Happy Blogiversary in Beijing

你好!Ni hao (hello)! I made it to one year! I celebrated my blog’s anniversary just as I touched down in Beijing, China. Enjoy the photos for now…I’m still waking from my Beijing dream 北京梦想. When I’m not ridden with jet lag, I hope to write some reflections down.

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Turon Saba Recipe for Tuesday

Filipino food

Filipino food, except for chicken adobo, has been absent from my family dinner table for far too long. A few weeks ago I made chicken adobo, lumpia Shanghai, and turon saba! Turon saba is essentially a plantain rolled into a spring roll wrapper and fried in sugar. I had only tried making turon saba once before without a recipe, so this time I googled a recipe and the result was fantastic! (The turon pictured here is without jackfruit). I’m so excited to make them again this weekend for friends. If you’re in Chapel Hill, come on over!

Brunching in Cary

Bread, runny eggs, pastries. Whether you want salty or savory for brunch, La Farm Bakery has them both. This past weekend my husband and I drove to Cary to try this NC Blogger Network recommendation. La Farm is so successful that the line was out the door for most of the morning. My husband ordered the special, crab cake Benedict, and I ordered a croissant and eggs Florentine. The photos will do the talking…our selections were terrific, mine just needed a dash or two more of salt. While our carb-lover son missed out and napped the entire time, my husband and I were able eat at a normal pace and sip our cappuccino and latte like the good ole’ days. I’m not sure this is the best place to take your little one (we were lucky he was asleep in his stroller, which we squeezed between two tables). It’s the perfect place for a date with a friend or partner, and perhaps one or two more friends. Coming here makes me wonder what sitting in a bakery in France feels like…I can still dream, right?

 

Girls Night at Dashi

As I waited for my friend in Dashi’s izakaya, a Japanese pub, I scanned the room and saw that most of the bar stools and seats were taken. My friend, Julie, arrived in the next minute and we had a great time checking out the cocktail menu while strategizing which seats to grab (we’re Northerners, we can’t help but hover). I ordered the ‘Apple Blossom’ drink since it had a little ginger in it and I was still recovering from a cold. Upon first sip I knew it was going to be a good night. After we sat down, our trendy waitress poured some water and handed us the pub menu. We ordered our first round of small plates: tripe stew, pickle dish, and popcorn. After an hour of catching up, we ordered a second round: sashimi and bacon-wrapped mochi. I enjoyed both the company of my friend and the amazing dishes that night, and I have been recommending it to friends every since! Can’t wait to go back!

Drink: Apple Blossom (divine!)

Food: tripe stew (must-try), popcorn, pickle dish, sashimi (probably the least favorite), pickle dish, bacon-wrapped mochi

 

The Rising Tide of Donuts

Prepare yourself for a sugar overload, another donut competitor is gaining a popular fanbase in North Carolina! With the closing of Krispy Kreme donuts on East Franklin Street in 2015, the opening of Rise Biscuits & Donuts in Carrboro will be received with open arms and appetites. If you want to taste this rising tide of calorie-laden confections, you can visit their current locations in Morrisville, Raleigh, and Durham. The two flavors that seem to be popular with folks are Maple Bacon Bar and Apple Fritter. During our last visit before Christmas, there was a large steel bowl of donut holes for customers to munch on while they wait for their orders. My son loved this extra treat while playing with the toy kitchen!

Monuts, which serves donuts, bagels, biscuits, salads, and craft beer, is a trendy donut restaurant shop in Durham. I’ve relished creative flavors like Peach Bourbon and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt.  And they continue to come up with new flavors regularly, like Chai Latte Buttercream or Brown Butter Banana Cardamom! The only small critique of Monuts is that their supply of donuts does not meet the demand. I arrived at 3 PM one day and they told me they were all out! They erase donuts that have been sold out off their blackboard throughout the day. So if you’re planning to drive from Raleigh or Chapel Hill, I recommend you get there in the morning!

 

 

 

Verified Asian Restaurants Part 2

Korean

Seoul Garden in Raleigh is a great place for Korean barbecue (bulgogi) and even soups. If you haven’t tried Korean bbq yet you’re in for the experience, too. They come out with the meat raw and you cook the meat on a grill right in front of you! (If you ever go to Los Angeles, definitely try the bbq there, it is by far one of the best places to eat this heavenly food). My husband and I went here on a Sunday afternoon and it wasn’t too busy.

Vit Goal Tofu in Durham is known for its Korean tofu (sundubu). This tofu soup is made from kimchi and hot pepper flakes, so only come if you’re prepared to eat spicy! Their dumplings for appetizer are also delicious and they offer a lunch special Mon-Fri.

Fusion

Lucha Tigre in Chapel Hill serves up a fusion of Latin and Asian flavors and has a bar with fantastic seasonal drinks. The atmosphere is fun and the staff is friendly. Try their salsa sampler or three-taco plate. For an entree you can choose from an array of eclectic dishes: lamb guisado, spicy bulgogi bowl, or hoisin-glazed duck breast. (I need to return to try their kimchi fried rice). For dessert you can’t go wrong with their tres leches cake or churros.

Buku in Raleigh was a nice night out with some girlfriends for a bridal shower. The bride-to-be and her sister selected this restaurant because it serves some Filipino flavors such as lumpia and adobo. Oh but man the prices! Because of time and money, I’d probably only return here for an anniversary date or if a Filipino friend was in town.

Japanese

Akai Hana in Carrboro has a small, intimate feel and serves some good sushi. I remember liking their green tea the best.

Spicy 9 in Chapel Hill quickly became a local favorite and you’ll often see a group of people waiting to be seated at the door. Sushi is decent and even their Pad Thai passes the test!

Shiki Sushi in Durham is also a very popular place for sushi. It’s a large restaurant so it’s noisy with a crowd. For sushi just as good but with a dining area on a smaller scale, you can go to Sake Bomb which is also in Durham.

For ramen, hit up Dashi in downtown Durham. I heard the bar is fun at night, too. (Alas another aside and nostalgia: If you ever are in DC try Toki Underground, the place is as cool as it sounds).

Local

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe and Sage Vegetarian in Chapel Hill are both restaurants whose owners are rooted in the community and are committed to serving some of the best locally sourced food in the area.