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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Medina Oven & Bar

I went to go see my first ever hockey game Saturday night! It was the last game for the Dallas Stars and they were playing against the Detroit Red Wings at the American Airlines Center. I'm not a big hockey fan (obviously.. haha) but I really just wanted to see a fight! And this would've been a good game for that. So we lost... 3 to 0, but I got to see one fight AND got to try a new restaurant after for dinner! All in all a successful outing! hehehe. :P 

We decided to check out Medina Oven & Bar, which features Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine. It's just a short walk from the AAC and across Victory Park. It's a little hidden... You need to walk past Neo Pizza and it's in the next corner. 

Medina Oven & Bar 
2304 Victory Park Ln. 
Dallas, TX 75219 
(214) 979-0003 
Price: $$$ 

It's a cute little place. The inside seating is about as big as the patio seating out front. The decor is Moroccan and intimate with low lighting and cool lamps. You can see into the front of the kitchen and the oven. I thought that was pretty cool. 

We were seated immediately, it wasn't very full at all. It took a while for us to get waters and menus but after that the service was great. The menu looked interesting and delicious, there were a ton of options I chose from. At the bottom of the menu we all saw "Sexy Drinks"...haha. They all sounded pretty good. We decided to get some and drink our hockey loss away. :P 

Sexy Drinks: 
Caramel-Fig Martini (Grey Goose, fresh lemon, roasted fig, caramel swirl) $9~ This was a pretty drink. They actually swirled caramel on the inside of the glass. There's also a roasted piece of fig at the bottom. My bf enjoyed it a lot. 

Moroccan Mojito (Bacardi Rum, brown cane sugar, fresh lime, fresh mint) $9~ I got this and asked them to make it a little sweeter for me. I like really sweet cocktails... being a lightweight and all. haha. I enjoyed it. The added sweetness made it much better for me. :) 

The Arabesque (apricot brandy, peach schnapps, fresh OJ, white cranberry) $9~ Our friend ordered this. (No pic...sorry) This turned out to be my favorite. It was the sweetest out of the 3 cocktails and it tasted like peach juice! I'd go back and order that again. hehe. 

On to the food! Can't go to a Mediterranean place without ordering some sort of dip or spread! 

We started with the Smoked Egg Plant Spread (garlic-saffron tomato confit, cilantro, white vinegar; served with oven baked pita bread) $5.50~ 
I don't like eggplant...but the Greek/Mediterranean preparation of it is the only way I'll really eat it. And I love it! The spread was chunky and light. The pita bread was nice and warm, just out of the oven. The cold spread with the warm pita bread paired very well together. 

Poached Calamari (in Ras El Hanout and drenched in shermoula tomato puree, seafood spices, garlic, cilantro, fresh lemon juice, served on mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette) $10.50~ 
I got this appetizer as my main course. It was more than enough too. Pretty big size and tons of calamari! I asked the waiter to explain Ras El Hanout and he says it's a mixture of 23 or so different spices. I can taste many different spices but overall it was very mild, in a good way. The spices did not overpower anything else. The calamari was cooked perfectly, great texture. And I got to have my salad/veggies underneath. I enjoyed it a lot. I actually took half of it to go and had it the next day as a cold dish. Being cold, it was even better in my opinion! 

My bf got the Chicken Apricot Tagine (braised marinated chicken breast in saffron cinnamon, honey, poached apricots and toasted poppyseeds; served with warm pita bread) $19~ 
Tagine is basically the dish with the lid that it came in. I liked the presentation. This was a really sweet dish... since it had honey, cinnamon, and apricots but I like sweet and savory so I enjoyed it. It's definitely not for those who don't like sweet in their food. There were some potatoes at the bottom of the dish. I don't know how they cooked them but I thought it was the best part! It was soft and creamy and gooey almost and amazing! haha. 

Our friend got the Imperial Fez Seafood Couscous (scallops and shrimp, spice mix and herbs on warm couscous with cinnamon apricots, asparagus, toasted pine nuts, golden raisins) $23~ 
I got to try a bite of the scallops which was cooked perfectly. It was also a slightly sweet dish, with the apricots and raisins. The seafood was cooked really well. But he said there was a bit too much couscous, which he left some on the dish after he ate all the seafood. haha. But it was definitely yummy. 

It was a great dinner. I haven't had many Moroccan cuisines and really enjoyed it. The ambiance was nice, our waiter was super nice and helpful. The owner or manager came by and checked on us a few times. He was super friendly as well. Plus they have cocktails I like! I will definitely go back in the future. :) 

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Nicola's - Shops at Legacy

This past Saturday has been some pretty good eatin'! 

We started off with a lunch reception held by 2 of my good friends. They recently got married in Taiwan (Congrats!!) and wanted to do a small reception for family and some friends that didn't make it overseas for the wedding... They chose Nicola's in Shops at Legacy. I've been there a couple times and have always enjoyed it. 

Nicola's Ristorante Italiano 
5800 Legacy Dr 
Plano, TX 75024 
(972) 608-4455 

Our group had the upstairs area which overlooks the main dining room below. It was nice and bright, a very nice setting for a small gathering. 

They had preselected the menu. We started with appetizers then our choice of soup or salad and entree, and concluding with dessert. Nice BIG lunch! haha. 

We had 2 dishes for appetizers... 
Focaccia Siciliana (savory baked flat bread with sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, dice tomatoes and basil). 
The flat bread had good texture. It wasn't too thin or crunchy, still had a slight doughiness which I liked. It wasn't very heavy either since it wasn't covered in cheese. We were all pretty hungry and it went really fast! :P 

Calamari Fritti (lightly floured calamari with garlic aioli and tomato sauce). 
I've had their calamari before and I had forgotten how good it was. The batter was great and the squid was cooked perfectly. The texture was just right. 

Next course... 
Zuppa del Giorno (Chef's soup of the day - butternut squash soup). 
Now, I normally opt for salad over soup, but as soon as I heard butternut squash... OMG. Gotta have it! And I'm so glad I got the soup because it was awesome! It was rich and creamy and had chunks of the squash in there instead of a fine puree (which obviously I liked! hehe). I scraped that bowl clean! It was my favorite course of the day. 

Insalata Mista (mixed greens with tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette). Pretty good size for the salad. Looked fresh... 

All the entrees sounded good... 
Cappellacci di Zucca (handmade pumpkin ravioli finished in a marscarpone cream). 
As soon as I saw "pumpkin" I knew I had to get this. I love pumpkin!! It was a very filling dish. I liked how the raviolis were huge and filled full with pumpkin! It's quite sweet since you have the pumpkin and I think some nutmeg and cinnamon in there. Love me some sweet and savory so it's totally up my alley. The pasta was cooked al dente too which is preferred. YUM!! 

Salmone al Pistacchio (dijon and pistachio crusted salmon with roasted brussels sprouts, carrots, artichokes, pancetta and red bell pepper sauce). 
Seeing "brussels sprouts" almost made me change my mind from the ravioli to this. haha. So my bf got it and I got to try it. Heck yea! It seemed like a really healthy dish! The salmon was cooked well. He totally loved it! So we both made the right choices. The brussels sprouts wasn't roasted enough... I like that char on the outside and it didn't have it. All the flavors and elements worked well together though. The pancetta was the icing on the cake! I enjoyed the dish overall. But I still liked my ravioli better. hehehe. 

Orecchiette con Salsiccia ("little ears" pasta with roasted Italian sausage, broccolini, garlic, anchovies and pecorino cheese).
Initially they brought out the wrong dish. It was orecchiette pasta but in a tomato sauce and nothing else in it... We all looked at it, confused and had the waiter take it back. haha. The sausage and broccolini was the main reason my friend ordered it! When they finally brought out the correct dish, it looked sooo much better. The pasta was cooked well and flavors were yummy. Another winner! 

What was initially served...
On to the desserts... 
Tiramisu (traditional lady finger cookies soaked in espresso, layered with mascarpone, coffee liqueur and cocoa). 
This was my choice. It was pretty good. Standard. The mascarpone was creamy and rich. I wish the lady fingers could've been more soaked though. My piece seems slightly dry. But still good. I liked the fresh berries on the side. 

Cannolo Siciliano (classic Sicilian cannoli filled with sweet ricotta cheese, honey, chocolate chips and pistachios). 
I'm not a fan of cannolis (if you read my Boston review on them...) Too much cream and usually too sweet for my taste. This was ok. But I don't think I'd eat the whole thing. My bf loved it BECAUSE it was sugary cream. hahaha. Guess it all works out! 

It was a great lunch. I got to see some good friends I don't see often and eat some fabulous food. Also, our waiter was really good. He noticed little things and anticipated what we wanted. :) 

Kudos to my friends for picking a great place. And CONGRATS again to them on their wedding!!! 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Taipei 2013: Part V - Restaurants

 This is my final post for Taiwan. Get ready for a butt load of pictures!!! (I really shouldn't be writing this right before lunch.. me so hungry!): 

Yi Yuan Dim Sum - at The Sherwood Hotel
My dad's friends treated us to this fancy dim sum lunch. We ordered the dishes from a menu and they served it to us course by course. Not the typical dim sum carts that comes around. Apparently The Sherwood Hotel is a really nice and famous hotel in Taipei... The food wasn't spectacular but were very delicate and pretty. The service really is fantastic. 

- Lettuce with Meat Sauce
- Seafood Pancake 
- Congee Station 
- Steamed Minced Pork Dumplings with Abalone 
- Steamed Pork Dumplings with Truffle 
- Steamed Fish Rice Rolls 
- Steamed Shrimp Dumplings 
- Steamed Pea Shoots Dumplings 
- Steamed Chinese Chive with Shrimp Dumplings
- Pan Fried Cantonese Turnip Cakes
- Golden Fried Butter Cream Buns 
- Honey Ham with Bread 
- Steamed Taro Cakes 
- Steamed Bean Curd with Scallops 
- Deep Fried Bean Curd Rolls with Shrimp 
- Stir-Fried Cantonese Turnip Cakes with X.O.Sauce 
- Clams with Black Bean Sauce 
- Baked Cabbage with Cream 
- Soup with Dried Scallops Dumpling 
- Assorted Desserts (Blueberry Panna Cotta, Egg Tart, Pineapple Cake) 

Su Hung Restaurant (and Afternoon Tea)
We had lunch here then moved to their downstairs room for afternoon tea immediately after! haha. My dad likes to eat just as much as I do! :P 
- Snow Pea Leaves NT$180~ 
- Lettuce Wraps NT$330~ Soooo good! 
- Veggie & Shrimp Dumplings NT$140~ 
- Xiao Long Bao NT$90~
- Dong Puo (Stewed Fatty Pork) NT$360~ 
- with Steamed Buns NT$20~ per piece (x5) Melty fatty pork... Mmmmmmm... droool....
- Veggie Dumplings NT$90~ 
- Red Bean and Sesame Mochi Cakes NT$90~ 
Afternoon Tea (all items half price)
- Green Onion Pancake NT$45~ 
- Mustard Greens and Pork Noodle Soup NT$160~ 
- Honey Pancake NT$30~ 
- MaLa Cake NT$40~ 
- Red Bean Snowflake Cake NT$40~ The "snowflake" turned out to be coconut flakes. Bleh. 

Shin Yeh - Afternoon Tea 
NT$500~ per person 
My parents took me here for my early birthday celebration. It was one of the most epic meals ever!!! Amazing buffet. Lots of food choices including a sashimi bar, where they freshly slice sashimi to order!!! O.O LOVE! 

Crystal Spoon - Thai Food (inside Sogo - 10th Floor). 
Hanging out with my cousins. I didn't really eat because I just came from Shin Yeh afternoon tea. haha. But what little I had was ok. Not the greatest Thai food. 

Until next year... maybe...