Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Akira - There’s a New King of Ramen on The Pike

Akira Ramen & Izakaya
1800 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
Finally. A decent ramen joint on the pike. There are a bunch, but they are not of the same quality you're going to be treated to at Akira. These guys make their own noodles. No powdered stocks. They're doing the hard work and doing it well for the most part.
The picture above is their eponymous Akira Ramen with Tonkotsu broth. This is a fairly light and not too salty.
This is the Chashu Bun. A piece of pork belly on a steamed bun with some pickled veg and lettuce. Very tasty. 
The Akira Volcano Ramen...this is what I came for.
Spicy, rich, awesome. The chili oil floating on top of the Tonkotsu broth had enough heat to make me break a sweat, but it was perfect for the day. 
Nice touches abound in this little restaurant. 
The open kitchen provides you a nice view of what's going on. If it's one or two of you going I'd recommend sitting at the counter so you can enjoy the show.
The wok is flaming, and so are the torches for the pork.
They've got a bunch of cool tools here besides torches. The noodle dunkers you see on the left are automatically timed and the device not he right was kicking up steam and keeping the ramen bowls warm.
Did I mention the torches? This guy was having fun.

The Karaage deep fried chicken is presented with what I thought was going to be horseradish mustard but turned out to be a Sriracha aioli. Inventive!
The second time I went I got to try my friend's Tonkotsu Shoyu. It was a little sweeter than I like, but he enjoyed it.
I saw this coming out of the back kitchen and snapped a pick, but didn't get to try it. One of the chefs said it was pretty good, so I'll be trying this next time as well as the gyoza. They looked awesome. 
As a matter of fact, I think I'll work my way down the entire appetizer list so I can make sure I'm not missing anything else.
When you go, unless you're going off-peak you may have to wait. It's a popular place. It's definitely a hit.
Thanks for reading! If you go tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Klaw - Big Things In Little Places

Temple Bar Neighborhood
5A Crown Alley, Dublin 2
Klaw is an inconspicuous little place, and I do mean little, in Dublin's Temple Bar neighborhood. It's a bohemian area full of shops, pubs, and some excellent food. 
I'd read about Klaw during my research of Dublin and decided it was a must-try.
It's got 12 seats and two tables. 
 It is a very casual spot. The door is hard to open and you're literally sitting back to back with the other people lucky enough to get a seat at a table. The picture above shows the customer art-work area above the other six stools. There are some creative folks running around that town.
What I didn't expect was the care taken with the seafood. It was among the best I've seen in a place like this. Gorgeous, manicured, with attention to detail.
 Here's a shot of the menu. No screwin' around. Minimalist, purposeful, goodness.
 My intrepid dining companion Brett is shown with his Colorado Cap waiting for our meal. The kitchen is behind him and the bathroom is just beyond. You have to walk the line to get to it.
 It was a late lunch so I didn't order anything other than the lobster roll. It had more mayo and herbs that I'm accustomed to in the US, but it was very good.
Lest I forget, the chefs were very friendly and happy to chat. His English was much better than my French, which was his native language, but we talked food and got along just fine.
In closing - if you're in Dublin, I would not skip this place. It's a little pricier than your average lunch spot, but seafood and care of this order don't come cheaply.
If you stop in, tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Home Bistro Chicago - It's Just Like That!

Home Bistro
3404 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60657

During the NRA  show the restaurants that you read about in all of the industry rags are packed to the gills with people trying to impress their associates and chefs from various operations looking to do some research or just get out and have a good time. It's tough to get a reso at one of the prime downtown joints at times.
As I am working at a startup and we're still relatively small we don't generally stay downtown when we go to shows. We tend to do AirBnB's in the 'burbs and this presents me with some excellent opportunities to eat where the locals eat. 
Home Bistro was a total win as a local's restaurant with some excellent chops. Michelin thought it was worth stopping in. They were right.

One of my dining companions started out with the Buffalo-style Quail Wings. This was a special for the day and was excellent.
I had the Escargot with Sauteed Garlic and Tomatoes. This was an excellent preparation that was very earthy and seasonal. Bravo on this dish.
The Artichoke and Edam Stuffed Fritters were certainly a step above your usual fried fair. Well thought-out and executed. Creamy and savory.

Anthony had the fresh asparagus with soft egg over romesco.

The mussels were classically prepared with sofrito, white wine, white beans and Marzano tomatoes. 

This was my pick. A pair of gorgeous soft-shell blue crabs dredged in corn meal and fried. The accompaniment was watermelon and goat cheese with some cubed gelee'd fruit. Awesome dish.

This was a smoked-chicken special enjoyed by another of my dining companions. Deep smokiness without hitting the drying/too much smoke barrier. 

Last but not least, the cinnamon bun bread pudding. It was an excellent dessert. The bread pudding had a texture somewhere between cinnamon bun and compressed Krispy Kreme donuts. Definitely worth a try.

Overall, a great dining experience. It's BYOB so you can bring your favorite beverage and not sweat the markup. I highly recommend this place if you're looking for something that is a cut above in the Wrigley Field area.
Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

One Midtown Kitchen - Elevated Dining in Atlanta

ONE Midtown Kitchen
559 Dutch Valley Rd NE 
Atlanta, GA 30324
One Midtown Kitchen is a perfect little slice of culinary joy in a fairly residential area in Atlanta. The friends I was visiting, Kelly and John, made reservations for us during our annual Easter visit. 
You can tell you're in for a treat when you pull up and are greeted by the blue backlit facade and the valet parking attendants.
I didn't get a shot of the entry portal as it was dimly lit, but it brings to mind something you'd see in a temple of some sort. You then enter to this view.
 Chef Matthew Weinstein and crew were very hospitable. Note the photo-bomb..well done sir.
Matthew hails from my neck of the woods and has done time at Volt and Range. It shows in the attention to detail. See below.

 There is a lot of fire happening in the restaurant which is always nice for ambiance...and pizza. Very Neapolitan-esque. Good char, crispy crusted.
 As I was saying about the ambiance..
This is the dish that caught my eye when I first looked at the menu: Fois Gras Mousse with strawberry, pineapple, black pepper, caramelized white chocolate and lavash. Right up my alley. Smooth mousse and some contrasting flavors. 
 And this was number 2 - Pork belly with fried green tomatoes, chimichurri aoli and cured egg yolk. We had two orders of this. Maybe three.

 This was a surprise dish in that the sum of it's parts came together and produced something unexpected. We got a second round of this one. Cauliflower Shawarma. Just enough heat to make it interesting.
 Shrimp hushpuppies with spicy remoulade and chowchow. Pretty presentation and always a good option for getting fried corn meal in ya.
 Grilled octopus with puffed rice, avocado yogurt and pickled jalapeƱo was pretty awesome. Great looking dish with tender octopus and enough heat to make it interesting.
 You can't go wrong with local cheeses. Very nice.
 Wood roasted asparagus with puffed sorghum, soft egg and watermelon radish. Very pretty dish and the asparagus was done just right.
Another dish we got two of: Hamachi Crudo. Mango, onion, shiso.
 Not only was it tasty, but it was very nice to look at too.

I chatted with the cooks for a bit while I was taking pictures. We discussed dining and video trends...I caught a little Salt Bae action.
 9/10 times I would have ma gherd, the KitKat dessert was fav. Anyone who's spent time in DC in the 2000's and ate at a Michel Richard restaurant tried one of these. This version was pretty good....however, my favorite dessert of the evening was the carrot cake.
This was Off. The. Hook. Imagine the best carrot cake you've ever had-taste, texture, perfect cream cheese icing, constructed all soignee-like. That's what this was, with some peanut butter ice cream to boot. 
Bravo folks. Well done.

Overall - I totally give this place a thumbs-up. Service was on the money. They know what they're doing and they know what the kitchen is serving.
The ambiance is very cool. Great for date night or business.
Food quality is top notch.
If you go, tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table!