Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A New Blog for A New Year's Treat!

Yes, I know, I've been lazy and hadn't posted new blog in a while, (believe me, my fiance has been bugging me about this for a long time!) which is why I'm posting this new blog on some new restaurants that I've tried these couple of months.

First stop - Oscar's Restaurant and Wine Bar.
84 North High Street, Dublin, OH 43017-2162
When people think of restaurants in Dublin Ohio, one word might comes to mind - expensive (or snobby depending on what your opinion of Dublin is). However, Oscar's of Dublin provided a great dining experience without the threat of burning a hole through your wallet. The restaurant decor has an old pub feel to it, except it's cleaner and has no smoking! (Yeh for Issue 5!) The waiting staff were friendly (but not in the fake smile and "I want your money" sort of way), and the atmosphere was great too. You wouldn't have to worry about laughing too loud and get a dirty look from your neighbor at the next table. The food was prepared and proportioned very well. We tried their butternut squash bisque, which had a delicate and smooth flavor and seasoned perfectly. I also had the Veal and Shiitake Mushroom finished in a lemony cream sauce. The Veal was tender and sweet, along with the tartness from the caper and lemon sauce, it was really a pleasant surprise! My fiance had the Beef Tenderloin Tips and Torchio. The sauce was rusty and earthy, and the pasta was paired with perfectly done tenderloin tips. For dessert, we had their freshly made Apple Turnover. The hot apple turnover had a thin dough and was not overly cinnamoned. With ice cream topped on the turnover, it was a perfect way to finish the meal!
This was definitely a surprise for me, and a very pleasant one at that. Oscar's Restaurant and Wine Bar earned a 3.75 on my yummy scale.

Next Stop - Bexley's Monk
2232 E. Main Street, Bexley, OH 43209
Before I went to Bexley's Monk, I've always had this image of upper scale dining attached to the name. When my friends and I were there, it turned out that Bexley's Monk was more casual and family oriented than I've imagined. We each tried their salads to start, and each salad was fresh with variety of lettuces and balanced dressing. It was definitely a great way to start the meal. We each ordered different things on the menu so we could share and compare. And I started out with the grilled prawns with wild rice pilaf and green beans. The prawns were perfectly done and were very fresh. The natural sweetness of the prawn was emphasized with the slightly lemony green beans while the wild rice pilaf provided a different texture to the dish, and I absolutely loved it! I also tried the stuffed chicken breast as well. The chicken breast was juicy and the sauce was not overly creamy, which complemented the dish well. Another dish that we've had was their bone-in NY strip steak. The steak was nicely done and tender, and the gorgonzola butter on the steak gave a layer of complexity. The last dish we had was duck breast. Even though the duck breast was done well, the portion was not controlled nicely.
To finish our meal, we had a marscaponi cheese filled pastry with berry sauce and a double chocolate cake. The marscaponi cheese pastry was piping hot when it came out, and the filling was not overly sweet. Paired with the berry sauce, it was actually a nice dessert. The double chocolate cake was good, but it was a pretty regular chocolate cake though.
The overall experience was nice, and the food earned a 3.25 on my yummy scale.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Alinea Creates New Wave of Cuisine

This past weekend we went on a trip to Chicago. This was my virgin trip and quite a memorable one too! The most exciting thing that happened in this trip was our journey to try the new restaurant Alinea. The whole restaurant was well thought and carried out down to the very little detail, even with the stairs. The whole restaurant was chic and full of exquisite detailing and surprises, from the time I walked in feeling like Alice in Wonderland, until I was surprised by the stainless steel doors springing open and revealing a whole new adventure. I could go on and on about the restaurant, but the main focus was on the food, which was what I shall elaborate on below.

There are only two choices for the menu - Chef's tasting menu, which had 13 courses, or the full menu, which had 24 courses. Each menu items created new sensations in my mouth, and all were amazing. We accidently picked the tasting menu because of some confusion created when my fiance did the reservation. The first course was an ice cube of corn and coconut broth, with cayenne, lime zest, and a drop of mint sauce presented on a flat aluminum spoon on top of a glass block. The presentation was great, but the flavor of the cube was explosive. The small 1" cube packed complex flavor and tasted like a condensed cold soup. Even long after I swallowed the ice cube, the flavor of corn and coconut still lingered for a long while. The second course was a tomato course, which was butterflied and topped with various toppings, including african cous cous, dried salami, dark crouton, saffron and mollasses jelly, curry sauce, and along with a mozzarella balloon filled with a tomato foam. Each flavor gave a slight twist to the tomato, and the tomato foam and mozzarella was exceptional. The third course was poached mackerel topped with turmeric, bee balm, and poppyseed broth. The mackerel was soft and tender, with the turmeric giving a little tartness. Along with the broth, it was a small bite of heaven! The fourth course was lobster with vacherin, ginger, and litchi, tempura battered and fried and served on a vanilla stick. This provided a familiar flavor since Japanese food was my love, but the dish also provided new flavor such as the combination of vanilla and litchi. The litchi and ginger were hard to tell in the dish, but the vanilla aroma added an interesting layer to the simple dish. The fifth course was black truffle on top of a broth-filled ravioli with some parmesan. The ravioli melted in the mouth and the black truffle did not overwhelm the dish at all. The sixth dish was porcini paste with sauteed porcini mushroom, with ham, cherry, and some garlic cream. The porcini paste was a little strong in this dish, but the combination of the porcini, ham, and cherry was good.

The seventh dish was Peach and carrot puree with some smoked paprika. This was defintely my favorite dish because the dish was taken as a shot, and the first layer of flavor I got was the carrot, then the sweetness of the peach took over with a smoky overtone from the paprika as it exploded in my mouth (seriously!!). It was just heavenly. The eighth dish was Kobe beef with cocoa-dusted watermelon and chilled marinated watermelon. I've never tried a beef and watermelon combination, but this was a very pleasant surprise. The cocoa provided a slight smokiness and the sweetness of the watermelon and Kobe beef were actually extremely compatible. The ninth dish was three cubes of lamb, one with a mastic jam (tasted kind of like mint, but it wasn't mint), one with some sort of garlic cream, and the last one was with various pepper in southwestern flavor. Each lamb gave a different flavor, and the gradual increase of flavors made this dish a very interesting one. The tenth dish was a hot potato cube with parmesan cube topped with white truffle with cold potato soup. The difference in temperature was the interesting point in the dish, and the different earthy flavor combination also worked extremely well together. The eleventh dish was a pan-seared squab with peppercorn pudding, duck hash, and strawberry. This was not my favorite dish even though the squab was very tender. The dish was very "ducky" in flavor and also the combination was fairly common. But, moving on.

The next dish was applewood bacon with butterscotch string and thyme, swinging on a wire trapeze. The flavor combination was absolutely amazing, and, while the dish was not overly sweet, the applewood smoke was enhanced by the sweetness of the butterscotch and thyme. The next dish was a raspberry with goat milk cream, red pepper taffy, and pistachio crisp. I've never been a pistachio fan, but this dish has turned me into a fan! The red pepper taffy was not too sweet and was great with raspberry. The cream gave a well-rounded finish to the dessert. The next dish was poached fig with semisweet chocolate and served with infused tea. The infused tea and fig was absolutely incredible. Along with the semisweet chocolate, the flavor was simple and the combination perfect. And, FINALLY, the last dish was a salty dry caramel. The caramel was simple and excellently done, as it was liquified within your mouth. The salt excentuated the caramel's sweetness, but the caramel was not as sweet as some of the dry caramel in the market. This finishing dessert was just amazing.

After the 13 course amazing food adventure, we went on our way back to the hotel(and, with the help of Al Unser, JR. as our cab driver, we were back very quickly!). I really applaud the chef for trying new boundaries with food combination and presentations, and I think he truelly understand that we eat with our eyes first. The restaurant was absolutely amazing, with true 5 star service by the fantastic wait staff, and I hope the new wave of cuisine created by Alinea would move toward Columbus soon. If you want to experience absolute pleasure for your taste and visual senses, and if you just to happened to be in Chicago, please go to Alinea on 1723 N. Halsted, Chicago IL 60614.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Oodles Has Oodles of Crap!

Though I usually read The Other Paper for new restaurant suggestions, however, I've never trusted their reviews simply because the food critiques on there seem to be unbiased jokes! Case in point, after reading the latest The Other Paper, I learned that there is a new noodles and dumpling restaurant in town, which was extremely exciting for me because I LOVE dumplings. So the day has come for me to go try this new place called Oodles, and, sadly, it was one of the most horrible food experience I've ever had (even worse than Zen Sushi!).

To start out with, the menu is 90% noodle dishes, and you do NOT have a restaurant named "Ooodles noodle & dumpling bar" that has a lack of dumpling choices. Then I've decided to try the pot stickers along with the dumpling soup with meat and chicken broth, and my fiance tried their Shanghai-style pan fried noodle. The pot stickers tasted exactly like the ones that came out of the factory-sealed Japanese brand pot stickers, complete with a hint process taste. And nothing gets me more excited than factory processed food! (that's meant to be taken sarcastically) The taste of the pot sticker was bland at best. Despite my disappointment, I decided to suck it up and went on with the dumplings with meat, swimming in chicken broth. Unfortunately, it was even more horrible than the pot stickers, because the dumplings were the same factory-sealed Japanese style dumpling, and on top of that, the meat was sauteed with veggies WITHOUT seasoning and then dumped into the canned chicken soup! The soup was greasy because of the sauteed meat and veggies, and the meat and veggies has no taste because it wasn't seasoned!

My fiance's Shanghai style noodle was also terrible. First, when the noodle was served on the plate, you could see about 1/4" of oil on the bottom. Second, the noodle was spicy (and not in a good way), and Shanghai style cooking is NEVER spicy! Third, the noodle was just tasteless and there was nothing special about it! Apparently the owner of Oodles wants to push the store into Chipotle-like chain(per the word of the Other Paper), and for that I applaud the owner's ambition because no one in their right mind would try to create a restaurant chain serving bland and crappy tasting food that you might as well eat McDonald's! (And McDonald's has a Dollar Menu!)

With all that said, Oodles could only get a 1 out of 5 on my yummy scale. And after the horrible food experience, the food also gave my fiance tummy aches as well. So if you need to clean out your system via alternative methods (instead of taking Metamusal), please don't be hesitate to try Oodles on 765 Neil Ave. Columbus, OH 43215.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Great Tea Starts with Great Water At Teh Ku

I've been on a writing hiatus for a while, and the place that I tried this afternoon took me out of it. Yes, it was that good. It's a small tea house called Teh Ku. And after staying in the writing hiatus, all I needed was some good tea!

The decor in Teh Ku had a contemporary vibe, and it also had live music on weekend nights. And the thing I love there was that they had a private room that seats about 6-8 people. The room also completed with a comfy sofa and flat screen TV and you could have your private party there. The service was also better because they actually took your order at the table, so if you had any questions, they would be able to answer right away.

I tried the Fruit Paradise tea first, which had apple, berry, rose pedal, and citrus scent all nicely blended with the hibiscus blossoms. The fragrance was so great, I could smell it while it was being delivered from the kitchen. The hibiscus tea tasted tart, and the fruit bits not only gave the the tea extra layer of flavor in smell, but also provided some sweetness to the otherwise tart tasting tea. The tea that Teh Ku sold usually came with very little sugar, so you could truly appreciate the flavor of the tea, and adjusted the sweetness to your own taste. I've also tried a tea called Precious Peach, which has Rooibos with peach pieces. The Rooibos had a distinguish and slight sweet scent to it. And the peach pieces changed the tea taste and was deliciously peachy!

My fiance tried the Silver Needle, and the aroma was just amazing. It's not strong like the fruit blend, but the aroma slowly and steadily streamed into your nose. And the tea tasted delicious and sweet. (not sweet like sugar sweet, but more like natural sweetness after you drank a really good blend of tea.) He also tried the Masala Chai. The chai had a very strong ginger and cinnamon smell, but the taste was not as strong. It would be great just with the tea alone, but the milk in the chai was a little bit overwhelming. If the chai was brewed a little longer and had a stronger taste, then the milk added would be perfect.

Another thing I liked about Teh Ku was the water that they used for their tea. The water was not tap water, so the tea that was brewed from there can really show off the true flavor without the chemical in the tap water, which was extemely important because even though the tea was the main focus in a tea house, the water is the one aspect that will make or break the taste of your tea. And which was the precise reason why Zen Cha's tea does not taste as good as it could have been.

Teh Ku also has tea tasting on Thursday nights, which I was very excited to hear about and looking forward to doing. It also has a variety of desserts and sandwiches. And, each Sunday it also has a featured dinner menu that you can check out and make reservations, which would be a great Sunday activity to wind down and enjoyed some great food and tea with live music playing in the background. Not to mention, the price of the tea was much better than some of its competitors. You can get a cup full of tea for $2 (nice size cup, not wimpy cup), or a huge pot of tea that would get 4 or 5 nicely sized cups of tea for $4.

Teh Ku opened up not too long ago, but it certainly has potential and will no doubt become a great tea house in the Columbus area! I would rank Teh Ku a 4 out of 5 on my yummy scale. If you would like to try some great tea in the Dublin area or just want to chill and relax with a great pot of tea, please go to Teh Ku Tea Company at 55 South High Street, Dublin, OH 43017.

P.S. According to MD Girl, the traditional South African way to add sugar and milk to your Rooibos tea is to first put in the milk, then the hot tea(so the tea will temper the milk), and finally the sugar. This will allow the proper blending of the tea, and ensure a delightful experience! (and she was very excited to see that a place in Columbus carries yummy Rooibos tea!!)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

G Michael's Is A Friendly Neighborhood Place

Last weekend we went to G Michael's to celebrate my friend's birthday, whom I love very much. We were talking about going there for a while but never made it official in our social calendar. So it was very exciting because not only I got to experience a new place, but I also got to know new friends! G Michael's looked like a small cafe from the outside, but when I walked in I found that the place was spacious and nicely designed. It also had patio seating! Unfortunately the patio seatings were first-come-first-serve, so we got to stay inside for the food. Nonetheless, the experience was a good one.

We started with their special gazpacho and steak tartar. The gazpacho was delicious and nicely prepared and wasn't overwhelmingly salsa-ish. The cayenne pepper in the soup gave a kick to the chilled soup and just enough heat. The steak tartar was marinated with vinaigrette and served with pickled cucumber and onion, topped with raw egg yolk. (I know what you are thinking, "raw egg yolk?! eww..." but trust me, the egg yolk gave the dish a smooth texture and subtle finish, no gross taste at all!) The steak tartar was the most unusual preparation I've ever had because it's a little bit sweet/sour and along with the crunchy pickled veggies made an interesting combination, but a pleasant one.

For our main course, I had the veal special and my fiance tried the grilled lamb rack. The veal was breaded with Parmesan and pan fried to golden brown. The sauce was a lemon cream sauce but was not at all overwhelming! The subtle sourness of the sauce really showcased the veal's sweetness. The penne pasta was portioned perfectly so I wouldn't feel overstuffed. And the sauteed diced veggies in the dish gave enough crunch and different texture than the veal. The dish was absolutely delicious. The lamb rack was grilled and the end of the rack was a little bit charred, but otherwise perfectly seasoned. The candied pear chutney was a nice alternative to the usual mint sauce, and the glazed baby carrot and green lentil was nicely done as well.

We also shared their white chocolate chip cookie with ice cream because when the chef was preparing the cookie it smelled so good that I had to have some. And it was very good indeed. The cookie was baked in little deep dish so it was chewy and warm. Along with the vanilla ice cream, butterscotch and chocolate sauce, it's just heavenly!

The overall experience was very good, and my dinner companion was excellent! The food would rank 4 out of 5 on my yummy scale and it was definitely worth the trouble to find this place. It would be even better if we could have the patio seating!

You can find G. Michael's on 595 S 3rd St. Columbus, OH 43215.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Basi Italia is A Hidden Treasure

I've heard great things about this little hidden neighborhood restaurant for a long time and my fiance couldn't figure out where exactly it is until last week. So as soon as we figured out how to get there, we were there!

The place was very small and is pretty hidden, but the restaurant was full of charm. The inside was very cozy with mood lighting, and the outdoor seating was like one of those HGTV back yard patios. I've fallen in love with the place already! Before we ordered, the waitress brought us some bread and olive oil infused with roasted garlic, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Right then and there I knew that I would love this restaurant because it actually served roasted garlic!

The menu was full of neo-Italian dishes with a mixture of flavors. I've ordered their soup special, which was strawberry with balsamic vinegar for appetizer. The soup sounded new and the balsamic vinegar and strawberry combination seemed interesting. And the soup was a pleasant surprise! The coldness of the soup and the sweetness of the strawberry were very refreshing, which was great for summer dish. The balsamic vinegar kicked up the soup a little bit, and the watercress inside the soup gave a little spiciness to the sweet soup and rounded out the dish very well. My fiance ordered s prosciutto and melon salad for an appetizer and the dish was also amazing. The saltiness of prosciutto combined with the sweetness of melon and fresh mint, combined with a little bit of black pepper, makes it not hard to understand why this dish was a summer favorite.

For the main course, I had their risotto frutti de mare, which was a mix between risotto and paella. The rice in this dish was a longer grain, so the risotto was not as starchy and creamy as a short grain, but with the combination of the seafood and saffron (that's real saffron, extremely fragrant and delicious saffron...), the dish was extremely delicious. The mussel and shrimp were done perfectly, which were hard to do because seafood is very easy to overcook. The dish was also topped with a variety of greens, which made the dish even more refreshing. My fiance had their pork chop with braised apple, sage, and maple-cherry jus and the dish was also amazing. The pork chop was done perfectly juicy and moist. The tartness of the black cherry gave the usual apple sauce a different twist, which made the otherwise plain dish more interesting. The dish was so good that even the pork chop was at least 14 oz., my fiance devoured it and left nothing on his plate.

The food was absolutely amazing and the place was charming as well. I would rank the food 4.5 out of 5 on my yummy scale. I was so happy that we found the hidden treasure, that I was even contemplating moving to the apartment next door! But then my fiance reminded me that we would be moving to our new place soon and blah, blah, blah. Anyways, if you want to try a friendly neighborhood place that had better quality of food than your regular friendly neighborhood Applebee, please go to 811 Highland St. Cols OH 43215.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rigsby's Has Great Deviled Eggs!

Yesterday I finally had the pleasure of trying Rigsby's, and yes, they had great deviled eggs! But more on that later.

The first time I've tried Rigsby's was after that traumatic Zen sushi night. After the horrible sushi experience, we decided to get some dessert so the food wouldn't be all bad that night. And after learning that their dessert was catered by Pistachio, I was glad that we went there because the dessert made up for the bad sushi. So ever since we had the great dessert, I've always wanted to go back and try their real food for once. And yesterday was my day.

First, I ordered their deviled eggs with shallots and white truffle oil. It was just simply divine. The white truffle oil really glammed up the dish and the aroma of white truffle oil went well with the egg too. Then I had the smoked salmon carpaccio with citrus vinaigrette. Their salmon was house smoked, and it was seasoned perfectly and was not greasy at all! I rolled the watercress with citrus vinaigrette and smoked salmon together. the vinaigrette had just enough sourness to combat the salmon and the watercress gave a little crunch and bite to it. It was just delicious! My fiance tried their roasted red pepper soup with chipotle drizzles. It was also very good. But they put in more chipotle than expected so the soup had a kick.

For the main course I had their seared sea scallop with onion, fennel, and blood orange salad. The scallop was amazing because it was seared perfectly and very tender. I wasn't too crazy about the onion fennel and blood orange salad though because it was served warm and a bit too oily. but otherwise the dish was very nice. My fiance had the gnocchi with rabbit ragu, and it was great too. The dish was very southern Italian and the ragu was excellent. But the rabbit was a little gamey and tough for me. Overall both dishes are very good.

For dessert, we ordered a mocha tart with capuccino ice cream from Jeni, and it was just amazing. And I knew it would be amazing because the dessert was from Pistachio! the tart was made of premium chocolate and coffee, the tart shell was crispy and wafer like, which was delicious. along with Jeni's ice cream, it was definitely a masterpiece.

The overall experience was very good, and I would rank the food 3.75 out of 5. It's definitely a must try place if you are in that area. So if you like great food paired with excellent dessert, please go to Rigsby's on 698 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215-1582.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bodega Presents New Urban Dining

This weekend I finally went to try Bodega. It's been open for a while, but I wasn't really in the mood to try it for a long time simply because it looked like it attracted more college crowd. Upon entering the restaurant, the decor was modern and a little on the funky side. And the crowd was younger and the waitress also looked like a college student. (There's nothing against college student, I was a student once, but I was also aware that college-student-food also emphasized on quantity, not quality.) So I was curious about how the menu would look like. As it turned out, the menu had a more fusion/urban/organic feeling than a regular sandwich shop. Later I found that Bodega was also a wine and coffee shop, so my first impression of the place was that it's an interesting combination restaurant.

The price was not bad, for $6-8 you could get a pretty good size panini with different fixings as funky as your liking plus a side of chips, and for $4-6 you could get some nice appetizers and salads that would start the meal right. I tried the Fresh mozzarella Bruchetta, which had fresh mozzarella, tomato, and pesto sauce on a crusty Italian bread. It was delicious! The fresh mozzarella was creamy and mild, and the pesto was seasoned just right and great with the tomato and mozzarella combination. I also tried the Italian panini, which had ham, salami, provolone cheese, tomato, lettuce, and banana peppers. It turned out to be pretty good. The ham and salami was piled pretty thick and combined with the melting provolone cheese, it fixed us right up after our long walk in the Pride Festival.

The experience was a pleasant surprise and I think I would definitely come back and try their other Panini and salad. The food ranked 3 out of 5 on my yummy scale, and it's worth the trip to come try something new for a change. If you would have some time to chill and would like to spend your afternoon with some hot yummy Panini, please go to Bodega on 1044 N. High Street Columbus, Ohio.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Blog from My Biggest Fan!

For the first time, the AAFC will post a review contributed by my biggest fan about a unique place called Cafe Bella. The food was very home-made and the chef/owner was a hoot. I would rank their food about 2.75 out of 5 on my yummy scale, but the experience was definitely worth for a revisit! So, without further adieu, here's the food critique from Tim J.

Some night when the two of you feel like an experience at the opposite end of the formality scale from Handke's, I recommend Cafe Bella. They're open, Carlo told us, every day except Sunday, and were open until 10 the night we were there, but other patrons (more about that below

My full account follows. I thought about posting it to the AAFC blog, but thought it was a bit unwieldy for the comments.

It's the kind of place I often dream about finding, and we found it through utter providence. After a stroll in the Park of Roses, capped by the sight of a party of people taking extremely short rides in a hot-air balloon, Michelle and I went in search of dinner.

Our intended target was closed, just minutes before we arrived. Racking our brains, we decided on a second place, but it, too, was closed--or anyway, not serving food. Then inspiration hit: someone had recommended a place to Michelle, years ago, a restaurant I'd almost never noticed and totally forgotten about. Glory of glories, it was open.

Or was it? When we walked in, we encountered a man dressing a little girl in a chef's jacket. It kind of looked like closing-time play to me. "Are you open for a while?" I asked.

In perhaps the most gravelly voice I've ever heard--Nick Nolte has nothing on this guy--he said, "What do you mean by 'a while'?" As I was fumbling around for something like, "Long enough for dinner," he helped me out: "We're open until ten."

He guided us to the patio out back, a tiny space walled off from a parking lot with a dark wood privacy fence and topped by a green canopy. Two people were already seated there, each at a separate table, but carrying on a lively conversation.

The girl, eight or nine years old, was pressed into service, and quickly and quietly set us a table and brought water. Then the gravelly voice came and sat down with us. There was, he said, no menu, but he laid out a number of ingredients, and he and Michelle and I quickly came to an agreement. A salad and garlic bread to start, some pasta with chicken, shrimp, and marinara, and I would run to the carryout across the street for wine, which he would happily uncork.

We couldn't believe our luck. What divine family-style hole-in-the-wall character! It got better, as our fellow diners turned out to be fascinating folks, one a reporter at OSU on a fellowship, who once interviewed Evo Morales; the other, a participator in cashless community exchanges and sometime catering staffer.

Our young waitress was well-trained, and carried out an impressive three-step dance with the back door as she brought us a gorgeous salad with greens, black olives, banana peppers, and a hearty vinaigrette. The garlic bread was super-crispy, cut in thin wedges, and well-treated with butter and herbs. (My wine selection was decent, given that it was seven bucks and change.)

The main course arrived, and we sighed at the mere sight of it. Penne pasta, sautéed shrimp, generous pieces of basil-coated chicken, a mild, slightly sweet marinara, and more strips of crispy garlic bread. We ate, and we talked about coca leaves and leaving slack for others to enjoy their wild moments. Our waitress and chef ("He's not my dad," she said matter-of-factly when asked whether she'd helped her father cook, "just my mom's boyfriend. But no, I don't help cook.") solicited our opinions, and got approval in spades.

Eventually, our fellow diners drifted away, she home, he to hang out with the staff inside. Night fell, Michelle and I cleaned the platter down to the last drops of sauce, sighed once more, and strolled out with swollen bellies and promises to return. And I mean to. I most certainly mean to.

Cafe Bella is at 2593 N High St,43202-2555, next to the Sunflower health-food store.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some Food for Thought If You Are Going To Los Angeles

I've been contemplating on whether or not to blog my LA trip, since I didn't want to make anyone cry because of the lack of really great Asian food in Columbus. But I figured it would be a good comparison if people actually tried the stuff that I blog, so, here's my LA food trip for this passed weekend.

First, I went to a great Japanese restaurant called Restaurant Kiyosuzu that served great quality fish with a touch of home-made taste. The restaurant had delicious yellowtail and scallop sashimi. The best sushi restaurant in Columbus that I've tried was in Kooma and Kihachi. Even the yellowtail scallop sashimi in Kooma had a little watery taste to it due to defrost process. But this was something that couldn't be avoided because there's no ocean close to Columbus. There were also tons of "specialty items" that was posted on the cupboard. If you have not tried the Toro Steak, you have not tried great Japanese food! (The Toro Steak was marinated with miso and other seasoning and grilled to perfection. Served with white rice, oh my god, it's just heavenly!) Toro, for those unfamiliar, is the best part of the tuna, the very fatty section, and thereby the most flavorful. Their Grilled Yellowtail Collar was also fabulous. The meat was perfectly grilled, and unlike Yoshi's yellowtail collar, which can be fatty and greasy, Restaurant Kiyosuzu's yellowtail was tender and sweet. And it also serves original desserts (none of that green tea ice cream crap!) The pineapple sorbet contained pureed pineapple and tasted a little creamy, not from cream or milk, but from the texture of the ice freezed itself. It's served in a hollowed pineapple half shell and it was just devine. Sometimes the chef also made Strawberry Icy with Sake, and talk about a dessert that packs a punch! It's sweet and delicious with an aroma of floral sake. I really had no words for it, you just had to had to try it.

This trip we also tried a Korean BBQ restaurant called Han Yang. This time we ordered pure meat with no marinade. The meat was grilled perfectly and the quality of the meat was awesome. There's no seasoning needed because the natural marbling from the beef melted and turned the BBQ into a delicious, tender, and truly great feast! The BBQ also came with rice paper or cured daikon wrap that you can wrap the meat in, and the combination was just amazing! At the end of the meal, we also ordered a Korean cold buckweed noodle, which is a Korean summertime dish. The dish was served cold, with floating ice and pear in the soup. The cold noodle was so refreshing at the end of the meal, it worked even better than dessert!

Whenever I go back to LA, a trip to a Dim Sum restaurant was not to be skipped. This time my parents took us to a new place called Mission 261 Fine Dining & Banquet for their dim sum. The dim sum served there used great ingredients and the chef really understands the seasoning and essence of the Cantonese food. The vegetarian fried bean curd spring roll was perfectly fried, it's not even greasy! Their pan fried turnip cake was creamy and delicious as well. The chinese sausage inside the turnip cake provide a little extra smokiness to the dish. Their sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf was a definite must-try, because the sticky rice and fillings were infused with the fragrance of the lotus leaf, which has a little floral scent. Their steam spare rib with X.O. sauce were also great. You would not have tried any spare rib more sucullent than this. If you still had stomach for dessert, their sweeten tofu pudding was a must-try. The sweet syrup was infused with ginger, and the pudding just melted in your mouth. It's truly a great dish to round out the entire meal.

Lastly, we tried a Shabu restaurant called Wahoo. A shabu restaurant was sort of like Japanese fondue. What makes and breaks a shabu dish is the quality of meat and the soup seasoning. Wahoo had great quality meat, and also a great price. We had beef and lamb for the shabu, and both types of meat were tender and delicious. I've always been a big shabu fan, and I've always wanted to find a shabu restaurant in Columbus but have not succeeded yet. Since shabu was cooking next to a hot pot, it would make such a perfect winter meal too!

I realized that I have been cruel on sharing this restaurant information, but I just had to get these great restaurants out in the open and make all of you realize that you just need a food trip to LA! I have these restaurants' information below. There's nothing feels better than the true happiness of your tummy, and these restaurants would definitely fulfilled your happiness!

1. Restaurant Kiyosuzu, 921 S. Baldwin Ave. Suite B. Arcadia, CA 91007.
2. Han Yang Korean BBQ, 3423-3429 W. 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90005.
3. Mission 261, 261 S. Mission Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776. (they even have english version of their menu!)
4. Wahoo Shabu Shabu, 111 N. Atlantic Blvd. #248, Monterey Park, CA 91754.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tea Zone Provide Alternative Zen

A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend found a new tea place opened next to the Micro Center on Bethel Rd., but due to electricity problems, they didn't officially open until the end of May. So when I found out that they were opened on Sunday, I just had to go in and gave it a try.

The owners were Koreans and there were Korean bakery items in the store. The tea menu were simple, mostly were all loose tea with some coffee, different types of smoothies, and Korean dessert items. The seating area were nice, one side of the store even had the cool cut-out floor seatings! We ordered the chrysanthemum tea and a green tea Bingsoo (Korean shaved ice) and began our experiment.

The chrysanthemum tea was great. The tea flavor was from top quality tea, and the quality of tea was much better than Zen Cha's. (That's right, you've read it correctly, the tea quality at Tea Zone was better than Zen Cha!) The hot water came with tea and was in perfect temperature so the water was not too hot to destroy the tea and turned the tea bitter, but hot enough to release all the great flavor from the chrysanthemum. The coaster and tea tool that they used in Tea Zone was also very delicate. The green tea Bingsoo was great because I have never been able to find a place that had good shaved ice. I've tried one when I went to Silla, (please refer to previously posting) but the shaved ice there was not good. So I was very excited to find a place in Columbus to have good shaved ice. The shaved ice had sweet red beans, green tea, mochi (Asian sticky rice snack), and with green tea ice cream on top. It was very good but not overly sweet. This was a great food experiment!

The overall experience was great. And even though Zen Cha had more tea selection, but Tea Zone's tea quality was much better. I would rank the place 4.25 out of 5 on my yummy scale, and it's definitely a great alternative to Zen Cha if you didn't want to drive all the way to downtown. If you would like to enjoy good quality Asian tea without distraction, please go to Tea Zone on 5025 Olentangy River Rd., Columbus OH 43214 (b/t K-Mart & Micro Center on Bethel Rd.)

Tapas in Burgundy Room

In celebration of the 250th Gallery Hop and the Art Festival, a bunch of my friends and I decided to devote half of Saturday to join the busy streets of downtown Columbus. After few hours of art booth hopping, we decided to go over to Short North and find some dinner before starting the second half of our evening. The restaurant of choice was the Burgundy Room, which served wine and tapas. And on a busy day such as last Saturday, we were lucky enough to walk right into the restaurant and found seating for 7!

Burgundy Room didn't serve traditional Spanish tapas, instead it served different origin and some fusion dishes but in small portions. We ordered a beef carpaccio and a melon Prosciutto salad. The beef carpaccio was served with classic aioli, capers, shaved Parmagiano cheese, and some flatbread. The dish was pretty well presented. The brimy caper with subtle herb flavor from the aioli complemented the raw beef but didn't overpower the beef. The crunchy texture from the flatbread was an interesting combination against the soft tender beef. The shaved Parmagiano, however, was a little too strong for the dish. If eaten together, the Parmagiano flavor will overpower the beef flavor. The melon salad had Prosciutto and mint to flavor the salad, and it was a pleasant and refreshing dish for the hot summer day. The melon was sweet and paired with a little bits of Prosciutto ham and mint, and the summer heat simply just melted away! I've also tried OOK's* fried veal ravioli with portabello mushroom and fennel cream sauce. The soft and fragrant fennel lightened up the cream sauce, which made the dish not so heavy for summer time. The veal ravioli was seasoned nicely and the cream sauce emphasized the sweetness of the veal. It was very tasty indeed.

I've been to Burgundy Room several times and each time it had presented great dishes and great wine. And plus the seating that we had was next to a window, which was great for people watching! (That's if I could take a break from enjoying all the great food and actually raise my head.) The food ranked 4 out of 5 on my yummy scale. So if you would like to try great small dishes and wine paring, definitely go to Burgundy Room on 641 N. High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215 or 6725 Avery-Muirfield Drive, Dublin, Ohio 43017.

*Note: The name appeared in this blog had been changed due to privacy reasons.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Handke's Cuisine is The Best In Town!

Of all the restaurants that I've tried in Columbus, Handke's Cuisine was the best one hands down. So when my parents were visiting me this weekend, it was only fitting to take them over there and experience the best taste explosion in town.

The chef, Hartmut Handke, had won numerous awards, including a Bocuse d'Or title! The restaurant is located in an underground wine cellar on S. Front Street, and the waiting staff are extremely professional and great at their jobs. We went in there and saw all the awards and food pictures displayed inside the restaurant, and I seriously couldn't wait till I could sit down and order and eat.

After reading the menu, we decided to start with the sauteed foie gras and the country pate. The sauteed foie gras was seasoned perfectly and was not fishy at all. The beets and granny smith apple provided a little sweetness that balanced out the fattiness of the foie gras very well. The country pate came with dried fruits and nuts and some citrus-berry jam. The pate was absolutely delicious, and combined with the sweetness of the fruits, warm flavor of nuts, and the citrus aroma from the jam on top of buttery brioche, it was just heavenly. Then the porcini mushroom soup came after the appetizer. The mushroom soup was creamy and earthy, and the mushroom flavor was well preserved in the soup; it was just excellent!

We each ordered different main courses. I had the veal scallopine, which came with a chanterelle mushroom sauce. The veal was tender and delicious, and the chanterelle mushroom sauce was just creamy enough that it did not intercept the flavor of the veal. My dad had the veal chop, and the meat was prepared so well that I only had one bite and it was completely gone. My mom had the lobster neuberg. It's rare to find a chef that really knows how to cook lobster because it easily becomes tough and chewy. But the lobster was tender and sweet, and the sauce had the fragrance of white wine and fresh herbs. My sister had the buffalo tenderloin, and the tenderloin steak was prepared perfectly medium and, it too was gone in a flash. My boyfriend had the "duck three way", which was one of the dish that got the Bocuse d'Or award. It consisted of sauteed duck breast, duck confit of leg, and duck sausage. I was never a fan of duck meat, but the duck confit was so well prepared that the meat was practically falling off the bone without a hint gaminess.

After our main course, we had the grand marnier souffle and the creme brulee. The grand marnier souffle was baked perfectly. The citrus flavor from the grand marnier really popped against the vanilla sauce. The creme brulee was soft and creamy, and I think it definitely deserved the title of "best creme brulee in Columbus". The only creme brulee that can compete with Handke's was at The Palms restaurant in Las Vegas, and trust me I've had my share of creme brulee. At the end, the waiter gave us a 'special' piece of dark chocolate terrine. The dark chocolate terrine was so smooth and creamy, it practically melted right after putting it in the mouth. The entire meal was absolutely superb, and the extra chocolate terrine was a great touch as well.

Handke's Cuisine was definitely my favorite restaurant in Columbus, and the food ranked 4.99 out of 5. The reason why I can't give 5 was because by definition, a 5 means the food's so good that my inside would explode after eating because the food was so good that I could just die. Handke's Cuisine came very very close to that. If you would like to experience taste explosion in Columbus, please go to 520 South Front Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, or online at . Trust me, you would not be disappointed!

Zen Sushi Won't Provide Zen

I've been eyeing the new sushi place that just opened on High Street for awhile, which was called "Zen Sushi + More". Then I saw that there's a rotating belt inside the store and I've never ever eaten in a sushi place that had rotating belt, so I was happy when it finally opened so I could give it a try. First of all, a little lesson for those of you who were less familiar with Japanese food. When a Japanese restaurant has a rotating belt, this means the restaurant serves "fast food" grade Japanese food. So my expectations weren't that high when I first went in, I was just excited to see the rotating belt because I have the attention span of a 5-year-old, and the rotating belt was just constant excitement. The restaurant had a nice atmosphere and nice selection of seats, which is unusual for a fast food Japanese restaurant. Anyways, on with the food.

I ordered Chasoba (tea infused cold noodle) and an order of hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi. My boyfriend got some grilled steak and chicken skewers and some sushi. When my hamachi sashimi arrived, the color was dark red with slight hint of pink. For people who don't know yellowtail, it is supposed to be a pale pink color. So that was a bad indication of the fish quality. Not only did the sashimi look bad, it tasted fishy too! I knew that it's supposed to be "fast food" grade Japanese food there, but the fish there was just terrible! My cold noodle was tough and gummy, when it was supposed to be soft and slippery with a little hint of Japanese green tea flavor. Needless to say, I wasn't very happy about it. The grilled steak and chicken skewers were ok, but then again, it's pretty difficult to mess up grilled skewer food. The marinade flavor for the steak was peppery and the chicken was teriyaki-ish. But the steak was grilled to well done and was a bit tough. Their sushi flavor was weird and wasn't what I was expected at all. The food there was pretty crappy, and at the end when the restaurant owner came over and asked how our dinner went, I told him honestly that the sashimi fish that they got was in lower grade. And his answer was "but I got those from the Japanese fish market", like that's gonna help! So I just dropped it and decided to spread the word about Zen Sushi + More.

The restaurant atmosphere was nice, but the food was crappy. I would rank it a 2 out of 5 on my yummy scale. If you were looking for sushi that's represented by false advertising, please try Zen Sushi + More right next to the Hampton Inn on 501 North High Street, Columbus OH 43215.

Friday, May 26, 2006

El Arepazo is All Latin All the Time!

The first time I've had experience the Venezuelan pocket was in last year's Latino Festivals. And I've always wanted to find the restaurant that carried the food because I couldn't find it anywhere else. One afternoon after my condo walk-through, I stumbled on to this small Latino cafe on Pearl Street and finally found my long waited Venezuelan pocket, and it's that moment that I knew my life was complete.

Tucked in the small alley on Pearl Street, El Arepazo had simple dishes with Latin flavors. I tried their arepah (pronounced 'a-RAY-pah'), which was the Venezuelan pocket I found in Latino Festival, and my boyfriend tried the sopas. The arepah was basically a cooked corn cake stuffed with chicken, pork, or beef, lettuce, tomato, banana pepper, and their mild garlic-yogurt-cilantro sauce. I had it stuff with chicken and the chicken was so flavorful and juicy, it was like having Cinco de Mayo right in your mouth! The corn cake was pan seared so the outside was crunch while the inside was still soft. The cilantro sauce was amazing! I could drizzle that on anything and I would be happy, as it was like the answer to life in a sauce form. The sopa was made from fried flour dough layered with beans, meat, cheese, lettuce, and some sliced avocado on top. My boyfriend had pork on the sopas and, it was so good, that it beats every other pork I've tasted in a Mexican restaurant. The sopa was equally as good as the arepah. Washed down with the orange apple flavored soda, it just made my day that much brighter!

The El Arepazo had simple menus and very friendly services. The prices for their menu items were great too, and their food ranked 4.25 out of 5 on my yummy scale. I absolutely loved the place. If you would like to enjoy Latin flavor and would like to try "the answer to life" sauce and be happy, please go to 47 N. Pearl St. Columbus, OH 43215.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thai Orchid Has Lots of Neon Lights

So I've heard rave things about Thai Orchid, and so I've decided to try out the place and see if it would live up to the hype. When I first got there, the first impression was "wow, there's lots of neon lights and it's very dark on the inside." Although my boyfriend informed me that it's called "mood lighting", I still felt that the lighting should be bright enough so I could see the food that I put in to my mouth. Anyways, there were many items on the menu, and it even had an "authentic" section. The reason why I knew that the section was "authentic" was because there's a ginormous "authentic" on top of it. So of course I was going to try from the authentic section, how else to enjoy Thai food than getting the real deal?!

We ordered the married shrimp for an appetizer, which was shrimp stuffed with crabmeat, minced pork, and water chestnuts wrapped in crispy spring roll shell and fried. The appetizer also came with cucumber salad and spicy dipping sauce. The shrimp was deep fried, and was a little greasier than expected. Since the minced pork required longer cooking time, that made the shrimp a little on the overcooked side. The dipping sauce had kicks, and it had good flavor combined with the shrimp. The sauce was a little bit sweeter so you could actually taste the seasoning of the stuffing and the shrimp. The cucumber salad was also sweet and was not spicy, which was great to calm the spiciness.

I ordered a dish called Laap Nuea, which was minced beef cooked with lime juice, Thai spices, onions and scallions served on a bed of green. It was a very refreshing salad, especially for the summer time, because the lime juice cut down the greasiness of the sauteed beef, and the juice became the dressing for the green. But I think the salad would actually taste better if the beef was served cold. So that was a little boo-boo on an otherwise good dish. My boyfriend had the Tiger Tear, which was similar to the Laap Nuea, except the beef was grilled and the spices used was different. Since the beef was grilled, the dish had an extra smoky flavor, and the spices used was a type of fermented soy sauce. The reason I knew that was because I used to eat it with porridge as a kid. It's a type of flavor sort of like anchovies, you either loved it, or you didn't. Since I would like to give a fair critique, so I would like to enter my boyfriend's feeling on his dish, which was very good but had a little bit of poopie like smell. So, there it was.

The overall experience in Thai Orchid was pretty good, and I would rank the food a 3 out of 5 on my yummy scale. Even though the Thai Orchid was nice, it still wasn't as authentic as Bangkok somewhere on the east side of town. But I think Thai Orchid could satisfy the cravings for Thai food if you ever had one. If you like neon mood lighting with spicy Thai food, please go to 7654 Sawmill Rd. Dublin, OH 43016.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mad Mex Made Me Mad

Since the south campus had been growing with movie theaters and food places, I figured I should go experience the college crowd and experience youth. The Mad Mex had always been interesting to me, so while it's sunny today, I've decided to go give it a whirl.

The decor in Mad Mex was cool. It had murals and funny masks everywhere. The staff was nice too, very friendly and helpful. But that's about the only good part, because the food was crap. Why, you ask? Because the menu item are full with misleading titles and descriptions and the actual food on the plate mushy and all taste the same. I had their lunch special, which was the Mad Mex Burrito combo with a cup of their chili. The chili tasted spicy, and that's the only flavor there was. And the consistency was clumpy, sort of reminded me of that Hoggy's cold mac & cheese. The burrito was filled with mainly rice and beans and a little bit of protein of your choice. The amazing thing about their burrito was that no matter what kind of burrito you ordered, they all taste freaking the same because of the overloading rice and bean! My boyfriend ordered the fajita burrito, which had no fajita flavor what so ever and the only way to tell that you are eating a "fajita" burrito rather than regular burrito was the shape and some crunch of the pepper and onion, but not by the flavor. The only nice thing on my plate was their guacamole. But that was all that's good about their food.

I regretted going there for lunch today and wasted a great sunny day. And I would rank the food a 2 out of 5 on my yummy scale. If you were super hyper and needed something to calm down your happiness, please try Mad Mex on 1542 North High Street. Columbus, OH 43201. At least they were honest and picked a right name for the restaurant, because the food made me mad. At least there's no false advertisement!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Guangdong's Dim Sum is Mm-Mm-Good

I've been hesitant about rating Chinese food on my blog because it was tough for me since I was subjected to very authentic version of Chinese food when I was living in LA. But I've found a good Dim Sum place in Columbus that I would be willing to go back to, and I thought I should share so more people would want Chinese food, thus more improved & authentic Chinese restaurants would be relocated to the Midwest. (A foody girl could dream, couldn't she?!) Anyways, on with the food.

First of all, you had to understand that an authentic Chinese restaurant usually had no indoor decor or ambiance to speak of because the focus was on food. So some oriental looking pictures on the wall with red carpet and some table with chopsticks and plates were all you going to get. Dim Sum, for those of you who didn't know, was Cantonese brunch/afternoon tea/tapa. You ordered small dishes and a pot of hot tea, and you invited all your friends and family together and talked about your life while enjoying good food. And the more people that were there for Dim Sum, the more selection of food you could order. This time we had 10 people, which was perfect to sample everything on the menu.

Since there were so many items on the menu, I would just write about a couple of them as informative examples so you could start somewhere whenever you decided to try. There were some staple items such as shrimp dumplings and pork dumplings. They were small, hor d'oeuvre size steamed dumplings with different fillings. And if you felt adventurous, you could try their shark fin dumplings. Shark fin didn't have taste, so it absorbed the seasoning around it. And Guangdong's shark fin dumpling had perfect seasoning and it's a must-try delicacy. Then there's the steam BBQ pork buns that's favored by mostly everyone. The bun was made from rice flour and didn't have gluten formed as oppose to bread, so the buns were soft and sweet and melt in your mouth. The BBQ pork was Cantonese BBQ and the meat seasoning was slightly sweet, combined with the soft bun, it was like a taste of Cantonese BBQ heaven in a cloud. The veggy spring roll was great too. The spring roll was rolled in bean curd and slightly fried. The bean curd gave a different texture than the regular spring roll and the dish was vegetarian friendly. There was another type of spring roll but had meat in there, and the spring rolled was lathered in their special sauce. It's just a different way to present the dish, but they were equally delicious. The pan fried turnip cake was also very popular. The turnip cake was made with mashed Chinese turnip (or Daikon if you are more familiar with Asian ingredient) combined with seasoning, some rice flour (as glue), and Chinese sausage. The turnip cake mixture was then steamed so it would become solid form, then sliced into thin slices and pan fried. The outside of the turnip cake was crispy and the inside creamy and tender. It's usually a kids approved dish too! Another must-try dish was the sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. The sticky rice had fillings of miced chicken, pork, dried shrimp, dried scallop. It's wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed so the sticky rice had a sort of floral fragrant to it.

The Dim Sum served in Guangdong was the best I've had in Columbus, and the food ranked 3.25 out of 5 on my yummy scale (this would be my Chinese food yummy scale. To give you a Caucasian scale, my boyfriend ranked it 3.75 out of 5.) If you don't have Chinese friends with you, this might be a big adventure for you. But once you've tried it, you might get addicted to it. Guangdong (the sign says "New House of Mandarin") restaurant's address is 6101 Busch Blvd. Columbus, OH.

Great Ribs & Brisket at Hoggy's, Bad Mac & Cheese

Friday night I went to Hoggy's for celebrating MD Girl's* birthday and had BBQ there. Since I've had tasted more BBQ, I felt I could give a fair review on BBQ tasting because I've got basis of comparisons now.

I've had Hoggy's BBQ before, and it was pretty good. So this time I want to compare samples of their BBQ, so I ordered the Hoggy Grazer, which had pulled chicken, pulled pork, and brisket sandwich, BBQ ribs, cole slaw, mac & cheese, Texas chili, and some cornbread.

First I tried the pulled chicken. The chicken was juicy and soaked in the BBQ sauce, which I think robbed the true flavor from the chicken. Same thing was with the pork. Don't get me wrong, I love BBQ sauce. But the overly saucy BBQ really masked the real flavor of the meat, be it chicken, pork, or beef. The brisket (thank god) was presented without sauces, and it was tender and juicy and it almost felt like a long stewed meat. The little bit of dry rub on the outside layer was very tasty and the brisket was not overly smoky. The rib was presented also sans BBQ sauce, and the main attraction was the dry rub. The dry rub was great, it had lots of different flavors but wasn't overly spicy. The rib was very tender and almost falling off the bone. OK, now on with the side dish.

The Texas chili was all meat chili. All the spices was there, peppers, garlic, tomato, etc., but it wasn't season correctly because the chili wasn't salty but very peppery. So maybe it was an off day for the chili. The mac & cheese was horrible because it came in chunks of mushy macaroni and some cheese sauce, and served LUKE WARM! (Com'on, I ordered mac & cheese, not water!) The cole slaw was so-so because it was the overly mayo type. The cornbread was only so-so because it was somewhat dry. Well, let me put it this way, it was no Brownstone's cornbread.

The overall experience in Hoggy was OK. I would rank the food a 3 out of 5 on my yummy scale. If you get there, definitely try the ribs and the brisket. Be careful about the side dishes because it's usually hit-or-miss. There are several locations for Hoggy, I'm putting two because those are the two that I've been to. One is on 1416 W 5TH Ave. Columbus OH, and another one on 3675 W Dublin Granville Rd. Columbus OH.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Great Tupperware, So-so Food

Yesterday I got invited to MD Girl's* Tupperware party. I originally thought it was some type of theme party. (Because she just moved and there's no real silverware, so it's all Tupperware that sort of thing...) But as it turned out, it was a real Tupperware party, with a live human demonstrating how to utilize the Tupperware to their fullest extent. I felt like I was in an infomercial and felt the need to overact on my reaction. But, anyhoo, the Tupperware party also featured food that was cooked from different Tupperware, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to include some critique for these free food if any of my reader would like to host a Tupperware party.

First, the Tupperware lady demonstrated how to cook a chocolate cake in a microwave. Since I was late to the party and missed out on the procedure, I couldn't really say if the cake making process was as easy as one, two, three! Then, she demonstrated how to use Tupperware chopper with Tupperware's own secret blend of Southwest seasoning to make salsa. The Tupperware chopper was basically a hand powered food processor, so you could just put your ingredients in and stir around the chopper and voila, you have your salsa. The special seasoning wasn't too special because I didn't really taste anything so refreshing that just popped in my mouth. And it had a little smoky flavor, which I wasn't sure if it's from the smoked chipotle that they claim was the secret ingredient or the cumin. After the salsa, she introduced us to the Tupperware Italian seasoning, which smelled like it had oregano, thyme, garlic powder and some other spices. She then whipped out the pre-preped Italian meat ball and put them in the microwave too. For a short 8 minutes, you could have about a pound of meat balls ready for your family feast in no time! The seasoning of the meat ball was not bad because of the flavor of their Italian seasoning. However, the meat ball was very dry because she puts them on a special tray that separated meat juice and fat away from the meat ball. Even though she claim that it was healthier by showing us what was separated from the bottom (which consisted a little fat and majority of meat juice), but I wasn't too keen on the idea of making meat balls that way, simply because IT WAS FREAKING DRY! Anyways, after the meat ball we could finally had our dessert. She prepared a German chocolate cake topped with condensed milk, caramel sauce, and candied walnuts. The chocolate cake was not bad, but you could tell it's a steamed cake, not a baked cake because there was no crust**. And the cake had a little watery taste to it too. It wasn't a bad tasting cake, but it's just not the same as baked cake.

The Tupperware party was fun, but the food was only so-so. I would only ranked it a 2.25 out of 5 on my yummy scale. But since the food was free, I wasn't complaining. If you would like to host a Tupperware party with all the fixings, you can contact
Denice Rock, Independent Tupperware Director

* The name appeared in this blog had been changed due to privacy reasons.
** Crust or browning occurs when the outside air surrounding the cooking object is hot and dry. Since the air surrounding the cooking object in a microwave is at room temperature, there will not be any browning occurs. That is why microwavable pastries sometimes come with a little sleeve made out of foil and cardboard. You put the food in the sleeve and then microwave it. The sleeve reacts to microwave energy by becoming very hot. This exterior heat lets the crust become crispy as it would in a conventional oven.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Silla Has Singing Koreans.

So, thanks to tim j.'s suggestion, I went to Silla yesterday to try their Korean food. However, I would like to point out that Silla was not a Korean BBQ place. So to experience Korean BBQ, you still need to go to Kaya. Anyways, on with the food.

The menu was easy to understand because every menu item had a picture associated with it, so it's definitely a plus for the non-Asian food eaters. The menu had both Korean and Japanese food, but since I was there to rate the Korean food, I've decided to leave the Japanese food for another day. I ordered a pot sticker for appetizer, Bogulgi (so I could compare with Kaya), and my boyfriend ordered raw beef rice pot (think beef carpacio or steak tar tar). The appetizer was so-so because they used the frozen Japanese style dumpling, which could be found in the grocery stores, so that was a bummer. The assortment of veggies and kimchi was pretty good. Their kimchi was definitely much better and more flavorful than Kaya's. The Bogulgi was only sauteed and tasted exactly like the ones made in Japanese Oriental Restaurant. Since it was only sauteed, the beef did not have a smoky flavor as in Kaya. So the overall dish was only OK. The raw beef pot, however, was very good because the raw beef was marinated in sesame oil and other seasonings, and along with assortment of veggies and rice combine with their hot sauce, it was just delicious!

After dinner, we also tried the Silla Ice, which had sweet red bean, various fruits, whipped cream and a type of ground multi grain (which usually was diluted with warm water and ate as a breakfast item, kind of like oatmeal) on a bed of shaved ice. The ice was ok because the sourness of the fruit didn't go well with the sweet read bean. Although I love the multi grain, it was just weird to have that on a cold dessert. I much prefer it as a breakfast item.

The overall experience was good, and the food ranked 3 out of 5 on my yummy scale. I've already scout what I would like to try next time, which was their grilled squid. Mmm... squid, good...

If you would like to enjoy Korean/Japanese food and joined the Karaoke madness after 9pm and sang your lungs out, please go to 1802 Henderson Rd. Columbus, OH 43220

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Flavor of India Found in North Market

Alright, I know I've been lacking on new postings, but I was on travel a lot lately, so cut me some slacks! Anyways, after my "stuck in Houston" incident yesterday, I've decided to go some place nice for lunch today. Last time when I want to Abbracci (for the rating of Abbracci, please refer to my previous posting), the waitress told me that the chocolatery in North Market was very good. So I thought why not kill two birds with one stone and go to North Market for lunch and dessert. And plus I've got coupons for the Indian food there, and I can't say no to coupons!

There were several food shops in North Market, and the Flavor of India always had long lines in front of it. For the times that I've tried their food, it was all good, but a little more spicy than other Indian restaurants. I ordered their chicken tikki mahki, which consisted of their tandori chicken cooked in tomato sauce with Indian spices, carrots and peas cooked in Indian sauce, and sauteed cabbage and peas. The chicken was very good, and I love the tomato sauce that they cooked the chicken with. It wasn't so tomato-y like the Italian tomato sauce. The overall taste was mild with a little bit of tomato hint, and the Indian spices was warming. The carrots and peas are cooked with different Indian spices, but it was overly carroted. The cabbage and peas were slightly sauteed and still had some crunch to it. Which bring more texture to the otherwise mushy plate. Their Nan, however, was tough and not very good, so it kind of brought down the food experience a little bit.

The overall experience in the Flavor of India was OK. I would rank it 2.5 out of 5 on my yummy scale. Of all the Indian places I've been to, the best one was still Indian Oven, which had both great atmosphere and great food. But for a quick lunch, the Flavor of India would suffice. If you ever want a quick and exotic experience and bring a kick to your boring lunch, please go to North Market at 59 Spruce St. Columbus, OH 43215.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kudos for Kaya Korean BBQ!

It's hard to find some authentic Asian restaurant in Columbus because I was food spoiled when I lived in LA, so to find any good Asian restaurant was a very exciting thing for me. And when I went to Kaya yesterday, it was a pleasant surprise.

The restaurant was clean and very business appropriate, and the waiting staff was friendly and helpful. The restaurant also served sushi, but I've decided to stick with Korean so I can rate just the Korean food part. My boyfriend and I chose the Korean BBQ and I was glad I did because I've been missing Korean BBQ for a while.

In Korean BBQ restaurant, the gas grill was set in the middle of the table and you could grill and serve right there on the spot. And regardless of what you ordered, the restaurant would bring assorted veggies and kimchi as appetizer, so you would be guaranteed a full meal. I liked the assortment of the veggies, however, the kimchi served there was a little blah, as in not a lot of flavor. So that was a little set back for the restaurant because it's freaking Korean food, and what's more Korean food than kimchi?! Anyways, I ordered the bulgogi (marinated beef) and my boyfriend a thinly sliced beef. The bulgogi was marinated in a sweet soy marinade and when it hit the grill, the beef would caramelize very quickly, which I equated the caramelized flavor with BBQ. The thinly sliced beef was without marinade and all the flavor came from the beef itself, so the marbling of the beef was extremely important because the fat was where the hidden flavor was. After grilling, you could wrap it in lettuce along with their soy based dipping sauce, or you could just eat it as is with white rice. Both BBQ were very good. It's just too bad that we only had two people there, or else we could sample more BBQ items. One thing for certain though, when you go to a Korean BBQ place, definitely wear your old and dirty clothe because your clothes and your hair would be very smoky. The side effect might be people smelling you up and down as you were a piece of meat. And actually, you would be smelling like a piece of cooked meat. (Must...resist...licking myself...)

The overall experience was very good, and the food ranked 3.5 out of 5 on my yummy scale. If you haven't tried Korean BBQ yet, definitely make a trip for that because the flavor and the experience is just great. And definitely bring all your friends to come along too so it would be a guaranteed great food adventure and some fun time!

Kaya restaurant is located at 4710 Reed Rd. Columbus, OH 43220-3016.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Say Opa to The Happy Greek!

This Saturday was the first warm Gallery Hop night in months, so I took this opportunity to see some cool stuff that Columbus had to offer with the Obviously Gay Duo*. The original plan was to meet at the Pistachio so we could start our night right - with desserts! However, the Pistachio did not reopen until 7pm, so we decided to get some actual dinner, that's how we wandered into The Happy Greek Restaurant. There were tons of people walking around Saturday night and the restaurant crowd was enormous, so hostess kindly took our cell phone number and told us we could walk around and when the seat was ready, she would give us a call. So during this down time, we walked around the short north and went into different galleries and I actually saw things that I would get for my condo later! When it's time to go back to the restaurant, we were starving and ready for a feast.

I ordered the sauteed calamari for appetizer followed by pastitsio, and my boyfriend ordered a gyro platter. The calamari was sauteed in tomato, white wine, garlic, parsley, and feta cheese, and the flavor was dynamite! The calamari, unfortunately was the frozen kind, so it tasted a little gummy, nonetheless, the sauce was great for dipping pita bread. The pastitsio was layered with seasoned ground beef and Greek macaroni noodles, which was topped with bechemel sauce and cheese, and baked to perfection. A little bit of tomato sauce on the bottom of the plate accentuated the creamy bechemel sauce. The plate was absolutely delicious! The gyro platter had a small Greek salad and some fries. The grilled gyro was seasoned perfectly, and the meat was so tender and juicy, and even though the platter was huge, my boyfriend still stuffed it all down. The fries was crispy and had their seasoned salt, so I pretty much stole it all from his plate. The Greek salad had the house vinaigrette and was fresh and crispy. The entire dinner was great, on top of that, I finished my drink before my boyfriend finished his beer!

The overall experience of The Happy Greek was very good, and the food ranked 3.75 out of 5 on my yummy scale. If you want to experience great Greek food with friendly staff and ambiance, please go to 660 North High Street, Columbus OH 43215.

*NOTE: The name has been changed due to privacy reasons. And also because they don't want stalkers.

Dragonfly is A Veggie Sculptor

It's difficult to find a good vegetarian restaurant. So when I heard Dragonfly Neo-V Cuisine opened up, I was excited to try it out with the company of OOK* and Granola Girl*. The restaurant atmosphere was modern, hip, but serene. The dishes used for plating were also funky, which brought another element of fun to the dining experience. The ingredients of the menu items and the flavor combinations were often exotic. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to start the meal.

The brunch course started with first course of variety of buffet items, including mashed Yukon Gold potato with saffron and horseradish, bean salad, roasted beats, Asian kelp salad, watercress with house vinaigrette, and baby fern salad. Each items had their own unique flavor. The mashed potato was filled with saffron fragrant and the horseradish gave the dish a kick at the end (note to self, definitely take small bites next time). The beans in the bean salad were cooked perfectly, just soft enough without being mushy. The roasted beat salad was sweet and sour at the same time, very refreshing for a summer dish. The Asian kelp salad was marinated in soy mayo, which was not my favorite flavor combination because soy mayo interfered a little with the velvety taste of the kelp. The house vinaigrette was thick and filled with flavor, which combined with the sharp taste of the watercress, it's just a heavenly combination. The baby fern salad was seasoned very simple and tasted great.

The brunch was then followed by your choice of entree. I ordered amerythe risotto (again, I'm a risotto whore) while my boyfriend got the fried King Oyster mushroom 'calamari'. The risotto was made with amerythe, which had a new texture and flavor I've ever tasted before. The risotto was also cooked with roasted red pepper, olives, and some leaks. The risotto tasted OK, but the flavor of the amerythe was not my favorite. The fried oyster mushroom was combined with tomato and artichoke sauce. The flavor of the oyster mushroom was great, and it stood against the tomato and artichoke sauce very well, so the sauce did not steal the show. I loved the oyster mushroom dish so much that I traded dishes with my boyfriend. And by trading I mean I took his dish and exchanged it with mine against his will.

I also had their desserts. The chocolate mousse had lemon custard on top with kiwi fruit. The lemon custard flavor was so strong, it was like being bitch slapped by Mr. Clean. The chocolate mousse was made with tofu, and the texture was interesting, very different from the regular mouse texture. The sorbet trio had a chocolate sorbet, raspberry sorbet, and a citrus foam with dark chocolate pieces. The chocolate sorbet was extremely chocolatey, and it tasted like any other chocolate sorbet dessert. The raspberry sorbet, however, had anise seed flavor and gave a kick to the sweet and slightly sour flavor to the raspberry. The citrus foam was very fragrant, but was not sweet. And even with the chocolate pieces, the combination was not very good.

The overall experience was a good one. I couldn't say I always liked the flavor combination, but I did love the way that the chef was trying different ingredient and different flavor combination to make the vegen vegetarian food more interesting than any regular restaurant out there. They change their menu often as well, to go with what is in season at the time. The food ranked a 3.5 out of 5 on my yummy scale, and I think it's definitely a restaurant to try if you want a true food adventure.

If you are interested to see how the Dragonfly chef work magic to the veggies, please go to 247 King Ave. Columbus, OH 43201.

*NOTE: OOK, formally known as Earth Godess, and Granola Girl had changed their names due to privacy reasons.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Blue Smoke in Your BBQ

I had to admit, my trip in WV this time was very shocking to my taste buds. The first couple of times when I was here, I was miserable because I couldn't find anything good to eat here. But today, I might have found a BBQ place that's so good that the taste was even above Hoggy's. That's right, I've said it, Blue's BBQ in South Charleston, WV tasted better than Hoggy's!

Located in a small strip mall that looked fairly run down, Blue BBQ was not a flashy joint that will catch your eyes immediately (which explained why I didn't notice its existence until today). The store owner was very southern friendly and the wall was decorated with eclectic pieces, ranging from posters of Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, and Marilyn Monroe to cartoon depicted gothic husband and wife (made in China). Their menu was simple, BBQ sandwiches or plates and some regular hamburger and hot dog items. I tried the BBQ hand-pulled pork sandwich with slaw just so I could have a comparison with the Smokybones. And it was heavenly.

The BBQ pork was extremely tender and juicy, and the BBQ sauce was not overloaded onto the meat, so I got the BBQ sauce flavor without overpowering the flavor of the pork. The slaw was crunchy and sweet. The baked bean on the side was also extremely good. It was not overly sweet like so many BBQ restaurant's and the caramelized fragrant of molasses was so good and add an extra dimension to the baked bean. And the price for a regular BBQ sandwich with two sides was only about $6!

Blue BBQ gets a 4 out of 5 on my yummy scale. If you are ever in South Charleston area, definitely make a trip to Blue BBQ on 1109 Jefferson Rd. South Charleston, WV 25309. Trust me, you won't regret it!

SOHO's So Smoking Hot!

I found a great Italian restaurant just two blocks from my hotel in WV called SOHO's. It's located in the Capitol Market and building was renovated from an industrial building, so there were tons of head spaces and sunlight inside the building along with an open kitchen to see how the chef was preparing your food. SOHO's was a smoking hot spot for dinner, and I didn't mean it in the literal sense because everyone in WV smokes. The restaurant had a great atmosphere and even live jazz on Friday! And the restaurant could be easily passed as one of the swanky restaurant opening in Short North. Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised.

The menu items had some ranges too, and you can clearly see the work the chef was putting in. One item on the menu caught my eye, which was a seafood stuffed cannelloni. The cannelloni was stuffed with crab, shrimp, lobster, ricotta and mozzarella cheese, finished with roasted pepper saffron sauce. The cannelloni was baked perfectly and was not dried out, and the taste of the sweet crab and lobster and the tender cheese truly separated this dish from any regular stuffed cannelloni. The roasted red pepper saffron sauce was creamy and delightful. The roasted pepper did not steal the show and the subtle sweetness accentuated the filling even more. However, the saffron was not very clearly shown in the sauce, which was a little bummer, but overall the dish was very good. I also tried their house gelatto, unfortunately, it tasted just like regular vanilla ice cream, so I thought I was being cheated from the dessert a little bit.

The overall experience in SOHO's was good, and the food ranked 3.75 out of 5 on my yummy scale. The food portion was ginormous, so you really get the bang out of your buck. But most importantly, I did not get sick at all eating seafood in WV! Wasn't that amazing?! There are some hope for WV food after all!

If you are ever in Charleston, WV and want to get away from Charleston, WV without driving, please go to SOHO's Italian Restaurant on 800 Smith St. @ Capitol Market, Charleston, WV 25301.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Smokybones Pack A Punch!

Whenever traveling in the southern states, I'm always in a BBQ mood since Food Network has constantly reminded their viewers how good southern BBQ is. So today I've decided to go try some BBQ. I've had a little tummy ache when I was in WV last time while I was trying one of the smaller restaurant, so this time I've decided to stick with a chain restaurant so at least my stomach will be safe.

When I went to Smokybones, the staff there are very friendly and all have southern accent, heavy southern accent. This made me miss Bubble* very much because she used to translate for me when we travel to Arkansas. Anyways, my waitress told me their hand-pulled pork is their best seller and I should definitely give it a try. So I did, along with some cole slaw and sweet tea, I was all set.

There were two types of BBQ sauce on the table for their customer to choose. One was a tomato based BBQ sauce and it's more sweet; the other one is mustard and vinegar based sauce that had a kick and tanginess to it, and both were very tasty. When my food arrive, I've found out that my waitress was right, their hand-pulled pork was tender and juicy and full of flavors. The pork was not overly fatty and not overly smoky either. The cole slaw was done to my liking, which means it was not swimming in mayo. The cole slaw and pull pork sandwich combination was great. The slaw provides a little more sweetness and crunch to the pull pork, with a little bit of their BBQ sauce, I could understand why it became their best seller.

I've also ordered a hot bag of doughnut to go, and on the way driving back to the office was pure torture. Because the heavenly smell of cinnamon sugar swirled inside the car, and I didn't want to eat and drive at the same time, and it had become my dilemma of the day. The doughnut was fabulous! It also came with some strawberry glaze for dipping, which brought a little different flavor than just the regular sweet doughnut.

The Smokybones got a 3.25 out of 5 on my yummy scale, and I think I would need to come back for another bite before I had to go back to Columbus!

I'm not sure if Smokybones has store located in Columbus, but here's their website and you can check it out.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gratzi, I Might Actually Come Back!

Alright, this week I've been summoned to stay in West Virginia for work, and I was dragging my feet about coming here. Why, you may ask? That's because for the last couple of times I was here, the food just plain and simple sucked. I went to a seafood restaurant that I was told was "excellent" by some other people, and the food was so crappy and I was tramatized. My poor taste buds! I could hear them weeping when I slept. But today OGD#1 emailed me a website that's sort of like The Other Paper and had dining guide, so I decided to be adventurous. And I've decided to start from a safe place like an Italian restaurant, and that's when I went to Gratzi.

Gratzi was located outside of the Charleston Town Center, and the ambiance was hip with a touch of old Itaian village vibe. It also had Andrea Bocelli's music playing overhead, so I was in a pretty good mood already. When I got there I found out that Gratzi also had an "early dinner deal", which consisted of 30 - 40% off of 5 or 6 of their best seller dishes. And a bargain meal always made me happy. The hostess sat me close to a table with two women and a baby. The baby girl was cute and quiet throuout the dinner, but the adults were extremely annoying. They played "peek-a-boo" through the ENTIRE DINNER, while I sat there wondering if annoyance and dumbness was inheritable. Anyways, I ordered their Baked Ziti and a house salad and tried to tuned out the "peek-a-boo" sounds.

The house salad was good and the vineagrette was made with extra virgin olive oil, so the olive taste and fragrant was strong. The pine nuts sprinkled on top, however, didn't really go well with the salad because the salad mix had a bite to it, and it just didn't go well with the flavor of pine nut. The Baked Ziti was baked with lots of mozzerella and Gratzi's own bolognese sauce. The sauce was cooked in tomato and white wine cream sauce, and the sauce had veal and some cured ham. The Baked Ziti was actually pretty good!

It was a pleasant surprise to find some edible food in WV, and Gratzi got a 3 out of 5 on my yummy scale. As I'm writing the blog now, I'm still recovering from the shock. But at least I don't have to deal with my weeping taste bud at night.

If you were ever in Charleston WV area, you should come to Gratzi at 1061 Charleston Town Center, Charleston, WV 25389 and try it out.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Italian Breakfast at Spagio.

Today was oddly cool after a week of warm weather, so I decided to go get Spagio's brunch to enjoy the sprinkly rain inside. I've always had good experience at Spagio's brunch, and today was no exception. On top of the good food, I was with great company too! (I can't reveal who my brunch companion was at this point... so...) Anyways, on with the food.

I had Spagio's breakfast punch to start my brunch. Their breakfast punch flavor changed every week and had no alcohol since it's Sunday in Ohio, which I had no problem with since I'm only a entry level alcoholic. Their punch consisted of respberry, cranberry, and grapefruit with a splash of Sprite. The resulting virgin punch was delicious! The berry's tartness was cut down by the sweetness of grapefruit and Sprite. A splash a lime also gave a little bit of freshness to the fruit punch. I ordered the omelette of the day, which consisted crab meat, cream cheese, bell peppers, and some green onions sprinkled on top. The egg wrapped around the omelette ingredients was medium thickness and in the over-easy level, which worked well with the soft texture of the cream cheese and sweet crab meat. The bell pepper gave a crunch to the omelette and the little green onion sprinkle gave a little kick to the mild tasted omelette. The combination worked very well.

The omelette was served with home fries and mixed salad. The home fries were absolutely delicious. They were slowly cooked and had some carmelization to the potato. They were done very simple, yet simply delicious! The mixed spring salad was slightly dressed with french vinaigrette, which brightened the whole dish and rounded out the plate.

Spagio's brunch got a 3.75 out of 5 on my yummy scale. Their breakfast brunch was definitely something that you have to try. And I love the fact that everyone was in church on Sunday morning and there was no crowd before 12:30.

If you would like to start your morning with freshness and good food, please go to Spagio at 1295 Grandview Ave. Columbus, OH 43212.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Soul of Brownstone

On Friday a bunch of my friends and I decided to go try something new, and Fake Birthday Girl* suggested that we try Brownstone. I thought it would be nice to expand my blog entry even though my last Brownstone experience wasn't that good. So, here's the short version of a long story. The good: restaurant ambience, corn bread, and their lounge music; the bad: the rest of the food, which was pretty much the same as my first Brownstone experience. If nothing else, Brownstone is a consistant restaurant.

For dinner, we ordered the fried green tomato for appetizer. I ordered the special of the day which is a simple halibut dish and my boyfriend the dijon chicken. Within our group, Earth Goddess* ordered the St. Louis style BBQ ribs, and GG* ordered the roasted duck. The Obviously Gay Duo*, Bubble*, and FBG* sat on the other table, so I didn't get what they ordered. Anyways, on to the food. The presentation for the fried green tomato was pretty but tasted so-so. The breading for the friend green tomato was cornmeal based, so it had a good texture and crunch. However, the breading was so thick that it covers all the green tomato flavor. (Later Duo#1 told me that it wasn't green tomato season, which explained why the green tomato has no flavor) The crab topping was covered with red pepper remoulade sauce, which overpowered everything on the plate. There was some creme fraiche layered in between each of the ingredients, which brought some tartness to the dish. But the creme fraiche tartness was too heavy for the crab and the green tomato, so the balance of the dish was off too.

My halibut dish was prepared very simple, just pan seared with salt and pepper, along with garlic sauteed collard green and some sauteed shrimp. The halibut was good and fresh and the flavor combination works well too. In this case, I think, simple was better. The halibut, however, was cooked a little unevenly because the edge was tough and the middle was still a little bit on the raw side. The dijon chicken was pan seared with salt, pepper, and some dijon of course. The chicken was then smothered in gravy and mashed potato. The chicken would be good by itself, but the gravy was too heavy and covered up the flavor in the chicken. The roasted duck was covered with red wine sauce that was reduced with duck fat. The sauce was under seasoned and was heavy because of the duck fat. The only good dish on our table was the St. Louis style BBQ rib. But for $18, you can get more than ribs in Barley's Smokehouse or Hoggy's and theirs are equally delicious.

The overall rating for Brownstone was 2.75 out of 5 on my yummy scale. I would have given them a 2.5, but their corn bread was unbelivablely delicious. I seriously think the food in Brownstone was prepared ordinarily but charged exceptionally. The only thing that made up for the dinner Friday night was the music in the lounge area downstairs. It was EXCELLENT! I would go back to Brownstone just for their music alone, and maybe some cornbread too. Actually, lots of cornbread.

If the high gas price hasn't damaged your wallet enough and you just have extra money to burn on ordinary food, please go to 122 Main St. Columbus, OH 43215.

*NOTE: As usual, the name appeared in this blog entry has been genetically altered for privacy reasons.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Krema Blings Up Your PB&J!

I've recently been told that the Krema Nut Company has started to provide lunch menus and it's all about gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I can't miss this opportunity and had to try it out myself, after all, I am a nut lover.

The menu for the sandwiches ranging from traditional to unexpected. And when I was there I was so excited that I went a little PB&J-too-happy and ordered too much. The price ranges from $3 - $4 per sandwich (and the sandwich is pretty big), the deal is pretty good. And if you don't like their combination, you can even create your own! The ones that I tried today is the PB-Nana and PB Apple Cheesecake, and it was very good blinged up version of PB&J.

The PB-Nana has Krema's own roasted crunchy peanut butter top with sliced banana and honey. The chunky peanut butter gave a crunch and extra toasty flavor, and the banana and honey gave a little sweetness to the sandwich. The result was great! The chunky peanut butter also didn't stick to the teeth that much so you can truly enjoy the sandwich one big bite after another. The PB Apple Cheesecake gave a completely different taste surprise. The sandwich taste like apply pie + cheesecake. The smooth peanut butter actually worked with the cheesecake spread very well and did not overpower the sandwich combination. However, the smooth peanut butter did stick to the teeth a little bit, so I would suggest people with dentures be more careful. Another interesting thing about Krema is that there's only two seating in the entire place, which forces you to pick up your sandwich and get your lunch picnic style.

The overall experience of Krema was good, and their sandwiches rank 3 out of 5 on my yummy scale. Since summer is getting closer and warm weather is here to stay, it is a perfect time to try out these gourmet sandwiches!

If you like to add some bling to your ordinary PB&J, please go to 1000 W. Goodale Blvd. Columbus, OH 43212.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Courier Out the Palace

This is a very exciting blog entry because, as you will see later, this blog is a double whammy. Anyways, on with the food. It's a little bit cold today, and plus my last disc of L-Word season 2 is coming in the mail, so I can't really stay out. (Because I have my priorities straight! Damn right!) However, I still need to feed my tummy and writing my blog, oh what a dilemma! This is when I discovered this great place called "Cafe Courier". Cafe Courier is a delivery service company, but it does more than deliver food. Oh yes, it delivers food from different restaurants and it's even possible to order different food from different restaurant and delivered to your own house! You might get slammed on extra delivery charge, but just think about the possibilities! So after carefully choosing the restaurant that we want to try, we ended up getting dinner from Indian Palace.

We placed an order of chicken curry, a tandoori mixed grill that includes two different chicken and shrimp, and garlic Naan. The chicken curry was flavorful and yummy. I usually order mild curry, but this time, due to miscommunication of the Cafe Courier, the curry was spicy. Even though it was flavorful, the curry was so spicy that it cleared out my sinuses and forced me to break down in tears(tears of fire). Therefore, I moved on to the mixed grill. In the mixed grill, there's two different types of tandoori chicken. The regular one appeared red and tasted a bit sweet, which was the type that I'm used to seeing, while the other one was more yellowish/orange and had a more smoky taste. The tandoori shrimp, however, was another spicy dish. The flavor of the shrimp was good, however, it was a little overcooked and tasted a little gummy. But overall the meal was good and didn't interrupt my L-Word time, which is very important.

The Indian Palace gets a 2.75 out of 5 on my yummy scale, and I absolute LOVE Cafe courier because it helped me stay with my true love, L-Word, I mean, my boyfriend... Yeah, that's it.

If you would like to experience the convenience of Cafe courier, you can go to their website at And if you would like a good cry but need a reason, please go to Indian Palace at 5720 Frantz Rd. Dublin, OH 43016.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Put Some Shish in Your Kebab!

Ahh, another sunny day. It's getting closer to days of firing up a grill, experimenting how many different food you can put on the grill and try to eat it, and enjoy friendly neighbor and friends chatting away the afternoon. But since it still feels a little cool for me, and I have no outdoor grill, I've decided to get the next best thing - go to Cafe Shish Kebab to enjoy some great grilled food!

Cafe Shish Kebab is located in the Bethel Center. The decor inside is warm and homey, and the chef, hostess, and waiters are all very friendly. This time we decided to try some of their calamari for appetizer. I've also ordered grilled shrimp as entree and my boyfriend a lamb chop and donor kebab for entree.

The calamari was seasoned lightly and breaded and fried. the texture of the calamari was so light and tender, it was one of the best cooked calamari I've tried! The house yogurt sauce that came with as the dipping sauce had slight garlic aroma and different kinds of herbs. When dipped into the yogurt sauce, it gave a little tang to the calamari and brought another layer of flavor to the otherwise simple dish.

When the grill shrimp arrived, the spices used there was so fragrant that I could smell it when it was still on the delivery route. The shrimp was grilled perfectly and taste very sweet and succulent. And the char grilled flavor was fused into the skin of the shrimp, which accentuate the sweetness. The rice pilaf was done very simple, but very perfect. The side salad had an interesting vinaigrette. I think the aroma was coming from the oil in the vinaigrette, which was infused with herbs and spices. However, I think they were a little too oil-happy and the vinaigrette was a little on the oily side. Overall the dish was very good.

The lamb chop was very tender, juicy, and grilled to perfect medium. The donor kebab is grilled with their own blend of spices and shaved off from a large piece of lamb, which gives a nice contrast in terms of flavor and texture to the tender lamb chop. The mixed veggies were sauteed with a little onion and garlic. Along with grilled bell pepper and tomato and the rice pilaf, the entire dish taste lambilicious!

I would rate Cafe Shish Kebab a 4 out of 5 on my yummy scale. And it is actually the best Turkish food I've tasted so far in Columbus. It is definitely worth a visit!

If you like the flavor of the grill in your mouth but not in your shirt, please go to Cafe Shish Kebab at 1450 Bethel Rd. Columbus, OH 43220.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Life Should be Like A Box of Schakolad

I was never a chocolate fan. I'll admit it, I'm one of those vanilla girls. However, one visit to Schakolad had completely changed my life around and converted me to a Schakoholic! I still remember it just like it happened yesterday. I was young and naive, and went in with excitement because they promised me that I could make my own chocolate, with any type of chocolate, even white chocolate, my favorite! However, when I was there, the chocolate shop was so packed that I could only make chocolate with dark chocolate. Nonetheless, I still made my chocolate, and I was the ONLY one who used a 3D mold! I had made my first 3D chocolate piggy! I tried one of the dark chocolate ducks my boyfriend made (so I don't have to sacrifice my chocolate piggy), and with one bite I was hooked.

Anyways, on with my experience today. I went in today and finally decided to try their hot chocolate that I've wanted to try for so long. I know today is not the best hot chocolate weather, but it's hot chocolate! It's happy drink! And a beautiful Sunday is the perfect day to enjoy a happy drink. And the product had proved my decision to be correct. The hot chocolate is made with real, perfectly tempered dark chocolate. Combined with creamy milk and stirred by a hand mixer, the hot chocolate is serious fix for a chocoholic. With one sip my mouth was filled with creamy, silky, and thick chocolate. This must be what hot chocolate taste like in the movie Chocolat!

I can't really rate Schakolad on my yummy scale because it doesn't abide to the same rules as restaurants. However, you would be so glad if you paid them a visit. Schakolad also host individual tour for $5 and you can make your own chocolate too! It would be serious fun for the whole family.

If you are in for a serious chocolate fix, you can find the chocolate heaven at 583 North High St. Columbus, Ohio 43215