Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hakka Chow

I've seen many restaurants come and go in the space that Hakka Chow currently fills in Winston-Salem. From my recent dining experience, this one will be sticking around. Word of mouth, social media - the rave reviews kept this place on my radar until I was finally able to see what all the fuss was about. Think of it as a Phoenix (popular Asian spot in Greensboro) or even a PF Changs (a favorite chain among many). The menu is extensive, with more dishes that I wanted to try than I could order! The restaurant is dimly lit with Asian-themed decor, and would be a perfect date spot, though I saw several families and business partners enjoying themselves here too. They're re-working the menu to make it a little more concise, and introducing some new dishes. I need to return ASAP in case some of the enticing things I had my eye on disappear!

The Singapore Rice Noodles were the best thing we tasted that evening. Chicken, Shrimp and vegetables like Carrots, Bean Sprouts and Scallions are tossed with thin rice noodles and coated with a light Curry sauce. This wasn't overly spicy, and the curry wasn't offensive in the least - it was a fantastic balance. The noodles clung to the curry so that each bite had the right amount of sauce!

Kung Pao Shrimp serves a substantial number of plump, lightly battered Shrimp among veggies like Zucchini, Carrots, Peppers and Onion, with Peanuts for a perfect and necessary crunch. The little pepper beside the item on the menu fooled me - it wasn't as hot as I was hoping, but a dash (or 5) of Sriracha got it to the heat level I needed to clear out my sinuses. (I never know if I should trust those little peppers in the hot are we really talking?) This is a yummy dish, nonetheless!

Spicy Asparagus is a very well-satisfying side. Julienned-cut, the al dente veggie is stir-fried with a spicy red chili sauce and garlic. When a dish promises me heat, I expect it. This definitely delivers. They prepare Green Beans the same way.

Not in the mood for stir fry? Hakka Chow even offers sushi. I'm telling you, this place has it all! The fish that comes with an order of Nigiri is quite substantial - you definitely get your money's worth. The safe but tasty Winston roll features Shrimp Tempura, Avocado and Cucumber, with a Spicy Mayo and Sweet Eel Sauce.

The Crispy Boneless Duck with Sweet and Sour Sauce, and Spicy Sizzle Lamb are screaming my name so hard. The excellent service and tempting menu has me ready to return. I can't wait to go back.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Da Reggae Cafe

Da Reggae Cafe was packed when my friend and I dined there for lunch last week. I'd never had authentic Jamaican cuisine, and when I walked in, I caught fragrances of spicy, sweet meats cooking, and possibly a hint of incense (I couldn't decide which smelled better). Service is friendly, food is reasonably priced and flavors are more exciting than what you're likely to eat any other day of the week. They're not kidding about their spice levels though, hence the frequent and appreciated water refills, so prepare your taste buds. (But they will thank you.)

Coco Bread is slightly sweet, and perfect to sop up the sauce that we were to about to enjoy. You can kind of peel off the bread in layers, and it's much thicker than Naan or Injera (the much-admired breads of Indian and Ethiopian cuisines, respectively). Plantains are much like bananas, but not quite as sweet, and "fun-sized." Though we ordered them fried, it seemed more like they were grilled, but I enjoyed the crispy char more than I would have batter anyway.

Jerk Chicken
I foolishly assumed Jerk Chicken would be much like Cajun cuisine. It's definitely got the spice, sweetness and tang that you would expect, but it's a different flavor profile than I imagined. The heat from the sticky brown sauce is serious business, but the chicken is tender, and you get a leg and a thigh. Entrees are served with rice and red peas, and the most insanely delicious cabbage I've ever tasted. I asked, rather, I begged, "what is the secret ingredient?!?" They wouldn't let me in on it. It could very possibly be butter, but it's tender, savory and rich. I didn't think cabbage could taste so spectacular. Oxtail is cooked on the bone, so the bites that aren't grissly are extremely tender. This brown sauce also contains high levels of heat, and is similar to the one served with the Jerk Chicken, but noticeably sweeter.

Oxtail. I spy Plantains!

Banana Coconut Cake

You'll want to save room for dessert. The combination of Banana Coconut Cake seemed too good to pass up, and this incredibly moist cake reminded me of a light banana bread, with a thick, slightly coconutty frosting. It was difficult to resist eating the entire piece in one sitting. I can only imagine how lip-smackingly good their other flavors are.
You were nice too, John!

I will most definitely return to Da Reggae Cafe. The Curried Goat is calling my name. I think what made this experience even more fantastic is how our table was noted on our check. It made our day.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kitchen Roselli

Kitchen Roselli is one of those perfect first date places. Or a quaint spot for your birthday. Maybe even a special dinner with mom and dad. Located in East Bend (just 15 miles from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem), Kitchen Roselli is located in a small house with an inviting porch, dim lighting and some of the best Italian food in the Triad. Owners David and Laura Roselli are doing it right here, and I was lucky enough to meet Laura during my dinner. She is as kind as her food is tasty. You'll want to make a reservation since they're only open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The secret about this place is getting out quickly, if you can even call it a secret anymore.

Entrees are served with warm, crusty, salty Laura's Focaccia. Olive Oil and Balsamic really isn't necessary for this - it's strong enough to stand on its own. You also have your choice of a Sunny Italy Salad with Romaine, Roma Tomatoes, Onion and Celery with a sweet Italian dressing, or House Antipasto, a delightfully vinegary combination of Artichokes, Olives, Tomatoes, Peppers and Mozzarella cubes. (Try dipping the Focaccia in the marinade at the bottom of the dish.)

After dining here a few years ago, I remembered how much I adored the Tomato Sauce. (I still do.) It's absolutely divine. I couldn't get enough of the Spaghetti with David's Award-Winning Meatballs. Beef, Pork and Veal make up some of the most tender, juicy meatballs I can remember having, with just a touch of Pecorino Romano and Basil. The tender, al dente noodles hold that slightly sweet, perfectly tangy Tomato Sauce, and I appreciated that they weren't shy with the ladlefuls! This is quintessential comfort food, and Kitchen Roselli is where you'll want to get it.
One of the evening's specials was Pan-Fried Jumbo Fantail Shrimp (10 of them!) with Texas Pete Horseradish Sauce and Scampi Butter Dip. A side of spaghetti rounds out the dish. The shrimp are tender and encased by a flavorful breading, not greasy in the slightest. The Texas Pete Horseradish Sauce contains just the right amount of heat, and the Scampi Butter Dip is another fabulous surprise for Laura's Focaccia.

If you don't reserve a Cream Puff when you arrive, you'll likely regret it. These gems fly. Typically, Cream Puffs aren't my first choice dessert, but this rendition is irresistible. A flaky Puff Pastry houses a thick, rich Vanilla Custard, and is enrobed with a blanket of Dark Chocolate Ganache. This dessert has it all. It's so satisfying, but oddly enough, it doesn't weigh you down.

I have fallen hard for this place. Winston peeps, you have no excuse to not cruise the beautiful drive out Highway 67 (aka Reynolda Road) and experience this. Greensboro friends, it may be a bit more of a hike, but trust me, it's well worth it. The atmosphere is charming and the food will bring you back.