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Return to Cha Yen Thai Cookery

Hate to be the voice of dissent but here it is: Went about two weeks ago, had the fried corn cakes, Sukothai noodles, and Massaman curry. The fried corn cakes are bland and a bit greasy - might be fine to split with 4 or 5 people but got boring very fast when just two of us were sharing them. The Massaman curry was good, but not outstanding.. i think Massaman should be a bit more heavily spiced (the dried spices) and should be a bit more oily. The Sukothai were also just ok and very sweet - maybe this is the point but they don't have the balance of my favorite Thai dishes.

That said, the meal was fine and probably the second best I've tried in Boston after S & I (very small sample size). Everyone was very nice and I'm eager to give them a second try to taste the crispy poh piah, galangal soup, and mushroom laab.

Apr 25, 2015
ian9139 in Greater Boston Area

Ma Po Tofu

friends of mine from Chengdu use the thumbs up lady one... i have some packets at home that are good, but I would probably try the jar next time for convenience

Apr 08, 2015
ian9139 in Greater Boston Area

Returning to a "never again" restaurant (in my case EMP)

I've been to EMP twice in the past five years. Both visit gave me similar feelings to the one you had. On the first, we were told they would have to "ask the chef" if an hour and a half was enough time for a four or five course extended lunch menu, and given very limited substitutions options (ie plain salad only) even though we had read specifically on this board that they were very generous about that.

During the second visit, they gave us a hard time about having 3 out of 4 diners share the duck, since they request the whole table, even though the fourth was a vegetarian and they were gladly serving the duck to tables of 2 all around us. The interaction about availability and preferences on the famed block menu was non-existent - we picked courses and got approximately the same dishes as everyone else, they just weren't described on the menu itself.

If the restaurant didn't have the reputation for being so generous and accommodating, I maybe would've shrugged these things off, but nowadays I wouldn't go back nor recommend it to anyone else.

Apr 06, 2015
ian9139 in Manhattan

Go's Mart Sushi question.

Thanks both of you for the help. JL - very perceptive - she doesn't like either of those groups of fish. I was just too lazy to describe that above. On the other hand, I love the silver-skinned fish but don't get too excited about toro.

It seems like a lot of what is on the omakase menu at Shunji is not actually available on the a la carte menu and might not be offered, whereas my guess is that because Go's Mart is so small it might be a little easier to talk to the chef and try everything we'd like. Reasonable?

Jan 21, 2015
ian9139 in Los Angeles Area

Go's Mart Sushi question.

I'm going to be out in LA at the end of January and am trying to decide between Go's Mart and Shunji. I'll be dining with my girlfriend who has specific tastes (doesn't like oily fish, seaweed), so ideally we'll sit at a bar and have access to specials without ordering omakase. I'm pretty psyched about both of them but a little worried price - what do you all suggest? Another option would be the lunch special at Shunji - how do people think it compares to the more adventurous options at both?

Jan 16, 2015
ian9139 in Los Angeles Area

Want an *impressive* chinese place in flushing chinatown that caters to a wordly foodie from suburban boston…8-10ppl fri night

why did you anticipate that the stinky doufu would be bad? I love the style I tried in Changsha and would love to find something similar in flushing.

Jun 22, 2013
ian9139 in Outer Boroughs

HK student

kwun kee was awesome, went with my friend who is from tai po. Thanks for all the suggestions can't wait to try them!

HK student

I'm afraid you misunderstood my intention - I am most interested in Cantonese by far (note the contrast with Sichuan, Western) for the very reason you described. I grew up enjoying Flushing Cantonese and I'm excited to see how much better it gets here in HK.

HK student

hey i'm an exchange student studying at CUHK near Sha Tin for the term. you guys have been incredibly helpful so far in getting me interested in a ton of restaurants in hk from perusing other posts. basically i was kind of hoping for some focused rec.'s for
1) inexpensive food or at least an emphasis on value
2) more easily accessible to sha tin - i.e. tai po is great, kowloon pretty good, causeway bay not so much. it's not that i won't eat in causeway bay plenty, i'm just less likely to hop on the mtr for a meal that far away.
3) food that i can't get that much in ny - cantonese is fine in ny but i want to learn what i'm missing out on, but for instance sichuan seems pretty strong in ny (tell me if i'm wrong), not really interested in western rest. rec's (i've seen the major ones).

thank you guys so much. in return i'm planning on compiling a lot of this and other rec's into a map, hopefully it'll be helpful for others. cheers!

Tried and True Recipes from David Thompson's "Thai Food"

where are you able to buy good thai ingredients in NH? im from the upper valley and have no idea where to start looking.

Dec 11, 2011
ian9139 in Home Cooking

Was sooo looking forward to Eleven Madison Park, but...

I came across this thread while trying to decide whether to dine at eleven madison park this week, and i couldn't help but comment bc it reminds me of the reason I am hesitant to return in the first place.

Three summers ago, we had the gourmand menu (5 course tasting) at lunch and part of the reason i suggested it was the value and, additionally, the supposed flexibility of the menu for diners which I thought made it ok for the less adventurous in our group. Essentially, when one of my dining partners asked if he could sub out his first course (beets w/ goat cheese) he was given a less-than-friendly response and eventually told he could only switch to the salad. This was pretty annoying because 1) all of the appetizers were similarly priced and it didn't seem to be a cost issue 2) it prevented other diners from making one or two switches which they had probably wished to make before the unhelpful response and especially 3) bc i had read other reports on chowhound that made it seem as if swaps were not only favorably received but also somewhat commonplace on the gourmand. I understand why this is not normally the case with tasting menus but I based my recommendation of it based on the supposed higher standard of service, and I left feeling surprised and let down that what I had expected as the normal set of "rules" had not applied to us.

To me this went beyond just a service issue bc it was not a matter of a bad waiter or waitress or special attention but a simple decision that was made which allowed some to swap dishes, a privilege which was denied to us.

Sep 01, 2011
ian9139 in Manhattan

Looking for a a small intimate gem on the LES

Kuma Inn is awesome, not that quiet but certainly not loud, not trendy, fun, great food.

Jan 04, 2010
ian9139 in Manhattan

Kesté Pizza & Vino -- August 2009 report

I have had Pepe's and Keste within the past month.
Pepe's plain pie (no mozz, parmesan from the shaker) remains my gold standard, favorite pizza of all time.

They are very different pies, with the Keste crust being thinner (and a little bit floppy/watery) in the middle, and thicker and much airier around the outside.

Note: watery in the middle isn't really a bad thing, you just focus on the toppings (which are delicious) and don't really notice the crust until you work your way to the outside of the pie, where crust is king.

Pepe's crust is much denser, but both of the crusts are reasonably chewy (which for some reason I seemed to appreciate more with Pepe's) and, and this is the selling point for me, have a good amount of char/burnt spots. Yum!

I don't think you will be disappointed by Keste.

Jan 01, 2010
ian9139 in Manhattan

Moderate Priced Weekend for Foodies - Perry St., Degustation, Babbo, Momofuku Ssam Bar...

Degustation is one of my favorite restaurants. I would do that Friday and then eat at Perry Street on Sunday for lunch. They serve the brunch menu on sunday (which is basically all regular lunch dishes, you can look on their website) and it is an insanely good deal at $26 for three course.

I think Bar Rom at the Modern is sneakily very expensive, especially because it doesn't seem that you would save any money at lunch.

People say Porchetta is overrated, I'd do shake shack or pizza instead.

Dec 01, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Our Annual December "Vacation"

maybe take a "mini-vacation" up to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for one of your dinners.

Otherwise, perhaps Marea or Convivio (tho some would argue that Alto is underratedly the best of these three). Also consider Ko, seems like a really special experience, and Soto if you love uni.

Nov 30, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Blowfish/Fugu in NY?

I thought that when fugu flesh (the majority of what you'll eat) was prepared correctly none of the poison would remain intact, hence no tingling. Therefore, there would be no significant difference between wild and farmed except perhaps in terms of taste and perceived danger.

On the other hand, I have read that the liver, illegal but often served in Japan, will produce a small tingling sensation if prepared correctly.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Nov 09, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Kuma Inn- Amazing!!

Did you order the same dishes as me?
- I was disappointed with some (fried langostines, vegetarian dumplings) so I could understand how ordering differently could've changed how much we liked our meal.

I should also mention that asian/southeast-asian food tends to be my favorite.

Nov 07, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Kuma Inn- Amazing!!

We went to Kuma Inn recently for a birthday dinner, were able to get a table for 7 the day of on a Sunday. That said, their seemed to be a long wait for walk-ins, but it kind of surprised me that they took reservations as it seems atypical for the kind of restaurant it is.

We had a wide variety of eaters, some more conservative, one vegetarian, and all were very pleased. Bill, including tax, tip, and corkage ($1 per beer, BYO) was less than $200, not bad.

We ordered: (*Favorites)

-Wasabi Pork Shumai was what you'd expect, but very good.
-The shrimp shumai, pork spring rolls, vegetarian summer rolls were surprisingly good, considering they are something I would never order. I did not like the vegetarian dumplings.
-Edamame were soft, citrusy, very good.
-Fried langostines- a bit too greasy, not great.
*-Assorted vegetable pickles- all very good, not overbearingly salty as I usually associate with pickling. Bitter melon was standout, Japanese eggplant was freaking awesome-very crunchy.
*-Adobong PAL Chicken Wings- the wings are braised and in a awesomely delicious sauce.
*-Sauteed tofu- excellent use of a soy base, as this were not too salty and the tofu soaked up the flavors really well.
*-Chinese sausage- think of roast pork in terms of sweetness, leans towards the greasy side, but overall amazing, The chili sauce it is served with is great and very spicy.
-Arroz Valencia was unexpected on the menu, but really good. At this point I was a little too full to enjoy it as much as the others.

The garlic rice is delicious and a good deal at $3 for a huge portion. However, they brought it out late which was kind of a disappointment as we couldn't dump other stuff on top of it.

Some other things i didn't taste (drunken shrimp, tuna tartare) were well liked.

I think this restaurant, at this point probably five years old, is seriously underrated. Small, open kitchen, relatively cheap, byo, delicious food, what's not to like?

It's interesting to note how dated a couple things on the menu seem (tuna tartare, shumais, in a Thai/Filipino restaurant) but if anything they will please those who have become familiar with them over the past couple years. The rest of the menu (and there is a lot to order, plus a bunch of specials which all sounded or tasted good) is inventive, exciting, and tasty.

Sorry for the long winded post, but I can't stop thinking about that meal.

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Kuma Inn
113 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

Nov 06, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

looking for surprsing pizza

veloce for the squares is probably your best bet for something slightly different but very good.

or if your willing to drop some money, inoteca (i think) had truffle pizzas ($50) mentioned in the nyt on wednesday.

Nov 06, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Blowfish/Fugu in NY?

the last time i was at Sushi Yasuda (spring), Fried Fugu (i am not sure what part) was on the appetizer special menu.

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Sushi Yasuda
204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

Nov 04, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Vegetarian-Friendly Asian

I am looking for a birthday dinner place for a mixed group of eaters. One vegetarian (birthday girl so we want to please her the most) who eats fish, some very adventurous (me), some in the middle.

The hard part for me is the specifics, not too expensive but relatively upscale. Saravaanas would be my choice, but too low-brow. At the other end, the good sushi places are too expensive. We don't really want Chinese food.

We currently have a resy at Hangawi, but I am worried that it will be very underwhelming esp considering the high prices. I am thinking its sister restaurant, Franchia, would be better in this regards.

Also considering Bar Bao, Tabla, outer buroughs (esp korean near flushing), Alta or Caracas (two random no-Asian options), but none of these stand out to me.

Help please!

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Bar Bao
100 West 82nd Street, New York, NY 10024

Hangawi
12 E 32nd St Ste Frnt, New York, NY 10016

Franchia
12 E 32nd St Fl 2, New York, NY 10016

Oct 31, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Best Omakase in City?

I have mentioned this before, but we had a delicious meal at the sushi bar at Yasuda for $75 per person, including tax and tip. We started with the $34 set (12 pieces + half roll I think), which allows you to get up to 2 of each kind. So, for $17 each, we had our first 6 pieces, which included uni, squid legs, kuchiko (described as sea scallop guts, amazing!), and warasa (adult yellowtail).

So quite a good selection for the price; I would say we probably would have received 5 of those pieces anyway. We then proceeded to order two kinds of eel, peace passage oyster, etc. and left with room for dessert. I imagine $100 per person, even with tax and tip, will leave you very satisfied if you go this route.

Oct 14, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Rhong-Tiam (formerly Penang)

Is the food really not as good for lunch?
I had the pork on fire (not on the lunch menu) a while ago and it may have not been as good as at dinner, but all I could taste was spice. I don't think it is really supposed to have nuanced flavors, at least for my non-thai taste-buds (tho this improving), so I could not tell.

Oct 06, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Lunch Buffet at The Norwegian Seamen's Church?

This looks awesome, but I am having trouble with the site. Do you know times/prices or any other important info? Thanks

Sep 14, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Great Manhattan pizzerias that have opened in past 1 - 2 years?

Wow, three pizza meals in two days.. what did you think of them?

Sep 02, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Great Manhattan pizzerias that have opened in past 1 - 2 years?

It is for a British friend who is flying back Sunday so Saturday night is the only option. I was hoping for a more "classic" ny pizza place, but Patsy's, L&B, DiFara seem too far of a treck for this night. I am not sure if I want to try my luck with Co., the other options would be Keste or any others that you guys recommend (considering Luzzo's or more traditional John's and Lombardi's but it seems that they are not as good).

Sep 02, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Great Manhattan pizzerias that have opened in past 1 - 2 years?

Are the weights still ridiculous at Co.? I have plans to go but am afraid that trying it on a Saturday night will be a mistake...

Sep 01, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

What the hell happened to Bouley?

I assume you are talking about the Bouley Bakery/Market? It is basically a take out lunch place for the area now. They do have itzhapan (sp?) macarons which are delicious and I'm sure some other baked goods but it basically caters to the lunch working crowd. Bouley moved a block over, and is very different looking (probably less gaudy) but still beautiful.

Aug 31, 2009
ian9139 in Manhattan

Chung Hua (Wenzhou food) -Very nice meal!

Awesome, thank you! My only other concern is, will it take forever to get a table for 7 on a Sunday?

Aug 22, 2009
ian9139 in Outer Boroughs

Chung Hua (Wenzhou food) -Very nice meal!

I want to go with adventurous eaters who, nevertheless, will not want to eat in a restaurant that they perceive as dirty and dingy. Places like spicy & tasty and imperial palace have been absolutely fine, though i would hesitate to take them into the Golden Shopping Mall. What do you guys think? I am also considering Golden Palace and Waterfront International.

Aug 21, 2009
ian9139 in Outer Boroughs