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fragolino's Profile

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How hard is Shojo to get into?

It shouldn't be a problem. I go to Shojo during off hours and at peak times (weekend nights) and never have to wait- though I'm usually sitting at the bar. For a table, I'd give them a ring a few hours in advance and they should be able to accommodate you.

Note that it can get pretty loud in there at peak hours.

about 22 hours ago
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

September 2015 Openings and Closings

In what I believe used to be a jewelry store, there's a new sign reading "Cuong's Vegan Restaurant" on Beach St in Chinatown.
The sign in the window says a "Fall 2015" opening.

Aug 28, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Committee

They had live music playing outside over the weekend with people dancing. My guess is that it's more of a nightclub/lounge than a restaurant.
There was a place whose name escapes me now that was a restaurant during the day and became a club at night- might be a similar idea with Committee (I think it was called Mantra).

I've not been inside so cannot comment on the food itself.

Aug 26, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Chow-heaven in East Boston

I suppose it has been about a year since I ordered my last batch from there.

That's terrible news. My condolences to the family.

Aug 25, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Chow-heaven in East Boston

A chowdown at a particular restaurant or a crawl would be awesome.
Some ideas (and open to any suggestions/modifications):

Allston crawl #1: Dolphin Bay, JoJo Taipei (3cups dishes), Blue Asia (basil chicken or soy sauce chicken leg), finished off with buns from Yi Soon and a bubble tea from Infusions next door.

Allston crawl #2: Round of tofu soups at Kaju, S&I Thai (bbq chicken, laab, moo bing, other goodies), Shanghai Gate (meatballs, steamed buns, others), finished off at either KF tea or Sweet Kingdom - or trek it to Bee's Knees for coffees

Allston crawl #3: MDM noodles, YoMa (ginger salad, tea salad), LoneStar taco bar, finished off with ice cream and coffee at FoMu or shaved ice at TeaLosophy.

Malden crawl #1: dim sum @ Sun Kong, FuLoon, Pho Bistro, Malden Mandarin, Wow Barbecue, finished off at Kung Fu tea (open to better suggestions here b/c I'm not much of a KF tea fan)

Malden crawl #2: All Seasons Table, Pisa Pizza/Vinnies Pizza, Pasta Market, Habesha, and Oya to finish it off with leche y leche and a cafe con leche

East Cambridge: Helmand, Lone Start Taco bar, Atwood's, Loyal 9 (have only been to the cafe, but not for food but am curious given all of the noise), Oleana, and ending at Christina's

Chinatown: Windsor Dim Sum, Shojo, Peach Farm, Best Little Rest, finished at Juice Bar and a foot massage reflexology place. Probably a too well-trodden path for most of us.

Croissant Comparison (order some from each place and meet somewhere to taste/gorge): Clear Flour, Cafe Madeline, Paul, Mamadou, Cafe Japonaise, Dwelltime, Tatte, (others?)

Chow-heaven in East Boston

Also in Eastie:

1. Donuts from Betty Ann. Call ahead to ensure you get what you want.
2. Lucuma ice cream from Frio Rico (following a meal at Rincon Limeno). It tastes like cookie dough.
3. Jalisco - really loved everything I got there. It's all made to order so there's a bit of a wait, but I'd like to think everyone on here's happy to do so.

I concur with El Chalan's roasted birds though I always got plantains with them which were always kinda dry- just an afterthought. Glad you got lucky with fries!

I might be crazy, but I never got the appeal of Rino's place- though my visits were post-Fieri blowup.

Aug 25, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area
1

Boston Public Market is here

I'm one of the folks whose in love with the BPM, so I'll explain the appeal (to me, least).

It's more accessible than other farmer's markets for me thanks to its location and hours (open until 8). Being covered will help a bit too when it's -20 outside, so I can see myself continuing to visit year-round. I can hit it up on my way home from work and get ingredients for my next two meals. Like any farmer's market, it's not one stop shopping- after all that's how supermarkets came into being.

The vendors are mostly familiar names from other farmer's markets- so it's in line with what I expect to see if I were to make it to one of those around town.

I love that there's a George Howell outpost (also, making his roasts accessible to me- his other store is in the sticks of Newton). I just wish they'd do manual brews there.

Between being on/in the T, the hours, the organic produce from local farms, and a coffee bar- by a local coffee legend, the only thing missing from my lifestyle would be a craft cocktail bar (I'd settle for a craft brewery were you could drink on premises)!

I'm eager to see what they do with the kitchen area. Nothing on their calendar suggests it, but for the food vendors selling salumi, cheese, and other products I'd love it if they had some kind of tasting or classes comparable to what they did with George Howell this past weekend.
The NE chef series looks cool and they _are_ having a cocktail event this Friday.
For those interested, here's the link:
http://www.thetrustees.org/things-to-...

So, sure it could be better but it beats what else is out there.
From what I can see, it's just one of many things being done to improve Boston as a city. So in a way, it's a mark of intent and understanding that I like more than the implementation. They're on the right track- I just hope things like it become more commonplace and not as much of a novelty.

Looking fo Taiwanese ice "Snow"

I'm not sure if it counts as the ice snow, but Blue Asia Cafe in Allston has a few shaved iced desserts:

http://www.blueasiacafe.com/uploads/3...

Jul 20, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Boston-Area Ethnic/Cultural/Food Festivals 2015?

Ethiopian Culture Night at 1950 Mass Ave on July 25 from 6-10pm. $15 (discounts if dressed traditionally).
All you can eat buffet and coffee ceremony.

I also spied another event posted on the wall at Habesha that looked as though it was the same day (July 25) but can't find any info about it.
It was an Ethiopian cookout at Danehy park in Cambridge from 3-9pm - at least that's what I wrote down.

Jul 18, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Babbo Pizzeria. Enoteca

Stiv99- Did you try calling? I've found that Opentable doesn't jive with reality for them. Oftentimes it's shown as being booked and I've just shown up and asked for a table (either later that day or in the near future and never had a problem).
Good luck and hope you have a good time regardless of where you end up- A4 ain't too shabby!

Jul 05, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Fresh sugarcane juice at Padaria Brasil

I'd only ever stopped into Padaria a few times for some sweets (which were fine, but nothing earth shattering). Glad I have a new reason to try the place out.
Thanks

Jun 01, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Seeking Malaysian or Burmese Recs

Why, I'd direct anyone wanting to eat Burmese food to YoMa, the only Burmese restaurant around here which is in Allston ;-) Whether the logistics work out for the OP is up to the OP's itinerary and how badly they want Burmese- questions I can't answer for them.

Another thing Allston has going for it is that it's inexpensive to eat there. Unlike most other parts of the city, you can stroll around and pick out a place at random and it's likely to be delicious and inexpensive. That was my MO when I lived there and it was rare that I left a place disappointed. I've tried the same in other parts of the city (Eastie, Copley, and now Cambridge) and I've usually been let down at either the quality of product, cost, or both. That's why I keep returning to Allston- but that's my taste and preferences. I like Asian food as I'm not great a cooking it myself, while I'm better at turning out European style food at home.

To keep this somewhat relevant to the OP's post: I finally got to the Royal East for some Assam laksa tonight with a side order of popiah.
Firey and sour, the laksa has some of the characteristics of what is great about this dish, though it definitely lacks the depth and complexity one is hoping to experience with the queen of laksas.
I did like the noodles alot though- they had this really nice texture when they hit your mouth.
Broth: 4/10, noodles: 7/10

I'm still holding out hope I can recreate that incredible laksa experience I had a few weeks ago here. Giving it another go next week. That thing was a 10/10.

In the meantime, OP, I hope you've dined well here in Boston despite our bickering.

Jun 01, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area
1

Seeking Malaysian or Burmese Recs

Take a cab/uber/lyft then if 30-45 minutes on the T is too much. It's not for everyone, most of the places I rattled off lack in decor, but their food is great and like I mentioned, you can eat your way around the world if you do a crawl. Not many places where you can do that sort of thing.

Lotus7: I hope you had a good time in Boston and enjoyed our less-than-worldclass food, somehow managing to eat well in spite of that ;-p
I'm sorry if you never got to taste any Malaysian or Burmese though.

May 31, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

classic patisserie swap-meet or baking group

Count me in. Y'all can sample my croissants and tell me how much of an amateur baker I am!

Actually, now that the weather is improving we could organize a crawl (croissant crawl, macaron crawl, ice cream, others)? We'd probably need an uber though as most locations are spread out.

Croissant/pastry crawl itinerary: Clear Flour, Padaria Brasil (it's nearby), Yi Soon, Cafe Japonaise, Athan's (?), Madeleine, Tatte, Ames Street Deli, Paul, and...why not, Flour too.

Alternatively, we could source pastries from these places and meet up in a convenient place to try them.

May 31, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe has opened in Woburn today!

I'm in total agreement with greygarious (and I've only ever eaten at Gene's Bedford St. location in downtown Boston). I've eaten with colleagues who normally love heat and they went searching for any hot sauce on the counter to turn it up on their #4s. Similarly, folks who are heat averse haven't mentioned anything about the flavoring apart from how garlicky it is.

I like the #3 (pork sandwich) as well, but like others here wish it was more wet from pork juices. I'm too much of a pig to only eat a bowl of #4.

I once tried the #8 but found it to be bland, especially when compared with the #4..or really just about anything else on the menu but maybe it's tastier and more exotic than most vegetarian food ;-)

May 31, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Seeking Malaysian or Burmese Recs

I don't know- variety is one of the strengths, I think. Particularly in Allston. You can eat Korean (fried chicken, noodles, soondubu, soups), pho, Colombian, Burmese, Thai, tacos, Lebanese/Middle Eastern, Egyptian (ok maybe similar enough to ME), Taiwanese, Shanghainese, and ramen. I might've left some out, but in what is probably a square mile you can try all of those types of cuisine. I was sad to see Ariana (Afghani) leave, but they're opening up on Western Ave.

Maybe none of them are as amazing as what can be had in any of their home countries though. I've only ever been to Japan from that set I rattled off so I don't know any better, but by and large I've enjoyed food at all of those locations. Also, I found that like my experience just about anywhere- there's a range of quality and style.
So your mileage may vary!

I hope you reconsider on YoMa someday. In addition to the tea salad, I like their ginger salad alot, plus the potato prata (as mentioned before), and some of their noodle dishes. I'm sorry to hear about the curry- did they really serve something that was moldy to you?

May 31, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Whole Foods Charles River

I made a point of looking for them and they had free samples at this WF location this weekend and had a staffer behind each one.

A staffer offered me a basket to carry groceries while I grabbed a few things (but not all of them did! so unfriendly!) and only the person who bagged my groceries told me to have a nice day (how rude of all of the other staffers not to have done the same!).

I still have no idea what anyone's complaining about, but it's fine with me if it becomes a less crowded space.

May 31, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Ogawa Coffee

Thanks Ruprecht. The coffee trike's normally in Dewey Square during the work week, but it's best to check his twitter feed out to see if he's pouring:
https://twitter.com/thecoffeetrike

Paul's coffee isn't great - it's really about the pastries there (which I guess aren't amazing but hit the spot during a long work day).

I'm keeping the faith for Ogawa and will give them a couple of weeks to sort out the kinks before trying them again. Let's hope they incorporate customer feedback into their offerings and mix things up.

May 31, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Seeking Malaysian or Burmese Recs

I'd like to add that I want to support local places that provide us with these cuisines. Let's face it- ingredients like torch ginger don't exactly grow wild in Boston, yet Penang and the Royal East still go to some lengths to include these types of exotic ingredients in the food that they serve.

I want to support these places in hopes that they keep serving this food and maybe others will follow.
They're not terrible places with slimy owners (to the best of my knowledge!) but are folks just trying to run a business offering something unique that I happen to really love (and can't quite replicate at home). For example I still can't replicate the times when Penang gets the wok hei into the stir fried noodles. They don't do it all of the time, but I'll take what I can get.

Seeking Malaysian or Burmese Recs

Hi,
I agree with TimTamGirl and digga- the best advice is to always eat what's particularly good or unique in a location and certainly Malaysian, Singaporean, and Burmese aren't strong points here in Boston with ~3 restaurants covering them. Lotus7, if you're hankering for these types of foods badly, I'd say give it a go here.
If they disappoint, like others have pointed out, nearby there is great food to be had so cut any losses quickly and ruthlessly ;-)

I've dined with Singaporeans at the Penang restaurant here and they don't claim it's like it is at home but if you're missing that type of food- it's serviceable. If you expect the only restaurant in Boston that serves a type of cuisine to be on par with the best there is at the point of origin, you need a little dose of reality.
All but one person I've taken to both places have really enjoyed them- so go figure.

Just to get it out there- I've traveled to Penang twice, Singapore 3 times, and KL once ate until I could physically not handle any more. So I've tried "the real thing" but control for what I get here. And believe it or not, not every establishment in those cities is exactly stellar and many dishes are simply a matter of preference (such as char kway teow, curry mee, and so on).

TimTamGirl: I've had the laksa just twice at Royal East with the first time transporting me to chili heaven, while the second time something was off (too much lime juice). That second time, I was advised by the manager (ex Aneka-Rasa and Penang) and one of the owners (from Ipoh) to try the Assam laksa, Ipoh hor fun, and hainanese chicken. I'm eager to try them and hope to have something to rave about. If you ever ate at Aneka Rasa, the laksa at the Royal East is nearly the same rendition (whether it was one you like or not). The Malaysian food is written on a whiteboard when you first enter and also appears in their huge menu- but not with consistent names to the whiteboard. So I just asked them for laksa that would make me sweat and they brought something out.
I probably wouldn't order the satay again and I think the roti canai is comparable to Penang's rendition though the pratha at YoMa remains my favorite type of this bread in Boston.

YoMa is a nice place- though I've never been to Burma so cannot verify how authentic or how good a rendition of Burmese food it is.
I'll say that in the Summer heat that their salads are the best thing to satisfy your hunger without weighing you down, particularly their ginger salad. For Lotus7, I'd encourage you to visit the Allston part of the city if you're interested in ethnic food because it's one of the best parts of Boston for that and you may get to try food you've never had before (regardless of whether you go to YoMa or not). An Allston food crawl is always a good idea.
I know we've tried to compile an itinerary for that in the past- try searching the board for ideas on that front.

I hope you enjoy your time in Boston- there's good food to be had here and the Summer is my favorite season in this city (even if only the Sox are playing).

May 29, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area
1

Whole Foods Charles River

I don't get what makes it so much worse than other WF locations though. I've shopped at River St, Alewife, and Central, Charlestown, Ink Block, and the Brighton/Brookline location and find that claim really hard to believe (that it's the worst one).
My own personal least favorite is the Brighton/Brookline location - at least back when I shopped there, the aisles were too narrow, the store was small and therefore had fewer items available to it (as compared with Alewife, MGH, Charlestown).
Who cares about free samples (which take up aisle space and block food I may want to buy)? These complains seem so petty- are you hanging out in this place or going there to buy stuff, leave, and cook at home?

In terms of "best" location- I thought that, apart from the crowds, Alewife was great and I really liked the Ink Block location too (South End). Then again, I'm only evaluating them on what they had in stock, how easy it was to find, what the quality (generally) was, and how clean the place looked. No clue on samples, demeanor of the cashiers, etc.

For those who care about those factors, I think there's an online shopper that'll deal with the store for you and deliver your stuff to your house. Peapod does this for Stop n' shop and there's one that visits whole foods (and WF may do their own delivery too).
Sheesh.

May 28, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Ogawa Coffee

Same here. On my second attempt to brave the line, I pointed out to my colleague that his drink, a mocha, is $5(!!!).
There's stiff competition for that type of stuff between Sip, Paul which just opened, Thinking Cup on Tremont, the Trike (which I like the most just for the novelty of it and because San is passionate about what he does) and of course the evil Starbucks and Dunkin empires.
If they're going to charge those prices, I want a full-on kissaten experience with a coffee master who roasts his own beans on premises and chats with you like a bartender while pouring your coffee!

May 28, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Seeking Malaysian or Burmese Recs

It's slim pickings here, but you do have some options.
For Burmese, there is YoMa (5 North Beacon Street 02134). The salads and noodles are great and I really love their pratha with the potato curry dipping sauce.
The area may seem out of the way, but it's worth a trip if you like food. Nearby, you can get drinks at Deep Ellum or perhaps try some coconut-milk based ice cream at Fomu a couple of doors down. The epicenter of activity in this part of town is the Brighton Ave/Harvard Ave intersection where you'll see many great Asian eateries.

For Malaysian, there are two places:
1. Penang (685 Washington Street in Chinatown): I like their chicken satay, mee siam, singapore rice noodles, roti canai, though their rendang can be hit or miss.

2. Royal East (792 Main St. Cambridge, MA):
I had a religious experience after eating their laksa a couple of weeks ago. The place has Ipoh connections, so get things that Ipoh is known for: hainanese chicken and hor fun. I thought their satay and roti canai are OK but you're better off eating these at Penang if you want them. After eating at the Royal East, you can enjoy an ice cream at Toscanini's nearby- my favorite and one of the better ice cream shops in the area.

I hope you enjoy whatever it is you eat. I can't say that the standard will transport you to Malaysia or Burma, but it'll hit the spot if you're deprived of these great cuisines.

May 28, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Whole Foods Charles River

This is where I've been regularly shopping for about two years. It's not uncommon for a cashier not to be familiar with what fresh turmeric is (they ask me if it's ginger) and they thought that the ramps I picked up were leeks.
My point is- I don't think the source of this is malice more than it's a case of naivete from the cashiers. When they don't know they've asked me though- so I'm more inclined to pin mistakes like those you've described to cashiers rushing through an order.

All of the registers I've gone through have an electronic screen showing each item as it's being rung up. If they're trying to cheat anyone, I doubt they'd have these displays and certainly, you're right in that you should always check to make sure you got what you wanted.

May 23, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

bakery, patisserie in boston, seriously??

I've now tried Paul several times, each time trying something different: plain croissant, pain au chocolat, chocolate croissant, and an almond croissant.

Plain croissant was ok- slightly sweet with a hint of saltiness. Not bad, especially for the DTX area.
Pain au chocolate- best I've had of their croissants so far. Good ratio of chocolate to bread, not too sweet either.
chocolate croissant- left me with a slight sugar high and messy fingers. Not bad but not exceptional enough to be worth the calories.
Almond croissant- very rich, almost soggy from the almond paste. Not really a croissant- more like almond paste with a hint of bread. I found that texture odd to eat, though the flavor itself was fine. Very filling and quite rich, you need a coffee to counterbalance it!

Tatte: I got here hungry, so I picked up a ham and cheese croissant. Not by any means a good test of their croissant-making abilities, but found the texture of the croissant somewhat flat. Its size was enormous- probably twice that of a normal croissant. The ham and cheese portions were generous and overall was quite filling. I'm curious to try more, especially their pistachio croissant which looked great.

May 23, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Soft shell crabs

I'll second the softshell crab at Shojo rec. Got it Thursday night and shared half with a DC. Had to get a second order of it! The fry job was really well done. Oddly enough, I found that the Thai empanada (also fried) was quite heavy with oil. Odd but I hope that this special can remain on the menu for a bit.

May 23, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Best place in Boston for lobster roll?

Indeed - lobster's always struck me as a veblen good. I like the flavor from crab more, especially when you get female crabs with roe.

If anyone gets to Row34 and doesn't want to be a fool, I really liked the salmon cheek that they had (maybe still have) on the menu for $12. It's a good amount of fish and has quite a bit of flavor.
I've seen fish cheeks on a few menus this Spring- is it becoming a fad?

May 23, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Best place in Boston for lobster roll?

Went to Row 34 last week and their roll is now $29.

May 23, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

Anybody been to the newly opened Santouka Ramen in Harvard Square yet?

I've tried Sapporo (inside Hmart), Santouka (got miso), Yume Wo Katare (Porter), Shabu and Mein (East Cambridge), and Shojo (Chinatown).

From these, I like Yume Wo Katare the most followed by Shojo's, then Santouka's.

Like with so many things, it's a very personal question which type of ramen you like as the styles are distinct.

The Yume Wo Katare version is extremely rich- fatty and salty. I'm usually buzzing when I leave that place even though I hate having to announce my dreams to the crowd.

I like Shojo's take which somehow feels healthy (who am I kidding). Their noodles had a great bite to them. The broth wasn't overpowering and so I felt that the focus was more on the noodles which was interesting. The char siu is crisped on the outside and tender in the middle- very nice.

I agree with Zaoss above that the char siu at Santouka's is a little underwhelming given Santouka's billing.

Have to say that the Sapporo inside Hmart would probably finish last in my own informal ranking. Limp noodles, weak broth. I've continually heard great things about their Porter Exchange location though and will try it (someday).

At Santouka, I only have had the miso ramen which was good but didn't have me buzzing afterwards. I'm eager to try the tonkotsu though on my next trip.

May 18, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area

May 2015 Openings and Closings

NOOOOOO! I preferred them to Pho Pasteur and Pho Hoa when I needed a pho fix.

For what it's worth the froyo place a couple of doors down, Wild Cherry, closed sometime in the last month or two.

May 18, 2015
fragolino in Greater Boston Area