Tag Archives: dumplings

Fantastic Tapas Abroad: Ficcin, Istanbul

29 Dec

Ficcin, just off İstiklal Caddesi is a restaurant well-known to locals in Istanbul. For good Turkish food, stay off the main drag and duck into smaller alleys – that’s where you find the good stuff like Ficcin, where the hosts don’tneed to  pester you with invitations into their restaurant. This was one of the best meals I had while in Istanbul.

Dinner at Ficcin

Mixed vegetables in olive oil (left) | minced chicken – a cross between chicken salad and pate. It looked plain but was delicious! (right)

Stuffed sundried eggplant

Stuffed sundried eggplant, my favourite dish of the night

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Ficcin’s specialty: Circassian pastry, stuffed with beef. A huge portion!
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Manti (Turkish style dumplings) filled with meat, served with yogurt

 

Info: Ficcin,  İstiklal, Kallavi Sok. No:13 D:1, Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey

Toronto’s Best Dim Sum Part 1: Crown Princess

15 Mar

Search for Toronto’s best dim sum and you’ll likely find Crown Princess on the list. I have been there twice now, both times on weekdays, for lunch. Unlike many other Chinese restaurants, this one is calm and quiet. The decor by contrast, is over-the-top – it’s a space with high ceilings, Roman columns, large oil paintings, and faux marble everywhere – the floors, the bar, and the walls – and yet it’s not all that big. The more intimate size makes you feel like you’re in an exclusive club. The place is bright, with large windows opening onto Bay Street. This grandeur is matched by high-quality dim sum and attentive service.

IMAG1883Above: Beef tripe and steamed bbq pork buns. Everything was yummy!

Crown Prince, TorontoTea is served in fancy English-style teapots and the dim sum pieces themselves are small and dainty. Above: pan fried turnip patties; stir fried greens; shrimp rice noodle roll.

IMAG1880Fried taro dumplings are one of my favorite things to order at dim sum. Unfortunately, most restaurants serve them only lukewarm, and not hot. Crown Prince’s taro dumplings weren’t an exception – this was the only disappointment during my meal. They were also smaller than typical taro dumplings, although each order came with four pieces, instead of three.

Crown Prince - Chiu Chow dumplingsChiu Chow style pork dumplings. (The order came with four pieces. I devoured one before I remembered to take this photo!)

Crown Prince - tapioca puddingA highlight of our last lunch at Crown Princess was dessert. The restaurant makes what is likely one of the best tapioca puddings in the city. There’s no doubt that it’s impressively presented, elevated in a glass bowl. Each pudding is made to order.

Crown Prince - mango puddingMango pudding is cutely shaped like a fish.

The Final Word: Dim sum at Crown Princess is a deliciously refined experience. Though prices are higher than average, the quality of the food is terrific.

Info: Crown Princess, 1033 Bay Street, Toronto, Canada

Crown Princess on Urbanspoon

Famous Xiaolongbao in Hong Kong

6 Jan

The award-winning DinTaiFung restaurant originated in Taiwan, but they are now located around the globe. I visited the restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, which has been awarded a Michelin star. Steamed xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings with a partially raised flour wrapper) are made to order at the restaurant behind a glass pane:

Din Tai Fung

The restaurant itself is bright, lively, and relatively spacious. Dumplings in bamboo baskets arrive quickly. The soupy pork dumplings have a delicate, thin wrapper. They are the best I’ve ever had!

xiaolongbao

Rice and pork dumplings consist of yummy sticky rice wrapped in the same, delicate wrapper:

rice dumplings

Expect long lines for a table at this restaurant. We arrived around 8:30 PM on a Sunday night and waited about 40 minutes for a table for four.

Info: Din Tai Fung, 30 Canton Road, Hong Kong, China

Flavourful Afghan cuisine: The Helmand

18 Nov

The Helmand (143 First St., Cambridge, MA) has great ratings on Zagat, so I was not surprised to find it packed at 9 pm on a Friday night.  The waiting area has a large comfy couch and a coffee table lined with issues of Bon Apetit  and other foodie magazines. The open, main dining room also has a good view of the wood-fired brick oven. This place obviously takes food seriously.

Like many Boston area restaurants with good, moderately-priced food, tables are rather close together. I wondered if it was a pain for waiters to get to our table – that would explain the slow, inattentive service. My boyfriend and I sat awkwardly for a while, waiting for menus. When they finally arrived, they were crinkled, ratty, folded sheets of paper – not a great first impression.  When our server returned, he didn’t even ask to take our drink order.

I was delighted however, when flatbread arrived –  warm, and served with a trio of sauces you often see served at Indian restaurants: cucumber raita, a green chutney, and  a hot chili sauce.

Our appetizers arrived quickly. The bowlawni consisted of two filo pastries, one filled with leeks and scallions, the other filled with potatoes.

We also had the aushak: two triangular raviolis filled with leeks and scallions, topped with ground beef sauce. The raviolis themselves reminded me of Chinese dumplings.

Entrees ranged from $15-27. Lamb Lawand (below): chunks of tender leg of lamb in a spiced onion and tomato sauce, served with sauteed spinach and fluffy challow rice (white basmati rice boiled and drained, then tossed in Canola oil and cumin seeds, then baked).

The server neglected to bring us our side dish. When I did arrive, it was worth the delay. The banjan was melt-in-your-mouth yummy:  a thick slice of eggplant, pan-fried and then baked with tomatoes and served with a yogurt sauce.

The Final Word: The food at The Helmand is delicious and well-priced, and the menu offers flavours not often seen elsewhere. Too bad the service is lacking. Otherwise, I’d come here more often.
Helmand on Urbanspoon

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