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.