Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weekend highlights (part 1 of 2)

Here are a few highlights (and lowlights) from this past weekend:

Bowl of ramen from Republic Ramen

We metup with friends at Republic Ramen. Patty ordered a bowl of the "miso" ramen ($6.95). I had the "tonkotsu" ramen ($6.95). Both bowls of ramen looked identical, so I'm only posting one picture. We ordered both bowls with pork and egg (+$1.00). The miso ramen was, to put it mildly, not so good. The broth had an off taste. The tonkotsu ramen was marginal.  The pork they use is completely wrong...

I would recommend going elsewhere to satisfy your ramen cravings.

On to some highlights!

Meyer lemon (left) and Caramel (right) macaron from Essence Bakery
After Republic Ramen, I suggested going to Essence Bakery for dessert. Patty and I have been a few times before and love their macarons. We ordered one meyer lemon and one caramel macaron. I'm not sure if they have made some changes recently, but they seemed to have skimped a bit of the filling (the filling should go to the edges of the cookies). Overall, these were still very good.

Fried pork chop over rice at iKitchen

We stopped for an afternoon snack at iKitchen. Patty and I shared a fried pork chop with rice ($6.25). FYI - this is a Taiwanese style dish. I thought it was pretty good, but Patty thought it was just "ok". In her opinion, the pork chop should've been thicker. She's from Taiwan, so I'd say that she's the expert. Still, it's not bad for the area!

On Sunday, we went with a friend to the newly opened Nobuo at Teeter House. Here's what we ate:

Watermelon goat cheese salad $6
Panko-fried soft shell crab sandwich $10
Tonkatsu sandwich $10
Ebi salad $9
Coconut curry grilled lamb $12

Everything was fantastic! They are currently only open for lunch, but we're looking forward to returning once they start their dinner service (w/ an expanded menu).

Places mentioned:

Republic Ramen
1301 East University Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281

Essence Bakery
825 West University Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281

5055 West Ray Road
Chandler, AZ 85226

Nobuo at Teeter House
622 E. Adams Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vietnamese - Da Vang and Central King Egg Roll

Last Tuesday, we met some friends for dinner at Da Vang. We probably frequent Da Vang more than any other Vietnamese restaurant in the Valley. It's definitely not the nicest looking place, but the food is excellent and the prices are extremely reasonable.

Here's what we had:

Grilled pork w/ egg roll over rice noodles

Beef pho

The next day, Patty was craving for pho again. Little Saigon (another favorite) and Da Vang are both a bit of a hike for us, so I did some research online and found a place near us that had Vietnamese food - Central King Eggroll. For me (and I'm guessing others), the name is a bit misleading, as it sounds more like a Chinese restaurant. The restaurant does serve some Chinese food, although the menu is primary Vietnamese dishes.

Here are two pictures of the restaurant:

Here's what we ate:
Grilled lemongrass chicken - I thought this came over rice (per the menu description), but as you can see, it came served over rice noodles. It was good though.

Beef pho - I thought this was a great bowl of pho! The sliced beef was fresh and tender, the noodles weren't mushy (from overcooking) and the broth was clear and complex (with noticeable hints of star anise and cinnamon). If you compare the picture above, to the one from Da Vang, you'll also notice that there is no oil on the surface of the broth (there shouldn't be any!).

The ethnic dining options in the far West Valley are pretty limited, so I'm glad we discovered Central King Egg Roll! It's definitely going into our dining "rotation". FYI - other restaurants in the rotation include India Garden (Indian), Sala Thai, Tomo (Japanese), and AJK Chinese.

Places mentioned:

Da Vang
4538 N 19th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85015

Central King Egg Roll
13530 West Van Buren Street
Goodyear, AZ 85338

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tomo Japanese Cuisine

We went to Tomo Japanese Cuisine for dinner tonight. Tomo is one of our favorite places for sushi in the Valley. The food is consistently good, the prices are very reasonable (especially during happy hour), and most importantly, it's only a two to three minute drive from our house.

Here are some pictures of Tomo:

Here's what we ate:
California roll - $2.95 during happy hour

Caterpillar roll - $9.95

Salmon skill hand roll - $3.95

Yellowtail kama (jaw) - $5.50 during happy hour

As usual, everything was great!

Places mentioned:

Tomo Japanese Cuisine

1550 N Dysart Rd
Ste. A7-9

Goodyear, AZ 85395

Le Chalet

For dinner tonight, I metup with a friend at Le Chalet (their website is a disaster btw...). Le Chalet opened earlier this year and I've been wanting to try it. I bought a $20 Groupon deal for $10 a few weeks ago, so this was the perfect opportunity to use it!

Here are some pictures:
Le Chalet - exterior
Complimentary cheesebread - delicious!

Each of us ordered a savory crepe. I had the "Mediterranee" - sea scallops sauteed with julienned leeks in a creamy saffron sauce ($13.95).

This was excellent. The combination of flavors was fantastic.

My friend, D., ordered the "Fermiere" - creamed mushrooms and sauteed onions topped with sliced chicken breast and Swiss cheese ($10.95).

This one was a bit boring. If eaten on its own, it would probably be pretty good, but compared to the Mediterranee, I thought it was kind of plain.

I really enjoyed the "Mediterranee". Next time, I'll take Patty and we'll have to split a savory crepe so we room to try one of the dessert crepes.

Places mentioned:

Le Chalet
5626 West Bell Road
Glendale, AZ 85308

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer BBQ

Barbecue ribs are one of my favorite foods. Over the July 4th weekend, we took a mini road trip to Gilbert, AZ (nearly a one hour drive from our house), to visit Joe's Real BBQ. Here are a few shots of the restaurant:
Joe's Real BBQ - exteriorJoe's Real BBQ - signJoe's Real BBQ - door graphicJoe's Real BBQ - interior
We ordered a full slab of ribs to share. For our sides, we had corn, mac 'n cheese, and an order of corn bread. Here's a shot of the food:
Joe's Real BBQ - full rack of ribs
and a close-up of the ribs...
Joe's Real BBQ - closeup of ribs
Everything was fantastic. The ribs at Joe's are definitely among the best in town. Even though it was a TON of food, we finished it all.

Last weekend, we had another craving for bbq and decided to try making some at home. We don't have a grill, so we experimented by using our slow cooker. It was incredibly simply - ~2lbs of country style ribs with a bottle of this barbecue sauce (my sister gave this to us on our last visit to Seattle):

We let it simmer for about 4 hrs and here was the result:

Super tender and flavorful ribs...yum!

Places mentioned:
Joe's Real BBQ
301 North Gilbert Road
Gilbert, AZ 85234

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dinner tonight - Taiwanese style "xian su ji"

Haven't posted anything for over 4 months now, but I just had to post a picture of our dinner tonight!

Patty made Taiwanese style "xian su ji" (salty fried chicken). If you are ever in Taiwan, xian su ji is one of the "must eat" street foods...tasty, tender morsels of fried chicken goodness. Patty even fried up some basil from our backyard. This was delicious!