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kenjialt's Profile

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'Shroom Burger ala NYC's Shake Shack?

Jan 07, 2011
kenjialt in Los Angeles Area

Craigie on Main 86'd the bar menu and the burger?

Hey guys - just got off the phone with Tony who cleared up a lot of this.

First off, the bar menu. According to him, the only change that's been made is that the items off of the bar menu have been incorporated to the regular menu, with a few of the less popular items (like the mussels and the potato galette) being 86'd except for specials and brunch. The idea here is that there were many people who came to dine at the main restaurant specifically requesting things off the bar menu (like the pig's tails). He decided to allow these people to order whatever they want, so now rather than having the bar menu and regular menu at the bar with just the regular menu in the main restaurant, both menus are available no matter where you sit.

After that, he decided that rather than having two printed menus, he'd just print one longer one with both menu items. All of the old bar staples are still available, and at the same prices.

Except for the burger.

And here's why: After much national coverage over the summer, burger sales went through the roof. He went from selling 20 burgers a night to over 40. Seems good, but the problem is, the beef he was using is sourced from Hardwick beef in Western Mass (same supplier as Dan Barber). It's a small producer of 100% grass-fed beef and he's given a specific allotment. He can't simply call up and ask for more. As such, when demand started getting too large, he resorted to ordering the short rib for the burger from a different supplier but was not as happy with the quality.

Basically, he says, "The burger we were serving was not the Craigie on Main burger that people have come to know," and he didn't feel right doing it. They've subsequently switched back to 100% Hardwick beef, and as it is, they are making as many burgers as their beef allotment will allow, which comes to about 20 per night. He wants to save those burgers for diners who stop in for a bite at the bar, so they are not offered in the main dining room. Consequently, they aren't on the regular menu, but are offered as a nightly verbal special to patrons at the bar.

All in all, that seems like a very legitimate response, and the best one I could have hoped for.

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Nov 24, 2010
kenjialt in Greater Boston Area

Improper Best Burger - Radius

Thanks for the shoutout. I did love the toro burger!

For the record, I don't think Louis Lunch is any good. It's got style, but I don't find myself wanting the burger again like I do the Pig's, the Shack's, or Toro's. I don't understand the argument though - what's so off the map about the Toro burger? It's just a plain old grilled burger that happens to have a signature sauce that goes on top of it. The basics are still the basics, and those are what make the burger great. The sauce is just the icing on the cake. They use good meat, cook it right, don't mess around with it, don't screw with the bun, I mean, it's about as basic as a burger can get, and by my definition, that's what makes a great burger (nothing fancy, just everything in its right place)

1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

Sep 01, 2010
kenjialt in Greater Boston Area

Radius Burger

Yep - we both changed our names when we got married. So now when I write my by-line, it looks like my Japanese mother and American father invited over a Latin couple on the night of my conception. Or something like that.

For the Tory Row burger, it is ust a stand-in for all the others. I actually would have stuck in the Middlesex burger, but it was closed on he day I was taking photos, so I gave Tory Row a shot, found it to be nearly identical (except the bun), which was good enough for me.

Dec 04, 2009
kenjialt in Greater Boston Area

Shanghai Asian Cuisine on Elizabeth Street

I had the soup dumplings here (maybe called "tiny pork juicy buns" or something like that on the menu). They may have been the best soup dumplings I've ever had. An extraorginary amount of juice in them, and wrappers that were just barely robust enough to hold it all in.

Nov 24, 2009
kenjialt in Manhattan

Rickshaw Dumpling Bar

Shockingly bad dumplings at shockingly high prices. 12 dumplings and 2 drinks for $19!

The dumplings were unbelievably dry and bland. They broke apart as I picked them up because they stupidly serve them on paper trays that stick to the bottom of the dumplings like glue. But even though the bottoms completely fell off, not a single drop of juice came out of them - they were really that dry. They were also served lukewarm with fridge-cold sauce. I rarely have been so angered by a negative restaurant experience.

Nov 23, 2009
kenjialt in Manhattan

Rickshaw Dumplings

I just went for the first time today and was strck by how truly awful everything there was. Dry, flavorless, expensive. One of the most offensive restaurant experiences I've ever had. I really wanted my money back.

Nov 23, 2009
kenjialt in Manhattan

Rickshaw Dumplings

Signs that I should not have bothered tasting the dumplings:

1) I should have known better when I walked in and saw the cutesy signs on the wall with all the silly Asian puns on them.

2) Then again when I saw that all the photos of dumplings on the walls (which looked halfway decent) were fried, yet they only serve steamed dumplings on the menu.

3) Then again when I saw that the menu is your typical pan-Asian highly designed craphole fare (I.E., an obligatory "sezchwan" dish and "thai" dish, which translates to "a little spicier than normal," and "with peanuts").

4) When I got my bill and a dozen dumplings plus two drinks came to $19!

5) When I saw that rather than making the dumplings fresh, they have giant steamers of them stacked up a half-dozen high in the open kitchen meaning that by the time you get to the ones on the bottom, they are beyond overcooked.

6) When the steamed dumplings came on a paper tray with a little jar of sauce straight out of the fridge with a g-od-am sticker that was meant to be stuck on the tray, but was actually stuck on the corner of my dumpling instead.

7) When I tried to lift a dumpling off the tray and because it's moist dough on paper, the dough was stuck like glue, causing me to tear open the dumpling.

8) When I realized that even though it was torn open, not one drop of juice spilled from the inside of it.

Despite all these signs, I ate the dumplings, and they were truly horrible. Dry, overcooked, flavorless.

I was so dissappointed and angered by how awful these were that I felt like writing a letter to the management.

This is the kind of place where people with no taste go because they can't deal with non-English-speaking waiters in Chinatown. Avoid it at all costs.

Rickshaw Dumpling Bar
61 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

Nov 23, 2009
kenjialt in Manhattan

unconventional pie crust recipe in new CI

The idea is that in a normal pie crust, you want to minimize the amount of liquid you add, because adding liquid increases the formation of gluten, which can lead to a tough crust. The problem is, without liquid, the dough can be very hard to roll out. By using vodka instead of water, you're able to add 40% more liquid (in the form of alcohol) and not have to worry about gluten formation and leathery crusts (because gluten does not form in alcohol). Therefore, you can get a supple easy-to-roll dough which bakes up as tender as a much drier dough would.

And yes, Honey Bee is right - not 100% of the alcohol will burn off, but with rare exception, the amount of alcohol left in the crust will not be detectable by anyone. I'd be willing to bet that your average loaf of yeasted bread contains more alcohol per serving than this finished pie crust does. Interesting question though. Maybe a test is in order to figure out exactly how much is left.

Oct 03, 2007
kenjialt in Home Cooking

La Verdad (with pics)

I've been there a few times since openning, and it's been up and down. The size of the tacos is small, but only if you compare it to taco bell or Ana's (aka, American). The size is exactly on par with what I've had in mexico and some of the more authentic mexican restaurants in the area. Besides, how much do you expect to get for $2.50? If I'm in the Fenway area, I'd much rather have a plate of three different tacos than spend $8 on a crappy italian sausage from a street vendor.
The Torta there is one of the best sandwiches I've had. It comes on a custom-made sesame bu from Iggy's, and has a really nice sweet chipotle sauce. Very tasty. As for the tacos, I've had all of them, but my favorites were the tripe (saucy and spicy), the tongue (yes, the smoked tongue tastes like something you'd get in a Jewish deli rather than a taqueria, but it's tasty nonetheless), the fish, the chicken pibil, and the carnitas.
My one complaint would be that the quality is a little inconsistent. I've ordered the carnitas three times, and got three completely different versions. The one time when it was crispy and salty, it was one of the best I've ever had. The other two times it was a little soft and greasy.
They do a better job with the corn over at Toro, but it's great at La Verdad nonetheless.
Despite the cheapness of the food, I've managed to rack up some major bills on drinks. The margaritas taste great, but they go down really quickly. You can order one of every taco on the menu -- enough to stuff two or three people -- for under $20/person, but expect to pay a lot more for your drinks if you're going to make a night of it.

Still waiting to get back now that they have the full menu going.

May 11, 2007
kenjialt in Greater Boston Area

Viva Sous-Vide!

Another advantage of the professional circulator over the crockpot - the circulator keeps water moving.

Much in the same way that hot and cold zones can develop in a conventional oven, the same thing can happen in crock pots. A convection fan helps correct this problem in ovens, while the water jet in a thermal circulator helps correct it for sous-vide cooking.

As far as +-2 degrees is concerned, for most applications you're fine, but for some, this degree of accuracy is needed. Cooking a braising meat or 2 degrees higher than optimum can mean the difference between buttery-smooth, moist results and stringy meat that sheds it's liquid as soon as the bag is openned. Cooking a slow-cooked egg (2 hours +) at 145 instead of 143 will give you a hard-boiled egg, instead of a custardy one.

Apr 13, 2007
kenjialt in Features

Gari in Brookline (long)

'm not partial to hyperbole, but this was one of the worst Japanese food experiences I've ever had. Regardless of how nice the interior is, or how innovative the menu, a sashimi restaurant should first and foremost be judged on two things: the quality of the fish, and the quality of the dashi. Once they've got that right, they can feel free to gussy it up in whatever manner they'd like.

Ordered a 10-piece sashimi plate, chef's choice. What we got: 2 slices of hamachi, 2 slices of madai, 2 slices of tamagoyaki, and 2 pieces of crabstick.

First: the obvious problem. That's only 8 pieces. I mentioned this to the waitress and the chef, and they both apologized, but did nothing.

Second: not only was the madai less than fresh, but it was served warm. 1 1/2 pieces of that were still on the plate when the waitress cleared it.

Third: tamagoyaki (a rolled egg omelet) is a strange choice to put on a sashimi plate to begin with. What makes it even stranger is when the egg is not even cooked on premises. The sashimi 'chef' opened up a cryo-vacked package of pre-cooked egg, sliced some off, and put it on the plate. If I want to pay for pre-cooked eggs, I can get two Egg McMuffins for $3 at McDonalds

Fourth: Crab stick is not sashimi. Crab stick should not even be recognized as food. It is pulverized white-fish scraps that have been cooked, sweetened, and dyed red. I couldn't believe it when I saw it on the plate. I kept waiting for the chef to announce that I was on hidden camera to see my reaction, but it never happened. Instead, he sincerely asked me if everything was ok. I stared back at him, dumbfounded.

At least the hamachi was ok.

After sashimi, we had some tempura, which asides from being slightly greasy, and not too crisp, was surprisingly edible.

Finally, we had the miso soup, if it can be called that. The miso was obviously of very low quality, and the dashi literally tasted like salt water. Making a good quality dashi is very simple. All it requires is good ingredients. Apparently Gari would rather spend its money on flashy interiors than quality food.

This place is an insult to japanese food and should be avoided at all costs by anyone who enjoys foood more than atmosphere. If it's any consolation, the staff was very friendly and smiley, though not too useful.

On another note, wasabi mayonnaise and spicy mango rolls is about as innovative as this place gets.

Seeing as this place is getting so many good reviews, I feel like I have to give it one more chance, but I really don't think I can bring myself to return to a place that served me pre-cooked egg.

Apr 11, 2007
kenjialt in Greater Boston Area