Monday, February 9, 2009

Rowland










The building that houses Rowland, has a deep nostalgic feel to me. I remember coming in during lunch and having my grandma, Stella, make me one of her awesome grilled cheese sandwiches on her homemade bread, and a big bowl of her brunswick stew. Stella's closed and in came Bruce and Virginia Rowland- they bring with them a vast knowledge of food and a knack for upscale dishes.

We started the meal with the enjoyable butterbean cake (8), loaded with cucumber, grape tomato, avocado salsa, and a spicy cilantro oil. They have a nice citrus tang that's loaded with cilantro- a deep kick of spiciness, and the cakes have a nice texture. I wish I could have had a little more of it! Next, we enjoyed the curry shrimp spring roll (9) (spring roll of the day). It came out piping hot and was loaded with currants, shrimp, and rice served with the salty and tangy ponzu dipping sauce- awesome. Bruce, owner and chef, sent us out a bbq shrimp and grits appetizer which was also delectable. Grits were cooked up right, topped with a very generous amount of shrimp in a savory barbeque-esque sauce drizzled over top.

With the entree's you get a house salad- that night Rowland was out of all of their dressings, except for the fine-herb vinaigrette (which is homemade by the way). The dressing was honestly amazing, with a little tangy bite- and had a nice lightness to it. Rowland also serves up homemade bread- a whole wheat loaf, warm, and perfect for dipping up any excess juices from the rest of your dishes.

For dinner I enjoyed the grilled rockfish (32), over a lobster risotto, topped with baby buk choy served in a light butter brown sauce. Everything was awesome, the lobster risotto was creamy but had a nice texture, and the flavors combined to give a nice modern and eclectic southern feel. We also enjoyed the malpeque oysters (14) (on the half shell), the oysters were fresh, garnished with lemon and greens. We couldn't pass up dessert- Rowland serves one of the best banana's foster (10) dishes I have ever enjoyed, their version is served up in a candied shell, inside- a cluster of banana's foster goodness. We also enjoyed the white chocolate bread pudding (7), which was equally as delicious. Our server was very well versed and sweet, and had the whole place to herself.

We recommend Roland for a good upscale meal, and their banana's foster dessert.
Google Rowland Fine Dining for more information, it is located on Main and Shield's.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Home Cooking


We decided we'd also like to feature a "Home cooking" section here at Munch. If you would like the recipe for any of these components, please just send us an email at munchrichmond@gmail.com. Tonight I made a Pan seared Chilean sea bass, topped with wilted spinach and raw-honey infused fried red onions sitting over a bombay curried potato latke drizzled with a blood orange sauce. Its actually not that hard of a dish to make, and would be an easy way to impress a date. The thing that takes the most time really are the potato cakes. The blood orange sauce has a nice sweet but salty flavor, and with the right, simple and etiquette plating- you can make this look extremely upscale in no time with a lot of ease. Swap Chilean sea bass out for Halibut if your local grocery is out- both will do fine.

For a full recipe for the entire dish- send us an email at munchrichmond@gmail.com!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Kobe







We were craving Japanese and decided to try Kobe, downtown (across from La Grotta). Kobe really is a cool place, there is a sushi bar upstairs with booths, and then the whole underground is a hibachi joint. As soon as we arrived we got the craving for hibachi and decided to head downstairs. We sat at the back table and ordered some sushi to start- The Killer Roll (eel and avocado wrapped in a tempura crunch) and an ala carte eel. The Killer roll was smaller than your average sushi roll, but tasty nonetheless- I really liked the light tempura crunch the surrounded the entire roll. The eel ala carte was fresh and fine. For dinner we both settled on the classic chicken hibachi. Kobe (like every hibachi place) gives you a clear soup, ginger salad and shrimp appetizer to start. Our chef came out and provided us with the classic hibachi sauces- a ginger/soy sauce and a spicy mustard. Kobe does really well on their hibachi dipping sauces- something I think hibachi places need to take into consideration, we dip like crazy. Our chef definitely wasn't showy- so if you're looking for a bombastic hibachi chef, I wouldn't really recommend it (we were scoping out the other tables and didn't really see anything crazy (we didn't even get the classic onion volcano). Our fried rice was good, but the food wasn't really that memorable. However, that being said, it is close to home, looks cool, and is a different spot to enjoy hibachi. Next time we will definitely skip the flying knives and just enjoy sushi upstairs amongst the cool interior of Kobe.

Enjoy the short video we took of our chef preparing some of the food. Kobe is located at 19 South 13th Street, downtown. Please visit www.kobesteakandsushi.com for more information.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kuba Kuba














Greetings bloggers- it has been a few days. I'm flying solo for a few posts as Rachel is off continuing her education at university. I decided to grab dinner with the family tonight. We decided to go see uncle Manny cook at Kuba Kuba with my family, his sister, her husband, and a few close friends. We had a table ready for the 8 of us, and arrived at 7:30- it was packed like a can of sardines. You could barely move at the entrance- Rachel and I love Kuba Kuba, and it's obviously apparent Richmond does as well. Rachel and I usually come for brunch- we can never pass up the Huevos Rancheros and Cafe Con Leche.

We started off with a few things, the empanadillas (the 50/50) one stuffed with spinach and ricotta, and another stuffed with picadillo (Cuban beef hash). The empanadillas are homemade and ridiculously appetizing. I have to order a 50/50 order every time I come. I also enjoyed a black bean soup (my favorite in RVA), topped with a little sour cream and served with Kuba's cornbread- I douse this with sriracha and enjoy every minute of it. On the lighter side- we split an avocado salad- mixed greens topped with fresh avocado, tomato and cucumber, served with fresh pressed toast. The last appetizer we feasted on is usually always on the special board- the coconut risotto cakes, which are insanely good- they are served with a black bean and corn relish- a perfect contrast to the cakes.

At this point I was stuffed, but we continued on with our dinner orders- first up- the pork shank with a roasted shallot demi-glace, grilled asparagus, and whipped potatoes- awesome. The meat was tender and fell off the bone, and the roasted shallot demi-glace is the icing on the cake for this dish. Next up- a whole red snapper served with asparagus and a warm fennel and spinach salad. Look at the picture- need I say more? I particularly enjoyed the fennel and spinach salad- the spinach and fennel combo was sauteed beautifully, and was soaked up in a near perfect broth- the fish- whole and fresh, served up in the classic traditional Cuban style- FRIED. I told my sister we should split the Arroz con Pollo, one of my favorite dishes, seared chicken breast, served with yellow rice, peas and roasted red peppers- I always enjoy this, and there's plenty to take home for lunch the next day. Last up, the pan seared salmon with coconut risotto cakes (same as the appetizer) with the black bean and corn relish. I'm not even a fan of salmon- and the salmon at Kuba Kuba is awesome. 

Since mami (Manny and Judy's mother) makes her desserts on every day but Sunday, Kuba was sold out (obviously) of everything except for 2 pieces of flan. This is preaching to the choir, but if you've ever had Mami's Tres Leches cake, you would know it's the greatest thing you've ever put in your mouth, not to mention the myriad of other desserts she makes including Natilla- my favorite Cuban dessert. The flan was amazing, perfect texture, chilled, and drizzled in a scrumptious syrup.

Rachel and I always recommend Kuba for brunch, but it is probably one of the best dinner spots in Richmond- not to mention the best Cuban food in Richmond HANDS DOWN- if anyone wants to argue this- they can take it up with me. The inside is covered with Ed Trask's beautiful and distinct painted renditions of old Mendez childhood photographs. Kuba keeps a stock of authentic latin goods to purchase, including Cafe Bustello coffee, Inca Cola, Manny's wonderful house dressing, tons of other products i'm forgetting to mention, and those badass Kuba Kuba "Coca Cola" style tee-shirts everyone is always rocking around town.

For more information go to www.kubakuba.info. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Vietnam 1



Of course, everyone knows how amazing Mekong is, and we will of course have a post about Mekong very soon, but another one of our favorite Vietnamese spots is Vietnam 1. It's located just a few blocks down from Mekong, across from O' Charleys in a little strip mall (right next to Tan A- the asian supermarket.) It's look is deceiving, as it's crammed in next to a pizza joint and print and copy store, but their food is remarkable. We always go for lunch, and sometimes for dinner. The food comes out blazing fast, but don't expect a beautiful interior or even super friendly service- this place is another machine. Their pho is amazing, and if you enjoy Vietnamese broken rice dishes, this place is for you. We sat down and started off with a couple Jicama root rolls, crunchy Jicama root paired with shrimp, scallion, rice noodle, and basil, etc wrapped up tight. The peanut sauce is as good as ever, and the crunch from the Jicama rounds these rolls off in pure delight. I always get the N5 (they prefer us Americans to just simply tell them the number, thus preventing any confusing pronunciations of the traditional Vietnamese fare.) The N5 is a chicken broth Pho soup, with egg and rice noodles and a plentiful amount of chicken, shrimp, and pork. (I always go sans-pork and replace it with tofu, but the dish is killer either way.) Piping hot broth, chicken, tofu, and shrimp, and noodles cooked perfectly, a little lettuce and a side of sprouts to top. Help yourself out to the sriracha, fish, and plum sauce located conveniently on every table.

We also ordered the Tofu BBQ over broken rice. Man, these guys know how to cook a good tofu. The Vietnamese style BBQ hits the spot perfectly, and it comes out as hot as ever with great texture, topped over the broken white rice with cucumber and carrots. Pour the nouc cham (vietnamese fish sauce) all over it and enjoy. I would definitely recommend this dish for people who aren't in the mood for Pho, or aren't used to Vietnamese cuisine. All in all, Vietnam 1 is affordable, quick, tasty, and efficient. It's definitely a great spot to go for a quick lunch with a client. I have seen tons of business folk gathering there to enjoy the tasty Vietnamese fare they provide.

We recommend Vietnam 1 for Pho and a good lunch date. Google Vietnam 1 for more information, it is located on Horsepen and Broad St.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Zaytinya (Washington, DC)










This is a very special post for us, as it is our favorite restaurant in the western hemisphere. José Andrés (who beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America) owns this spot, as well as a few others in the MD-VA-DC area. This is by far my favorite of his places. It features a Pan-Mediterranean cuisine offering dishes from Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. The whole menu is done mezze style, minus a few bigger dishes. We've only ever been for dinner, but decided to snag some lunch here. We filled up the parking meter across the street (valet parking is only available for dinner), and quickly hurried into the restaurant.

The interior of Zaytinya is beautiful, located on the corner of 9th and G Streets, NW, it's always busy. In fact, I've never once seen the place without a buzz- for a good reason. The food, atmosphere, and dining experience is always incredible. If there's one restaurant I always recommend to folks passing through DC, it's Zaytinya. At Zaytinya, they start you off with a little oil and balsamic mix, and their amazing, fluffy, lebanese style house bread to dip (the waiters come around, no joke, every 3 minutes and fill you up with 3 hot fresh pieces every time you run out). We ordered a hummus (6.5) and fatoush salad, and dolmades to start- simply incredible. The fattoush (6.5) was a perfect blend of pomegranate, lemon, oil, cukes, peppers, etc., and the hummus is my favorite hummus in the world next to my grandmother Stella's. Rachel's list has Stella's #1, and Zaytinya #2. She also wanted to mention to go to 3 Monkeys to experience the best hummus platter in the city of Richmond. The dolmades (7) were just as fresh, which featured a more-tomato like filling inside the grape leaves- wonderful. In the meantime, Rachel ordered the blooming tea, which if you've never had a blooming tea, when you pour the hot water over it, a flower blossoms in your glass, flavors include a strong jasmine flavor- very floral.

For lunch I decided to order the Shish Taouk (7.5), (grilled chicken, sumac onions, grilled tomatoes, garlic tuom). I make sure to order this dish every time I come. The chicken and garlic tuom combination with the grilled vegetables is an astounding combination. I recommend taking the house bread and creating a mini sandwich out of these ingredients (especially for lunch). Shish Taouk (A+). I'd also like to mention that the Lebanese Taverna at Tyson's galleria serves up a great shish taouk as well amongst other amazing Lebanese fare. Rachel ordered a sandwich only available during the lunch hours- the Kofte Sandwich (13), which is ground lamb and beef, Middle Eastern spices, tomatoes, sumac onions, hummus, on toasted bread. You get your choice of marousalata or the home fried patates with a yogurt topping. The meat was delicious on the sandwich, and the patates are in a league of their own- best home fried potato fries I've had in a while, and the yogurt topping rocks.

For dessert, we ordered the trio of honey ice cream scoops. The honey ice cream at Zaytinya is amazing, as well as the rest of their desserts. Perfect blend of honey and vanilla, and a great way to end the lunch date. This is by far my favorite restaurant on the east coast- if not America. José Andrés has created an amazing spot, and every time I'm up in DC, I make it a point to come here. It's some of the best mediterranean food I have had outside of Greece, with a beautiful interior, amazing service, and consistency. I have had the pleasure of trying nearly every dish off the menu, and have never been disappointed with anything. Even the avgolemono soup rivals both of my Greek grandmother's. This restaurant is a machine.

We highly recommend it for dinner, lunch, dessert, mediterranean- anything. Please visit www.zaytinya.com for more information.

Asia Nine (Washington, DC)













We are going to feature an out of town section here on Munch Richmond. This won't be all the time, as we aren't some pair of crazy travelers, however- we wanted to offer a little insight on our dining experiences out of town. It was my birthday and we decided to drive up to meet my parents, their partners and friends for a celebration dinner. We took the circulator bus ($1) from Georgetown to Asia Nine (between 9th and 10th and E). Asia Nine is a modern pan-asian fusion restaurant complete with tons of seating space and a cool little sushi bar. We grabbed a table in the back, and quickly got down to business. We ordered a flurry of sushi and dishes to split. The Obama President roll (pictured first) looked great (lobster meat, avocado, radish sprout, basil leaves, crunchy sesame seeds on the outside, and topped with a spicy mayo). It was off their special inauguration dinner menu- we think they should add this to their normal sushi menu as it was definitely the best dish of the night. We also ordered soft shell crab tempura, calamari with an asian dipping sauce, and chicken satay. All which were quite tasty. In addition to the Obama roll, we ordered a dragon roll (crunchy shrimp with eel and avocado on top), two lobster rolls, a spider roll, eel, tofu, sweet egg, squid, octopus, and tuna. All of the sushi was enjoyable and appetizing. The presentation of the sushi was beautiful. We haven't dined at many DC sushi restaurants, but we'd definitely recommend the sushi at Asia Nine.

We also ordered a few entrees to split, including the Hoisin BBQ Beef short ribs (served with asian slaw and wasabi mashed potatoes.) Great portions and the short ribs were cooked to perfection- really tender. We also ordered Gway-Phei, a thai noodle dish, our friend is a huge fan of this dish- and said that Asia Nine did a wonderful job on it. (I had a bite, it was great). For dessert we ordered the fresh mango with sticky rice (awesome, for a local version try Ginger in Carytown, they do this dessert perfect as well), and Tiramisu, which was Dean's birthday cake, and everyone at the table said it was surprisingly great for an asian restaurant. All in all we had a good experience at Asia Nine- the server was nice and did his best to put up with a bunch of loud Greek people.

We would recommend it simply for the Obama President Roll. Make it up there before the inauguration, or before they take it off their menu!

For more information google "Asia Nine", it is located between 9th and 10th street and E street in Penn Quarter in Washington DC.