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Xoco

stopped by on Wednesday, day 2, at 10am for a midmorning snack. Little to no line, although it did take about 10-15 minutes to get my empanada. Empanada was good if not piping hot. Churro was nicely crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with a nice coating of sugar and what seemed like chocolate bits. Hot chocolate was the highlight, and at $2, a bargain.

I'd say it's a step up from Frontera Fresca in Macy's food court in terms of boldness of ingredients, with essentially the same service/setup

Service is definitely a work in progress, but it is a nice place.

Sep 10, 2009
tex888 in Chicago Area

The Gage or Park Grille?

Went to the Gage on Sunday afternoon for an early dinner. Brought the baby along with the wife, and we were impressed by the food, service and atmosphere.

It takes after food we've had in decent restaurants in Ireland. Mussels were served in an Indian vindaloo broth instead of the usual garlic/wine sauce, and they were quite nice. Same for the frites with curry dipping sauce. We had a side of seasonal organic greens with duck meat. That was the surprise hit of the evening. The dumplings were basically gnocchi with mushrooms, which was average.

Great beer selection, with lots of Belgian beers as well as Trappist monk brews.

The front of the house team was great in providing stroller parking up in their waiting area, and offering us a choice of table or booth, whichever worked easier with the baby. In addition, when the manager noticed we were moving the shaved parmesan off to the side of the gnocchi (one of us likes it, one doesn't), he came over to our table to offer to send it back to the kitchen to have it removed. First time anyone has offered.

Sep 10, 2009
tex888 in Chicago Area

Unos and Due

The main difference I have found between the two is how they cut their onions in their pizzas. We always order a pepperoni and onion pizza when we go (every couple of months or so), and Due's cooks slice their onions, while the times we've been to Uno, their onions were chopped. Makes for a different texture.

Other than that, I have not noticed any difference other than the longer line at Uno's.

Jul 14, 2009
tex888 in Chicago Area

Chow at Sox Park?

Get the elotes corn. Up to you how much spice/toppings you get, but it's definitely tasty and authentic.

May 04, 2009
tex888 in Chicago Area

sundubu (soon tooboo) in chicago area?

The main place we go for Soon Doo Bu (soft tofu in spicy broth) is Chodang (Cho Dang) Tofu in Mount Prospect. This is the best place we've found here in Chicago, and the place that gets 95% of the way to the quality of the large Korean tofu restaurants in LA and NY like BCD.

We've also gone to sogongdong a few times as well when we didn't want to drive out on the Kennedy to Mt Prospect, so have some perspective on the 2 places.

Comparing the two, I'd definitely give the preference to Chodang. Their tofu has a better silky texture and their rice in the stone pot is definitely better. (ask for it extra crispy on the bottom). One time last fall we went to sogongdong, and their tofu was in smaller pieces in the broth as opposed to a nice large block. Almost like they ran out of the whole blocks.

Chodang have also opened a second branch in Naperville though I can't vouch for their quality. The menu is limited to just the tofu stews, kalbi and mandoo dumplings, but if it's tofu you're craving, I'd say Chodang is the place to go.

Chodang Tofu

1719 W Algonquin Rd
Mount Prospect, IL

1271 E Ogden Rd
Naperville, IL

May 04, 2009
tex888 in Chicago Area

Moved to Novi from Ann Arbor

Guernsey for ice cream and broasted chicken. Flavor profile a little different from Stucchi's with more flavors like moose tracks and peanut butter iditarod, but definitely nice and rich. SO loves the butter pecan.

Spring, Graham Elliot, or Aigre Doux

We stopped by Spring 2 weeks ago for dessert, and noticed the price of the main courses has dropped about $5. The starters are the same price, but the mains were definitely cheaper than the previous times we went over the past year. The dishes still looked appetizing, so we were trying to deduce what may have gotten simplified to allow the lower price points.

Mar 09, 2009
tex888 in Chicago Area

Mexican food that is borderline TexMex...

2 words. Uncle Julio's.

They are part of the Uncle Julio's chain in Dallas, which I have not been to. However, they are also a spot on duplicate of Pappasito's in Austin and Houston, which to me is quintessential Tex-Mex.

Very good fajitas, and solid enchilada platters. Solid guacamole. Soft tacos are made with flour tortillas as opposed to corn (that's a big distinction I find between Tex-Mex, and "real" Mex). Guacamole is fine as well. As is the chips and salsa, and the queso.

Aug 28, 2008
tex888 in Chicago Area

Half way tween Evanston/Schaumburg--Help!

The drive between the Evanston and Schaumburg is effectively a straight shot across Golf Rd. for about 45 minutes. Mt Prospect is about a 40/60 split in distance between the two, depending on where in Schaumburg. In addition to Retro Bistro on Golf and Busse (good choice), there is also an Italian restaurant in that same strip mall named Vita Mia. Good pastas and fits the atmosphere / wine requirement as well.

Des Plaines is also a good in between location. Schaumburg person can come down on the Tollway, while Evanston can come over on Golf/Dempster. My research when I was trying to coordinate a similar dinner pointed me to Oliveti's Italian. There's also a Leona's Italian there as well.

There's also a slew of good Korean restaurants in the area, although they'll be lacking in the wine department, but will all have soju liquor and beer. Our favorite is Pusan Barbecue restaurant on Elmhurst Rd. just south of Golf in Mount Prospect.

Aug 28, 2008
tex888 in Chicago Area

Visiting from KC - any BBQ worth trying?

Smoque - this is good barbecue, most closely resembling Texas style, speaking as an ex-Texan, and having spent a summer in KC. They are at Pulaski and Irving Park, about a 30 minute ride up the Blue Line, or a 20 minute drive (with no traffic).

Honey1 in west Bucktown is a bit closer (Fullerton and Western Aves., about 10 minute drive from the Loop) and they are more of a combo of classic southern style with KC style.

And finally, for some good Texas style beef brisket that on some days is even better than Smoque, check out the Whole Foods up at Petersen. Don't know if any of the other Whole Foods carry it, but it's good brisket. Granted, you don't get a full BBQ restaurant experience, including the sides, but if you close your eyes the quality of the meat is top notch.

Aug 19, 2008
tex888 in Chicago Area

Casual Lunch/Drinks for 10 Edina/St Louis Park/Bloomington Area

Hey TC hounds,

We're coming back to town and are looking to have a casual lunch with some of our old friends. We're looking for a place where we can get some food and drink and chat for a few hours (noon to 3pm) on Saturday.

Sports bar like Champs in Bloomington probably too downmarket in the food area for our friends.
Toyed with Barbette, but want to make parking easy for people.
Salut in Edina I'm not sure if it lends itself to people coming and going.
We were toying with just grabbing the big long table at Punch in Lk Calhoun, but thought that would be rude and a bit crowded during a weekend lunch hour.

Any thoughts?

Charred on the outside, Pink on the inside

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I had one of my favorite restaurant steaks about a year ago at Bob Chinn's Crabhouse up in Wheeling.

It had the same flavor as a good dry aged steak, and was cooked as I requested, medium rare. Just the slightest bit of char from the grill marks and at the tips. A look at their menu online reveals why. They dry age their own steaks 3 to 4 weeks. The prices are also more affordable.

Ironically, I found the steak to be better than the crab I had on the side.

bobchinns.com

Nov 13, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

How are my choices - Chicago next weekend?

Honey1 is about a 10-15 minute walk from the nearest El stop. (Western on the Blue Line) Keep in mind that you can transfer to buses which run along most of the major north-south and east-west streets and avenues.

Also, at $2/person, sometimes it will be worth the extra $5-10 or so to take a taxi to some places to save time. Our city's transit system has the benefit of running 24 hours but isn't always as efficient as your Montreal system is.

Enjoy your trip!

Nov 13, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

24-hour food joints

Hollywood Grill

(773) 395-1818
1601 W North Ave @ Ashland
Chicago, IL
www.hollywood-grill.com

Takes me back to my youth hanging out at 2am in diners in New Jersey.
When I was there last time, I actually had a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder. Not superb, but decent and it hit the spot as well as the mark as far as diner food goes.

Standard selection of diner food from full dinners to burgers to sandwiches to the now ubiquitous nachos and burritos. And my favorite, french fries with brown gravy.

Parking lot next door is well-lit and there are security cameras that you can watch from inside the restaurant. (not that Wicker Park is super-sketchy, but it's not Smallville either).

Sep 19, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

Chinese bakeries in Minneapolis?

Keefer Court is definitely one of those hidden gems in the Twin Cities. The owners are real Cantonese people, and they make their cakes with the proper level of sweetness (less sweet than western bakeries, with a salted buttercream). The pastries were all good when I've picked up a sampler.

Birthday, BYOB, and 20-30 people

You could try Bonsoiree in Logan Sq/West Bucktown. On weeknights they have a 3 course prix fixe menu that works out to about $35 a person if you upgrade your entree. We like to think of them as a 3/4 version of Schwa. They have a patio in the back that could probably fit 20 - 30 people.

Their Saturday menu is a $55 prix fixe that's by e-mail invitation.

Bonsoiree
2728 W Armitage
773-486-7511
www.bon-soiree.com

Aug 15, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

Tommy Nevins Pub in Naperville

Assuming it's the same as the Evanston one, then I'd say it's a fine place for basic pub food. The dishes we've had that hit the spot were the fish and chips, burgers, and bangers and mash. Never tried any other food beyond the basics.

They definitely pour a good pint of Guiness.

Aug 15, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

Bangladeshi Restaurants?

Are none of the subcontinental restaurants on Devon Bangladeshi owned?

Jul 13, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

taco's/italian sandwiches/hispanic grocer wanted in west burbs (arlington/schaumburg)

Just south of you on Algonquin Rd are two of my mainstays.

Johnnie's Beef for Italian beef - this is their "other" branch vs the original in Elmwood Pk, but still tasty and messy all the same

1935 S Arlington Heights Rd just north of Algonquin
Arlington Heights
(847) 357-8100
Cash only

As for Mexican grocers,
there is

Carniceria La Rosita
1805 w algonquin rd
Mount Prospect

They have a small counter in the side that does a very brisk taco business for weekday lunches. It's can be tough getting the counter guy's attention if you're not Mexican, but it's good and fast. Their tacos have a better balance of meat and onions/cilantro than some of the other places I've been. Their asada meat isn't as high quality like Las Asadas, but they have a chicharrones (stewed) taco as well. And they're faster than Las Asadas.

Jul 13, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

Jerry's Sandwiches - new in Wicker Park

Jerry's Sandwiches
1938 W Division, right next to Coco Rouge Chocolate
773.235.1006

Jul 13, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

[MSP] Authentic Chinese

Yep, it's the same manager/owner from Edina. I never got the full scoop why they moved to STP.

The one nice thing about the move is that you can have dessert across the street after your meal at:

Conny's Creamy Cone
1197 Dale St N
st paul, Minnesota 55117
(651) 488-4150

MSP - Falafel King coming to Bloomington

I loved the Falafel King on Lyndale. Where else can you and the missus get a full dinner for 2 for $12? Their falafel had the right consistency and flavor. Plus, their secret ingredient was the green hot sauce on the side. Never fully figured out what it was, but it tasted like finely chopped jalapenos and maybe some onion or other herb.

Best Dim Sum restaurant in Mpls/St. Paul, MN

Thanks for the update on both Yangtze and MK minka.

When I was growing up in NJ/NY, my parents would always gossip with their other Hong Kong friends about which chef left which restaurant, etc.

Somehow, with yum cha (dim sum), the chef is truly important in elevating a place beyond mediocrity. You really can tell the difference if they switch dim sum chefs or if he's on vacation.

Like the difference between baking and cooking, a restaurant that may have a good dinner service, may have terrible dim sum. The skills needed for the two meals are quite different.

Jul 02, 2007
tex888 in Minneapolis-St. Paul

[MSP] Authentic Chinese

New Hong Kong Kitchen in St Paul has really good Hong Kong Cantonese Chinese food. Not as many live fish selections as Mandarin Kitchen, but I prefer their renditions of things like salt and pepper squid; or stir fried dou miu peapod sprouts. Their menu is divided into the Americanized dishes (General Tso, etc) in the first half and then the authentic Hong Kong dishes in the back half.

They used to be our first choice when they were close by in their old Edina/Yorktown location. Now, we still will make the trek over to St Paul if we're remotely heading eastward.

New Hong Kong Kitchen
1192 Dale St N
Saint Paul, MN
55117
Phone: (651) 489-8635

Atlanta Korean restaurants

We went to Cho Sun Ok (Chosun OK) this past weekend on our visit down from Chicago, and reading chowhound and The Blissful Glutton. Being Korean-American and frequenting the numerous Korean places in Chicago, we found Chosun OK to be good. Not perfect at everything, but I wouldn't say underwhelmed.

The Kalbi was actually very tender and had a good flavor when cooked on the wood coal grill. The samgyup sal uncured bacon was a bit on the thick side, and they could have used more salt in the sesame oil/salt dip, but the meat quality was decent.
The pajun was more scallion than seafood, but it wasn't billed on the menu as a seafood pajun.
And the steamed mandoo were actually quite nice. Soft skin with a filling that was a good mix of meat and vegetable/noodle.

The panchan were standard and good (spinach, kimchi, sprouts, stewed potatoes, mook jelly)

Overall, I've had worse in Chicago and Seoul, as well as better. I'd give it 3 out of 4 on the Korean food scale.

Chosun OK
5865 Buford Hwy Ne, Doraville, GA
(770) 452-1821

Jul 02, 2007
tex888 in General South Archive

tofu bowl/korean

Another place that specialized in soon doobu tofu is Cho Dang Tofu in Mt Prospect. Smaller selection than BCD, but the quality is pretty good. They do a good job with the rice 90% of the time, with just enough crispy bits on the bottom to scrape off.

They have a one bowl with just kimchi, no meat which would be good for you. They also ask you how spicy you like it when you order. We usually go "putoong" or standard style.

1749 W. Algonquin Rd
Mt Prospect
847-956-8638

Jun 20, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area

[MSP] Where to buy fromage blanc in Twin Cities?

Have you tried the Premier Cheese Market in Edina just south of 50th and France?
Doesn't list it on the website, but maybe if you call them, they can help you. The times I've been there, the owners have been very nice.

http://www.premiercheesemarket.com/

[MSP] Where to buy fromage blanc in Twin Cities?

Traders Point Creamery in Indianapolis is an organic farm that had grass fed dairy products, including fromage blanc. I really like their milk, and from what I've read, their cheese is pretty top notch as well. Their map at the dairy shows they sell their products at the Lake Calhoun Whole Foods.

You could probably call them to see if that is one of their products that gets shipped out to MSP.

www.traderspointcreamery.com

traders point creamery in indianapolis

After reading this post, we decided to give it a try for dinner this past Saturday when we came to town for the Formula 1 race.
We had a great time and really enjoyed everything. This is not high gourmet dining, but basic restaurant fare, done in a fine and organic fashion.

A nice warm summer night with lots of daylight made the barn loft truly welcoming and charming.

As for the food, we had the mixed greens salad with balsamic vinaigrette and a Thai-flavored corn bisque.

For the mains, we had a margherita pizza and the veal marsala. The pizza was on a nice medium thick crust with nice cheese and basil.

The veal was incredibly creamy and tender. I'm hoping because they try to get organic ingredients that this veal was humanely raised. The marsala sauce was nicely flavored. The side of angel hair pasta had a very nice texture.

For dessert, we both had a plate of ice cream; vanilla and blackberry; and chocolate and strawberry. Very good ice cream. Not super duper rich, but nicely flavored.

Also had a glass of milk to drink with the meal. Nice and rich. Their brochure says that because the milk is not homogenized, it's better for those who are lactose intolerant. I can vouch for that, with my mild form of intolerance.

All the dishes were good executions of relatively simple concepts. The corn bisque had the most complex flavors, with a bit of curry, basil, and lemongrass flavoring the corn bisque. They try to use completely organic ingredients sourced mostly locally.

The only dish we didn't get to try that I was curious about was the cheese plate. They offer a fromage blanc and a fromage de la terre (their artisan style cheese).

Presentation is simple. White linen tablecloths and flowers in milk bottles. Service is very friendly.

The dining room is in the converted hayloft of the farmhouse. The exposed wood beams and lofty roof make a perfect setting for the smartly designed stainless steel dairy bar and the cheese aging room.

After dinner, we wandered around the grounds where you could see the cows grazing and the chickens roaming the field around a small coop.

If you're interested in trying their products, they had a map showing where their products are stocked. In Indianapolis, local supermarkets such as Marsh carry their goods, while it looks like their goods go as far as the Whole Foods in Philadelphia. Looks like they've hooked up with much of the Whole Foods network from St Louis to Minneapolis to Chicago all the way through to Philly.

www.traderspointcreamery.com for hours as well as the latest menu.
NW part of the Indy metro area .

Meat Lover ISO Outrageous Chicago Meat Experience

I would recommend Garden Buffet on the northwest side of the city.
It is a Korean buffet where many of the buffet items are raw meats which you take back to your table to grill on the charcoal grill in the center of the table. There are probably about 10 different types of meat (kalbi rib meat, bulgogi, unmarinated beef, spicy pork, chicken (fowl), and seafood. There's also sushi too, but that's outside of your request.

Also, there are cooked dishes in the buffet as well, including a good kalbi jim (beef rib stew) and meat chon (mini burger coated in egg).

Total tab is about $29 per person at dinnertime, less during lunch time.

While you can probably find slightly better grade kalbi in some other places, the abundance, variety, and people bringing buckets of hot coals to the tables are what give Garden a high "outrageous" factor.


Garden Buffet

5347 N Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-2307
(773) 728-1249

Mar 20, 2007
tex888 in Chicago Area