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Aaron T

Rochester, NY

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Le Lemon Grass on Monroe Ave does a kind-of upscale, elegant, expensive Vietnamese.

942 Monroe Ave  - (585) 271-8360

Dac Hoa is the typical small, divey place, but with pretty good food.  Service is S--L----O----W---

230 Monroe Ave - (585) 232-6038

Those places will be your best bets for good Vietnamese food and Iced Coffee.

Gordon, do you know anything about Pho Duang Dong on Otis St?  Sounds like a weird tiny shop, but some of the best Pho places are!

For other ethnic, there are a few recs in this topic. 

There's also a new Thai place in Corn Hill, not far from the Dino, but I haven't eaten there yet.

Siam Fine Thai

280 Exchange Blvd - 585.232.SIAM (7426)

Oddly, they serve Pho. 

There seems to be a strange blurring of the distinction between Vietnamese and Thai food in Rochester, I've even noticed a best-of list with a category of "Best Vietnamese/Thai" as if it were all the same thing.  One extended family that owns many of the "Thai" places around town is originally from Laos, which is in-between Vietnam and Thailand geographically, but I don't think it's actually due to that, those places don't tend to have Vietnamese food on the menus.

If you weren't from Syracuse, I'd say to just eat at the Dino, but I can see why you might want to branch out while in Rochester.  The Korean places, The King and I,  the Indian places Thali and Tandoor are all just a little out in the burbs, not close to the Dino, but not far out of the way if take the Thruway to 390 north. (Who'd have imagined that one might stop in Henrietta for good food? )

Pho Duang Dong on Otis St has the best Bahn Mi in town. The neighborhood is a little sketchy around there but you can get lunch on Saturdays. The Pho is good but the broth is not as good as Le Lemon Grass (which is closed this week I think) Hieu's sister is on vacation and he's busy working on the new place at the public market.

I'm trying to update my personal list of places to post currently - Spec Latin (Puerto Rican) due to it's mention prev

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Thanks for the Rochester suggestions. Have you been to the Ethiopian places in town? Is there one that's better?

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Thanks for the Rochester suggestions. Have you been to the Ethiopian places in town? Is there one that's better?

I liked Dashen (503 South Ave). Doesn't look too great from the outside, but it's nice enough inside. I don't think injera travels really well, so I'd eat there rather than getting takeout, but they'll box it up for you to go if you want.

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What an odd conicidence: I'd stumbled across agalarneau's blog a couple of weeks ago and hadn't gotten done compiling my list of links to post it. Anyway, nice blog! Good Buffalo info.

And amazingly enough, there actually are Rochester food blogs:

First, the winner for the best name: rahchachow

rochesterfoodblog

miseblog

smitaservesyouright

Rochester Writers

jayceland

rochesterdrinks

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philadining, I just wanted to add - those pictures are outstanding. Would you mind mentioning what model camera you used?

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Thanks!

Most recently I've been using a Nikon D-50 digital SLR, with either a 50mm f1.8 or an 18-55mm f4.5 lens.

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Personal faves – not sure on the time you requested as I rarely do lunch on a Sunday unless it’s an obvious Brunch place. Mostly Lunch during the week, or nightly dining.

First off, Philadining has a better handle on Rochester Dining than most Rochesterians

Ethnic wise? Not sure if it’s true but I hear there isn’t much good Chinese in Syracuse. The same can be said for here for the most part regarding Rochester except for Chen Garden (1750 Monroe Avenue) the best of what’s local. Ethiopian? Been to Abyssinia but wasn’t very open to the new experience, nothing stood out. Phillipino? Manila Grill (4425 Dewey Ave) is the only game in town but quite good comparatively. German Food? I don’t go out for it unless I’m traveling to Danos Heuriger on Seneca Lake. There is an excellent sausage maker on Dewey ave, Ralf’s European Meats. The sausages are excellent. The Indian restaurants are all pretty consistent as far as their offerings with my personal faves being Tandoor of India and Thali of India (both in Henrietta) Japanese? My favorite Sushi place has gone in the dumper –from best to worst unfortunately – try Shiki (1054 Clinton Ave South) everything is good, esp the Edo style Sushi. Avoid California Rollin..A poseur place that smells like yesterday’s catch. Korean Food? All pretty much average – nothing I can’t make better at home. Greek/Lebanese? Sinbad’s on Park Ave makes the best hummus and Soulaki –Aladdin’s is second but not far off on a good day. Mexican? El Rincon in Canandaigua is the best all around, burritos from Paulo’s are excellent, and the carnitas from Rich Port Bakery at the Public Market or Empanadas at the Empanada Stop are a must eat. Vietnamese/Thai are almost a generic theme. I love the Pho at Le Lemon Grass (Monroe Ave), Bahn mi and Pho Duong Dong (182 Otis St) Dac Hoa is a “joint” but everything is consistently fresh and tasty. For a steaming bowl of noodles, Ming’s Noodles (1038 South Clinton) makes the grade, he’ll make them anyway, any style.


Edited by GordonCooks (log)

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Hey Gordon,

did you leave the Olive Tree out of the Greek category on purpose? It's been a couple of years since I was there, but it was pretty good then... But you might have not considered it part of this category because it's a little pricey/formal than most of the other spots you mention, with the possible exception of Le Lemon Grass. Or maybe you don't like it.

Anyways, thanks for the list!


Edited by philadining (log)

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Hey Gordon,

did you leave the Olive Tree out of the Greek category on purpose?  It's been a couple of years since I was there, but it was pretty good then...  But you might have not considered it part of this category because it's a little pricey/formal than most of the other spots you mention, with the possible exception of Le Lemon Grass. Or maybe you don't like it.

Anyways, thanks for the list!

Olive Tree is straight ahead greek - had a decent meal there myself a couple of years ago. It's more formal than the other and it's price point puts it perilously in the mid-level bistro range. I can think of other places to go for the money or the same food for less. Le Lemon Grass presents itself as formal but it clearly isn't (although the food can be)

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Positive review of Ariana Kabob House in the Democrat and Chronicle

Also, a few posts back I mentioned that I liked the Ethiopian place called Dashen. Some friends of mine tried to go recently but found that it was closed, and it apparently seemed to be a permanent closure, not just a day off. Bummer.

But they went to plan B for Ethiopian and had lunch at Abyssinia and said it was very good. It looks like it's the only choice for Ethiopian now, so I'm glad to hear that they enjoyed it.


Edited by philadining (log)

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When Gordon said that Pho Duang Dong made the best Bahn Mi in town a while back, I knew I had to get there and check it out...

Despite a completely crazed schedule a few weeks back, we couldn't resist swinging by and grabbing a quick sandwich to go. As Gordon noted, it's in a slightly dicey neighborhood, and in fact, doesn't look too promising from outside.

gallery_23992_2291_14507.jpggallery_23992_2291_10063.jpg

It's much cheerier inside:

gallery_23992_2291_35563.jpg

It was sheer torture to resist sampling the long list of soups, but we were in a hurry, so just grabbed two Bahn Mi to go.

gallery_23992_2291_47686.jpg

There's only one kind, with slices of Roast Pork, Patê, and some other mysterious porky product, dressed appropriately with pickled vegetables, jalapenos, and cilantro, on a crusty french roll.

I was a bit put-off by the appearance of the roll, I'm used to something more baguette-looking, but it was actually a pretty good bread for this sandwich, with a good light texture and satisfying crust. Did the job just fine. The cilantro had some kind-of chewy, woody stems, but added a great flavor anyway. The herby, slightly spicy, slightly sweet condiments played off the meats really well.

Good sandwich. $3. Hard to beat. I'm going back for soup next time I'm in the area.


Edited by philadining (log)

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When Gordon said that Pho Duang Dong made the best Bahn Mi in town a while back, I knew I had to get there and check it out...

Despite a completely crazed schedule a few weeks back, we couldn't resist swinging by and grabbing a quick sandwich to go. As Gordon noted, it's in a slightly dicey neighborhood, and in fact, doesn't look too promising from outside.

gallery_23992_2291_14507.jpggallery_23992_2291_10063.jpg

It's much cheerier inside:

gallery_23992_2291_35563.jpg

It was sheer torture to resist sampling the long list of soups, but we were in a hurry, so just grabbed two Bahn Mi to go.

gallery_23992_2291_47686.jpg

There's only one kind, with slices of Roast Pork, Patê, and some other mysterious porky product, dressed appropriately with pickled vegetables, jalapenos, and cilantro, on a crusty french roll.

I was a but put off by the appearance of the roll, I'm used to something more baguette-looking, but it was actually a pretty good bread for this sandwich, with a good light texture and satisfying crust.  Did the job just fine.  The cilantro had some kind-of chewy, woody stems, but added a great flavor anyway. The herby, slightly spicy, slightly sweet condiments played off the meats really well.

Good sandwich.  $3.  Hard to beat.  I'm going back for soup next time I'm in the area.

Good stuff, doesn't look like the normal roll (or at least the ones I've had) I've seen trucks unloading at local Asian markets, boxes of baguettes from a Canadian bakery. Maybe no shipment that day.

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When Gordon said that Pho Duang Dong made the best Bahn Mi in town a while back, I knew I had to get there and check it out...

Despite a completely crazed schedule a few weeks back, we couldn't resist swinging by and grabbing a quick sandwich to go. As Gordon noted, it's in a slightly dicey neighborhood, and in fact, doesn't look too promising from outside.

gallery_23992_2291_14507.jpggallery_23992_2291_10063.jpg

It's much cheerier inside:

gallery_23992_2291_35563.jpg

It was sheer torture to resist sampling the long list of soups, but we were in a hurry, so just grabbed two Bahn Mi to go.

gallery_23992_2291_47686.jpg

There's only one kind, with slices of Roast Pork, Patê, and some other mysterious porky product, dressed appropriately with pickled vegetables, jalapenos, and cilantro, on a crusty french roll.

I was a but put off by the appearance of the roll, I'm used to something more baguette-looking, but it was actually a pretty good bread for this sandwich, with a good light texture and satisfying crust.  Did the job just fine.  The cilantro had some kind-of chewy, woody stems, but added a great flavor anyway. The herby, slightly spicy, slightly sweet condiments played off the meats really well.

Good sandwich.  $3.  Hard to beat.   I'm going back for soup next time I'm in the area.

Good stuff, doesn't look like the normal roll (or at least the ones I've had) I've seen trucks unloading at local Asian markets, boxes of baguettes from a Canadian bakery. Maybe no shipment that day.

I don't know if anyone mentioned it....but unfortunately, it only appears to be open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays....

I go to Rochester almost weekly for meetings at Kodak (or whats left of Kodak) and last week we were going to try this place for lunch, since our favorite Vietnamese lunch place, Saigon Palace closed (hopefully Henry will be opening a new place soon in a new location though).

Anyway, I was already for a great Bahn Mi and maybe some Pho on Wednesday...alas once we found it, and pulled up we saw the disappointing sign "Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday" Boy, was I bummed...

Ended up going to Roncone's, a local Italian place which was good, but not the Bahn Mi I was hoping for.....

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I can't say that I looked specifically at the hours at Pho Duang Dong, but I did look at the sign to see if they were open when we got there a little before 11am on saturday (they were, they open at 10am) but it didn't jump out at me that they were only open three days a week. I'll see if I can get someone local to confirm if that's still true...

Anyway, they were open and serving on saturday lunchtime, and we felt like soup.

gallery_23992_2291_78374.jpg

gallery_23992_2291_103388.jpg

That's a "medium" Bun Bo Hue. I seem to recall that there are 4 different sizes: small, medium, large and extra large. I think we saw an extra large on the way in, and I think I might have been able to bathe in it. The medium was a good size to share, because we weren't only having that, and we were pretty stuffed on empanadas anyway, but more on that later! If I were just going in for a bowl of soup as a meal for myself, I suspect this is the size I'd get.

The broth had a nice peppery kick, and was pretty decent overall, but the flavor was not especially complex, as one hopes the best Vietnamese broths will demonstrate. This tasted like pretty straight-ahead beef broth with some heat, rather than the 8 bazillion-ingredient herby, spicy, fragrant brews one can find at the best places. The accompanying garnishes were pretty simple: just basil, beansprouts, lime and a single bird pepper. I've gotten spoiled by the places that put out plates with mint, cilantro, culantro, and maybe various types of basil, as well as some more chiles. Still, tearing up some basil, squeezing in some lime, tossing in the beansprouts, made for a very nice soup.

The generous portion of beef consisted mostly of cubes with generous veining of fat and or other chewy stuff, which of course is pretty traditional, but a little intimidating if you're not used to it. The beef was really tasty, and very tender, so all was good. We probably left behind a few chunks that had the busboy shaking his head, wondering why we didn't eat the best parts, but we made a good dent in it. The noodles themselves were decent, akin to typical spaghetti, rather than the squared-off rice noodles that have a little more chewy spring to them, but that's a small quibble. It was a good bowl of soup, one I'd go back for. But first, I might have to try some of the regular Pho.

While we were there, we couldn't really resist getting a Bahn Mi...

gallery_23992_2291_70343.jpg

The bread was pretty much the same as last time, but a little less crumby, I liked it. And the sandwich overall was very good. One warning: our waitress asked if we wanted jalapeno, and we of course said we did, we like that spicy punch to the mixture of flavors. But wow, right toward the end of the sandwich, I encountered one mean, sneaky, ill-tempered chile pepper! A relatively small sliver of it got my eyes watering, and put a serious burn on my tongue! You just never can tell with those peppers! It was worth it, nonetheless.

Lemonade was OK, nothing too special.

The medium soup, a Bahn Mi, and two drinks was about $14. A pretty serious bargain for the quantity and quality.


Edited by philadining (log)

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Pho Duang Dong opens at 10:00 on Saturdays - I hit it for Bahn Mi's every other weekend when venturing from the Farmer's Market downtown to my favorite italian bakery in the burbs. I think the hours are Thurs-Sun.

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I've gotten spoiled by the places that put out plates with mint, cilantro, culantro, and maybe various types of basil, as well as some more chiles.

Wow! What a great review! Fun to read and lovely pictures. We will definitely check this place out. Question: What's the difference between cilantro and culantro? I vividly recall two of my friends using one each. Referring to the same heavenly herb, the Mexican said "cilantro" and the Costa Rican said "culantro", much to the surprise and delight of the Mexican who immediately associated the "cul" part with one's posterior ("culo" meaning just that in Spanish). Fun with language and food!

Lonnie

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Question: What's the difference between cilantro and culantro?  I vividly recall two of my friends using one each. Referring to the same heavenly herb, the Mexican said "cilantro" and the Costa Rican said "culantro", much to the surprise and delight of the Mexican who immediately associated the "cul" part with one's posterior ("culo" meaning just that in Spanish). Fun with language and food!

I think there's plenty of fuzziness in the language but many people use 'culantro' to describe recao - the long spiny leaf form of coriander/cilantro and use the term 'cilantro' to refer to the short leaf type that grows in bunches.

According to this forum discussion on RicanRecipes.com the recao is used in situations where it is cooked and cilantro may be used raw or cooked. I used to use the recao in my sofrito but El Mercado Familia in Syracuse changed hands and I can no longer find it locally.

And I really wish we could get Bahn Mi sandwiches in Syracuse.

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And I really wish we could get Bahn Mi sandwiches lcoally.

Amen to that!

MelissaH

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Owen's right about the fuzziness in herb nomenclature, so I'm not entirely confident that I have actually been getting "culantro" on my garnish plates in Vietnamese places I've eaten in Philly and on the west coast, but I have been getting a wide variety of herbs, some of which have been called culantro by the waitstaff when I asked about it...

In any case, it's nice to have a few different flavors to toss in one's pho, or bun bo hue. But, no crisis, it was still quite tasty.

So Gordon, where were ya dude? We rolled over to PPD right after the public market on sat, about 10:30-10:45 ish. Or was that huge empty bowl on one table yours?


Edited by philadining (log)

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Earlier on saturday, my brother and I dropped by the public market to see what was looking good. I wish I could say that we were looking for fresh, local produce or something virtuous like that, but the cold, hard reality is that we were jonesing for empanadas...

gallery_23992_2291_69135.jpg

gallery_23992_2291_49317.jpg

gallery_23992_2291_58009.jpg

One of these days I'm going to try a combo platter, but so far I've just grabbed individual empanadas, 4 for about $10.

It was early, so it seemed wise to start with a breakfast empanada, with egg, cheese, sausage, bacon and ham.

gallery_23992_2291_59093.jpg

The beef and onion versions are my faves.

gallery_23992_2291_55547.jpg

Curiosity got the best of me, and I ordered a "pizza" empanada. It was OK, but the fillings are kind of boring, like I should have expected. It reminded me a bit too much of a Hotpocket...

gallery_23992_2291_34666.jpg

I look forward to trying the rest eventually, but those beef and onion ones rock, especially with a bit of the red or green sauce in squeeze bottles at the counter.

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I had such a whirlwind trip through Rochester that I didn't make it to hardly anything I'd intended, mostly grabbing something quick on-the-go. Which led me to a shocking discovery.

gallery_23992_2291_33618.jpg

Yep, that's a cheesesteak. I'm pretty confident that's Cheeze Whiz too (although the place cryptically refers to it as "melted cheddar".) And here's the shocking part: it was really quite good.

When one lives in Philly, it becomes a life-long chore to explain to people that no, they really never have had a true Philadelphia-style cheesesteak, unless they got it in Philly. Who knows what the reason is, but even if they're pretty good sandwiches, they're never quite right outside of the general Philly sphere-of-influence. In fact they're rarely right even in Philly, but when you get a good one, you start to understand what all the hoopla is about. But outside of town there's always something awry: they use the wrong ingredients, or in the wrong combinations, or just do something different that upsets the delicate balance that makes the humble cheesesteak so good.

And this one wasn't perfect, the roll isn't quite right - it's a little too soft, but it's close, and they made the right choice to get a freshly-made local roll that approximates the Philly thing fairly closely. And I think the meat is almost TOO good, it's fresh and tender and flavorful, and generously piled on the roll, which is not always the case at their point of origin! I'll let that part slide, the meat was really quite tasty.

So who is this? Philly Express. They're in Henrietta Plaza (across Jefferson Rd from Southtown, right near the Tandoor Indian restaurant) Official address is 376 Jefferson Road, if you're web-mapping it. I don't find a website for them, but it's the same people who own Philly Steakout on Long Pond Road in Greece. (I haven't been there.) Phone for Philly Express is 585-424-6630.

There's a bit of controversy in Philly about chopping the meat with two spatulas on the flat-top grill as it's cooking, versus cooking intact slices. I've always been a fan of the chop, my favorite places do it, so I was happy to see that's how they did it here. Onions were nicely grilled, the cheese was put on the roll, as it should be, not drizzled over the top... All-in-all a pretty authentic construction, or as close as one can get without a big guy named Sal giving you attitude at the counter.

Philly Express gets a little too fancy, extending the menu into creations like teriyaki chickensteaks, which might be tasty, but are not really seen at the mythic places in Philly. There are snapshots on the wall from some of those spots, so clearly the owners made a pilgrimage and experienced the real thing, and learned well, they get pretty close.

The one big problem is that they don't have much seating. There are a couple of tables, but really only room for about 10 people. I assume they're mostly doing take-out, and it's really too bad: chesesteaks are really at their best immediately off the grill, and they get worse by the second. They really don't stand up to travel very well, in fact, getting kind of gross when all wrapped-up steaming themselves into a gooey, gluey mess.

My advice is to keep it simple: just get a cheesesteak with fried onions, maybe peppers or mushrooms if you must, but don't get carried away. I recommend going for the "melted cheddar" which will get you the really full-on Philly experience, without having to utter the word "Whiz". And eat it there. If the tables are full, you actually might get the truly authentic Philly experience of cheesteak consumption, eating it standing up, with a bit of a forward-tilted lean so the grease and whiz doesn't drip on your shirt.

And don't be surprised if you find yourself inexplicably saying "yo, where can I get a good water ice around here?" afterward. Just be sure to pronounce "water" like "wooder".

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Hey Phila.... since you're unquestionably positioned to offer expert commentary.... perhaps you can swing by Taste of Philadelphia in Syracuse next time you're passing through. Folks around here insist that they're great but I have no valid reference point.

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Hey Phila....  since you're unquestionably positioned to offer expert commentary....  perhaps you can swing by Taste of Philadelphia in Syracuse next time you're passing through. Folks around here insist that they're great but I have no valid reference point.

Will do, one of those times I shoot through Syracuse on the way up or back. But I read the article and... A1 steak sauce?!? What the --- ?!?!

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Will do, one of those times I shoot through Syracuse on the way up or back.  But I read the article and... A1 steak sauce?!?  What the --- ?!?!

Dude..... this is Syracuse. What did you expect?

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