Sunday, December 7, 2008

Meeting the New Kid in Town and a Holiday Dessert

Despite the tough economic times, my neighborhood seems to be sprouting new restaurants all over the place, particularly Asian restaurants. In a neighborhood that already houses three Chinese takeout places, one full-service Chinese restaurant, and two Japanese restaurants, there are three more "Asian" places on on the strip. Two of them are on the brink of opening. The third, Haiku Asian Bistro opened a couple of months ago.

Haiku made a big sensation when it opened on this street. The owner has a couple of them scattered around the county and they seem to be very popular. The food is mostly sushi with several classic Japanese/Thai/Chinese restaurants among the hot entrees. The problem with restaurants like this is that often the food isn't a mix of cuisines, but is just too many types of food poorly. I knew this restaurant could be interesting, or it could be dull. I wasn't all that impressed with the menu on paper.

It was a Friday night and I was baking for a party the next night (more on that momentarily) and I wasn't in the mood to make any dinner. I decided it would be the perfect night to try Haiku as they deliver. Kevin told me he'd be home late, but to order him a California roll.

I made the call at 8PM and was told that it would take 45 minutes to an hour for delivery. I said that would be fine. The food would probably arrive at the same time as Kevin. No more than 20 minutes later, my doorbell rang. I said to the delivery guy, "That was fast. The guy on the phone said it would be at lesat 45 minutes." He said, "You live right down the street." Good point. Most of the takeout places in my neighborhood know my building as it's quite a prominent complex. I guess this restaurant is too new and not too many people have ordered delivery food from Haiku yet. Five minutes later Kevin called to tell me he had already eaten dinner with his coworkers. He wanted to save his California roll for lunch. I had to taste my dinner choice alone.

I started with Thai vegetarian spring rolls. They weren't anything special. The wrapping was a little chewy and a little greasy. The filling was quite tasty though. I liked the dipping sauce, but it wasn't really any different from the Thai chili sauce you can buy at the grocery store.

Don't ask me why the photo is flipped this way. For some reason Blogger keeps flipping it even though it isn't rotated in the folder.

Next I had chicken with Malaysian red curry. When I think of red curry, I usually think of the coconut curry you get in Thai restaurants. This was different. It was a much lighter sauce, although just as spicy. It wasn't too spicy though. It was just enough of a pleasant kick. The vegetables were a change from the ordinary as well. There was eggplant along with potatoes and green beans. What really surprised me was the pieces of egg. This dish was what convinced me that Haiku would be worth going back to. Brown rice is an option at Haiku, which I like because it makes me feel more virtuous about what I'm putting on top of it.

Kevin ate his California rolls the next day for lunch. The portion was so generous he couldn't eat them all in one shot. He liked them, but didn't seem to find them extraordinary. Still, I think he would go back there.

I wonder if any of the new places will open and if I will try them before I go back to Haiku. Sometimes an Indian meal at Rani Mahal hits the spot more than any other Asian restaurant.

And now for something completely different...

With the Christmas season upon us (or Holiday Season if you prefer), that means everyone is occupied with one very important thing: Holiday desserts! It's the time of year for cookies and cakes and candies. I have a party or two to attend and I like to give out homemade cookies as thank you gifts, so my oven is going to be pretty active in the next couple of weeks.

I have decided that this season I will do what I did over the summer and use recipes from other people's blogs. I find blogs are the best source of interesting new recipes and they bring a lot of good will to my online friends. I have seen more good cookie, cake, and quick bread recipes than I will likely be needing, so it's going to be hard to choose which ones I will use.

Last night the fun began when I attended a party at a friend's house. It was a traditional gathering of horse people where we all get together and talk about our horses and gossip about the people at our barns. Over the years I am usually the one designated to make the dessert for these gatherings. These parties are a great way to test new recipes.

For this party I used the Milky Way Tart recipe from Bunny's Warm Oven. I loved the classic flavor combinations here of milk chocolate and rich caramel.

I was about to make the crust when I realized I didn't have the right ingredients. I had no desire to go back to the supermarket I had just left, so I decided to try a variation on another chocolate tart recipe. It wasn't 100% successful. It fell a tad flat. The crust doesn't actually contain the filling. The filling sort of sits on top of the crust. But the important part is that it tasted great. Milk chocolate ganache isn't very common and I thought it was a nice mild change from the too-ubiquitious obsession people have with dark chocolate these days (particularly after Thanksgiving where I od'ed on dark chocolate pie and chocolate mousse). The caramel sauce was divine. It was rich, buttery and delicious. It's helping me get over my fear of working with sugar.

I think the best compliment I received on this tart was that the name of Milky Way Tart didn't do it justice because it was way better than a mere candy bar. Thanks for recipe, Bunny!


noble pig said...

I've had the Milky Way Tart as individual desserts and yes it's so rich, much better than the candy bar.

Sue said...

It's great that you have such a wide selection of places that deliver. Why don't you order the exact same thing from 3 places at the exact same time and see what happens? Who gets there first and how they compare...They'd probably be really annoyed.

That tart DOES sound good, despite its lack of dark chocolate.

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Darius T. Williams said...

LOL - i'm in love with the impromptu restaurant review - in love - lol! Keep those coming...


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Cathy - I have to do tartlet recipes as big tarts as I don't have tartlet pans yet. Hmmmm...maybe I should stick that on my Christmas wish list.

Sue- Ha ha. Fun idea. I'll have to wait until they're all open unless I want to try one of hte existing Japanese/Chinese places.

Darius - Thanks. I'm going to try to eat at all of the new places once they're open, so more reviews will eventually be on their way. Not only are there the other two Asian places on the brink of opening, but it looks like there will be a bar and grill or two in the neighborhood eventually. They are still in the very elementary building stages though.

The Blonde Duck said...

Oh yum. That tart looks great. Bunny knows her stuff!

We've been getting a ton of new restaurants too. They say a recession is a great time to start a buisness.

Bunny said...

I'm so glad you liked the tart!!! That caramel was sooo darn good!!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I feel the same way about Asian restaurants who try to do too much. It is so much better to do fewer, really excellent dishes rather than a ton of mediocre ones.

Love the tart! It looks really decadent!

Emily said...

Haha, I knew Sue was going to say something about the chocolate.
I pretend that I don't like milk chocolate, but I really do.
I enjoy all chocolate.

The restaurant sounds pretty good to me. Better than any of the stuff we have around here. There's absolutely nothing here.
I could eat a greasy spring roll right now.