Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anokha - Lunch

Anokha, a somewhat chic Indian restaurant across from Short Pump Town Center (Not in the mall).

Their lunch menu which is very reasonably priced comes with either soup or salad, naan bread, rice, side dish, main course, and a small dessert.

Started off with samosa appetizers (this is not part of the lunch special).  It came with two decent size pieces of crispy goodness.  The filling of potatoes, onions, peas, and lentils are very well seasoned.

A shot of what the inside looks like.

It also comes with 3 sauces, yogurt, tamarind, and mint chutney, all are very flavorful.

The soup (varies daily), lemon coconut soup, quite good actually.  Tart from the lemon, creaming from the coconut milk and a little spicy that gets the back of your throat.  It also has some poppy seeds and couple bay leafs.

For main course I ordered the tandoori platter.  It comes with a variety of colorful vegetables, two pieces of nice size chicken, two pieces of pretty large shrimp.  Vegetables were well seasoned, grilled tandoori style with some charred edges. Chicken is surprisingly tender and juicy even though they were white cuts of meat.  Shrimp is cooked to perfection, still crunchy to the bite.

Side dish is red kidney beans in a spicy sauce (side dishes varies daily).  This side dish is just okay, almost like a meatless chili with Indian spices.

Along with the main course comes several piece of naan bread.  The bread is pretty fresh and you can ask for more at no charge.

The rice is your typical basmati rice, long grain cooked with some spices.  You can also ask for more with no extra charge.

Dessert (varies daily), today they served mango pudding with mix fruit.  It's a good way to end the meal.    

Overall this is one of the best Indian restaurant in town.  Chic interior, speedy service, cloth napkins and table cloth during lunch service.  High quality meal for a reasonable price.    

4015 Lauderdale Drive 
Richmond VA 23233 Website: http://www.anokha.us/index.html (hate automatically playing music on the home page)  
Rating: ●●●●○

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sushi Kyotatsu

This fantastic sushi joint is located at the Narita Airport in Japan.  You could tell by their sushi rice that they are very traditional in style.  Sushi rice has a good amount of vinegar and kombu (kelp).

There are 4 Sushi chefs working like chickens with their heads cutoff.   A very busy place indeed.

Ordered ala carte, sea eel (anago), sea urchin (uni) , salmon (sake),  medium fatty tuna (chu toro), halfbeak (sayori), and egg (tamago).

The anago, don’t let the word eel fool you, it really is just a fish and has the texture of fish.  Anago is more tender than unagi (fresh water eel) that we usually get in the US.  The sauce is very mild and not over powering.

The uni is sweet but not too sweet, I think the Japanese verity is a bit milder than the California uni.  The varieties of sizes and colors of the uni lead me to believe they are harvested fresh out of the spiky shell.

The sake, it’s not as fatty and creamy as what I’ve had in the US (Scottish variety).   I have to say I like the US version better.

The chu toro (blue fin variety), I was going to order their fatty tuna (o- toro) but, they had a sign on the table that said they have chu toro from the local Tsukiji fish market.  Knowing how famous Tsukiji market is I had to try it.   It’s fairly mild in flavor and not very creamy but, it still has the melt in your mouth quality.

The sayori, has very little flavor.  The texture is like a snapper (crunchy) but more tender.  This is the second time I’ve tried sayori and still not a big fan.

The tamago, sweet, eggy, you can really taste the mirin (sweet rice vinegar).  Tamago is usually eaten at the end of a sushi meal as dessert.  It’s also a good nigiri to judge the quality of the sushi rice.

Overall a very good traditional style sushi joint.  Definitely give it a try when you happen to be in the Narita airport.

10 tips on eating sushi:

  • Eat with your fingers not with your chopsticks. (it is a finger food after all)
  • Eat it all in one bite. (fish to rice ratio is important, it’s meant to be eaten together)
  • Do not mix wasabi and soy sauce together. (wasabi and soy sauce are meant to be applied separately)
  • Only apply wasabi on top of the fish if you want additional kick. (there is already wasabi between the fish and the rice)
  • Order sushi instead of sashimi. (½ of tasting sushi is to taste the harmony between the fish and the rice)
  • Rice should have flavor.  (rice vinegar, kelp, salt, and sugar are mixed into the rice)
  • Don’t drink alcohol while eating sushi , drink afterwards. (usually water or green tea is consume when eating sushi so you can really taste the delicate flavor)
  • Sushi shouldn’t be fishy. (if it smells or taste fishy it’s not fresh)
  • Ginger is used to cleanse your palate between different fish.
  • Finally, you almost always get better service/sushi when you sit at the sushi bar.

Narita Airport
Terminal 1, No.3 Satellite, 3rd Floor

Rating: ●●●●○

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Full Kee - Dim Sum

Full Kee is the only authentic Chinese (Cantonese style) restaurant in Richmond that serves dim sum.  Dim Sum is basically small dishes to share, think of it as Spanish tapas.

Drinking tea goes hand in hand with eating dim sum.  When you first sit down they'll ask you what kind of tea you would like.  I ordered the chrysanthemum tea, it's dried mum flower tea. They also offer other popular tea like jasmine, oolong and so on.

With chrysanthemum tea, they'll give you a bowl of rock sugar for you to dump into the tea pot and mix into the tea.

Dim sum carts are pushed around by your table, you just pick what you want.  Usually dishes will come in 3 pieces of whatever you order.  Ideally you want to have multiples of 3 people so it's easier to share.

Dim sum dishes vary from friendly vegetable dumplings to hardcore stuff like chicken feet (AKA phoenix talon) lol.  I've ordered a small handful of dishes from different range levels.

Chive and shrimp dumpling. The dumpling skin is almost translucent, very sticky, tender, and "Q" (Chinese/Taiwanese use "Q" to describe the sensation of food bouncing back when you chow down on it).  The chive and shrimp filling is a classic combo.

Shrimp dumpling (if you watch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show, the Hong Kong episode, you would know this dish as har gow).  Shrimp is very sweet with sticky and tender dumpling skin.

Pork dumpling (Xiao Long Bao), one of my favorite dishes but Full Kee's version is not very good.  I still always order it since I love Xiao Long Bao so much.  The best Xiao Long Bao I've ever had was in Taiwan's Din Tai Fung. Xiao Long Bao is supposed to be tender minced pork wrapped in a thin chewy dumpling skin filled with hot broth.

Black bean sauce over tofu stuffed with minced shrimp.  Tofu by itself doesn't really have a whole lot of flavor but, when pairing it with the black bean sauce and stuffed with shrimp it's quite good.

Roast pork, this is not the red roast pork you are used to in Chinese restaurants.  This is serve at room temperature.  The skin is super crispy, almost like eating pork rind.  Meat doesn't have a whole lot of seasoning. I usually dip it in some hot sauce.

Chicken feet, yes I know it looks scary but it's very tasty.  The texture is like eating the tips of the chicken wings.  It has small bones wrapped with tender gelatin/cartilage, there isn't really meat per say  .  The sauce it's cooked in is very very tasty.

Sesame seed balls with red bean filling.  This is desert, Asian people in general eat red bean (kidney bean) as desert.  The outside of the ball is rice cake dipped with sesame seeds.  Inside filling is sweet red bean paste then deep fried.  I mean come on, anything deep fried is good.

Here is a shot of what the inside looks like.

They also offer a soft tofu soup desert with sweet ginger broth. Most people wouldn't know to order it, since they don't push it around by the tables.  I was too full to order this but it's very good. The wooden bucket you see in this picture is where the tofu sits.

I've had dim sum from Asia to NYC, Full Kee's dim sum is actually pretty decent.  One tip I can give you is get there around 11:35 a.m., that's when everything is fresh, nice and hot.

6400 Horsepen Rd
Richmond, VA 23226

Rating: ●●●

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cafe Caturra - Breakfast

Not every Cafe Caturra serves breakfast.  The Caturra is in Midlothian Village Square does.  

Their coffee is decent, not bad but, not great either.  It's bolder than Panera Breads' but lighter than Starbucks'.

They do roast their own coffee there.

Ordered the DeNiro breakfast sandwich on croissant.  The eggs are well cooked with good seasoning of black pepper.  The pepper bacon is nice and thick but still crunchy.  The sharp cheddar has a nice light tanginess to pull all the flavors together.  You can get your sandwich on either wheat toast, bagel, or croissant.

Overall a very nice place with great atmosphere and service for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Great attention to detail is paid to everything from the food to the tables and chairs.  Nice enough for a date or just hanging our with your friends and family.

Midlothian Village Square
13830 Village Place Drive
Midlothian, VA 23114

Rating: ●●●

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue

Buz and Ned's, one of the main attractions here in Richmond VA for BBQ.

Ordered 1/2 rack of baby back ribs with a side of sweet potato fries. Let's take a look at the bark on the rib,   it has nice caramelize color.  The meat is neither dry nor wet, with just the right amount of moisture.  I'll get into more detail on the rib later on.  This nice piece of buttered char grilled bread also comes with the meal.

Sweet potato fries, it's yummy good.  Fries are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Seasoned properly with salt, really balances well with the natural sweetness of the sweet potato.  Sweet potato has lots of fiber therefore,  it's a great counter to the protein of the ribs.

Now lets admire the baby back rib itself.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Here is the anatomy of the ribs, starting with the outside. A nice layer of charred surface with just right amount of caramelized BBQ sauce.  Then you see a slight thin layer of pink, don't worry it's cooked.  The pink is from the smoking  of the meat from the smoker.  Finally a layer of juicy tender meat just before the bone.

One word to describe Buz and Ned's rib is "Balance".  The right balance of smokiness, sweetness, savoriness, and vinegariness ness ness is what makes their BBQ so yummy.

Continuing with the "Balance" theme, Buz and Ned's has a decent selection of beer.  This Arrogant Bastard Ale by Stone brewery is the perfect beer to accompany your rack.  The malty and grapefruity flavor of this beer really balance well with the flavor of the ribs.  I highly recommend ordering this beer when you order your rack.

The nice dark brown color of the beer also has a nice brownish head to go with it.  What a great beer this is...

If you are a BBQ rib lover, you have to give this place a try.  Best time to visit is just before 6 p.m., otherwise you'll be waiting quite a while in line to order and to get your delicious food.

1119 N. Boulevard
Richmond, VA  23230

Rating: ●●●●○