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oryza's Profile

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Ramen in Phoenix?

Funny, I always tell myself I should remember to order extra noodles on my next visit after polishing off the bowl in 3 minutes

Sep 27, 2010
oryza in Phoenix

PIZZERIA BIANCO

"...Bar Bianco, next door = culinary foreplay"

At a recent visit to PB I realized it's a sort of culinary S&M... It's really painful to endure the ordeal around the meal, but the meal delivers a lot of pleasure... Which is the only reason I return to that restaurant

At the end of the day, you're either into the experience or you're not, I guess.

Jul 18, 2009
oryza in Phoenix

Dinner in downtown PHX?

I had dinner there the other night. It was underwhelming. The appetizers were really quite good, but the dinner entrees were very disappointing. Creative, but no magic... in some cases no common sense...

Best to leave the District for after work cocktails and apps

Jul 18, 2009
oryza in Phoenix

Oxtail question - how long to cook

I always cook it over a period of 2 days. The first day is a quick cook. Then, I let it cool overnight in the fridge. And the next day I skim the excess fat off of the liquid and braise it for 2 hours. I think it's the cooling and cooking again is what does the trick for me. It doesn't take more time, just more planning ahead... and I never had a problem with tenderization

Jul 03, 2009
oryza in Home Cooking

phx - budget friendly 2009 - bring on the specials!!

Roy's is offering a $35 3 course menu again
Avanti (? -- I remember an Italian name/restaurant in Scottsdale that starts with an "a"...) is offering a $25 prix fix

Jan 21, 2009
oryza in Phoenix

Favorite thing to make with a stand mixer

yep. mashed potatoes for me, too... the KA is my "secret ingredient" for easy creamy potatoes

Dec 20, 2008
oryza in Home Cooking

Holiday macaron flavors at Essence (Tempe)

The espresso is my new favorite (replacing caramel). Not a fan of the raspberry flavor, as the jelly doesn't do it for me.

This bakery has the best macaron I've had in the western US hands down.

Dec 20, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

Where can I buy truffle oil in Phoenix?

I'm looking for something that won't break the bank, but will make some dishes "special"

Dec 16, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

(Tempe) Good Takeaway Salad

Oh, and Essence Bakery Cafe has lovely salads, too.

Dec 16, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

(Tempe) Good Takeaway Salad

The Farm at South Mountain is less than 4 miles away

Dec 16, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

Rolling pins -- Which is best?

I use a marble rolling pin which I purchased on sale at TJMaxx for $10. It's wonderful. I used to use wine bottles to roll out dough, which was handy, until I could find a pin that I really like. But, the new rolling pin works great-- the pluses are: (1) it stays cold, which is really great for rolling pie crusts, (2) I'm not afraid of bacteria getting stuck in the pores of wood, (3) the weight helps minimize the pressure needed to roll out dough, and (4) it's stick resistant.

Dec 08, 2008
oryza in Cookware

Restaurant Equipment Store (Phx)?

What kind of storage containers?The restaurant equipment stores that I've visited were really overpriced. Depending on what you want, there are a number of better places to buy.

Dec 08, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

How do you wash plasticware and chopsticks in dishwasher?

I stick chopsticks in the top shelf, laying down next to the glasses, rather than the cutlery dish where they fall through. They stay put as long as you don't put them near the edge.

Nov 24, 2008
oryza in Cookware

Going to Cowboy Ciao 11/23 -- what to avoid when ordering

A curious combination of too salty (sauce) and too bland (polenta)

Nov 22, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

Going to Cowboy Ciao 11/23 -- what to avoid when ordering

I don't like the mushroom stir fry. The polenta is very bland, and the dish is skimpy on mushrooms. If you want to try this signature dish, go with the appetizer size because the other entrees look really good, especially the pork loin.

Nov 20, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

[PHX] Restaurant NOCA Review [Long]

I finally made the time to go to NOCA... I hope this doesn't spark another firestorm of "attack oryza", but I was disappointed.

Maybe it was an off night. Maybe it was because we went on a Sunday, where the only food available was the "simple supper". I had assumed it was regular menu + simple supper alternative, but that wasn't the case. It was actually just the simple supper menu. Maybe it was because of a last-minute change in the simple supper menu (which was not the one posted online)

What I liked: service is excellent-- friendly, attentive and warm. They went out of their way to be helpful and thoughtful, including digging up a salad (which was not available on the menu) to accommodate a vegetarian who couldn't eat the first course soup. Quirky things made the experience an experience, rather than just a meal out. The cotton candy they served before the dessert course was one of those things-- enchantingly kitsch, but endearing and fun. Dessert was delicious, and the coffee was excellent. The cookies to go were also a nice, homey touch which made me feel as though I were a guest in someone's home, rather than a restaurant. The $5 btg pairings with the simple supper were nice, and simple, and it worked well.

Cons: The food... it was all very salty. I ate a jambalaya, and fish over a plain risotto with tomato sauce, and my companion ate the salad and vegetable dish. The salad was the only thing that was not overly salty. The vegetables were so salty, it brought tears to my eyes, and so we didn't eat half of it. The jambalaya was very salty, but I don't mind salty soups. On the other hand, the fish was also very very salty. Though the plainness of the risotto helped cut the salt, the sauce was also seasoned (reasonably, though), which left the meal tipped toward being overly salty, overall. You can taste the quality of the ingredients, but I just felt that the cohesion of these dishes left a lot to be desired... Execution of the salted fish, plain risotto, and plain tomato sauce was nice, it just did not gel as a "dish". It lacked that something, which would take it from good ingredients, to a good meal. Perhaps the total absence of any spices?

Some quirky details: this is not a restaurant for short people. The soup bowls are nearly a foot tall, and the tables are high, and the seats (especially the banquets along the wall) are short. This makes it very hard for a short person to eat soup with a spoon... although I suppose one could drink right out of the bowl at eye level. It feels like Alice in Wonderland.
Music was actually quite nice, subtle and low
The temperature in the dining room was perfect-- not cold or hot (most restaurants are far too cold for my comfort)

So, in conclusion, it was a wonderful dining experience, except for the food.
But, I'm going to assume the food is probably really good off the regular menu and give it another try, because it is a restaurant I really want to like, even though this meal was notably bad.

Nov 20, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

What's The Deal With Sea Saw?

I think I had the same dilemma. I really adore Binkley's because I enjoy the theatrics of the execution very much. I went to both Cowboy Ciao and Sea Saw after Binkleys for some special occasions. I found Cowboy Ciao to be, sort of, "meh". And, after reassurances that CC was unlike SS, I went to SS. And, sadly, found that to be quite disappointing as well.

Now, the food is good at SS. But it was just a crummy experience when I went because the flow was wierd, atmosphere was not good (cold night, concrete floors and stainless tables and chairs, seated in a cramped table right next to the door, when restaurant was nearly empty), and there wasn't the same kind of magic which you might find with an 8 course (?) menu... That is, for 2 people, we had about 4 dishes, and it felt as though we went to Burger King and ordered off the $1 menu (you know, one of this, one of that, and a random order of this-- leaving the experience kind of random and junk food-seeming)

But, rather than go with an off-the-menu, I would simply order omakase. I think there's a flow to that particular experience that will transform the experience from just "really expensive asian tapas" to a memorable dining experience. And it looks like fun, to sit at the bar, next to the warm open kitchen and watch your food come out.

Nov 20, 2008
oryza in Southwest

How do I remove melted plastic from my stainless steel pan?

Just don't touch or internally ingest the sauce

Nov 16, 2008
oryza in Cookware

One more knife question- What are your favorite knives?

8" chef's knife for sure... I also am in the minority with my total dependence on paring knives-- I have about three that get used almost daily.

Nov 16, 2008
oryza in Cookware

Best Phoenix Croissant?

Another strong recommendation for APF and Lola's.

APF has stuffed croissants (get the almond-- not the best, but it's quite good).

Lola's doesn't have filled ones that I've ever seen, but they do make excellent coffees and serve their nice fat crispy croissants with jam and butter. Lola's is better for sitting and sipping with a good friend or stuff to read.

Nov 12, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

Bianco vs. "authentic" Neopolitan pizza

I had some terrible pizza in Napoli and further south, in Palermo... People say that it's just different from American pizza, but I found it to be generally all too watery and gooey for my tastes.

The crust tends to be thinner and crisp in So. Italy (as opposed to the foccaccia you get in Tuscany, though it depends on the bakery, as many serve pizza napolitano), but I think Bianco makes a lovely crust with a good chewiness that is better than anything I found in Italy.

Overall, I would say that I didn't find a good pizza during my times there... but I was also not looking for any...

Nov 12, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

Boston Hound Visiting Phoenix/Scottsdale Needs Help!

I've heard good things about it, but have not been. We were going to go for our anniversary, as well, but was not in the mood for that menu at the time and opted for "elements" (which I don't strongly recommend).

I will second Binkleys. Their service, attention to detail, and execution is marvelous and magical. We've eaten there several times, and have enjoyed it tremendously. While Boston has its share of avant garde restaurants, I think you will find Binkleys to be refreshingly down to earth (they do use some of those new-fangled techniques like liquid nitrogen and foams, but in moderation and only to make the food delicious and special) as well as incredibly reasonable in price for the experience.

Oct 29, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

Bakery (PHX)

What are "back east" types of bakeries? I can't really think of anything in particular that makes east-coast bakeries different from west coast bakeries necessarily... although there are certainly some regional differences. The only very "back east" bakery type of place that comes to mind is Dunkin Donuts (on every street corner from the mid-atlantic to new england)-- but I imagine that is not what you're looking for.

What are you looking for? French, American, modern, or traditional sweets? There are a number of good places that have really yummy stuff, but all have various strengths and different types of goods. I personally go for the French croissants, macarons, and tarts...

Or, are you looking for a type of place and atmosphere, more than an edible product?

Oct 29, 2008
oryza in Phoenix

Rice Cooker: useful?

My 3 cup Zojirushi has been performing like a champ for 9 years and 8 months... and I'm wanting to get a bigger one, but this one just won't break down...

Then again, my mother's cooker is about 20 years old... and she hasn't been able to "upgrade" either because it, too, won't die

(maybe I shouldn't wait until it reaches the end of its life, but just get a bigger one now)

Oct 25, 2008
oryza in Cookware

How often do you have dessert :)

I believe in the saying: "eat dessert first" and live it out by eating cake for breakfast... and really, at any time during the day when I can get it...

Oct 25, 2008
oryza in General Topics

What is THE dish to judge a cuisine by?

Yes, RICE for me too! If the rice is overcooked or undercooked, or, heaven forbid, long-grain, basmati, or jasmine, I'm out

Oct 25, 2008
oryza in General Topics

I always enjoy _____, no matter how bad it is.

Coffee... black... even when it makes my face pale and induces a momentary gag reflex, I will drink the whole thing, even if I have to wait until it cools a little bit to be able to down it in one go

ditto on mac & cheese (I've never come across one that I didn't enjoy), and maybe ramen, too (the instant stuff is supposed to be kind of gross, so I embrace it)

Oct 25, 2008
oryza in General Topics

Are you secretive with your recipes?

Yes, exactly. I always share, but people think I'm hiding the ball because (1) they substitute milk for the cream or use PAM instead of olive oil or butter, and (2) so much of what goes into making the food is stuff that can't be quite explained (like rinsing, squeezing out a certain amount of water, waiting, touching, and smelling)... and then they come back and tell me that it wasn't the same recipe or that I must have left something out when I wrote it out by memory

Oct 25, 2008
oryza in Not About Food

Korean Hot Pepper Paste/Powder

Yes, too sweet will probably be a problem... I forget how sweet some of those pastes are...

Once, many years ago, I used paprika when I was stranded in a no-asian-market zone in the mid-atlantic area. Coupled with canned clams and juice for a base, it actually tasted pretty good. Not as spicy as I like it, but ok, not as wierd as you might imagine. You might try that, too.

And, no self respecting home soft tofu soup will taste like a restaurant version because most home cooks won't be throwing in MSG by the cup (and then on top of the individual bowls as well, for good measure... eeew)

Oct 25, 2008
oryza in Home Cooking

Korean Hot Pepper Paste/Powder

I often do not add hot pepper... sometimes I throw in jalapenos to spice up Korean soups. The general rule for Korean spicy-soup-sauce type seasonings is: add paste to thicken and flavor, add pepper when you want spice without thickness. Often both are added in order to give the soup or sauce body and a nice kick without being too thick and viscous. It's your preference

Oct 24, 2008
oryza in Home Cooking