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Totto Ramen- first visit

I’ve been lazy about posting lately, but I see a vacuum that needs to be filled. We stopped by Totto around 8:30 on a week night and the wait was less than 10 mins. It emptied out quickly after that, so going a little later might give you no wait at all.

We had the Miso Ramen and the Spicy Ramen. Neither one looked as nice as their web page photos. I liked the spicy one a bit better, but my dining companion preferred the miso, so that worked out well. The spicy was only mild to medium. Both broths were good, but not memorable. The torched pork belly on both was very tasty. It was tender, with a bit of char flavor from the blow torch.

I might have been more impressed, but just a few days earlier we had been in NYC and went to Momofuku Noodle Bar. Their presentation, depth of flavor in the broth and springiness of the noodles were all far superior to Totto. It’s been a long time since I was last at Ken’s, but my memory tells me that I liked Totto about as well. I haven’t been to Yume Wo Katare, so I’ve got no comparison there.

We also had the Char Siu Mayo Don, basically more of the pork belly on rice with mayo squirted on top. I wouldn’t bother with that again; maybe just order more of the char siu on top of the ramen if I wanted more porky goodness.

The staff were very pleasant and often asked if we needed anything. It was fun to sit at the bar and watch them put the food together. I suppose I’d go again, if the wait was short enough, but there is a lot of competition from other, perhaps more interesting, food in that area.

Tasty little sausages at La Chapincita market in Waltham!

I found them in the refrigerator case in the back right of the shop. A small ziplock baggie with the label : Longaniza Especial. It contained about 7 small links for $3.75.

They were very good and unusual (to me, at least). Raw pork sausages with mint and salty cheese. The cheese was a surprise- it leaked out while cooking into a delicious frico. I think if I make them again, I would not separate the links until after cooking to better try and keep it inside.

The sausages were a little dry, but perhaps I cooked them a bit too long. Still, they were excellent with some rice and beans for dinner.

They also had ready to eat chicken tamales next to the register. They were good, but not great.

But I always enjoy checking out that little shop.

Best ever salt & pepper shrimp at Wonder Cafe in Watertown

Although much of their business is take-out Chinese American, they have a few gems. Their salt and pepper shrimp is the best version I've ever had in the Boston area- including Peach Farm. Crispy, salty with tasty little fried bits of scallion, shallot and basil on top. Make sure you specify 'shell-on'.

They also make a very decent dry fried beef chow fun as well as good ginger/garlic chinese broccoli.

One thing I haven't cared for there was: Ma La Style Calamari. Kinda bland and no ma la detected...

But we just went this weekend to support local businesses that had to be closed on Friday and was reminded again how much I love those shrimp!

Best place to buy live lobsters this time of the year?

I know prices may be high, but it's for my Dad's 80th b-day. I'd actually rather pay a bit more and have lobsters with good flavor, and not for bugs that have lived in a tank for a long time. Hopefully the boats are going out, but I guess these storms don't help. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Near or At Natick Mall

The last time I was at Sel de la Terre in Natick it was amazingly awful. I wrote a letter to the manager rather than a scathing review here, but I wouldn't recommend it at all.

January 2013 Openings and Closings

I read on a building permit taped to the window: A new Japanese restaurant with sushi and BBQ setups is going into the ex-Blockbuster site in the shopping center on Watertown St, on the Newton/Watertown line (the one with Stop and Shop and Forever Fit gym). The place is currently gutted, so it's going to take some time.

Purple Taro at HMart?

Is that also the same thing as a purple yam? I got one at Russo's a couple of months ago. I haven't noticed if it has been there lately. It was in the outside section near the sweet potatoes. It was a beautiful lavender color when cooked- just like the coating on the taro buns at Yi Soon Bakery.

China King in CTown

I just got an "Urban Daddy' email that says it is the King Fung couple. Maybe you should try the duck!

Ga ga Seafood, Chinatown.

Went there for dinner last night. Although many places in Ctown had lines out the door, Ga Ga was less than half full. One plus in winter- it was nicely heated and it's up a flight of stairs, so it doesn't get cold drafts of wind like some of the smaller places.

Another poster mentioned that the roasted squab was a favorite, so we ordered that. It was good, but not too exciting. I think I just prefer squab cooked med rare, and this was a crispy, well done version. Of course the squab I've had in the past that I really liked cost 3x more at a fancy chef-driven restaurant.

On the wall, there were a bunch of specials that the owner patiently translated for us. I remember one was twin lobsters, another was a pork blood dish, and unfortunately now I can't remember most of the others. But one sounded good and turned out to be slices of surf clams stir fried with lots of thick chives and ground pork. The clams were not 'clammy' like cherrystones or steamers- they were more like squid body in texture. They were tender and sweet and the dish overall was quite tasty.

We also had the seafood combination soup, which was a thickened clear soup chock full of small pieces of fish, lobster claw and maybe some fake crab. It hit the spot on a cold night, but it wasn't mind-blowing.

The owner was very nice and described all the live fish and seafood they have available. The staff is pleasant too, and if you were wondering, yes, the background music does seem to include lots of Lady GaGa!

I suggested that they have a translation of their specials so those of us who can't read Chinese can order those too. The owner said it was his experience that non-Chinese really only want the chicken fingers, etc anyhow. Perhaps there are other hounds out there to prove that wrong! They're worth a try.

Strip T's increasing funkiness

I went last night and it wasn't that crowded. There were a number of empty tables at 7:30. I think they were expecting a bigger crowd because of the Phoenix review, but it was totally empty by 9pm and they had planned on staying open until 10. Maybe this weekend will be more crowded, but it hasn't hit yet.

Although the flavors were great, much seemed rather dry or overcooked last night, especially the bluefish over the very tasty grits. The baby octopi and pig tails were perhaps chewier than they should have been. The brioche doughnuts were like lead sinkers...

I'd go back, because it's interesting, the service is nice and the prices are good. Certainly worth another try! (except for those doughnuts....)

Thumbs down for Beach Haven Fishery, thumbs up for Mud City Crabhouse- LBI area

We got takeout from Beach Haven fishery the other night. They should be ashamed! The menu says:

Famous Fishery Crab Cakes - Two large fresh all lump crab cakes made daily. It was $22-

They were small, shredded, not lump and tasted mainly of the pickle relish they added to them. There should be a black box warning on them. Caution! Tastes like hot dog relish!! Fries were soggy, and I'm sure they would have been better if not takeout, but not by much. We tried heating them in the oven back at the rental, but they didn't improve sufficiently for any of us to eat many.

The Northeast Twin (fried Scallops & Shrimp) for $21 was composed of 4 shrimp, 4 scallops and more soggy fries. The scallops and shrimp looked like they were bought frozen and already breaded.

The cole slaw was forgettable and the tartar and cocktail sauces were prepacked commercial stuff.

I would not recommend them at all. Very poor quality to price ratio.

In contrast, on another night, for about the same price, the lump crab cakes at Mud City were very good. They were a decent size and tasted of crab, not filler. Fries were crispy and good. We also enjoyed a special of sauteed cod with a tomato caper sauce.

Maybe those who go to LBI often already know these things, but perhaps this is helpful info for those of us who haven't been very often.

Sep 12, 2011
silver queen in New Jersey

B&G Oysters - Are you kidding me!?

I once sent the lobster roll back at B&G after a bite or two. I couldn't believe how cold and tasteless it was for the price. If the price is high, so are my expectations. It was a case, as hyde mentions, of something that I've made better at home.

Need suggestion for Thursday (sept 1) for 7-8 people after our civil ceremony at Castle Island.

What about Sam's at Louis next to the ICA? Its a beautiful view from there. Or maybe Strega Waterfront would have something for you.

It's supposed to be nice on Thursday: charter a boat for where you can bring your own drinks and food!
One example:

379 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113

East Boston suggestions wanted!

But you can go around the block to Frio Rico and get a minuta! (Shaved ice with fruit and sweetened condensed milk)

Frio Rico
360R Bennington St, Boston, MA 02128

Best of Dorchester Vietnamese?

Will they let you get the bo 7 mon for 2 people for a table of 3? I'd like to get it, but perhaps would like to get some other things too. If I get it for 3- will we have room for anything else?

Nudo Gelateria - Newton

Sorry, I don't know if it is the same. Rancatore's is right across the street from SHP, so we go there instead! I just think Angelato's is better than Nudo- the flavors are stronger, but I don't think it's great. Unfortunately I haven't found a gelateria anywhere in Boston that that I think is great. And I do look! What I want is intensely flavored, with a taffy-like consistency. I've had it everywhere in Italy, and even in Montreal, but not in Boston, not even in the North End.

We do have good ice cream in Boston (Rancatore's, Toscanini, Christina's, 3 Scoops) and I do love me some pinkberry or the like, with mango, blueberries and strawberries on top, just no good gelato. But I'm an optimist, I keep trying! I mean, even if it's not great, it's still dessert, not a poke in the eye!

Nudo Gelateria - Newton

I'm afraid I wasn't very impressed. We got 3 flavors and they all were pretty boring and way too soft. The guy who scooped them didn't even try to make it look appealing- just a mess. It's certainly not even in the ballpark with anything I've had in Italy. Angelato in Belmont is better. I really was hoping that it would be good, even if it's not real gelati, as it's within walking distance for me and open late, but it's just not worth the extra price over Cabots. Not that Cabots has great ice cream either (although the sundaes can be fun), but at least the value/price ratio is good. Nudo's isn't worth it in my opinion.

Best of Boston for the heat wave?

I like to go to Cabots in Newton, sit in the AC, and have the Belgian waffle sundae with french vanilla ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream. I think that covers all three food groups.

Sweet Potato Bistro- Newton

I was driving by last night and saw it was open. I already had some dinner waiting at home, but thought an order of "Beef Tendon in Spicy Sauce" couldn't hurt on a hot night. While waiting the few minutes the order took, I noticed that the dining room seemed pleasant enough, with a great fish tank (for looking, not eating). The staff seemed stressed (perhaps understandably because it was their first day!), but friendly.

Spicy beef tendon is one of my favorites at Taiwan Cafe. This version had much bigger and thicker slices, but the texture was good- more tender than it looked and the flavor was excellent- salty and spicy with some fresh cilantro on top. It was promising!

I'll be back to try more, after giving them some time to get in their groove.

Kowloon, Floating Rock, More Attitude at Craigie, and Guanachapi

We saw DF at Pailin City in Lowell in 2007. That was tons of fun- the cover included several family-style courses of food and a 2 liter bottle of coke. The Cambodian food wasn't the best, but the place was hopping- everyone was dancing the electric slide to DF. Not sure the venue still exists in that form, but if it does, I'd recommend a visit.

Plus DF is coming to Brighton Music Hall June 7! Maybe I can start up the electric slide there...

Fresh Lobsters in Waltham/Newton?

There's a place in 'the lake' called Steamers (on Rt 16). And Captain Marden's in Wellesley. But it's also pretty fast to hop on the pike, get off at the S. Boston (Seaport) exit and go to James Hook or Yankee Lobster. I'd call all four places to find out the hours and prices, then decide. Shaw's and Stop and Shop have them too, of course, but if they don't have fast turnover, they may not be as good. Too long in a tank with inferior salt water and the flavor suffers too.

Yankee Lobster
300 Northern Ave, Boston, MA

Captain Marden
279 Linden St, Wellesley, MA 02482

Living Social - Sea to You

I've had a sushi platter from Sea to You, purchased with a Groupon. It was fine. Certainly not the best sushi ever, but perhaps a step above the stuff you can buy at most supermarkets. It was impressively large, at least.

Is Dosa Factory in Waltham open yet?

Seems like it's been 'coming soon' for quite a while.

where to get a sacher torte for Saturday

Looks like the Danish Pastry House makes them. I've always liked their stuff.

They have a shop in Medford too.

Danish Pastry House
205 Arlington St, Watertown, MA 02472

Where can I get a "Michigan" hot dog?

I just had a Michigan dog across the lake from Burlington. I never heard of them before, but it was a lot like the NY system dogs you get in RI.

Lobster prices today?

Anyone notice any good deals out there?

Where can I find the best shrimp scampi pizza or even a clam pizza?

You don't have to drive that far-- Pepe's has a branch near the Buckland Hills Mall just off Rt 84, north of Hartford.

Morel mushroom hunting

Last summer, with all the rain, I was finding LOTS of boletes, some oyster, chicken mushrooms, a few chanterelles. In fall, a few maitakes. I've never found a morel in MA, and I've been looking, but I hear people find them. I'm not telling my exact spots, of course, but look on lawns under big oak trees in July, you'd be surprised how common boletes can be. Just be careful, make sure they don't turn immediately blue when you cut them, and only eat a bite or two the first time- you can eat more the next day if you don't have any GI distress. You may want to avoid lawns that appear to be chemically maintained. Also- only test ones that you are sure DON"T have any lethal look-alikes (all of the above fall into that category). There is a lot of good info online-it may sound risky, but that's how I learned. It may be a little scary at first, but stick to the ones easy to ID and don't mess with anything dangerous. I know some people think all wild mushrooms are dangerous, but the ones above are pretty easy if you take reasonable caution, look at lots of pictures and do some reading.

A Restaurent with Elderly In-Laws for Mother's Day in Newton

I don't think Lumiere is open for lunch. Use to search the date. You can search the Western suburbs. Looks like Legal Seafood, the Met Club and the Capital Grill in Chestnut Hill are all open. Fiorella's is tasty enough, but it's not very 'special occasion'.

Lumiere Restaurant
1293 Washington St., West Newton, MA 02465

187 North St, Newtonville, MA 02460

Where to buy beef cheeks in Cambridge/ Watertown/ Somerville

Call the Meat Spot in Watertown square , maybe they can get them for you. Or try one of the Brazilian butchers in Somerville.