Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, dear readers!  Hope everyone will be out trick or treating and decked out in costumes.  As for me, I’ll be heading to Chipotle in my eggplant costume to get my $2 BOOrito and then to Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary for a frightful night of screams and haunts.  Sounds like a great Halloween to me!

Splendid Sunday Brunch at Supper

As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan of brunch.  It takes a lot to excite me enough to write a review on eggs and pancakes.  But every now and then, there are some brunches that blow me away, that have me swearing I’ll wake up early every Sunday morning for it.  Brunch at Supper had this very effect on me.

Both the ambience and the food make Supper one of the most pleasant dining experiences in Philly.  The restaurant is deceptively spacious.  Boasting two floors, the first floor is bustling and lively, with patrons sipping bloody marys at the bar and eager diners watching chef Mitch Prensky and co. in action through the open kitchen.  By contrast, the second floor offers a much quieter, more serene environment, perfect for a relaxing and leisurely Sunday brunch.

Even more splendid than the setting was the elegantly rustic brunch fare.  Chef Mitch Prensky incorporates local, seasonal ingredients and Southern flavor into his dishes, updating many tired, overdone brunch classics into something magical.  Take his Supper Benny ($15), for example.  While retaining the requisite poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, he replaces the english muffin with buttery grit cakes and adds mustard greens and country ham, which is more reminiscent of prosciutto than Honeybaked.  The result is better than the original, especially with the sides of crispy breakfast potatoes and crusty bread.

The same can be said for Supper’s chilaquiles navidad ($14) and dixie biscuit ($13).  The chilaquiles were zesty and smoky, with the addition of chorizo and tomatillo-braised corn tortillas.  Two perfectly poached eggs sat atop the tortillas, making for a hearty meal.

The dixie biscuit was even heartier (and artery clogging, in a good way): two scrambled eggs, country ham, and pimento cheese tucked inside a flaky buttery biscuit, served with creamy grits on the side.  It was love at first bite with the biscuit, and the grits were addictively delicious.

In addition to savory egg dishes, Supper offers “sweet stuff” as well, including red velvet waffles, gingerbread pancakes, and a cereal buffet.  I will definitely be back to try the rest of the menu.  And when I do, I’ll blame Supper for successfully converting me into a brunch addict.

926 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 592-8180
Supper on Urbanspoon

**Note: Just fyi, this is my 100th post!  Thanks to my readers for your support!

Ethnic Eats in the OC

As the weather progresses further into fall here in Philly, I still find myself backed up on blog posts and reminiscing about summer meals in warmer climates.  But fear not readers–this will be my last summer installment and I will finally be caught up on writing.  (Eating faster than blogging is certainly a flaw of mine. )

As a native Los Angelino, I never spent much time in Orange County.  My perception of the region was less than flattering: suburban sprawl, Real Housewives, and chain restaurants.  But after spending more time there over the summer, I realized there is much more to the OC than meets the eye.  Hidden among the generic strip malls and bland chain eateries are terrific ethnic restaurants serving interesting cuisine worth driving for.  Here are 3 of my favorites.

Del Tomate

Located in a sleepy Tustin strip mall, Del Tomate gained some buzz after the LA Times gave it a rave review.  My boyfriend and I stumbled upon it when we were looking to grab a late lunch on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  It was one of the few places open that day, and boy, were we glad to have found it.

The allure of Del Tomate is in the attention to detail.  Owners Guillermo and Giacobbe, the husband and wife team behind the restaurant, don’t cut any corners when it comes to their rustic Argentinian-Italian fare.  Pastas are all handmade and made to order.  Empanadas and desserts are baked on the premises.  And the Argentinian style sandwiches are packed with fresh ingredients and high quality meats.

Del Tomate’s attention to detail is highlighted in the complimentary bread.  Crusty on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, the bread is served with homemade chimichurri that is best slathered on.  Bright, tangy, and punchy, I could literally eat a whole bowl full on my own.

Next, we tried the empanadas, baked daily at the restaurant.  Both the chicken and the eggplant empanadas were flaky, flavorful, and fresh–and a steal for $1.60 each.

For our mains, we tried one dish each from the Italian menu and the Argentinian menu.  I couldn’t resist the cannelloni alla Rossini ($13)–homemade cannelloni wrapped around ground beef, argentinian sausage, bacon, ricotta cheese and spinach, topped with  a spicy pomodoro and bechamel sauce, and baked until it is melty and divine.  It was definitely cheese overload, but in a fantastic way.  The quality and care put into the ingredients really shined through, as all of the flavors were well-balanced and greaseless.

The finale of our meal was the Entrana sandwich ($9).  Thin slices of smoky grilled skirt steak piled on top of the freshest lettuce and tomato you could imagine, all sandwiched between a fresh baguette smeared with mayo and that amazing chimmichuri.

Needless to say, we were waaaay too full to eat dessert–though we were certainly tempted by the full dessert case, displaying homemade cakes, cannolis, and cookies.  We’ll definitely return to Del Tomate to try these, and for the rustic and refined Italian-Argentinian cooking.

137 W. Tustin St. Suite A
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 731-1738
Del Tomate on Urbanspoon

Siam Taste of Asia 

It takes a lot for me to be impressed by a Thai restaurant, especially when Jitlada (of Jonathan Gold acclaim) is just a few blocks from my house in LA.  But Siam Taste of Asia, tucked in yet another generic strip mall in Santa Ana, is turning out reasonably priced, fiery Thai cuisine that rivals its more famous counterpart.

The restaurant’s most popular dish is its deep fried tofu ($6.95), which even the staunchest of carnivores rave about.  Crisp on the outside, light and airy on the inside, the dish shows deep frying at its best, transforming otherwise bland cubes of tofu into bite-sized nuggets of joy.  And don’t forget to dip them in the garlic chile sauce, which adds a subtle sweet-spicy note to the dish.

Siam Taste of Asia also executes classic Thai dishes well.  The chicken basil ($7.95) gradually built up heat, eventually making my eyes water in that pleasantly spicy way.  My favorite, however, was the tom yum goong soup ($8.95).  The soup arrives at the table steaming hot and fiery red, and looks like it will literally set your tongue on fire.  That it does, but the spiciness is also tempered by earthy lemongrass, fresh scallions, cilantro, and the occasional shrimp, making the flavor profile more sophisticated and layered.  Served with a refreshing salad topped with a mint dressing and rice, the tom yum goong will certainly satisfy any spicy food craving.

3520 W. 1st St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(714) 418-9678
Siam Taste of Asia on Urbanspoon

Dx Peruvian Restaurant 

Peruvian food is so hot right now in LA, but the cuisine has held steadfast in the OC for years.  Dx Peruvian Restaurant, located in (of course) a strip mall across from South Coast Plaza, offers classic Peruvian dishes in a surprisingly intimate setting.

One of the most well-known Peruvian dishes is lomo saltado ($14.95), and Dx serves up a quite tasty version.  The classic dish reflects Peru’s history as a destination for Chinese immigrants, melding Chinese and Peruvian cooking techniques and ingredients.  Lomo saltado is thinly sliced steak, onion, and tomatoes, stir fried with soy sauce and french fries, and served over rice.  Though it sounds like a strange combination at first, the ingredients actually work quite well together; think of it as Peru’s version of meat and potatoes.

Another classic Peruvian dish is aji de gallina ($12.95): shredded chicken slowly cooked in a blended bread, milk and walnut sauce.  Though not the most visually or texturally pleasing dish, the flavors were earthy, mild, and satisfying.  It was quite a large portion, so I would recommend sharing this with someone.

Finally, don’t miss out on the homemade lucuma ice cream ($6.00).  Lucuma is a sub-tropical fruit native to Peru, and tastes similar to maple and sweet potato.  The ice cream is pleasantly fruity and subtly sweet, with a unique flavor that I’ve yet to taste elsewhere.

Dx Peruvian Restaurant offers a relaxing atmosphere that will rejuvenate hungry shoppers and give a tasty introduction to Peruvian cuisine for foodies and novices alike.  So next time you are near South Coast Plaza, forego Maggiano’s and head to Dx!

3930 S. Bristol St. Suite 108
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(714) 424-0014
DX Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Memorable Meals of Summer: Boston

Fall has officially arrived in Philly, with temps dropping as low as the 40s over the past few days.  While I’m excited for the season’s arrival, along with fall foliage, apple cider, and pumpkins galore, the cold is certainly making me nostalgic for the warmth of summer.

Thinking of summer made me remember some of the truly great meals I had over the past few months, many of which I still haven’t written about (sorry for the backlog, folks!).  Two of the most memorable meals were during my family vacation to Boston, and they couldn’t be more different from one another.


The first was at Bondir, an intimate 28-seat restaurant in Cambridge.  Voted one of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants in the country, Bondir is committed to locally farmed, sustainable cuisine that lets the freshness of the ingredients speak for themselves.  The cozy interior matched the cuisine perfectly: rustic yet elegant and whimsical.

The meal started out with a selection of their homemade breads: 9 grain, The Sea, and cranberry walnut.  All were excellent, but The Sea really stood out against the rest.  Though I was initially skeptical of bread made with seaweed and squid ink, the combination was briny and pleasantly salty.

Next came the red norland potato and sweet corn chowder ($10).  Topped with salmon roe and roasted red onions, the soup had a surprisingly sophisticated symphony of flavors.  The intense saltiness from the roe was tempered by the sweetness of the corn and onions, balanced by the creamy broth.

For our entrees, we ordered farmed and foraged summer vegetables roasted and glacé with Teff polenta ($26), wagyu brisket sauerbraten with saffron glazed carrots, sorrell, and black lentils ($30), and pasture raised concord chicken over a white cornmeal cake, cipollini roasted with San Marzano tomatoes, and courgettes saute ($30) (pictured from left to right).

Every dish was absolutely delicious and carefully prepared.  I was struck by how a dish as simple as roasted vegetables was elevated to elegance and refinement, highlighting the quality of the ingredients and skill of Chef Jason Bond.  My favorite dish, however, was the wagyu beef sauerbraten (better photo available here).  Fork tender from a long brining process, and slowly braised in a tangy glaze, the beef was luscious and flavorful, again highlighting the quality of the meat.

Our meal ended on a sweet note: peach trifle with thyme-buttermilk ice cream and meringue brulee ($10) and chocolate panna cotta with seville orange puree, rhubarb jelly, cocoa nibs, and pistacio ($10).  Refined and not overly sweet, these desserts once again showed Chef Bond’s restraint and simple genius.

Complementing Bondir‘s casual-elegant cuisine is its excellent and knowledgeable waitstaff.  Each server was warm and attentive, carefully describing each dish and happily answering any questions or taking any requests we had.  All in all, a brilliant meal.

279A Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 661-0009
Bondir on Urbanspoon

Clam Box

The second most memorable meal of the trip was actually 45 minutes outside of Boston, in the adorable town of Ipswich.  Famous for the gorgeous Crane Estate (pictured above) and Ipswich clams, my family and I managed to experience both on our visit.

After our tour of the Crane Estate, we made our way over to the Clam Box, an Ipswich institution since 1935.  Famous for their fried clams and fresh no-frills seafood, we knew we were in for a treat when we saw the massive line outside the restaurant.

Locals and tourists alike flock to the Clam Box for good reason.  Service is friendly and efficient, and the interior is pleasantly kitschy.  But the real standout at this place is the fresh seafood.  The fried Ipswich clams ($14.25; pictured above)  were the epitome of deep-fried deliciousness.  Addictively crisp on the outside, the only thing that makes these clams better than they already are is the addition of tartar sauce.  Other standouts include the lobster roll ($17), piled high with sweet lobster meat on a toasted white bun.

246 High St.
Ipswich, CA 01938
(978) 356-9707 (call ahead for hours)
Clam Box of Ipswich on Urbanspoon