Friday, April 30, 2010

Sandra Rice and Noodle

After sitting and watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations in which he visited Vietnam the other night on the DVR, I declared that the next day we were trying one of the Vietnamese places that have been recommended to me. Up until he got to the part where they dined on bugs and songbirds, I wanted everything he ate. So we sort of flipped a coin between the two places on the list, and landed at Sandra Rice and Noodles on the east side.

This is one of those little strip mall restaurants, but I like the way people are finally figuring out how to make them feel a little warmer inside. Use some warm colors (here shades of brown) and skip the stark white walls. The woman who helped us (Sandra I presume?) was exceedingly friendly and helpful. When we got there (fairly early in the lunch hour) there was only one other table. By the time we left, the place was full and several people had come in for carry out.

We wanted to try several things, and the prices are pretty reasonable, so we did. We ordered the starter of egg rolls (which were more like the fried spring rolls, but usually in Vietnamese cuisine spring rolls are not fried, so maybe that is why they called them egg rolls). These were the thin crispy rolls filled with a bit of meat (pork and shrimp), glass noodles and green onions. They were served with the traditional slightly spicy Vietnamese sauce. These were nice—very crispy and quite plentiful for the $4 price tag.

We ordered two dishes to share, the lemongrass chicken lunch special (recommended by our server) and the beef Pho. The lemongrass chicken lunch special included a starter of a small bowl of soup and one soft spring roll (wrapped in rice paper). The soup was the chicken and rice soup, which was one of my favorite things to eat when I was pregnant with my daughter. It is a chicken broth based soup, with some chunks of veggies (carrot and celery) and super soft and fat pieces of rice in it. I think I enjoyed this soup maybe more than the Pho actually. It was tasty and comforting. The soft spring roll was nice too, although I think I prefer the crunchy ones for the variety in texture.
The main dish, the lemongrass chicken, unfortunately, was pretty disappointing, mainly because the chicken was so overcooked. It was tough and dry, and some pieces bordered on gristly. The flavor of the lemongrass sauce was nice—the sweet tangy flavor of the lemongrass with a nice underlying spicy kick that built slowly as you ate it, but it couldn’t make up for the chicken. And there wasn’t much else to this dish besides the rice (a little cilantro on top) so there was nothing to really distract from the chicken.

As for the Pho, I don’t know, maybe I just don’t like it that much. I keep looking for some that is really good and I generally have the same impression of it—it just isn’t exciting. Pho is a rice noodle soup with some sort of meat (we went with the rare beef version). Ours was made with beef broth and had a bit of scallions in it. You are served a plate alongside with various things to
spice it up—bean sprouts, cilantro, basil, jalapenos, lime, hoisin sauce and hot sauce. Even after adding all of these things, I found it just ho hum. And after awhile, you feel like you are just playing with your food when you keep adding more and more stuff. And the “rare” beef slices may have been slightly pink before going in the soup, but were not at all once they were in the hot broth. I think raw slices of beef may have been a better option. These pieces ended up quite tough by the time you ate them. Who knows, maybe I am just a lazy eater. I like food to be prepared for me, and seasoned by the chef I guess. But I know that isn’t how Pho works. I guess I just need to stop ordering it.

My other problem is that I was spoiled in San Francisco with several really good, high end Vietnamese places. Places with a heavy French influence. Maybe that is more my taste. Because Sandra Rice has been recommended by many readers, and people I trust, and I just didn’t get it. If you like this place, tell me what you had; maybe we are just ordering wrong. Because I was a little sad when one of the two Vietnamese places that were out there giving me hope was such a disappointment. Oh well, there’s always option B.

Sandra Rice and Noodles
10625 Pendleton Pike
Indy 46236

Sandra Rice & Noodle on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 26, 2010

Santorini Greek Kitchen

I want to start by saying this is the kind of place you walk into and you feel welcome. I really like the vibe of the place—a lot of families, including the one running the place, and lots of different kind of people from those still wearing work clothes to those clearly on a date, to a young couple who must have been headed to prom. It sort of warms my heart to see all these people, particularly families in an independently-owned restaurant. And I figured it was going to be busy when I called for a reservation and was given either 5:30 or 8:30 as my options. I was back in San Fran for a second. We actually negotiated to 6:00, as long as we promised to get out of there by 7:00, because they had another table coming in. But the very nice lady on the phone was concerned we would feel too rushed and she wanted us to enjoy our meal. She needn’t have worried about the timing; this place cranks the food out quickly. We had three courses, and could have easily fit in dessert in the slightly over an hour we were there.

We had a really hard time deciding on the appetizer because there were many things that sounded good from the saganaki (or flaming goat cheese) to the fried eggplant. But, we started with an order of the spanikopita which is one of my perennial favorites. Spanikopita is a little phyllo based appetizer which is stuffed with spinach and cheese. This was quite different from most I have had, in that it was much crispier, and was hollower in the middle. Hubby and I sat and discussed whether we liked it better or not as much as other spanikopita we have tasted. He decided he liked it more because it wasn’t as heavy. I really enjoyed it, but couldn’t say I liked it more. I would certainly happily eat it again, but I sort of like the even richer versions with more layers of phyllo and more filling. But it was very different, and it was sort of difficult to compare. This was also liberally sprinkled with feta (everything was here, they use feta like other places might use parsley) and served with some very tangy tzaziki which is a tangy yogurt cucumber dip. This is one of the few times I have been served spanikopita with something to dip in, and it was nice. The tzaziki had the requisite tangy flavor, but usually there is more green in it, this was pretty much pure white.

We were next served our salads which came with every entrée (I think you could also get soup if you preferred). It was a nice Greek salad with lettuce, olives, red onion, tomatoes and lots more feta. And it was tossed with a very very tangy vinaigrette. So tangy in fact (which is sort of shocking for me) that I added a little more olive oil to it (there is olive oil and vinegar on every table). We were also given a loaf of garlicky bread from the oven which was quite crispy (bordering on close to burnt actually) and tasty. Interestingly, our second loaf was soft and a little under done so they are obviously heating them all the time. Some get left in the over a little more than others. One right in the middle would have been ideal, but I loved the very garlicky flavor.

For my main, I had the leg of lamb. It was roasted leg of lamb stuffed with large slices of garlic. Now, leg of lamb is probably my favorite lamb dish, although when I cook it at home, I tend to still keep it on the medium rare side. This was very well done. Obviously slow roasted for a long time. The flavor was nice—it retained a really nice lamb flavor and all the garlic was very soft and really good with it. The sauce on it was also nice---clearly just a pure light broth made of the meat stock and garlic and no flavor to overpower the flavor of the meat. It was served with rice pilaf, tomato-ey green beans and Greek potatoes. The sides were just ok, probably the best one being the potatoes which had a lemon flavor that added that nice tart kick to the rich garlicky lamb when eaten together. But just because it was so cooked, and a little too chewy, I probably wouldn’t order it again, although I saw several other people ordering it, and it seemed to be very popular.

Hubby went with the gyros and really enjoyed them. He thought the gyro meat (which is slow roasted lamb and beef combined together and then cut into thin slices) was really good and after eating it understood while the menu offers an option of a side of the gyro meat to any entrée. He enjoyed the whole dish, although wished it hadn’t been so completely covered in the tzaziki because he liked the meat on its own so much.

So as we sat enjoying this meal on this spring day, we discussed the fact that we would certainly come back even if everything we had wasn’t amazing. The food was enjoyable, there are lots of things we would like to try, and the vibe was just a happy one. And with all those singe marks on the ceiling from the saganaki; we are certainly going to have to give it a try soon.

Santorini Greek Kitchen
1417 Prospect Street
Indy 46203

Santorini Greek Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 23, 2010

Boogie Burger

A lot of you guys have recommended Boogie Burger to me. Well, the other day, the sun was shining, and since they don’t really have a lot of seating inside, but they have a nice patio area, it seemed like a great day for it. They share the patio attached to the Monkey’s Tail bar next door, so you can sit out there on a nice day (adults only if the bar is actually open). At lunch, at least the day I was there, it was not.

So obviously, this place is a burger joint, but they also have a few other things available- chicken sandwiches, hot dogs (from King David Dogs no less), a tuna burger and even a couple of veggie burgers. Since this was my first time, I figured I better go with a straight beef burger. However, as simple as that sounds, they have lots of various ways to have your burger—with bacon and a fried egg, blue cheese and even one that has pineapple.

I went with the ‘shroom burger which is a burger with grilled mushrooms and Swiss cheese and I also got the additional option of adding the fresh Parsley and garlic mix. It was good. And the extra mix made it very garlic-y which was fine with me, although others I came into contact with may not have thought the same thing. Probably didn’t help we also had the garlic fries, but I will get to those in a sec. So the burgers are 1/3 pound patties which is a decent size—not real small, but not so big that it turns into a monster to put in your mouth (although you can get doubles and triples). They are also char grilled, and that is one of their signature things.

So to go off on that tangent for a moment, here’s the deal with me and burgers. I have come to realize that I prefer fried burgers (as in on a griddle or frying pan type surface) better than char grilled. Yes, they are probably not as healthy, but if you are eating a burger, you aren’t going for health right? I think frying them keeps more of the juices (and fat) intact, where grilling them lets it all drip out and makes for a drier consistency. Of course, the grilling also adds a distinct flavor, but it isn’t enough for me to make up for the drier meat. This is not just true at Boogie Burger, I feel the same way with things I make at home. And this is not to say I do not like grilled food, throw a steak on the grill and I am totally into it, but in that case the juices get sealed in I guess, since it isn’t all ground up to start with. I also tend to like really thin burgers (think Steak ‘n Shake and Workingman’s Friend) that are slightly crispy on the edges. You aren’t getting really thin OR crispy edges when you are cooking on a grill.

Ok, with that being said, we found our burgers a little dry. The toppings on mine made up for this on the whole, all that gooey cheese and sautéed mushrooms gave enough moisture to let the sandwich still be quite enjoyable. Hubby had a burger with cheddar, bacon and deep fried onion rings. He liked it ok, but his thoughts sort of mirrored my own. And his wasn’t as gooey, so he felt like his was even drier. The buns are super soft, and I really liked them.
We also shared an order of the garlic fries (you really ought to share, they are enormous portions) and didn’t even finish them. I liked the garlic and parsley flavor on the fries, but without it, I am afraid they wouldn’t have been very special. They were pleasantly crispy, but again, with so many good fries in this town, they didn’t stand out.

I like the homey feel of the place and many of the combos to top your burger with sounded very intriguing (I could totally do bacon and egg) and the people who work there were exceptionally friendly and accommodating. I can totally see how a place like this would do a killing in the evening after the drinking has taken off in Broad Ripple. But hey, since we are talking burgers, what’s your fave and how come?

Boogie Burger
927 East Westfield Blvd
Indy, 46220

Boogie Burger on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marco's - Lunch

Hubby and I were driving on Keystone looking for a particular fried chicken place the other day (didn’t have the exact address on us, so we weren’t sure where it was). We couldn’t find it this day, and we were hungry so we just decided to bag it and go to Marco’s. It is one of those places we drive by a lot and have wondered about, and I didn’t even know they were open for lunch. Great patio, great day, we decided to give it a go.

The first thing I noticed was how crowded it was for lunch. Not full, but the patio was about half full, the restaurant was about half full, and even the bar was half full. It was a beautiful (if windy) day and we chose the patio. We were seated right next to a little fountain which I appreciated because it drown out a little of the busy traffic noise from 54th and Keystone.
We were promptly waited on by a very friendly and attentive server. Marco’s is an Italian place, but their lunch menu, while it includes several Italian dishes, mainly features regular soup , salad and sandwich lunch items. Honestly, the menu wasn’t overly exciting to me, but as we walked in hubby spied a pork tenderloin sandwich being served to another table and declared that is what he was getting. I had a hard time choosing just because nothing was really inspiring me, but I ended up going with a chicken and mozzarella Panini with tomatoes and avocado. Also, for my side, I had a cup of the creamy broccoli soup. I was assured it, as well as everything else there, was homemade.

The soup was pretty good. I liked it better than my sandwich actually. It was a creamy soup, but with several chunks of veggies including carrots and celery, and a nice broccoli flavor. It had a touch of cheese in it, so it was pretty rich, but just a cup of it hit the spot. I would order soup here again for sure.

My sandwich, on the other hand, was just mediocre. The chicken part of it was nice. It wasn’t too dried out, and even though it was a whole piece of lightly seasoned chicken breast, it was maybe pounded a bit, so it wasn’t too thick. The mozzarella was pretty good, it said fresh, so I was sort of expecting it to be a bit softer I guess. It just seemed like regular firm mozzarella (melted) to me. The avocado was mostly brown which was a bit of a turn off, and the tomatoes, as usual, were not ripe. The bread was nicely toasted in the Panini press, but all in all, I would not get this sandwich again based on this experience.

Hubby had the pork tenderloin sandwich which was much better than mine. It was the way we like them, not so thin that it is totally dried out and hanging over the bun. And the bun itself was perfect and the same size as the tenderloin (which was big). Just some mayo and onions on top and it was quite delicious. I had several bites of it, and it was certainly one of the better tenderloins I have had, and I would even think of ordering it should we return.

So would I go back to Marco’s? Well it is certainly on the radar now, and I know hubby is going to want to go back for another tenderloin.

2380 East 54th Street
Indy 46220

Marco's Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 16, 2010

R Bistro - Revisit

It has been awhile since we have been to R Bistro, and we do usually really like this place. As I have mentioned before, it is just a matter of getting the right menu that we both want to go eat, and we go.

On this night, we shared the pan fried crab cake with Old Bay seasoning and creamy sauce and the mitzuna salad with poached egg and pancetta for our starters. Both were very good. I sort of have a bias against crab cakes because they are usually not very good, but this one was. Very crabby and seasoned nicely. The sauce was a tangy creamy sauce, with a touch of heat. And it was just one cake-properly sized for an appetizer in my opinion.
The salad was also very good. A nice amount of the mitzuna greens (similar to arugula with its peppery flavor, but a bit milder) topped with a slice of caramelized apple topped with a round of pan fried pancetta. And a perfectly poached egg, appropriately runny, right in the middle of the salad. This was a very well done salad. Maybe a tad underdressed, but with the runny center of the egg, it came together. The apple was a nice touch to give a slightly sweet flavor to the rich and salty bacon and egg flavor. I thought there was a little too much of the apple, and did not eat all of it, but just some small bites with the other items. The pancetta was perfectly crisp and the salad was also the right size. We enjoyed both items a lot, but probably thought the crab cake edged the salad out a tiny bit. (Ok, hubby thinks the crab cake edged it out a lot, but we disagree on this).

For my main, I had the Alaskan halibut with sweet potatoes, arugula and lime butter sauce. I will start by saying that the fish was perfectly cooked, and was not dry and all. The lime butter sauce was simple, but perfect for the fish. Buttery and tangy with the lime flavor and some lime zest. The arugula complimented it as well. I was not a big fan of the sweet potato aspect of the dish, it just didn’t seem to add anything and they didn’t really have a lot of flavor. And maybe because they seem sort of fall-ish to me, and I am so excited about spring foods, they just weren’t doing it for me. But the rest of the dish was quite nice. Not amazing, actually fairly simple, but well prepared and well seasoned.

Hubby had the quail and sausage braised with grapes on blue cheese and walnut polenta. Hubby loves his little birds, and he thought the quail was very well done. He did not however think the accompaniments added much to it, although he liked them all with the sausage. He said the quail could stand alone. The sausage he liked with the grapes and polenta, although he did not remember any blue cheese flavor there.

All in all, while it wasn’t our best R Bistro experience, it was a very nice meal. We had good service and good food on a beautiful spring day.

R Bistro
888 Massachusetts Ave
Indy 46202

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Time Seafood

When we lived in San Francisco, one of our favorite lunch routines was dim sum. Dim sum is sort of like Chinese tapas, or little plates. Our usual spot for dim sum is Shanghai Lil’s, which is quite good (see my previous review), but I had heard there were other places to go, so I wanted to see what else was out there. It appears these days, there is just one other place (please let me know if I am mistaken) to go, which is on the west side, called On Time seafood. So off we went.

It is another one of those restaurants in a somewhat neglected strip mall. I was surprised though by how nice the interior was relative to the outside. Very, very clean, and not your standard Chinese restaurant interior. Decent upholstered chairs and a row of booths along the walls. Also, one of the first things I noticed were the fish tanks in the back, with live fish, lobsters, and get this, Dungeness crab. Wow, it was hard not to say, “screw the dim sum, let’s get a crab!” But I didn’t. But I am going back for a crab very, very soon. This is the first place I have seen live Dungeness crab in Indy and I can’t wait to eat one. These are by far my favorite.

Anyway, the dim sum, overall, was very good as well. You are given a written menu to check off what you want, as well as a nice card with pictures of all the items. Nice touch, particularly since it appeared there was only one person working in the entire place that spoke English and the place was pretty crowded. Although many of the customers were also speaking Chinese, so maybe it isn’t that necessary.

We ordered the shrimp dumplings (I am just going to use the English names here for ease of typing), the spring rolls, pan fried chive cakes, the pan fried shrimp roll, and the fried sticky rice with mixed meat. The shrimp dumplings were very good. Just your basic dumpling wrapper with whole pieces of shrimp inside. Hubby and I were discussing why it is that some are good and some are not, because they seem pretty simple. But we have had some bad ones. However, these were really good.

The next thing I tried was the pan fried chive cakes. I think these may have been my favorite. The filling was just mainly chives, but the dumpling wrapper was pan fried and had nice crisp sides to it that had a wonderful flavor. There were some other things mixed in with the chive mixture which made it quite tasty. Sometimes I have had them and they taste just too much like grass. These were superb.

The spring rolls were fine. They gave us the crunch factor we needed to balance the soft dumplings. The fillings were just standard though and a couple of the pieces of pork inside were a little gristly for me. I certainly think the spring rolls at Shanghai Lil’s are better, but these do the job.

We also had the pan fried shrimp rolls which were really good. This was more of a chewy wrapper that had a bit of filling with a bit of shrimp in it. They were then lightly pan fried. So they had a bit of chewiness to them which was nice, as well as a bit of the crunch. We both really liked these as well and put them on the “would definitely order again” list. They weren’t super shrimpy, but had a nice and more unusual flavor.

We never actually got the shrimp and cilantro dumplings. We were twice brought out a set of dumplings, sent them back the first time, because they were clearly not shrimp and cilantro (some sort of meat in there). The second time they brought out the same thing, and we just decided to eat them anyway. They were pretty good, but I didn’t think they were as good as the other things. Hubby said he would order them again if he could figure out what they were. I think, based on a process of elimination, that they may have been the Chiu Chow dumplings which are stuffed with pork and various other ingredients. They were fairly apologetic about not being able to get the other dumplings for us, and declared they must be out of them.

The final thing we had was the fried sticky rice with mixed meat. Ok, this was not good. Or I should say, we did not like it at all. As soon as it was placed on the table, I wanted it removed just for the smell. But I bucked up and took a bite, and realized the taste was right in line with the smell. Now I am very sensitive to smell, but when hubby started physically moving away from it in the booth, I knew it wasn’t just me. I can’t tell you what was in it (mixed meat apparently) and I can’t tell you what the offensive ingredient was. But after a little research, I have seen a recipe discussing the Chinese sausage giving it its characteristic “aroma” so maybe that was it. But I really don’t know. It was sort of a fermented seafood-y scent to me I think. Anyway, the owner came by and asked us if we didn’t like it (because we had barely touched it and moved it to the edge of the table) and we said no. She promptly offered to cook us something else and to take it off our bill which I thought was very professional. So many places don’t do this unless you ask. And I wasn’t going to ask, because I thought, maybe it was just something that wasn’t my taste, but that other people might like. She also, without prompting, removed the shrimp and cilantro dumplings we never got from our bill, even though we did eat the ones we did get. She was extremely apologetic right up until the moment I walked out of the door which I thought was sort of refreshing.

Now, there’s no booze at this place (not even Chinese beer) so hubby has taken it off the evening meal potential list, but they have a nice dinner menu as well with those aforementioned crabs. We’re just going to have to go split one of those for lunch one of these days. And we will do dim sum there again as well for a change of pace. We will just stay far far away from that fried sticky rice.

On Time Seafood Restaurant
3623 Commerical Drive
Indy 46222

On Time Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Recess - Revisit

Wow. We had a really great meal the other night at Recess. It was funny because when I looked at the menu that day, I was sort of thinking, “eh, doesn’t seem that exciting.” But wow, everything came together beautifully and I really enjoyed this one much more than my first trip. I wasn’t going to write this one up (and thus, sorry, no pictures) because it wasn’t that long ago that I reviewed it, but after finishing this meal, I felt an obligation.

The first course was a salad of arugula with sliced fennel, shallots and julienned green apples, shaved parmesan with a walnut vinaigrette. There was half a little spring roll alongside too which was filled with, get this, avocado and bacon. Now this is my kind of spring roll. And the tanginess of the dressing and tartness of the apple was great with the richness and saltiness of the spring roll and the spicy kick from the fennel. The only thing I would have changed was making all the fennel pieces uniformly small; a few were so big that I didn’t eat them because it was just too peppery. But this was one of the best salads I have had in a long while. And I loved that everything was properly bite sized and dressed. And seriously, how can you go wrong with a spring roll stuffed with bacon and avocado? You can’t.

The next course was shrimp bisque with an asparagus cream and little pieces of those super skinny asparagus spears I love so much (have I mentioned lately how happy I am that it is spring?) Anyway, I love that this was just a small little portion of soup, not a huge bowl, because for whatever reason, I have a hard time eating a gigantic bowl of just about any soup. This was a nice portion and I ate every bite. The bisque had an amazing shellfish flavor and little bits of shrimp throughout. And a little dollop of the cream and the pieces of asparagus that were just the right amount of soft, but still with a bit of a firm bite to them. It was great.

The next, and main, course was a chicken dish. This is probably why when I saw the menu, was sort of thinking, “ho hum,” but wow. This was outstanding. So it was a chicken breast cutlet which was fairly thin, but not super thin, cooked in a wonderfully seasoned light breading, with all kinds of nice peppery flavor. It was served over a ragout type mix of Portobello mushrooms, wild ramps (which are similar to scallions, but with a bit more flavor) and little bits of the dark meat from the chicken in a soy jus. Seriously, this is some of the best chicken I have ever had. The cutlet was perfectly cooked, not dry in the least, and went perfectly with the other ingredients. It was appropriately hearty for early spring, on a cold night, but not overly so. The mushrooms were my favorite part. Little dices that were so flavorful, I got a little sad when I ate the last one. I cleaned yet another plate (and I am telling you this is unusual for me). Which brings me to my next point; I think Recess is serving the perfect portion sizes. This is what we should be eating America. Not two giant chicken breasts with twice as much starch on the side. But I digress.

For dessert, we had a sour cream panna cotta with dried cherries. Again, I was sort of thinking this didn’t seem that exciting, but it was also really good. The panna cotta had visible bit of vanilla bean in it, so you got that rich vanilla flavor combined with the slight tanginess of the sour cream. It was served with a little crispy wafer cookie that was also a really nice textural ingredient with the smooth panna cotta. And the cherries added a nice component as well. Again, I ate every bite.

So this is a perfect example to me of why what Greg Hardesty is doing at Recess is such a good thing. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t have ever ordered many of these things on a menu, but since you do not have a choice (and on this night there were no choices at all), you just relax and eat what you get. And it was wonderful.

We also had the wine pairing with the food and it was quite nice as well. I love wine, but I am not as knowledgeable as many foodies about it, and I love putting this decision into someone else’s hands. Especially someone who puts some real effort into it and does such a great job. The wines this night were a white Burgundy, a Chardonnay, and a Tempranillo. All were very nice with the food.

My only complaint of the evening was the fact that it was a fairly cold night outside and the restaurant was quite cold inside as well. Of course, this seems to be a common problem in Indy, but I get tired of wearing layers everywhere I go. And it detracts a bit from your meal when your teeth are nearly chattering. But other than that, I would say this was a nearly perfect meal, and I haven’t had one of those in quite a while.

4907 N. College
Indy 46205

Monday, April 5, 2010

Yuki Japanese and Thai

****ED NOTE: Yuki is no longer in business******

We had to be in Castleton the other day and were trying to figure out a place near or at the mall that wasn’t a chain. Now this is somewhat difficult in this area, but we settled on Yuki because you can’t get any closer to the mall (it is actually located at the main entrance) and hey, I could review it too.

Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting too much from a mall restaurant, but we were fairly pleasantly surprised, at least with some of it. We shared a couple of things, a bento box and a specialty roll called the “Melting roll” which was actually really good. He promptly proclaimed it one of the best specialty rolls he has had in Indy.

This roll was enormous, and not cheap at $18, but it was quite interesting. At its center, it had a mix of crab (or “krab” as we call the imitation stuff), spicy mayo and crunch. That part was wrapped in seaweed, had the regular layer of rice, then on top a beautiful slice of avocado was covered with an amazing slice of white tuna which was then lightly singed with a kitchen torch. It was then topped with roe and little pieces of scallions and drizzled with more of the spicy mayo. Even I liked it. I really enjoyed the slight smokiness and warmth that the torching of the fish added. And the avocado was perfect and plentiful. Even with the fake crab, it was very tasty.

I had a bento box that came with chicken teriyaki and shrimp tempura as well as some California rolls and a couple of shrimp sui mai. The chicken was a little dry, but the sauce was nice—not too sweet. The tempura was really good, light and crunchy, some of the better tempura I have had in Indy. I also loved that in the mix of veggies included with the tempura, they had a piece of broccoli tempura. I love broccoli tempura and you rarely see it in Indy for some reason. In California, almost all tempura would come with at least a piece of broccoli in it. Not sure why no one does it here. And broccoli seems so Midwestern too. The other little bits were just okay, the sui mai was not bad (little shrimp and pork dumplings) and the California roll was just meh.

No, I would say the real standout was that fancy roll and the tempura. If I went back, I would just probably get an order of tempura or maybe try one of the Thai dishes (they also offer several Thai dishes). Pretty sure hubby would vote for this roll again too if they offer it. But hey, for a place literally in the mall, it is probably one of the best bets. And at least it is independent.

Yuki Sushi & Thai
6020 East 82nd Street, Suite 1406
Indy 46250
(no website I could find)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Harry & Izzy's

Just as I always thought I should try St. Elmo’s because it is such an Indy legend, I have also had Harry & Izzy’s on the list as well. Harry & Izzy’s, in case you don’t know is also owned by the St. Elmo’s folks (Harry & Izzy were two of the former owners of St. Elmo’s). They offer several steaks as well as the “famous” St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail (of which I am not a fan). Anyway, we finally got there the other night when the in-laws were in town. I like the fact that the menu is much more varied than that of St. Elmo’s, although this menu is so large it might be a little too varied. But they have a decent selection of seafood as well as steaks. There are also sandwiches, pizza and pasta and several different appetizers and sides.

We started with the spicy Asian shrimp which is rock shrimp, which is hand breaded and tossed in a chili aioli. First of all, this was a huge portion. More than enough for the 4 of us to share. Thank goodness we only ordered the one appetizer. They were really tasty though. The shrimp were quite tender (I think one of the great things about rock shrimp is they don’t seem to get tough as easily. The breading was pretty good, not so much crunchy because it was coated with the sauce, but it all went really well together. The chili aioli wasn’t too mayonnaise-y, had a little heat and more of a chili oil component than a mayo one. I would get them again.

When our server described the seafood entrée special, I was sold on the description. It was halibut lightly seasoned with cornmeal and served over a risotto with crab and asparagus. My mother-in-law ordered it as well. It was good, but not amazing I thought. And the portion was ridiculously large. But that is no real surprise I guess. The fish was maybe a tad overcooked, although not dried out or anything. The cornmeal crust was light and added a nice texture. The risotto was extremely rich but tasty. The king crab pieces that were in it were fairly plentiful, but a bit strange. The only word I can think of to describe them is “deflated.” It was almost like somehow the inside of the crab meat had been sucked out from the red outer skin. Tasted ok, just strange. The creamy butter sauce was very rich and could have benefitted from a bit of lemon or something to cut it a bit. We really should have shared the dish, as we both left at least half of our portions (well, we brought them home to the dog who thoroughly enjoyed it).

Now hubby and my father-in-law both ordered steaks. Clearly, this is the way to go here. Hubby ordered the ribeye, his favorite, and my father-in-law the filet. Hubby’s steak was perfectly cooked and I would say, based on the several bites I had, and his comments, probably one of the best steaks we have had in Indy. I guess all that St. Elmo’s experience is a good thing. When you get a steak like this and compare it to some we have had lately, you realize why you sometimes leave a place feeling a little underwhelmed. He had a side of the house made onion rings which were really good—sort of like thicker onion strings. But you could really tell they were made in house and they were really nice with the steak. I didn’t try the filet, but was told it was quite good as well, and based on my observation, it was also perfectly medium rare.
We all shared a dessert as well (which was certainly large enough for 4 of us in my opinion). We had the brownie with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and caramel sauce and candied pecans. I remember thinking the brownie itself was good, and how can you go wrong with ice cream and hot fudge and caramel really? But we were so stuffed, even between the four of us, we didn’t finish it.

Overall, I think I prefer Harry & Izzy’s over St. Elmo’s for a few reasons. I like the interior of the place better, not quite so old fashioned, and I like the service better. The staff is friendlier I think, and you certainly have more options as to what to order. Considering I don’t care for the St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail, that is a plus for me. Either place, I would go with a steak, and the ones I have had at both places have been very good.

Harry & Izzy’s
153 South Illinois
Indy 46225