Strip T’s, Watertown- Dinner

Strip T’s is a restaurant that has a menu that is always evolving. We have really enjoyed our meals at the Watertown restaurant because there’s always something new to try. It’s a wonderful unique local eatery that can be popular among foodies and food industry people.

Strip T’s is a small restaurant with two rooms- a bar and dining area. The decor is simple and functional. The bar mimics this theme. There are blackboards displaying the specials, the regular menu and the desserts.

I started with a Virgil’s root beer, which is made in Maine. It was very good and not too carbonated.

We decided to try the much hyped about Moxie wings. They were tasty but the Moxie sauce was a bit to sweet. I can handle the stickiness but too much sugar made the sauce a bit cloying. The chicken meat itself was tender and delicious.

The roasted cauliflower appetizer was my favorite item the entire dinner. The cauliflower is something I would rave to others about if they wanted to come here. It’s a dish I’d attempt to recreate at home because I think it is so memorable and it uses simple fresh ingredients. The tangy crunch from the pickled onions went well with the crispy crunchy golden cauliflower and creamy bits of cheese.

This was the housemade sausage with quinoa. I really liked the sausage because it was a blend of pork but the quinoa was bland. The pickled baby beets saved me from disliking the dish completely however. A good squirt of hot sauce would have done the trick.

This was the smoked bluefish special. This was my second favorite of the evening. The strong smoky oiliness of the bluefish was tempered by the creaminess of the labne. The crunch from the cucumbers and radishes added a nice textural contrast when you chewed.

As a complimentary sweet ending to dinner they gave us mini cardamom marshmallows. The cardamom flavor was very pronounced in a good way.

We love coming to Strip T’s amd we will be back. On our return trip, we’d love to try the foot-on fried chicken, Japanese sweet potato fries, Strip T’s burger, the chocolate pots de creme and of course, more cauliflower.

Strip T’s
93 School Street
Watertown, MA 02472

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WOW BBQ Restaurant, Malden- A First Look

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On a rainy late Monday summer evening in between thunderstorms, we stopped in to try WOW BBQ restaurant. This is the brick and mortar Malden location of the popular food truck that has been making the rounds in Boston for over a year. The new location has been open for 2 months now. WOW BBQ specializes in chuan’r, a type of charcoal-grilled kebab from Xinjiang, a northwest region of mainland China. The most popular kind is yang rou chuan’r, or cumin-spiced lamb skewer.

The restaurant is brightly lit with plenty of street parking available. They are open until midnight or later during the week. WOW BBQ in Malden is the only chuan’r restaurant that I know is open very late. Other places that serve chuan’r, namely One of The Kind and Gene’s Flatbread Cafe, are not open as late nor do the lamb skewers taste as authentic or good because they are deep-fried (Gene’s are only fried during the week supposedly) not grilled.

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The inside is freshly painted in red and black with fun, hip graffiti and large wall murals. There’s the main room with two large Samsung flat screen TVs and another room with a bar and another flat screen TV. They are in the process of creating a cocktail menu at this time. WOW BBQ is a good place to watch basketball or soccer games. One thing we also noticed is that they are also very social media savvy and use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram regularly as a large number of their customers are Chinese students.

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Sandy, our server, was a little stiff at first but perfectly polite. She explained the ordering process and made a few menu suggestions. You basically indicate what you want by placing the quantity of each predetermined meat/vegetable/drink next to the appropriate item and the server enters it into the computer system. If you prefer your food with a spicy kick their are containers of ground chili pepper on each table so you can season to your liking.

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Our server suggested that we try the cabbage and she was right. It was delicious. The cabbage was lightly tangy and covered with a peppery seasoning.

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The bok choy (top) was good but unfortunately swabbed with a bit too much oil. Next time we would probably request light or no oil on any of the vegetables.

The whole shrimp (bottom) were very tasty and perfectly grilled. I am always happy when my shrimp come with the head-on. That’s the best way to eat them because you get a creamy crunchy contrast.

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The beef skewers (top) were cooked to well done and turned too dry. Be sure to specify medium or medium rare so the meat stays tender. The seasoning was good.

We tried the chicken hearts (bottom) as we do love offal. The hearts were split into half, like little filets, before being threaded on the skewer. They were the right kind of chewy meaty muscle.

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The chicken skewers (top) were delicious because they were tender and well-seasoned. Very more-ish. They were my dining companion’s favorite of the evening.

The lamb skewers (bottom) were my favorite. The heavy cumin seasoning was the perfect complement to the lamb. Please note that they each had one piece of fat per skewer to keep the lamb meat from drying out while being cooked.

We highly recommend WOW BBQ Restaurant for their excellent chuan’r. If you’re a first timer, try the lamb, chicken, shrimp or cabbage skewers. We also suggest checking out their website or Twitter for weekly specials, because sometimes they offer small discounts. We wish WOW BBQ much continued success!

WOW Barbeque Restaurant
184 Salem Street
Malden, MA 02148

WOW BBQ Restaurant Facebook page

Wow BBQ Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Maxwell’s 148, Natick

Maxwell’s 148 is a hidden Metrowest gem of a restaurant located on Route 135 in Natick, MA. They specialize in Asian-Italian fusion. Sometimes you can see Chef Mitchell Maxwell himself, checking up on tables, adding a personal touch to a dining experience.

This restaurant has even been briefly featured in one of Meg Ryan’s movies because of the unique and lovely interior.

The bar area is quiet and intimate yet small.

The large M on the bread plates makes sure to indicate you’re at Maxwell’s and no other place.


Once you have been seated, they bring over a bread basket and dips. In the bread basket are crispy wonton strips and pita bread that are accompanied by sweet chili dipping sauce and hummus respectively.


Black Fig Vodka Martini

This is Maxwell’s 148′s signature drink. They make the infused fig vodka in house. It’s superb. The sweetness of the fig vodka is not overpowering. The blue cheese olives that come with it are truly fabulous. You can buy the fig vodka now at liquor stores as Black Tie Vodka.


Special appetizer- chicken livers sauteed with mushrooms $11

This was an appetizer special on our visit. One of us fiercely adores offal so it was a no-brainer really. The soft chicken livers and meaty mushrooms were sauteed in butter, a little wine and garnished with plenty of parsley, cilantro and basil.


Crab Curry Bowl $6 Kaffir-Lime crab, Thai red curry-coconut sauce, basil, cilantro & peanuts

This was my sister’s favorite appetizer as she loves shellfish. It was very flavorful from the curry and other spices. The coconut milk helped tame the heat from the curry. There were generous lumps of crab.


Maxwells 10 oz Kobe Pub $19- Applewood​ smoked bacon & blue cheese with hand cut fries, onion strings & Maxwell’s special sauce

We decided to split the Kobe beef burger because we didn’t want to overeat. Kobe beef is always a treat. The burger came out cooked to our ordered medium rare and smelled very good. There wasn’t much crust on the patty. The crispy bacon was the highlight. The blue cheese was a bit much because it was fairly strong and took away from the Kobe beef patty. However, we can honestly say that $19 is a lot when we can get the Craigie’s burger which has a cult following for $18. I understand Kobe beef is expensive but other than the cost of beef, the bun is standard and the special sauce is not that special.

The service can be hit or miss depending on the wait staff, but please don’t let it be a deterrent because we’ve had several great servers who do a lovely polite job. They charge big city prices which also can be shocking. However, if you sign up for their email newsletter, Maxwell’s 148 often has some amazing early dinner deals and offers meal delivery if you live nearby.

Maxwell’s 148
148 East Central Street
Natick, MA 01760

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Rino’s Place, East Boston- Is It Worth the Hype?

Rino’s Place in East Boston has received a lot of attention from The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” show after being featured on October 2010. This Italian restaurant has been open for over 24 years. They serve quality Italian comfort foods from $9-$18 in large portions.

Rino’s is not great for large groups, but perfect for a date or a group of four. It’s not a very large place, so it fills up quickly during dinner. Definitely call ahead if you have a party of 6 or more for a reservation. If you plan carefully and go very early, you may not have to wait 2 hours to be seated. If you end up having a lengthy wait, go across the street to Primo e Dopo, the bar across the street owned by Rino’s. We went across the street, grabbed some bar stools, and enjoyed some cocktails and appetizers while waiting.

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We ordered house wines to start.

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Half order butternut squash ravioli

The butternut squash ravioli was a special main entree of the evening. We decided to try a half portion, turning it into an appetizer and received 4 ravioli, perfect for us to try 1 each. The ravioli were stuffed with a light butternut sage filling and were covered in a nice creamy butter sage sauce.

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Mussels in white wine

This also was a special appetizer of the evening. Usually they serve a version in red sauce or with pasta regularly at Rino’s but tonight they had a delicate white wine garlic broth instead. They were quite tasty with the toast points.

We finished the included standard salads first- iceberg, tomato, onion, cucumber- then moved to the mains.

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Chicken Marsala

This is my sister’s favorite Italian dish. They use linguini pasta and it is worth the additional up charge to get freshly made pasta. You won’t regret it. The chicken bathing in marsala sauce is delicious and the al dente linguini soaks it right up. At Rino’s the portion size was big enough for leftovers and then some.

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Lobster ravioli

This is Rino’s signature dish. Everyone who visits this restaurant waxes poetic about how good these ravioli are. They’re right! The ravioli are quite large and stuffed with a well-seasoned ricotta lobster filling. The creamy tomato sauce was flavorful, and there were generous chunks of lobster throughout. I was pleased to find so much lobster meat in this pasta dish.

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Spdcial of the evening- Chicken broccolini with pasta in red sauce

Unfortunately we forgot the actual Italian name of this dish, but it was a special on our visit. It looked and tasted like a chicken, broccoli and ziti in red sauce. Nothing was over seasoned or over cooked. It was a simple and well executed main that suited our dining companion’s minimalistic tastes completely.

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Tartufo gelato

Rino’s has some basic Italian desserts. Usually we get the fruit sorbet but this time we decided to try the hazelnut chocolate gelato. It did not disappoint. We split the gelato between 4 people so that 2-3 bites was enough sweetness for everyone to round out our dinner.

In the words of Roald Dahl,  “scrumdiddlyumptious”.  This place is my Saturday’s delight when I can get there early enough not to wait 2 hours. Even if we have to queue up before opening or do takeout, we’ll definitely be back again.

Rino’s Place
258 East Saratoga Street
East Boston, MA 02128
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Mi Pueblito Restaurant, East Boston

Mi Pueblito is a colorful authentic Salvadoran restaurant nearby Logan airport. They make delicious inexpensive Salvadoran fare that is very family friendly. Like most Spanish restaurants in the area, the food is a mix of different Latin American styles, though it definitely leans towards El Salvadoran. The menu in has a mix of each type of cuisine from El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala. Mi Pueblito has such an extensive menu that we had trouble choosing our orders. There are so many options- dinner plates with steak, venison, pork, and chicken, a raw bar with oysters, clams, and ceviche, and a la carte options like burritos, tacos, and pupusas. They also serve up batidos, shakes made from frozen fruit; margaritas; micheladas made from beer, lime and tomato juice; and even maragronas, basically margaritas with the Corona added inside. 

The decor inside is colorful and fun. The hand carved wood booths are decorated with a sunflower design in yellow and red. Tin-type pictures decorate the walls and there is the most technologically advanced jukebox I have ever seen on the back wall. There are many large flat screen TVs for you to watch UFC or soccer in Spanish. There was a slight language barrier with our original waitress, but nothing horrible that we couldn’t figure it out in the end.  There is a very small parking lot next to the building. We opted for street parking because we didn’t want to do a multi-point turn.

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You know you are eating South American fare when you see the bright green El Yucatero hot sauce with the other condiments.

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Complimentary salsa, cilantro guacamole and tortilla chips

When you sit down, they bring out a basket of freshly fried corn tortilla chips and some homemade salsa. The guacamole is somewhat thinned out from a blend of lime juice and cilantro. The salsa is freshly made from tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and has a pleasant kick from the hot peppers.

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Pina colada

The house made pina colada is one of the best I have ever had. It is not overly sweet or artificially flavored. I can only imagine what it would be like with rum added.

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Yucca and chicarron

Fried yucca and chicarron is a classic appetizer. Usually it is some protein of choice with fried yucca. Here you get golden rich deep fried pork belly with chunks of starchy yucca goodness. Be careful as it arrives piping hot and it needs some time to cool before eating.

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Churrasco/Argentinian-style grilled steak- Served with rice, beans and pico de gallo

The grilled Argentinan style steak was flavorful and cooked to medium as asked. The split sausage was also delicious but we weren’t sure what kind of protein it was made of.

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Camarones a la diabla, very spicy Devil’s sauteed shrimp- Served with rice and salad

Although the waitress warned us that it was spicy, let’s be real, it wasn’t spicy in the slightest. It was heavily spiced but not heat spicy. Again, we’re used to eating whole hot peppers with our food. Nonetheless, it was a tasty dish. The shrimp were tender and the sauce went well with the white rice and salad.

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Taco lengua, taco camarones, taco pollo, todos con aguacate

We tried three different kinds of tacos, all with avocado. At $2.75 each for the beef tongue and chicken, and $5 for the shrimp, how can you go wrong? The tacos were freshly made and simply prepared with onion, cilantro and a lime wedge. My favorite were the shrimp and chicken because they were flavorful. The beef tongue was good but a touch overcooked.

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Pupusa reveulta, filled with ground pork and cheese

A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of cheese and ground pork that is pan seared on a hot pan. Pupusas are typically served with curtido- a lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar- and a watery tomato salsa. Mi Pueblito’s version is authentic and very good. We happily shared our order but wanted to order another despite being full.

We had a wonderful dinner and want to come back to explore the menu further but most of all to try the sopa de mariscos, a saffron infused seafood soup chock full of shrimp, fish, mussels and lobster. We saw another customer’s order and it looked delicious.

Mi Pueblito
333 Border Street
East Boston, MA

Mi Pueblito Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Island Creek Oyster Bar, Kenmore Square- Another Revisit

What more can we say about Island Creek Oyster Bar? We don’t want to sound repetitive however. In a nutshell, it’s a lovely modern space with a great bar in Kenmore Square that makes solid seafood dishes and good cocktails, while providing excellent service. We always recommend ICOB to anyone who loves seafood, on the way to a Red Sox game or enjoys a nice meal on the town.We came here for the younger BMH sister’s birthday knowing she loves seafood and that she adores soft shell crabs. Unluckily, ICOB was not serving their soft shell crab special for dinner but we still had a wonderful time nonetheless.

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(Going from left to right & clockwise…)

Abigail’s Delight – house soda of fresh pineapple and homemade orgeat

Refreshing and delicious mocktail that definitely quenched my thirst and acted like an aperitif.

Half dozen raw oysters

ICOB’s oysters are always very good. We could easily make a meal out of a dozen or more with a glass of champagne.

Clam chowder- hand dug clams, buttermilk biscuits, house-cured bacon

My sister loves the clam chowder here because of the thickness and taste but I’m not as impressed because I feel there should be more clams. The biscuit on top is always freshly baked. Try it and decide for yourself.

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Crispy oyster slider- Brioche roll, lime chili aioli

The oyster slider is one of my favorite items on the menu. The flattened fried oyster is the star. Like the raw oysters, I could easily eat 4-5 of them in a sitting, however then I couldn’t try anything else.

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Herb crusted Atlantic cod with lobster knuckle and caramelized leek risotto

This was a dinner special and it was well executed. The crispy herb crust and flaky tender cod went well with the creamy leek and lobster risotto. There were a good handful of lobster knuckle, one of the sweetest parts of the lobster. The portion was enormous as I had to take half home.

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Lobster Roe Noodles- braised short rib, grilled lobster, oyster mushrooms, pecorino

This is one of ICOB ‘s signature dishes. Everyone always raves about how lovely it is, and we agree. You get a relatively large portion for dinner. The meltingly soft short rib and lobster go well together. It’s like a surf ‘n’ turf in noodle form.

Island Creek Oyster Bar
Kenmore Square
500 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
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Seoul, Beacon Hill, Boston

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Seoul is the former Ma Soba, with a new name, the same owners, and a new cook. They have an extensive traditional Korean menu is and there is a lot of variety to choose from. Honestly, the Korean restaurants in Boston are typically alright but we’ve been waiting to try one that is truly exceptional and not in NYC or LA. We were pleasantly surprised by Seoul.

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They have a decent wine and beer selection, a sizable wine selection, as well as sakes and two soju. My friends and I tried the most popular unflavored soju. It was light, crisp, refreshing and did not strongly taste of alcohol for a 38 proof beverage.

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Teokkbukki

We got the little rice cakes with seafood extra spicy but I guess the Korean version of extra spicy is much less spicy that the Southeast Asian kind. Despite the mild disappointment about the spiciness, the teokkbukki were pleasantly chewy and the seafood was tender.

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Beef bibimbap with beef bulgolgi

The beef bibimbap was very good. The crispy rice crust was delicious when you mixed everything together. What was interesting is that they use electric bimbimbap bowls. We had never seen them before and were used to heated traditional stone bowls. The beef bibimbap didn’t give you enough meat but we just mixed in some of our beef bulgolgi in instead. The beef bulgolgi was good. The meat was very tasty.

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LA kalbi Korean BBQ

We were torn on whether to order tradional kalbi or LA kalbi. Interestingly enough, the LA Kalbi and so called ‘traditional Korean Kalbi’ look quite different due to the way it is cut. Korean Kalbi is cut in segments along side the rib bone shapes and it is thicker. LA Kalbi is cut through the rib bone, usually displaying three rib bone eyes. It is also thinner, hence easier to marinate and quicker to cook on a BBQ grill. The only thing is that Seoul doesn’t have BBQ tables for you to cook on, so they give you your meat already cooked on a sizzling plate. The meat was traditionally marinated which kept the meat nice and tender. It was served on a bed of charred onions, with a carrot, broccoli and tofu garnish.

They gave us four banchan- a refreshing and not super-spicy or sour cabbage Kimchi, bean sprouts, spinach salad, and assorted pickled vegetables.

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Spicy pork, kimchi, tofu stir fry

I usually don’t love tofu. There I said it. However, tofu stir-fried with protein is probably my favorite way to eat it. I really enjoyed this dish. The sour tangy kimchi mixed with the spicy pork and smooth tofu was great over white rice. I would definitely get this dish again.

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Seoul truly surprised us by serving nicely priced, excellent and authentic Korean food. It truly puts all the other Korean restaurants in Allston and Cambridge to shame. We have always been disappointed with Boston’s Korean food until now. If you are looking for a nice home-cooked-style Korean meal in Boston without the unreasonable price tag, this is the place.

Seoul
Beacon Hill area
156 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114

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