k

khandha's Profile

Title Last Reply

Harvard Square

Yenching has the unusual distinction of going completely unmentioned in Mo Lotman's comprehensive, and very fun, pictorial history of Harvard Square. Based on my own experience there from more than 30 years ago, I am inclined to think that the omission was intentional...

Mar 17, 2012
khandha in Greater Boston Area

January 2012 Openings and Closings

There is a page of Taiwanese specials on the menu. Though not an expert by any means, I've enjoyed this menu (most of which is available throughout the week) as much as Chung Shin Yuan's. And no lines! Very nice to have an excellent option close by for soy milk soup and fried dough on the weekend.

Jan 04, 2012
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Why is pour-over coffee better? [Split from Boston board]

Hmm, it seems we mostly agree on things that are important.

As to mystical thinking, what I refer to as "tuning" includes things like adjusting grind, water temperature, etc. Surely you don't make all of your coffee at the same temperature and with the same grind. And surely batches vary, even if the same beans are being roasted. So I find the "mystical" label puzzling: it still seems like chemistry to me.

I don't know what kind of socks you brew with. I imagine that not just _any_ sock will do. A coarse wool sock would probably let things through too quickly, without allowing the water to extract enough from the coffee. I suppose you could grind it finer if all you had was a wool sock, or use hotter water. But would it taste as good as some other way?

I don;t see much mystical thinking in what I refer to as rate of pour. Again, it seems like chemistry to me. If a particle is completely submerged in hot water, it will not behave in the same way as if it is simply moistened by hot water. Some may like it one way, some another, but there is surely a difference.

All of this is even more obvious when it come to brewing very fine, competition grade teas. If the leaves are in water that is too hot for too long, unpleasant stewed vegetable flavors will creep in. Coffee is a courser beast, no doubt. But still, some care should be taken.

Mar 04, 2011
khandha in Home Cooking

Why is pour-over coffee better? [Split from Boston board]

It seems a bit odd that a devoted, and generally very helpful, 'Hound like SG would take such an anti-Chowish view of coffee-brewing. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

Is it so hard to believe that with several different independent parameters on the table (many of them continuous), there might be a particular range of values leading to better results?

-coffee origin
-storage method of the unroasted beans
-roast
-days since roast date
-grind
-dose
-water source
-temperature of water
-rate of pour
-total volume of water per dose
-filter material

Is it similarly difficult to believe that a completely automated (which does not mean consistent!) brewing system might not be within that range, especially given that the values need to be "tuned" to each roast batch of each coffee? Yes SG, even boiling water is a variable that should be taken into account. Water can be too hot, too cold, and "flat", and you can sabotage the whole process if the water doesn't taste good to begin with.

Tatsu is correct: coffee can taste different every day, even if you think that you're doing the same thing to the same beans. Yeah, there's the psychological thing, um, don't we know that already? I think Tatsu also captures what is really _fun_ about it: experimenting, enjoying variation, teasing out effects and causes. Among other things, trying it yourself allows you to appreciate the greater skill of others.

The fanatics at places like Barismo and Pavement constantly tinker to find suggested values, and to present them in shop as consistently as they can. The rest of us can benefit from their obsessions, and, if we like, enjoy experimenting ourselves. Isn't that the soul of Chowdom?

-----
Barismo
169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

Mar 04, 2011
khandha in Home Cooking

Egg Foo Yung

Qingdao Garden has it. DC quite enjoyed it, while I was sampling dumplings and various excellent regional dishes on their menu.

-----
Qingdao Garden Restaurant
2382 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

Dec 10, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Best Wine Shop

I don't because it was not my intention to discuss particular wine stores.

Not sure what you disagree with in my post...

I think it is lovely that you prefer larger wine stores, and I have no wish to "counter" that preference. But to go beyond that and suggest that smaller stores have nothing to offer the serious wine consumer seems a bit much.

Nov 16, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Best Wine Shop

It doesn't seem terribly helpful to generalize here. Perhaps some large wine stores have knowledgeable staff. Perhaps some small stores engage in the kind of "hand-holding" which is so cavalierly dismissed above, fuzzy, uninsightful, whatever.

If one can develop a relationship at _any_ store with one or more of the staff/owners who know their stuff , that does more over time to increase your chance of buying wines you enjoy at the price points you can afford than the size of the store. That said, I would rather do so at a smaller store, because it is generally easier to get into lengthy conversations about, and even impromptu tastings of, the wines. Also, in certain cases, a small store may have a particular slant and agenda, wines and regions that they are particularly passionate about. That is invaluable for those of us who don't already know everything about everything: we learn from the passion of others, not merely from their knowledge.

Such smaller stores are to be sought out and celebrated...

Nov 16, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

vegan, cambridge and environs

Hoping to find good options for a friend visiting from Germany. A board search has not turned up much.

I have enjoyed meals at Red Lentil and Prana Raw Café, even though it's not my thing. Any other choices of that caliber?

Many thanks...

-----
Prana Raw Cafe
292 Centre St, Newton, MA 02458

Red Lentil
600 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

Aug 09, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

New Chinese (Sichuan) in Acton

I had a very good lunch there today. Twice cooked pork was very good, if not, perhaps, as special as the version at SG Framingham. However, the dumplings in spicy red sauce were just as good as SG, the sauce had a lovely sweetness in addition to the heat. I will certainly be sampling their other offerings.

Jun 14, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Where to find a selection of loose tea? Real tea, not the fruity ones

Incomparable: Imperial Tea Court (San Francisco)
Excellent & interesting: 1001 Plateaus (LA)
Local: Barismo (bringing in some interesting Taiwanese teas)

I would avoid Ten Ren's, but some people like it. I've had too many stale teas from there.

With tea, you really have to start in China. [The story of how tea "migrated" from China to India is interesting.]

ITC, cited above, always carries excellent Darjeelings, and occasionally has Sri Lankan teas as well. About 12-13 years ago they negotiated with a single farm to produce a whole leaf golden darjeeling that I still think about. Long gone...

Appreciation, even recognition, of fine tea is well behind the same for coffee in this country. Just as people who appreciate Atomic or Barismo roasts locally would find Starbuck's or Peet's hard to recognize as coffee, so also would those who have had the good fortune to sample competition grade teas find most local offerings hard to recognize as tea.

-----
Barismo
169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

Jun 07, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Good coffee and eats in the BU West Campus area?

Today, Pavement's drip options included an Indonesia and a Guatemala, and the espresso was a blend of two Ethiopians, all from Barismo. If you happen to sample and enjoy these coffees, and have a couple of free hours during your visit, you can make a short trek to the source in Arlington: Barismo, 169 Mass. Ave. (Not sure of Memorial Day Weekend hours...) They offer a vacuum pot presentation, which focuses the flavors, especially the top notes, in very interesting ways. My personal favorites are their Kenyans.

-----
Barismo
169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

May 29, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Good coffee and eats in the BU West Campus area?

And, if you ever venture inbound just a few short stops from BU West to Hynes, there is a "slow bar" at the newly opened Pavement, 1096 Boylston, where they will meticulously prepare a single cup of coffee by hand, using well thought out protocols for temperature, dosing, and pour rate. I went for the first time today, and it was excellent.

May 29, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Good coffee and eats in the BU West Campus area?

Espresso Royale Cafe (several branches in town), 736 Comm. Ave close to St. Paul, has recently been serving drip by Atomic, and espresso by Barismo, two excellent local roasters...

-----
Barismo
169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

May 28, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Po's Ribs and Barbecue, Acton

Quite good pulled pork. Slaw is unusual but fine, baked beans indifferent. Would benefit from a selection of sauces a la Blue Ribbon. Curious now to try their brisket and ribs.

May 19, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Neptune Oyster - Best Dishes

North End Cioppino is wonderful. Not a dish I would normally have ordered, but a friend had raved about it, and I'm so glad she did. Now I rave about it, too...

Mar 10, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Looking for a Wine Merchant / Liquor Store Northwest Suburbs

Based on your post, I'd suggest that Vintages in West Concord (also Belmont, but if you were already going to Colonial Spirits...) is exactly what you are looking for. Their very well-informed staff always appreciates curiosity. Many, many excellent choices in every price range, including things you won't find in larger stores. Their focus is on France and Italy, though. Not a lot in the way of North America and "New World".

I have found some of the best $13 bottles of wine I've ever had there, along with many wonderful "special occasion" bottles.

Feb 24, 2010
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Jasper, Banff, Yoho

I think Banff is a better bet, in general, than Canmore. Though I have had excellent meals at Crazy Weed and Tapas.

Chef's Studio Japan is fine, and has a snazzier interior than the other sushi places in the Bow Valley, but I am partial to Sukiyaki House in Banff. Miki is now running a sushi special, which is a great deal at $25, and they have a nice selection of sake. Eden used to have an off-season special which provided me with two of the best meals I've ever had. Sorry to hear that it may have slipped. The Bison is excellent (both the bistro and the restaurant). Muk-a-muk at the Juniper has good food and the best views in town.

A great value for casual lunch is Chaya, a tiny place in Banff, with very nicely prepared udon and rice bowls. Excellent and inexpensive Sunday brunch at the Banff Park Lodge, a lovely way to spend a couple of lazy hours on Sunday morning. The bread and pastries at the Wild Flour bakery are excellent. Wild Flour is the the best local cafe to hang out in, since it's one street removed from Banff Ave. And their coffee is actually quite good since they ditched the over-roasted Kicking Horse label.

Jul 28, 2009
khandha in Prairie Provinces

Best Value Store Bought Champagne or Sparkling Wine?

I've enjoyed the Domaine Carneros "Brut", which I think is a good value at about $25: crisp, with some complexity, and none of the sickly sweet flavors that I associate with cheap sparklers. The 2004 is giving way to the 2005 in the stores where I've seen it. Haven't tried the 2005...

Jun 25, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Best Coffee?

This speaks to a real taste divide in coffee. I find even the "light" roasts by Barrington to be dominated by unpleasant "burnt" flavors. I am not a roaster, so I do not know enough to say whether this is solely because of the roast profile, or the quality/freshness of the beans. What is clear is that some people really like this, and think of it as a "coffee" flavor. Whereas I perceive it simply as burnt, something which obscures whatever coffee flavors there might be in the bean. [And something which desperately needs to be cut with milk, which also hides coffee flavors, to be drinkable...] Andria and her friend may be familiar with Kicking Horse, which a popular roast in Canada, out of BC. If they like Kicking Horse, they will also like Barrington. If not, not, is my guess...

Jun 21, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Green Tea II closed?

I had a wonderful brunch at Chung Shin Yuan, excellent sweet and salty soy milk, fried cruller, and Taiwan Style Lao-Mian. Really top-notch. Looking forward to trying the steamed spiced spareribs recommended elsewhere, also the pig-ear and jellyfish. Do any of these places serve baby bamboo shoots?

Many thanks for the tip...

Jun 20, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Best Coffee?

It's a judgement call, of course. But if one is traveling from Montreal to Boston, and wants to check out people who take coffee very seriously around here, the fifteen minutes it takes to get from Simon's to Taste doesn't seem like that big a deal...

Jun 20, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Best Coffee?

First stop should definitely be Barismo Roasters, 169 Mass Ave, Arlington, open afternoons, Wednesday-Sunday. Beware, there is no sign out. Not a cafe, but a place to talk about coffee, and if you're lucky, sample it. [They are just starting up a counter service.] In my opinion, Barismo roasts are the ones to seek out in this town.

Simon's, Mass Ave, over the border in Cambridge, serves roasts by Barismo and Terroir.

Taste, Walnut St., Newton, has a rotating cast of guest espressos (Barismo, Ecco, Terroir, 49th parallel (from BC!), Ritual, others I can't remember). Some are great, others less so.

Hi-Rise bakery, the Brattle Square branch, does syphon brews on Saturday.

At each of these places, the roasts are fresh (usually under two weeks), and the baristas competent to outstanding.

There are other places with drinkable coffee, but those are the "musts" (I've heard some good things about Diesel, David Sq Somerville, but haven't been yet.)

Enjoy!

Jun 18, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Top-notch, inexpensive sushi

I've gone for late lunches (after 2pm) and it hasn't been a problem. Just to be clear, it really is one table, plus two stools at a little bar.

Jun 08, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Top-notch, inexpensive sushi

Thank you for the suggestion, this will be the next place I try. In the meantime, I have had a chance to try both Sudbury sushi places, and to revisit Blue Fin as well. Sashimi-wise, I'd have to give the nod to Oishii over Fugakyu. I always enjoy eating at Blue Fin, but Takarasushi is really great value. Looking forward to trying Toraya...

Jun 08, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Green Tea II closed?

Many thanks for the recommendations!

I enjoyed Qingdao Garden for brunch yesterday, good fresh soy bean milk, fried cruller, and tasty dumplings, though just a bit "doughy" for my taste. I look forward to trying the others which you and TH have mentioned...

Jun 07, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Green Tea II closed?

I was looking for sweet soy milk soup and donuts w/dim sum West of Boston, and followed CH recommendations to Framingham. Green Tea II was closed, and the phone # out of service.

Other recommendations for soy milk soup, &Shanghai/Taiwan dim sum?

May 30, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Top-notch, inexpensive sushi

"Regular", a generous portion, was $15.95, "deluxe" a few dollars more. Deluxe could (almost) feed two...

The mix included, as I recall, tuna, salmon, snapper, marlin, octopus, exeptionally fine scallop, hamachi, and a couple other things... Deluxe had some very nice salmon roe. [Miso and a side salad with a lovely dressing included.]

May 25, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area

Top-notch, inexpensive sushi

Takarasushi, Walnut St. Newton, is mostly takeout, one table, and a tiny bar with two stools for eating in. I always take the measure of a sushi place by their chirashi (sashimi w/rice). Theirs is excellent, easily in the caliber of oft-praised sit-down places like Blue Fin, Oishii, or nearby Shogun. A morsel of unagi over the rice is a nice added touch.

May 25, 2009
khandha in Greater Boston Area