. It now tastes just like a curry paste that is available from Thailand - Namprik Maesri brand to be exact. Is it bad? No. Whether or not it's in use at POS, I don't know. I do know that a lot of their food has changed in both flavor, freshness, and portion size from a few years ago. With the exception of some of their specialty dishes, the food is generally unremarkable now and comparable food can be found at other Thai restaurants in LV.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a bad restaurant - it just isn't the holy grail of Thai food that it once was. I used to eat there all the time. They even gave me a staff shirt back in the day because they used to joke about how often I ate there, that I should work there. It's just no longer worth the wait, the shrinking portions, the hit or miss service, and the higher than average prices.

Oct 08, 2013
fledflew in Las Vegas