East Ocean City, Chinatown, Boston

Over the years, East Ocean City has been one of our family favorites for large celebrations and apparently it is for many as well.

Our father loves East Ocean City’s fried fish and extensive seafood dishes. In fact, EOC is known for their twin lobster with ginger and scallioin.

The popular Beach Street seafood restaurant has become overwhelmingly busy. Although the food still is executed well, the service is harried and we felt as if we were being pushed out to turnaround tables.

Throughout the restaurant, there are several fish tanks full of exotic species.

We started with complimentary oolong tea and pickled vegetables. Our father had so much to choose from including noodles, beef, of course seafood, a variety of dishes from tofu to fish to baby bok choy.

We deeply enjoyed the pan fried Baby Bok Choy with garlic for $9.25. The mini Chinese cabbages glistened and had a nice flavor. We couldn’t stop eating them and would order them again.

The Sliced Beef with String Bean, Mushrooms and Onions ($6.00) was covered in a thin pepper gravy. The tender beef went well with the onions, earthy mushrooms and blanched string beans.

The Pan Fried Jumbo shrimp with shell and head ($14.95) was nicely dusted in corn starch and lightly fried. The seasoning enhanced the salty flavor of the shrimp and the multitude of textures from the edible shell and tail was fanstastic. The best aspect of the shrimp are the heads full of creamy innards.

Our little brother’s favorite, Spicy Salted Spare Ribs ($11.25) had a nice spicy salt crust surrounding tender meat. The spare ribs were tasty.

One of our favorites are the Fried Stuffed Bean Curd ($11.50) topped with green onion and a light gravy. The tender tofu inside was soft and creamy and the exterior had a nice skin.

The Roasted Chicken with bone ($13.40) had flavorful soy skin, tender chicken meat and came with fried shrimp chips. Unfortunately, the light pastel shrimp chips were stale.

A true delicacy, we sampled the fried, battered anchovies. The thin, salty anchovies    came with fried wonton crisps.

Our father’s favorite, the Pan Fried Sole with Ginger and Scallion was divided by our waiter and in a flavorful sweet soy sauce. The slivers of scallions and ginger covered the fish. Surprisingly this sole was full of white beady roe. Although I am a fan of caviar and tobiko, not so much on cooked roe.

The complimentary tapioca and yam soup was lightly sweet and warming.

Overall, our meal at East Ocean City was tasty and solid food. Hopefully, the next time we visit we go on an off hour when there can be a higher level of service.

East Ocean City on Urbanspoon

El Jibarito, Old San Juan

After wandering the Forts and Old San Juan, we stopped at El Jibarito for some local cuisine. El Jibarito is 36 years old and has an interesting design concept. The interior of the restaurant has indoor window scapes and Disney-like building exteriors.

The bar area had the industrial green and white juicer we wish came in an at home model.Our favorite window diorama was the adorable wood cabin window scape, with a proper rocking chair.

We enjoyed the Holiday or Christmas plate, which was filled with pigeon peas and yellow rice, slightly sweet and fried maduros, tender pork riblets and Puerto Rican tamales (pasteles). The plate was filling and a traditional meal one would have at Christmas.

The shrimp in creole garlic sauce was light, fresh and was served with fried mofongo ($14.95).

Although milanesa was off the menu, El Jibarito made the breaded cutlet under special request. The milanesa itself was nicely crusted with a moist meat center. The rice and beans, gravy and potato fritters (similar to latkes) was a nice compliment to the milanesa ($9.95).

Our server was friendly and very quick. Although the food was very generous in size and filling, it was very tasty. We are waiting impatiently for the opening of South End/Roxbury’s Vejigante. The decor is suppose to be similar to El Jibarito with the pastel window scapes and authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. We can not wait!

Lolita Cucina and Tequila Bar, Back Bay, Boston Revisited

From burritos, tacos, ceviche to tapas, we have enjoyed Latin and Mexican cuisine at El Pelon, La Verdad, Temazcal, Toro, Ole Mexican, Zocalo, as well as Rick Bayless’s Xoco. Despite gorging on some amazing Latin cuisine recently, the best is still directly from the source. It was well overdue that we try the Mexican restaurant and tequila bar and former Papa Razzi for dinner, especially after previously enjoying margaritas and cocktails at Lolita. Lolita Cucina and Tequila Bar is open from 5pm on and is open until 2am daily (even Sundays). Most weekend evenings there is a line out the door. Upon entrance, there is dim red lighting and a coat check at the entrance and the sconces and candelabras evoke a haunting, but romantic sensibility. We gave our name with the staff, received an estimate for an hour wait and headed to the back bar. A group of us enjoyed a pitcher of Lolita margarita ($44) Sauza ’100 years’, Patron Citronage, lime, cane syrup and grapefruit. It had the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. Very refreshing. My friend tried the red sugar rimmed Broken Heart, which I really enjoyed on my last visit, which contains St. Germain, Patron Citronage, white grapes and fresh raspberries ($13). This evening it was a bit too strong (normally we would not complain, but the drink’s balance was off).

The deep red roses in the square glass and votive candles at our table drove home the red theme. As we contemplated what we wanted to try from the menu from guacamole, tacos, enchiladas, sopas, ceviche, quesadillas to nachos we enjoyed the eclectic mix of dance beats including Canned Heat by Jamiroquai (the Napolean Dynamite dance song), Avicii’s Levels and the brilliant collaboration between David Guetta and Sia- Titanium. I love the music here.

As we were settling into our table, our friendly server placed a complimentary “smoking” chilled grapefruit granita with a splash of tequila. It was a great palate cleanser and a nice start. We started our meal with the Fresco guacamole with tomato, serrano chili, diced onion, cilantro ($9) served with a basket of fresh tortilla chips and a trio of complimentary salsas (red salsa, tomatillo salsa and crema).The not so hot mango habanero hot sauce needed to be kicked up exponentially on the Scoville scale to meet our tastes. One of my favorite dishes was the fresh and crusted Ahi tuna tostada ($13). The Pepita crusted ahi tuna was smooth on the crisp tortilla, creamy avocado, citter watercress and chipolte aioli. The combination together was delicious and I wish I had another one all to myself. The shrimp ajillo ($24) jumbo shrimp were perfectly cooked, seared in butter, garlic, chipoltle and lime and lay next to a bed of avocado, pink onions, radish and watercress. The garlicky pink shrimp had a nice contrast with the bitter greens. The pulled pork tacos were nicely marinated and seared, then sprinkled with cheese ($12). My friend loved this dish. Several of us ordered the Rib-eye tacos ($15) which our server said was very popular and was listed on the menu as sliced grilled rib eye, tobacco onions with garlic crema. We had this impression that the steak tacos would be a freshly grilled steak (fajita style) with light grilled peppers and super light. However, this was a heavier dish. A man’s dish maybe if you’re looking for something more hearty. The rib-eye tacos were filled with steak and slathered in a thick garlicky cream cause. Then they were completely covered in the equivalent of an entire Blooming Onion. The onion pieces were nice and crispy, but all the components of tacos combined enabled me to only eat one. My friend said it was too salty for her taste and it was too heavy for mine. I gave the two remaining tacos to a friend who appreciates a nice steak and fried onion rings. They devoured it and loved it. The Zocalo corn ($6) was nicely charred and covered in the cotija cheese. Despite this, there are much better, more flavorful corn to be eaten elsewhere, including La Verdad and Toro. As we wrapped up the bill, we received complimentary green apple cotton candy and a plate of Lolita temporary tattoos with a wet towel. The cotton candy was pastel green, super fluffy and a whimsical touch. The only downside was it was overly sweet and not many of us touched it after a little sampling. Perhaps a different flavor or use less sugar? Either way we had a great time placing the temporary tattoos on and reflecting on when we last used temp tattoos. Junior high for me. It took several failed attempts and reading the instructions (30 seconds of wait time to properly moisten the tattoo) to get the tattoo on, but we had fun. Lolita has fantastic ambiance, margaritas and all the staff from bartenders, bus boys, our server and the manager are expert at execution and making sure their guests were taken care of. Everyone in our party noted that Lolita’s service is impeccable and they would grab a few snacks and definitely enjoy the drinks again. Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

Hei La Moon, Chinatown, Boston (Dim Sum)

Hei La Moon serves dim sum until 3 pm on weekends. You definitely get an authentic dim sum experience- complete with the big round tables, waitresses pushing carts around, and loads Chinese people. Always remember that if the place is completely packed with Chinese people, odds are that the food is decent to pretty darn good. The restaurant is decorated with your typical Cantonese Chinese decorations- brightly colored or gold. Once seated, you will receive a sheet of paper that the waitresses stamp every time they give you food off of the cart. Prices are reasonable. I love being able to pick out my food from carts being wheeled around. Or, if it’s too busy, having to chase down the cart to get the food you want or even share your table with strangers. There is parking in a garage right above the building. There is also a Chinese supermarket, C-Mart, attached to the same building in case you need anything.

Having had Chinese food in NYC, Atlanta, San Francisco and LA, my sister and I both still agree that Boston is not yet up to par as these cities when it comes to Chinese food in general. However, I think the food at Hei La Moon is still quite good, and it’s probably one of the best dim sum places in Boston.

We came here for a late dim sum with friends. We tried:

Har gau

This is one of my favorite items to order at dim sum. They are always a solid winner for me. The shrimp dumplings are also fairly plump. Very soft smooth outside with lots of shrimp with water chestnut and ginger on the inside.

Siu mai

Probably some of the most pork-filled dumplings I have found in a dim sum restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown. My favorite version of this dish is made at Hei La Moon and I think they do a great job.

Har cheun fun

This shrimp rice noodle roll is always best when it’s fresh and hot from the kitchen otherwise it has a tendency to get gummy if they didn’t make it well. It doesn’t have as much shrimp as the har gau do, but the texture of the rice noodle and the flavor of the sweet soy sauce is good.

Wu gok

The fried taro dumplings are pretty good. These were made very well and we got them hot. In one bite you will get the crispy fried outside which melts into the creamy slightly sweet taro inside and then the savory minced pork meat center.

Turnip cake in XO sauce

Also known as “lo bak go,” these mashed turnip cakes are cooked right in front of you on the cart. They have a slight crispy outside, and a nice warm tender inside. It’s not too oily, which is good. The dark XO sauce on the side just makes the turnip cake even better.

Char siu bao

I always get the roasted pork bun. The bun itself is fluffy yet dense and the chopped roast pork is plentiful with a good meaty flavor. It’s a great choice if you didn’t order enough and want to fill up space in your stomach.

Phoenix claws

This classic dim sum dish of chicken feet always creeps out my dining companions. I’m not sure which one is stranger looking, the chicken feet or the tripe? What do you think? Either way, these chicken feet have plenty to gnaw on and are deliciously fall-off-the-bone tender.

Chinese crueller wrapped in rice noodle with scallion oil

I’ll admit this isn’t my favorite dim sum dish to eat. I like the crueller alone to dip into congee, or rice porridge but once you wrap it in thin rice noodles, you lose me. I then have no interest in eating it but my sister does like them a lot because it’s a cross between fried dough and rice noodles.

Sticky red bean cake

These sticky mochi cakes are pan-seared. The oooey-gooey mochi wrapped around the smooth red bean paste is very filling but satisfying way to end your dim sum experience.

If you’ve never had dim sum before, I would highly recommend trying Hei La Moon.

Hei la Moon on Urbanspoon

Dave and Buster’s, Braintree

We came here for a birthday party last Friday. Prior to this, we had only visited the location in Providence. The Dave and Buster’s in Braintree is at least four times that of the one in Providence. It is located right next to the South Shore Plaza mall.

Once you walk in, you are carded immediately. There is a huge dining area and plenty of more arcade games. The one thing I did notice is that there is a large detail of policemen on duty after 10pm. Even though you are carded at the door, you are then carded again when you order alcohol the first time. The coat check is $1 if you don’t want to lug your winter coats around.

Walk the Plank- “Created by our mixologist in Irvine, CA, and fun to drink even if you haven’t done anything naughty. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, Malibu Coconut Rum, Peach Schapps, pineapple juice, orange juice and pomegranate syrup.”

I loved this drink. So much that the moment it get’s sunny and warm enough, I’ll try to recreate this at home. If you enjoy fruity, girly drinks that creep up on you, this is the one to get.

Bar Burgers and Wings Platter- “Four mini-cheeseburgers on Hawaiian rolls, paired with our Original Buffalo Wings. Served with seasoned french fries.”

These actually weren’t bad. They weren’t great but not terrible. I preferred the mini bar burgers over the wings however. The wings were overly greasy and under sauced. One thing I did notice is that the mini bar burgers were like mini White Castle sliders without the sauteed onion and cheddar cheese.

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas- “Grilled chicken, poblano & jalapeno peppers with cilantro, and a blend of melted Mexican and cheddar cheeses, folded & grilled in a cheddar jalapeno flour tortilla. Served with sour cream and salsa.”

The one thing that surprised me about these quesadillas is that there didn’t seem to be much chicken inside. Plenty of the other ingredients but easy on the chicken.

Island Grilled Trifecta- “Individual skewers of honey-teriyaki glazed sirlion steak, seasoned chicken breast and tender shrimp, all grilled to perfection and served on a bed of spicy rice medley. Served with pineapple pico de gallo, Teriyaki BBQ sauce, and a mango citrus sauce for dipping.”

I don’t like seasoned rice so I subbed it out for sweet potato fries. Overall I liked my dish for what it was, simple and edible. The shrimp was good, I just wish there were more of them. The chicken and beef skewers were a bit on the dry side but dipping them in the accompanying sauces certainly helped.

Chargrilled Sirloin Steak- “8oz Sirloin hand-seasoned with fresh cracked pepper. Served with loaded garlic mashed potatoes and crispy frazzled onions.”

We subbed out the frazzled onions for the mixed vegetables. The steak was left too long on the grill but we did not want to have to wait as the wait to order appetizers and entrees as well as waiting to receive them took far too long.

Buster’s Cheeseburger- “A half-pound burger with American cheese.”

Our birthday boy added on the bacon. What’s a birthday without a little bacon?! It looks like a standard burger and probably tastes that way too. The better question is it worth you money? Only you can decide.

Baked Chicken and Shrimp Alfredo- “Plump shrimp and grilled chicken breast sautéed with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes tossed with Cavatappi pasta and a three cheese Alfredo sauce. Topped with a garlic breadcrumb crust and baked until brown and bubbly.”

This baked pasta dish was a winner. It had the right amount of cheese and the shrimp and chicken were not overcooked but tender.

Although we wouldn’t necessarily return for the standard bar food when there are so many other new places to explore in Massachusetts, we would certainly return for the wonderful company, the drinks, and the arcade games. The friends and fun is what made it a great birthday party experience.
Dave & Buster's on Urbanspoon