Roy Moore Fish Shack - Lobster Roll

Roy Moore Fish Shack Restaurant @ Rockport, MA; No Need To Go All The Way To Maine For Fresh Caught Lobster

The best lobster and shellfish I’ve had is in Portland, Maine, 108 miles away from Boston. However, for less than half that distance of 43 miles, Rockport, MA offers amazing local caught seafood that doesn’t pale in comparison. Among the seafood markets in Rockport, Roy Moore Lobster located on the Rockport Harbor is one of the more notable seafood-market-turned-restaurants that is really impressive.

There are two ways to enjoy fresh lobster from Roy Moore Lobster: on benches at the back deck of the actual Roy Moore Lobster market where the fishermen/lobstermen do their thing, and at their Roy Moore Fish Shack Restaurant, where they source their seafood from the market into a cute diner restaurant setting. Since the weather was incredibly chilly on the pier, we made the wise choice of visiting the well-insulated Lobster Shack.

Roy Moore Fish Shack - Dining Floor

Dining Floor – The dining floor is spacious and warm with a good view of the harbor along the windows

The menu has a large selection of diner type food. They have salads, fries, sandwiches, pastas, hot dogs and grilled chicken. Really, I don’t understand why they are offering anything other than seafood, because I wouldn’t come to a seafood shack for anything other than seafood. That would just seem silly.

Roy Moore Fish Shack - Menu

Menu – The menu has a large selection of diner type food. From fries and grilled chicken to pasta and salads. However, I wouldn’t go to a seafood shack and choose anything other than seafood – in this case, lobster.

The choices we made for this trip was obvious. We started with a shared plate of fried clams to start out. The clams were fresh and delicious. The simple claims were covered and fried in a very light, airy batter that really lets the clammy taste come through.

Roy Moore Fish Shack - Fried Clams Appetizer

Fried Clams – Fresh clams were covered and fried in a light, crispy batter

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Gaslight Restaurant - Front

Gaslight Restaurant in Boston’s South End

The Gaslight Restaurant is a French Parisian brasserie located at 560 Harrison Avenue in Boston’s South End. It offers refined dining with a very neighborhood-friendly feel and value. The Parisian zinc bar, reclaimed wood floors, mosaic tiles, and beamed wood ceilings, Gaslight’s ambiance is warm and inviting for anyone looking for a nice, solid place to dine in.

Restaurant Entrance Street View - Gaslight is encased in a red-bricked building that almost looked abandoned. Without a clear outdoor sign, this gem can be easily overlooked at night

Restaurant Entrance Street View – Gaslight is encased in a red-bricked building that looks as if abandoned. With very subtle signs, this gem can be easily overlooked at night

With a reservation made on OpenTable, we were guided immediately to our table at the arrived time. The service was great, as we were presented with a decked out table setting with a bottle of fancy mineral water.

Table Setting- Classy French Brasserie table setting with a bottle of S Pellegrino mineral water

Table Setting– Classy French Brasserie table setting with a bottle of S Pellegrino mineral water

To start off with the meal, we ordered a small bucket of their pomme frittes, which are solid. These fries are dangerous for people with smaller stomachs because they can easily be devoured really quickly and leave little room for the main course. Of course, French Baguettes were served with a side of butter as well.

French Baguette and Pomme Frites with ailoi- Great appetizer with complimentary crisp baguettes and an order of pomme frittes fried with parmesan and fine herbs

French Baguette and Pomme Frites with ailoi- Great appetizer with complimentary crisp baguettes and an order of pomme frittes fried with parmesan and fine herbs

After the appetizer, we chose two main dishes. The first was the Berkshire Pork Chop. Naturally, the Berkshire pork is an amazing cut of meat that is way superior to a normal pork chop in that it’s so much more fatty and tender. Gaslight serves are really large cut of bone-in Berkshire pork chop that is juicy and magnificent. Garnished with a vinegary red onion jam and baked in bacon juice, the pork chop had a very rich, deep flavor that made each bite a delight.

Berkshire Pork Chop

Berkeshire Pork Chop – A large cut of juicy, tender, bone-in Berkeshire pork chop with braised greens, red onion confiture, and house-smoked bacon jus

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basturma & cheese rolls pickled green strawberries, fenugreek, chive

Review: Sarma Restaurant; a Casual Middle Eastern Restaurant that Delivers a Punch of Flavor and Spices

Located in Somerville, Sarma Restaurant is a casual, fun dining experience featuring modern Middle Eastern cuisine. What makes this place stand out is that every dish (and cocktail) uses a careful blend of spice & herb combinations that delivers a punch of flavor and spices without being too heavy. The restaurant is modeled after the traditional meyhanes (a traditional restaurant or bar in Iran, Turkey and Balkans region), where friends and family can get together to enjoy a large selection of small, season plates (meze) along with a careful selection of cocktails, craft beers, and wine. Apologies for some of the out-of-focus pictures as the lighting was dim during evening service.

Sharma Restaurant

Sarma Restaurant Dining Floor

Fun, colorful decor opens up the dining and bar floor. In addition to the large selection of small plate dishes, original cocktails, and beer/wine selection, there is also a constant stream of “chef special” dishes that waiters would bring out to entice guests to order at a first-come-first-serve basis.

Freshly baked flat bread with za’atar

Freshly baked flat bread with za'atar. Fresh flat bread with Za'atar, a traditional seasoning of wild thyme and sesame, but further enhanced with a mix of coriander, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin.

Freshly baked flat bread with za’atar. Fresh flat bread with Za’atar, a traditional seasoning of wild thyme and sesame, but further enhanced with a mix of coriander, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin

We were started out with freshly baked flat bread topped with Za’atar. With a drizzle of olive oil, Sarma’s Za’atar flat bread appetizer starts the meal out right with a mix of za’atar spices and herb that layers spicy, savory, and rich fragrant flavors in each bite.

Vecino Viejo Cocktail

Vecino Viejo Caña Brava Rum, Banana, Cinnamon, Lime, Mint

Vecino Viejo. Caña Brava Rum, Banana, Cinnamon, Lime, Mint

The Vecino Viejo is an interesting cocktail that one would expect to be sugary sweet and tropical. However, while still on the sweet side for my preference, the cocktail was nicely balanced and only mildly sweet with a refreshing aftertaste of mint and lime in each sip.

Chickpea Crepe “Harira”

Chickpea Crepe "Harira". A crispy crepe encasing succlent braised lamb, house made harissa (a chili paste), and green garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

Chickpea Crepe “Harira”. A crispy crepe encasing succulent braised lamb, house made harissa (a chili paste), and green garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

The taco-like Chickpea crepe has a delicate and crisp texture that loosely holds the tender braised lamb meat while absorbing its rich, and mildly spicy flavor. Mixed with chickpeas to give the iconic flavor substance of Mediterranean dishes, this crepe dish is a superb creative take on the Harira. (The Harira is a traditional soup of Algeria and Moroco with lamb, lentils, chicpeas, noodles, egg and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, and tumeric.) The eggy crepe does well to encapsulate and focus the punch of flavors that the spices, lamb, and chickpeas deliver. The additional tzatziki sauce (cucumber garlic yogurt) gives it an additional layer of flavors that keeps the flavor light and creamy.

Za’atar Crusted Goat Cheese Sticks with Marinara Sauce

Za'atar crusted goat cheese sticks with marinara sauce. This dish seems like the mediteranean take on the Italian mozarella sticks with a punch of Za'atar spices wrapped around creamy, somehwat gamey goat cheese and dipped with marinara sauce

Za’atar crusted goat cheese sticks with marinara sauce. Za’atar spices wrapped around creamy, somewhat gamey goat cheese and  marinara sauce dipping

This Middle Eastern variation of an Italian mozzarella stick, this is an off-the-menu special dish that was brought out by a waiter. The incredibly flavorful and fragrant Za’atar spice/herbs crust matched interestingly to the gamey goat cheese. While not my favorite, this makes a nice snack.

Persian Spiced Brisket Sarma

Persian Spiced Brisket. Sarma.

Persian Spiced Brisket Sarma. Spiced brisket, sweet potato, spinach, kiwi, lime, and pistachio

Persian Spiced Brisket Sarma.

Better lighting of the last piece standing

A ‘Sarma’ is a Turkish dish traditionally of grape, cabbage, monk’s rhubarb or chard leaves rolled around a filling of minced meat and chopped nuts. Almost like an eggroll, the Persian spiced brisket sarma has a thin layer of fried breading over spinach wrapped around a combination of spiced brisket, sweet potatoe, kiwi, lime, and pistachio. The tender, juicy brisket, like many of the other dishes so far explodes with spice and herb flavors, but the most interesting thing is the drastic and distinct change in texture and taste when it comes to the lime and kiwi. The acidic fruits and the tender brisket enhances each other that makes a very lively and fun flavor. The addition of pistachio and sweet potatoes also further adds several layers of flavors that makes this sarma dish kick-ass. Finally, just a little bit of the tzatziki sauce underneath kind of gives it the contrast of refreshing and creamy elements that balance it out. This was probably my favorite Sarma dish.

Brussels Sprouts Bravas (spicy) + chorizo

Brussels Sprouts Bravas (spicy) + chorizo. Pan-seared brussels sprouts and bacon bits is an amazing dish. This variation uses mediterenaian spices to give it a spicy kick and chunky chorizo to layer on some additional fat and richenss on top of the seared brussel sprout halves. The slightly bitter and crisp brussel sprouts covered in rich, chewy pieces of chorizo... yeah it's a easy win

Brussels Sprouts Bravas (spicy) + chorizo. Hazelnut migas and added chorizo

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Look at the consistency of that 62 degree egg!

Review: Shojo Restaurant; Hip Restaurant Bar in Boston Chinatown

Shojo Restaurant is a hip Asian-fusion restaurant that I was surprised to find in Chinatown. I usually view Asian-fusion restaurants with some disdain as there are many places that use that genre to serve half-ass authentic Asian food for a western audience. However, Shojo serves a style that I would describe as Contemporary Asian Cuisine or Hip/Modern Asian Fusion that can easily fit-in with the trendy shops of New York’s East Village neighborhood.

From the outer appearance under the sign of the China Pearl restaurant (a long time establishment in Chinatown known for pretty decent dim sum), and next to a stereotypical Chinese Travel agency, Shojo offers an escape to a solid, nice restaurant bar that may make you forget that you are in the traditional and somewhat grimy neighborhood of Boston Chinatown.

Shojo Restaurant sandwiched between China Pearl and Trans Pacific Travel Agency

Shojo Restaurant sandwiched between China Pearl and Trans Pacific Travel Agency

 

This looks promising:

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If you don’t look for the restaurant, you could easily miss it. Once you are in the restaurant, the ambiance will immediately make you forget you are in Boston Chinatown. The walls are decorated with hip-hop inspired graffiti art and Asian artifacts. The television is playing a Bruce Lee movie to the beat of Kanye in the background. The tables are packed with people and small plates. The bar prominently displays Japanese premium beers and whiskey that most bars wouldn’t stock (I was really happy to see Yamazaki, Hibiki, Hakushu, and Nikka Coffee whiskey being displayed). Shojo can easily be a new favorite restaurant bar for a variety of reasons.

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Varied Maki Rolls

Review: Yamato Japanese Restaurant: Getting the Sushi Buffet Fix in Boston

Yamato Restaurant

Located in Brighton, a neighborhood just 6 miles away from Boston proper, Yamato Japanese Restaurant is a valuable find for those with strong cravings for sushi. Given the average price of $8-$10 per maki roll in other sushi restaurants around Boston, an all-you-can-eat $16 lunch/ $24 dinner option seems like an obvious choice. To be frank, this restaurant is by no means the best sushi or sushi buffet restaurant I’ve ever had, but for the only sushi buffet location accessible by Boston public transit, this place is great for a sushi buffet fix in Boston (the next buffet place would be Minados in Natick 22 miles away). For the price, location, and all-you-can-eat made-to-order sushi, this Yamato Japanese Restaurant is hard to beat as the most economical way to binge on enjoy a  wide variety of sushi in Boston.

First things first, aside from maybe Seaweed Salad and Miso Soup to get things started, I would not recommend getting any of their appetizers. You are here for sushi and Yamato is here to provide that for you; focus on your main goal. More often than not, the non-sushi appetizers are prepared sloppily and only fills you up before you can maximize your sushi intake. The fried dumplings and calamari that Yamato served, for example, were bland and tasteless.

Fried Appetizers

Diving straight into the preferred sashimi selection, we had cuts of Salmon (Sake), Bass (Suzuki), Tuna (Maguro), Yellowtail (Hamachi), Squid (Ika) and Mackerel(Saba). Salmon sashimi is recognizable with its bright orange and white stripes. This sashimi was pretty average with a creamy texture, but did not contain the subtle sweetness that one would find in fresh caught salmon of the Pacific Northwest. The Bass carried a light red and white color with a smooth texture, but was served ice cold… The red-hued Tuna was pretty good with a slightly tender texture and fresh taste. Light beige in color, Yellowtail cuts had a smooth texture and subtle sweet taste. The white circular pieces of squid were as expected: rough, chewy texture, with a gelatinous, rubbery taste. Mackerel pieces have a grey skin attached to white meat and are pretty interesting. They have a slightly savory taste and texture of cooked fish. 

For nigiri we got Eel (Unagi) and Salmon Roe (Ikura). Eel sushi is not served raw, but grilled with a sweet bbq sauce composed of soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. The nigiri is further garnished with sesame and bound to rice with a seaweed wrap. Without an option for Eel sashimi, the Eel Nigiri was pretty delicious. Salmon Roe Nigiri was also a good choice, as the round, bright orange salmon eggs burst (literally) with an explosion of savory flavor moderated by a piece of sushi rice. 

Assorted Sashimi, Maki, and Nigiri

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fried pork intestines

Review: Taiwan Cafe: Taste of Fermosa in Boston’s Chinatown

TaiwanCafeLocated just above a Chinese medicine store and down the alley from my frequent barber shop, Taiwan Cafe is a casual Taiwanese restaurant tucked neatly on the corner of Beach St. and Oxford St. in Boston’s Chinatown. With a mostly Taiwanese staff, this place seems to be one of the most authentic Taiwanese restaurants in Boston. The restaurant is quite busy during the prime lunch and dinner hours. The staff is constantly bustling from one table to the next with a sense of urgency. Small-numbered dinner parties are forced to share a 12-person table with other small-numbered dinner parties when there are no 4-person tables available.

Taiwan Cafe definitely has a lively atmosphere. Customers range from young college students to full traditional families. Although some may be uncomfortable with the wait staff’s lack of smile and no-nonsense request for orders, I find the service excellent simply because I can always waive a waiter down and get what I want. Upon opening my tea pot lid for a refill, it took a mere 20 seconds for a waitress to notice and refill it [See Doing Dim Sum Right — Tea if you don’t understand why this happens]!

You don’t come to Taiwan Cafe to chat up the waitress, but rather a casual atmosphere, good company, and great food. Among the few times I visited Taiwan Cafe, that is what I got.

I had the pleasure of dining with friends that enjoyed authentic Taiwanese cuisine and so we stuffed ourselves with the dishes below. Please note that if you are looking for good General Gau’s Chicken, this isn’t the place to have it (even though it’s on the menu). Instead, I encourage everyone to try something here they might not otherwise find in other Asian restaurants in Boston.

stinkytofuwithpaoutsai

Stinky Tofu with Paou Tsai – This is an interesting appetizer that is very popular in Taiwan night markets. In the Taiwanese-style, stinky tofu is deep-fried tofu that has been brined in fermented milk, meat, and vegetables. The tofu has a crispy outside and a soft, silky smooth inside. As its name suggests, the tofu also has a strong, pungent smell that may, from afar, be comparable to garbage or manure. Some say the taste is similar to pungent blue cheese, while others suggest rotten meat. Really, it’s a love-or-hate kind of dish. Ideally, the more it smells, the better the flavor. However, Taiwan Cafe does not make it all that smelly (most indoor restaurants avoid stinking up the place for other customers) and the dish was a bit too dry for my taste, requiring me dunk it in seafood soy sauce. Paou Tsai is the transliteration for 泡菜, better known as pickled cabbage or in Korea, kimchi. The sharp, sour taste/smell of pickled cabbage pairs well with the musky taste/smell of stinky tofu.

Chilled Sponge Tofu with Mushroom and Bamboo shoot – A delicious tofu dish that uses tender spongy tofu, which carries the texture of a sponge. Braised and then chilled along with sliced mushrooms and bamboo shoots in a sweet soy-based sauce, this delicious appetizer was consumed before a picture could be taken.

oysterpancake

Oyster Omelette- Another original dish popular in Taiwan night markets, the oyster omelette is an egg omelette mixed with tapioca starch and whole oysters over Chinese vegetables. It has a very thick, gooey consistency and a fragrant oyster-egg aroma. The real kicker is that the omelette is drenched in an addicting sweet ketchup/soy paste sauce. This is an extremely welcoming dish and I find it a great comfort food choice.

ministeamedbunswithpork

Mini-Steamed Buns with Pork — Better known as ShaoLongBao, or Soup Dumplings, this Taiwanese version of a Shanghai favorite must be eaten hot. Unlike a regular dumpling or bun, these dumplings carry a mouthful of hot broth and must be picked up carefully. The typical way to eat this dish would be to: fill a spoon with a ginger/black vinegar sauce, lift the dumpling onto the spoon with chopsticks, take a bite of the skin to suck up the broth, and finally consume the dumpling with the sauce.

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