Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yum Yum I Love to Eat

The very beautiful and most talented Nicole of sent out a shout out of sorts. Actually it was more like hey if you want to do this it would be great if not that fine too. She’s non-confrintaional that way, but lovely none the less.

Five places I love to eat.

Sushi Island, Wakefield, MA

My brother-in-law introduced me to this place about eight or so years ago, while I was living in LA. Whenever I came home to visit we would make a special trip for sushi. One of the most striking things about this restaurant is the number of Japanese people eating there, considering the low number of Asian people living in the area. As I was taught by a former Taiwanese coworker, the best way to gauge the authenticity of an Asian restaurant is the number of Asian people eating in it. It definitely passes that test.

The only draw back to his restaurant is it fairly small. Some nights they offer live jazz musicians for entertainment. If you aren’t feeling the vibe of who ever is playing unfortunately there isn’t a quiet corner to escape the music.

Some of my favorites are the salmon skin roll, agedashi tofu, and tempura green tea ice cream with read bean paste.

Tacos Lupita, Lynn, MA

There is a joke my father used to tell about going into an Italian restaurant. Some where you would find a picture of Frank Sinatra next to the Pope. If the restaurant was authentic the picture of Frank would be just a bit higher on the wall than the picture of the Pope, after all the Pope isn’t Italian. The same can be said for Mexican restaurants having at least one picture of the Virgin de Guadalupe. Tacos Lupita features her on their menu. This place looks like a taquria you’d expect to see downtown LA. I brought a friend from Texas there he said he felt like he stepped into a time warp.

They make an El Pastor taco that is so good I have never had any thing else from their menu. It’s the type of place that when I get ten feet from the front door my mouth starts to water.

Shabu-Zen, Boston MA

Shabu-Zen features Asian fusion hot-pots. It’s one of the hippest restaurants in Boston’s Chinatown and is almost always packed. If you show up after 7:00 pm you can expect a long wait. The feature a very modern design inside with a low bar that runs in a U shape in the middle of the restaurant and a high bar that runs along the side of the room. There are also tables available with a minimum charge of $75.

Hot-pots are a soup that you cook yourself. The standard broth as a miso type flavor to it they also have a kimchi version if like it a bit on the spicy side. Ordering here is a bit like ordering at a sushi bar. You get your individual pot and most of the food comes ala cart, expect for the meats which come with a side of noodles, veggies and a couple types of tofu. The broth in the pot is usually boiling so it cooks the thinly sliced meats very quickly.

I recommend getting the fish paste which is a mixture of ground white fish, scallions, and seasonings. The also have an extensive menu of smoothies and bubble teas. The green tea latte is delicious.

Agave Mexican Bistro Newburyport, MA

Admittedly Agave is a bit “para los gringos”, but I love it just the same. Agave is everything Tacos Lupita is not. You’d be hard press to find a person on the wait staff whose first language was anything other than English and the Virgin is no where to be found, which isn’t all bad because they are surely not going after a home cooked feeling. They are looking to attract that type of people you who love a Norman Rockwell painting perfect New England town which says, “If you aren’t driving a Volvo or a Saab then why are you here?”

First of the redeeming qualities is the salsa which they make themselves. Honestly I have thought of asking the waiter to skip the chips and to just bring me a straw. They also make guacamole fresh at your table which is a crowd pleaser. I also love the mole poblano for an entrée. Most places sever a very watery mole theirs is thick and very rich.

Pho Lynn, MA

When I first moved to LA one of my roommates was from Vietnam. His mother used to cook pho for us all of the time. However I didn’t know what was called until I moved back to MA. Every time I asked what she had cooked my roommate would either tell me, “You know it’s the same old thing” or “you’ll never be able to say it.” He was wrong on both counts.

Pho Lynn is a small restaurant in a transitional area with an annoying tile floor that makes it possible to hear the conversations on the opposite of the restaurant. It’s run by a little Vietnamese who will treat you like she has known you your entire life from the moment you first see her and you’ll fell like you’ve know her that long when she scolds you for not eating all of your vegetables.

The best features of this place are the sauces that the proprietress makes herself. My favorite is a mayonnaise tastes like it is mixed with vinegar and fish sauce. I asked her was in it but she wouldn’t tell me.