Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ben's Chili Bowl

Yeah, Anthony Bourdain was at Ben's on his last show, and Obama was here a few weeks ago, so I lose a few points for originality but there was no resisting that beautiful red and yellow facade. This place is amazing. Ben's Chili Bowl is the only business that was left standing after the 1968 riots, because they stayed open and served up chili half smokes to protesters, black panthers, journalists and riot police alike and became the calm in the center of the storm.

The line was out the door, they even have a bouncer to move the people through, and when you get your food you understand why. I heard some rumours that ben's doesnt live up to expectations but forget that. The thick half beef/half pork "smokes" are char grilled to almost burnt, thrown on a steamed bun and buried in a dark chili sauce. Add some mustard and onions and cheese if you want and you're good. The "chili half smoke" is unique to DC and awesome.

They do breakfast too, I was surprised to see scrapple on a menu as far south as DC. Their milkshakes are also incredible. Ben's is Obama central, you can feel the excitement in the air, I seriously had one of those movie moments where I was proud to be an american and wanted to recite the pledge of alllegiance or something. I can't imagine what it was like inauguration week.

Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U Street
Washington, DC


Named after Marvin Gaye, Marvin is a sort of "soul bistro" serving up everything from pork belly with frisee to shrimp and grits. I felt a bit like a tourist ordering the chicken & waffles but seriously how can you resist... collard greens, white gravy, side of maple syrup, fantastic.

Add lots of belgian beer and an upstairs lounge blasting obscure R&B and, wow, DC is a lot more fun than I expected.

2007 14th Street, NW
Washington DC

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kung Hee Fat Choy

It's the Year of the Ox, and for the first time I got to go home to see my parents during Chinese New Year. Which for my mom means a visit to the chinese butcher for roast duck and my favorite the chinese bakery.

My mom said this year was lucky because this particular bakery has been closed for a year, but just re-opened in time for chinese new year, but now the new owners are the baker's children. There candied lotus, fresh pork buns ( steamed or baked ) candied coconut, banana rolls, and the best darn macadamia nut sesame candy on, uh Earth. I know it's bold but I'm willing to make that statement.

The Chinese butcher had some of the best roast duck I've had in a long time. But really I was drooling over the idea of buying an entire styrofoam of char siu or shoyu chicken and eating it all by myself. But I didn't, not in front of my mom, next trip.

Nam Fong Restaurant
1029 Maunakea St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 599-5244

Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery
1027 Maunakea St

Leonard's Bakery

Flying into Honolulu is a great experience and something that never gets old. Just like getting a fresh hot malasada from Leonard's Bakery. Except now instead of just my family and I going there, there is a crazy line of Japanese tourists. The best part is that Leonard's didn't change itself one bit. It's still kind of shabby looking on the outside, and the service is kind of still the same. Except for Tim, using his haole charm, somehow got an extra malasada before anyone else in line and it was piping hot out of the fryer.

The Malasadas ( Portugese Donuts ) are warm fresh fragrant fried balls of dough, lightly rolled in sugar. Delicious and simple.

Either way, Leonard's is a part of an Old Hawaii that is disappearing fast, since Hawaii just got a Target and Whole Foods this year.

Leonard's Bakery
933 Kapahulu Avenue

Katz Deli

I am not the first. I definitely won't be the last. But, experiencing an institution like Katz Deli for the first time was amazing.

From the insane line lead by their own security to the first slap of a piece of pastrami on a plate for you to taste you know you are in for a gut busting hour of power. I got the reuben styled pastrami. Hot pastrami with melted swiss, kraut, and homemade russian dressing on rye. Add a little spicy mustard and heaven has arrived. The half-sour pickles are great, but I am going for full sour next time, more pickle, less cuke.

Amazing food. Historic atmosphere and just a classic New York experience.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


From El Jorocho- mentioned below in "best of 2008". Carnitas (braised pork) with lettuce, tomato, cheese, jalepenos, avacado, an unknown cilantro-esque herb and mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun. Not unlike a taco/roast pork/cheesesteak hybrid and should be the new official sandwich of philadelphia. Delicious.

Also Los Taquitos De Puebla is rumoured to have amazing Cemitas, including the "Cabeza de res" made with "beef head meat". Nice.

El Jorocho - 13th & Ellsworth
Taquitos De Puebla - 1114 S 9th St.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Breakfast Meeting at Work

Every week on Tuesdays, my department has an internal breakfast meeting. Usually this consists of someone picking up a dozen bad donuts or various bagels. We all agreed on a schedule and today was my day to bring in the yummy morning food. So I decided to make Sun-dried Tomato Scallion and Ham Mini Fritatta and Cinnamon Swirl Muffins. They came out amazing. Perfect browning and fluffy. However, I failed to check my blackberry the night before to be notified that they had canceled the meeting. I rolled in with my little catering Tupperware all ready to go. I even re-toasted the fritatta to make them warm. Then I noticed no one was at work. Regardless, the food came out delicious.

Here are some quotes from the people who ate from my desk.

That was seriously breakfast nirvana. Much respect. The muffins were tres tres beneficial to my cravings for goodness.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Drawing for Food Best of Philly 2008

Chau illustrated my picks and vice versa. enjoy.

Best Reason to Wake up in South Philly - Artisan Boulangerie
Artisan Boulangerie aka Andre's - In this strange Pink building across from the mexican taqueria, that's across from the Cantina, is Paris. Fresh baked baguettes and brioches and the best damned croissants in the city, I say this with passion and a little bit of spit. Also as if having the best croissants weren't enough, Andre happens to also have the best coffee in South Philly, because its french pressed fresh and it's make with the best fair trade organic ethiopian beans. He also makes a lot of the bread goods for Honey's and Di Bruno Bros. All that and he doesn’t even have a register yet. (kc)

1648 South 12th St

Best weird diner that you've walked past 400 times and never knew it was there - Pinky's NY Cafe
This place never looks like it's open, and well, sometimes it's not. It really is comforting in a neighborhood full of rapid gentrification that those little places where the same 400 pound septa driver sits in the corner and reads the paper and complains about the eagles every single day still exist.

Pinky's is exactly that, dark and pink and packed with hospital staff and construction guys getting take out. The wait for food can be long in the morning but it's actually really good. The staff is friendly including "pinky" himself who I think is the original owner. Plus they have creamed chip beef on toast and grits so I'm sold. For lunch they have ny style deli sandwiches named after celebrities. Seems that 30 years ago in philadelphia the thing to do was open up a combination philly/ ny diner/jewish deli where we get things like pastrami omelettes with a side of scrapple.(hk)

1824 South St

Best Donuts - Frangelli's Donuts
Frangelli's Donuts, Fresh Italian Cream pumped before your eyes with an old fashion hand pump!? I will never lay another hand on a Dunkin' Donuts Donut. (kc)

847 W Ritner St

Best quaint atmosphere that isn't annoying-
Cafe Con Chocolate

Very welcoming staff, in a an actual sincere real human being way, maybe because they're in the ghetto and need customers, get in there before it's full of yuppies like every place in my neighborhood (graduate hospital). Great huevos rancheros, and great coffee that comes in big giant mugs with delicious froth. Don't let the bagels & japanese specials throw you off, the mexican stuff is as authentic as anywhere else, plus they have a mariachi band. (hk)

Cafe Con Chocolate
2100 S. norwood (at snyder)

Best Burger - 5 Guys and Fries
5 guys and Fries, I crave you like a bad ex-boyfriend. I love a fancy pub/restaurant burger, but what is it about this greasy bag full of fries and smoshy double patty burger that makes me sweat with anticipation.(kc)

5 guys
1527 Chestnut

Best Hot Dogs - A.P.J. Texas Wiener Restaurant
APJ wins for pure atmosphere, the unique taste of the dog, the "greek sauce", and the fact that it's the last standing piece of history from what used to be philadelphia's red light district. They've been there since 1920 - should probably be a historical landmark, god forbid they lose their lease and we end up with a panera bread or something. APJ also splits their dogs (like my mom used to do) which creates more surface for sauce. They also do breakfast. Moe's in grey's ferry is close second, I love them for taking the hot dog seriously, but their hot dogs are really huge, and on giant rolls, it's like eating a meatball sandwich, and honestly I actually prefer a regular sized hot dog, so you can eat 2 or 3 or 4 with different toppings. Texas Weiners on snyder is solid as well. (hk)

APJ- 47 N 13th Street (near filbert)
Moe's - 2601 washington ave (at grays ferry ave)
Texas Weiner - 1426 snyder ave (near broad)

Best Square Pizza/Delivery Pizza - La Rosa!
I admit, I live in South Philly, it's hard to come across bad pizza and when you do, it's really really sad. But this little gem on Broad St. is the best square pizza in Philadelphia. Not too thick, not quite a sicilian and a crunchy crust. And a plain is still 7 bucks for pizza that feeds 3 bellies till its full. They don't even have a menu, you just tell the family what you want and they will let you know if they can make it. (kc)

La Rosa
2106 S Broad St
(215) 271-5246

Best Hoagie - Cosmi's
I love cheesesteaks, but I really think a a good hoagie is the defining philadelphia sandwich. I eat a lot of mediocre sandwiches because most of the good stuff is down in south philly. Most pizza place hoagies are pretty boring, usually too many pickles or cheap meat or peppers with the stem still on them or something. The worst is the soggy bread that falls apart because they put 1/2 a gallon of vinegar on it. And then there's Wawa, Wawa hoagies are junk; stale bread, sweaty cheese, sketchy cold cuts, way too much mayonnaise - there's no reason to eat that in this city.

Cosmi's sandwiches are always piled high with quality meat and good seeded italian bread (I assume it's sarcones, if not sarcones has some competition). Everyone always picks sarcones, chickie's, primo as the best in philly, maybe for location or atmosphere but I honestly think Cosmi's is the king. I've had many, many Cosmi's sandwiches and they're always fantastic with the perfect balance of bread / meat / cheese / toppings and they have the serious italian stuff- prosciutto, mortadella, sopresetta, pepper shooters, etc -from a place that just looks like a corner store.(hk)

1501 S 8th St.

Best Bar Snacks - Pub and Kitchen
For 3 bucks I normally can't get duck liver toast with cornichons, or home made malt vinegar crisps. Which is a shame, because having this just makes me want to drink more.(kc)

Pub and Kitchen
1946 Lombard

Best Mexican - El Jorocho
I used to eat here all the time a couple of years ago and it was always good, but now it's amazing. Stopped in the other night and the menu has expanded with all kinds of amazing stuff, Tripe tacos, Barbecued Lamb, Soups, 74 different mexican breakfasts, cemitas (mexican sandwiches kind of like a cuban). They seem to have re-arranged the dining room and expanded the kitchen, it was also busier than I remembered and the food was great. This place is the real deal and I just found out they deliver so get ready for 2009 to be the year of El Jorocho.(hk)

El Jorocho
13th & Ellsworth

Best Sangria - Amada
Damn Amada, you make everything great. Like Cheese dipped in Cheese. But for this round, I'm giving you the sangria crown. I don't know if the fruit is soaked in vanilla or cinnamon or something, but nothing is more smooth and exotic tasting than Amada's House sangria. And I love all things served in a ceramic pitcher. (kc)

217 Chestnut St.

Best Sorbet - Southwark
Southwark, reknown for their excellent service and bartenders who make a well crafted drink, have my favorite sorbet in the city. I'm not a sorbet getting' gal either. Why go for icy water when you can have some kind of chocolatey sticky thing. But this sorbet, which changes daily, can be anything from cranberry champagne to orange Compari. It's always refreshing and surprisingly satisfying.(kc)

701 S 4th St.

Best stuff we haven't eaten yet

apparently they serve food now,including a chicken fried steak sandwich with sausage gravy, sounds awesome.
56 S. 2nd St.

Taco Truck
you know it's gotta be good.
4th & Washington


so I worked with a guy who used to cook at Ansill and always told me that I needed to eat here, especially being a fan of "head to tail" eating. I finally made it and it was fantastic - the food is actually not as crazy as some might have you believe, most of the "offal" dishes are pretty classic and really delicious. steak tartar with cognac, awesome; crispy pork trotter with pickled red onions and purple mustard, really really good.

The trotters (pigs feet) are braised, then the meat is pulled off, mixed with secret ingredients and formed into a sausage shape, cooled and sliced into medallions, then breaded with egg & panko bread crumbs and pan fried.

also had bone marrow on toast and baked eggs with black truffle & porcini mushrooms (wow). my only complaint is that every dish was "garnished" with a giant stack of bread-we ordered almost all appetizers so i guess that's my fault. Anyhow the food is incredible, especially for the price and they are byob (no fee) on tuesdays. also bar menu until 1am all week, which is sort of unheard of for this kind of food in philadelphia.
627 S 3rd St

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Bowls

New Year New bowls, and dishes suddenly look different.

Here we have a roasted chicken salad, and then Green Coconut Curry with Soba noodles.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Barrette Beer Dinner - Dec 18th

Who agrees to cook for 40+ people on their 29th birthday for a 3 course beer tasting? I do.

I was recently asked to plan and cook for Barrette's monthly Beer Dinner. Barrette is a local bar at Vanderbilt and Bergen in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Friend and owner Erica was impressed by my Thanksgiving crockery and asked me to plan the next one. The brewery of the night was Pennsylvania Brewing Company. We met up with their representative and tasted a few flights to pair the courses. The one request was that the menu be style toward German food.

I however, do not cook German food, not often, not really ever. Have I ever made a Spaetzle? No. So I tapped a very good friend and culinary school grad to help me out.

Our decision was to make it semi-authentic, but not break out the sauerkraut.

German Beer Cheese Soup and Homemade Soft Pretzels. Paired with Penn Pilsner.
This came out really great - The soft pretzels were delicious and a perfect dunkable addition to the thick cheddar soup.

Pork Tenderloins wrapped in apple, fresh sage and bacon. Red Cabbage and Caraway, and German Potato Salad. Paired with Penn Dark Lager.

The tenderloin came out perfectly. Who doesnt want pork wrapped in more pork? The sweetness of the apple and the herbacious sage complimented. Over the pork we had simmered down apples, maple syrup and lots of cinnamon into a sweet and delicious sauce.

NY is a little cupcake crazy. So we decided to join the ranks with a (not at all German) but mistakenly so Texas Sized German Chocolate Cupcake.

The cake was amazing, tangy from the buttermilk and just enough sweetness. The frosting was overboard. oooey, gooey, and dripping over the sides. So rich and delicious. - Paired with Penn Bach - dark and malty.

The reviews were fantastic, everyone had a great time and left full. I turned 29.