Part Two: Hong Kong and Dim Sum At The Airport.

Last year I asked the WordPress World on recommendations on great eats in Mongkok, Hong Kong. I received a lot of helpful responses, mostly involving dim sum. I was pretty excited to feast on authentic Chinese fare during our one night layover. Nathan and I wanted to go somewhere to eat within walking distance from our stay, and being smack dab in the center of the Ladies Market I didn’t think it would be an issue. Unfortunately, the popularity of the city and area had it’s backfires, such as every single restaurant being packed to the point of no available seating

So where did we finally get some dim sum? At the Hong Kong International Airport, right before our flight back to the States. And how was it? Good! Nathan and I enjoyed the food and the tea was delicious and trippy. The esthetics was pretty as well with a fancier setting.

Jade Garden In Hong Kong International Airport.

Maxim’s Jade Garden In Hong Kong International Airport.

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Ginseng Oolong Tea

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The location wasn’t ideal, and the food was good, although not the best. But airport dim sum is better than no dim sum, right?

The Third Time’s The Charm At Terra GR.

Terra GR is a farm to table restaurant that strongly focuses on using locally sourced ingredients with a menu that changes with the seasons. Located in the Cherry Hill/East Town/East Grand Rapids area (somebody please tell me which one it is), Terra has been open for over a year or two. I have dined here a couple times and never left impressed. The interior and set up is beautiful, modern and refreshing. I was also impressed with the creativity and deliciousness of their cocktail menu. The service was always good. But the food? Meh. Not bad, but not great.

My friend, whom I affectionately call Meggers, was in town and visiting from Texas. I wanted to bring her somewhere she had never been but still close to where I live. We decided on Terra, and I’m so glad we did.

Terra GR Buffalo Cauliflower

Buffalo Cauliflower

The Buffalo Cauliflower was quite tasty, and I liked that the sauce wasn’t thick. The greens were dressed in a bleu cheese vinaigrette and it was delicious. Everything on the plate went well together. 

Terra GR Braised Beef Shoulder.

Braised Beef Shoulder

My entree consisted of braised beef shoulder with potatoes, arugula, roasted beef and chimichurri. I loved this entire dish. The beef was tender with some mouth watering fatty parts and the greens, vegetables, and the chimichurri were all fantastic. I want to go back to have this meal again.

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Brown Butter Tea

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Terra 75

 I mentioned earlier that I have always admired their cocktail menu, and this visit wasn’t any different. 

Meggers enjoyed everything as well and after this last dining experience, I’m happy to say that I am officially a Terra GR fan!

 

Indonesian Street Food at Rickshaw Republic!

Oh my gosh I loved this restaurant. I wish we had one in Grand Rapids.

In Chicago and visiting Joe, we went to an Indonesian restaurant he had heard good things about. Located within walking distance from his place in Lincoln Park was a plus, but we almost didn’t find it. If I recall correctly, there was nothing with it’s exterior to draw attention to the establishment. However, when we walked in it was a completely different story. 

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We were sat at a small two top tucked off to the side so we got plenty of views of the gorgeous Asian interior. I was a bit in awe, and noticed others taking pictures as well. 

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Rickshaw Apps. rickshawwrap Rickshaw Wrap. rickshawcurrychicken Rickshaw Rice. Rickshaw Smoothie.

Everything we ordered was fantastic! Focused on traditional Indonesian street food, their menu is broken up into sections such as Side Street, Main Street, Satay Stall, and Rice Table. Clever theme! Our server did a good job and was very welcoming, warm and helpful. The prices are reasonable. I don’t believe they serve alcohol, and you know what? I don’t even care! I’m in love with the place, and I can’t wait to dine here again. There are so many dishes I need to try. Why oh why are you so far away, Rickshaw Republic?

Food at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market!

Grand Rapids Downtown Market. What is it? Well, I’m feeling lazier than usual today, so the description of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market comes straight from their website:

“The Market is a mixed-use facility that brings together production, distribution, marketing and education about local produce. Our indoor facility features a 24-vendor market hall, while dozens of farmers and artisans line our outdoor farmer’s market shed. We offer several exceptional spaces throughout the site, including rentable incubator kitchens, rooftop greenhouses, and the nation’s first demonstration kitchen for kids (you have to see it to believe it). The Market is set to be LEED-certified (also the first in the nation), features a green roof, live walls, geotherm wells, rain gardens, and plenty of other innovative sustainable features.

We wanted our Market’s location to serve as a focal point within the city while revitalizing a previously neglected area. The Market continues to spark redevelopment of nearby properties while reintroducing community neighbors to a once underutilized Grand Rapids locale.”

So yeah, all those things. Now, the food!

FISH LADS

Fish Lads. Fish Lads Bivalves. Fish Lads Closeup. Fish Lads Mussels.

Their menu, (not cheap!), is full of different selections that showcase freshwater fish from the Great Lakes and high quality seafood from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. I love fresh oysters, so I adore the seating at the small bar right in front of their various bivalve selections! They also have a large case of beautiful and fresh catches that you can buy and take home with you to prepare for later.

RAK THAI

rakthaidtm Rak Thai.

The food here is described as being created by a Thai upbringing in an American childhood. I wasn’t crazy about the Mini-Mis but I did enjoy the Bangkok Tango. Also keep in mind that they do things quite spicy here! Much appreciated.

TACOS EL CUNADO

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Not only tacos and tamales, Tacos El Cunado focuses on authentic Latin American foods using Michigan ingredients. They have a self serve salsa bar and grocery store items for purchase as well.

LOVE’S ICE CREAM

Love's Ice Cream.The first Michigan ice cream maker that creates ice cream, sorbets, sundaes, and cookies using organic and locally produced ingredients. They also offer vegan treats, and even their cones are handmade. Highly recommended is their mint ice cream, with real chunks of mint that Joe is enjoying, pictured above.

I really enjoy the Downtown Market. It’s trendy and expensive, but it’s something new to the city of Grand Rapids. Plus, you have one area with a high concentration of food options, and I’m always sold.

Fish Ball All Kind, 5.99. (H Mart in Chicago.)

I have a best friend, and his name is Joe. Joe lives in Chicago, and I like to try to visit him at least once a year. Our time is effortlessly focused on good talks, food, playing pool, lots of imbibing, and more food. This trip around, he was excited to take me to a new-ish Korean market called H Mart!

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Pictured above is a lady making kimchi. It’s neat to see them making it right before your eyes. Honestly, I didn’t try or buy any. Growing up in a Chinese Korean household, with your mother making damn sure that the table was never missing this fermented cabbage, I have been kimchied out for plenty of years now. (Don’t tell my mom.)

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When we stepped inside I was quite surprised at the size of the supermarket. It’s massive, with more than plenty of fresh selections. The entire store was very organized and clean. hmartfishballs

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A lady making a ton of banchan, traditional Korean side dishes. hmartfood

H Mart also has a food court! I was elated. There were many different restaurants, all featuring different Korean foods,  Chinese, and Japanese.

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This is what Joe was most excited for. The gentleman that owns the store called What A Dumpling makes all the dumplings he sells, and there were plenty of different kinds! He also packages them up so you can take them home. Yummy stuff, for sure. It was fun sharing several different kinds, and we each had our own favorites. I know earlier on I was inadvertently not so inadvertently dogging kimchi, but I freaking love it in dumplings.

There is also a large section of retail stores, selling everything from electronics to kitchenware to beauty products. I took a couple of photos but there were people either ducking or covering their face in each one so I opted not to post them. Shy or annoyed people not wanting to be in a total stranger’s picture, because you know, Asians just don’t take enough photographs, ever. What a bunch of jerks.

H Mart is a great market! Obviously I don’t shop there often, so the whole experience was just fun for me. The food court alone makes me want to go back the next time I’m in Chicago. Hopefully Joe’s obsession for those dumplings is true love and not just fleeting infatuation.

Thai Express. Maybe the Most Authentic Thai Fare in Town?

Located in a nondescript little building on Kalamazoo Avenue, I have driven past this little restaurant countless times without truly noticing it. Now, after having dined here one time, it can safely be said that this place is in my top two of Thai eateries in Grand Rapids.

 

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Tod Mun

I suppose the best way to describe this appetizer is as a fish cake. A mixture of fish, herbs, and vegetables. Tasty and chewy, mild but still flavorful. The sauce that accompanied it was delicious, with peanuts and cucumber chunks. I could have eaten it alone.

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Nam Kao Tod

The salad was interesting. It was good, but certainly not my favorite dish. Rice with red curry, ground chicken, onion, ginger, green onion, lime juice and peanuts on top of lettuce. I had a little left over the following day and enjoyed it more cold, as the dish was served warm.

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Spring Roll.

If you order a specialty dish, you receive a complimentary spring roll. It wasn’t the tastiest spring roll ever, but the skin was crispy and light and it made me wonder if they make their own.

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Pad Bai Gra Phao

Holy basil leaves, mushrooms, and onions stir fried in a ginger garlic sauce. I added beef and tofu. As far as the spice level I ordered, whatever it was, most likely it wasn’t hot enough since I don’t remember it. I enjoyed the meal, and the large mushrooms were quite nice. The beef wasn’t the most tender, however. But don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t chewing on overdone beef, either.

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Thai Sweet Iced Tea

They offer Thai Sweet Iced Tea with free refills! That was something different. Always so tasty.

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Complimentary Dessert.

Another pleasant surprise was the free dessert they give with your meal. There were a couple of choices, and I went with the old school ice cream sandwich. They also offer those gross pastel mints you always find at Asian restaurants. I’m a little shocked that they still exist.

There wasn’t anything I raved about. Some things I enjoyed, and others were just okay. So why do I hold this establishment at such a high ranking? At the risk of sounding amateur, looking over the menu gave me the sense that this place has more authentic offerings than any other in town, even if it’s just a couple items. Without exaggeration, there were so many different choices I wanted to try. That is usually a good sign of a great menu! A small little casual spot with very friendly service, and I would say low to medium price points. I very much look forward to going back and trying the other five+ dishes I wanted to try the first time!

“Warmth of the Mitten, Soul of the Boot” Shown By Osteria Rossa.

A new Italian eatery is in town! Located downtown in Grand Rapids, this casual yet beautiful and modern establishment features small plates, pastas, wood fires, and seasonal dishes using plenty of local ingredients for their menu.

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For a starter, Nathan and I decided on their Crostini, where there are several different choices for an accompaniment. We chose the Roasted Mushroom and the Whipped Baccala. I think the cheese that came with the mushrooms was goat cheese. Whatever it was, it was incredible, and I rarely say anything that positive about cheese. The whipped fish with potatoes was delicious as well. Salty but not overly so for the small amount and I really enjoyed the texture. The crostinis were pretty much perfect. Not too greasy or the slightest bit stale.

Osteria Rossa Pizza.

The Clams Pizza featured not only clams but also Calabrian chilies, dried tomatoes, olives, and asparagus. To my relief and joy, the peppers actually had some heat to them! The pizza was delicious, and there wasn’t anything I disliked about it. The seasoning that comes on the side, however, was too salty.

Osteria Rossa Drink.Osteria Rossa Cocktail.osteriadessertwine

Unfortunately I can’t recall the names but their signature cocktails were good and for dessert, I ordered the N.V Giuli Cocchi Brachetto. It was okay but nothing I would order again. I much prefer indulging in my sherrys and ports.

I always say that I got tired of Italian food years ago, and I rarely ever crave going out for it, but Osteria Rossa is different. Service was friendly and prices quite reasonable. The only issue I had with the new establishment is that it was quite noisy. There were times when Nathan and I had a hard time hearing each other from across the small table. Overall everything was very enjoyable, but there is something else about it that has made me want to go back since we went. What is it?! I don’t know. Maybe I’ll figure it out the next time I go.

 

Toast in Ferndale.

Toast is a popular breakfast and lunch spot in Ferndale, and one of the other places Nathan used to frequent while he lived on the other side of the state. Breakfast items such as Huevos Rancheros, omelettes, sandwiches, soups and salads make the menu here. The space is small, with a bunch of different vintage toasters adorning the wall. The look and feel is an artsy, hipster one. We came in on a Friday afternoon and got really lucky with getting a table immediately, as this restaurant tends to be packed more often than not.

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The Cure.

Home fries topped with sausage gravy, green chilli, fried eggs, and cheddar cheese. Sounded amazing, but unfortunately I wasn’t crazy about the dish. I couldn’t get over how sweet the potatoes tasted (I am incredibly sensitive to sweetness compared to others). The cheese on top was quite hot but the inside of the pile of food was lukewarm. The eggs were done easy. Once I got to the green chilli, I enjoyed the dish much more. It brought everything together, but at the end this was one meal I actually did not finish. It became too rich for me from the eggs and cheese.

This place wasn’t anything special. Nathan really likes the joint so I’m not opposed to trying it again. We’ve got a couple more concerts in Detroit to go to pretty soon so maybe we’ll stop in for another try.

 

Namaste Kitchen Featuring Nepali Food In GR!

I came upon this restaurant by accident. Perusing Yelp one day and looking over reviews, somehow Namaste Kitchen popped up. At the time there was only one review, and quite a positive one. Honestly it wouldn’t have mattered what the reviewer had said, because once I saw that the restaurant offered Nepali food, I was sold. I couldn’t’ wait to check it out. Not only have I never had it before, Grand Rapids has never had a place that featured it (as far as I know). There is also Indian food on the menu and interestingly enough, a couple of Chinese dishes.

Namaste Kitchen.

Chatpate.

The Chatpate is a mixture of potatoes, onion, green chili, fried peas, mustard oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt, papad, crispy rice, and bitten rice(?). I loved this vibrant dish. It was very salty but the cilantro cuts it and complements beautifully. The spice was great, and on several occasions I bit down a crunchy pea. I don’t know if that is prepared that way on purpose or not.

Namaste Kitchen.

Chola Chana with Puri.

 I am going to guess that Puri is the bread. Greasy and a little bit sweet, it was definitely not my favorite part of the dish. The Chola Chana is described as Kabuli Chana, red onion, tomato, garlic paste, ginger paste, chili powder, and salt. Nice mild flavors and maybe the least salty of all the dishes I tried.

Namaste Kitchen.

Indian Fry Rice.

Namaste Kitchen.

Pork Sekuwa.

 The Indian Fry Rice was great, and I can see it being popular with the masses here. Onions, carrots, peas, and egg, this dish had a sweet touch to it. The only negative was that the meat, along with the entire Sekuwa dish, was incredibly burnt. While nicely spiced, similar to the Chatpate, they completely overcooked the pork. I don’t know if that’s just the way they prepare it in their own country, or that they just don’t consume a lot of it. Perhaps the cook plainly just did a poor job. The menu describes Sekuwa as a boneless piece of meat, cut in a specially designed way and mixed with spices and grilled in fire.

Namaste Kitchen.

Indian Tea.

Indian tea with some sugar and cream. Rich and delicious, I would cut back on the cream a little. I prefer teas without any additions but Indian ones are always an exception.

I will definitely be visiting Namaste Kitchen again, and I’m looking forward to trying other things. Their vegetarian fare was fantastic, and I will try another meat dish next time with hope and wariness. Our server was friendly and helpful, albeit his accent made it a little difficult for me to understand him a couple times. The atmosphere is very casual and I think the prices are quite low for the amount that you get. If you haven’t been here yet, check it out and let me know what you think!

Over On the Other Side of State At Cass Cafe.

I’m sick of calling the boyfriend by the name “The Boyfriend”, so let’s do a big reveal now, shall we? Nathan. His name is Nathan. There.

So Nathan used to live in Detroit years ago, and attended school at the College For Creative Studies. He’s really loyal to the city and the surrounding ones as well. I was genuinely excited to be able to visit some of his favorite old haunts while we were in town for a concert. One of those spots is Cass Cafe, located very close to the private school he attended. The atmosphere makes that very apparent as you receive an artsy vibe in there, with mostly students on staff. The menu is eclectic and unique, which I always appreciate.

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Asian Vegetarian Spring Rolls.

The Asian Vegetarian Spring Rolls were interesting. They were most likely store bought, served with seaweed salad and emerald green wasabi. There was also some coconut milk on the dish. They might have been trying too hard with this one.

Salad With Caesar Dressing.

Salad With Caesar Dressing.

The greens for the salad were fresh, and the Caesar dressing for the salad was great. Vinaigrette based as opposed to cream, and there were chunks of garlic, cheese, and perhaps anchovies? The only thing I didn’t like were the dried little clumps of fish, which I thought wasn’t necessary. I enjoyed the flavor, but not the texture so much.

New Orleans Seafood Linguine.

New Orleans Seafood Linguine.

My main entree was ordered off their Specials Menu, the New Orleans Seafood Linguine. The mussels and shrimp were juicy and of good quality and the mushrooms and big pieces of wilted spinach was another big plus. The sauce was a type of pesto, which I’m normally not crazy about, but on this plate it was tasty and nicely balanced. I really enjoyed this dish. The toasted bread was a nice touch too, as I can never get enough starch into my body.

The service was very friendly and the atmosphere quite casual. There is also a full bar, which is always nice. Overall I had a good time here, and I can see why it’s one of Nathan’s favorite restaurants. Cass Cafe is definitely a spot I’d like to visit again.