Rangoon

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Crispy Watercress Salad:  Fresh Watercress Fried and Topped with Garlic, Thai-Pepper, Lime Juice, and Coriander in a Basil Dressing

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Spicy String Beans:  String Beans Stirred Fried in Garlic, Hot Pepper, and Spices

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Northern Burmese Noodle:  Stir Fried Noodles with Shrimp, Chicken, Scallions, Bean Sprouts, and Spicy Seasonings

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FACTS:  Located in Chinatown, Philadelphia

MY ANALYSIS:  

“Burmese?  Hmmm…  What could this possibly taste like?  And, where exactly is Burma located?”  These were just a few of the questions racing through my head after learning about Lloyd’s interest in dining here.  However, after reviewing the menu, along with trying the food, I found an undeniable Thai and Indian influence.

We started off with a “crispy” watercress salad, which actually turned out to be synonymous for “fried.”  Lloyd really liked this dish a lot.  However, because of my aversion to certain spices/cuisines, I wasn’t nearly as excited about this meal as he was, despite how flavorful everything was.  That being said, I didn’t enjoy the spicy string beans or the Burmese noodle dish as much as he did either.

While I wouldn’t ever dissuade anyone from visiting this restaurant, I’m definitely not in a rush to return any time soon.  But, in all fairness, I’m sure that Lloyd would be more than happy to.

QUICK TIDBIT:  Be sure to check out their extensive menu:   http://www.rangoonphilly.com/

Positano Coast

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FACTS:  Located in Old City, Philadelphia

WHAT I ORDERED:

Grilled Artichoke Salad: Red Belgian Endive, Arugula, Shaved Parmesan

Tuna Tartare: Avocado, Chile, Chives, Cilantro Pesto

Baked Cannelloni: Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, Ground Rib-Eye, Mozzarella, Marinara

Zucchini Crabcake: Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, Herbs, Spices, Roasted Peppers with Spinach, Potatoes & Lemon Butter Sauce

MY ANALYSIS:  

Despite this restaurant’s popularity, I was none too interested in ever visiting.  However, with some persuasion from Lloyd, I agreed to dine here recently.  And, to my surprise, I actually regretted not coming sooner.

More specifically:

  • The grilled artichoke salad was terrific and the salad dressing alone was superb.
  • The tuna tartare easily hit all three F’s: Fresh, Flavorful, and Fabulous.
  • The baked cannelloni, stuffed with ground rib-eye, is a must.
  • The zucchini crabcake was nicely plated, creative, and simply delicious.

So, not only did the food end up exceeding my expectations, but I definitely look forward to returning, regardless of my distaste for their interior design.  On that note, I highly recommend this place.

QUICK TIDBIT:  Be sure to check out their website:  http://www.positanocoast.net/

Izumi

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Kani Salad

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Gyoza: Pork Dumpling with Pickled Cumber and Jalapeno

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Rock Shrimp Tempura with Wasabi Aoli

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Braised Beef Short Ribs: Whipped Okinawan Potato, Tempura Onion Ring

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Sushi and Sashimi

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MY ANALYSIS:  

We recently dined here with the same friends who’d introduced us to this restaurant.  With the beautiful spring weather, terrific company, and delicious fare, it was a good time had by all.

We started out with the following appetizers to share among the four of us: Kani Salad, Gyoza, Rock Shrimp Tempura, and Braised Beef Short Ribs.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with kani salad (like myself), it consists of imitation crab meat, cucumbers, tobiko, Japanese mayonnaise, and sesame seed oil.  Turns out, I wasn’t very fond of this dish, but I am happy to have tried it, nonetheless.  Of course, I was beyond thrilled after spotting rock shrimp tempura listed on the menu.  And, even though it was prepared a little differently than I’m accustomed to, I enjoyed it just as much.  As for the braised short ribs, which are actually served as a main entrée, I found them to be both tender and savory.

Last, but not least, we ordered a large platter of sushi and sashimi.  The fish was beautifully presented, and most importantly, extremely fresh.

Overall, I found the food to be really tasty, and I highly recommend this place.

QUICK TIDBIT:  BYOB

Traditional Greek Easter Dinner, courtesy of The Geanopulos Family

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FACTS:  Located in Montvale, New Jersey

MY ANALYSIS:  

Over the past three years, we’ve attended the Geanopulos family Greek Easter celebration because of Lloyd’s close and long-standing friendship with Mike Geanopulos.  Hosted by Steven and Maria Geanopulos, this is one event that we always look forward to.  The food is fantastic and the company is equally lovely.

Without hesitation, I must first give props to Maria for all of her outstanding cooking skills, along with Steven, for manning the grill for hours on end.  On this occasion, you will find everything from roasted lamb on the spit to grilled octopus and homemade sides.  And, considering that it doesn’t get any more authentic (or blogworthy) than this, I thought that it was about time that I finally share some of the incredible dishes that are traditionally served here.

Thank you again to the Geanopulos family for all of your generosity and hard work!

Il Pittore

 

 

 

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CRUDO

Kale Lollipop Sprouts: Sweet Pepper, Fennel, and Poached Egg

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PRIMI

Malloreddus: Saffron, Crab, Uni Crema

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Agnolotti: Rabbit, Buffalo Ricotta, Truffle, Pecorino, Hazelnuts

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CONTORNI

Broccoli Rabe: Pancetta, Garlic, Caciocavallo

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Baked Halibut: Fennel – Potato – Garlic Gratin, Hazelnut Bread Crumbs, Porcerus

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DOLCE

Cheesecake: Passion Fruit, Malted Chocolate, Pomegranate, Almond

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FACTS:  Located in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

MY ANALYSIS:  

Il Pittore serves northern Italian fare.  And, as beautifully decorated and elegant as it is, the food is equally superb and, yes, the pasta is homemade as well.

Based on how fabulous everything on the menu looked, we wanted to try a different dish from each of the five course selections: Crudo, Primi, Contorni, Secondi & Dolce.  And, other than our main entrée (Secondi), we shared everything.

As for my favorites:

  • The agnolotti pasta was absolutely amazing.  Between the fresh pasta and the fantastic ingredients, my only complaint was actually having to share this dish in the first place.
  • The baked halibut was tender, juicy, and cooked to perfection.  Served with a fennel-potato-garlic gratin, hazelnut bread crumbs, and porcini mushrooms, this pairing was nothing short of brilliant.
  • Surprisingly, their cheesecake turned out to be the most fabulous ever and has now become my favorite cheesecake of all time.  Mixed with fruit, chocolate, and almonds, it was a definitely little slice of heaven.

I highly recommend this restaurant and look forward to returning.

QUICK TIDBIT:  Be sure to check out all of Stephen Starr’s restaurants:  http://www.starr-restaurant.com

Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House

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FACTS:  Located in Chinatown, Philadelphia

WHAT I ORDERED:

Snow Pea Tips with Fresh Garlic

Hand Drawn Noodle Soup: Roast Pork Noodle Soup; Served with Spinach, Cilantro, Scallion & Sour Pickle

MY ANALYSIS:  

My main objective for coming to Nan Zhou was to try their “hand drawn noodle” soup.  And, not surprisingly, I selected the roast pork version, which also includes spinach, cilantro, scallions, and a sour pickle.  I found the noodles, resembling the shape of spaghetti, to be both tasty and fresh.  However, and surprisingly, I wasn’t fond of the broth and found it to be somewhat lackluster.  That being said, I am really looking forward to trying one of their hot dishes during my next visit.

In addition to the soup, we ordered a side of snow pea tips.  After being introduced to these delicious greens over a year ago, courtesy of Lloyd, I am officially hooked.

QUICK TIDBIT:  If you prefer a wider and thicker noodle, be sure to ask for the “shaved noodles” instead.

Fat Salmon

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FACTS:  Located in Washington Square West, Philadelphia

WHAT I ORDERED:

Naked Gyoza with Spicy Tuna: Comes with Masago, Scallion, Pico De Gallo & Sour Cream on Deep Fried Gyoza Skin

Sushi & Sashimi for 2 (30 Pieces): Tuna, Salmon, Super White Tuna, Yellow Tail, White Fish, Albacore Tuna, Smoked Salmon, Scallop, Shrimp, Salmon Roe; Comes with Miso Soup & Salad

MY ANALYSIS:  

Fat Salmon is a vibrant Japanese restaurant, located near Washington Square Park.  And, considering how long we’d gone without having sushi, I was really looking forward to this dinner.  Of course, it was a great excuse to finally check this place out, as well.

As an appetizer, we ordered the naked gyoza with spicy tuna.  Naked gyoza?  What could this possibly be?  Turns out, this dish consists of a spicy tuna blend, served over a crispy wonton.  However, despite its lovely presentation, I didn’t care for the flavoring.

For our entrée, we ordered the sushi and sashimi plate for two, which comes with miso soup and salad.  We actually opted for this selection since it looked to be a great value, along with the fact that it contained most of our favorite items.  For the most part, I thought that the fish was both tasty and fresh.  I must admit, though, that I’ve had better shrimp tempura rolls elsewhere.

Regardless of my critique/opinions, I will happily head back in order to give this place another chance.

QUICK TIDBIT:  Be sure to take a stroll around the beautiful park afterwards.