May 112010

Usually at Twisted Noodles, I order the Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, Thai Basil Fried Rice, or Panang Curry – already enough options to keep me deciding for a good five to ten minutes. Pad Thai is a large-sized portion of noodles (almost enough for two meals for me, I think), Pad See Ew is definitely my favorite noodles but a smaller portion, Basil Fried Rice is an excellent fried rice option and also very large portion, and the Panang Curry has a great kick. But when I visited, I noticed something on their ‘Specials’ chalkboard: Hainanese Chicken Rice (海南雞飯) – and I knew that I had to try it right away.

Hainanese Chicken Rice is actually a Chinese dish, but it has become commonly associated with Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine. It’s basically boiling chicken in pork/ chicken stock. It is served with ‘oily rice’, which is rice prepared with chicken stock – when done right, it has a very delightful flavor. The chicken is usually dipped in some sort of garlic-based sauce when eating.

So, here it is:

Hainanese Chicken Rice at Twisted Noodles

Hainanese Chicken Rice

The first thing you might notice is that the sauce is not garlic-based.. it was actually soy-sauce based, with some chili peppers. I’m not sure if that’s Thai-style Hainanese chicken rice sauce goes, but it’s not what I’m used to..

And everything else? The rice was my favorite part (well, I always love rice..) – it was pretty much ‘oily rice’ down pat. As for the chicken, it was slightly dry, but I guess with boiled chicken (and skinless, on top of that), what else can you expect? Haha. Nevertheless, it was very delicious. The sauce pretty much balanced out everything, making it a really enjoyable dish.

So if you’re heading out to Twisted Noodles sometime in the near future, be sure to try out this dish before it’s taken off the Specials menu!

May 012010

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for tofu, and I’ve always heard that Vit Goal (near 54/55) serves really authentic Korean tofu soup. So I’m happy to (FINALLY) present this review for my Vit Goal experience!

S and I wanted to try more than just the tofu soup, so we ordered the “Special for Two”: choice of tofu soup and grilled sliced beef (bulgolgi). (You can also choose beef short ribs, which looked equally delicious.) For the tofu soup, we picked the tripe and asked for medium spicy.

We are served complimentary chilled barley tea, which had a very refreshing taste and compliments the heavy taste of the soup and bulgogi. There are also a few appetizer dishes, typical of Korean restaurants. Beware though – unlike other Korean restaurants, if you ask for seconds, there is an extra charge. The appetizers were decent – nothing too special. My favorite were the cucumber kimchi. (The others are: cabbage kimchi, salad, and sliced potato.)

Vit Goal

Appetizers, Tripe Tofu Soup, and Beef Bulgogi

As for our main dishes? The tofu soup was delicious, as expected, although the tripe was a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t like anything I had encountered in Chinese or Vietnamese cuisine (well, pho). Either they used a different portion of tripe, or tripe means something else at Vit Goal.. nevertheless it was ok. The bulgogi was really good, though. The flavor was really good – hints of sweetness along with the savory. I’m thinking aji-mirin (a type of sweet rice wine used in Asian cooking) was used to achieve this? Nevertheless, it was delicious.

So overall, a really pleasant experience. We left pretty stuffed (the portions are larger than you think..) and satisfied. The Combo dinner cost around $24, which was pretty reasonable, I think, for that much food. If you’re there with just another person, I’d definitely recommend this option since you get to try not only the tofu soup but also another specialty on the menu.

Apr 212010

I went out to lunch with a good friend last Friday, and we decided to try Fishmonger’s on Main St. I’m actually not usually a big seafood fan, but my friend is quite savvy in these matters so most of the review is actually based off her comments :)

The place doesn’t look like much from the outside, but do NOT let that fool you. The inside is quite spacious with high-ceilings, tables arranged almost picnic-style, and pretty much just a wide-open feeling – my favorite type of atmosphere. The decor is typical American restaurant: license plates, signs, etc. Overall I just really liked how open the room was.

Fishmonger's 1

Fishmonger's Bar

Fishmonger's Decor

Fishmonger's Decorations

There was a lunch menu available with pretty reasonable pricing, but most of the items were fried, and we wanted some fresh seafood. So, we decided to split a Steamed Platter, which came with Old Bay-spiced shrimp, snow crab legs, and a half-dozen clams or oysters (we chose the clams. We also ordered a side of grilled eggplants, one of the daily specials.

Steamed Platter

Steamed Platter: shrimp, snow crab legs, clams

Grilled eggplant

Grilled eggplant

The food was really, really delicious! I must say I was very impressed, especially with the freshness of everything. I’m usually not a big fan of clams/oysters/mussels, but these clams were GOOD. The shrimp and snow crab legs were also very fresh – I joked that you could still taste the saltiness of the sea.

Since it was Friday, there is a special on oysters – $7.00 for a dozen, from 2pm-6pm. Since we arrived relatively late, but the time we had finished everything it was already past 2pm – so of course we ordered a dozen oysters! I have never eaten raw oysters before in my life, so there was a little lesson (involving some embarrassing shell-biting), but in the end I think I figured it out. For my first oyster experience, I must say I really enjoyed it, and I would definitely not mind going back for more.

Dozen oysters

Dozen oysters

All in all, I had a wonderful seafood experience. I never thought that I would have such a great time eating seafood, and in Durham on top of that (I used to live in Florida, pretty much on the beach), but it was a really great meal. As for pricing, well, we did order a lot of food, but I think you don’t order as many thing as we did, it can be a very reasonably-priced meal. So my recommendation? If you are looking for good seafood in town, Fishmonger’s is the place to go.

Feb 192010

My friends and I decided that we haven’t been to Mt Fuji’s in a really long time, and so we decided that tonight was perfect because on Thursdays from 5pm-12pm, all sushi is half price – which is great because I can order rolls from any price range without worrying about price overlap. Today, I decided to try the simple Unagi roll (BBQ eel with cucumber) and Running Rebel roll, which consists of white fish, white tuna, & salmon, topped with yellowtail & scallions. It was very light – I wish that the yellowtail could have been more fresh; I think it would have made this roll spectacular. The Unagi roll had just the right amount of eel sauce, and I really enjoyed that (but then again, I think you’ve realized by now that I just love eel).

Mt Fuji Sushi

Running Rebel Roll & Unagi Roll @ Mt Fuji

Continue reading »

Feb 112010

You all have probably figured this out by now, but.. I am an undergrad at Duke Univ (currently in my fourth and final year!). We have these things called food points, which are basically pre-paid dining dollars that we use to eat at any dining location on campus. On Saturday, a few friends and I decided to visit Nasher Museum Cafe – one of my favorite dining places on campus, and luckily for us students, where we can use our food points!

We went during brunch, which is offered on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Their regular menu features an array of salads, sandwiches, paninis, and a couple of entrees – I personally feel that entrees are not their strengths, but it may just depend on the item. Their brunch items feature some sort of scrambled eggs, a weekly eggs benedict special (last weekend’s was beef tenderloin and asparagus), French toast… the standard nice brunch stuff. I was, however, actually QUITE attracted to one of the sandwiches – “The Italian” – which featured prosciutto, capicola, and – my favorite sauce in the whole world – aioli. Haha. So yes, it was actually the aioli that attracted me… Continue reading »

Feb 082010

A good friend of mine and I decided to visit Four Square, a really nice restaurant in Durham, to celebrate the fact that we’re saved from the bad economy for the next five to seven years! :D I’ve heard about Four Square for a long time now, but there’s never been an occasion.

Unfortunately, I was at work all day and went straight to dinner, so there was no time to grab my camera. I know y’all, I have not had any photos for a long time, so I’m really sorry… but! They have lots of pretty photos on their website and blog, so please check out those links – and if you get the chance, of course, visit the restaurant, too! Continue reading »

Jan 172010

So in case you haven’t noticed, something really crucial was missing from my adventures in Taiwan… yep, sushi. A whole trip to Asia without sushi! Definitely depressing. Therefore, a friend and I went out to Shiki Sushi over by Southpoint to make up for it.

Like some of the other Asian fusion restaurants in Durham, Shiki also offers buy-one-get-one free rolls and nigiri. We ordered four rolls and several pieces of nigiri (really, really hungry…) Their rolls are pretty similar in style to the ones you can find at Sushi Love or Mt. Fuji, but for some reason, they just taste better here. Continue reading »

Dec 142009

I am the worst blogger ever.
The past who-knows-how-many-times I have been to Chubby’s Taco’s, I have either forgotten to take pictures or bring my camera/ phone altogether… but finally, today, I remembered… after taking a bite out of my tamale, that is…
Anyway, Chubby’s is one of my favorite Durham eateries! I was first attracted to the salsa bar (thaaaat’s right folks, salsa bar) – all freshly made, all very delicious. Of course, the first time I went, I tried every single kind, but I have narrowed down a few favorites: Bandido’s Salsa, Chile de Arbol, and the Habanero. The habanero is honestly one of the best spicy sauces that I have ever had, by the way – and that’s speaking for all the Asian spicy foods that I’ve eaten…
The amazing salsa bar at Chubby’s.
I usually order a taco and make it a meal, which comes with rice and beans (black or refried) and a bag of corn chips. However, recently I have discovered that their tamales are quite good, so pictured here is my meal from today, tamale with spicy chicken tinga:
I have also ordered the smothered tamale, which is the same thing but with chili, shredded lettuce, and tomato on top. I think I prefer the regular tamale, to be honest…

Tamale, refried beans, rice.
But of course, if it is your first time here, you must try the tacos. I really like the carnitas or spicy carne asada. My friends also highly recommend the fish tacos – the chipotle cream sauce does look very delicious.
If you haven’t made your way down to 9th street yet for taco and salsa, you are definitely missing out. You’ll get a great meal at an unbelievable price. And you’ll probably see me there, sampling another flavor of salsa… (yes, I am easily entertained).
Price: $5-10
Dec 032009

So I don’t know if you guys feel the same way, but IMHO, the quality of BOGO sushi in Durham has gone down the past month or so. Sushi Love has hired some new sushi chefs who are not doing so well with the proportions and sauces. S and I have gotten a plate back that was flooded with a mix of eel sauce and spicy mayo. Very disruptive of the flavors of the rolls – we felt like we were eating sweet & sour sushi.

Mt. Fuji, on the other hand, is just a lack of taste and freshness, which I have mentioned already. I tried a couple of rolls the other day, and they have not been memorable or impressive.

I have not been to Shiki Sushi recently, but hopefully they have retained their creative and consistent flavors…

What has happened to the sushi in Durham? The economy, probably. Or maybe just the wrong season for fish?

Oct 192009

Firebird’s! Finally, a steakhouse :) I hope you guys aren’t starting to think that I don’t like steak or something.
There are many things on the menu, but as I’ve been here a couple of times before, I’ll just tell you this: if you’re here for steak (and you should be), get the prime rib. Herb-crusted, rubbed with black peppers, oven-roasted to medium-rare perfection – pictured below. Top photo is my 10-oz, and bottom is the dinner date’s 16-oz. As you notice, the difference is in the thickness of the cuts, so as you might be able to imagine, the thicker 16oz cut is better.
10-oz prime rib, cooked medium rare and served with sauteed mushrooms
16-oz prime rib, cooked medium rare and served with Colorado baked potato

The steak is served au jus and with a light horseradish sauce. I prefer the au jus, but the horseradish also goes pretty well, too. It’s not so overwhelming that it covers up the taste of the steak, yet it provides enough flavor. A bit too creamy for me, though, I think.
There is an assortment of sides, although the default is a Colorado baked potato. I chose sauteed mushrooms, which were very delicious, although the flavors were just a bit too much for me towards the end of the meal.
Overall, we love Firebird’s – one of my favorite steakhouses all around (and that’s sayin’ somethin’, folks – my home is out in Fort Worth, Texas.)
Firebird’s (located in the Streets at Southpoint)
Price Range: $20-$40