Saturday, October 30, 2010

Han + Diana Northwest Trip: The First Night

Finally, we're bringing you the wanderings, thoughts, and most importantly, delicious eats we experienced earlier this month!! Basically, our appetites (very happily) tore through the pacific northwest. I don't know about you, Han, but my stomach is still growing from our trip. That's what I call a success!

Our itinerary was, in one word, daunting. So much to eat in so little time. Ever the strategizing consultant, Han came up with the brilliant idea of having two dinners on our first night, so we could fit in more foodseeing. Genius.

We landed in Seattle and headed straight to dinner spot #1: Elliott's Oyster House. This is what we were greeted with when we stepped in:

We were so hungry and ate more of this bread than we should have.

It was warm sourdough and magical butter, how could we stop?

We both had a cup of the oyster stew: willapa bay yearling oysters simmered in natural nectar with cream, bacon, shallots and croutons.

I cannot describe to you how amazing this stew was. Wonderfully creamy, and the flavors all went together perfectly. The stars of the stew were the biggest oysters I'd ever seen... ever. Plump, juicy, and fresh to the max!

We also shared dungeness crab cakes:

The crab cakes were pleasantly all crab, and again, very fresh. The slaw and chili sweet&sour sauce that came with were both asian-inspired. (The best way to be inspired.)

And then pan fried oysters served with bourbon whiskey sauce and tartar sauce:

The oysters themselves were absolutely delightful, and as they were in the stew, gargantuan. The above picture shows only TWO of these oysters... both bigger than Han's finger! I was a bit disappointed with the sauces though. The bourbon whiskey sauce was a little too jarring, and the tartar sauce could have been thicker and could have used more relish. I would have also preferred a lighter breading to keep the focus on the actual oyster.

By this time, Han and I were almost dying from the quantity of food inhaled. But we were not defeated, because we then drove straight to dinner spot #2: Serious Pie. Serious Pie is a Tom Douglas restaurant, and as we learned during our stay in Seattle, Tom Douglas basically is the king of the Seattle dining scene and owns 99/100 of the top Seattle restaurants.

After our feast at Elliott's, we had room to share only one pizza, so we followed Tyler Florence's footsteps and ordered the chanterelle mushrooms and truffle cheese pizza.

This pizza was pretty good, and I particularly enjoyed the crust, but I wasn't blown away by any of it. To be fair, by the time I ate the first piece of pizza, there was only 1% of space left in my stomach.

As you can see, our first night was a fantastic warm-up for the rest of the trip! Stay tuned.

Elliott's Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56,
Seattle, WA 98101 (Seattle waterfront)

Serious Pie
316 Virginia
Seattle, WA 98121

Xian, Deliciously Famous Foods

So, in the past two weeks, I have had a new obsession.  A serious one this time.

It first started when Thanan and I made a spontaneous trip to Flushing because *he had never been!*  Can you believe that?  It's a travesty, if I ever heard one. 

We headed out to Golden Mall to eat my beloved Lan Zhou noodles (with duck, o'course)

and then we decided to try out Xian Famous Foods

From their website: "Situated in the western region of China rich in history, the ancient city of Xi'an is known as the first capital of China, and the resting place of the famous terra cotta soldiers. Having once been the starting point of the Silk Road, Xi'an celebrates its diversity and boasts a unique cuisine that may be best described as a fusion of Middle Eastern and Chinese foods."

I had tried it before with my old roommate, some cold skin noodles, which were good, but not instant love, since I personally prefer my noodles warm (and with meat, you know me!).  This time we decided to try out D1 - savory cumin lamb noodles, because there is nothing I love more in life than cumin seasoned lamb.

D-1 - savory cumin lamb noodles.  Fresh handmade noodles tossed in a spicy oil with bean sprouts and cumin seasoned lamb.

Thanan and I read a review on the wall while we were there that described the uneven noodles to the jagged bandages of an escaped convict, which was completely true.  They are a little hard to handle with chopsticks, but nothing we couldn't work around and pile into our giant mouths.

After that first introduction, Thanan and I cannot stop thinking about those ridiculously chewy noodles.  The beautifully spicy oils and
Succulently flavored pieces of cumin infused lamb.  The things dreams are made of.  Yes, my dreams are made of lamb, don't be jealous!

Now, everytime I come back to New York, at least one of my meals has to be Xian.  Thankfully, Xian has gone viral since we discovered it; it has been featured on the Cooking channel, and also expanded into two other locations in Manhattan, one a subway stop away !!  One subway stop! 

The St. Mark's location features two two-top tables and a handful of seats along the bar.  Most people grab the food to go, but I wanted to try the noodles and was fortunate that my prayers were answered in line as a seat cleared up right after I ordered.  Now that it's becoming more brisk outside, I decided to try the savory lamb noodles in soup (I love how versatile these noodles are!).

Pictured menu items are posted along the wall. 

Noodles are cooked in a simple broth, with a spoonful of cumin lamb and hot oils added to the top. The broth was a fiery red.

The noodles were just as chewy in soup as in the regular plate. And the spicy factor was completely enhanced by the heat of the soup.  My stomach was warm for an hour after eating it.  Perfect winter dish!

I went a little crazy (Friday night, baby!) and also ordered a cumin lamb burger which was deeelish.  The bread was perfectly crispy and the bun was completely filled with that delectable lamb meat. 

Even after eating it last night, I can still eat another bowlful.  It's an infatuation.  I can't kick it!  I am totally eating it again today.  Aaah!

Xian Famous Foods
81 St. Mark's Place
New York, NY
Xi'an Famous Foods on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pure Poultry Love @ Hill Country Chicken

Ahh!  Oh the time!  I've been traveling to Dallas for a bit of late, and Diana and I also took a lovely jaunt to the Northwest to eat our stomachs out (food babies left and right!), hence the sad recent silence.

I finally made it back to NYC and managed to grab some new eats!

My new-new favorite is a spot I had always passed by when walking near Madison Square Park and noted because the window had my initials!

Hill Country Chicken, a new offshoot of the popular Hill Country BBQ, specializing in comfort food a la fried chicken made with humanely raised chickens!

Food is served up cafeteria style where you are served food along an assembly line.  There is nothing prettier than the words "Homemade pies and ice cream," right?

Lovely trays of chicken.  Hill Country sells chicken by the piece, ranging from wings ($1.75) to thighs ($3.50) to breasts topping the chart ($5.50)

Sides include fresh cut fries, pickles, corn salad and the above: cheesy fried mashed potatoes, which I just had to have, naturally

Look at that overloaded cheesy goodness!  The potatoes were really tasty.  Super creamy mashed potatoes were topped with french fries (!! I know!  Potatoes on top of potatoes!  Brill!!), bacon and sharp cheddar cheese.  I ate more of this than I would like to admit.  A small is definitely more than enough of a proper serving.

There are two ways in which the chicken is prepared: Hill Country classic (double breaded and finished with some house seasoning) and Mama El's (skinless (whaa?!) and breaded with a crunchy batter.  Both types are brined in buttermilk.  I opted for the Hill Country classic (you know I need that skin!) and of course a biscuit, for research purposes!

The buttermilk brine is a thing of beauty because the chicken was ridiculously moist and juicy, like succulent in every possible, conceivable way.  I couldn't get over every gorgeous bite.  The batter was thin, but sufficiently crispy with a touch of sweetness as well as saltiness.  Perfectly flavored.

This shot of biscuit and honey is specifically for Diana.  Everyone else can start craving it too though!  The biscuit was fine, not great but not bad.  It was heavy on the butter and tasted fantastic with honey.

I grabbed a mini pie ($3) to go; they had a variety of options ranging from coconut cream to banana cream to something called the Texas Billionaire which was described like a decadent candy bar pie (that's how we roll!).  However, the clerk let me in on his current favorite, the monthly special that was unlisted (I love eating secret pies!), which was a peanut butter banana cream chocolate ganache pie.  Uhm.  How could that pie have every single ingredient that I love in life?

Needless to say, the pie was delightful.  The perfect size, light yet indulgent and satisfying.  Ever since our Northwest trip, I am kind of loving banana cream pies!

By the next morning, as I was headed to the airport back to Kansas City, I was still thinking about that unbelievably juicy thigh from Hill Country.  I still think about it now.  I am obsessed!  Sure the chicken is pricey, but it's really worth it!  I am definitely heading back there my next weekend in New York; I gotta try their pie shake, a milkshake made with their pie of the day.  Oh, be still my heart!

1123 Broadway
New York, NY 10010
(212) 257-6446
Hill Country Chicken on Urbanspoon