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Everything posted by philadining

  1. It's not very convenient for me, location-wise, but I quite like the coffee at Ultimo, at 1900 S. 15th St (at Mifflin.) They're pretty nerdy about the beans, mostly from Counter Culture Coffee, and precise water temps for the Chemex, or the old-school pour-over drip systems. It's not quick, but worth the wait. But I'll also agree with Bill that Old City Coffee is pretty good, either in the RTM, or on Old City (221 Church St, just north of Market.) And I think we in Philly take La Colombe for granted, but they still do a great job, I think we're lucky to have them in town.
  2. This might get me run out of Philly, but my vote is for a Beef on Weck, with second place going to a debris-style roast beef po boy, like the ones at Parkway or Parasol.
  3. A bartender at Michael Mina in San Francisco made me a really delicious drink with Makers 46, Galliano, Firelit Coffee liqueur and grapefruit bitters. I didn't get proportions, and it's not on their regular menu (at least it wasn't back in November.) The combination of flavors didn't sound good to me when he described it, but it was in fact, quite tasty. I think he said he'd also been making it with Tequila, rather than the bourbon, but I'd asked for something brown. I've been meaning to try to recreate this, but I need to scare up some of the Firelit Coffee Liqueur! And Katie Loeb in Philly made a very nice drink a few years ago that bore some structural similarity to a Widow's Kiss, I think she swapped Galliano for the Chartreuse, maybe? We dubbed it the Widow Banger, had a good laugh, and then she promptly forgot exactly how she made it! A shame, I'd actually order it again on purpose. Maybe not by that name...
  4. There has long been a little Filipino market a couple doors down from that location, and I'd heard that they did take-out food on the weekends, so I wonder if those folks decided to expand when the space opened up. There are not many Filipino restaurants around Philly, the only other one I've found is Manila Bay, up on Castor Ave in the Northeast. I made it there a couple of times, and liked it, but I just read that they closed up for good just a few weeks ago. So thanks for the heads-up, I'll check this one in Phoenixville out soon. I have a good friend who was born and raised in the Philippines, and she happens to be a really talented cook too, so I'll have to bring her and get her opinion! That's a challenging location, in a kind of bleak strip-mall that's not even really visible from the road. Here's hoping that it's enough of a destination restaurant that people will seek it out.
  5. And then, there's always the Dan Dan noodles...
  6. You picked a good time for your re-visit, I think they shifted the chef from Royersford down to Exton recently. I've been getting a lot of take-out from there recently, and I feel like it's gotten better. I'd actually never been unhappy with the food I'd been getting at Exton, but I did feel like it took an up-tick a few weeks ago. Now, I don't know what that means for Royersford... I guess I'll just have to go and find out! That chef, who HAD been at Royersford, and I think is at Exton now, has a particularly great way with the "hot sauce" dishes, so try the beef or lamb or pork in hot sauce. His version of the deep fried shredded beef is indeed particularly incendiary, and I love it. I find it almost painful to eat, yet I can't stop. The chefs at the downtown location don't tend to make it any where near as hot, at least not by default, and it can be kind of disappointing, unless you urge them to crank up the spice. But yes, it's not really the ideal place to get the Americanized stuff (although I've had some of that when entertaining guests, and you could do worse... ) but for the traditional dishes, it's really solid, and right now might be a particularly strong moment!
  7. Just to clarify, by "here" you mean Pho Saigon, right? Like for you, Cafe Diem's hours make it tricky for me to get to, but whenever I can be in the neighborhood when they're open, they're my first destination for either Pho or Bun Bo Hue. For what it's worth, according to Meal Ticket, the original Pho Saigon staff left recently, (who were previously at Pho Ha) and set up as Ha Saigon, at 320 Oregon Ave (in what used to be Kavei.) Dizzy yet?
  8. Speaking of feet, a local reviewer from a small neighborhood paper recently used a truly weird image to describe a portion size: I'm still scratching my head about how she came up with that unit of measure, and why she felt obliged to use it in a food review...
  9. Sometimes it's not too mysterious: Shola says the primary problem is a delay with the gas hookup. Hard to cook without gas... Trouble is, apparently there are lots of variables around when that work gets done. Hard to predict.
  10. Oh, right, good point Mummer: that was kind of grandiose of me - I was quoting myself! And Holly, I honestly don't know what the delay is at this point. As you had experienced years ago, I know at various times there have been contractor delays, slow permitting, etc. but I don't know what's holding things up right at the moment.
  11. So, no, I don't have anything actually concrete to report, but some photos might help you better understand why I'm pretty excited, and pretty convinced that Speck's opening can't be too far down the road... More pix and blather on my blog: Speckulation>>
  12. Vienna Beef hot dog? Check. Weird green relish? Check. Sport Peppers? Check. Tomato? Check. Celery Salt? Check. Pickle spear? hmmm, missing... Poppy Seed Bun? yes, but kind of stiff... So close to a really good Chicago hot dog! I'll give them another chance. The Original Pretzels and Dogs Cafe. Phoenixville.
  13. Or not... It does not appear that they're continuing with pizza after all. Updates, if there's anything to report, to follow.
  14. The intrigue continues! The bakery's phone is disconnected, but I have a confirmed report of someone getting a pizza last night! I'm told that they're planning on doing it again tonight (friday 1/21) and saturday too, and perhaps into the future... So, there may still be some possibility of fine pizzas in Phoenixville. I'll update if I find more concrete information, but in the meantime, if you're nearby, it could be worth a run by to see if there's someone manning the oven. Fingers crossed!
  15. Steven Shaw posted about these awards in an interesting thread a while back: Top 100 Chinese Restaurant Awards and more>> In that thread, he explained how the awards work: What's more, there are 100 winners in each of many categories, so a Top 100 award has varying significance... especially when the comparison is only among the places that chose to enter this particular competition. Still, it's not completely meaningless, and to be chosen as number one in any given category, especially best overall restaurant, is probably indicative of a reliably solid place. But I've never been to Yangming. I seem to recall them occasionally hosting visiting chefs from China, and I have always meant to visit during those times in particular. Probably worth keeping an eye out for.
  16. I'm not sure whether this is a dining or a cooking thing... it's kind of both, an event about making your own barbecue, but also a dinner featuring barbecue, so, I figured this thread would probably catch most of the Philly-are barbecue fans. Over the summer I bought a book called "Low and Slow" about basic techniques for using a wood-fired smoker to make traditional barbecue. It's by Gary Wiviott, and is an entertaining, sometimes irreverent, guide to getting good results in a home smoker. I really like the book, and had some good success with ribs on a basic inexpensive Brinkman Smoker. The folks at the Khyber Pass Pub have started doing barbecue in the restaurant, and decided to bring Mr Wiviott to Philly, and he's hosting a dinner this sunday (January 16, 2011, sorry about the short notice!) The food will apparently be based on some recipes out of his book, and also feature some of the barbecue from the Khyber menu, which he may have tweaked. And of course he'll give a short talk and answer questions. I can't find any info at the Khyber web page, but there's info if you're on Facebook, or there's this page on UWISHUNU Short version: 7pm, Sunday Jan 16, 2011 Khyber Pass Pub 56 S. 2nd Street, Philadelphia khyberpasspub.com 215-238-5888 I don't know if you need a reservation, but the listing seems to encourage it. I'm going to try to go, largely as an opportunity to eat good barbecue, with the talk as a bonus. Or maybe it's the other way around: to hear an entertaining talk about techniques of smoking meat, with dinner thrown-in. (I have to admit, I'm kind of a Wiviott disciple, his takes on what's important and what isn't in the techniques of smoking just really make sense to me.) Here's hoping he leaves some of his barbecue magic behind, we can always use more good barbecue in this town. Speaking of which, anybody tried the barbecue at Fergie's since Mark Coates (of Bebe's fame) started cooking there?
  17. Well, I should have guessed that this was too good to be true! I just discovered that the bakery has closed. I hope the the baker, and Frank the pizza guy, find some place to practice their craft, I enjoyed both the bread and the pizza quite a lot.
  18. Baconnaise. It was given to me as a joke, but it's actually kind of good on certain sandwiches...
  19. Yes, there will be regular table seating with a la carte items, like a more conventional restaurant meal. There are also 8 seats along the kitchen counter where a "StudioKitchen" tasting menu will be served. I'm actually most excited by that duality: of course the tasting menus at the old StudioKitchen were amazing, and I look forward to sitting at that counter sometimes, but I also quite like the idea of getting food cooked with that same sensibility, but in a more casual context. One can't really eat multi-course StudioKitchen meals every day. Trust me, I tried.
  20. After hearing of many plans for a restaurant over the years, I too was in the same camp as Peter and many others: I'd believe it when there was a plate of food in front of me. I certainly can't blame anyone for being skeptical, but I'm just saying that after having seen the place quite recently, I believe it. They're certainly not the first place to misjudge the date that they can get the doors open.
  21. I've seen it, and I believe it. Of course I'd rather be sitting at the counter eating, rather than believing in it, but FWIW, I'm confident it's imminent. I cannot, however, Speckulate on an exact date...
  22. OK, Frank, the pizza guy, is NOT fooling around! I quite liked the pizza I posted about above, so I dropped by the next week, and tried one with Sopressata. It was even better. I've had a lot of neo-Napolitan pizzas, here in Philly and in NY and San Francisco, and seriously, this ranks up with the best of them. The quality of the sopressata helped, but more impressive were the perfect texture of the crust, the lively flavor of the sauce, the exacting proportions of ingredients, the ideal done-ness, with a little char, but not too much... I don't know if I got lucky, and the oven just happened to be at the perfect temperature, and Frank had his timing down perfectly, but whatever the cause, that was an amazing pizza. If anything is keeping it from being the unqualified best I've had, it would be the cheese, which is perfectly acceptable, and works very well in the complete package, but in and of itself is not especially thrilling. But cheese is a tricky thing on a Neapolitan pizza, sometimes objectively "better" cheese can ruin the texture by exuding too much moisture. And the pizza I had was so good, I'm reluctant to suggest any changes... With the holidays coming up, I'm not sure when they'll be making pizza, but if you're in the area, it's totally worth a call to ask: (610) 933-3003 Apparently they're considering expanding beyond the current thursday-friday-saturday evening schedule, but I don't know when that might start. I'll let you know though, because I'm hoping to be there eating pizza as often as they'll let me!
  23. Thanks for that tip Victor. I feel like there must be good Thai food lurking around Philly somewhere, but even the "good" places seem hit or miss... As for the surrounding area, FWIW, Thai L'Elephant has opened on the main drag in Phoenixville, at 301 Bridge St (at Gay St. where la Creperie Cafe used to be.) I've found that place (in its old location out in an obscure plaza) to be one of the more reliably good suburban spots for Thai food.
  24. Unlikely... that style is just not the Han Dynasty thing. We did beg and plead and offered our first-born children to Han if he'd put those ribs on the menu. I think that's actually a traditional dish, but their kitchen's tea-smoking skills are so awe-inspiring that those ribs were more than your average smoky meat. I think everyone should make a point to ask for them, maybe they'll show up as a special, at least! Katie - I'm sure some dishes were mostly created by of one of the three, but they seemed to want to keep that somewhat vague, saying that it really was a collaboration, that each contributed something, be it an idea or an ingredient, or production of some component. I don't know whose inspiration resulted in each course, but even the ones that were Sam's or Davids, probably used Han's chili oil, etc. I think the steak might have been Han's idea, but I'd bet somebody else cooked it. The dessert is a good example: the cake was all Sam, riffing on a traditional English Christmas pudding; the ice cream was obviously Han-inspired (although I don't know who actually made it); the syrup was David's. We've been lucky to have a bunch of chef collaborations in town lately, I hope they keep going!
  25. The uncharacteristically inauthentic food served at Han Dynasty on Monday 12/13, the result of an experiment in cross-cultural collaboration, was truly interesting and delicious. Unlike many fusions, the flavor combinations generally didn't feel forced, even when they were in some cases, quite novel. I'll attribute that to the natural way in which the collaboration arose: chefs David Ansill and Sam Jacobson eat at Han Dynasty frequently, so they're familiar with Sichuan flavors, even if they don't use them in their everyday cooking. Han Chiang might make a big deal about the authenticity of the dishes at his restaurant, but he lives in contemporary America, and eats American food, so at least coming up with ideas was probably not a huge stretch for any of them. But whether new combinations work on the palate as well as they do in the imagination is another question altogether. I'm not sure how many failed experiments there may have been along the way, but everything that arrived on our table was quite successful, or at least to my personal liking... Amuse: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Chili Oil Salmon Carpaccio, Tofu Sauce, Chili Oil Pigs' Ears, Cabbage, Pickled Turnip Flat Iron Steak, Arugula, Sichuan Vinaigrette Sweetbreads with Roasted Salsify Tea-Smoked Ribs Sichuan Shredded Potato Tendon and Mushroom "Noodle" Lasagne Warm Ginger Cake, Sichuan Peppercorn Ice Cream, Chili Ginger Walnut Syrup I quite liked it all, but those ribs are haunting my dreams. The Lasagne was pretty great too, recalling an elegant Dan Dan noodle, in a different shape... the Beef was pretty straighforward, but delicious, it wouldn't be out of place on any modern bistro-ish place in the city. The pigs-ear was boldly spicy, and perhaps the least fusiony of anything, it seemed pretty fully Chinese, but had a unique texture, and played a nice bright counterpoint to some of the richer dishes. The sweetbreads were like what you wish General Tso's could be - a tangy sauce over a crispy, yet creamy nugget. And that dessert! It was controversial: the ice cream was just ringing with Sichuan peppercorn, like the strongest mint ice cream imaginable, except it wasn't just tingly, it was numbing too... I thought it worked really well with the sweet cake, and enjoyed it overall, but several folks thought it was too much. But hey, it was interesting! Despite a few last-minute cancellations, they had a large crowd at two seatings, so I think it was a success. Chef Jacobson was already talking about perhaps doing something similar out at his restaurant, Sycamore. I hope so...
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