Friday, February 26, 2010

Smile Cafe @ 105 S 22nd St

It's been a while since I posted something to my blog. I have been trying several new restaurants, but just did not have time to post them here. I am finally getting to one of the best restaurants I have been to since my last post.

Smile Cafe located at 105 S 22nd St, Philadelphia is a Thai Restaurant near Rittenhouse square region of Center City. True to it's name my last visit with few of my colleagues brought smiles to all of us. Since it's been more than a month, I will skip many details that I normally post in my blogs like the details of the food I had etc. Please find some pictures of the food we had below. I think I had Orange Chicken which is the first of the pictures below.

The best part is the price. The restaurant offers a daily lunch special 'Choice of Two: Soup of The Day, Spring Roll, Salad (White Creamy Dressing), Steamed Dumplings' with an entree included and all this for $7.95. Needless to say all of us chose the lunch specials and none of us regretted the decision.

The menu offers several options but not so big as to overwhelm you. You can find the menu here. The service was excellent. Though this was my first time, I am positive that this will not be my last time. I recommend this recommend this restaurant very highly to one and all.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thai Chef and Noodles @ 2028 Chestnut St

It's been a while since my first visit and hopefully not the last visit to Thai Chef and Noodles located at 2028 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. My memory is a little rusty as I have been there about a month and half ago. I discovered the place on my daily strolls around the city. The selling point was the promotion on their doors about the free appetizer and soup with an entree for lunch only.

Here are some pictures from the food my friends and I had.

I wasn't very much satisfied with what I had. But the thing about going with a group and close friends is that you could share the food. So I tasted some of the appetizers and they were good. I should have gone more conservative and ordered something like a pad thai as it was my first time. Instead I ordered something that I did not know and was let down. The service was great, the lunch promotion was great selling point and I am definitely going back to try their regular fare with their tasty appetizers.

I will be making updates to this post soon with the detials of the soups, appetizers and entrees my friends and I had on our visit later. I wanted to do a quick post so I dont lose track of it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Koja Grille @ 1600 N Broad Street

Koja Grille located at 1600 N Broad Street is a Korean and Japanese fast food style restaurant. It is located in the heart of Temple University campus and offers good mix of both Korean and Japanese food for take outs and sit-in.

I had dinner at Koja about a month ago with my brother and couple friends who were students at Temple. We happened to go there by chance as all the other places we tried were closed for that day. It turned out to be a very pleasant visit and I look forwarded to have a full fledged meal the next time.

I just ordered 8 of their Asian Wings as I already had my dinner. It was about 9:30 PM and I am not student to wait that long for dinner. The others with me order the Soft Tofu Soup (Chigae) and Clear Noodles with Chicken (Job Chae).

The wings were some of the best I had in Philadelphia. There were soft, crispy, sweet and spicy, and juicy. They worked perfect for me. My friends liked what they had. The service was good. The quantity was also well portioned. I thought the wings were a bit pricier at $6.99($7.5 with tax) for 8 wings, but I am willing to pay the premium for those tasty wings. A typical entree on the menu was about $9 with is not bad and in line with other restaurant offering Korean and Japanese food.

The distance from Center City could be a factor. The website is simple, orderly and well maintained. I found from their website that they originally started out as a cart in the University City area at 38th st and between Walnut and Sansom St. I will definitely give this cart a try the next time I am in University City.

TO.DO: I have a reminder for myself to search and upload the pictures of the food that we had.

Monday, March 30, 2009

MIX - Brick Oven Pizzeria @ 2101 Chestnut St.

I have tough time describing this place. It is not a restaurant nor is it a fast food. It has both American(sandwiches and wraps) and Italian food mainly Pizza. It also has a bar to the far left side. But the tables(for two mostly) are really small like that of a Pizza by slice vendor places. The restaurant calls itself Brick Oven Pizzeria & Bar.

MIX is located at the intersection of 21st and Chestnut and the entrance is located at the Northwest corner of the intersection. I have been there twice so far, once with some business colleagues and another time with an acquaintance. Both times I had Pizza, as the allure of the Brick Oven behind the counter was to alluring to pass off Pizza and buy something else. 

My first visit was for lunch and I had a slice of Pizza with Buffalo Chicken topping and another slice of Pizza with vegetables like Tomatoes, Spinach and Mozzarella. They probably call it MidTown on their Menu. It has been a while since my first visit and I can hardly remember the taste of the MidTown Pizza. But I still remember the Buffalo Chicken Pizza and it was awesome. I came out very satisfied, so I am thinking the slice of MidTown Pizza was very good as well. The two business colleagues had nothing but good words to say about the food they had.

Having satisfied myself the first time, I went out to meet a friend at MIX over dinner. This time we ordered a large pie of Pineapple and Jalapeno Pizza. Those two together are my favourite toppings on a Pizza. I was very happy with the call. The crust was thin but soft enough(not crusty) to eat. The cheese was good quality cheese and the toppings fresh. They have a large menu that includes appetizers, pastas, salads, hot and cold sandwiches etc.

The Pizza by slice was around $3.50 - $4.00 each and the whole large Pizza pie with Pineapple and Jalapeno toppings was around $24 with tax and tips. For lunch I must have spent about $12 for 2 large slices of Pizza with a drink and the same amount for Dinner. I would say that this a little on expensive side (I like to keep my Lunch under $10, preferably in the $6-$8 range). The young eastern European lady behind the counter was very courteous and easy to talk to with her cute accent. The service was great both times. 

Overall I am a highly satisfied customer and would definitely go back with adult members of the family and friends. Families with infants and kids might have trouble as there are very few large tables.

El Fuego @ 2104 Chestnut St.

El Fuego is a mexican fast food ala Qdoba. The menu is simple with Burritos, Rice Bowls, Quesadillas and Tacos. It opened recently (few months) is located at 2104 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA.

I am big fan of the Mexican Gumbo at QDoba. They call them naked burrito at El Fuego. The ambiance and set up is very much similar to that of QDoba or that of Chipotle. I got introduced to Chipotle during my short one year stint in Dallas and really liked the simplicity of the set up. Basically you choose the type of food - Burrito, Salad or Quesadilla at the beginning of the line. Burritos are biggest sellers at these kind of places. If you select Burrito you move in the line and tell what you like in your burrito. Rice comes with the burrito by default. But you can choose black beans or pinto beans, salad lettuce, mild, medium or hot salsa, cheese and in some places sour cream and/or guacamole. The burrito is wrapped around the contents and is typically enclosed in an aluminium foil or paper. You pay for your food at the end of the counter. It is very similar to that of Subway.

Mexican Gumabo aka Naked burrito is all the contents that go inside a burrito but in a bowl without the tortilla wrap. I ordered naked burrito with spicy chicken and mild salsa sauce with black beans and sour cream.

The food was alright in taste.But it pales in comparison to the Mexican Gumbo at QDoba. The quantity was also quite less. I am sure the quantity would fall short for a lunch or dinner. Since I went there during my evening walk out, it was fine.

The naked burrito was $6.75 and I paid about $8.50 including a drink and tax. The cost was not bad but I could get a better tasting bigger burritos(both regular and naked) at QDoba which is just a block and half to the east at 1900 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103. I will probably give them one more try to taste their Quesadillas. As for my favorite gumbo, you know my preference by now.

Indian Delite @ 9th & Market St.-Food Court of Gallery Mall

Indian Delite - a fast food place located in the Food court II of the gallery mall close to the Market east station. I have to admit that I was blown away by the prices. Indian food is typically expensive and is known mostly in a restaurant setting. I had my apprehensions about the taste of the food though.

The typical lunch combo was about $7. I did not enough time to buy a lunch combo on on both of my visits to this place. I had Samosa on my first visit. I really liked it. The outer deep fried shell was crispy as it is supposed to be. The contents of the samosa was cooked potatoes and green peas mixed in spices and I think it was only two bucks and change. An order of samosa comes with 2 samosas. So a samosa is about a buck which is not bad at all.

On my second visit, I had Chicken Kabob which is skewer with chunks of grilled spicy marinated chicken. The experience this time was completely opposite to what I had on my first visit - not so happy. I wanted to try something different than the samosa. I felt that the chicken chunks were not really grilled. Instead, I felt, they were cooked chicken with spicy sauce brushed on them in a rush. It was little salty and nothing close to a Kabob I was expecting. You get what you pay for I guess. I think this kabob was about $2 or 3. I apologize for the not so good picture of the kabob. I should have taken a picture with all the chicken chunks together.

Overall, I have a mixed feeling about this place. I will give it one more try, but this time with the lunch combo. The cost is a big plus if you are in a mood for Indian food.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fogo De Chao - Brazilian Steakhouse@ 1337 Chestnut St.

Fogo De Chao located at 1337 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 is a Brazilian Steakhouse. In the last week of November I was invited to a Holiday Luncheon at work and I could not go. So when an opportunity opened again the next week in the form of an invitation for another holiday luncheon, I happily said yes and recommended Fogo De Chao. I recommended Fogo De Chao along with Bindi which is an Indian restaurant. I had reviewed Bindi on Nov 27, 2008 here. Well steak was a popular favorite than Indian curry. So we went to Fogo De Chao.

Per their website, the menu contains '15 different delectable cuts of fire-roasted meats, a sumptuous buffet of gourmet salads and fresh-cut vegetables, and a variety of Brazilian side dishes'. The meat cuts include, Beef, Pork, Lamb and Chicken. The salad bar is huge and contains different greens, Olives, Bamboo shoots, Artichokes, three kinds of Cheese and lot more. It is one of the best salad bar I have had food from. The side dishes include warm cheese bread, crispy hot polenta,seasoned mashed potatoes and fried bananas. The sides are replenished throughout the meal.

What makes this restaurant unique is the way the meat is served. The lunch or dinner is buffet style with a unique twist to it. Instead of you going to the food table, the food(meat and side dishes only) is brought to the table and served on to your plate. The 'sizzling fire roasted' meat is served by a Gaucho who brings the meat on a 2 foot long skewers. Some meat like Sirloin, tenderloin beef, Lamb Shank etc are carved on your table on to a small bowl that the Gaucho brings along with the skewer. You can pick the meat out of the bowl, or help the Gaucho with the tongs and place it on to your plate.

While this is unique, it can be overwhelming for a first timer. The Gauchos keep coming one after the other, bringing with them, different skewers. You can pace yourself using a Red and Green colored disk. You can place the disk to the side that is colored red if you do not want any more meat served. As you must have guessed, you can place the disk on the green side to let the Gauchos know that you ready to have more food. You must be wondering what a Gaucho means. According the Wikipedia 'The word gaucho could be described as a loose equivalent to the North American Cowboy' of South America. The restaurant uses the term Gaucho chefs to described the people serving food. I just used the term Gaucho to make it even simple.

Of the 15 types meat, I had only Chicken drumsticks, Lamb Leg and Lamb Rib. I liked the Lamb better than the Chicken. I am a red meat guy. The meat was tender and had a good flavor. The Lamb Rib was not that good. It had more fat than meat. Here I was introduced to a new combination of eating lamb with. by my collegaue. One of my colleague requested mint jelly to one of the Gaucho. He asked if we have ever tried Lamb with a mint jelly. Some said yes and some made an awkward face meaning no. I said no but decided to give it a try. I should say, though the combination was weird to listen, it was actually good. I will definitely try it next time. We were a team of 6 on the table and my colleagues tried the other kinds of meat. They loved it specially the steak.

The sides were tasty as well. The Cheese bread was warm, soft and yummy. The polenta was my favorite. I also tried the fried Banana and the seasoned Mashed potato. They were nice. All in all, I was a happy camper.

As in all my reviews, I include the average price of the items and my recommendation. So here it goes. As I said earlier, the food is offered in a buffet style and hence there is only one price. The Lunch is about $30 and Dinner is even expensive at $50. That is way expensive for my wallet to go back in there again. While I highly recommend the place, I myself would only go there if it was free. You should definitely go there if price is not a concern to you. The experience is unique and the food is great.