3 Days of Eating in Boston

Boston

Boston from the Prudential Tower

Even though I had only been once, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Boston. I fell in love with all of the history and architecture and always vowed to go back. It took almost 20 years, but I finally made my triumphant return.

B and G Oyster

B&G Oysters

Fried Clams and Lobster Roll

Fried Clams and Lobster Roll

My sole goal in Boston was to eat a lobster roll. My Bostonian friends happily obliged and took me to B&G Oysters (550 Tremont St.). This hip restaurant has cute outdoor seating, a seafood bar and a few high tables scattered throughout the restaurant.

B&G Oysters Food

B&G Oysters Food

We ordered a medley of food, including raw oysters, fried oysters, fried clams, gnocchi with calamari and lobster rolls. Everything was absolutely amazing, but I had to admit that the fried oysters and clams were standouts for me. My lobster roll was served cold and mixed with a bit of mayo and chives. I was really happy that the mayo was not overwhelming and that the sweetness of the lobster flesh could really shine. I would completely recommend B&G Oysters if you’re looking for a Boston seafood experience.

Yankee Lobster: Fried Scallop and Lobster Roll

Yankee Lobster Company: Fried Scallop and Lobster Roll

When said B&G Oysters friends asked what else I wanted to eat, I simply replied: “More lobster rolls.” They recommended Yankee Lobster Company (300 Northern Ave.). Facing the water on the pier, Yankee Lobster is a casual and no-frills spot where you order your food and quickly grab a table. I completely enjoyed the casual vibe and quick service. After reading multiple reviews, I knew that I had to order the fried scallops. I would order these every day if I could. Juicy, succulent scallops in a light batter with tangy tartar sauce is definitely up there in my ranks of favorite foods (besides lobster rolls). My lobster roll also did not fail to disappoint. Served hot with a simple preparation of hot butter on a perfectly toasted bun, I liked it even more than B&G Oysters version. If you’re visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art, Yankee Lobster is a great option for a quick lunch, dinner or even afternoon snack!

Regina Fenway Park

Fenway Park

Speaking of quick meals, Boston has a plethora of pizza by the slice options. I decided to try Regina Pizzeria (multiple locations) since there was one walking distance from Fenway Park. You really can’t beat a huge slice of pizza for an affordable price. I also recommend taking a tour of Fenway Park. The guide was so enthusiastic, knowledgable and fun. Plus, how often do you get to visit America’s oldest ballpark?

The Spread at Moonshine 152

The Spread at Moonshine 152

One of the up and coming neighborhoods in Boston is South Boston aka. Southie, which is full of awesome restaurants like Moonshine 152 (152 Dorchester Ave.). Full disclosure: I grew up with the owner and chef, Asia Mei and I consider her to be like a cousin. However, it wouldn’t have clouded my judgement because Asia is a talented and fantastic chef. My friends and I went for brunch and feasted on tater tot poutine, French toast sticks, grilled avocado, a peach and fried prosciutto salad and omelette. That French toast was seriously one of the best French toasts I’ve ever had. It’s not a custard-style French toast, but little deep-fried fritters that aren’t oily or greasy. They tasted like churros with a raspberry dipping sauce and I love churros.

I really liked how Asia would throw in nods to her Asian heritage. The tater tot poutine is topped with Chinese sausage, gravy, green onions and white cheddar cheese. The grilled avocado had an Asian slaw with peanuts. She serves brunch, dinner and even late night eats. I wish I could have gone for dinner because there are even more fusion dishes. It leaves something to desire for my next trip.

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Shanghai: Tapas at Malabar and Tomatito

Malabar in Shanghai

Malabar in Shanghai

Tapas restaurants are definitely popular destinations in Shanghai and I found two places that I really like. My friend Cher took me to Malabar (1081 Wuding Lu; 武定路1081号), which is on the popular and lively restaurant street, Wuding Road. We ordered croquetas, olives and grilled baby squid to start. The croquetas were a little too oily and I probably wouldn’t order them again. I did love the olives, which were meaty in texture, and the grilled baby squid. The calamaritos a la plancha “con su tinta” were cooked perfectly and the chimichurri sauce complemented it really well.

Malabar: Ribeye and Manchego Cheese

Malabar: Ribeye and Manchego Cheese

I was so excited to see ribeye steak from Uruguay on the menu and we happily ordered the 300g portion. This steak was served medium rare with an onion compote and roasted potatoes. For only 175 RMB, this dish is a total steal! The meat was tender and flavorful and I loved the onion compote. I saw that this one of my the most popular dishes in the restaurant with practically every table ordering one. Finally, Cher and I ended our meal with manchego cheese, which was a healthy portion of cheese and a tomato jam. Malabar is definitely a popular restaurant because the place filled up and people were waiting in line to get in. For the pricing and quality of food, I think it’s definitely a solid spot for tapas.

Tomatito Tapas

Tomatito Tapas: Albondigas and “Broken Egg”

Tomatito (2/F, 99 Taixing Lu; 泰兴路99号2楼) is part of the famous El Willy Group and is the more casual restaurant compared to sister restaurants, El Elefante and El Willy. I’ve been to Tomatito twice and the place is always popping.

Meat and Cheese Board and Nachos

Meat and Cheese Board and Nachos

While Tomatito serves classic Spanish dishes, there are also a lot of unconventional items. In terms of dishes that I would recommend, I liked the albondigas. These meatballs are served in a casserole dish with potatoes and tomato sauce with some sliced bread. The “broken egg” dish is a fried egg served ripped up on top of potatoes, BBQ pork belly and chilis. It was an interesting combination and felt very hearty with the potatoes. However, I felt the nachos were less successful. These nachos were also topped with multiple fried eggs, but I felt it made it too difficult to eat. Nachos are meant to be eaten with my hands and not my knife and fork. My favorite dish of the night was definitely the calamari (non-fried), which was tender pieces of squid served with a garlic aioli and lemon juice.  My second favorite dish were the steak “air baguettes,” which were crispy crackers topped with cheese spread and a slice of beef.

Pom Pom Cookies Cake

Pom Pom Cookies Cake

The second time I went to Tomatito, it was for Cher’s birthday and I brought a special ordered cookie cake from Pom Pom Cookies. I’ve written about my love of Pom Pom Cookies on my blog before, but this was my first time ordering one of her cookie cakes. I ordered a triple chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. I cannot rave enough about how AMAZING this cake is. Each layer is a thick, chewy cookie, which makes this cake incredibly dense. Since the “cake layers” were heavier, I actually liked that the cream cheese frosting was on the lighter side. While it may look small, the cake can literally feed 20 people. There were 10 of us and we could only eat half. It is deceptively filling. If you’re interested in one of Pom Pom Cookies’ cakes, you can email her directly for flavors and pricing (info@pompomcookies.com).

Shanghai: The Commune Social

The Commune Social

The Commune Social

I love the whole concept of Jason Atherton’s The Commune Social (511 Jiangning Road; 江宁路511号)– a tapas, dessert and cocktail bar. The Commune Social has different rooms for each course so diners can choose their own fancy. When you first walk into the restaurant, there is a small room with a few tables that also directly face the dessert bar. As you keep wandering through toward the back of the restaurant, you’re greeted by a warm, open kitchen surrounded by eager diners. When I visited this past weekend, the weather was cold and rainy, but I could see the open terrace, which would be the perfect spot to enjoy a fruity beverage on a warm summer day. Upstairs on the second floor is a cocktail bar. I really like the idea that you could come to the The Commune Social and fulfill any one of your cravings– a well-crafted cocktail, delicious tapas or a scrumptious dessert.

Top: Dessert bar; Bottom left: Duck empanada; Bottom right: Tomato tartar

Top: Dessert bar; Bottom left: Duck empanada; Bottom right: Tomato tartar

There were so many interesting items on the menu and it was actually hard to decide what to get. My friend and I started our meal with the duck empanada with pan-seared foie gras and one of the specials of the day, tomato tartar. The duck empanada was a beautiful stuffed pastry, chalk-full of shredded duck and it was served on top of a sweet onion relish. I couldn’t help but salivate when I saw the foie gras, which is one of my favorite foods in the entire world. While the empanada was tasty, the foie gras really stole the show and I ended up just taking my time and enjoying every single bite with the sweet onion relish. The tomato tartar was not anything special, but I wanted something refreshing since it was raining outside. I enjoyed the medley of fresh tomatoes, but some of the cherry tomatoes were still too raw and not ready to eat.

Top left: Suckling pig; Top right: Sangria popsicles; Bottom left: Peanut butter dessert; Bottom right: Dessert menu

Top left: Suckling pig; Top right: Sangria popsicles; Bottom left: Peanut butter dessert; Bottom right: Dessert menu

For our main course, we ordered the suckling pig, which was served with a sherry dressing with roasted pineapple and peppers. The skin on the pig was so incredibly crispy that it was almost hard to cut through. The meat was tender and fatty, but I was really digging the creamy, mashed apple sauce. I liked how it was a play on pork chops and apple sauce. The dessert was the probably my favorite part of the meal. We ordered the peanut ice cream with red fruit and salted peanut caramel, which the waiter told us was the most popular dessert on the menu. While there was a cylinder of peanut butter ice cream, there were also these scoops of peanut butter mousse. When I scooped a small piece, I heard the instant crunch when my spoon touched the mound. It was like they took wafer cookies, mashed them up and mixed them with this wonderful peanut butter mousse. It almost crackled in your mouth like Pop Rocks candy. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of peanut butter, but I loved this dessert. By mixing it with berries and a fruit sorbet, I felt like I was eating a fancy peanut butter and jelly dessert.

I definitely want to go back to The Commune Social again soon. I felt like I only tried a small snippet of their menu and there are so many dishes left to try. I’ve also heard really good things about their brunch. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations so it may be difficult to go with a large party. But if you and a friend are cool with sitting on stools for a relaxed meal, you’ll definitely be rewarded with a delicious meal. Just don’t forget to leave room for dessert!

Spain Inside Shanghai? Only at Bocado

So I’m in Shanghai for the next month and caved into paying for a VPN. I couldn’t last a whole 4-5 weeks with no access to my blog! You know what else I miss in China? Yelp. Yes, part of me understands why it’s blocked in China, but Yelp could totally be the Holy Grail for foreigners here in Shanghai. There are SO many restaurants here and a real lack of reviews. Fear not! I am here to try and fill in those gaps for you. While you may judge me for eating at Western restaurants in Shanghai, please note that I also eat plenty of Chinese food. There’s just really good Western food that you can’t pass up.

Inside Bocado

Inside Bocado

I just got back from one of those nights. One of those magical nights that remind you why you love China so freaking much. My friend Vanessa* and I tried out a new Spanish restaurant called Bocado, located in the French Concession on the 2nd floor of 47 Yong Fu Road (永富路47号2楼). Bocado just opened about 7 months ago and now has live flamenco guitar music every Wednesday night. I highly recommend you go on a Wednesday because the music was amazing. The guitarist played “La Camisa Negra” by Juanes and won 500 million points for that. Seriously, you can never have too much Juanes in your life. I met Bocado’s owner, Charles Cabell, and brand-new manager, Pablo. Charlie and Pablo were incredibly nice and sent me complimentary appetizers after I shared my MOO blog business card with them (the perks of being an eater extraordinaire).

Pulpo a la Gallega and Croquetas de Setas

Pulpo a la Gallega and Croquetas de Setas

Blood Sausage

Morcilla a la Parrilla

Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico

Paella

Paella de Marisco

We started the night with glasses of their red sangria and I was very happy to see that Bocado does not skimp on the fruit or flavor in their sangria. For appetizers, we had the morcilla a la parrilla (blood sausage), croquetas de setas (mushroom and truffle croquettes), pulpo a la gallega (octopus), and jamon iberico (Iberian ham). My favorite was definitely the octopus. It was served on top of thin slices of potatoes and topped with paprika and sea salt. The octopus was tender, not rubbery. The little bursts of sea salt really balanced out the flavor of the dish and I kept reaching for a second, and then a third, and then a fourth helping. The blood sausage was also really good and I liked how there was a slight crispiness to it because they barbecued it and then served it on top of a bed of bell peppers. While the mushroom croquettes were tasty, they weren’t anything extraordinary. I liked the Iberian ham though, which is imported from Spain, and cut in thicker slices than what I’ve seen in the U.S.  Continue reading

SF Birthday Extravaganza II: Tapas in North Beach’s Campanula Kitchen and Bar

The birthday festivities continued with a fun group meal at Campanula Kitchen and Bar in San Francisco’s North Beach area. I first found out about Campanula from UrbanDaddy. Since North Beach is mostly, touristy Italian restaurants, I was definitely intrigued to try a tapas bar.

Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes

Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

Beet Salad

Beet Salad

Lamb Meatballs

Lamb Meatballs

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

Osso Buco

Osso Buco

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