20 January 2013

Boston: Myers+Chang

This is the best restaurant in Boston.

Okay, I know what you're thinking - I'm not in any way qualified to make this statement.  Good thing I'm adorable and can get away with anything.  Because I swear it's true.  The.  Best.

Matt, Becca, John, and I crashed at Emily and Turner's place for the weekend, and instead of taking us to Chipotle or something for dinner (which would have TOTALLY been okay), Emily reserved a table for 6 at this amazing joint.  Did I mention it's the best restaurant in Boston?  One of the head chefs, Joanne Chang, won Throwdown on the Food Network when her sticky buns were proven superior to Bobby Flay's.  She's started a few bakeries.  No big deal.  Oh, and uh.  She's a runner.  A marathoner.  A BOSTON marathoner.

That sound you just heard was me adding her to my Fancrush Pinterest board.

It's good to have friends in Boston with reservations for incredible restaurants.  And also nice personalities and stuff.

1145 Washington St
Boston, MA  02118
(617) 542-5200

We landed on the lunch menu, which is a bit different from the dinner menu.  But vegans: you need to request the vegetarian menu.  A little (v) will indicate which dishes are vegan, and let me tell you, it's a pretty handful.  The number of people in your group will determine how many dishes you'll order.  One dish per person is a good starting point - then, as is common practice in the world of tapas, you all share everything.  (Except diseases.  Hello Boston, flu or other flu?)

I'm really glad Turner was around for this meal, because he's a level up from me in the fancy food language game and was willing to help me explain the experience of the meal.  Out of the 6 dishes we ordered, 4 were vegan.  So allow me to begin with the Crispy Spring Rolls for $5.  You'll find one in the northern area of the plate.  (As a social studies teacher, I can't pass up an opportunity to use map skills.  Also I'd call that north-north-west, but who has the patience for nuance these days?)  The Spring Rolls are filled with garlic chives, bamboo, and shiitakes, and come with a salty dipping sauce.  Now, muffins, I hadn't tried an egg roll since Bush was president, but these seemed like a pretty good approximation to me.  Crispy, fried, and the right combination of salt with veggies?  Can't go too wrong there.  That being said, they tasted a little... how can I say this?  Boring.  The other dishes were way better.

On the eastern region are Vegetarian Wok-Charred Udon Noodles with baby bok choy and tofu, a dish of which will set you back $12.  YUM.  The bok choy was perfectly cooked and chewy, the tofu was full of flavor, and who doesn't like udon noodles, ever?  The mild spice and light char from the way everything was seared in the wok just made it.

To the southwest you'll see some skinnier noodles - the cold Dan Dan Noodle Salad for $9.  It came with peanuts and chili sambal (sambal being a spicy condiment, heavy on the chili sauce), so it was spicy and amazing.  You can pick out vinegar and lime notes as well.  I wound up eating a lot of the lettuce from this dish near the end of our meal because it was all we had left at the bottom of the bowl and it had been marinating in the sauce for a while.  So.  That was some damn good lettuce.

Finally, in the west, Hakka Eggplant for $9.  We all agreed: this was the best dish.  The way the eggplant melted in our mouths, with just a little heat but a lot of warmth, and tastes of garlic, soy sauce, and basil?  Oh MAN.  I wish I had a super hot stove and a fancy-pants wok.  I'd make this all the time.  You can't imagine eggplant tasting better than this.

Then?  Oh god.  Here it comes.

"Ancient Chinese Secret" Chocolate Mousse.  $7.  So worth it.  OMG.  I would pay $20 for that thing.  You'll want to order it without the meringue on top.  Then clear your schedule for the next half hour so you can have an out-of-body experience.  The chocolate is perfect and dark, and the creaminess of the mousse allows the flavor to blossom in your mouth.  We all died a little as we passed it around the table.  Turner, who is skeptical of certain vegan substitutions (how could mousse without eggs taste good?), tried it and immediately burst out with, "Oh my god it's like Ratatouille!"

from je te mange
You might be able to detect a hint of soy, but it's not detrimental.  The waiter shared the list of ingredients with our extra curious table, and just like when I make mousse at home, they use only whipped silken tofu, chocolate, and salt.  No added sugar!  You can achieve the same chocolate nirvana using high-quality melted chocolate in your kitchen.  Try it.  You'll never go outside again.  Unless you're going to the store to get more tofu and chocolate.

Anyway, I rest my case.  Best restaurant in Boston.  Prove me wrong, I dare you.  (I suggest you take me up on this; it's a rather tasty dare.  I mean I might take me up on this.)

08 January 2013

Minneapolis: Safari

It seemed weird that Matt and I had never gone out for Somali food, considering the size of the thriving Somali community in the Cities.  I mean, duh.  So we Captain Adventured it up.

Image from Safari

3010 4th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 353-5341

Okay, I almost don't want to tell you this because when our server arrived with this item at the beginning of our meal, I was utterly surprised and delighted.  I'll give you a hint.  It starts with a b and rhymes with schmanana.

I'll also show you a picture.

Our bananas (the jig is up) were served alongside a green chili dip - shigni - which is spicy.  As.  The inside of the sun.  We wimped out.  Didn't use it much.  Next time we come here (because we knew within minutes there would be a next time) I plan to make better use of the shigni.  I'll use it to liven up my beans, mix into my veggies, and line the inside of my eyelids.  Yes.  I will be a spice badass.

We started with Foule Mudammes for 5 bucks - a nice big plate of hot, creamy, amazing-smelling fava beans.  The flavor of roasted garlic carried this thing.  It's comfort food to the max.  And it will make your breath smell so amazing.

If you feel inclined to order the Mufo Veggie Special for $6, you'll have to request it without cheese.  That bread's pretty stellar, though.  Mufo?  Uh.  Yum.  Fried bread, basically.  Like I said, we'll be going back here.

The Liibaan Special also took a minor adjustment - you'll have to order it without the meat.  But dude, it's totally awesome.  You get veggies, hummus, and buttloads of pita.  The greens, carrots, cauliflower, bell pepper, and eggplant were just a titch overcooked, but carried a unique spice and good heat.  The hummus, coated in olive oil, was phenomenal.  Like, we're talking Holy Land phenomenal.  Scoop that up with the veggies in a piece of moist, toasted pita, and you will be on cloud nine.  $10.  Srsly.

Think I'll run here on my next Sunday 10-miler.  Yes.  I'll show up in my UnderArmour (which smells amazing, B T dubs), panting and blowing my nose into my sleeve.  Better remember to stick my credit card to the inside of my glove.  Won't really be able to take leftovers with me, so I'll have to stuff my face.

It's nice to have goals.