Archive for March, 2011

My husband has brought home take-out from Thai Spices and Sushi in the past, so I figured it was about time to stop in and do a proper review of the place.  The restaurant is tucked away in a tiny corner of a shopping center, so it’s not visible from Cary Pwky or High House, and in the 5+ times I stopped at the Lowes Foods there I never even noticed it.  I imagine they don’t get a lot of pedestrian traffic either, so instead they send out flyers in the Pennysaver trying to attract business.  If you try a bit, you can probably find a coupon somewhere around your house already, or print off one online.

The restaurant itself is actually pretty narrow.  It’s just one long, main room, with seating on both the walls, and down the middle.  There’s also a very small sushi bar, and what looked like some small additional seating in the back, though it was difficult to see.  The restaurant seemed abnormally dark for noon.  With the size of the tables and booths, I don’t think it’d be a good place if you have 5 or more in your party.

Kid's Chicken Nuggets

We were given a few different menus.  The main menu, several pages long, the lunch specials, and the chef’s specials.  They did have a kid’s menu on the back of the main menu, which thankfully featured chicken nuggets for only $3.95.  I always like it when my son will actually order something off the menu.  I checked over the different sections and thought that for a restaurant offering Thai and Japanese, their selection seemed lacking in both.  They didn’t have masaman curry or pad see ew on their Thai menu, and they didn’t really have any yellowtail makizushi or yellowtail cheek in their sushi selection.  I didn’t see a nigiri list but I may have overlooked it.  My husband usually orders tonkatsu at Japanese restaurants, but they didn’t have that either.  It was odd, having such a diverse and extensive menu selection, but yet feeling like so much was missing.  I finally decided to order the Tom Kha soup with chicken and the Kang Ka Ree yellow curry with tofu, and my husband ordered the soup as well, with the Best Sellers Bento (Pad Thai and gyoza).

Tom Kha Soup

My son’s chicken nuggets came out pretty quickly.  He ate most of his chicken nuggets, because they were a lot like the frozen Tyson ones he gets at home.  He wasn’t nearly as interested in the fries, but did try a few of them.  I ate the steamed veggies, they were pretty good.

Our soup came out soon after.  It was pretty good size for a cup of soup, but at $5 it’s more expensive than the one at Tangerine too.  I thought it was a pretty good Tom Kha, with a good balance of chicken and mushrooms, and a really good flavored broth.  It wasn’t as spicy as some, but it can be ordered spicier if you want.  Perhaps next time I’ll go for the medium-hot instead of the medium.

Lunch Bento Best Sellers - Pad Thai and Gyoza

There was no one else in the restaurant the entire time we were there, but the entrees took surprisingly long to come out.  I don’t really mind a whole lot when it takes a while, but usually during lunch I don’t have enough time for this sort of wait.  Luckily it was a Saturday, so I could just relax and wait.

My Kang Ka Ree came out with nice big chunks of potatoes, tofu and onion.  The sauce was good, but not as spicy as I would have thought for a “medium”.  I’d order it a notch higher next time.  I ate all I could, and still had enough for a full meal on Monday.  I added chopped cashews to the leftovers though, because I thought they needed a bit of crunchy texture.

Kang Ka Ree with Tofu

My husband’s bento box was pretty impressive.  He said the Pad Thai was better than the one at Tom Yum Thai.  The salted edamame was pretty tasty, I had a few.  The salad was okay, but he said the dressing was a little too thick and chunky.  The gyoza was perfect.  The spring roll had an odd taste, but unfortunately he’s not very good at describing his food.

I think Thai Spices and Sushi is a good, solid restaurant, and it worries me that I didn’t see anyone else even stopping by for take-out.  This was the week they were donating 15% of the sales to the Red Cross effort in Japan.  I think if they had a more visible location, or a more focused menu, perhaps they could bring in some more business.
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We stopped by Neomonde on Sunday afternoon for lunch and some sweets.  I understood before stopping by that it wasn’t going to be a traditional deli, and that it would have more of a middle-eastern/Mediterranean focus.  Indeed, instead of club sandwiches and chips, you’ll find kabob and couscous.  The restaurant also has more of a small grocery vibe, with pre-packaged goods from around the world stacked up on shelves.

Small Platter with Chicken, Couscous and Tabouli

Upon entering for the first time, the newcomer might feel a bit overwhelmed.  There are a few different boards with the menu items and prices, no hand-held menus that I could see, and you really have to get up and look at many of the items to get a description of what’s in them.  My husband ordered the Large Kebab Platter with chicken, beef, pasta salad and potato salad.  I wanted go a bit more authentic, so I ordered the Small Kebab Platter with chicken, couscous and tabouli.  The only difference between the Large and Small is that the Large has 2 kebab sticks instead of 1.

Large Platter with Beef, Chicken, Pasta Salad and Potato Salad

We also wanted to pick up some desserts while we were there.  While looking at the dessert case, I explained to the cashier that it was our first time there, and I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to have a tray or something (there were large metal trays sitting on the counter) and if we were supposed to get our food before paying for it.  He said since it was our first time there, we would get 3 desserts – a walnut baklava, a pistachio baklava, and date mamoul.  We also ordered a lady finger, walnut mamoul and namoura.  All the desserts looked so good, and they were cheap too, only about $1 each.

We paid for our food there, and were directed to the soda fountain around the corner where we could get some water.  Within a couple minutes our food was brought out on paper plates, no forks or spoons.  I got frustrated looking for utensils around the soda area and just asked my husband to ask the cashier for some.  I was hungry and in no mood to find a fork.

Walnut Baklava, Pistachio Baklava, and Date Mamoul

The food was messy and on paper plates, but it was delicious.  I ate my chicken kabob pieces with huge forkfuls of couscous and tabouli.  I even ate the lettuce it was on, and the pickled peppers.  My husband was pretty impressed, I usually don’t wolf down my food that fast.  I guess I should have gotten a large platter instead.  He didn’t eat his pickled peppers so I ate those too.  My husband liked the meat pretty well, but he didn’t like the potato salad and pasta salad as much.  He liked the baklava pretty well too.

I was still pretty hungry after my plate, so I ate the date mamoul, the other baklava and the namoura.  I thought the date mamoul was the best something like a shortbread cookie stuffed with dried date, but the namoura was pretty amazing too.  It had a really weird taste and texture, something like a coconut cornmeal, but it was still good.

I think Neomonde would be a great lunch restaurant.  Once you know what you’re going to order and understand the process, I think it would be a lot easier than the first time there.  The portions are really good for a light lunch too, and at $8-$9 an entree, it’s pretty decently priced.

I don’t think it would be as good for a dinner restaurant.  I prefer table service and real plates and silverware if I’m going to go out for dinner.  Also, if I had to pick between Bosphorus and Neomonde, I would pick Bosphorus every time.  But I know that’s a bit out of driving distance for those that work around RTP.
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Biaggi’s is one of my husband’s favorite restaurants. Whenever he has to set up a business meeting over lunch, he always tries to make it Biaggi’s. The place does have a nice, formal atmosphere for business meetings, and I also see a lot of kids coming here for things like prom and formals. Yet it’s also casual enough that you can come here with some visiting family for lunch or dinner and have a nice, relaxing evening.

Kid's Cheese Pizza

Generally we go to Biaggi’s for lunch, because my husband loves the panini. But last Saturday we went for dinner, so it was a slightly different menu than we normally see. No panini, but at least they have the stromboli he likes too. This time he ordered the mushroom and pepperoni stromboli. Even at dinner time, the stromboli is only $9.99 which is pretty decent for the size and quality of the dish. I usually try the pasta dishes. I’ve had the Rigatoni alla Toscana before and it’s one of my favorite meals, but I wanted to try something else today so I ordered the Veal Parmesan. It was a bit more expensive than the stromboli, at $18.99, but I don’t think it’s unusual for an Italian dinner entree. We also ordered the Calimari Fritti as an appetizer because we were pretty hungry. The kid’s menu includes several different entree options and a drink and ice cream sundae included, all for $5.99. My son ordered the kid’s cheese pizza (hold the sauce) with some orange juice.

Calamari Fritti

They bring out a bread basket which is really good dipped in the olive oil and parmesan cheese. It makes for a good snack before your meal. My son’s pizza came out in just a few minutes, so he could get a head start on us. He usually takes a while to eat. My husband and I helped ourselves to his pizza, because it was huge. I couldn’t imagine any child could actually finish a pizza like that in one or even 3 sittings. Even without the sauce, it was a pretty good pizza. I was disappointed he didn’t like it, but it didn’t look exactly like Papa John’s cheese sticks so he didn’t even want to try it. My husband ended up finishing the rest for lunch the following week and he thought it was great.

Sausage and Cheese Stromboli

Our calamari wasn’t huge for $8.99, and it wasn’t extraordinary. I just think for the price, we’d either try a different appetizer, or save the room for a dessert afterward. I don’t really like paying more than about $5 for appetizers unless they’re mind-blowing. Besides, the bread alone could fill you up, so appetizers aren’t really required here.

Veal Parmesan

After our entrees arrived, my husband realized they had given him the sausage and cheese stromboli instead of the mushroom and pepperoni. It was taken back to the kitchen, but alas, the mushroom and pepperoni had already been given to another customer. They offered to make a new stromboli for him, but rather than wait another 10-15 minutes, he decided just to eat the sausage and cheese stromboli. He’s eaten both kinds before and likes them both. They were nice enough to take the stromboli completely off the bill for us, even though we said it was fine.

The veal parmesan was thicker than I’ve usually seen it, in 3 cheese-covered pucks of meat. I would have preferred thinner meat, but the cheese was fantastic. It also came with a side of spaghetti with a white sauce, and the sauce was unbelievable. I love their cream sauces here.

We didn’t get any dessert, since we were stuffed from all the food. I don’t think we’ve ever managed to have desserts here since the portions are so huge. I think the veal parmesan is probably not a dish I’d order again (the Rigatoni alla Toscana is just so much better), but I’d love to keep trying more entrees there. In my opinion it’s the best Italian restaurant in Cary.
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I’ve probably driven by this place a hundred times, and never noticed it before.  You can see it from Hwy 1/64 if you look quickly, but it’s not really visible from Buck Jones Rd.  It’s in the building between Motel 6 and Grand Asia Market.  I was in the mood for Thai, and figured it was about time I tried something new.

Thai Ice Tea

The restaurant is a small room at the end of a large brick building.  It probably seats about 50 or so, though during lunch while I was there I think there were only about 12 people.  The furniture and decor were rather cheap, but at least it seemed clean enough.  The service was quick, and I got some water and a Thai Ice Tea right away.

Curry Puff

I checked out the specials, and the Curry Puffs that were featured looked pretty good.  From the description, they sounded a lot like the Thai version of samosas.  I also got a cup of the Tom Kha soup with chicken, and the red curry with pork, 2 on a scale of 3 pepper spiciness.  My husband ordered the mussaman curry with chicken, 1 on a scale of 3 pepper spiciness. Nearly all of their entrees came in a lunch portion which was smaller than the dinner portion, except the chef’s specials.  Since it was lunch time, we both ordered the lunch portions.

Tom Kha Soup

The Tom Kha soup had a mild spiciness level.  This Tom Kha was unlike many I’ve had before, in that it contained huge chunks of chicken and nothing else.  No mushrooms, no bamboo shoots.  My husband was happy about that, but I was disappointed.  I really loved the broth though, it was so soothing.

The curry puffs came out looking more like a pasty than a samosa, since it had a thick, flaky crust like a small half-circle pie.  The inside was definitely like a samosa though, with a lightly spiced mix of potato and other things.  We weren’t given any option on the spiciness, but it had a good flavor even though it lacked bite.

Red Curry With Pork

The entrees were brought out before we even finished the curry puffs.  HUGE chunks of meat.  I’m sure any carnivore would love this Thai restaurant.  But unfortunately, I actually like veggies, too.  I was looking at my husband’s dish with the huge chunks of carrots, potatoes and onions, and I was disappointed all I had were bamboo shoots.  They could have added some red bell pepper slices or onions in my red curry for some variation in texture or color.  The flavor was good, but even at a 2 out of 3, still seemed a bit mild to me.  If I order entrees here in the future, I think I’d go for a 3.

Mussamun Curry with Chicken

My husband’s mussaman curry was loaded up with meat as well.  I tasted some of the curry sauce in his, and it was too mild for my taste.  You couldn’t even tell if they had added any spice to it.  The flavor was still good though.  It had a rich, creamy, nutty flavor to it.

The lunch portions seemed really good to me.  My husband was able to finish all of his, but I had enough for leftovers the next day.

It’s a good restaurant overall, and I did like the food well enough.  But I think they should really consider adding some more texture in their dishes.  One of the main reasons I like Thai food is because of the amazing texture- the crispness of fresh bean sprouts, the crunchiness of cashews and peanuts, the softness of the mushrooms, the chewiness of the noodles, the graininess of the bamboo shoots.  A dish that’s just meat and broth is a bit boring to me.  Maybe I just ordered the wrong dish.  Perhaps I’ll try the Pad Thai next time and see if it’s more to my liking.
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