On The Menu

Teranga (JP Review)

Comments (0) | Sunday, August 29, 2010

Been wanting to go to Teranga since they opened last year. Finally went a couple of weekends ago and was not disappointed at all. We were greeted with the friendliest of smiles and sat down at the bar. After looking at the menu, I was slightly surprised (I say slightly because I read in passing earlier in the day about some Vietnamese influence in Senegalese cuisine) to see a few items that clearly had a Vietnamese twist to them. I asked the waitress how that came to be and she replied that as both were French colonized the mixture of cultures is evident in Senegal, which has a large Vietnamese community. Hm...learn something new everyday I guess.

A plate of toasted bread came out along with a dipping sauce that had hints of curry. We devoured this in seconds, not only because we were both starving but because the dipping sauce was highly addictive.

I had to order the Nem, which is Teranga's version of the egg roll. This came with a nuoc mam (fish sauce) dipping sauce. I have to say if you replaced the beef with pork you might be able to have this egg roll in a Vietnamese restaurant. Ok, the texture of the wrapping was a little different. Instead of being a lighter fried wrapper it had a chewier, ricey tasting wrapper. Not that this was bad, in fact, it was very, very good. Any future trip to Teranga has to include an order of Nem.

For our mains, I went with the national dish (Thiebou Djeun) which is a herb-stuffed white fish served with jasmine rice and some root vegetables. The fish came out looking a little dry, and it did taste a bit overcooked. The flavors itself were good, but I think I was expecting some bigger flavors. I've never had Senegalese food before, so my expectations might have been wrong to start, but I was thinking bold, spicy flavors. The rice was nicely cooked and the portion was huge.

Abby, who lately has been ordering a lot better (maybe luckier) than me, went with the Brochettes. This was grilled cubes of beef with yucca fries. Perfectly cooked beef with great flavors. She enjoyed the yucca fries a lot, but I thought they needed a little salt.

We weren't sure about dessert until our waitress described a rice pudding-esque one that comes with fruit. We both agreed that sounded fantastic and ordered it. The "sauce" of the rice pudding was very good and sweet and was complimented nicely with raisins and other chopped fruit. The "rice" was couscous and I wasn't a big fan of it, but Abby didn't mind it at all.

Service was very friendly and treated us great. Water was refilled in a timely manner, even though there were only two people working the entire restaurant. Some people had to wait because they had a large group (9 people I believe) but other than that it seemed like people were getting seated in a timely manner. Overall, I really enjoyed Teranga and want to come back to try other items. I do have to take half a point off because my fish was dry. I give Teranga a 3 and 1/2 out of 5.

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JNJ Turo Turo (JP Review)

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JNJ Turo Turo is a very quaint, family operated authentic Filipino restaurant located in Quincy. They have some premade items you can choose from right by the cashier along with some made to order items that are listed on the wall. The menu changes daily.

We ordered the fried fish (I forget the name of the dish) and we got the last one of the day. The family ordering after us also wanted the dish and we were so very close to just giving it to them, but we really wanted to try it and I'm glad we did because it was the best dish of the night. We also went with the crispy pork belly, the pancit (stir fried noodles) and the beef BBQ on a stick.

The crispy fish was definitely the best dish. It was a milk fish, I believe that's what they said, and it was fried whole with a very nice crispy skin and tender flesh. The very soft bones were edible as well, so you didn't have to worry about that. It did have a bit of a vinegary taste, but I kinda liked that as a compliment to the dry white rice that we received with our dinner.

The beef bbq and pancit were just alright, nothing special. In fact the pancit was a little flavorless, but I added some of the fish sauce that was on the table to it and that helped it out.

The lechon was a bit disappointing though. They looked overly dry and tasted like day old pork chop. The dipping sauce, which I swear has some apple in it, was actually quite nice though.

I think we did this restaurant a disservice by coming in an hour to closing time. We probably got the dregs of the day since they weren't going to whip anything new right when they are closing shop. I'd come back and give it another shot if I was ever in the Quincy area again. I give JNJ Turo Turo a 3 out of 5.

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The Butcher Shop (JP Review)

Comments (0) | Monday, August 16, 2010

I can't believe that we have not been to a Barbara Lynch restaurant in all the time we've been in Boston. We corrected this huge culinary hole on Saturday by going to The Butcher Shop for lunch. I have never, ever seen less than 20 people inside this restaurant. It always seems so busy that we always discount it as a place to go to for dinner because we think there's no way we will be seated quickly. While walking past on Saturday, we only saw on table taken and a list of lunch specials that sounded absolutely delicious. We walked in and sat down at the bar.

The restaurant itself is a very stylish layout. There's a large bar with a few high tops along the window and a large butcher block in front of some refrigerators filled with meats and other items for sale. All the servers in black t-shirts and jeans making for a very casual feel (we were nervous about eating here because we were just in t-shirts) and the butcher in his whites with a tie breaking down some meats.

Abby went with the duck hot dog and I went for the BLT. Some Italian soda bread was placed in front of us along with some butter (topped with salt) and organic honey. The honey was no ordinary honey...I forget the process it went through that our bartender explained to us. However, after one small bite, we both were hooked. I think all restaurants should provide this honey and salted butter to be served with bread. Fan-freaking-tastic.

After a short wait, our mains arrived. The tomatoes in my BLT stole the show of my sandwich. One would think the massive amount of bacon I got would be the main attraction, but the tomatoes were just so fresh and so perfect in this sandwich that that is all I can remember. The only way I think one could prefect this sandwich is to replace the Helman's mayo with Miracle Whip...however, maybe that's not a good idea because the tangy MW might take away from the sweetness of the fresh tomatoes. Abby's duck hot dog was likewise "to die for". I definitely enjoyed how little of a bun she got so there was no mistake that the duck hot dog was the star of that plate. And that was one damn good hot dog. I was very surprised that the sweetness of the brioche bun didn't make the entire dish too sweet (what with the duck and all) but it was perfect. The homemade potato chips earn my highest praise because it reminded me of my own potato chips. (This is not to say these chips were amateurish in any way, it was just that they were seasoned with a lot of pepper which is how I do it at home.)

At the end of our meal, we purchased a little 3oz jar of the honey for $3. The meal was decently priced too, with both entrees being $10 or less. And for the quality of our food, those prices might have been bargains. We will definitely be back to try their salumi's and charcuterie and give dinner a try too. Based on our lunch experience, I give The Butcher Shop a 5 out of 5.

Butcher Shop on Urbanspoon
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M&M Ribs (JP Review)

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Hey JP, you wanna wait in a 2 hour line for M&M ribs with a bunch of annoying yuppies complaining about how there's no T in South End (false) who are constantly bumping into you while you stand there not being able to move because you don't want to get out of line? Do you want to wait 2 hours and try your hardest not to punch the pretentious jerks behind you talking about how they shouldn't have to wait in line and that they can just get better bbq elsewhere, but just stand there and continue to annoy you? Not even if you will be rewarded for your patience with a friendly server that sadly does not have much food left, not even their famous ribs? No? Not again, you say? Well, how about driving 2 minutes down the street, parking in a sand lot, and walking right up to the nicest BBQ Truck lady ever and ordering cheap BBQ and taking it back home in under 10 minutes?

That's basically what we did this past Friday night. Once again we were in a very indecisive mood, neither of us able to make a decision on where we want to go eat. Finally, the wife reminded me that M&M Ribs are open late on Friday. So after looking on the interweb to figure out exactly where it's located, and seeing that's it's a stone's throw from our condo, we were out the door faster than you can say "food truck festival".

We arrive and there's a family eating on some picnic tables to the left of the food truck. The menu is listed right underneath the window of the truck, along with some specials listed right at window level.

After some tough decisions, Abby went with the ribs dinner with mac and cheese and spicy beans and rice and I went with the ribs/chicken combo dinner with spicy beans and rice and candied yams. I also added an order of fried chicken wings. Once of the nicest ladies ever, who was all smiles, took our order and just seemed genuinely happy to be sharing the food with us. After a short wait, we paid and got our food. ("You'll be coming back soon, dear." How right she will be...)

We got home and unpacked the goodies from the bag. The chicken wings were the kind of wings you'd expect from a family cook out. Perfectly fried, a little greasy, with a great crispy, flavorful crust. The candied yams were sweet and succulent. The spicy beans and rice didn't look like what I was expecting, but were also delicious and with a nice little kick. The BBQ chicken looked dry, but wasn't at all. There was a little white meat and some dark meat all mixed together. The famous ribs had some bites that were more tender than others, but were fantastic. The BBQ sauce wasn't the best I've ever had, but did what it had to do without over powering the meat, which is key.

M&M Ribs is not the best BBQ I've ever had. However, it is by far the best value (very large portions over very good food) I've ever had in the Boston area. Both times I've eaten from this food truck (at the food festival and again this night) I've been left wanting more, in a good way. There are tons of specialties I would love to try (like the jerk chicken and rice) and since I know how close this food truck is I will most likely be back often. I give M&M Ribs a 4 out of 5.

M&M Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Boston Food Truck Festival

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Oh, Boston Food Truck Festival...what can I say about you that hasn't already been said. Yes the lines were long and yes it was very, very warm that day in the parking lot...but the food was good (what we could get at least) and the idea is very, very sound.

I love me some food trucks, and I guess there are laws in Boston that makes it tough for food trucks to be prevalent all through the city. However, I do like how these food trucks are getting together to not only have this festival, but also try to change some of the food health regulations.

We got there around noon, and there were huge lines everywhere. Luckily for us, we already had Speed's the weekend before at it's location in New Market Square, so we didn't have to wait for that delicious hot dog. I wanted to try M&M ribs soooo bad for the longest time. That was the first line I had to get into...sadly, that was also the last line I got into. We waited for over 2 hours, and once we finally got to order, Mighty Moe was out of ribs and most sides. We were able to get a chopped BBQ sandwich and a side of potatoes and onions. The sandwich, while flavorful and cooked nicely, was a little bit on the cold side. The meat was probably smoked in advanced and held at room temp or a cooler until it was needed and quickly heated up on the skillet.

While waiting in line, we missed out on some pickles and fried chicken and waffles that we also wanted to try. Luckily for us, our friends Ian and Female JP were waiting in the Fillbelly's line and got us some empanadas to try. These were very good, with the beef being better.

All in all, the Boston Food Truck Festival was probably a success, and I'm glad it was a free event at the SoWa open market, minutes walking distance from my place. Too bad the food trucks didn't plan accordingly (too their credit, I didn't even anticipate that many people at the festival) and have enough food for the masses. Maybe next time this happens they will know how many people to expect, or maybe I'll just camp out the night before with a few friends and each one of us gets into different lines and grab whatever is available.

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