Friday, May 2, 2008

Pho So 1 in the Heart of Dorchester's Fields Corner

Last weekend I had an appointment there. So my sis and I were starving after our meeting. We had to get some food and Banh Mi was not going to suffice. We went directly next door to Pho So 1. (If I was more hungry I would have wanted 7 courses of fish but alas what we got was good.)
I don't usually trek to Fields Corner to eat in Dorchester. My good friend lives there and since I did briefly take Vietnamese classes (ok I forgot it all save for a few phrases) and the great Vietnamese Food (plus it is a trek) I always make sure to grab a meal while in the area.
So I went to Pho So 1 (223 Adams St, Dorchester, MA 02122 ,Phone: (617) 474-1999)
Goi Cuon- (Spring Rolls)--fresh shrimp and grilled pork inside (You cannot get that in any Vietnamese restaurant with the grilled pork in Chinatown and for $3.50---a steal!). We loved the usual peanut dipping sauce. The highlight was the pork and shrimp combo. Yummy! Nice and fresh and not fried which is what I love about it. (Don't get me wrong, I love fried things but I am trying to not eat it as often.)

Phò dãc biét (one of my faves) Beef broth studded with beef brisket, tendon, round eye steak, flat noodles and served with plate of limes, bean sprouts and herbs for you to add to your broth. The broth, noodles and meat just hit the spot. Add some sriracha sauce and it is even lovelier!

Com Suon Bì, Cha Trung, Thit Nuóng
I always seem to crave this one! The places in Chinatown don't even offer the eggs and charge about the same price! I love the steamed ground pork cake with egg and vermicelli. (It reminds me of the home style meals growing up that my mom would make.) Then the shredded pork along with the grilled pork chop over a bed of rice and a side salad. The two fried eggs are cooked just right so when I cut them open, the lovely yolk just oozes onto the rice. Of course you have to have nuoc mam fish sauce too!
It was a satisfying meal without having to break the piggy bank. *Sigh.

9 forks out of 10 forks
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Vlora in Copley Square

Earlier this week went to Vlora Restaurant with some friends. It is located in a basement level space (so you can easily miss out) right outside of 545 Boylston Street in the heart of Copley Square across from Trinity Church. Here is the restaurant's blog to read all the updates. The space was very quiet and modern. One part was full of light by the windows looking upstairs. Very spartan and not overly adorned.

The waitstaff was very attentive and polite. We did get two lunch menus by accident and the waitress got the wrong wine. The wine we did get $32 for the bottle was the Sileni Sauvignon Blanc and it was delicious! I don't like overly dry whites. It smelled yummy and had a wonderful tang and sweetness too it. Everyone raved about it! One friend who selected it had tried Sileni wines before. Bravo and excellent choice!

We each were served a nice warm piece of bread accompanied with good olive oil and some nice olives.

Here is the clams stuffed with crabmeat which was good. The dipping sauce was spicy but nice. The salad with red peppers and lettuce was good to have some on the plate. More bread than crab but still good and fresh.
I also got a side of dill mash potatoes that were delicious. Another is I got a trio of pies served with yogurt sauce-one was filled with feta and spinach, yogurt and tomato and onion. The pies were great with the pastry puff exterior and it was simple. The tartness of the yogurt sauce was nice.

Overall I give Vlora 8 forks out of 10 forks.
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JNJ Turo Turo-Filipino food in Quincy

I went with my good friend NY and my sis last weekend to Quincy. On 143 Water Street, you can find JNT Turo Toro. A cute hole in the wall serving home made Filipino food with a daily changing menu and permanent but smaller menu. Everything is listed on a board by the cash register. This small space was bright, cheery and alot the furniture from IKEA. (My friend noted she had similar furniture that was found in the restaurant.)

We ate alot of pork and had to bring leftovers home with us. So we got Kare Kare, Dinuguan, Lechon Kawal, Pancit Bihon, Lumpia with Meat, Pork Afritada, Bicol Express and Pork Adobo. If we were vegetarians, we would have been in trouble! I have only had select dishes of Filipino food in the past made by friends namely Pancit and Lumpia (both were I have had before were delicious!)
The staff was very friendly and looks to be a family run business. We ordered all the four dishes in the front, got some rice and other dishes. We were forewarned we would not be able to finish, we weren't. We had not room for dessert. We enjoyed the Kare Kare-pork, tripe in peanut sauce. We were instructed do add the fish paste (what Filipinos do) and it was delicious. Theshrimp paste is strong but different from Chinese shrimp paste. It added an extra zing to the dish and tripe. The Pork Afritada reminded my sis and I of our dad's veggie soup with tomato and potato. The Bicol Express was lovely with green beans, pork with coconut milk and shrimp paste. We loved it! We were not sure with the coconut milk but it added a nice contrast and lessened the potency of the shrimp paste. The Lechon Kawal or fried pork belly was simple and the dipping sauce was a litte sweet with some spices making it a nice accent. The Pork Adobo (marinated meat in soy, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns usually) was good (a staple Filipino food but my friend's is better.) The meat lumpia was a hit (as my friend NY said, maybe because it was fried?). The dipping sauce was not and not overly sweet. The two things we were not as enthused over were the Pancit Bihon and the Dinuguan. I love noodle dishes but this simplie rice noodle pancit flavored with soy was too light and tasteless for me. The Dinuguan was pork cooked in blood was different from anything I had but the murky blood broth was a disappointment.

We got there at the right time, as we were leaving the place was very busy for a Saturday afternoon. There is a certain niche needed for Filipino families and alot of them were ordering and eating there at Turo Turo last Saturday afternoon. Plus the prices are very reasonable too.

Service: 9 forks out of 10 forks
Food: 8.5 forks out of 10 forks
Total overal: 8.5 forks out of 10
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Monday, April 21, 2008

Stella-Brunch in the South End

Sunday was crazy in Boston. There was the Bruins and Celtics doing Playoff Games, Women's Marathon Olympic Trials and the Red Sox played (and won with an amazing 8th inning) this past weekend. It took me an hour and a half to meet up with my friend causing me to be late. But I had been to Stella (1525 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118 -617 247 7747) (in Beantown's South End) when it first opened and it was my first time back but for brunch (at 1:30pm).

Our waitress was very friendly and nice. The waitstaff helpers were nice but a bit frazzled. The OJ was all out and my friend PL was told her OJ would have to wait another half hour for some. It was a very busy South End brunch scene. The bar and front room as well as out door dining areas were packed. We were seated in the smaller side dining room. After our order was taken, we were given food within 5 minutes. Then we realized it was not our food. It did take us another 5 minutes to flag someone down to take our food away.

After half an hour of waiting and our stomachs growling, we got our food. PL got the Omelet Fiorentina (Spinach/Tomato/Asiago Cheese/Home Fries/Toast.) I got to try the "home fries" lovely roasted whole potatoes that were divine full of flavor and a treat.

I got the Linguine /"Carbonara"/Poached egg/Smoked Bacon and Parmesan for my meal. I admit I inhaled my dish was I was ravenous. The poached egg was perfect, the sauce was not too thick and the smoked bacon was bits of salty goodness that studded the dish of fresh linguine to bring the flavors to new heights.

We shared a side order of fresh fruit to make sure we had something healthy for our meal. The fresh fruit lived up to its names and the strawberries in particular were very sweet.

Food: 9 forks (out of 10)
Service: 8 forks
Overall: 8.5 forks
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Hungry Mother-a welcome addition

Last night, I went with a restaurant food group and our latest haunt was Hungry Mother (233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02141 -(617) 499-0090 ). (Granted I had not attended a lot of the restaurants lately, then again I have other friends who are game to visit tons of places with me all the time.) It was a lovely Sunday night and the 10 minute walk from Kendall Red Line "T" stop was lovely. It was not too cold or hot on an early spring night. I admit I am not an expert of Southern cuisine, but I found this little cute restaurant to be a gem. Since Bob's Southern Bistro (formerly of the South End) closed after 50 years of business, there has been a big void in the Southern Cuisine scene. This restaurant was under my radar of places to check out after catching a movie at the Kendall Theater two weekends ago. Then barely a week later, I got an evite to check out this restaurant-I was totally on board to come and check out this restaurant!

I was the first to arrive out of our group for dinner at 6pm and I was greeted by the friendly hostess. Very simple design with black floor, cute wall hangings with one photo collage which I saw had "Hungry Mother Park" listed and other cute images. I bypassed on the libations and got the Sweet Tea. (I loved it! Not too uber sweet but had a nice flavor and it was just refreshing!) The ice water was poured onto Mason canning jars- a nice cute touch. It was a tag team effort with our main server and her helpers. Overall we had great service and everyone was friendly and attentive.

I decided to start out and get the items under "To Tide You Over" Beef Tongue Canape (Gruyere, Dijon), Spicy Pimiento Cheese (Celery hearts, toasted pain de mie), Deviled chip-in farm eggs (and hm bacon) were a treat. My favorite hands down in the group was the lovely Beef Tongue (it was halved) and just tasted perfect. The Dijon and the Gruyere were in perfect harmony of flavors with the Beef Tongue. Every savory bite was heaven! Another item I just adore (because I love love eggs) were the deviled eggs. I thought there were well done and delicious. The bit of bacon atop not too much mayo filling proved just right. The most disappointing of the three was the Spicy Pimiento. I found it not too spicy at all (it is because I am used to spicy food?) but it was fine but paled when contrasted to the Beef Tongue and Deviled Eggs.

Compliments of the kitchen, we got an order of Boiled Virginia Peanuts (topped with grey sea salt) and an extra order of the Beef Tongue. The Boiled Virginia Peanuts were interesting as everyone at the table never had it before. It was nice and much more peanut but softer flavor and a bit mushy due to being boiled. I think I will stick with roasted peanuts.

For my main dish, I got all the items under the "Can you pass that?" section: Baked grits with Tasso Ham and Cheddar, Sauteed Collards, Hoppin' John with Green Tomato Chutney plus the special side of Corn Bread. The Hoppin' John was very good with the wonderful slice of ham and the sweetness of the chutney contrasted well together. I did not know what to expect but it was good. The Collards were just to my taste-still a little chewy (I dislike mushy veggies) and very flavorful. The slight bitter tang always gets me. One diner in our group thought it too chewy, I thought it was just perfect. The Grits with Tasso Ham and Cheddar was a winner. Admittedly, I have had it only a handful of times before. I love cheese and the cheddar was nice and strong paired with the lovely salty Tasso Ham served with the almost thick almost rough mashed potato texture (if it had a grainy texture). Once I ate all the ham and cheddar, the grits were kind of plain. All together, it was a pow wow of flavors and taste. One big surprise was the corn bread. Corn bread is another fave of mine. I have had it many ways (many times being dry too) but this was unbelievably good. Who would have thought of this warm, gooey goodness topped with maple syrup would be a hit?

Others got the Cornbread encrusted Catfish, Roasted Chicken and Shrimp and Grits. Everyone loved their meals. Very healthy portions and lots of starchy carbs. Yummy! I had to package my food to go in order to have some room for dessert. I shared with with my neighbor and it turned out to be the table fave---Chocolate Cardamom Pot of Creme with Lemon shortbread. I am glad I shared and it is great for any chocolate lover (who adores quality chocolate plus the lemon shortbread when dipped into the chocolate-sweet!) Everyone cleaned up their plates and their dessert ramekins. We all agreed that was a lovely meal.

Food: 9 forks (out of 10 forks)
Service: 9 forks (out of 10 forks)
Prices: Reasonable $30 and under
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Welcome to my new blog...

Greetings, this is a continuation to my old blog that ran out of memory for

I reside in Beantown and I love to take photos of food and visit various restaurants. I am just fascinated and love food! I feel that food is an integral part of everyone's lives and their cultures too. You really get down to the nitty gritty.