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Archive for the ‘Triangle Area Restaurants’ Category

I had heard Orchid was All You Can Eat sushi for $24. This was intriguing, but then I found out that they had lunch AYCE for only $14. I really couldn’t pass this up, so my husband and I arranged to meet for lunch on Friday.

Upon being seated, we were given two sheets of paper and a pencil, and we were told to fill in the quantity for each selection. We were also informed they had a regular menu that was priced per dish, but it was basically the same items that were on the AYCE menu. My husband was checking for tonkatsu, since it’s his favorite Japanese dish, but unfortunately they didn’t have it. I checked the menu prior, and I figured there would be enough other cooked food he could probably find something he would eat.

I picked out a tuna nigiri, inarizushi (tofu skin with rice inside), the peanut and avocado rolls, and the spicy yellowtail rolls. I also got the miso soup as an appetizer, some edamame to share, a seaweed salad, and some red bean ice cream for dessert. My husband picked out an order of spring rolls, gyoza, the steak teriyaki, and green tea ice cream.

We were given some extra ordering sheets and were told that if we wanted more food at any time, to just fill out the sheet and press the light and the waiter would come to fill our order. I don’t have a whole lot of time for lunch though, so we just decided what we ordered should be enough.

The edamame came out first, and it was typical edamame. It was warm and salted, and it tasted just like edamame normally does. The soup came out a bit later, and it was a bit sparse for miso soup, lacking in tofu and seaweed. But it wasn’t bad. The salad came out as a garden salad, not the seaweed salad I had ordered, but my husband ate it and said it was good.  I didn’t want to bother ordering the seaweed salad again since I had probably already ordered more than enough to fill our appetites. The spring rolls were a bit doughy but still good, and the gyoza was quite tasty, exactly what I wanted the gyoza to taste like.

All the food ended up coming fairly quickly, except for the ice cream. My sushi came out in a nice, large platter, nicely organized. The avocado peanut rolls looked as weird as they tasted, yet I ate them all. There’s something oddly good about them. The tuna and tofu nigiri were pretty good. The spicy yellowtail roll ended up looking and tasting something like shredded yellowtail, mixed in with chili mayo. I was a bit disappointed they didn’t have full yellowtail nigiri, but I found out later they offer additional rolls and nigiri in the dinner meal. I guess that’s why they charge $24 for dinner and only $14 for lunch.

Steak Teriyaki

My husband’s steak teriyaki was a really small portion. I guess the benefit is you have enough room to try everything they offer there. It was good, but not really enough for a full meal size. But at least we ordered enough other food, it wasn’t as if my husband could possibly walk away from the meal hungry.

It took a while for the ice cream and bill to come out. I guess they were surprised we weren’t ordering more food. But I really liked the ice cream, it had small chunks of real red bean in it. My husband’s green tea wasn’t as good to me, but he said he liked it better.

Red Bean and Green Tea Ice Cream

$14 would be more than I usually spend at lunch, but I thought the quality and quantity of food was decent enough that it was worth it. I wouldn’t mind coming back again for the dinner $24 AYCE, since the dinner menu would include the yellowtail nigiri that I love so much. The trick will be trying to get my husband to come back, since they don’t have tonkatsu like they do at Yuri.
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I had been meaning to go to Mawa’s for a while now.  I had stopped by two Saturdays in a row finding the place closed, before finally going to the website and realizing they’re closed on Saturdays for lunch.  I did find that unlike many restaurants in the area, they were open for Sunday brunch, so last Sunday I finally got to try Mawa’s food.

Upon entering we were invited to seat ourselves at one of the booths near the windows.  There was a cool area with a small table with pillows to sit on, but I figured that was probably for someone with reservations.  I was happy enough in their booths.

For drinks I ordered the Sweet Morrocan Mint Tea because it sounded interesting, and because it was one of the few drinks that came with free refills.  My husband got the mango drink, which had no free refills.  My tea was served on ice and was quite refreshing.  My husband’s drink reminded me of a mango lassi, without the yogurt.  I guess just mango juice.

It took me a while to figure out what to order.  Everything looked really appetizing, especially the brunch platters.  But I finally decided on the croissant bechamel sandwich with chicken, egg n’ cheese.  It was served with African fries and a choice of side, either Lakh (millet and yogurt), beignets (your choice of 1 kind), and African fries.  I figured if it already came with African fries, I would get a side of the Merveilles beignets. I don’t know how to speak many French words, so unfortunately my ordering experience consisted of a lot of pointing and trying to explain the English description of the food.  They could really use some alphanumeric (A2, G9, C3) labeling on their menus.

My husband ordered the Lamb Shawarma.  It sounded really good as well.  For my son we got the Pet de None, which were 6 pieces of beignets with chocolate sauce.  At $5-$8 per entree, all the dishes seemed really reasonably priced for a Sunday brunch.

Croissant Sandwich - Chicken, Egg n Cheese

When the dishes came out, it was my husband’s dish, and mine.  The waiter mentioned something about more food coming later.  I asked if my son’s dish was coming out soon, and he seemed confused.

We started eating, and I have to say, the food was wonderful.  Though not what I imagined a croissant would look like, it was rectangular and filled with chopped chicken and egg, and had a very mild spice to it.  I knew bechamel was a white sauce, but didn’t find anything resembling a white sauce on the dish.  I didn’t really see any cheese either.  Despite it being dry and not drenched in sauce as advertised, it was still a fantastic sandwich.  The small fried plantains were delicious as well.  I could have probably eaten 30 of them.  I was also a bit confused about the beignets I got, as they appeared to have apple in them, and weren’t orange flavored at all.  Perhaps the waiter had misunderstood my pointing and attempt at the French word.  I wasn’t too disappointed though, because the food was so good anyway.

Other Half of My Sandwich

I had a taste of my husband’s Lamb Shawarma and it was awesome.  He didn’t get to choose his beignets so I think they were just plain, but they came with some little flavored dipping sauce.  He thought the fries were excellent as well.  But he really loved that lamb shawarma more than anything.

Another waiter came out to try to make sense of our order, and I explained that I had ordered the croissant sandwich with the orange beignets, my husband ordered the lamb shawarma, and my son got the beignets with chocolate sauce.  10 minutes later they did finally bring out the other half of my sandwich, as well my son’s beignets.  The original portion seemed big enough, but I welcomed more food because it was so tasty. My son didn’t appreciate his beignets, even when we told him they were donut holes you could dip in chocolate sauce.  So instead my husband and I ate the chocolate sauced beignets as our dessert.

Lamb Shawarma

I’d love to rate Mawa’s really highly, since the food was excellent.  But I didn’t get the beignets I ordered, the sandwich came out in 2 parts 15 minutes apart, and wasn’t really at what was described on the menu, my son’s order came out 15 minutes after ours did, and my mint tea never got refilled.  I’m assuming most of this was because of a language barrier, and I think giving each menu item a letter and number would really help keep things straightened out.  Despite all this, I look forward to coming back sometime during the week to try out their regular menu, and maybe brush up on my French so I don’t embarrass myself trying to pronounce the menu items.
Mawa's Taste of Africa on Urbanspoon

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It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve been to a Mexican restaurant.  I make quesadillas all the time, but other than the occasional Chipotle, this has been a side of food I’ve been neglecting.  I set about to set this right on Saturday evening.  Since I don’t actually know much about Mexican food, and I don’t even speak Spanish, I wanted to try and find something highly rated, while still having a menu in English.

Carnitas

We arrived at Dos Taquitos at about 5:45pm.  I was worried when we first came in, the outside seating looked packed.  When asked if we wanted outside or inside, we just asked for the first available.  They seated us inside, and I guess I should have realized pretty quickly that this was a big mistake.  I have very poor night vision, and could barely find my seat.  I needed my cell phone light to be able to read the menu, and it took several minutes for my eyes to adjust enough to be able to find the salsa and chips.  I had to use a flash and my pictures still turned out pretty bad.  I think next time I’ll arrive a bit earlier, and definitely ask for a seat out by the natural lighting.

They did have a menu which included quesadillas, so I though my son might go for that, but unfortunately he refused to try anything but the chips.  I ordered the carnitas, since it was a dish I was familiar with, and my husband ordered the enchiladas puebla.  I also ordered the Dos Equis which they had on draft there at $3 a glass.  I thought their draft glasses were small, so I ended up getting 2.

It was a bit of a wait to get the food, but we were hungry and went through 2 baskets of chips.  My son was infinitely amused by the overhead train, exclaiming every time it made a pass near our table.  He also loved the glow in the dark stars, the Christmas lights, and all the decorations on the walls.  Despite the fact that I could only see glowing blobs and dark moving blobs, he really liked the interior of the restaurant.

Enchilada Puebla

My carnitas came out on a huge plate with 3 steamed soft tortillas on the side.  There were some huge chunks of pork, refried beans, rice, sliced radishes and cucumbers, lettuce, diced tomatoes, and a little pot of guacamole.  My husband’s enchiladas looked smaller than mine, but still a good-sized dinner portion.  There were 3 small tortilla wraps with steak inside, and 3 different sauces of sour cream, guacamole and what I’m guessing is enchilada sauce.  He also got some refried beans and rice, but no veggies.  It was odd because my dish was $13 and his was $14, so I wasn’t sure why his would be smaller.

The meat was just pure magic.  I don’t know how they prepare the meat here, but it was like something I’ve never had before.  My pork chunks were crispy on the outside, yet so tender that they fell apart with just pushing my fork into them.  I tried a bit of the beef from my husband’s dish and it was just as awesome.

It’s been a full day and I just can’t get that meat out of my head.  I think this restaurant could turn a vegetarian back to the dark side.  Towards the end I was getting so full, yet I had to eat every last chunk of pork.  I can’t wait to try another dish, and get some carnitas to go for the next day as well.

Dos Taquitos on Urbanspoon

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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.
Thai Spices & Sushi on Urbanspoon

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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.
Neomonde Bakery & Deli on Urbanspoon

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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.
Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

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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.
Thai Villa on Urbanspoon

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