Boston Favorites, Lately
What a week this past one has been!
The sombering results of the presidential elections has devastated everyone, including myself, but — there are glimpses of hope and unity if we choose to see it. My favorite message to come out of all this was Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, singing the late great Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. I’m not giving up, and neither should you.
For me, personally, this past week has been an extremely memorable one because something wonderful happened: Matt and I are engaged! <3
The very first time I mentioned Matt on this blog was about a year ago (but we’ve been dating longer than that) and I said that he’s sweet and he’s smart and he makes me laugh all the time. When I’m with him, things feel right. We’ve had a lot of adventures together. We’ve eaten a lot and traveled a lot (Portland, Portsmouth, NYC, San Francisco, Napa, Asheville, upstate New York, and in January we are going to the Philippines and Japan!) He treats my family like his own, patiently sits through all my blog photos, and makes us dinner all the time. He brings out the best in me. I’m rarely at a loss for words but words can not do justice to how incredibly happy, excited, and grateful I am to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.
Here is my beautiful rose gold ring :)
Now enough gushing about my personal life and let me start gushing about my other love: food! With the cold weather, I’ve been turning to comfort food favorites, and I wanted to share with you some delicious things I’ve eaten over the last few month. Consider this the updated version of my Good Eats series, where I would share great foods I’ve enjoyed but were previously undocumented. Most of the dishes I’m featuring are from restaurants in Harvard Square (where I live), a couple in the South End (where I work) and one showstopping dessert from the Seaport district.
Let’s start by taking another look at this beauty:
This is the King Crab dish at Waypoint. Crab, black rice, brown butter aioli, and chili garlic oil. THIS IS THE BEST THING I ATE THIS YEAR!! I know the year is not over yet (and I actually made that declaration in September) but this is truly amazing. The sweet crab, crunchy rice, creamy aioli, and that ridiculous oil. Please go to Waypoint and order this. (It’s expensive, $22 for a small plate, but so so good that it’s worth it).
This is the Snails and Grits, also at Waypoint. They just started brunch service a couple of weekends ago, and this is chef Michael Scelfo’s take on shrimp and grits. This dish has garlic butter, reggiano, escarole, and a duck egg. Was it better than traditional shrimp and grits? No, that’s a classic dish for a reason. Was it delicious? Absolutely. Matt said it was the best brunch item he has ever eaten (and like me, he has eaten a lot, ha!)
I’ve been to Waypoint a few times now and I’m impressed with every single dish I’ve eaten. Another stand-out there which I highly recommend is their fried smelts. One bite and I was transported back to Costa del Sol, Spain. Waypoint is one of the hottest spots in Boston right now, but all the hype is well-deserved, and it has skyrocketed to the top of my favorites list.
This is the Maguro Tataki at Cafe Sushi. It’s a seared tuna nigiri, with truffle oil, lemon juice, and wasabi. The signature creations at Cafe Sushi are some of the best sushi I’ve ever eaten in the world, exquisite little pieces that are meant to be savored slowly, each piece of fish melting in your mouth, complemented with delectable flavors. We have still yet to try the omakase, but it’s on the list!
I really like that Cafe Sushi is located in an unassuming strip on Mass Ave, and when you look at the restaurant, it’s very simple and casual and even looks a little dinky. Definitely nothing fancy or intimidating about it, and it’s hard to imagine the tantalizing pieces of sushi to come out of the kitchen. But once you taste one of their special nigiri, you’ll realize that it’s one of the best sushi places in the city. A hidden gem, indeed.
Pho at Le’s Vietnamese Restaurant. I have so much love for Harvard Square, and Le’s has been one of my and my family’s go-to places for over a decade. Matt and I go here regularly, and we always order the same thing: dac biet (beef noodle soup) for me and the hu tieu tom cua (seafood noodle soup) for him. Then we go to town and customize it with bean sprouts, mint, fresh lime juice, sriracha, chili and garlic sauce, and tamarind sauce. The soup is so comforting and while I’ve tried other items on the menu (I’m also a big fan of their fried rice), the pho is the best.
This is the tsukemen at Santouka Hokkaido Ramen. Unlike traditional ramen bowls, the noodles are served cold, with a side of hot broth for dipping. I opted for the spicy version so it also came with a scoop of garlic miso paste. This was delicious, and the broth is salty and bursting with umami flavor. It’s a refreshing departure from the usual ramen bowls, but equally good.
Now we move on to the South End. This is the seared sake toro at Fuji Ink Block – it’s seared salmon belly, with a soy glaze, topped with deep fried garlic, and chili oil. I can’t resist anything with chili oil, and this nigiri is quite irrestible. Soft and buttery and oh so perfect.
I’m quite particular with sushi places and Fuji has become my go-to in the South End. The food is always beautifully presented, with flavors that balance out each other, and the service is impeccable. I also like that everything is reasonably priced for such top-notch quality.
Another place in the South End with very impressive service and exceptional food is Barcelona Wine Bar. A couple of my favorite dishes are pictured here: albondigas (spiced meatballs in ham-tomato sauce) and the gambas al ajillo (shrimp with guindilla pepper, sherry, and garlic). I also like the grilled pulpo and the salvaje paella with blood sausage and pork belly. My mouth is watering just thinking about all this. Plus, Barcelona South End has really really good sangria. Comparable to Barcelona, Spain, really ;)
I like their brunch, too, and recommend it for big groups. It’s nice to share a lot of little plates and eat family-style.
And to end things the best possible way, how about this ten-layer carrot cake from Ocean Prime? That’s right, ten layers. Layers of moist carrot cake and cream cheese icing and pineapple syrup. I can get obsessive about carrot cake – it has to be moist, walnuts and pineapple are a plus, and the cream cheese frosting has to be generous – and this magnificent slice from Ocean Prime hits all the right notes. The first time Matt and I had dinner there, we tried their sushi, steak, and fun cocktails, and had such a great time. It’s pricey, but a really solid restaurant for special occasions. Just make sure you save room for dessert. (Ten layers!)
I’m going to take the next couple of weeks off, but I’ll be back with a holiday dessert. Life is sweet and short, and I hope you guys will find lots of joy and hope these coming weeks! xo