Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Detroit, MI - The infamous Detroit debate, American or Lafayette Coney Island? The verdict - American, only slightly. The best way to do a test is to walk into one place, have a coney and fries, walk outside and about five feet to your right or left and have another coney and fries to do a comparison.

Next time I go, the new test will be to buy one from each and once I have them both in hand, do a bite by bite test. Then I'll see which I prefer.

In this test, American is the winner, only by a slight margin. I thought the chili was slightly more spicy, giving it more flavor. The fries were also slightly better with a better crunch and didn't find any soggy fries.

If you're not familiar with coneys, allow me to introduce two places to you. First either place is legendary in Detroit. The coney has a slightly toasted bun, grilled and not boiled all beef hot dog. Boiled dogs don't have the charbroiled flavor nor the snap when you bite into them. They are also not as firm since they absorb water. Getting back to the coney, its grilled and has an excellent snap when you bite into it, fresh diced onions, homemade chili and the flavor is unique here in Detroit, and lastly the homemade blend of mustard.

Either place, you won't be disappointed. I'll see how my next comparison test goes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

San Francisco, CA - I'm hooked, I'm sold, my heart now seeks out almond croissants from french bakeries. If I see it in their display case, I can't stop from ordering it now. After having an amazing almond croissant at one place, I was so surprised on how delicious they are, I now have to try it anywhere I go.

La Boulange de Market is no exception. However, it really wasn't as good as other places. Since they have multiple locations, I wonder if they don't make them in-house, making it not a unique personal recipe. The croissants I love are ones that have beautifully toasted almonds on top and the almond cream in the middle should have only a slight flavor of almonds and should not overpower the croissant. In La Boulange's case, it was too strong. It was still good and for picking up a quick bite to eat while walking past, I would get it again. I just would not seek it out and drive across the city to try it.

It is a cute little shop inside, not much room though. The patio outside is very nice for grabbing a croissant, sit out there, read a book or people watch. Enjoy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Farmington, MI
- There are lots of middle eastern restaurants in the Detroit area, but not many Chaldean places. Growing up, I ate at all my friends' homes who were Chaldean and always looked for those dishes at restaurants, but could never find them. I had to start wondering why?

New Saharas and the one in oak park both have Chaldean dishes that are not on the menu. In this case, what I came for, kari, which looks like tomato soup in the picture. As a kid, my friend's mom would make rice and kari in the morning and it sat on the stove all day for whenever you wanted it. Kari is a stew of tomato sauce, curry, and potatoes. I'm sure so much more, but that's the basics. Well, this version didn't disappoint. I was prepared to lick the bowl.

The falaffal was good too, not the best I've ever had, but not bad. The other highlight you'll want to make sure you try is their ranch dressing. I know, you're saying, ranch so what. They make it in house and it has some tangyness not typical for ranch. Its very good and I almost finished the little dixie cup when I typically never finish any dressing. Its also tasty dipping your bread in too.

Lastly, if your in the mood for a delicious heart attack, try the cream chop. Wow is it good. Its pounded and flattened steak or chicken then deep fried. Its delicious.

Service is good and the bread is prepared in the stone oven on the premises.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

San Francisco, CA - Hotel restaurants, most of the time, you hate them. They are convenient, but really, it's hotel food, not fine dining. However, sometimes it's really easy to decide to try it when you just arrive and you really don't know the city yet. Ducca's is just this situation.

Alright, lets try it. Well, for the rest of the week, you can guess that I was finding all kinds of other breakfast places. I tried their "Breakfast Buffet", looks average to decent. Lets see if they'll knock my socks off because it better for the price the buffet, it better be fantastic. From the star rating I gave it, you can guess that it did not do that.

Lets start with the positive feedback. Service was very good, very attentive, welcoming, and warm. Food, well, it was food. That's really it. The only component that I thought was delicious, was their french toast. That was the best part, not worth the cost of the buffet, but still it was very good. They were very large slices of cinnamon raisin bread with a soft egg flavor, but not overpowering. I would certainly order that again. The only other item that was helping to add worth to the buffet was having lox. I'll load up on that with any opportunity.

The biggest negative feedback is that the rest of the items are just average. The meats, eggs, etc... could have been ones that you found on the buffet at Big Boys for a third the cost.

Just get the french toast, that would be worth going. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

San Francisco, CA - When you're looking for beef jerky, the only kind I try to stick with is fresh meat that's dehydrated and prepared by the butcher on site. I don't waste my time or money on packaged kinds. Now I do make exceptions and as I was walking through the Ferry Building in SF, I passed this meat company and based on the varieties and freshness of the meats in the window, I thought I could try this place.

They gave me the bad news that the only jerky they had was in the package, I almost said, thanks, but not interested, but even the pieces in the prepackage looked decent, similar to the standard packaging, but it's a local butcher and they use sustainable meats. Why not try it?

I tried their original flavor. At first I thought it was very basic flavor, nothing really special. However, it grew on my quickly. The flavor was delicate, but peppery. Surprisingly, it was not dried out as much as it looked. It turned out to be a delicious snack and the package only lasted about two days. I found myself grabbing a little piece here and there. I wish the pieces were larger chunks and wasn't so dried out, but even with those criticisms, I still give it three stars. Enjoy!

Berkley, MI - Never judge a book by its cover right? Ellies Grill is no exception. A little mom and pops place disguised as a coney island, but secretly is a Hungarian/Macedonian restaurant.

Its a standard looking place both on the outside and inside. Server were very nice and helpful for questions on the menu. With several reviews about the mix grill, its a must and contains all the Macedonian specialty meats.

Is was a chilly day out so why not start with their cabbage soup. The soup was the perfect temperature for a nice cold day and deliciously hardy with small chunks of cabbage, veggies, small pieces of slow cooked meat that really disintegrated when you ate it. They mentioned that they prepare the soup from scratch onsite.

Now for the real deal, the mix grill. Boy, can I get it again? It was that good. I didn't know which meat to end with, but finally decided on the pork skewer. All of them are absolutely delicious, medium to medium-rare cooked, and fresh with a balanced layer of spices and saltiness. The rice below it was cooked nicely and had a nice tomato base without looking like it has it. It also soaks up some of the juices from the meat giving it some extra flavor. At first I didn't think the fries needed to be there and added an American element that was unnecessary, but decided the it gave some a textural component and acted as a palette cleanser between the meats. The only thing that was unnecessary was the diced onions with paprika. Tried it, but didn't care for that.

Lastly, I enjoyed Ellie's food and if you do to, ask her to come out and take a break from cooking to let her know you enjoyed it. That's right, the owner is right back there cooking for you. It's like she invited you over for dinner. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

San Francisco, CA - The name and location wouldn't be the first thing that screams Vietnamese, but it has several Bahn Mi options that surprised me. Cafe Dolci is so small, you can only fit two employees and maybe two customers. Did I mention that the only way for the employees/owners to get into their "kitchen", behind the counter, is to duck under the counter? Yes, it's very small, but you get to talk directly to the owners.

FYI...vegetarians, they have vegetarian bahn mi sandwiches too. As for you carnivores, they have several options for the sandwich. Advice to adventure eaters and those unfamiliar with bahn mi sandwiches, you have to ask for pate to be on your sandwich. The pate was average, but I was happy to have it on there. The pork isn't grilled onsite, definitely no room, but the lady told me that she grills them at the restaurant and then brings it here. It wasn't bad, but you can tell it wasn't grilled a minute or an hour ago. It did have fresh veggies, cilantro, cucumber, etc... The only other disappointing piece is they asked if I wanted it hot, of course! So they included the jalapeno peppers on it, but they were extremely mild and not spicy at all. I could taste them, but no kick. However, one aspect I was impressed with was that they did toast the bread right there. I wasn't expecting that, so they did pass those expectations.

Other yelpers mentioned that the line gets pretty long for lunch, so you can call ahead and put in an order for a sandwich before you show up so you don't wait so long.

If I had time to go up to China Town to get another bahn mi sandwich, I would take the time, but if I didn't have the time, it's better than a pbj from home!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

San Francisco, CA - Tucked away in an alley along with five or six other restaurants in the financial district, you'll find Taverna. I had to go during the world series, so the places was pretty deserted, but they did have the game on, therefore, our server was a little distracted. I completely understood, so no stars deducted for that.

Taverna does have some really nice outdoor seating sitting adjacent to all the other restaurant's outdoor seating, creating an alley reminiscent of a small street in Italy. The decor is decent and updated, but not spectacular. Our server did tell us they have a full bakery in the back where they make their biscuits on-site each morning.

I tried the Bouillabaisse; Shellfish Stew in a Tomato Saffron Broth. The shellfish were scallops and mussels. I thought the scallops were cooked very nicely, but I think the mussels had a very strong mussel flavor, too much for my palate. It's the sauce that I'll write home about. The saffron broth, I wanted to drink it. I did finish it all and used the toast with garlic butter that accompanied it, to soak it up. Once the toast was gone, I used my spoon to scoop it up. It had a very nice balanced flavor, complimenting the seafood very well.

We finished with the Warm Chocolate Cake Caramel Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream. This is certainly a must to try. The chocolate cake was very nice, but not spectacular. It did have a nice gooey center, but not as much as a lava cake. If it were a lava cake, I think it would have gone up a notch. However, the component on this dish you want to save for last is the ice cream in the crispy delicious bowl. It was crunchy, salty, sweet, and perfect with the ice cream. I would be tempted to get this dessert each time there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

San Francisco, CA - I never expected the variety and choices of food here at the Moss Room at the Academy of Sciences' cafe. I expected the typical fare, pizza, burgers, etc..., but Dim Sum, Bahn Mi, Pho, Italian, etc...? Wow, I was really shocked! I guess if I were to merely rate the Moss Room on variety, it would be three stars. However, you do have to consider flavor a part of the experience, right? It always comes down to flavor.

Therefore, I tried the Bahn Mi, expecting it to be very terrible. I know that you can't expect something so Vietnamese to be excellent at a cafe in a museum. Well, it wasn't terrible, not bad, but ok. So, it's certainly not a Bahn Mi sandwich you would get walking through China town, but I still would rather have a ok Bahn Mi sandwich than a bland piece of pizza, wouldn't you? Mainly, it was very greasy, veggies were ok, but the most important piece of Bahn Mi was missing, the pate. I know many people don't like it, but it is what makes the sandwich. I also shared a vegetarian spring roll which also was ok. It did have fresh veggies, but certainly not the veggies that are traditional in the roll. It did have mushrooms that gave it an unusual texture.

I do like all the outdoor seating it has. When you go to California, who wants to sit inside!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

San Francisco, CA - I was looking for a nice little breakfast place to check out and I came across Honey Honey Cafe. When you walk in, you notice that it's a really cute little place inside, seats probably 40-50 or so. One of the walls has the complete menu, in very large print.

I wanted to order so many crepes, but I wanted some protein and substance, so I went with the Huevos Rancheros. I would give it 3.5 stars. The tortillas were nice and crispy and eggs and cheese were pretty good. The black beans were good, but it did lack a bit of flavor. Some may appreciate it, but I like when black beans have a little meaty, porky flavor, but it did not.

The extra .5 star goes for the cute atmosphere, but also something that you rarely see in a restaurant, but was fantastic, the bathroom door has a vacancy/occupied sign. It's a single bathroom and you usually have to knock and wait, but they have a convenient vacancy/occupied sign attached to the lock, similar to porta-johns. It makes perfect sense and I wish more places had it.

Honey Honey also has a very nice little outdoor seating place where you can enjoy the outside, people watch, and eat on the streets of SF.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Clinton Township, MI - Rheinland Baked Goods. There's something about bread that is so delicious. I can sit and eat freshly made bread any day and all day. The Bagel Factory started selling this bread out of their shop, but stopped shortly after. I later found the baker and owner at the Birmingham Farmer's Market with their large assortment of bread made that day, right here in the Detroit area.

I should really try all their breads, but once you fall in love, you can't stray. I tried their German Sweet Bread and I was sold. Why would I want any other bread. The best things about this bread is that it's slightly sour dough flavor, very faint, but then the contrast of the sugar on top. It has chopped dates and almonds inside to give it an extra sweet flavor, but also texture. Really, the best part is the coated sugar on top. It gets all over your fingers and you're just forced to lick them all.

One more thing, don't think this loaf is going to last very long in the house. I promise it'll be gone in two, three days max.

Since driving to their store is just too far, I pick up their bread at Plum Market. It's not as fresh as it would be right out of their store that morning, but I'm satisfied with the trade off. Get it, it's delicious and the owner/baker was so nice when I met him.

***In their store, CASH ONLY****

Monday, July 05, 2010

West Bloomfield, MI - Ninja Sushi is one of my coworkers and I, favorite sushi restaurants to visit for lunch. Why? The staff is amazingly wonderful, but that's not why you go out to eat, right? It's for the food...and for you to return and return and return, it has to be very good. Ninja Sushi is one of those places. The owner treated us to a special appetizer, Snapper Tempura. I'll just call it heavenly appetizer. It's red snapper prepared tempura style with a blend of three sauces on the side. One of the sauces was a soy sauce reduction, one of the others I believed was a mango reduction, and I'm not sure what the third was. With the combination of the three, we wiped the plate clean. I think when no one was looking, I may have used my finger to wipe up more of it. When you're there, ask for it, you'll enjoy it. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

West Bloomfield, MI - Looking to order an item not on the menu? Feeling a little adventurous? At La Shangila during lunch, you should try their Dim Sum. They are small Cantonese appetizers that you pick right off a cart they bring around. Be prepared to be a little aggressive on what you want and what you don't want. If you don't, they be happy to put down on your table what they want. You can also special order dishes from the back. Here's the opportunity to order a dish that doesn't come around on the cart.

This is Salty Shrimp, dim sum portion. They will ask you if you want it whole or cut. If you're adventurous, order it whole. It comes with the head on it. If you're not so much, then tell them "no head". Salty shrimp is a common Chinese dish that many Chinese people order whole, according to the waiter. The other piece of advice he gave me was to make sure you chew well because the head and the shell can sometimes be a little sharp. Good advice I thought. :) The shrimp is lightly battered and salted and deep fried. They are very delicious and I now get it every time I'm there. I think the head gives it a little extra flavor, don't miss out on it. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Warren, MI - Are you an adventurous eater? Willing to take a chance and eat something you've never had before. This is chicken and duck balut from Kim Nhung grocery store. The grocery store is truly a place where you can find asian ingredients not found in common grocery stores. I heard they carried Filipino Balut. This is not for the faint of heart. Balut is a fertilized duck (or chicken) egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. It also is a luck of the draw on how developed the embryo is inside. The large white egg is the duck and the brown is the chicken.

I was very luck on the chicken egg, it wasn't developed very far at all. The egg white taste like the white chicken meat and the yolk was the dark chicken meat. Actually, the chicken balut wasn't bad at all.

As for the duck balut, that was a different story. It is not shown here, but after opening it and taking a few bites, I couldn't finish it. It had a very strong duck flavor and a bit slimy. I rarely not finish something and the duck balut, well, it was one that I decided not to complete. Score one for the food. Enjoy if you're courageous!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Warren, MI - Ready to become an adventurous eater? Liang's Oriental BBQ immediately makes you feel like you're either in China town or actually in China. If you've never really walked around China town, you may not be familiar with butcher shops that have hanging ducks, pigs, geese, etc..., but here, you get to see exactly what you are going to eat. In the first picture, there is hanging duck and a pig, then underneath are pig intestines, stomach, and other things that I didn't get to try. This place is amazing, plain and simple.

So, I had some bbq pork, duck, and pig intestines. I of course have to try as much as I can eat. Both the duck and the pork were prepared so well and packed with flavor. The duck, which I normally don't like, was excellent. I haven't had it in a long time, but thought it was very good. I particularly don't enjoy the meat because it's so greasy. The pork was by far the best part of the dish. I literally could have eaten plates of it. I didn't want to stop. Now for the pig intestines. Well, I can't say that I've tasted it before or anything like it. It was very chewy and did have a dirtiness flavor, if you will. I could really only muster what was on my plate. I really don't think I could order it again. Don't get me wrong, it was terrible, but if I have a choice between that and the bbq pork, I'm going for the pork. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pontiac, MI - Fried food is great isn't it? How about candy bars, also delicious. How about putting them together? Last year at Arts Beats and Eats Festival, Union Jack's had Fried Mars Bars. The treat was probably what you would expect. It was delicious, having the fried flavor with the sweetness of the candy bar. Since it's being deep fried, you can image what the heat does to the Mars bar inside. I pretty much melts it, not quite into a soup, but a very very soft candy bar. One thing that was nice was when it does melt, it mixes the candy bar's flavors, still tasting like a Mars bar, but not an ordinary one. For as little as it is, it is quite heavy with the fried batter and the candy bar combined. What a nice treat, try it next time. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Frankenmuth, MI - Not the best looking food pose, but it's the best I could do with it. Recently I was in Frankenmuth, a very neat little German town in MI and there is a very famous sausage shop called Kerns. It's a very well known place and I thought I would try something from there. They of course had a variety of cut meats, it's a standard butcher shop, but I saw Smoked Blood Sausage. I've only seen it on Bizarre Foods, but now that it's staring me in the face, I have to try.

Well, I tried it, and I don't think I'll be getting it again. The texture is slightly different from regular smoked sausage. It has a softer texture, but something you can easily palate. It does have a hint of the regular smoked sausage flavor, but what it does have the regular smoked sausage doesn't, is the ripe flavor of iron. The blood in the sausage gives it an irony flavor, one that becomes a bit too much for me. After eating half of it, I had to stop. I really couldn't eat much more of it. Sorry. Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Clawson, MI - Can you find vegetarian Vietnamese food? How about vegetarian Pho? Good luck! For vegetarians, Vietnamese food, particularly Pho, has traditionally been ruled out because it is made with a beef broth. Even if you ordered it without the beef and tripe, etc..., you still couldn't get around the beef broth. Well, now the wait is over. At Da Nang Restaurant, they actually have Vegetarian Pho on the menu. The whole idea completely intriguing me. I ordered the vegetarian pho to go and I was extremely impressed with it. Starting with the broth, it did taste just like the original. I spoke to the owner the last time I was there inquiring about it and she was very happy to describe all the vegetables they use to make the broth. I did not do a side-by-side comparison, but just by itself, wow, I really enjoyed it. Then you add the rest of the additions to help compliment the dish such as noodles, tofu, fresh mint, bean sprouts, jalapenos, lime, chili sauce, and hoisen sauce. After you put it all together, you have a perfect Pho dish.

If you're a vegetarian and you've wanted to taste Vietnamese food, here's your chance. Great job Da Nang! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Birmingham, MI - How would you like to wake up, walk to the local bakery and pick up muffins that were made that morning for YOU? And they are still warm? Bagel Factory Cafe is a place that makes all their bagels and baked goods from scratch that morning.

I used to come in and have to pick what they made, but sometimes not exactly what I want. So the owner told me to call the night before and she'll make the muffins that I want that morning. Every Friday night, I call and leave them a message for low fat oat-bran blueberry on Saturday mornings. I can wake up, walk over, and pick up warm muffins. Where can you find another place. The picture above is the blueberry muffin that we order and it is perfect. They are warm, perfectly moist, and slightly crunchy on the outside, but nice and soft in the middle.

Definitely go and pick up one of these muffins, you'll start ordering them each week. Enjoy!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Detroit, MI - You want real Mexican food? I mean REAL Mexican food? You first start by going to Mexican town in Detroit. The next best thing is to get off the beaten path and head to Los Altos. This place not only has authentic food, but the experience is authentic as it comes. I've been there twice now and both times I had to order in spanish. My server didn't speak english either time. Since they could tell my spanish was horrible, they called over someone else who could speak some english so I could at least ask some questions. I loved the experience!

The first dish was a taco platter so I could try multiple kinds of meats. It's not on the menu, so just ask for the four taco dish. Since I couldn't decide on only four, I got five. MMMM. All the tacos are on a double-layer corn tortilla, served with fresh onions and cilantro. You also get a lime with chips and salsa before the meal, make sure you squeeze the lime onto your tacos. It really enhances the flavor and is quite delicious. Some of the tacos were tripas (tripe), lomo (pulled pork), and carnitas (beef). My favorite out of all of them was the lomo. It is marinated shredded pork. It's very moist and has intense flavor to it. There are also some other taco options that are typically not on menus and I highly encourage you to try them... The tacos are served with real means and rice...beans with bacon in it.

The second dish is Nopales (cactus leaf). I've never had cactus before, but it can be common in Mexico. Once I saw it, I had to try it. It's sliced into long pieces, which almost resemble green beans. However, the flavor is far from it. It's actually quite sweet and really delicious. It's not terribly filling, but it is delicious. I would get it again on the side, but not as a main dish. Enjoy!