Archive for September, 2011

Tortas Frontera Revisit #2

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Tortas Frontera Revisit #2

Good Food : 4/5 | Good Service : 4/5

An early morning layover in Chicago-O’Hare found me in line for another torta before my connecting flight. This time, I decided to try the Chipotle Chicken torta. This torta comes loaded with their refried black bean spread, poblanos rajas, slices of avocado, fresh arugula, crumbled Chihuahua cheese and cilantro crema on top of crunchy breaded chipote chicken strips. The chicken was crispy crunchy fried batter layer on the outside encasing moist chicken breast meat. The slightly bitter arugula leaves helps balance the heavy bean spread, while the cheese and crema help add a layer of creamy fat. As usual, the torta was toasted in the griddle before final packaging. This was very yummy as I didn’t feel like a meat-heavy torta.

Thai Ping

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Thai Ping
811 Main St
Boonton, NJ  07005
(973) 335-9541

Good Food : 3/5 | Good Service : 4.5/5

The first time I visited Thai Ping, it was with several of my colleagues who were in the mood for not-Italian/not-sushi/not-American food. We found Thai Ping via a Google Maps search. Boonton (pronounced ‘Boo-ton’ by the locals), is a 10 minute drive north of Parsippany on Route 202. They are located in the downtown area, so you have to be on the lookout for street parking and potential walking up or down a hill to get to the restaurant.

Thai Ping has 4 levels of spiciness for their dishes : mild, medium, spicy and very spicy. The mild level has a slight bite to it, so if you don’t like any spiciness in your food you should make sure to tell your waitress. There is a significant spiciness jump from mild to medium, so much so that the waitress will warn you that their medium is more on level of most places’ spicy level.

On my first visit, our group ordered the Thai Ping Egg rolls and the shrimp Thai dumplings to share. The spring rolls were perfectly fried – crunchy without being greasy, and the dumplings were perfectly steamed. I dared to do the medium when I ordered my Kaeng Keow Whan with the crispy duck. The Kaeng Keow Whan had a great balance of flavors from the red and green peppers slices, bamboo shoots, chili paste, thai basil leaves and kaffir lime leaves simmered in coconut milk. The duck came out with wonderful crunchy skin and the meat was not tough. But wow was the medium spicy! I could see the red Thai chilis in my dish, so I made sure to avoid eating them. Despite having to alternate bites of my food with my Thai iced tea, I still enjoyed my dish very much and didn’t have a spice burn in my mouth for the rest of the evening.

On a second visit by myself, I decided to try the Tom Kha Gai soup and the Kaeng Keow Whan again, but as a mild dish with beef. Being by myself, I decided to bring my dinner back to my hotel room. My second experience was a disappointment.

The Tom Kha Gai soup had a strong lemongrass flavor and aroma & lots of straw mushrooms, galanga, lemongrass & chicken breast slices. Unfortunately, the lemongrass was on the older side, yielding tough slices with a straw-like texture. In addition, while the heavy lime juice flavor helped to cut the fattiness of the broth, it ruined the overall broth flavor. My mild spice level meant that there was a small hint of chili paste added to the broth, as I could see the red flakes swimming around the coconut milk. The tough lemongrass, galanga and kaffir leaves pieces make it a little difficult to eat the soup. But was really surprised me was the level of fat/oil that was floating on top of my soup.

On to the Kaeng Keow Whan. Since it is late summer/early fall, food prices must have influenced the kitchen, as I only got 2 red bell pepper slices in my curry – most of the pepper slices were green peppers. The curry itself was very soup-y and also exhibited the floating oil circles that plagued my soup. Mild spicy level has hint of spice on the back of the tongue. I think I only saw 4 basil leaves in my entire curry, and it was not very green. And I could feel the oil coating my tongue with each spoonful of curry.

So while I was still impressed with Thai Ping’s level of service, it was a disappointing second visit due to the imbalance in fat, flavors and seasonings.

Baadshah

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Baadshah
Morris Hills Shopping Center
3079 Route 46 East
Parsippany, NJ  07054

Good Food : 4/5 | Good Service : N/A

Location – shopping plaza near the HomeGoods store.

Another hankering for Indian food while in New Jersey led me to Baadshah. Baadshaah offers food cooked in the style of both Indian and Pakistan cuisine. To support the local Islamic and Muslim communities, Baadshah proudly boasts only uses Halal meat. For first-timers to Indian cuisine or those who feel adventuresome, they offer both a lunch ($9.95) and dinner ($12.95) buffet option, which allows you to sample a range of both meat and vegetarian entrees. My visit was a takeout night, which is why I don’t have a rating for the restaurant service.

For my dinner, I ordered their vegetable samosas and the chicken biryani dish. The vegetable samosas were perfectly fried triangles, stuffed with the traditional cubed potatoes, green peas and spiced with red pepper flakes. The filling was slightly salty but very tasty.

Dinner orders come with 3 different chutneys. The cilantro chutney was slightly spicy with a hint of mint. The plum chutney was slightly sweet w/plum, peppery/coriander layers of flavor. And the pickled onion, tomato relish had a  slightly sweet tomato flavor and a very strong onion bite (due to the type of onions used?).

For the Chicken Biryani, I got not only chicken pieces, but 1 tomato wedge and 4 bell pepper slices mixed into my rice. This dish was heavily seasoned – you could taste the many spices used to flavor the rice, including tumeric and fennel seeds). Fried onions and cilantro were mixed into the rice. Unfortunately, the chicken pieces were on the slightly dry side – but there was a generous amount in my container. The dish comes with a container of yogurt raita – your typical watery yogurt sauce with grated cucumber, spices – with the biryani, the raita worked as a nice palate cleanser and also complemented the samosas very well. The biranyi was also lightly heavily salted, but the raita helps cool the dish’s aggressive spicy profile.

Unfortunately, the salt balance in the dishes and raita stacked increasingly, and I ended up feeling overwhelmed with sodium at the end of my meal. Which was too bad, as the dishes overall were authentically seasoned.