Category Archives: Out to Eat

Saro (New York City)

Saro

A great find in New York City

Saro (102 Norfolk St., New York, NY) is amazing! It’s quaint, well decorated, great atmosphere and friendly staff.

We booked a reservation for dinner for a group of six. Although the place is small, they accommodated us nicely. The waitresses were very knowledgeable and friendly. They act as hostess, waitress & bar tenders. We even met the chef while leaving which was a great touch!

We got to try their summer menu which they debuted in early April, only about a week before we visited.

Saro Salad

Perfectly refreshing way to start the meal.

APPETIZER:
1) Octopus salad – served warm and more like a stew than salad. The octopus was cooked perfectly and the dish wonderfully spiced.

2) Pie of the Day. It was a cheese pie and was the perfect size for all six of us to have a bite. The cheese inside was delicious and was surrounded by a flaky crust.

Saro Short Ribs

Arguably the best short ribs we've ever had.

DINNER
1) 12 hour slow cooked short ribs. These were amazing. Normally short ribs are smaller and contain a lot fat. This dish was served without the bone and was a good sized portion. It melted in your mouth and easily pulled apart with a fork. The fingerling potatoes were a perfect touch to sop up the sauce on the plate. Would easily order again.

2) Kale pasta. This was a wonderful and earthy dish. The pasta was light and cooked perfectly. The kale and other greens, however, really made this dish amazing.

3) Cornish hens. I didn’t personally sample, but two people at our tables ordered these and loved them. Tender and fragrant.

4) Rabbit served two ways. One way was braised and the other smoked. The meat was tender and very flavorful.  Would easily order again.

5) Sea bass. The outside was crispy and tangy but the inside remained moist and flaky (not dry at all). Everyone at the table said they would order again.

DESSERT
We ordered one of each dessert on the menu. Everything had distinctive flavors and great portions. We topped it off with some rajika, an Eastern European drink that was described like a whiskey but a little sweeter.

The experience was awesome. At our table we basically sampled everything on the menu and there isn’t a thing that wasn’t superb. The wait staff topped the night off, friendly, quick knowledgeable.

PERFECT

One note – This was a review that we originally posted on Yelp, but we wanted to share it here as well. It’s been slightly modified.

– C and H

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Sea Change

Sea Change, which is located on south 2nd street in Minneapolis (attached to the Guthrie Theater), is one of those places where food and art begin to blend together, but definitely not in an off-putting way. While the culinary artistry is on display with each dish, the seafood and flavors take center stage. And they are excellent.

TunaPokeSeaChange

Tasty tuna with spicy mayo, masago, and a great seaweed salad.

We started with something that we’ve come to love, and almost always end up getting it when we go, Tuna Poke. The well-proportioned cubes of Hawaiian ahi tuna are covered in a great spicy mayo, but the addition of crunchy, slightly salty masago and raw scallions provides that textural balance that I’m a really big fan of. The accompanying seaweed salad doesn’t have that overpowering fishy, briny, seafoody taste that seaweed can sometimes have. It’s very clean tasting, with a good al dente texture without being slimy at all. The sesame oil they use as part of the dressing really brings it all together. The key for this dish is to get a bite of all the elements together. Pretty amazing.

LambSamosasSeaChange

Crispy yet light samosas filled with lamb. Not gamy, just delicious.

Aside from the tuna, we tried a starter that we’ve never had at Sea Change before – lamb samosas. I’m usually a little hesitant with samosas because they can often be over fried, which makes them dry and tough at the same time. However, given the quality of the food at Sea Change, I wasn’t worried, nor disappointed. The samosas are, well, delicious. The outer dough is perfectly balanced in terms of how much they use and how long they fry it. This results in a crispy and light outer shell that gives way to the decadent lamb inside. The lamb is not at all gamy and the spice mixture, which I couldn’t really identify, enhances the lamb meat with the right amount of salt and earthy flavors. The mint yogurt is pretty standard fare – it adds a nice temperature and textural contrast. The cucumber salad, however, is under utilized and I would have loved to have had a little more of that. The cucumbers are still crisp and the citrus in the dressing balances out the yogurt. I could have eaten an entire side of just that, to be honest.

BarramundiSeaChange

Barramundi with crispy skin in a miso, mushroom broth with egg. Oh. My. God.

For the main course, I went with the barramundi, a flaky white fish. The barramundi is cooked to perfection, with the fish staying moist and flaky while the descaled skin was crispy. It is served in a bowl that contains a poached egg, bok choy, watermelon radish , and sunchoke chips. Upon arrival, a rich, brown, mushroom broth is poured into the bowl. Now, I’m a big fan of sauces and broths, and this one is awesome. The broth has that great mushroom flavor, and turns the dish into a pseudo bouillabaisse. The barramundi is perfect for this dish because it has a tendency to fall apart, which allows you to get a little bit of the fish to pair with all the other elements in every single bite.

ScallopsSeaChange

If you want perfectly cooked scallops, look no further.

For her main course, H went with the scallops. I tried only one small bite – it was so good that she didn’t really want to share – but I can tell you this: the scallops are amazing. They are perfectly cooked – seared on the outside, buttery and creamy on the inside. And, no grit whatsoever. The cauliflower and bacon croquette that it comes served with is fantastic. The bacon is very subtle and its natural smokiness brings out the delicate flavor of the scallops. Next time, I may have to get this one for myself. Also, do not skip the side of Brussels sprouts. Caramelized to perfection.

CaramelCoffeePotdeCremeSeaChange

I think we're going to need a bigger plate ... because this is a heavy dessert.

And that all brings us to dessert. We had two. First, the Caramel Coffee Pot de Creme. It comes served with a dollop of pear sorbet. The caramel coffee pot de creme is very rich and very creamy. The coffee doesn’t overpower the caramel, and that to me is the key to the dish. The pear sorbet helps to add that bit of fruit and acidity to cut through the sweetness of the caramel and coffee. And, it really does taste like pear. This is a dessert that I really like but not sure how often I would want to eat it. It’s that rich.

CalamansiNapoleonSeaChange

Sweet. Creamy. Crispy. Citrusy. An exemplary dessert.

The other dessert we went with was the Calamansi Napoleon. In between the crisps, which included a sesame brittle in the middle (heh, that basically rhymes) is a lemon ice cream or sorbet or something. Whatever it is, it’s very, very good. The coconut sorbet goes really well here. The milky, sweet, and soft coconut flavor mixes really well with the citrus. I’m hoping this stays on the menu for a long time.

Overall, Sea Change continues to impress. Having been there a number of times, I’m always pleasantly surprised by the quality and consistency of their food, although I don’t know why I should be. It’s one of our very favorite restaurant in Minneapolis, and for very good reason.

Oh, and be sure to check out the drinks from Sea Change on Drink Aesthetic.

Happy fooding.

– C

Zen Box Izakaya

Zen Box Izakaya

Get ready for awesomeness.

And now for something a little different. Rather than cook last night, we decided to go to what has become our favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities, Zen Box Izakaya (602 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis). For those of you who haven’t been there, I can only offer this – what are you waiting for? I mean, seriously. Maybe you won’t like it as much as we do, but you should go there and try it out. Seriously. Right. Now.

Anyway, the menu consists mainly of small plates designed for sharing, and on a given night, we go through about three small plates per person. While this obviously wasn’t the first time we had been – this was visit number six or seven I believe – this will obviously mark the first, but not the last, time Zen Box Izakaya will be featured on our blog.

We decided to take a break from cooking because of a couple of weekend specials: Frog Leg Kara-Age (battered and deep fried frog legs served with Zen Box’s famous kamikaze sauce) and Nikujaga (what I lovingly refer to as “Pot Roast on Crack”). The Frog Leg Kara-Age was phenomenal. The meat was tender and juicy, with just the perfect little hint that you weren’t eating chicken. It worked really well with the kamikaze sauce and a little lemon juice. While I’m sure it might be tough to make this a regular menu item, I’ll be ordering it again the next time it’s on the menu.

Frog Leg Kara-Age

Delicious frog legs with kamikaze sauce. Winning.

The Nikujaga, which is tender beef in a dark, savory broth with potatoes and crisp slices of garlic cloves, was gone in a matter of seconds. If I hear the term “Japanese comfort food,” this is what I immediately think of. The sauce is so good that I considered a side of white rice to pour it over after all the other ingredients were gone. While I preferred the Frog Leg Kara-Age, H preferred the Nikujaga. However, both were excellent choices.

Nikujaga

Nikujaga. Or, Pot Roast on Crack.

We followed those two plates with Spicy Kimchi Ramen, Avocado Tempura, and a new dish we were lucky enough to sample that featured squid and kimchi. The Spicy Kimchi Ramen became an instant favorite of mine. I really enjoy kimchi and this dish had really well crafted noodles, juicy pork belly, and a wonderful sweat-inducing amount of heat. The only downside of the ramen was that for $10.50, you get so much that I didn’t have enough room to eat more. Not a bad problem to have.

The avocado tempura is a fantastic blend of soft, earthy avocado and light, crispy tempura batter fried to perfection. The spicy mayo goes great here, and we’ve found it actually goes great with pretty much anything else on the menu. As for the squid and kimchi dish, I can only say that I hope it makes it onto the regular menu. The squid was not chewy or tough and I personally really liked how it took on the wonderful fermented flavor of the kimchi.

Spicy Kimchi Ramen

Kimchi. Pork belly. Soft boiled eggs. Ramen. Delicious broth. How can you go wrong?

Overall, it was one of the best meals that we’ve had at Zen Box Izakaya, which is saying something since every meal we’ve had there has been amazing. We’ll be back again soon, and look forward to sharing more of their awesome food with you.

Lastly, we’ve gotten to know John and Lina (husband and wife, and owners) a little bit over the last few years between eating at their skyway location for lunch and now their stand-alone restaurant, and we wish them lots of success. They work very hard and it shows in the food, staff, atmosphere, and service. The personal touch they provide, like stopping by to chat with us if they have time, isn’t an influence on why we endorse them and their restaurants, but it’s that nice extra step that makes the whole experience rank at the top of our list.

So go visit them, and happy fooding.

– C