Thursday, August 25, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: Bing Bing Dim Sum

Bing Bing Dim Sum
"This snug, energetic corner spot in Passyunk Square serves Chinese dim sum with a fun American-Jewish twist."

That'll catch your attention, right?
Bing Bing Dim Sum is not trying to be authentic by any means; rather, they just want to cook good food.

Bing Bing Dim SumWhat do we, two dudes from Philly, know about “authentic” Asian cuisine? Nothing. Lucky for us, that’s not what CHeU Noodle Bar & BING BING are all about. We cook what we like to eat — it’s personal, no matter what we put in front of you. Our food is often informed by tradition, but it’s never defined by it. All that we require of you is a willing mind and a willing stomach. We might not be “authentic.” But we do keep it real.  —Ben and Shawn

I wasn't super hungry, so dim sum was perfect. I ordered the pork soup dumplings, as well as the roast pork bao. The roast pork bao is delicious. There's this perfectly buttery outside crisp, and the inside gives way to soft, pillowy dough enveloped with shredded pork. Excellent seasoning and flavor.

Bing Bing Dim SumThe soup dumplings are always a favorite of mine. I carefully pluck one with my chopsticks and place it into the soup spoon, nibble off the top to let the steam out. Then, I sip the soup and add some of the ginger-black-vinegar-soy sauce for some added flavor and cooling down.

Bing Bing Dim SumSo, overall, these were pretty good. I should've also gotten something not so bready/heavy and help cut some of that starch. These were both very good, though.

Grade: B
Bing Bing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: Hai Street Kitchen & Co.

Hai St Kitchen CoThe "sushi burrito" (or sushirito) craze has taken major metropolitan cities by storm. Think a sushi roll - but as big as a burrito. So, when I found out Philadelphia has Hai Street Kitchen & Co., I immediately put it on our agenda. Yassss.

Hai St Kitchen CoHai Street Kitchen & Co. is a counter concept where you watch your sushi roll or bowl or salad being created right in front of you. Choose your main protein - like chicken katsu, grilled chicken, shrimp tempura, spicy tuna tartare, tataki salmon, braised pork or soft-shell crab. Choose white or brown rice, choose veggies, sauces and toppings - and you're good to go!

Hai St Kitchen CoThey also have signature selections you can choose from that take the guess work out of the equation. Hai Street Chicken, Ho-Lee Shrimp, Vietnamese Pork, Slammin' Salmon, Flamin' Tuna and The SS Crab were all vetted tasty options. I went with the Ho-Lee Shrimp, which had shrimp tempura, spicy mayo, Asian slaw, shredded beets and avocado salsa - but they were out of avocado salsa so I subbed in green papaya salad for a little sweet.

Hai St Kitchen CoThere are a host of other veggies to choose from, and then there are the toppings: fried garlic, shallots and tempura crunch. I got all three. It comes wrapped in this cool carton, and I got a box of water, because why not?

Hai St Kitchen CoOK OK so how is it? Pretty damn good. If you like sushi, you're going to like this. No, it's not traditional by any means, but it's delicious. I love the crunch of the fresh veggies, the slight sweet and the spicy. It has all the fresh, delicious flavors I love in a giant bite. It is a bit difficult to handle at times. It just kind of ends, which resulted in a mess for me. A delicious mess, at least.

Hai St Kitchen CoSo, if you get the opportunity, check it out. Try it. Thank me later.

Grade: A
Hai Street Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: Reading Terminal Market - Tommy DiNic's Roast Pork and Beef

Every time I visit a new city, I look up its city market. Boston, Milwaukee and Cleveland all have lovely ones. Add Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market to the list.

The Reading Terminal Market has tons and tons of shops. From fresh meats and cheeses to candies and pastries to hot food to order, they have a little bit of everything.

Reading Terminal Market - Dinics
Reading Terminal Market - Dinics
Reading Terminal Market - Dinics

So, I tried some cheese samples that were AMAZING, and I also had a nibble of some beef jerky. Oh, and a birch beer!

After nibbling, we sat down at Tommy DiNic's Roast Pork and Beef to split a roast pork sandwich. We ordered it complete with cheese and sweet peppers. Thankfully we split one, because they're huge. We ordered in the to-go line (oops), but then we ate it there. I guess that's not what you're supposed to do.
Reading Terminal Market - DinicsReading Terminal Market - Dinics

So, this sandwich was fine. I'm not sure I am aboard the whole giant carnivorous sandwich (hello, give me some sauce or SOMETHING), but this is good for what it is. It's hearty, no frills, filling and full - FULL - of roast pork. I definitely think it needs the cheese and peppers just for some flavor and texture variation. But, solid, nonetheless.
Reading Terminal Market - DinicsReading Terminal Market - DinicsReading Terminal Market - Dinics

Grade: B
Tommy DiNic's Pork & Beef Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: Federal Donuts

Federal Donuts
What goes together better than fried chicken and donuts? Very few things, I tell you.

Federal DonutsPhilly's Federal Donuts knows this best. This donuts-by-morning, chicken-by-lunch shop blends both worlds beautifully. Kaitlynn and I rose early to get our mitts on some fresh donuts during our first morning in Philly.

Federal DonutsHot fresh donuts include ones like strawberry lavender (which I ordered one of), and there are the "fancy" donuts as well, like this delicious strawberry cheesecake one. The fried chicken - which comes with seasonings like za'atar, coconut curry and buttermilk ranch - wasn't available quite yet. Oh well.

Federal DonutsAfter I selected a strawberry lavender and a strawberry cheesecake donut, we sat outside to enjoy the sun before it became too unbearably scorching. The strawberry lavender is a bit messy with the sugar tumbling off all sides as I took a bite. But the very sweet, almost-floral flavor was refreshing. The strawberry cheesecake, while I didn't get much of the cheesecake flavor, was also decent. Not mind-blowing, but good.

Federal DonutsI think to get the true experience, I'll have to try some of the chicken. Will save that for next time.

Grade: B
Federal Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: John's Water Ice

Johns Water IceWater ice, or Italian ice, is a Philadelphia dessert specialty. 
Today's Italian ice, also known as water ice (particularly in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley), is a sweetened frozen dessert made with fruit (often from concentrates, juices or purées) or other natural or artificial food flavorings, similar to sorbet.[1][2] Italian ice is not shaved ice that is flavored; rather, it is made by the same process by which ice cream is made: freezing the ingredients while mixing them. Italian ice is similar to sorbet but differs from American-style sherbet in that it does not contain dairy or egg ingredients, though it may contain egg white.[1]Common flavors include blue raspberry, cherry, lemon, mango, orange, strawberry, and watermelon, with numerous other flavors available. It is believed to be derived from the Sicilian granita,[3] a related dessert which may have been brought by immigrants to the United States. Authentic Italian ice contains no pieces of fruit: smooth tiny grains of flavored ice, lemon being the quintessential flavor.
Johns Water IceJohn's Water Ice is one of the iconic shops for it, so Kaitlynn and I took a stroll to get out hands on some. This cash-only shop is window service only, and on a hot summer day, it was certainly busy.f

At first, I thought this was going to be a snow cone, and while it's similar, the flavoring is actually within the ice and not added afterward. It's also much smoother. I went with a cherry flavor, which was pretty good. Because it was so hot, the thing just practically melted apart as I was holding it - red going all over my hands. BUT, the flavor? Way better than a snow cone. And a good way to cool off, too.

Johns Water IceGrade: B
John's Water Ice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato