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NoNatto's Profile

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SE Asian groceries (especially Thai)?

Kam Man in South Bay Center has expanded its offerings as a result of its recent remodeling, though the selection is still somewhat erratic. I've recently seen galangal, lemon grass, curry leaves, lime leaves, and several Vietnamese mints there, as well as Asian eggplants, bird chilies, Thai basil, banana flower buds, and various Asian greens. Still not as well-stocked as H Mart, but a whole lot more convenient for some of us.

Mar 05, 2014
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area
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Frozen acai pulp in greater Boston?

I'm told some Brazilian grocery stores may sell acai pulp, but I could use some help in narrowing down the options. Has anyone seen it locally?

Oct 30, 2013
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Easter brunch in or near Portsmouth?

We need to please a variety of tastes of people converging on Portsmouth from surrounding states--carnivore & vegetarian, foodie & mainstream eater, etc. In the past we've gone to Pesce Blue, but its replacement seems to be closed--not much chatter about it on this board, anyway, and the website reservation link is disabled and the listed phone number constantly busy.

Is Black Trumpet a reasonable bet? Other options?

Apr 04, 2012
NoNatto in Northern New England

Vegan or dairy free birthday cake

You could try Philip Kruta, formerly of Fiore's Bakery in JP, now running a bakery catering business called Whisk. He did a wedding cake last year with eggs but no dairy that had separate flavors for each of three different tiers of cake (chocolate, vanilla, and spice) and a faux buttercream frosting--delicious!

Dec 15, 2011
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Alternative to Eastview Mall near Rochester?

We're meeting a friend from Rochester for dinner tonight near the Eastview Mall (stopping there briefly on a longer road trip) and the mall food court options are uninspiring. Are there any chowish alternatives nearby (within maybe 15 minutes of the mall, and not too far from a Thruway exit)?

Alternatively, which of the food court options there are least objectionable?

Sep 30, 2011
NoNatto in New York State (exc. NYC)

Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant in Malden

After five of us had a very tasty lunch there today, add me to the growing ranks of fans. The chicken b’stilla was excellent, and the two chicken tagines (with lemons and olives, and with lentils) and lamb tagine (with prunes and almonds) were close runners-up. (Ordering those dishes ahead of time meant no disappointments or long waits.) We also received (without having ordered) a wonderful eggplant-pepper appetizer and a very creditable hummus, accompanied by the hearty bread mentioned above. Even the sweet mint tea that ended the meal proved surprisingly refreshing on a wiltingly-hot afternoon.

The restaurant is planning to expand its menu offerings for Ramadan (most of the month of August this year), including some fish dishes not normally available.

Photos are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/65258466...

Jul 16, 2011
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Surprising delights of North of the Border

It's at 5272 Washington St. in West Roxbury, at the corner of Birchwood, two blocks (toward Dedham) past Viva Mi Arepa (at Grove Street).

As is often the case, the entrees seem less interesting to me than the appetizers, but I’d be up for trying the carne adobada (marinated pork), camarones rojos (shrimp in a “red spicy sauce”), or camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp). All but one entree are under $10, btw, and most breakfast specials weigh in under $6. (The “desayuno hispano” looks like a winner—eggs, chicharrones, refried beans, fried plantains, sour cream, cheese and home fries for $5.50.)

Not destination dining necessarily, but good honest ethnic fare in a corner of the city that can surely benefit from more culinary diversity.

May 09, 2011
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Surprising delights of North of the Border

Don’t make the mistake I did of repeatedly driving by North of the Border Mexican Grill, supposing it to be just another taco joint selling microwaved enchiladas smothered in cheese and salsa. This family-run West Roxbury eatery sells good food at reasonable prices, most of it made to order on the premises, and much of it not found elsewhere in this section of the city. Its surprisingly broad menu includes not only Mexican standards but food from Colombia, Guatemala, and El Salvador, making it a welcome supplement to the Venezuelan fare available a few blocks away at Viva Mi Arepa. And the Guatemalan owner and his employees are friendly and enthusiastic, willing to modify dishes to accommodate allergies and different palates.

I visited twice last weekend and never made it past the Appetizers page. My favorites were the tamales, consisting of light corn masa topped with a sauce of subtle complexity and little heat, containing a few pork chunks in one version and potatoes, carrots and peppers in another. Pupusas are topped with a mild cabbage salad, less vinegary than the usual curtido, and the well-stuffed burritos are accompanied with an equally mild tomatoey sauce. Chicken tacos are simple and tasty: two tortillas covered with finely diced chicken and deconstructed salsa ingredients topped with shredded lettuce, cheese and cilantro. And rellenitos are a revelation: mashed plantains stuffed with sweetened cinnamon-spiked refried beans and deep-fried to a dark brown, served hot with a container of crema.

The only mild disappointment were the tacos flauta, with too little filling in the deep-fried flutes to justify the calories. I’d rather spend those on another killer rellenito.

Pix are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Still to be sampled are the chicharrones, platanos, fried yucca, empanadas (call ahead to order), and breakfast specials. Eventually, I suppose I might even make it to the Entrees section. If you get there first, let me know what you think.

May 09, 2011
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

How do you like your KimChee? (Festival!)

Hmm, it's not too late to enter the actual kimchi contest either, I see. Make a batch this weekend and enter it in the contest a week later, in its mildly fermented stage. Details are on the site linked from the boston.com website.

Anyone think their homemade masterpiece might measure up to mine?

Mar 11, 2010
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Yoma delights!

Very pleasant meal with friendly service. My favorites were the two spiciest dishes—ginger salad (jinn thot) and the spicy chicken soup (jar zan hin gar)—but the refreshing mango salad and “super pumpkin” trailed close behind, especially when the latter was garnished with those addictive crispy fried shallots.

Tip: Spring for the coconut rice rather than the jasmine rice; even though it’s twice the price, it’s a much tastier way to quench any fire started by the innocuous-looking chile peppers lurking in some of the salads.

Further menu deconstruction: The “joyful eggplant” dish consisted of Asian eggplants cooked with shrimp, pork, tomatoes, onion, and peanuts—all good flavors individually, but the sum to me was somewhat less than the constituent parts. And the complimentary dessert seemed to be a kind of solidified sweet rice pudding made with coconut milk and cut into diamond shapes.

Photos are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Nov 15, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Himalayan Bistro - What to order?

I found the Aloo Bodi Tama (same dish?) too bland, so I mixed in some of the Rayo ko Saag (mustard greens with chili and cumin) and spooned on dollops of the onion chutney from the papadum platter to give it a needed boost.

Much better, I thought, was the Aloo ko Achar appetizer: potatoes cooked with sesame paste, mustard seeds and other spices and served at room temperature, skewered with plastic swords. Definitely a nice delayed kick.

The Akbari Kabab (an occasional special) is as tasty as it is unusual: two chicken breast halves stuffed with cheese and mint and serve with a mild tomato-ey sauce (as for tikka masala) on the side.

Jul 30, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Taqueria Jalisco, East Boston

A gem indeed. That birria is addictive, and the pozole--while not quite in the same class--is a very creditable chile-spiked version with lots of hominy and pork. Can't wait to try carne en su jugo.

More photos are here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Jul 23, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

new malden chow: ethiopian Habesha

Surely Habesha knows that some of its patrons are strict vegetarians, and while it’s possible that your platter was switched with one ordered by another table, I find it difficult to believe that you would have received kitfo by mistake. When our group of non-Ethiopians ordered it, the waitress double-checked to confirm that we knew what it was and that we wanted it to be served raw. (She did the same thing when we returned a few weeks ago and ordered our gored gored to be served raw.)

Is it possible you confused the yemisir wat (a spicy lentil dish) for beef? It’s certainly got the spicy complexity and “chopped” texture you noted—though it retains a vegetal fibrous chewiness and lacks the unctuous buttery smoothness of the raw beef. The lentil dish is a dark reddish-brown that visually resembles a meat dish, whereas the kitfo is bright pink and swimming in melted butter. (See photo for comparison.) Hard to imagine eating the kitfo and not knowing right away that it's meat, however.

While I’m happy to see restaurants taken to task on this board for lapses such as the one you describe, I’m equally dismayed when restaurants I admire (and which are sorely in need of more customers) draw criticism that might in fact be unmerited.

Jul 06, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

What a ChowDown! Lowell!

Definitely a ChowDown for the annals, in a city I now realize I visit far too seldom. And what a treat to go with people who gravitate to the more unusual menu items (snails! goat! prahoc dipping sauce!) rather than more mainstream offerings.

Lots of memorable dishes, but standouts for me were all three of the Cambodian offerings plus the papaya salad and larb at Phien’s Kitchen, both of which have chili kicks that had us dabbing at our noses. (NB: larb is loaded with slices of tripe, should that be a problem for some.) Plus the purple sticky rice dessert, covered with egg custard and coconut sauce, which had several of us subtly jockeying for third and fourth spoonfuls, and is probably worth a return trip to Lowell all by itself.

Battambang Market also has me recalculating my cost-benefit ratio for shopping for Asian groceries: with plenty of exotic produce, deals like 14 limes for $1 and ginger for $.99/lb wherever one looks, and ample free parking, this could easily become my new favorite destination for stocking the larder.

Photos are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Jun 07, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Teranga report

Highlights for me were the mafe (nicely balanced flavors) and the yassa guinaar (yes, that sauce is very tasty), and I’d buy that complimentary caramelized onion/vegetable dipping sauce by the quart if it were available. The sauce with the thiebou dieun was also excellent, though the fish itself didn’t quite measure up to that mark. The hibiscus and ginger drinks (both available with a shot of sake, strangely enough) are refreshing and sophisticated additions to the usual drink selection. The salad and dibi would be at home on many bistro menus, and are good dishes to suggest for dining companions who may be reluctant to sample more exotic fare.

More photos are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Hope Teranga manages to weather the economic drought; during the nearly two hours we spent there for a Saturday lunch we were the only customers.

Jun 07, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Xinh Xinh: crabs, quail, &c.

Xinh Xinh has received lots of good press on this board, and a chowdown there Saturday offered a great opportunity to move beyond the excellent pho and bun (the only dishes I had tried there) to sample more widely.

We ordered six dishes: papaya salad (topped with shrimp & shrimp crackers); grilled quail (tiny crispy birds in a sweetish, finger-lickin’ sauce); fried softshell crabs (so coated in batter that little crab flavor came through); canh chua ga (hot & sour soup made with chicken, celery, tomatoes, bean sprouts, and pineapple chunks, so tasty we upended the pot to drain the last drops unreachable with the ladle); an exemplary spicy pork with basil; and banh mi bo kho (a beef stew served with rolls to mop up the broth). Standouts for me were the quail, spicy pork, and canh chua ga, but the whole meal sparkled with a well-balanced variety of colors, flavors, & textures.

Our initial plan had been to visit a newly opened restaurant, but this lunch proved that it can be nearly as rewarding to sample new dishes at an old favorite.

Pictures are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

May 17, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

mushroom hunting?

here's one possibility: http://www.bostonmycologicalclub.org/

May 05, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

What's your favorite box cookie

Second TJ's Triple Ginger Gingersnaps--what a great cookie. And small enough so you can keep eating "just one more" til they're half gone.

Would have added Salerno Mint Cremes to the list, but I haven't seen them for several years. Have we lost them, too?

Apr 30, 2009
NoNatto in General Topics

new malden chow: ethiopian Habesha

The great thing about Ethiopian food is that it can accommodate people with varied tastes and sensitivities—carnivores & vegetarians, timid palates (or sinuses) and robust ones. What’s more, much of the food is helpfully color-coded: if it’s some shade of red, it probably contains capsaicin in one of its Ethiopian manifestations (tipoffs on the menu are “mitmita,” “awaze,” or “berbere”). But five of the six vegetable dishes we tried yesterday contained little or no capsaicin, nor did some of the meat entrees we chose not to order. Look for “alecha” dishes on the menu, a term attached to dishes that may be flavored with onions, garlic, ginger and other spices but not capsaicin. There are often two versions of the same dish: e.g., “doro wat” is chicken stew with berbere-laced sauce, while “doro alecha” is a milder version without berbere. The woman who runs Habesha would be happy to recommend choices that would leave your sinuses unimpaired.

The communal eating from a central platter also caters to culinary diversity. People can take a bite of something to see if they like it, eating sparingly (or avoiding altogether) certain dishes while focusing on the ones they enjoy, and leaving people like me to peel the awaze-soaked injera from the serving platter after the main dishes have been consumed. You don’t need to be a fire-eater to have a tasty and satisfying Ethiopian meal.

Apr 26, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

new malden chow: ethiopian Habesha

Habesha is an understated, unassuming kind of place: I almost passed it by on the way to our chowdown there today. No mesob (the tippy straw pedestal on which Ethiopian meals are traditionally served), no uncomfortable carved chairs with short slanted backs, no extensive menu—the dozen dishes on offer all fit on a single page. The food, though, is the real thing, and the woman who runs the place is so eager to please that one can’t help but appreciate the pride, skill, and work that went into preparing our meal.

We passed up the chicken and lamb entrees to focus on beef, in three incarnations. We asked for the kitfo (finely chopped beef) to be served raw, which many Ethiopians consider to be the best way to appreciate its flavor. Mixed with niter qibe (spiced clarified butter) and flavored with mitmita, it has a late-blooming peppery kick. Awaze tibs is a delicious stew of marinated beef chunks cooked with onions and peppers, also quite spicy. And quanta firfir consists of torn-up pieces of injera soaked in a similar sauce and studded with dried beef—a dish typically served for breakfast in Ethiopia, to use up leftover injera.

We also ordered the combination vegetable platter, which came with a fairly standard selection: lentils in spicy sauce (yemisir wat), chickpeas in a mild sauce (shiro wat), collard greens (gomen), cabbage (tikka gomen), dry-fried green beans & carrots, and a salad of iceberg lettuce and tomato, which made a good foil for some of the spicier dishes. They ranged from okay to delicious—though for my money, as with much Ethiopian cooking, the meaty stews are the standouts here.

Skip the spiced tea, unless you don’t mind waiting an extra 15 minutes for a cup of Lipton brewed with a dash of cloves.

Ever since Fasika decamped from JP, I’ve taken to driving down to Lalibela’s in New Haven whenever I wanted a really good Ethiopian meal. To my palate at least, the remaining Ethiopian restaurants in greater Boston all missed the mark to some degree. I’m happy to find that’s no longer the case. Now, when I want that meal, I’ll just head to Malden.

Photos are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Apr 25, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

ISO lunch ideas in/near West Roxbury

You might add Himalayan Bistro and Phuket to the mix. Both are rather small, and 30 people might be taxing their normal capacity, but given sufficient advance notice they could probably accommodate you.

I know some CHs find Phuket's food to be kind of meh, probably because the flavors are watered down for American palates, but the chef (a young woman with an inspiring story) is very happy to ratchet up the spicing on request.

Apr 22, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

A Feast at Angela's

Lovely meal. Favorites were the trajas aguadas (pickled pepper soup), camarones a la Diablo (spicy shrimp appetizer), tacos de tilapia, pollo con mole, and pollo con pepian verde. But everything—from the rockin’ guacamole to the final flan—was fresh, tasty, and satisfying.

Pix are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512@N00/sets/72157616924996089/

The cheery restaurant was particularly festive, with paper streamers in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, for which they’re planning a special prix fixe menu. Check their website for details in due course (http://angelascaferestaurant.com/).

Apr 18, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Salvadoran, Mexican, and Peruvian - What could be bad?

The meat (beef, indeed) was as tender as pot roast, and shredded easily when we divvied up the portions. The sauce was thin (in texture, not flavor), deep red from the chilies, presumably; it didn’t taste especially tomatoey, but I couldn’t say for sure there were none. Its flavor was rich and spicy without being especially hot; extra heat was provided by the accompanying green chili hot sauce. On the basis of this rendition, add me to the ranks of birria fans.

Apr 12, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Salvadoran, Mexican, and Peruvian - What could be bad?

A satisfying mini-crawl on a raw day. Pupusas at Buen Gusto were very good (though I found it hard to distinguish the ones with and without the loroco) and the accompanying slaw was excellent, with a peppery kick. Tacos also were a nice rendition, with fresh tortillas, slightly charred meats, and a tasty green salsa. The birria at Taqueria Jalisco next door was delicious: big chunks of meat in a rich chili-spiked broth, just right for tucking into a tortilla with some onions, lime juice and hot sauce. And the flan at Rincon Limeno might have been the best dish of all, had it not had to compete with the mazamorra morada, or “purple pudding” (a first for me), consisting of stewed chunks of quince(?) and apple suspended in a thickened gelatin spiked with cinnamon and clove(?).

Photos are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Apr 12, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

China Pearl Dim Sum this morning

Pix are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512....

A fun time, indeed. Particularly enjoyed the salt-fried shrimp, Chinese broccoli, steamed rice in lotus leaf (no pic), and the eggplant dish--as well as the silken tofu in sugar syrup, which was new for me. Has anyone tried the pork blood in bean sauce?

Apr 10, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Kabab & Tandoor report

Seven of us descended on Kabab & Tandoor in Waltham for lunch on Saturday to sample some of the Hyderabadi specialties. The bill of fare included two apps:
Dahi wada (deep-fried lentil balls swimming in a thin spiced yogurt sauce).
Mirchi pakora (deep-fried hot peppers stuffed w tamarind chutney and covered in chickpea batter)
Five entrees:
Bagaray baigan (curried whole eggplants in peanut-sesame sauce)
Mutton biryani
Mirchi ka salan (hot peppers in peanut-sesame sauce)
Sheek kabab (ground chicken roasted on skewers)
Haleem (whole wheat porridge with minced goat)
(The above served with white rice, chappati, and onion paratha.)
And two desserts:
Dabal ka metha (bread pudding coated in nuts; a sort of Hyderabadi version of French toast)
Khubani ka metha (apricot chunks dyed red and topped with custard)

This was my first visit to the restaurant, which has received mixed reviews on this board, and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, which offered some unusual twists in its range of flavors. I thought the biryani was the weakest offering; the bony hunks of meat were difficult to divide and apportion, and the rice itself was underseasoned. Not much about the haleem was goatlike (which for some people would be a good thing), though the dish was tasty enough. The winners for me were the two apps and the spicy eggplant dish, as well as the apricot dessert.

The tab, including tip, came to $14 a person—or a bit less than the cost of the weekend buffet.

More pix are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Mar 28, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

J&J Turo-Turo, Quincy

There’s a lot to like about JNJ TT. It’s a bright, cheery space—and any independent family-run restaurant where three generations work so hard to please their customers starts off with lots of points on my scorecard. I don’t know flip about Filipino food, but the dishes have an honest, homey, no-frills quality to them that is appealing.

Having said that, while I do appreciate fried pork in its various incarnations, I can’t honestly say the dishes we sampled did much to expand my appreciation. I found the crispy pata, for example, to be somewhat dry, and liberal applications of the vinegar & liver sauces made only a marginal improvement. And while the few bites I had of the sisig were interesting, I can’t picture myself tucking into a whole plate of it by myself. Which pretty much goes for most of the dishes we tried—with the possible exceptions of the tasty pork adobo and the intriguing laing (taro leaves).

The other dishes were pleasant enough, but I couldn’t help feeling that those of us who didn’t grow up with them might perhaps enjoy them to better advantage on the kind of tropical beaches we saw sparkling from the travel posters on the walls.

More photos can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/84539512...

Note that the actual address is 143 Water St. in Quincy (at the corner of Franklin), and NOT 43 Water (as listed on its website).

After the Filipino grocery store, several of us wandered around the corner to the aptly named Pure Chocolate, a small shop at the corner of Franklin and N. Payne. While it’s OT to give it more than a passing nod in this thread, suffice it to say that the samples we received were delicious, and people attracted to the concept of chocolate truffles infused with, say, lavender, basil, rose oil, champagne, or single malt scotch might well want to put it on their radar. (Not to mention the array of animated Easter rabbits….)

Mar 22, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Zeppole and Sfinge... ANYWHERE TO GET THEM TODAY?????

Globe lists the following sources:

A. Boschetto Bakery 4172 Washington St., Roslindale, 617-323-5702
Fiore's Italian Bakery 55 South St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-9200
Maria's Pastry 46 Cross St., Boston, 617-523-1196
Mike's Pastry 300 Hanover St., Boston, 617-742-3050
Modern Pastry, 257 Hanover St., Boston, 617-523-3783 and 20 Salem St., Medford, 781-396-3618; www.modernpastry.com

Mar 19, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

Floating Rock - Whew!

Highlights for me were the tiger tears salad (wonderful blend of flavors and textures, similar to Thai yam nua, but with some additional taste I wasn’t quite able to identify, vaguely reminiscent of betel nut, and garnished with toasted rice); squid salad (similar ingredients to the beef salad, but to very different effect); the spicy pork (satisfyingly addictive, though most of us mixed it with rice to cut the heat); and the chicken soup with lotus stem (an intriguing assortment of flavors).

A memorable meal, indeed. Props to Galangatron for ably guiding us through the extensive menu, as well as through the various goods on offer at the nearby groceries.

Mar 14, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area

where can I get key limes?

One of the Haymarket vendors was selling them last weekend--2 bags for $3, I think. No assurance that they'll be back this weekend, of course, but might be worth a try if you don't find them elsewhere.

Mar 08, 2009
NoNatto in Greater Boston Area