Tag Archives: Asian

{ The 2013 Gluten Free Expo – Seacacus, NJ }

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I LOVE food trade shows, it’s all about shootin’ the shit with people and sampling free food!! And if a particular vendor really takes a liking to you, you might just get some party favors to take home with ya (…l’m considering an investment in a rolley suitcase for the next show!).

This past weekend was the 2013 Gluten Free & Allergen Free Expo in Seacacus, NJ and I had the opportunity to attend with my friend and co-worker, Liz, who happens to be gluten intolerant. Although I have not been diagnosed with any sort of gluten intolerance, I have been trying to omit gluten from my diet over the past couple of weeks, in an attempt to resolve some chronic stomach troubles. Unfortunately, I am still struggling with tummy troubles, but I have noticed a significant decrease in joint/back pain since cutting back on my gluten intake. I am also not nearly as bloated and who doesn’t want that?!

My experience at the GFAF expo was thus kind of unique because I was unfamiliar with many of the products since I was new to the gluten free community, but since I had consumed gluten products in the very recent past, I had something to weigh these gluten free substitutes up against. Liz on the the other hand, was very knowledgeable about the different vendors product lines and really there on a mission to research egg-less gluten free products (her pet project is to make a vegan pizza crust for Jules!).

So what vendors were the highlights for Liz and I?!?!

{No. 1}   HAIL MERRY – Pre-packaged desserts

Most Knowledgeable About GF Baking & Best/Biggest Samples

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Like I mentioned earlier, Liz was on a hunt for egg substitutes in gluten free baking. Majority of the vendors used egg in their products, but the woman working the Hail Merry table, Claudia, was so knowledgeable on egg alternatives….and not only was she knowledgeable, but she was willing to share a wealth of information on the topic with us! She told us that chia seeds and flax meal are both good binding agents to use in place of egg, but that chia seeds are better for breads that you want to rise like banquettes, while flax meal is a firmer binding agent that is better for flat breads, crackers, and pizza crust!!!

She also gave each of us a bag of delicious macaroons to take home with us, as well as a super cute tee shirt with their logo on it! The caramel sea salt macaroons were my favorite out of the four different flavors , followed by the chocolate mint miracle tart, which was melt in your mouth goodness that I will certainly be buying in the near future!

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Merry, I hail you as my favorite vendor at the the GFAF Expo!

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{No. 2}   OMISSIONGluten-Free Beer

Best Brand Ambassadors & Best Gluten-Free Beer

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After working our way around the large room of vendors, Liz and I arrive at the final aisle of tables. We are stuffed, we are tired, we are five seconds away from calling it a day, and then we realize we are at the gluten-free beer aisle!!! Suddenly we perk up because it is time for happy hour!

Beer has never been my drink of choice, and I have absolutely zero experience with gluten-free beers, but Liz loves a good cold one and is rarely satisfied by the variety available in state-controlled Pennsylvania (as I am rarely satisfied by the wine selection!). She was all sorts of excited for this aisle and definitely hit it off with the sales rep at the Omission Beer table. She was so passionate about the brand and knowledgeable about the product. We learned that the beer is made with traditional beer ingredients, including malted barley, which is specially crafted to remove–or shall I say, omit–the gluten. It actually breaks the chains in the protein bonds, making it safe for gluten intolerant people to consume.

The company offers two different brews: a Pale Ale (5.8% ABV) that is bold and hoppy, and a Lager (4.6% ABV) that is much lighter but still very refreshing and crisp. Between the two, I definitely preferred the pale ale, although the Lager is the one that took the gold medal in the 2012 International Beer and Cider Competition for the Gluten Free category.

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Liz said that this beer tasted the most similar to real beer that she can remember. She noted that it didn’t have a funny after taste, which is her most frequent gripe with GF beer.

{No. 3}   THE CAKE OVERGluten-Free Bakery

Best Tasting Gluten-Free Desserts

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Liz and I ate a lot of sweets while at the expo, but I think we both agreed that the desserts sampled by The Cake Over, were by far the best! They had cookies, and cupcakes, and brownies and all of them were equally as delicious. The owner, Allison Teperman, is originally from Moscow, Russia and her bakery which is located in Lake Hiawatha, NJ, specializes in gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-fat desserts.

The stand out treats for me were the almond crescent cookies, which my grandmother always makes during the holidays. I would have never known that these European bad-boys were gluten-free if someone hadn’t told me!

Of course, Liz instantly reached for the chocolate stuff, as she is a self-proclaimed choco-holic (and I am her witness!).  The chocolate brownies were incredibly rich without being too dense or overly sweet.

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And I loved the chocolate fudge cupcakes topped with chocolate mousse!! They were outrageous and dairy free, might I add!!

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If I ever needed a gluten-free specialty cake, I would definitely go out of my way to get it from The Cake Over. Not only is the product amazing in it’s flavor and texture, but the bakers are tasteful in their cake decorations as well!

{No. 4}   GLUTENBERG – Gluten Free Beer

Best NEW Gluten-Free Product

Glutenberg

All of the household names in the gluten-free market were at the expo (i.e. Udis, Glutino, Glutenfreeda, ect…), but Glutenberg is a newer addition to the market….well, the US that is! Proving successful in the Canadian market since 2011, Glutenberg is available for purchase in the United States, and has already won the gold, silver, and bronze awards in the “gluten free category” at the World Beer Cup!

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There are three different brews available: (1) a Blonde Ale (4.5% ABV) with notes of pepper, floral hops, and fruity citrus, (2) an American Pale Ale (5.5% ABV) with hints of apricot, grapefruit, orange, and caramel, and lastly (3) the Red Ale (5% ABV) which is the winner of the gold medal and much more like a stout beer, with notes of coffee, caramel, and toasted nuts.

My favorite?

The Red Ale without doubt. And best of all, Glutenberg is 100% gluten free. May sound shocking that this a bragging point, but most other gluten free beers do in fact contain very small traces of gluten, at less than 5 PPM.

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{No. 5}   EVERYBODY EATS – Gluten free & Nut free bakery

Best Gluten-Free/Nut-Free Breads

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Gluten free desserts are no longer that hard to find, but good gluten free bread is another story. Heck, it’s even getting hard to find good artesian bread with flour these days! But the tides are a changing, thanks to Everybody Eats bakery in Brooklyn, NY.

The multi-grain high-fiber loaf  that they sell is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Not amazing because you’re thinking of it as a gluten free product, but amazing because its just a top quality bakery product. In fact, it was so good that I couldn’t help but buy a bag of the deli rolls to take home–6 come in a bag for just $10! And each roll serves up a whopping 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein!

Check out their website to order bread online if you can’t locate a good gluten free bakery near your home. Apparently, they freeze great too!

{No. 5}   OLA GRANOLA – Gluten-Free Granola

Best Gluten-Free Breakfast Cereal

Ola Granola

I eat Greek yogurt at least once a day, whether it be for breakfast or as a snack, but either way, I like it to have a little crunch which means granola! Finding a delicious granola is easy–who doesn’t love oats roasted in honey with clusters of nuts and dried berries?!? But finding a healthy, low-calorie granola that still tastes good is a bit more challenging. Now tack the gluten free requirement onto that list, and you’ll be reading package labels at the super market all afternoon! But Ola Granola has filled the gap in the market, providing a delicious Gluten-Free, 100 calorie per saving, low glycemic, non-GMO, Vegan, soy-free, kosher, 0 trans fat, whole grain granola that is 100% all natural!

They offer four different flavor varieties, but my favorite is the Chocolate Banana Chip, which is a tasty combo of crunchy banana chips and semi-sweet chocolate chunks melded with oat clusters. 1/3 of a cup is 100 calories with only 15 calories from fat!

I will say that although I was impressed with the product, I was very disappointed by their sales rep at the show. She was rude and apathetic about the product. Fortunately for the company, their product is good enough to sell itself.

My other favorite granola that was NOT at the convention (sadly) is Living Intentions Superfood Cereal in the Raspberry Detox flavor. It is all organic, raw, gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO and is fortified with Zeolites, milk thistle, hemp, cranberry, artichoke, and red beet root. You can order it online or buy it at Wegmans or Whole Foods.

{No. 6}   San-J  Gluten Free Salad Dressings & Sauce

Best Gluten Free Cooking Sauces

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It comes as a surprise to many that soy sauce contains gluten, but it is true that regular soy sauce contains about 40%-60% wheat! Thankfully, there is an alternative sauce called tamari, which is a richer, smoother sauce composed of 100% soy beans. Personally, I find tamari to be saltier in flavor than regular soy sauce though, so I’d use caution when putting on sushi!

The San-J company has been making traditional tamari sauce for nearly 200 years, but they have more recently introduced a line of gluten free cooking sauces in their product offering. Many other Asian cooking sauce brands will use soy sauce as their base instead of tamari, since it is cheaper, but San-J keeps all of their sauces tamari-based.

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My favorite of their cooking sauces, in order of preference are: (1) Thai Peanut Sauce — perfect for grilled meats or pad thai noodle dishes (2) Spicy Szechuan Sauce — a spicy but delicious sauce that would be great on skewered beef and (3) Orange Sauce — which begs for some grilled chicken and fried rice!

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Overall. the expo was a success and I look forward to attending another one in the future! As for the egg-less pizza crust….well, Liz and I experiment with Flax Meal on Thursday. I will keep you posted on our findings!

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Filed under Bakery, Food Expos, Gluten Free, Tradeshows

Satay Stir Fry Sauce *****

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When I am in need of a quick dinner, stir-fry is my go-to dish. I’ve always got an abundance of veggies in the fridge for my morning omelets, so I rarely even need to make a trip to the grocery store for ingredients. Plus, it doesn’t really matter what is in the dish (i.e. chicken, veggies, steak, tofu), because we all know the secret to an incredible stir-fry lies within the sauce.

Finding just the right sauce can be tricky though, which is why I am sharing this incredible recipe for Satay Stir Fry Sauce. It only requires a few ingredients and it makes just about anything taste amazing! The surprise ingredient is chucky peanut butter, which thickens the sauce and allows it to better adhere to the veggies and/or meat for a more flavor-packed bite. I love this sauce because it is just the right consistency and balance of Asian flavors—incorporating soy, orange, ginger, peanuts, and garlic.

Use this for vegetarian stir-fries with eggplant, mushrooms, onions, snow peas, and carrots served over rice or use it as a dressing/dipping sauce for grilled meat kabobs.

All you need is….

{ Ingredients for Satay Sauce }

  • 4 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons Tamari sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 orange, juiced

{ To Make the Satay Sauce }

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and stir until well combined. The peanut butter and honey should be dissolved.

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Filed under Asian Cuisine, Recipes

Tao Las Vegas *****

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702.388.8338
3344 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

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Last month, I went out to Las Vegas for a couple of days to scope out the Pizza & Craft Beer Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center for work (very, very hard work, might I add!). Basically, I spent two full days just sampling different specialty beers and cheeses, followed by two long nights of fine wine and good food.

Out of all the restaurants in Vegas, Tao was one in particular that I wanted to try and it just so happened to be conveniently located in the lobby of my hotel. After reading several yelper’s comments, I found that most considered Tao to be a restaurant serving very small plates of food at an extremely high price, which they considered unjustifiable. But I think when food is extraordinary and unforgettable, then to hell with portion size and if you can afford it, to hell with the price. So was Tao worth the splurge for a special indulgence? Continue reading to find out!

Tuna Tartar

To start we ordered the Spicy Tuna Tartar served on Fried Rice Cakes ($18). I am used to eating tartar with something extremely crunchy to to counteract the raw texture, like a fried plantain chip, or a wonton,  so I was hesitant whether or not I would enjoy the fried rice accompaniment, but it worked perfectly with the fish. It didn’t seem too mushy and the flavors were so on point, complimented by the spicy cream sauce that was drizzled on the bottom of the plate. I was scraping this stuff up with my fork it was so good.

I also wanted to order two classic Asian appetizers so that I could accurately assess the food, comparing it with dishes that I was already familiar with at other Asian restaurants. So we got an order of the Satay of Chilean Sea Bass with Wok Roasted Asparagus ($19).

Chilean Sea Bass Satay

The fish was cooked to perfection and the satay sauce was served in just the right portion—not too heavy and not too light. Although, I tend to prefer chicken satay and would like to try that next time.

Squab Lettuce Wraps

We also tried an order of the Squab Lettuce Wraps ($15), which peaked my interest because how often do you see squab on the menu?!? They were delicious and came with a huge portion of grilled meat. In fact, we had to ask for more lettuce shells to use it all up. This was a great bang for your buck if you’re on a budget.

As far as entrees were concerned, we contemplated ordering a bunch for the table and sharing, but there was really only one dish that I wanted to try—the infamous Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass ($39). Google anything on Tao and this is sure to be mentioned at some point in the article; they are known for this signature dish. So I convinced everyone to order their own dish and had zero regrets because my sea bass was unforgettable.

Miso Chilean Sea Bass

It was the kind of dish that easily commands the price and gives me a season to visit Tao at some point in the future (the very near future, I hope!).  The fish was like butter, just falling apart with each poke of my fork.  And the sauce, which was more like a delicate broth, was unique in flavor, without too much saltiness (contrary to many blogger opinions). I also enjoyed the sautéed vegetable medley underneath the protein, which bathed in the broth, soaking up the miso flavors.

The other dish that really stood out for me among the six entrees, was the Wasabi encrusted Filet Mignon, served with a stack of tower of Tempura Onion Rings ($40).

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This was a smaller portion—as filets tend to be—but it was also incredible and unlike any other steak seasoning that I have tried. The wasabi added a nice heat to the exterior of the beef and the temperature on the cooking was just right. I am not a huge fried onion fan, so I would have preferred an alternate side dish, but A+ on the steak.

Other dishes ordered included the Diver Sea Scallops with Red Curry and Thai Basil ($35), which were very fresh and soft in texture. I liked these a lot, but would probably order them as an appetizer to share rather than an entrée.

Scallops in Curry Sauce

The Roasted Thai Buddha Chicken ­­­($28) was good but nothing terribly special. Wouldn’t suggest it.

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We also had an order of the Vegetable Fried Rice ($13) a with rich fried egg on top, which was amazing. Put a fried egg on just about anything and count me in. Had a nice thick soy glaze drizzled over the dish and comfortably fed six people as a side dish.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Overall, I walked away from Tao a very happy camper and would definitely be back for more of that Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass. I will admit though that some of the dishes were just average and if I hadn’t ordered some of the more spectacular ones (the steak, the sea bass, and the tuna tartar) then I would have left feeling….well….duped. My advice is to read the reviews on Tao (you’re doing a good job if your reading this now!) and then order the dishes that people and critics like myself recommend as fabulous, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone a little. To be honest, I’ve only ever had sea bass one other time and I was totally nervous about committing to the dish at the cost of  $40, but it was what they are known for and now I understand why.

Go to Tao if you’ve played a good night in Vegas and have some money to throw around on a good meal.

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Filed under Asian Cuisine, Las Vegas Restaurants

{ Faux Pho }

After my first Pho experience, I became a pho feign. I simply can’t get enough of the stuff–it’s the epitome of comfort food and even better its super healthy for you! Thankfully, I am lucky enough to have an awesome Vietnamese restaurant  (Pho & Beyond) close to my home in Philly so I can get my pho fix there, but finding Vietnamese food in Argentina has been quite a challenge. There is one good place called Green Bamboo, serving up tasty Asian inspired dishes including pho, but it is not authentic and it comes at a rather steep price (almost 90 Arg pesos per bowl….totally not in my budget these days!). As a result, I have decided to experiment with making my own Pho, which I will be the first to admit is really faux pho….the real stuff requires a lot more ingredients and whole lot more cooking time.

This being said, my imitation version still gives the unique flavors of the traditional pho broth and the hearty satisfaction of beef soup. Remember though, this soup is all about the garnishes so don’t skimp on those ingredients!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons star anise seeds (or 1 whole star anise)
  • 1 3″-4″ cinnamon stick
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2-3 cups of mixed mushrooms, chopped (oyster, baby bella, crimini, shitaki)
  • 1 whole scallion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 package of thick rice noodles, cooked out
  • 1 pound of eye round steak, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • Bean sprouts, sliced chilis, fresh basil leaves, sliced scallion, and lime wedges for garnish

{ To Make Pho } Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add the onion (cut side down), crushed garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant–approx. 3-4 minutes.

Add the water, bouillon cubes, star anise, and cinnamon stick, bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Using a small handheld strainer, skim the seeds and cinnamon pieces out of the stock (you can also remove the garlic and ginger if they are not resting at the bottom of the pot).

Add the mushrooms and sliced chiles, and allow to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the scallion and season with kosher salt, according to taste. Remove from heat.

Add the sliced beef to the soup and stir to combine (the beef should cook through almost instantly, if it has been sliced thinly enough).

Divide rice noodles among bowls and ladle broth into each bowl. Garnish the soup with basil, bean sprouts, lime juice, scallion, and sliced chiles. If you like spicy, then add a dash of Sriracha sauce!

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Num Pang Sandwich Shop *****

Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich comes with Cucumber, Pickled Carrots, Cilantro, Chinese and Thai Eggplant Spread, and Soy Milk Chili-Mayo baked on bread made by Parisi Bakery

212-255-3271
21 East 12th Street (between 5th and University)
New York, NY 10003

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For my birthday, my roommate Ariana got me the book “The Definitive Guide to the Stuff White People Like.” Not only is the book hilarious (as you may have judged by the title), it is also astoundingly accurate. It’s kind of disappointing though because all of the things that I thought made me unique, just so happen to be characteristic of the entire Caucasian population. My uniqueness is really the taste of millions…sad face.

One of the chapters in the book discusses the white person’s love for expensive sandwiches, and I for one, am guilty as charged. The book states,

“What do white people like to do for lunch? The answer: eat expensive sandwiches. If you need to find a cache of white people, get yourself to a sandwich shop. Generally, these places aren’t open for dinner, have a panini press, and are famous for their bread. There are always vegan options. This type of restaurant is best for business and friendship situations, because it does not carry the romantic connotations that sushi and breakfast do. These sandwiches generally start around $8.99. Remember, that whenever a white person wants to go to a sandwich shop you are looking at at least a $15 outlay after tip and drink. Also note: White people will wait up to 40 minutes for a good sandwich.”

This being said, one of my first lunches in New York was a Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich from Num Pang Sandwich Shop (Ohh, and the book also states the white persons love for all things pertaining to New York—living in it, talking about it, visiting it, ect..,—how much more unoriginal can I get?). Num Pang serves up fresh Cambodian cuisine from a small, walk-up ordering window located on 21 East 12th Street between 5th and University. The sandwich wasn’t really expensive (only cost $6.75) but I did wait about 25-30 minutes to get it, so it can be classified as a typical “white person” sandwich experience. The Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich comes with Cucumber, Pickled Carrots, Cilantro, Chinese and Thai Eggplant Spread, and Soy Milk Chili-Mayo baked on bread made by Parisi Bakery. The vegetables were crisp and fresh, and the spreads packed a ton of flavor. I don’t normally like cilantro, but in this case, I LOVED it!!

Devouring my sandwich, al fresco!!

As you can see by the photo, the sandwich is about the size of your hand (unless you have really big hands, then that’s another story), and it is stacked high, so open wide. Ohh, and do yourself a favor and don’t forget to grab some napkins, because the spicy mayo is delicious in your mouth but not so pretty on your blouse.

The outside of Num Pang Sandwich Shop

This place is the definition of a hole in the wall, and remember that it only accepts cash!! Although there is some limited seating upstairs, I chose to eat outdoors a la curbside—very al fresco!

Please, please, please make your way over to Num Pang and try their delicious food!! It is absolutely awesome, so do not let yourself be intimidated by the thought of trying Cambodian food—you will not be disappointed. In addition to the roasted cauliflower sandwich, I also hear that their Pork Belly Sandwich and Skirt Steak Sandwich are very good. I can’t wait for my next trip to New York to try more of their food!

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Gigi ****

Steak Chow Fun with Mushrooms and Eggplant Served Over Thick Egg Noodles

305.573.1520
3470 North Miami Ave
Miami, Fl 33127

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When I go to a restaurant for the first time, I usually disclose the fact that I have a food blog and then ask the waiter what the top three menu items are, based on both their personal opinion and customer popularity. I do this for a few reasons; (1) I am hoping that they will try to “buy” a good review from me in exchange for some samples of free food and preferential service (but don’t worry, I am completely honest in my reviews and won’t be bought by a free appetizer!), (2) I really do like to try the signature dishes that a place is best known for, and (3) it narrows down the menu substantially and takes the guess work out of ordering!

When I arrived at Gigi in Midtown for the first time, I went through my usual routine and was happy and surprised to find that the waiter was equally as obsessed with food as I was (keep in mind that this is very unusual). I asked for some suggestions and he lit up, listing off his personal favorites and customer’s top picks. The limited menu is divided into sections labeled: basics, buns, raw, noodles, snacks, and rice bowls (the place is clearly Pan-Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine!).

To start, he recommended the Tuna Roll from the raw menu, which was similar to sushi (minus the rice) with Tuna, Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus. The ingredients seem so simple, but the flavors are very full and clean. The citrus compliments the tuna, and the thin cucumber casing adds a nice crunch to the soft texture of the tuna and avocado.

Raw Tuna Roll with Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus

Next we got an order of the Grilled Butternut Squash off the snack menu, served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions. The squash was cooked to perfect with a nice black char from the grill on the edges, yet it was still super sweet. The yogurt sauce was nice and light, so it complimented the dish without over powering it. After polishing off our first round of squash, we went ahead and ordered a second….yes, it is that good!

Grilled Butternut Squash served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions

We also placed an order for the Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions. This dish—also off the snack menu—looked very similar to the butternut squash, but it wasn’t nearly as good! Everyone’s forks attacked the butternut squash until it was gone, and then we slowly picked at the sweet potato….until the second order of squash arrived, of course! There was nothing wrong with the potatoes; they just looked too similar to the better tasting squash dish.

Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions

Next the waiter surprised us and brought out an order of Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower for the table to sample. The vegetables were roasted and then tossed with fresh bacon and soy. The reason that I didn’t order them myself, is because I knew that I would compare them to the brussel sprouts served at Sugarcane, which are out of this freaking world! After trying Sugarcane’s version of brussel sprouts, I can no longer enjoy them prepared any other way, and even though the waiter tried to convert me to Gigis, they still didn’t hold a candle to Sugarcanes. They were tasty, but Sugarcane’s are simply incredible. Success on getting some free food though, right?!?

Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower with Bacon and Soy

For my main dish, I ordered the Steak Chow Fun, which is sliced steak, mushroom, and eggplant, served over thick egg noodles (photographed at top of blog). I was a little surprised by the density and size of the noodles, which were like Italian paparedelle noodles. Most Asian noodles are very thin and delicate, and so this was unusual for me, but the dish was absolutely incredible! The meat was cooked just to my liking; it was very juicy and tender. The sauce that everything was tossed in had a great garlic-soy flavor, and it had the rich consistency of an eel sauce so it adhered nicely to the pasta. The mushrooms were little bites of heaven, it was like finding gold whenever I came across one with my chopsticks!

And finally, just when I thought the meal was over, the waiter brought out a miniature soft ice cream cone for everyone at the table (more free food, yay!) And of course, once the sweetness hit my lips, I wanted more. So, I walked myself over to the bar area and ordered up some cookies: Peanut Butter Chunk and Classic Chocolate Chip. These cookies are enormous and only $2!!!! It’s one of the best food deals that I have seen yet, especially since the cookies are amazingly delicious! I rarely want more than a couple bites of a cookie and I had no problem devouring the entire peanut butter monstrosity. I think my friend’s face captures just how delicious they were!

Miniature Soft-Serve Ice Cream Cones

Peanut Butter Cookie

The Amazingness of the Gigi Chocolate Chip Cookie

Overall, Gigi is an amazing place to grab a bite at any time, and especially late night. They are revolutionizing and redefining drunk-eating by staying open till 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights, and 3 am on week nights. I love everything about this place, and make sure you save room for one of the cookies!!

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Filed under Baking, Miami Restaurants

Miss Saigon Bistro **

 

Steamed Rice Noodles (Bun) with Lemongrass Curry Chicken and Spring Rolls over Lettuce, Bean Sprouts, Shaved Carrots, Cilantro, Mint, Chopped Peanuts, and Lime

305.446.8006
148 Giralda Ave
Coral Gables, Fl 33146

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I have been so behaved on this ridiculous diet, but today I cracked. I got the taste of carbs on my tongue on binge day and haven’t been able to get the thought of them out of my head since. I can go without sugar, I can go without dairy, I can even go without sex, but please, for the love of all that is good in this world, don’t take away my carbs!!!

Now, in my own defense, I didn’t succumb to my carb craving easily—it was a slow and steady build up of temptation throughout the day. I went to work and my favorite sandwich (chipotle chicken ciabatta) was on the menu as a lunch special. I had to watch customers order and rave about how delicious the sandwich was while I carried my spinach salad without dressing to back rooms for lunch. Then in my evening class, my teacher decided to treat the entire class to pizza. Not only did I have to watch everyone scarfing down their cheesy hot slices of deliciousness, but I also had to endure the rest of the 3 hour lecture in a room that smelled like a pizza shop (with my belly burning in hunger, might I add!).

I was so tormented by these temptations that I packed up my things and left class early to go get myself a Vietnamese Bun. No one wanted to join me, but not even the awkwardness of eating alone came between me and my noodle dish. I drove over to Miss Saigon Bistro near Miracle Mile in Coral Gables and got a table for one.

I ordered the Bun (steamed rice noodles) with Lemongrass Curry Chicken and Spring Rolls, which also contains Bean Sprouts, Cilantro, Mint, Shaved Carrots, Green Onions, Shredded Lettuce, Roasted Peanuts, and Lime. The average portion of this dish is enormous (and it was here too, as you can see in the photo), so I figured I would eat half the dish and take the other half to go, but I didn’t put my chopsticks down till every noodle was in my belly—a screw you to my carb-free diet.

As for the quality of the food, it wasn’t very good. The meat was nicely flavored (make sure that you ask for all white meat if you get chicken), but the dish itself lacked flavor. The noodles weren’t the vermicelli noodles that I have grow accustomed to eating at Vietnamese restaurants at home, and the dish overall was disappointing (even though it satisfied my carb craving). I think I was most upset though when the check came because the Bun for one came to $17, which is ludicrous. I am used to getting the same size portion but better quality for just $7 at home. In conclusion, I left feeling guilty for having cheated on my diet, and mad for having paid $17 for that guilt.

I wouldn’t recommend Miss Saigon Bistro, but since it is one of the few Vietnamese places in Miami, it will probably stay in business by default for a many years to come. If anyone can suggest an alternative Vietnamese restaurant in Miami, please leave it in a comment response, because I crave Pho like a sick kid craves chicken noodle soup.

**In regards to the diet, I did feel significantly more energetic after consuming the carbs and was able to have a powerhouse workout later that evening, which I wasn’t capable of when eating strictly protein. I also was in a much happier mood and felt entirely less lethargic.

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