Food Aficionado

Beantown, Massachusetts, United States
Food is just wonderful! Sharing with others is even better!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


So I find that updating to Blogger a bit of a pain especially the photos aspect. I am trying out WORDPRESS.

I just opened it last night so I am going to start it and I like I can update a bit more readily than this one.

Cheers and good eating!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Moved to new site

I have moved to "" due to lack of memory to upload photos (I maxed out.) So I have not updated this site for awhile.

There have been many great eats since I last wrote that I will need to add:

banq, Hungry Mother, Korean BBQ in Burlington, Winson Dim Sum... and many more places!

Once I get a chance, I will be adding more blog entries. Thanks for checking out my site. I am a simple person who loves food, checking out new places and enjoying these experiences with her friends and family!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Toki Shabu Shabu-new addition Allston's Packards Corner

Toki Shabu Shabu
121 Brighton Avenue
Allston, MA

Last night, I went with my boss and his wife to Toki Shabu Shabu the new addition to shabu shabu in the Allston, Brighton, Brookline area. Now you can get Shabu Shabu at three places without having to leave the area for Chinatown. There is Shabu Village on Harvard Street (towards Coolidge Corner) and a new Shabu Zen taking the old space of Greenfield on Brighton Avenue very close to Toki Shabu Shabu.

We were impressed by the modern decor which was softened to be a bit warm and not too cold as modern and contemporary decor can be. I loved the lighting and the walls. It reminded me a little of Gari on Harvard Avenue in Brookline a little. Being a Monday night, we were promptly seated. Service was good and attentive. Our tea cups were always replenished as well as our broths for our shabu shabu while eating our meal.

I must admit that the tables are not big enough to hold all the "big" plates that hold the food. We decided to have the tea and ordered a bottle of the Kaori Ginjyo 300 ml $30. We thought it was easy to drink and the description said the flavors remind you of muscat grapes and banana. We were given three small shot glasses and each got a few shots of this great sake. (We are not sake experts but it was a good cold sake that went well with our meal.)

So for Asians, there are different ways to have hotpot. The Japanese call it shabu shabu, Chinese Hot Pot and sometimes it is referred to Asian Fondue. Asians love to have hot pot especially in winter and it is very healthy as you cook your ingredients in front of you (especially fun for those who are "do it yourselfers"). For the uninitiated, you can get a set with a choice of thinly sliced meat, seafood or just vegetables. Every place has a variety of choices of broth depending on the restaurant. Toki Shabu Shabu had the choice of three broths-Gochujang-Korean Spicy (we thought it mild to our tastes in terms of spiciness), Tonkotsu Miso and Wafu (Japanese Style) the only style broth we did not have was the soy milk. Then you are given a choice of rice or noodles (usually a variety -vermicelli, udon, egg noodles etc). But at Toki Shabu Shabu it was just rice or udon noodles. Then you can get a bunch of condiments and accoutrements with your meal as well as vegetables (choices vary with the establishment) as well as fish cakes, meatballs, fish balls etc.

We opted for some appetizers to start and we loved them! The seaweed salad was prettily presented and was just right, not too vinegary or sweet. Next we got the kaki fried (fried oysters) and in one order you get 5 for $6. Presented in a cup with vegetables and served with tonkatsu sauce it was a hit with our table! We ended up getting another one! Then we got an order of agedashi tofu $6 fried tofu in dashi broth. The broth was just right and the tofu was great! Then we tried a kushiyaki stick $2 (varies with what you want) for the hatsu (chicken hearts) a favorite with patrons our server informed us. We enjoyed this one as well and got another one. (We thought of how in Brazilian BBQ you get chicken hearts too!) Our final appetizer was the white tuna tataki $12. It was pan seared white tuna over ponzu jelly. We enjoyed the contrast of the citrusy flavor in the ponzu jelly mixed well with the rich white tuna.

For our main meals, we got the sirloin $16, mixed seafood $17 and kurobuta baraniku (pork belly) $11. The extras to put with your serving sauces---choice of sesame, ginger and ponzu is limited. Also the scallions, minuscule amount of garlic, red chili flakes and one green pepper condiment was small. When we asked for more (three people for one small serving) we just got another small serving. The a la carte options were a bit limited. There was no sacha sauce and taro available. The seafood and meats were very fresh. The stove tops are electric so it takes a little time to heat up the broth. Then have fun and swish swish your food and dump in the stuff that takes longer to cook. The vegetable and other stuff place consisted of tofu, napa cabbage, mushroom-three types, noodles, carrots, daikon, tofu, and baby corn. The fatty pork belly was favored over the sirloin. The broths were light and good but we were not "wowed".

We ended our meal with black sesame and red bean ice cream. I loved the black sesame ice cream (not for everyone's taste) and I like the rich deep and heavy sesame flavor. The red bean was very light and you could taste the bit of red bean in the ice cream. Each bowl came with three small scoops of ice cream.

Service was great and attentive. We were never worried if our plates would not be taken away, our tea cups were constantly filled and our broth was replenished often (if we wanted it to be).

Everyone agreed that we loved the appetizers and drinks. Though the shabu shabu was fresh, the choices of sauces and a la carte items were limited. Plus the stinginess on the food stuffs to mix in your sauces was disappointing. It was a warming meal for a cold Monday night.

Toki Shabu Shabu is a welcome addition to the Allston/Brighton scene around Packards Corner (next to New Trendy Chinese Restaurant) and a few steps from Le's Vietnamese (former Pho Pasteur).

Decor and atmosphere : 9
Food: (appetizers) 9 (shabu shabu) 8
Service: 9

Overall 8 half forks out of 10 forks

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fromage heaven last night in the South End

Lovely wine vendor with some great cheese samples too!

Left to right-Pecorino di Pienza (Tuscano, Italia), French mild Brie, French Clochettte

Last night, I visited the South End Formaggio which was a great place! I had to pick up some cheeses for a party last night around the corner. The counter person who helped me as great! I got three great cheeses at a reasonable price and all were enjoyed! Since we were not sure who was coming, I got a mild French Brie, Tuscan Pecorino (hard cheese from sheep's milk) and a French bell shaped (Clochette) goat's milk cheese. All were great and delicious! The wine vendor giving some wine tastings was very friendly and helpful! All the three wines she had me try were great and their prices were affordable! (I kept within budget and I loved having the different samples! The person who assisted me was awesome!) It was fun trying the various cheese and learning about a lot of different types and their tastes.

I love to take pics of wine labels of of signs about the foods I try. One woman behind me thought it was a great idea! She loves to try the various cheeses but always forgets the names. I said it is easier to take a pic than have a pen and paper. Plus it gives you a visual of the item you are trying to remember. (I am glad I helped someone out.)
The only other cheese shop I have been to is Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco in the Ferry Building, I heard there is on in the Washington DC area.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

L'Espalier Restaurant luncheon

L’Espalier * 30 Gloucester Street, Boston, MA 02115 · 617 262 3023
* * *
Autumn Degustation
Amuse Bouche
Duo of spiced pumpkin soup and Skip’s Island Creek oyster shooter;
aged sherry vinegar mignonette
First Course
Foie gras torchon with piccalilli and Sauternes gelée
House smoked salmon with white bean salsa and quail egg*

Main Course
Grilled tiger shrimp with fennel puree and roasted butternut squash
Braised short ribs with truffle pomme puree and autumn vegetables

Selection of Cheeses and Condiments

Dessert Tasting
This year L'Espalier's chef Frank McClelland won the well deserved James Beard Award-Best Chef Northeast. His lovely Back Bay Restaurant L'Espalier (which will be moving to a new location Summer 2008) is the place for special occasions and has been the place for many wedding proposals too. From the crisp white linens, attentive service, gorgeous dining rooms in their cozy Bay Bay location, this restaurant lives up to its accolades and awards.
Their regular dinner menu is a expensive, but if you want to have the excellent food for a fraction of the cost, go to L'Espalier during lunch time (Mondays-Fridays only) and check out their three course pre-fixe for $25 or five course degustation for the excellent price of $40! (You can get a lovely wine paring for an additional $30).
My dining partner and I started off our long leisurely lunch with two selections from the juice elixirs----Indian Chai and Oolong, Pear and Champagne concoction. Both were delicious but pricey for $8.75 each for your tiny drinks especially for the warm, fragrant Indian Chai. The Oolong drink was lovely and you barely taste the Champagne. We opted for the lunch degustation to try everything on the menu.
First up was the amuse bouche and both were excellent. The small cup of pumpkin spice soup light and smooth gave a lovely balance to the saltiness to the oyster shooter topped with North American Caviar. We also loved the bread having a few choices and I adored the black olive bread the best. Of course we got the small container of butter, after having sweet butter as my favorite I cannot go back to other butter. This one here did the job but was wowed by it.
Next course was the foie gras torchon and the house smoked salmon dish. My friend loved the foie gras torchon, she noted it was her first time having it cold. The enjoyed the flavors of the foie gras with the toast points, the small curry fruit salad, and the pomegranate seeds gave a nice burst of flavor with the foie gras torchon. While the smoked salmon salad with duck confit and topped with a quail egg was divine. The combination of the celery root salad coupled with the lovely and flavorful duck confit with the light dressing brought smiles to our faces. Plus the smoked salmon was flavorful without being too smokey.
Our main course was the grilled tiger shrimp grilled to perfection with slight undercookedness in the middle. A first for both of us to eat, but still delicious. The fennel puree reminded me a bit of hummus and the grilled butternut squash proved to contrast well with the shrimp. The braised short ribs were perfection! "This is how meat should be braised," said my dining companion. She loved the autumn vegetables and truffle pommes puree. She needed the her bread to get all the sauces from each plate because they were all so good.
L'Espalier is also famous for their wines and fromage. This course was a bit scary for the both of us as we are not fromage experts but we are willing to try. We were given a plate of four cheeses. The 5 year old aged gouda was our favorite. Described as nutty with a carmelized sweetness we were wondering if cheese could taste that way! It was excellent with the pine nuts and honey. The other condiments for the cheese were the carrot chutney and golden raisins. Then we had the Roquefort and very "ripe" goat cheese. Our favorite by far was the friendly gouda.
The last course was the lovely dessert tasting which has a marinated lotus root with ginger ice cream, chocolate decadence cake and a tea cream cake (bottom layer had green tea) with mango and raspberry coulis. The lotus root, something I have eaten growing up was different marinated for dessert was not memorable for me. I loved the port soaked red concord grapes atop the thick, dense chocolate decadence cake. The airy whipped tea cake was lovely. We are also served a small portion of a decadently sweet dessert wine Chateau Lyon which we loved! It complemented the dessert tasting very well.
The service was impeccable. We were always had attentive service. When we left, we got a little mini thank you. Our chairs were pulled out for us, every course was explained to us, and if we had any questions, they were always answered.
A 10 forks out of ten forks experience for us!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shiki Restaurant----a lovely dinner

Shiki Restaurant, 9 Babcock Street, Brookline, MA
*Near Coolidge Corner "T" Stop and off Bus route #66
What can I say? I have gone to this place many times and I am not disappointed! The misses are minor in comparison to their home runs! Do note the service is SLOW but the food is great and it overcomes this handicap plus with surprisingly prices we keep going back for more! The four of us ordered an dizzying amount of food and we came satiated and happy! Plus we felt that the food was healthy and not overly oily or unhealthy plus the portions were just right. (This place is not for you if you favor BIG portions to get full! Or if you are not into real "authentic" Japanese food. If you are not an adventurous eater I do not recommend coming here!)
If you have never had Japanese Tapas and you are in the Boston area, you must check out this place. If you have a car, parking can be a bit tricky but try the many meter parking lots. Or take public transportation there such as the Green line -"C" to Coolidge Corner stop or take the #66 Bus.
This time we had the ankimo (monkfish liver), foil yaki (fish and veggies baked in foil), soba salad, seaweed salad, tsukemono (Japanese pickles), chowan mushi, kurobota pork (marinated in teriyaki sauce), grilled eggplant topped with miso, tuna yamaimo tartar special, sea eel mile feuille, grilled sanma (mackerel) (they were all out of my fave codfish dish), grilled ika (squid), spicy tuna (specially ordered) and unagi makis finished off the main meal portion.
I love the ankimo because of the rich flavor with a creamy and smooth texture (reminds me of foie gras) and I love it! One big disappointment was the foil yaki, the veggies and fish were fresh but we were wanted a bit more oomph to the flavoring (which we found to be lacking). The soba salad had a lovely light peanut dressing that surprised us to no end. The seaweed salad unlike other places had the right amount of vinegar and sweetness. The grilled eggplant special with miso was delicious even thought it was difficult to divide up to share. The tuna tartare special had sashimi grade tuna that was excellent! The sea eel mille feuille comes out to you and is too pretty to eat. It is more of a cold dish and you break open the runny egg all over the eel and veggies. It was delightful and the lightly flavored sauce and egg only enhanced the experience. The grilled sanma is great for mackerel lovers as this fish has a stronger fish taste. The grilled kurobuta pork belly marinated in teriyaki sauce was scrumptious! We ate up the grilled veggies and the mushroom were earthy and meatlike in taste! The chowan mushi is always a hit and this time was no different with the light delicate broth with seafood in a beautiful simmered egg custard. The grilled ika (squid), one person commented that she rarely eats squid due to the lack of high quality freshness. She marveled that the price we paid for it was great for the excellent degree of freshness of the squid! Since spicy tuna maki was not on the menu, we ordered it and unagi maki. We loved that the spicy tuna maki had the heat but lacked the usual tons of mayo and the unagi maki was simple.
Despite all this food, we still had room for dessert. We had the sweet potato pie and raspberry yogurt mousse as they were out of the green tea chiffon cake. (I guess we have to go back another time to have it!). We love the presentation of the food and the dessert was no different. The mini sweet potato was light and sweet. The raspberry yogurt mousse had a nice creaminess and foil to the sweet potato.
Service--very slow 7
Overall 8.5 forks out of 10 forks

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Shiki Restaurant --lunch

Shiki Restaurant, 9 Babcock Street, Brookline, MA
*Near Coolidge Corner "T" Stop and off Bus route #66

Shiki since it has opened earlier this fall has been my "it" Japanese restaurant to go to! I love this place! I think of Japan whenever I come to this restaurant. Note that they are closed on Tuesdays and lunch is only served from Monday to Saturday 12-3pm. They close a few hours in the afternoon to prep for dinner service opening at 5:30pm.

This Japanese restaurant gem is housed in the former Firenze Italian Restaurant basement space. If you blink, you will miss it. It is next to a nail salon and across the street from Citizen's Bank. Once you enter, you are enter a nice calm space with fall colors. Shiki means "autumn" in Japanese so it is befitting the theme and decor of the place. I loved their place mats too.

From some media I read, the chefs were trained and hail from Japan. This meal I wanted to try their kaiseki lunches. Kaiseki means "stone in the stomach" and you wonder why I want to try it? This refers to the Zen monk practice to stave off their hunger using warmed stones and placed in their obi to alleviate their hunger pangs. (wikipedia) In Japanese cuisine I feel it is one of the "must trys" if you do not know what it is and if you are adventurous. It is the chef's selection of food in season cooked in various ways to enhance the natural flavors. A regular kaiseki meal can be very elaborate and comprise of many components.

For our lunch purposes our kaiseki was much simpler. First we got a delightful salad with a refreshing ginger dressing which we loved. All the Asian restaurants have ginger salad dressing but not like this one! It was not overly heavy on the ginger or oil/mayo as other places. The miso soup was fine with the fine cubes of silk tofu and wakame seaweed mixed in the lovely broth. Next came our big plates of food I got the Kiku (Japanese Chrysanthemum) kaiseki which was an astounding $14 (when you consider the quality, skill, flavors it was a steal)! The menu notes that the kaiseki includes "appetizer, sashimi (can be exchanged for a cooked item if you are squeamish), tidbits, broiled, sauced, fried and steamed" items on the plate. I could not identify everything but I enjoyed it all! The broiled fish, excellent melt in your mouth sashimi included salmon, tuna, mackerel and whitefish. The steamed item was a lovely chowan mushi. It was a delicate egg custard in a broth with bits of seafood cooked to perfection! There was a layered omelet (requires lots of skill), grilled eggplant piece with miso, a refreshing vinegary salad with white fish proved a nice contrast to everything. The veggies, spicy bamboo strips and grilled fish were nice touches. The tempura shrimp and veggies were fried to a great crispy texture and not overly greasy. Of course, the accompanying dipping sauce was mild and light to enhance and not take away from the chef's adept skills. We had a choice of veggie rice or white rice. The veggie rice was flavorful and had bits of seaweed in it.

Only complaint would be the slow service. There was only one server during the lunch time. We did not mind as we were lingering over our delicious lunch and enjoying everything! To my knowledge, I do not know of another Japanese tapas place with affordable prices, high quality food and standards, hidden in Coolidge Corner! The word is out to the local Japanese transplants too! Everytime I go, I always hear a whirlwind of Japanese around me! I feel as if I am in Japan whenever I have a meal here except English is spoken and you can read the menu.

9 forks out of 10 forks.


Postings History

Food Glorious Food

  • Book-Fierce Foods
  • Book-Kitchen Confidential
  • Drama-Dae Jang Geum (KR)
  • Magazine-Cooking Light
  • Magazine-Food and Wine
  • Magazine-Gourmet
  • Movie-Eat Drink Man Woman (TW)
  • Movie-Like Water For Chocolate (MX)
  • Movie-Magic Kitchen (HK)
  • TV Station-Food Network
  • TV-Iron Chef (JP)
  • TV-Top Chef (US-Bravo)

Eating establishments visited-diners, restaurants, chains etc

  • Cha Fahn
  • Teaism (DC)
  • Brother (SF)
  • Fatburger (Vegas)
  • In'N'Out (CA, Vegas)
  • Matsuhisa (LA)
  • Duk Boa
  • Rod Dee
  • Victorias Seafood
  • Best Little Restaurant
  • Wagamamas (UK, Boston)
  • Soul Fire
  • Color
  • Yasu
  • Helmand
  • May's Cafe
  • Zaftigs
  • Uni
  • Toro
  • Dante
  • Anh Hong
  • Pasion (Philly)
  • Morimoto (Philly)
  • Momofuku (NYC)
  • Penang
  • Dang Khanh
  • Chau Chow City
  • China Pearl
  • South Street Diner
  • The Family Restaurant
  • Zen 320
  • Minado
  • Oishii
  • Fugakyu
  • Pomodoro