Hong Kong Eatery (Quincy, MA)

This location is so much more convenient for me to go to than the Chinatown one but the food is just not as good.  It’s okay, not terrible – but the original Hong Kong Eatery in Boston’s Chinatown definitely has consistently better food.

Recently I stopped by around lunchtime on a Saturday.  I found it strange that no other patrons were there, just like the last time I was in.  After I was seated, two other people came in to eat and there were a few take-out orders.  I got the beef brisket rice dish and the large portion came out piping hot!  The meat was very fatty (fattier than other brisket I’ve had) and the brown sauce lacked complexity of flavor.  A few bites in and my tastebuds were bored.  The last time I was here  I had a wonton noodle soup and it was the same story.  Definitely not the same as the wonton noodle soup at the Chinatown Hong Kong Eatery that I have known and loved since childhood.

Other reviewers have noted the poor service but I found the waiters and waitresses to be friendly.  I guess it could have helped that I spoke Chinese with them.  In addition, the roasted meats are quite good.  They are supposedly prepared at the other location and brought in first thing in the morning.  I got two whole roast ducks and several pounds of roast pork that the family enjoyed.

1510 Hancock Street
Quincy, MA 02169
(617) 770-3330

Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale (New Haven)

We had take-out from here tonight for dinner and it was just as good as the one in Madison (our usual spot).  My boyfriend’s parents decided to stop by on their drive home from out of state and noted that it was packed around 5:30 tonight.  We called in the order and they still had to wait a little while.

The fried scrod and french fries (fish & chips – yum!) were excellent and still hot and crispy after the car ride from New Haven to Guilford.  One of us got the boiled potatoes instead of fries  and there were only three small red potatoes, so I think they skimped a bit.

Overall, we were all very happy with our meals.  We’d come here again for sure, but the Madison location will always have our hearts.  The charm of the carousel and the delicious soft-serve ice cream available in the warmer months adds to the experience and cannot be beat.

501 Long Wharf Dr
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 691-6619

Mesa Verde (Portland, Maine)

Came here for a pre-dinner snack last week with a group of ladies coming from Andrea’s the bridal shop.  It was one of the only places open at the odd dining time between lunch and dinner.  The vegan in our group stated that she had been here before and liked it – and they had stuff she could eat.  Yay!

We sat at one of the extremely large comfy booths and braved the gusts of wind and cold air that came through the door every time a patron came in or out.  Drafty!  The table shared a bunch of stuff, tapas-style, each person ordering something different – except the vegan.  She ordered her own stuff.

The chicken quesadilla I ordered was very good.  It totally hit the spot and the rice and beans that came with it were tasty as well.  Jalapeno poppers were just ok, and the chunks of meat on the chicken fajitas could have used a little more flavor and could have been cut a little smaller.  I didn’t get to try the beef fajita but was told it suffered the same issues as the chicken fajita.  Nachos were decent.  Pina colada was better than the watery and strong Strawberry Daquiri.  The vegan was alarmed by the meat-like substance in her veggie chili but was relieved when she found out it was a soy-based meat substitute

618 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-6089

Mr. J Asian Bistro (Guilford)

We never came here when it was Shangri-La but after reading about the reopening under new name and ownership in the Shoreline Times we gave this place a shot recently and loved it!

We were very pleased with everything we ordered when we got take out the weekend before last.  I had the Drunken Noodles, my boyfriend ordered House Fried Rice, and we shared an order of Vegetable Dumplings.  The Drunken noodles were the best I have had in a long time.  Heat level was quite low so ask them to kick it up a notch if you like it spicy, but it had a nice balance of sweet to salty, the noodles were the ideal firmness and did not fall apart as they do from other places.  Sauteed onions and peppers in the noodle dish was great, as were the chunks of fried tofu.  I stole a few bites of the boyfriend’s friend rice and that was also very good.

On Monday I was in town for lunch so I decided to get one of their lunch specials.  When I first looked at the menu I noticed a slew of attractive lunch special options so I made a note to try them once I got the chance.  There are options ranging from Japanese dishes like tempuras and teriyaki anything, to sushi,  bento boxes, etc., to Thai dishes like ginger duck and Panang Curry, to Chinese dishes like black bean sauce with any meat or sesame chicken.I ordered a teriyaki beef bento box.  For $10:  rice, teriyaki beef with vegetables, three pan fried pork and vegetable dumplings, four California rolls, miso soup, and a salad.  What a steal!  I have a big appetite and I couldn’t even finish everything in one sitting.  The presentation was beautiful, too.

Since it was bento style, the to-go container had separate compartments so sauces from one part of the meal didn’t run into another part.  The rice was cooked exquisitely well and was fragrant, indicative of high quality Jasmine white rice.  You may ask for brown rice instead if that’s your thing.  The perfect rice was topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.  The gyoza’s, or dumplings, were also fantastic, and served atop a sweet sauce.  Beef was just a tiny bit chewy, but flavored well and not overcooked by most people’s standard.  It was in a tasty teriyaki sauce and surrounded by thin sliced onions, carrots, and zucchini.  The California rolls were very nicely prepared also.  It made me excited to try some of their other rolls in the future.  In the middle of the large rectangular box was a small space for pickled ginger and wasabi while soy sauce was given in a separate container.

I am always wary of restaurants that specialize in more than one type of cuisine.  It’s like what they say about people who are multilingual – that they aren’t that great at any of the languages they speak.  So far I’ve tried Japanese and Thai and they’ve both impressed me, so I can only imagine the Chinese is very good here as well.  I have a feeling that the days where we have to drive all the way to Clinton for decent Chinese food are behind us.

So far this one looks like a keeper.

100 Village Walk
Guilford, CT 06437
(203) 453-3355

East West Grille (West Hartford)

A breakfast review –

East West Grille has a unique and tasty breakfast.

And great coffee.  So important with breakfast.

And cozy atmosphere.

When it’s not super crazy crowded (actually, it’s never been all the times I have been there), it’s a fun place to sit and relax while the friendly waiters and waitresses cater to your food related needs.  I love the red booths, plants-a-plenty, and the abundant amounts of sunshine that makes its way through the diner car windows.  I felt the East West Grille magic when I came in for breakfast with my roommate this past Saturday morning.  I definitely enjoy eating in more than take out.  I have never been terribly impressed by lunch or dinner, and I think the atmosphere really adds to the positive experience.

So, breakfast is served F, Sat, + Sun. and you have your typical selections offered at any old diner like choice of eggs, breakfast meat, toast (white/wheat/rye), but as you continue to read down the list you will come across some more interesting and intriguing options.  Examples:  Asian Vegan Tofu Scrambled? Yum.  Nutella breakfast sandwich.  Yes, please!  Touch of Laos Huevos Rancheros? Mouth is watering…

I got the East West Skillet and LOVED it.  It had Laos sausage, mushrooms, pork green chili sauce, onions, and shredded cheese and serious yum factor.  All of the ingredients came together harmoniously.  The Idaho skillet also looked delish.  My roommate got the Nuevo Burrito and really enjoyed it.  It had spicy tomato rice, scrambled eggs, homemade Laos sausages, sautéed bell pepper and onions, smothered with pork chipotle green chili, topped with Mexican shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and scallions.

I considered ordering the rice porridge because it sounded similar to the Chinese style rice porridge “jook” that is the ultimate comfort food and a standard breakfast item to Chinese people across the world.  I asked if it was similar and our waiter told me that it is, but this version is thicker.  It comes with Asian fried dough, just like jook usually does.  Maybe next time.

I didn’t even make it to the page of the menu that listed the home-made pancakes, waffles, and fresh toast, but they sure sound delicious.  I look forward to coming back soon to try many other things including the housemade corned beef hash (*swoon*), cranberry walnut pancakes, lao sticky rice toast, bahn bao, and the aforementioned rice porridge.  Holy yum.

Oh yeah, and their coffee rocks.

526 New Park Ave
West Hartford, CT 06110
(860) 236-3287

The Green Teahouse (West Hartford)

[photo credit:  Ron W. on Yelp]

[photo credit: Ron W. on Yelp]

The chilly temperatures of late autumn and the smell of winter in the air combined with a recent trip to a tea shop in my old ‘hood of Providence has me wanting tea just about every day. Lucky for me, The Green Teahouse is right in town! This place is wonderful.

I’ve been coming here since I moved to the area four years ago. Ting, the owner, is sweet as could be and extremely knowledgable. She is extremely informative on the nuances, aromas, flavors, history, and origins of all the different teas she carries in her beautiful tea shop. There is a huge variety of loose leaf available in many different sizes from 1oz and up.

There are a ton of different teas for people to smell and several prepared in pots for sampling. Surely there is something for every tea lover here. Also, they carry lovely teapot sets on sale as well as infusers, strainers, tea travel mugs (on my wishlist!), tea to-go, and variety packs to try different kinds at home.

Recently I picked up the Strawberry Slim Pur-eh (which I absolutely love), Malasa Chai, Dragonfruit (a blend of green and black with hint of fruitness), Passionfruit Jasmine, and a traditional Chinese oolong tea that has flowery orchid-like taste. All of them have been excellent. I am drinking the Passionfruit Jasmine as I type this up. The quality of the teas here are exceptional. After having tea from here it is difficult to return to bagged teas from the grocery store.

At a recent Yelp community event we had the great pleasure of having a tea sampling and experiencing a brief version of the traditional Chinese tea ceremony that the owner offers at the store. Here we learned about the meditative quality to the experience of drinking tea and some of the benefits to taking a mindful approach to the enjoyment of tea consumption.

If you like tea, you will love the The Green Teahouse.

[photo credit: Community Manager Emily C., Yelp Hartford]

40-42 Isham Rd
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 232-6666