Kinnaree

Kinnaree is one of Lark Street’s newest restaurants, specializing in Thai & Korean fare. It’s in the same space as A Taste of Greece used to be (193 Lark St, Albany, NY), and I think they’ve changed the space nicely. Warmer tones, different tables and chairs. They’ve still kept the wrap around wall seating. Overall, it’s simple, but nice.

Any way, after getting a sneak peek of the menu on Steve’s Tablehopping blog, I was pretty excited to check it out. I’m usually not a fan of a lot of Thai food in the area because there’s too much sweet going on in the flavors, but Steve’s comments & the recs from other commenters had my hopes set high. I wasn’t disappointed.

There was so much menu to order from, so The Profussor and his Fussy little Children joined the husbear & me to try a wider amount than we’d normally be able to. First up were fried tofu. $4.95.

Fluffy pillows of fried tofu. Nom. Not greasy at all. There was a sweet & sour kind of sauce with crushed peanuts on the left, and our server also brought out some kind of spicy chili powder for the guys (heat hounds). Overall, good flavors, good portion for the price.

Crab salad. $7.95. I am a sucker for soft shell crab and when I saw it on the menu the night before, I had to have it. It was moist, succulent, and deliciously crabby. Not at all greasy. A pretty large soft shell crab, too. I was quite happy with this salad, especially for $7.95. Very good price.

It came on a bed of mixed greens, apple matchsticks, and tomatoes. Dressing was served on the side (see it in the back?). A green kind of tart and garlicky dressing with a bit of kick to it. Quite nice. I’ll definitely get this again.

Som Tum (green papaya salad, $6.95). A softball sized (or perhaps a bit larger) portion of green papaya salad with green beans and peanuts in it. Good amount of heat, and the sweet/tart/hot flavors were well balanced. I liked it, although the center of my tongue went numb into my first spoonful. I left it to the heat hounds.

Tteokbokki ($12) is a Korean dish, made of sliced rice cakes and beef with a spicy chili sauce. This wasn’t as spicy as the papaya salad, and I quite enjoyed the flavors. I’ve never had tteok before, but have heard wonderful things about it. I once tried cooking it myself from dried tteok cakes, but didn’t know you had to soak them for a day before hand, so… my efforts did not turn out well.

Any way, these rice cake tteok things are super chewy! Like the first few chews of gum. Lots of resistance. Densely thick rice cakes. An added bonus was that this tteokbokki came with some ban chan! Sweetly soaked potatoes, kim chi, sweet black beans, and bean sprouts. Nice surprise.

Rad Nah ($6.95) was a tasty dish as well. Made of rice noodles, Thai broccoli (tasted like gai lan to me) and a choice of meat, it was quite a tasty dish. It was a cornstarch based gravy, but not gloppy. Tons of savory flavor. We chose more of that tasty tofu as the ‘meat’ for the dish. You can also add chicken for no extra charge, but if you want pork, beef, shrimp, or other seafood it’s an additional charge.

I loved the noodles! The rice noodles had a TON of delicious char to them from the pan. When you see rice noodles that have brown or black on them, THAT IS A GOOD SIGN! It says “WELCOME TO DELICIOUSTOWN!”

Sorry. Rice noodles are one of my favorite starches when they are prepared well, and they were so well prepared here. I get so excited when they come out all seared and delicious like this. They were kind of in a clump underneath the tofu and broccoli, not really long individual ribbons. But they were So. Good.

We finished off with dessert. Some ice cream for the kiddos, and a dessert roti for the adults. $3 for both desserts. Kinnaree was even nice enough to split the ice cream into two bowls for each child.

The dessert roti was nice. Kind of small. Like a very small crepe. But it certainly gave me new and fattily dangerous ideas of how to eat my roti. Rolled up with jam and drizzled with condensed milk. And here I’ve just been eating it plain. Oh dear.

Kinnaree charges for tea. About $2. It’s weird for me to go to Asian places that charge for tea, but I guess times are a-changing. I’m used to it being for free. But they have a pretty wide selection at Kinnaree, and Albany John had a very gingery one he was happy with.

We ended up getting out of Kinnaree for about $52 (before tip). Not too shabby! Obvs it’ll cost more for dinner, but lunch prices are quite nice. hee hee. Get the crab salad. Seriously.

Then we meandered over to the new coffee shop on Lark, Caffe Vero Coffee Roasters. Daniel B. got something with a heart on it.

Albany John got something I’ve never heard of before. And now I forget it’s name. But it’s the one you read and you’re like “Woah, what the heck is that?!”. It was good, too. Half-and-half, some espresso, some cocoa. It was nicely bitter without being acidic and had just a touch of sweetness. Albany John isn’t much of a sweet tooth and really enjoyed it.

The wee one got a hot chocolate and oh my gosh, I’ve never seen a baby toddler house a hot cocoa like that before. It bodes well for her future eating career.

DeFazio’s Kalamata & Artichoke Pizza

Ordered a DeFazio’s pizza last night – Kalamata & Artichoke. It was around $16. It survived the drive home just fine (plus a pit stop to pick up some beer), although I reheated a few slices in the oven so they were toasty warm on the bottom and gooey on top.

I hadn’t been able to get DeFazio’s kalamatas out of my head after the 2010 Tournament of Pizza. The kalamatas were so awesome, and they’re hand pitted for each order. Hard not to love that.

The top picture is with flash, and this picture is without flash. Either way, a ton of cheese (melted to perfection), and a generous scattering of artichoke hearts and hand-pitted kalamata olives.

I love that browning cheese gets on a pizza, especially when there is a ton more cheese underneath. Yummy. This was a good combo. Man, those kalamatas (they might call them calamatis) just pop with the perfect amount of salinity.

I think they were also selling $25 gift cards for $20 for Christmas – not too bad of a present to get someone for the holidays.

Via Fresca & The Ruck – A Day of Tasty Things


I met up with Daniel B. for lunch at Via Fresca the other day. I was having one of those days where I just could not get full and was perma-hungry, so I was all “DAAAAN! LUUUUNNNCCHH! PAAHHHLEEAASSEEE!”. He kindly obliged, and you can see him checking in on Yelp or AoA or somesuch like that.

We split a meatball sub and a broccoli rabe & provalone panini. He declared the meatballs the best he’s had in Albany. They were veal (ahh, love!) and very tender. Not the least bit dense. Slathered in a good amount of sauce and mozzarella cheese. Even the sub was nicely toasted.

The broccoli rabe panini was not my favorite out of all of their paninis, but Dan also declared a fondness for it as well. Don’t get me wrong, it was perfectly executed, but oh man how can a plain ol’ veggie panini compare to their meatier and heftier ones? (Geeze, can you tell I was in eat-like-a-monster mode?)

I love, love, love their breads. Always so fresh, with just the right amount of soft innard and crusty exterior. It kills me when people in Guilderland pass up Via Fresca for subs. Usually, they think it’s too “fancy”, but I try to convince them that it’s okay, yes, “fancy” if you mean “good ingredients, but price-wise, it’s not bad either. They’re around $7.50 for most sandwiches, and the size of my freaking arm.

Mini cannoli are $1.55 each. I had two and could have probably eaten an entire sleeve more. So creamy and good, and cannoli are filled to order. Love it.
Lunch would have been somewhere in the $20 range, but I had an Entertainment coupon to use up ($7 off, yeah!), so it was only around $13 total for us.

Monday and Wednesday nights at The Ruck are wing nights. And by golly, nothing follows a lunch at Via Fresca like wings at The Ruck for dinner. $0.40 wings, or $4 orders of 10 wings that usually cost $7. Almost half-price! And the drink prices aren’t bad either. Happy hour runs 5-7, and then Wing Night starts following happy hour.


It was busy when we went, because who can resist the call of cheap, delicious wings? An order each of BBQ and medium. The medium wings still have a good amount of kick to them, but I managed to make my way through a good amount of them.
I can definitely see the allure of medium AND BBQ sauce on a wing together.

And guess what? I think I came close to eating 10 whole wings! I love wings, but I tend to bitch out pretty early and get full when I order them out. But Albany John loves it because he knows that if I get wings, it means he gets wings, too.

I can’t put my tastebuds just on it, but their house-made blue cheese dressing has some non-traditional seasonings in it. Or maybe lots of mayo. At times it tastes vaguely like there’s a hint of Ranch dressing in there. I don’t know. I’m a ranch-hater, so whenver I think I taste ranch in it, I’ll just focus on the blue.

Parivar Chat

I think I can breathe now. Daniel B. and I went to Parivar (1275 Central Ave, Albany, NY) to peruse the new Indian grocery store, and also to get a peep of the hot bar area in the back, known as Parivar Chat.

Their menu is comprised of some different kinds of chat, as well as South Indian dishes, and a bunch of desserts.

One of the guys there is from Cali, and had a business there before moving to the East Coast. Daniel B, Mr. California, was quite pleased with the selection.

We started off with some pre-made drinks from the fridge. A Pista Falooda (pistachio drink) for me, and mango lassi for Dan and the kiddo. Both were $3.99. Kind of on the expensive side, but man were they good. The lassi was so fresh and really tasted like fresh mango, not like mango pulp and sugar. The pista? Dude, it was like a shake. There was green vermicelli noodle bits in there, and tons of crushed pistachios. Really thick, and REALLY good. $3.99 is totally fair for that drink.

Papdi chat for $4.99. Chickpeas, diced red onions, crunchy strips that are kind of like toasted pita chips, and other crunchy fluffy bits on top. All slathered with some hot and sweet and salty yogurty sauce. Yum! There was a bit of kick to this, but it was really on the mild side, and addictive to eat. And pretty filling for two people.


Masala Dosa ($5.99). Hello gigantic pancake thing filled with potatoes! It was a little on the thick and tough side, but so enjoyable to eat. There was the hot red sauce, and the less hot but still pretty hot nutty coconut sauce to dip in to, plus lentil soup.

SAMOSA!! $1.50, and came with the tamarind and green sauces.
Not too oily, plenty crisp, and a good dose of heat and spice in the filling! I was reaching for the water at this point.

Chole Bhature ($5.99) came out to round out lunch. It was all vegetarian, but so filling. Also, it looks like they don’t open officially until 3 pm per their signage, but they were very accomodating to our orders and others who came by to pick up sweets and stuff for home.

Chole is poofy fried dough with bean things on the side! And a really hot red paste for slathering (note: slather lightly – this is oil based and REALLY packs a kick). How could I not love this?!

Dan demonstrates how to attack a chole. With yo hands!! The chickpea side of beans was well flavored – just tons of… flavor! Dan and I managed to finish just about everything, but barely. Just barely. It might not look like a lot, but we probably would have been fine with one drink and two dishes. It was just… so filling. And so good. And so hard to stop eating.

Ok, I just wanted to let you guys know that. Now I’mma go off to Astoria and drink my weight in Czech beer.

Kisses!

Mid-Autum Festival/Moon Festival

Happy Moon Festival! Well if I’m being proper, I should wish you a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, since this Chinese holiday is about celebrating the end of the summer harvest season. I think it’s pretty nifty this fits in right around the Eat Local challenge.

At any rate, it’s a major holiday in Chinese culture, but here in the US it doesn’t really get that much celebration. I really only found out about it taking Chinese school when I was in elementary school. The first half of school was learning the language but the second half was my favorite – it was all about culture.

Basically, everyone goes and looks at the moon on the Mid-Autumn Festival. There are some stories behind the celebration, too. In Chinese school they told us a couple folk tales about it, and we could try and see one of them in the moon. One is about a beauty who sacraficed herself and ended up on living the moon alone. There’s one about a lovestruck couple who had no hope of being together on Earth and ending up on the moon. Another is about a noble rabbit, or rat, or mouse ending up on the moon. Either way, some kind of struggle and the “good” person or people or animal ending up on the moon. Why don’t you look at the moon and tell me what you see?

I went to the Asian Food Market (91 Colvin Ave, Albany, NY) to buy some mooncakes. I’d been to the Asian Supermarket, and they didn’t really have any. But the one on Colvin is pretty oriented to Chinese-Asians, and not just generically Asian, so I figured I’d have a better shot. Man, did I ever. There’s a few shelves of mooncakes set up just past the registers to the right when you first walk in.
When I was browsing the selection, a little girl came running over and hugged the displays, shouting “MMMOOOOONNNNCCAAAKKKKEEEESSS!!” and I was SO with her there. The only way her parents were able to pry her away from the display was by telling her that Grandma had already bought a bunch for later and she would get some. Later. Mooncakes have been bought. It’s okay.

The sky’s the limit with mooncake prices. This box was only $10.99, but many were in the $25-32 range. They even had some frozen new-wave mooncakes! I really wanted to try them, but it was $30 for 7-8 really small ones. Yikes.

I chose this one not because it was the cheapest (which, it turns out, it was, yay!), but because it was a variety pack of small mooncakes, and none of them had egg yolks. Egg yolks are very traditional mooncake ingredients. And a lot of the larger sized, more traditional boxes of mooncakes contain 1-2 egg yolks. Some can contain as much as 4 egg yolks. There is also usually lotus paste in there too. I didn’t like them growing up, but I might try a nibble of one again. I mean, I also didn’t like cheese was growing up.

BTW, this brand uses the “noble lady does something heroic and ends up on the moon all by herself forever” story. The box should have given it away, but there’s an English print-up on the inside. It’s a really good deal for only $10.99.

And here’s the inside. 8 mooncakes, 4 different varieties (2 of each kind). Now, usually you’d get a tin of 4 larger mooncakes (about 4″x4″), and all of the mooncakes would be the same. But variety is the spice of life, and those larger mooncakes usually have egg yolks that I don’t like. There are also larger/traditional ones without eggs that are either all lotus or all red bean paste.

These mooncakes can fit in the palm of my hand, but are still elaborately decorated. I just love the molds. And they’re easier to eat, too. Mooncakes are dense stuff – I’d have a tough time eating a whole traditional one. And how cute – they even included little forks and a knife to slice and share them!

Here are the varieties: Green tea and lotus paste, pineapple and winter melon, white lotus paste, and Five nuts (almond, sunflower, pumpkin, walnut, black sesame)

I have no idea what is in what, so slicing and cutting open will be a surprise (unless any of my wonderful readers knows what’s what?). I’m excited to try the flaky ones (the white looking dudes) – never had those as mooncakes before (but as really tasty taro puffs from Chinese bakeries).

There are other traditional foods to eat, most of them are sweet. My Dad A) loves the traditional mooncakes packed with egg yolks, and B) says it’s usually fruit like oranges, pomelo, grapes, boiled poi, starfruit, and ling guog which have a black hard shell that looked like two water buffalo horns. Plus there are lanterns and lots of fire for kids to play with.

Happy Moon Festival! Go stare at the big, bright moon tonight!

Update:

Stopped by the Asian Supermarket on Central Ave, and they also have a display of mooncakes, most of which are under $20! It’s a different selection and smaller than at the AFM, but worth checking out if you are in the area. They also have more frozen mooncakes. They had some pomelo, but they were mostly green/unripe.

The Olde Polish Deli – Pierogies

Last night was something like night 3 without my dear husbear Albany John. I ended up staying in and cooking, and thought that it would be a good time to try out the 6 pierogies I got from the Olde Polish Deli in Watervliet, NY (600 3rd Ave, Watervliet, NY).

Also, here’s a scan of the menu (above). It is a little crumpled and covered in stains, as anything that spends some time in my kitchen will end up. But hey, at least you have a copy.
Hours:
Wed: 12-6, Thurs: 10-6, Fri: 10-6, Sat: 9-5, Sun: 12-5 and they are also closed on the 1st Wednesday of the month.

I got six of the mushroom and sauerkraut pierogies. Six pirogies sounded like the best thing to eat when “single” since I’m a carb whore and having to share only six pierogies with someone else who also likes pierogies is bound to end up in fork stabbings over the last one.

They were all individually frozen and came out of the freezer bag with no problem. None were stuck together or anything.

I tossed them in some boiling water until they floated, then topped them with some butter.

The skins weren’t the chewy variety, but fairly delicate as far a pierogie dough goes. However, I say this having only had my own and mass-produced pirogies as comparison. And my pierogies tend to be freakin’ huge doorstops of dumplings, not these lovely normal-sized ones. I have never known the joy of a pierogie made by someone’s Polish grandmother with a family recipe passed down from generation to generation. But if anyone wants to hook a chicky up… well, I’d be much obliged.

Here’s a dumpling cut in half. A good ratio of filling:dough.

The two primary flavors I noticed were 1) sour (from the sauerkraut) and 2)black pepper. Albany John loves all things sour and peppery, so I suspect I’ll have to make a return trip to buy a few dozen of these for him.

I thought they were okay as-is, but they tasted vegetarian to me and would have benefitted from some meat for a little back bone.

Luckily, I had some bacon fat in the fridge and put just a schmear of it over the dumplings. Oh, heaven. So good – just that little bit of smoky meat really punched up the flavors. I’d say these pierogies would go really well with a kielbasa or other meaty dish.


Meanwhile, since I was kicking it single, here’s what I ate. I’d like to think of it as the United Nations of dinners, and not much different from the variety I normally eat at dinner. Pierogies, some kind of hominy tex-mex stirfry, and crispy fish patties.

The fish patties were just something kicking in the freezer along with the pierogies, so I baked them up, and they are way better than the fish patties I ate as a kid. These weren’t too greasy and crisped up well. I think I got ’em from Hannaford.

The hominy thing was just chopped onions, canned hominy, a few canned tomatoes, a dash of chipotle tabasco, and ton of adobo. But I figured it counted as a vegetable. I had, like, 2 more bowls of it after that first go. To me, hominy tastes like corn tortillas, but has the texture of puffed out but hard corn, if that makes any sense. Either way, way better than corn.

Mackerel, Miso, Eggplant + Tofu, and Shanghai Bok Choy

I love having a small dining table. I got this table pretty recently, and I am just loving having it in the living/dining room. It sure beats TV trays.

I don’t know how you do it in your house, but I enjoy setting the table now. And by “setting the table” I mean come out of the kitchen with a dish in each hand while going “HEY! Can you clear off some of this crap so I can get some SPACE?!” to Albany John while he plays video games. I find this to be a very effective way to clear the table.

This is pretty-crap less. Let me detail it out for you. On the top left there’s a half-empty soda jar that’s from the day before (still good) and a pen. His & Her PBR cans next to some flowers I picked from my garden (really sparse, but pretty, damnit!), and an XBOX game cover behind that, followed by a glass of bourbon I’ve had out for, like, two days (I have no excuse for not finishing it other than laziness), and a bottle of chipotle tabasco sauce that’s a permanent table fixture.

Food-wise, we’re looking (left to right) at Eggplant & Tofu, Shanghai bok choy, vegetarian miso soup, and broiled mackerel.

I went unnecessarily grocery shopping at the Asian Food Market earlier in the day (I went to the Asian Supermarket first, but didn’t like what they had), and picked up some thai eggplant for $1.39/lb. I’ve been jonesing for eggplant, and at this price – hooray!

I made a dish with fresh tofu, kind of like my friend N made for me a while back.

Tofu & Eggplant
2 bricks fresh tofu, pressed for an hour or two
Char ~6 thai eggplant, peel skin off when cool (hint: fondue fork + eggplant + gas stovetop). Chop and set aside.
1/2” ginger, peeled and minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T oyster sauce
1 T soy sauce
1-2 T sesame oil
Dash of oil for cooking

Heat up a pan, add a dash of oil and sauté garlic & ginger until fragrant. Add eggplant. (If the eggplants are still a little firm, add some water to cover the bottom of the pan, cover, and let it cook for a few minutes until the eggplant soften up).

Crumble tofu into pan

Add soy sauce and oyster sauce

Stir well; let it cook a minute to combine flavors.Take off heat and add sesame oil.

It was creamy goodness – boxed tofu just can’t beat fresh sometimes. And that toasty sesame oil just brings it up a notch. Toasted sesame seeds on top wouldn’t hurt either. This is one of those dishes that makes me wonder why I don’t make it more often, especially when it’s a frugal but satisfying dish to make. I got four bricks of tofu for $1.80 (so only $0.90 for the dish), and didn’t use very much eggplant at all. I’d give this a very generous estimate of $1.75 for a total cost of ingredients.

I got mackerel for $1.99 per pound. These two fishes were only $2.09! And the guy at the fish counter was shockingly nice. The Asian Food Market wasn’t the place I’d associate with great customer service( or a staff that spoke much English) but they’re really changing it up lately.
I practically had to promise the young man at the fish counter that I’d be rushing home right after shopping here and didn’t really need ice in a separate bag. And that was after he insisted on getting some freshly killed mackerel out of the back because he didn’t want me to get the older ones up front. Okie dokie with me! The first time I got fish here (years ago), the guys behind the fish counter didn’t speak a word of English, were really rude, and didn’t scale or gut the fish for me. So yeah, this was kind of a shock, but in a good way.

I hear that mackerel aren’t overfished or anything, so I can enjoy them guilt-free.

I let this sit for an hour or so in equal parts soy sauce and dry vermouth, plus some ginger and a dash of sugar. I really wanted to grill them over charcoal, but I cook slowly as hellll, so I popped them in the fish grilling thing that usually sits and collects dust and hair, and popped it in the broiler for a few minutes on each side. Worked like a charm.


They had Shanghai bok choy on sale for $0.69/lb at the AFM. SIXTY NINE CENTS PER POUND!!! There was even a lady stocking the veggies trying to get me to buy the smaller baby bok choy for $1.29/lb, but I was all “No, I’m cheap” “No thanks, I’m good with these”. I probably could have tried my Chinese, since I know “no” and “thank you”.


Think of them like baby bok choy on steriods. They’ve got a similar leaf structure, but they’re the size of a small football. I just peeled the leaves off and cooked them with garlic, ginger, and a bit of water (to soften). I used to seriously mess up Chinese greens and cook them into mush, but now I think I’ve got it down on how to keep them firm, but cooked. Maybe I’ll do a tutorial later on, would you like that? It’s one of those easy, but hard to first grasp concepts. Or at least it was for me.

So yeah, that was dinner. Oh, the miso soup was just seaweed broth and miso – no bonito in our house, so we left it out. I think Albany John would mainline miso soup if he could.

One of A Kind Tea House

Rochelle and I were on a mission to get to One of A Kind Teahouse after reading Jessica Pasko’s write up of it in All Over Albany.
Dude. Tea. Yes. Do it.

Lemme say – mission successful! Traffic was light when we went in on Friday evening. They seemed used to take out/counter service, but we opted for a table next to the wall of fake bamboo. The interior is gorgeous. Personally, I think it’s a great addition to Chinese food options in the Albany area.

Some people might think the market is getting saturated, but this is unlike other restaurants. It’s more upscale, akin to the Chinese coffee/tea shops in NYC. Or think of it kind of like a fancier Chinese Starbucks (or Professor Java’s). Hong Kong Bakery is across the street with the bare bones take out minimal service authentic food. CCK & Shining Rainbow are also on the same street, but do more full family meals.

The food choices at One of A Kind Teahouse are both more condensed, and more versatile than others. They have curries, soups, a few meals, skewers, noodles, rice dishes, sandwiches – rather continental in comparison to other Chinese restaurants in the area.

Price-wise, it’s not the cheapest place in town, but on par with coffee shop / teahouse prices. Nothing will break the bank, but you know you’re paying a bit of a premium. It’s like going to Starbucks, only instead of having a $2-3 scone with your coffee, you’re Chinese and you have a few other snacks with your beverage.

I ordered the lychee smoothie. All smoothies are $2.95. Quite fair, seeing as how it was packed with lychee flavor and took me my entire meal to finish it. And I’m no slow drinker. If it’s in front of me I sip at it until it’s gone. I also liked the colorful strips of chewy things. I forget their proper name, but they’re tasty.

You can see Rochelle’s mango bubble tea in the background. She tried asking if the papaya was red or green, but our server didn’t understand what she was asking (language barrier), so R got the mango. Also $2.95 for all bubble teas.

Albany John got a green tea smoothie. His cup was noticably less full than mine. *shrugs* It is very light – not too sweet or anything. I’m glad I didn’t get it. I would have wanted more sugar. But he enjoyed it very much since he has a low sweet tooth. Would be perfect in these 90 F + degree days though. My lychee smoothie was more creamy, and this green tea smoothie was very refreshing.

Albany John ordered a soup. Cute cover, no?


It was a shrimp and mushroom soup. Tasty mushrooms. Not overcooked or anything. It came out piping hot. I was classy and did the “spit it back in the spoon because it’s burning my mouth” technique.

R’s tofu dish came with veggies. Dude, this was awesome sauce. Some very pillowy and unctuous tofu. Seriously soft and custardy interior, with a nicely fried shell casing. Sweetish-salty miso sauce covering it. Veggies on the side to accompany.


R’s squid. This was the skewer order. Not a bad price. It was very tender, and tasted quite buttery. It was just the body, no tentacles. We are thinking those were fried lumpia or spring roll wrappers. Just a little sweeter and thinner than eggroll/wonton wrappers.
The sauce was really sweet and gloppy. I think it was the house sauce. They said it was really popular, but I don’t know… I don’t know a lot of other Asians that would like it. It had a very noticeable corn syrup flavor, and it kind of resembled the duck sauce you get out of the packets at cheap Chinese take out joints in terms of texture. Just way too sweet and processed for me.

I got the spicy chicken wings, which weren’t really spicy. There was some heat, but the sauce was again a bit too gloppy-sweet for my liking. I was hoping for a dry powder or something. It was a little too much sweet-n-sour. They came out nice and crisp, though. I love how crispy Asians get their wings! As time wore on they got soggy, so eat them while they’re hot.
Grilled lamb salad. I had no idea what ‘salad’ meant to them, so I figured I’d give it a try. At the worst, it would be iceberg lettuce, and at best, well, it would be something I’d never tried before.

I didn’t hype myself up too much, and it was an interesting salad to try. Chopped lamby slices over iceberg lettuce, mixed with some carrots, cherry tomatoes, and red bell peppers. They served both the house sauce (top left corner) and the spicy garlic sauce (bottom right corner) since we were new. The house sauce was the same as with the squid. Not a fan. The garlic sauce wasn’t spicy, but it went much better with the salad. It tasted more like seasoned soy sauce to me. Not bad, but not spicy or garlicky either.

I’d steer clear from the salads – it’s a little too Americanized for me. I will try the lamb in other forms though. Probably grilled skewer style next.

Like the lighting? R’s Droid was awesome at providing additional light for my pictures. Now I want one!

Alb John got the beef curry. And dude. Between this and the tofu Rochelle got… I want their babies. If you get nothing else, get these two.


The curry sauce is so well flavored – rich, full bodied, a nice coconut accent. I don’t usually like coconut milk curries because they can be too sweet. But this. Oh man, it was good. Dudes, much like a newly minted lottery winner in a strip club, I felt ecstatic to be in the same room as this soup. It was chock full of beef and veggies – a good combination of both. We could have used a side of rice or something to sop up the tasty liquids at the bottom. I’m surprised we didn’t use our straws. That. Good.

The curry came with four demure triangles of scallion pancake. I WANT TEN OF THESE. They might look oily, but were flaky beyond belief. So tender. So many layers of crispy flaky goodness. I don’t know how they did it. Mine end up with a completely different (more toothsome) when I make them at home. Next time I’m going to see if they can make them as a dish alone, because seriously, I could eat ten of them.
So there you have a light meal at One of A Kind Teahouse. It’s good for chatting and catching up. Our server was very friendly, we had a great time. She even put up with Albany John practicing his Chinese!
I think it would be wonderful for small groups to meet up – very relaxing, you can get a little noshies, and a beautiful location to enjoy a tasty beverage and some snacks.
Oh, and as a funny overheard convo while we were there:
Girl: Is this a Chinese place? I want Chinese food.
Guy: Yeah, yeah it’s a Chinese place. Hello.
Girl: I don’t see no Chinese food here! And I want some damn Chinese food!! If they don’t have any Chinese food I don’t wanna eat here!!
Guy: Have you even read the menu? Look, look, right here – fried rice. C’mon, it’s Chinese.
(I’d like to add that they were practically sitting under the mandoline decoration on the wall, and the restaurant was playing Chinese music. I really wonder what kind of a restaurant she thought she was in, or what kind of Chinese she is used to [General Tso’s?])

Marissa’s

I grabbed a quick cheese slice at Marissa’s the other day. I’ve been meaning to get over there for a slice or two, and finally managed to do it today.

You see, I’ve been getting over a particularly terribly stomach bug. Albany John got it first, and then I got it a few days later. And had I know I was going to get it, I’d never have eaten kim chee the night before. Trust me – no fun.

So I’ve been not-so-much with food and hydration this past week (if anyone has an extra saline bag I’d be much obliged), but my stomach’s been on the up-and-up lately, so I thought one slice of cheesy bread would be do-able.

Unfortch I got the end-of-the-pie slice. It was okay, but I know they can do better. That said, it was still a great little slice of pizza, and for $2.16, quite the tasty snack.

Melissa’s pizza has a thin crust – no, crazy-thin crust. Seriously. Super thin, crisp, and crunchy. And yet the outer crust is crisp on the outside that’s more like a shell, breaking way to a pillowy soft interior. And this was on an old slice. Woah! Lemme just make myself clear – the thin, crisp crust is the real stand-out here. I think I’m going to have to grab a pie to bring home for Albany John. I think he’d really like this crust, and he’s a notorious crust hater.

The cheese ratio was pretty good. I think it could have done with a smidge more cheese, but overall really good stuff. The sauce is a little on the sweet side for me, but the overall bread-cheese-sauce combo is a winner since the cheese and crust are salty.

I probably could have asked for it to get heated up a little longer, but didn’t think it really mattered since it was going to take me at least a solid 30 or more minutes to work my way through one slice. I mean, it’s gonna get cold. Darn you, stomach bug!

The service couldn’t have been any more pleasant. I was only in there for three minutes, tops, but the guy at the counter kept honey-ing and dear-ing me in the sweetest way possible. I felt like I was in someone’s home.

There’s space at the front you can park yourself for quick eats, some picnic tables in the front outside, and more seating in the back. It’s pretty narrow when you walk in, but it’s a cozy little spot in a strip mall.

Stuffed Pasta (Manicotti)

Panda came over for dinner the other night, and I wanted to make something tasty for him.

Albany John has been asking that I make spinach pasta the next time I make pasta. I figured this was a good time to try it out, and decided to forgo the usual pasta noodles for something a little out of my comfort zone. Stuffed manicotti.

Okay, well, technically these aren’t manicotti since they aren’t perfect circular tubes, but I’ve been seeing people say they’re easier to make with lasagna sheets because then they don’t break. So that’s pretty much what I did. Rolled pasta, cut it, wrapped it.



Here’s the pasta dough. I love how speckled the color of the dough is with spinach. So cute.

Here is how I made the pasta:

Spinach Pasta
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained as much as possible (10 oz of squeeze-dried spinach is akin to a large handful)
3 medium eggs
½ t salt
2 C AP Flour

Process the spinach, eggs, and salt until well combined. I used my magic bullet. Way less mess than hauling out the food processor.

Put flour in a bowl and make a well. Stir in the flour with the spinach mixture, and once it is too stiff to mix, use your hands and knead it for about 5 minutes. Everything should be cohesive, but the dough shouldn’t be too sticky or dry.

Let dough rest 20-30 minutes, then cut up into quarters to roll out in pasta machine.

Rolled spinach out to a level 5, and then cut up into rectangles and boiled for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Just to firm up the dough and make it a little more pliable to stuff and roll.

Spinach pasta is a little more delicate than regular pasta, in that the spinach content makes the dough less stretchy. But it possesses a very pleasing toothsome bite in the end.

I used a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, ½ a can of tomato paste, a bit of water, 1 onion, garlic, and some herbs to make a quickie marinara sauce. I only let it cook for about half an hour. I think a jarred pasta sauce would be fine in this instance as well. I’ve been on a diced tomato kick lately, so as you can see, that’s what I used.

I had some leftover butternut squash filling I’d defrosted earlier and combined with some more ricotta (it was too garlicky for me, and it helped stretch the filling to load the entire pan with manicotti).

I just put a little bit of marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan, then put a sheet of semi-cooked spinach pasta in it, filled it up and rolled it. It made me think of enchiladas. When I was finished rolling I slathered the rest of the marinara all over the lot of them.
One of the best things about rolling these manicotti is that even if there is a little break or tear in the sheet of pasta, you can probably roll it to hide it.


I covered the pan and cooked it for 40 minutes in the oven, then sprinkled the top with a little bit of cheese bits that were left in the fridge and let it cook 10 more minutes.


And ta-da: stuffed pasta. We all really enjoyed this. Is pasta stuffed with ricotta ever a bad thing? The thick spinach pasta noodle had a nice chew to it that went well with the soft ricotta filling. I probably could have flavored up the filling some more.


This has also held up very well in the fridge for leftovers. Not too gummy or anything – the pasta is really retaining its firmness.

Estimated cost of this dish:
$0.99 spinach
$1.20 marinara sauce
$2.00 flour, eggs, cheeses

$4.19

I think I want to play around with using this spinach pasta dough for making some kind of Italian-Mexican enchilada-like thing. I really love enchiladas.