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Friday, March 20, 2009

Culinary Explorations - I was not in Kansas but in Providence

I came out East last week to watch my son play a recital for his senior year at Juliard Music School in New York City. Before that happened , I flew back into Providence, to visit family and sampled several of its great restaurants in and around Providence. There were new places to try and one from last year that I only found out last year Apsara Palace.

I love Apsara Palace.There are several reasons for me to come back to a restaurant: reasonable prices, food that is a level above your ordinary fare, varied menu, good service and ambiance. This place meets all of those criteria points and we love it.

For the second time, my good friends from Newton, Mass met us for another memorable feast. The food is so good and the menu so expansive, its just a lovely place to tantalize your taste buds. So why not because they love it too.
We had crispy vegetarian spring rolls, vegetarian There is a little art to making your food for these little duck sandwiches so I photographed each step with information at this link. (I will post a link soon)

There are quite a few eateries on Hope Street from Wickeden Street (near my brother's store Atomic Appliances and Flescher Furniture) and goes North towards the
On Hope Street restaurant row, I ducked into this gourmet food shop and bought a spicy condiment that I had never heard of make primary from spicy plum and other spices. It is a national condiment and called Tkemal. It comes in yellow, bright green and a darker hue. All give a real plum sour taste. Well spoken for, I had to buy it and try it. It is great on chicken, vegetarian burgers and more . It's great.

Angkor on Urbanspoon

I had tried Cambodian recipes and I wanted to discover what it had for lunch.

I was looking for a more authentic Cambodian dish.A rather small but personable place, very intimate looking with nice tones inside. I decided to do take out. I spied the menu to decide which dish to take. The lemon grass- basil chicken seemed a good bet as I did not want to try a curry dish at this time. I love basil and this might have a different twist on its theme with the red pepper and lemongrass. I love the delicate flavor of lemongrass.
The green jalapeno gave the dish a little heat which stayed on my lips. The lemon grass flavored the chicken well. The big basil leaves did not add much to the dish but there was a subtle flavor.

When I came to Providence my brother mentioned this place.I knew of the restaurant India a few blocks away but I did not see dishes that I thought were unusual.
I wanted someplace to lunch on Sunday.

I had passed Chef Pascal. It is rated very highly. I might try it someday but not now. The fare is not my usual style and its more fine dining with a high price tag to match . Still maybe someday. But I headed for the Indian restaurant just over the line in Pawtucket.

Rasoi on Urbanspoon

I had never seen as Rasoi as it is tucked a little ways from the street, clustered in the middle of a vegetarian restaurant and a BBQ place and a pizza place. I am glad my brother mentioned this place because it has some fine dishes on the buffet. What better way to try a number of dishes? I really like to find and eat new and different ethnic cuisine and this place handled that assignment eloquently.

The inside has this azure blue coloration on the floors with more muted tones on the walls.

The buffet rims the side window near the front door and has quite a few tasty dishes. Going clockwise, I passed on the regular salad greens and went for the mushroom soup and then the entrees.

There were quite a few so I actually had to make another pass to get the others I missed going clockwise. I quickly found that the entrees had all types of flavors and textures, colors and were from different regions of Indian as it seemed. I have sought out and sampled Indian food at restaurants New England, Washington DC, the West Coast and many other places, besides making my own dishes at home, but this creative restaurant offered several entrees I had never heard about.

I spooned some mushroom soup into my cup. It was very interesting because it was actually mushroom - chicken soup. The chicken soup added a more velvety and smooth flavor to the soup. My young nephew loved it too. I will have to find some recipes for this mushroom soup refinement. Onward to the entrees.
There was the regular Naan bread which we loved (left). At another table we spied another more cracker like bread that does not come with this buffet (maybe we will try this in the future).

That big white object (on the right bottom) is a big hard boiled egg that sits in the middle of the egg curry.
A winner was also the potato vegetarian dish with its intricate flavors.The curry was also excellent. There was also a shrimp dish too.

I could not pass on the yellowish bread pudding (I loved bread pudding- top right hand corner). What made it unusual was the yellowish hue on the top that made it a butter bread pudding. Smooth it caped off a memorable buffet and Sunday brunch.
The service was efficient and they constantly filled our glasses so I could clean my thirst and palate.

I can see that quite a few people have already frequented this place. The price ($12) was very reasonable for the amount and excellent quality. Plus the dishes some like the potato dish and egg curry were different then I had ever seen and. When a place offers offers food "a level above ordinary (Indian) fare well I am impressed. I rate this places very high and will come back. I believe the dishes rotate so next time I will sample more and write about them again.

Blaze East Side on Urbanspoon

Going down Hope Street again , I ducked into Blaze to see what it was all about . Quite an eclectic menu with items from different parts of the world. My mother has eaten Salmon here and liked the meal. This place is a combination bar and cafe restaurant. I talked with the waitress, looked over the menu and decided on a small snack to go. I love jerk spiced items and there was a fried jerk chicken with a coconut sauce that seemed unusual The chicken were mildly crisped and not too overally fried, which was good. I was surprised that instead of a whitish sauce it was muddy brown. I dunked the chicken into it and tasted it. It was more like a tamarind type sauce with a slightly tangy lemony flavor.

I then headed down to Wayland Square to check out some of the other restaurants for future reference. La Laiterie at Farmstead had good reviews (but it would have to wait for the future for sampling). People like the authentic Asian fare at Hakura East. I can see why. It has sushi, Japanese and other Asian items. I would like to try this pricey bistro or at least one item sometime in the future too.
Also there was>, a breakfast shop with mostly American breakfast menu. I see that is has won several awards and my mother she has been here. Its quaint and maybe someday for breakfast. But my target was a Vietnamese restaurant I heard about.

Phohorn's on Urbanspoon

I heard a lot about Pho Horn'. Last but not least, Vietnamese was on the menu before I left for Kansas. I had found that this Vietnamese restaurant was near where many years ago, I did weekend bowling. Now there is a little strip mall just West. Instead of defunct Chinese Buffet nearby there is a thriving and well spoken for Vietnamese restaurant which for all indications should be around for for along time. Here's why!

Upon entering this small area, one can't but notice the nice tropical aquarium with a huge carp or is it a goldfish? A constant stream of people constantly shuttled in to sample the Asian food, Vietnamese flavors transform chicken, beef and more into flavor nevertheless and packs good flavor, many different then regular Chinese fare. I was particularly interested in finding different Vietnamese entrees, soups etc that might be a little different from the great restaurant in Kansas City near Westport, MO and downtown. My main intent was to not to Kansas City restaurants or food but find different entrees in this case Vietnamese/ Asian fare. I am always looking for different flavors. I am also always searching for different recipes to try at home too and find other resources. In quest of tastes that cause me to say "aha" called "satori (japanese).

From the reviews this place seemed to tell me that my mother and I would like this restaurant as the Phoenix RI magazine has reviewed it favorably. The menu has plenty to choose from for myself and my mother.

I tried the marinated chicken wings with the pink colored duck sauce. The 8 wings were lightly fried has a pink duck sweet sauce with it . I finished the wings while I waited for the soup and entrees.

The unusual sweet and sour soup has to be something that I had to try. I chose the salmon.Huge chunks of the salmon swam in the pineapple sweetened and red pepper spicy soup broth. There was also bean sprouts, basil and more .

The salmon was succulent with many small bits intermingled with beansprouts, vegetables and more. I added rice to the little bowls. The broth was sweet but had a hint of heat which lingered on my lips. It was a little sweeter then I thought (maybe due to the pineapple) but it was good and very different.

My mother decided on the fried whole flounder. The one thing we should have done was ask how much it was going to be ($24).

Nevertheless, it was delicious and we feasted on almost all of it! The slightly sweet brown sauce melded well with the fish. We had to pick through the bones which was a chore but it was worth it.

I liked chewing on the fried bones and much of the rest of the fish, besides the flesh which was rather crunchy. There were tomatoes and more to go with it. Pancakes would be been good to stuff with the fish and would have made it even better.
We were stuffed so no dessert for us. Another memorable meal.

Now where can I find the recipes?
I passed by the Blue Cottage which I might try in the future for breakfast. Then it was time to head to New York City.

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