Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dobbin Donuts Reborn With Kabobs As Well

Dobbin Donuts has been reborn and doubled the alliteration with a South Asian twist.

The donut and lunch joint on Dobbin Road in Columbia closed last summer, but the lights have gone back on with new owners and a new menu that will include kabobs and Indian food.

The sign in the photo says "Dobbin Donuts & Kabob Korner."  When I stopped by, the place still looked like a minimal takeout or lunch joint, and the owner said that they're still adding to the menu as they get up and running.

Dobbin Donuts & Kabob Korner is in a shopping center on Dobbin between McGaw Road and Oakland Park Boulevard.  It's south of McGaw, and it's on the right if you're driving from Rte 175 or McGaw.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kabob Skewers at Pars Market

Kabobs are within your reach -- and won't fall apart when you try to take them off the grill -- if you grab a few thick metal skewers at the new Pars Market in Columbia.

Thin skewers work fine for vegetables, but you can't thread a ground meat kabob on a pencil-sized piece of metal.  They fall apart when you try to lift them.  That's why Pars sells inch-wide skewers for a few dollars each -- either as a package or individual skewers.

For an easy night, you can also buy the Sadaf ground kabob seasoning at Pars, mix it with some ground beef or lamb, and make the long thin kabobs that you see in the photograph.  Those -- made with ground chuck from the Laurel Meat Market -- cooked as simply as hamburgers and came off the grill beautifully.  

I'm looking for some recipes to make kabobs from scratch, maybe with some lamb from the butcher at Columbia Halal Meat Market or Caezar International Market in Elkridge.  Just a short Google search turned up seasonings from Indian to Lebanese.

(Update: Check out Brandon Miller-Milhouse's comment below linking to a recipe for Indian lamb kabobs.)

(Update II: Also, I assume that "David" and "Joseph" below are fake comments.  Not that there is any substance to the comments, but I think it is only fair to point out that I appear to have someone posting vague compliments about Pars and insults about a competitor.  I was one insult away from erasing all the comments, but those seem to have stopped.  If I'm wrong, then "David" or "Joseph" are welcome to email me directly.  Update III;  The fake comments continue, so I erased them all.)

Ginger Candy at David's Natural Market

Reed's Ginger Chews are for people who want candy with bite when they bite into candy.

David's Natural Market in Columbia sells these all-natural ginger chews in bulk.  They're fiery with all of the flavor that comes from actual pieces of candied ginger.  I actually prefer the flavor and the texture, which is almost like chewing gum but eventually melts in your mouth.

The Reed's candies are individually-wrapped, so they're great to stuff in a lunch or a purse.  Ginger has anti-naseau properties, according to my medical expert, and it's a really adult flavor when you want a treat. Ask at David's or look for the bulk candy bins in the center of the store.

One thought:  The candies are dusted with a white, flavorless powder.  Don't be alarmed.  I assume that it keeps the sticky candies from attaching to the wrapper, but it melts on your tongue and mars nothing along the way.

Roots in Clarksville sells Reed's Ginger Beer -- along with the company's seasonal spiced apple brew -- so it may sell these ginger chews as well.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Taste For Life - Wine and Food on April 11

While you're eating for cancer at the "pink plate " specials, consider stopped on Sunday, April 11 for the "Taste For Life" charity wine tasting in Clarksville.

The event -- to raise money for the American Cancer Society -- runs from noon to 5 pm in the Ten Oaks Ballroom.  All the wine is being arranged by i.m. Wine of Fulton.  For $65, you can come from 1 to 5 pm for wine, an auction and food from Putting on the Ritz.  A $100 ticket buys you all that, plus the noon to 1 pm "premium tasting" with some higher-priced wines and food from Aida Bistro.

Tickets can be purchased online at  Or, you can call ACS at 888-535-4555.

Bon Fresco Gets A Rave From The Sun

In my most egomaniacal moments, I hope that the real food critics use blogs as a way to identify places that they should check out.

The Sun actually reviewed Bon Fresco yesterday -- saying that the bread was exceptional and talking up the lentil soup and the grilled vegetable and spicy Italian sandwiches.  This was ironic because Elizabeth Large posted an email from me two months ago as part of her posts about "places we probably won't get to as well."  This was also terrific because the Sun will drive more people for Bon Fresco's bread and sandwiches -- a crusade that I have been on since they opened last summer.

The truth is that the Sun probably saw the recent WPost review.  But either way, I'm a huge Bon Fresco fan.  A great place to grab lunch if you're doing errands in Columbia today -- especially that potato salad.

Thanks to Cari and Sarah who pointed out the review!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Buffalo Wild Wings Coming To Columbia

Buffalo Wild Wings is coming to Columbia -- specifically to the spot on Dobbin Road where the old Rocky Run restaurant is being demolished, says Wordbones on Tales of Two Cities (look at the third post).  No word on the timeline.

The same Wordbones posts says a a group of people are going to open Cazbar Kebap in the Columbia Professional Center on Little Patuxent Parkway.

(Update: Cazbar Kepab is open in Columbia.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New York Deli Covered With Praise And Cliches By WPost

The New York Deli got a writeup in the Washington Post yesterday.  I was already impressed by the Columbia deli's corned beef, and I'm newly impressed by the amount of attention the WPost is paying to Howard County.

The WPost interviewed owner  Diane Chiaro, and it talks up the corned beef that Chiaro makes on site.  I can't actually tell if the writer ate there.  Much of the piece compares the New York Deli to stereotypes and mentions how it is "sandwiched" into a "bland strip mall."  No.  It's on the end, and that's a run-down shopping center.  But a shopping center with House of India -- far from bland.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

April "Pink Plates" Specials At Local Restaurants

More than 22 Howard County restaurants will offer "Pink Plate" specials in April to celebrate spring and to raise money for Howard County Hospital's Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center.

Howard County Tourism is running the promotion as part of a broader "Blossoms of Hope" program.  Each restaurant will create its own "Pink Plate" offering, including special menu items or signature desserts.  Participating restaurants run from AIDA Bistro to Venegas Prime Filet, and the full list appears on a county Web page.

In addition, there are some specific events like an "Japanese Poetry & Sushi Dinner" on April 9 at Elkridge Furnace Inn and a "Champagne Ladies Luncheon" on April 16 at Turf Valley.

I can't find the actual "pink plate" offerings on the restaurant Web sites that I checked.  If anyone hears about specific offerings, please comment below.

Nazar Produce Market Opens In Columbia

Nazar Produce Market wants to sell you a complete diet of Middle Eastern food -- and if you are a good eater, you get a spectacular desert.

Nazar opened this month -- at the same time that the Pars Market opened a few blocks south on Snowden River Parkway -- in the Columbia space that used to house Caezar International Market (then called Sizar's).  Nazar completely renovated the space, making it bright and airy.

Now, the space is filling with all kinds of Middle Eastern food -- bulgar, beans, spices, olives, etc.  If you're interested in food, this is a fun place to walk the shelves.  Many of the items are Turkish, which makes the selection differ from Caezar and Pars, which sell all kinds of food but have lots of Iranian offerings.  I'm not sophisticated enough to identify all the difference or all opportunities.

Nazar sets itself apart from most small ethnic groceries by having basic produce, including some nice zucchini and fresh cilantro that I used in chili last week, and a variety of halal meat.  At the start, they didn't have the butcher like Columbia Halal Meat or Caezar's, but the freezer and the fridge have a variety.  Sour cherry nectar drink.  Frozen ribeye and filets.  Frozen chicken.  Halal chicken hot dogs.  Soujouk (great in scrambled eggs).  Three kinds of halal beef mortadella.  Three?  I'd love to know why this little store has three varieties of mortadella.

(Update: Nazar made some changes.  They cut back on the produce, but they added a butcher that looks a lot like Columbia Halal Meat or Caezar.  It's an option for goat, lamb, chicken hearts, and many other cuts that you won't find in a supermarket case.  You need to try the ground lamb or another meat for kabobs.)

In addition, Nazar sells frozen pastry leaves.  Some in a rectangle and a Yoruk brand in triangles.  I'm sure those would be key to making some authentic Middle Eastern dishes.  But they could also be an interesting tool in the hands of a creative chef.  What could you wrap up and fry?

Since you have eaten your meal, you get your dessert, and the dessert is reason enough to drive over to Nazar.  These guys had a half-dozen varieties of fresh baklava on display each time that I visited, including pistachio, "double pistachio" and a long thin variation that I think was called burma.  (Or maybe kadayifi.  I got different answers on different trips.)  Each variety was superb -- a fresh crunch to the pastry, a thick honey flavor, sweet nuts.  The burma and a variation called saragi burma have a shredded pastry instead of the thin layers of baklava.  If anything, that's my favorite.

The guy who cuts my hair -- shout out to Rafet's Hair Salon in Arundel Mills -- says this is the best baklava around.  Before his friends opened Nazar, Tim and other Turkish families would pool together to buy this baklava wholesale from New Jersey.  But then, Tim is friends with the owners of Nazar.  You can't just rely on his say, can you?  Don't you think you need to test yourself?  Don't you need some baklava today?  Or now?

If you shop at Nazar, I would love to know what you buy.  I have tried a few items, but I am sure there are some convenience foods for a weeknight and also the basics to learn some Middle Eastern food.

(Update:  There are terrific comments below, including a detailed one about learning Turkish food and  another about halal cuts of beef.  There are also a series that I think are fake and appear to be someone trying to promote Pars Market.  If Hasan, Suat or William Smith are real people, then they're welcome to email me directly.  For now, I assume they're part of a fake campaign here and on some other posts.)

(Update II: There are some anonymous comments below from someone who appears quite reasonable and knowledgeable about this kind of food. I loved the baklava, but the commentor says that the best were just average.  You can still taste-test the baklava.  Not such a bad afternoon.  I'd love other thoughts.)

Nazar Produce Market
6955 Oakland Mills Road, Ste A
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: Nazar is in the same store that used to be Sizar's.  It's just off Oakland Mills Road on the west of Snowden River Parkway.  From Rte 175, drive south on Snowden and turn right at the traffic light on Oakland Mills.  Then take the first right into the shopping area.  Nazar is on the right on the ground level.  Look across the parking lot for Bon Fresco.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pulled Pork at Kloby's Smokehouse

My wise college roommate taught me that it's always smart to order the specialty of the house, and I'm still learning the lesson at Kloby's Smokehouse.

Kloby's sells delicious pulled pork -- a meaty, smokey flavor with the texture of shredded meat.  It beats down the overly-sweet, overly-pureed barbecue that most places offer.  I have loved the Kloby's pork since it opened on Johns Hopkins Road just west of Rte 29.

Then, I strayed.  Last time, I ordered white meat chicken and a Cuban sandwich because Mrs. HowChow likes both of them.  At the last minute, I ordered a pound of pork for later in the week.  The chicken was . . . chicken.  The Cuban sandwich was fine, but not in the league with Cuba de Ayer in Burtonsville.  (It's a pickle panini, said Mrs. HowChow.)  We were a little disappointed until we unwrapped the lunch that I had packed the next morning.

"Now that's barbecue," Mrs. HowChow emailed to me.  And a pound makes four, maybe five sandwiches.  Buy some supermarket rolls and make yourself some oven fries.  With good salt, my oven fries were better than the ones that I had carried home from Kloby's.  But nothing beats that pulled pork.  That's great cooking.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Honey Pig: Folks Say Opening April 1

The Honey Pig Goldaegee Korean BBQ will open in Ellicott City on April 1, according to several comments on prior posts from people who say they called the place like Mr. Dai or can read the sign.

Thanks for the tips.  Click here for my original introduction of Honey Pig, which is a barbeque chain.

Wild Rockfish At Laurel Meat Market

Finally, it's warm enough to grill, and you should knock the cobwebs off your Weber with the local treat of spring -- wild rockfish fillets like the ones you can buy at the Laurel Meat Market.

I bought an 18-ounce filet last week, and it became the perfect dinner.  A quick sprinkling with salt and pepper, a few minutes to heat the grill and to rub the hot grate with an oil-soaked paper towel.  That created the perfect, no-stick spot to grill the fish for about five minutes with the skin up, then three-to-five with the skin side down.

The rockfish came off moist and with the mineral flavor and the firm, but still flaky flavor that makes them so prized.  There can be a challenge to grilling a fillet that has sections that range from thin to thick.  Generally, I take fish off the grill and slice it to ensure that the thickest parts have cooked through.  The flesh turns opaque and flaky, so you should be able to spot any rare parts inside.  That system worked perfectly last week.

As much as I went seasonal with the rockfish, I reached to Chile for the the rest of dinner.  I made a quick salsa based on a nectarine.  I needed a taste of summer, and the Chilean nectarine smelled delicious.  I chopped up the nectarine, then chopping half a red pepper, half hot pepper and about a quarter of a red onion.   I squeezed on some lime juice and put that on top of the fish.  (The leftover salsa actually improved overnight, so I'd make it ahead if I could.)

If you are in Columbia or farther north, I'd suggest that you call Today's Catch in Columbia or Frank's Seafood in Jessup to see if they have rockfish.  Click here for a post about seafood markets in Howard County.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Columbia Wegmans May Not Open Until 2012

The Columbia Wegmans isn't scheduled to open until some time in 2012, according to a comment this morning on my prior post that pointed out that Frederick had a projected 2011 date but Columbia still said TBD.

Alison, who has commented for the better part of a year, wrote that she used the "contact us" page of the Wegmans Web site to ask when the Columbia store would open.  This was the response:

Dear Alison: We received your email and we thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Currently, we hope to open the Columbia store some time in 2012. Unfortunately there is much more work involved at this location than at others and the construction period will be significantly longer.
Thanks for your patience! 
Wegmans Consumer Affairs 
Don't panic people.  The news sent me into a drunken bender drinking only wine purchased at a Virginia Wegmans.  That didn't help.  I'm considering a shovel brigade where HowChow readers could help prepare the site.  We'll get through this together -- and maybe the customer affairs people are just being conservative.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the Columbia Wegmans were not to open for several years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

(First update:  Smart comment from Veggies below on a theme that I want to figure out.  If you have to wait two years for Wegmans, what other options should people explore.  I haven't been overwhelmed by the produce at the Dutch market, but Veggies is right that it's a real option -- with local produce in season.  What other advice?  I'm going to try to assemble a post.)

Please comment below if you have any other news.  You can join the Facebook group for "I Want The Columbia, Md. Wegmans."  And if you're a Wegmans executive reading this post, please email (or comment below) with whatever timeline and explanation that you can share.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Link: Hunan Manor Savaged on Taste of Baltimore

The Columbia mainstay Hunan Manor gets savaged by Nakiya on Taste of Baltimore.  Read Nakiya's whole post, but the first paragraph captures the tone:
Remember when your mum used to tell you "just because it's popular does not mean it's good" in high school? Well, I'm going to say it again - but I'm not talking about the popular crowd and all their naughty ways....I'm talking about Hunan Manor in Columbia. It is crowded, it seems very popular, it is NOT good.
Nakiya isn't going back to Hunan Manor, and I can't argue with her.  But she shouldn't give up the suburbs for Chinese.  I'm still high on Grace Garden in Odenton, Hunan Taste in Catonsville and even Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro in Columbia.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tutti Frutti In Ellicott City

Tutti Frutti's frozen yogurt is so exciting that I ate the entire cup before I remembered to take a photo.

I have been blogging for two years.  Many of my meals start with Mrs. HowChow cringing and me balancing a cell phone camera on a water glass as I learned from the Pizzablogger.  But I started spooning frozen yogurt as soon as my butt hit the shiny modern bar stool at Tutti Frutti, and I slurped up three flavors of yogurt and three toppings without breaking stride.

That's the cool part about Tutti Frutti.  Amid all the tart yogurt options like Mangoberry in Catonsville and Yogiberry in Columbia, Tutti Frutti stands alone because you make your own mix.  You pay by ounce, and you take your bowl along a run of eight yogurt machines -- from chocolate to green tea to kiwi to the original tart -- and then dozens of toppings.  The bowls are enormous.  We took the smallest, left them half-filled, and still had huge desserts that cost us about $5-6.

Tutti Frutti sells good yogurt.  It's a touch grainier than the other options, but I liked the texture.  Tutti Frutti also sells great toppings.  I love mochi, and their variety is soft and chewy.  There was also some kind of firm, candy-colored topping -- maybe a gelatin?  I thought that was great, and I was passing up a dozen fruits, all kinds of candy, and some squeeze bottles with sweet sauce that I didn't even try to identify.  You could spend all summer trying out variations.

You'll have fun if you do.  I'm a fan of Tutti Frutti's cool modern design.  On a Saturday night, it was packed with people at 10 pm with a buzzing, city energy.  I'm also a fan of pay-by-the-ounce.  I gasped watching teenagers fill small buckets and then pay more than $10 for dessert.  But, hey, you can take normal-sized servings, and I loved being able to sample.  Three flavors of yogurt in my cup.  Three kinds of toppings -- mochi, that gelatin, and mango.  At most other stores, you pay $1 or more per topping, and you're getting a handful for your money.

If you want a fun night, start with an order of fried chicken at Rainpia and then come down Rte 40 for Tutti Frutti.

Tutti Frutti
9191 Baltimore National Pike (Rte 40)
Ellicott City, MD 21042

NEAR:  This is on the south side of Rte 40 west of Rte 29.  It's right next to a Burger King.   From Rte 29, you need to pass the Chatham Mall shopping center (with Bare Bones) and U-turn at Chatham Road.  Turn right into the Burger King parking lot and then immediately turn left.  You'll see Tutti Frutti directly ahead.

Tutti Frutti on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bad News For The Columbia Wegmans

The Frederick Wegmans now has a 2011 date on the company's "future stores" Web page.  Columbia still says "to be determined."  We have been lapped by Frederick.

Link: Azul 17 On Brewnotes

In the great blogger tradition of having your spouse write a guest post, Brewnotes writes up Azul 17 in Columbia.  Alyssa got mixed signals from Azul 17 -- loved the salmon tacos, but didn't seem to get great service or love the other food.

Tommy's Naked Soda at David's Natural Market

Between the branches of my family tree, I'm two generations from the Bronx and two generations from a dairy farm, and I think that it is fair to say that the Bronx has won.

My mother was forced to drink milk every day so she never served milk to my brother and me.  I only drink the stuff with chocolate chip cookies.  But my entire family comes from the New York area, where great deli calls for a great cream soda -- and I'll drive for the soda when inspiration hits.

Drive to David's Natural Market in Columbia.  A few weeks ago, Kevin & Ann Eat Everything posted about David's vegetarian cafe with a photo of Tommy's Naked Soda root beer.  My mother -- the greatest beyond-the-border connoisseur of Howard County food blogs -- pointed out the photo and said that Tommy had gone to religious school with me.  Tommy's mother had been in my mother's sorority.  (Alpha Iota chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau in the house!)  Tommy runs an all-natural soda company near Boston that offers six flavors created from cane sugar, natural flavors, and no caffeine.

The cream soda is ideal.  It's a smooth creamy flavor with less fizz than a Dr. Brown's.  The Doctor has always been the deli standard, but Tommy's Naked cream soda is better.  Get a corned beef sandwich from the New York Deli in Columbia, and the cream soda will spark memories of New York street corners that you never actually stood on.  We tried a few other Tommy's Naked flavors.  They're subtle, headings towards "not that flavorful."  That's a style, and they're worth trying.  Personally, I'm a huge fan of products like this where you recognize every ingredient on the label, but I tend to drink soda for caffeine and to drink water with everything else.

If you go to David's, look for the Tommy's Naked Soda in a cooler near the produce.  It was to the right of the cafe counter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Naftal And Sidamo In Dining At Large

The Sun's Dining At Large is tracking out the Howard County regularly this week.  First, Laura Vozzella posted about Jordan Naftal's new plan to sell Caesar salads with steak and shrimp from a truck.  Then, she posted about Sidamo in Fulton and its Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

I'm all for the pageantry of Sidamo's Sunday coffee ceremony, but you should really go for the coffee.  Immediately after posting about how a tour of coffee shops had left me pleased but ambivalent, the flavors at Sidamo captured my imagination.  It has become my place for beans -- and a place for an afternoon snack.

(Update:  Dara Bunjon has more about Naftal's idea on the Examiner.  He is aiming to sell the grilled caesars and creme brulee from the parking lot of a major company or a hospital.)

Can You Recommend An Easter Brunch?

Can you recommend an Easter brunch in Howard County?

I know that Victoria Gastro Pub offered a special brunch for 2009, but I haven't really looked into brunches this year.  Colleen asked for brunch ideas on the HowChow Facebook page, and I'd love some suggestions to give her.

Chocolate Covered Pomegranates At Trader Joes

The best part of the chocolate-covered pomegranates is actually the texture when you bite.

Someone could write an entire blog about little finds at Trader Joes, and I love the place.  But the first item that really surprised me enough to want to shout from HowChow was the plastic clamshell filled with chocolate-covered pomegranates.

Dark chocolate is delicious.  Pomegranates are very special around here.  But they were even better than I had expected.  They have the slightest crunch -- not the liquid squirt of a liquor-filled chocolate, but a crunch and the light, diffuse flavor of fruit.  I palmed them all in less than two days -- including one bowl of ice cream that I topped with  a small handful.

If you haven't found the Trader Joe's in Howard County, look for the Costco and the Best Buy on Rte 175 just west of I-95.  TJ's is across from the Costco.  You need to turn north onto Rte 108 from Rte 175, then turn right into the shopping center.  Full warning:  The seeds aren't cheap, and Mrs. HowChow thought that they weren't all that.  But I'm infatuated.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smokin' Hot Moving Indoors

Smokin' Hot and 'Q in Glenwood is taking the fire indoors.

Since last fall, Smokin' Hot has been a BBQ trailer operating the parking lot outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church.  Yesterday, I hear, they closed on a real estate deal to take over the space of a Glenwood restaurant that closed.

Look for Smokin' Hot to start taking customer soon in a soft opening with a grand opening later.

Smokin' Hot and 'Q (soon to open)
2465 Route 97
Glenwood, MD 21738
(410) 489-6001

I'm not naming the existing restaurant because I don't want to be mistaken about whether it has closed, relocated, etc.  I'm just pleased for Brett Arnold and the Smokin' Hot team.

Fried Chicken at Rainpia in Ellicott City

Howard County Tourism inspired us to walk into a place that looks like a strip club, but serves up splendid fried chicken.

Rainpia in the Bethany 40 shopping center on Rte 40 has papered over its windows, so I never knew what was happening inside when I drove past en route tp Mirocjo or Bethany Seafood.  I never even caught the name.  But one of the HC Tourism folks emailed me last week, and some questions led to a quick turn on Yelp, which led to a few comments about Korean fried chicken.

Which led to me pushing open Rainpia's door while Mrs. HowChow skeptically wondered what we were going to see inside.

It looks like  a brightly-lit bar.  Seriously brightly-lit and tricked out with a casual, outdoor feel.  Wood paneling on every wall.  A communal two-sided table down the center with about 22 barstools.  Then "booths" along each side made by setting picnic tables and separating them with rough screens.  (There is also a television over the actual bar showing Korean television.  At the instant we walked in, the scene was a man and woman in bed, and -- just for that instant -- Mrs. HowChow thought, "That's going to be porn."  It turned out to be nothing.)

The fried chicken is absolutely exceptional.  Burn your fingertips hot.  Lick your fingertips delicious.  We split a single "mixed" order, so we got 10 bone-in pieces -- half crunchy regular and half dunked into a sweet sauce.  They're both delicious.  Even the white meat is juicy, and they come with pickled radish that serves as a perfect crunchy counterpoint to fried chicken.  The pieces are chunks bigger than a nugget, but smaller than a full drumstick or breast.  I loved the ratio of crust to meat.  Every bite had both, which actually helps Rainpia edge out my local favorite Chick N' Friends that serves standard breasts, wings, etc.

Chick N' Friends in the Long Reach Village Center is great take out.  Rainpia is really aimed at the drinking crowd.  We got fine service even though we just ate, but the menu and the crowd were clearly more in line with a place like Looney's or T-Bonz Grille & Pub than the barbecue dinner crowd at Shin Chon Garden.  The chicken would have been perfect for a night of beers and a table of friends.  At $16-18, an order of chicken isn't cheap.  But we split one order for dinner, and the small pieces lend themselves to sharing.  If you want a "wings and beer night," Rainpia is the perfect variation on wings.

Because I'm joking about strip clubs, I want to emphasize that Rainpia is a restaurant.  Super-well lit.  No smoking inside.  A waiter who answered all kinds of questions.  I'd send a "girls night out" to Rainpia in a minute as long as the girls drink beer or soju, a Korean wine in the same family as sake.  It's not a margarita bar.  It's not a place where you can Twitter about the craft beers you're drinking.  But you can get basic bottled beer plus some Korean brands, and the fried chicken is a treat.  Also, there is a long translated menu of Korean dishes like fish cakes, stews, and stirfries.  I'd love any recommendations, and my next trip will include the tuna and kimchi stew, which sounded terrific.

Thanks to R for the inspiration.  You can out yourself in the comments.  I figured that I'd let you put your name in you want since I used the term "strip club" in the lede.  Thanks also to Hal, who actually commented about Rainpia last year on my "tour" of Rte 40.  He called it a "casual bubble tea lounge with sofas."  The sofas are gone, but they still sell dessert drinks after 9 pm.  Rainpia is only open for dinner -- 5 pm to 2 am.

If you want Korean, definitely check out Shin Chon, Mirocjo, or Bethany Seafood.  If you go to Rainpia, consider an ice cream dessert on the way home.  On Rte 40, you can stop at the seasonal Soft Stuff -- or you could stay Korean and try the tart frozen yogurt at Tutti Frutti.

10194 Baltimore National Pike #103
Ellicott City, MD 21042
(410) 418-8992 

NEAR: This is on Rte 40 in the Bethany shopping center with Mirocjo and Bethany Seafood. It's on the north side of the street just west of Bethany Lane. This is west of Rte 29.

  Rainpia on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 15, 2010

Honey Pig: Searching For An Opening Date

Anyone have a concrete date for when pork belly hits the grill at Honey Pig in Ellicott City?

Several comments and the Honey Pig Annandale's Yelp page say it will open on March 19, 2010.  Stephen C saw a sign that says Ellicott City will open April 1, he said in a comment today with a link to the sign.  This might be the difference between a "soft" opening and an official date.  I'm still hoping for next week.

(Update: Looks like Honey Pig is opening on April 1.  Check out this later post.)

Brandon and I both aren't exactly sure why we're so excited for Honey Pig since there are tons of Korean barbecue available on Rte 40.  But we are!

Link: The Sun Reviews Portalli's

Portalli's got a positive review from the Sun's Richard Gorelick on Sunday -- calling the place "pretty loveable" and saying that talking up what Gorelick describes as American versions of Italian classics.

Many people have commented about the Ellicott City restaurant on a former post, and one of its owners Lee Biars wrote a post that I called "Thoughts From The Other Side Of The Check."

Bialys at Bagel Bin

I don't appreciate the Bagel Bin enough.  A few times a year, I get hooked up with New York bagels that make me stomp around and ask why we don't have anything that good.

But the truth is that Bagel Bin makes me happy many Sunday mornings when I run to King's Contrivance and come home with breakfast.  Mrs. HowChow loves salt and everything bagels, but I have been enjoying the Bin's bialys topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon or white fish salad.

Bialys are cousins to bagels -- baked, not boiled-and-baked and formed without a hole in the middle.  They're often a little chewier and usually have onion or garlic pressed into the depression in the middle of the roll.  I like the thinner profile.  It's the right ratio when topped with fish, a little less bread than even half of a bagel.  I toast them whole.  My cousin slices them into two parts -- a ring and a thin complete disk.  Either way, they're good bialys and a change if you're bored with your breakfast routine.

The Bagel Bin in Kings Contrivance makes bialys every day, although they tend to run out by late morning.  I'm not sure about the Bins in Wilde Lake or River Hill [or the one in the Enchanted Forest shopping center on Rte 40].  I have never been sure how the three are related.  They seem to have most of the same bagels, but I haven't hunted bialys in the others to know for sure.

The beauty of the King's Contrivance Bagel Bin is that it sits down the row from Harris Teeter.  I grab bagels on a weekend morning and pick up juice from the HT cooler and lox and/or white fish salad from the seafood department.

(Update: See emkenton's comment below.  Does anyone know how the Bagel Bins are related?)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Free Rita's - One Week From Today

Rita's Italian Ice kicks off its 2010 season one week from today by giving away Italian ice from noon to 10 pm.

For more about the March 20, 2010 giveaways, click the Rita's Facebook page. Hold on -- spring is coming.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Potato Salad at Bon Fresco

Potato salad is a subtle art.  No one wants potato salad on the center of a plate, but the right flavor can make a meal.

At Bon Fresco, I go for the potato salad because it tastes like potatoes.  Tender chunks of potato.  Just enough creaminess and a touch of chopped vegetables.  This isn't deli salad where the mayonnaise gets equal billing.  This is a side dish that falls somewhere between homemade and a real restaurant, which makes it pair perfectly with Bon Fresco's sandwiches.

Most recently, I ate the spicy pork loin sandwich.  Again, it's real slices of pork with the authenticity of a homemade roast, but then topped with a professional touch -- mildly-spicy sauce and slices of roasted zucchini.  I'd never think to put squash on a sandwich, but it was delicious and unique.

If you haven't been there, you need to check out the sandwiches at Bon Fresco in Columbia.  The breads makes the place, and it is truly one of my favorite restaurants in Howard County

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Honey Pig In Ellicott City On March 19?

The people at the Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean BBQ in Annandale say that the new Ellicott City location will open on March 19, according to a comment by Mr. Dai who says that he called them.

New York Deli in Columbia

One sandwich doesn't make for a comprehensive review, but one sandwich has made me a fan of the the New York Deli in Columbia.

The New York Deli opened last year on Snowden River Parkway, and I discovered last week that they're making their own corned beef on site.  Harold's in Edison, NJ ruined most corned beef for me because its spectacular meat make most commercial beef taste like cardboard.  The New York Deli isn't Harold's, but it's hot corned beef sandwich plays in a similar league.

Go hot sandwich with the soft marbled rye.  You'll get a full sandwich with thin-sliced corned beef.  Lean corned beef, but with a meaty flavor and the brittle texture separates corned beef made by experts from those made by industry.  The rye bread is soft and thick.  Not my normal preference, which only reinforced the quality because I thought it really improved the sandwich.  Good mustard.  Good pickle.  Overall, it's my favorite straight deli sandwich tn Howard County.  (I have eaten many sandwiches that never reached the blog because there is no fun in smacking down a place for serving average food.)

I loved the New York Deli atmosphere.  Because it's on the south-bound side of Snowden, I stopped there knowing that I wanted to visit Pars Market before going home to eat.  I told the woman at the counter that I wanted a hot sandwich, but I had to do an errand before I ate.  She said told me to change my plans.  No sugar coating.  No prevarication.  She said I was going to love the hot sandwich so I should endure some U-turns on Snowden and get the sandwich right before I went home.  So New York attitude.  So right on the money.

Next time, I'm going for the reuben, although I'll eat it there.  You can't even wait 10 minutes when the sandwich is hot, filled with sauerkraut and greased with Russian dressing.

New York Deli also got a rave from elgringoviejo on Chowhound.  Elgringoviejo is one of the best Howard County voices on Chowhound.  He knows his stuff and writes with an experienced, practical voice.  He liked the sausage sub.  New York Deli delivers, which would be nice for anyone who works nearby.

New York Deli
9359 Snowden River Parkway
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR:  New York Deli is in one of the shopping centers between Oakland Mills Parkway and Broken Land Parkway.  You can only access from the southbound lanes of Snowden.  New York Deli is in the first shopping center in that section -- the one with House of India, not the one with Akbar and Pho Dat Trahn.

NY Deli on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

David's Natural Market in Columbia

David's Natural Market meanders along a series of shopping center bays in the Wilde Lake village center in Columbia.

At the far right is a bay of organic groceries, good looking but not as pristine as Roots or Whole Foods or priced by Mom's Organic Market.  Then a terrific cafe.  Then the supplement and healthy pills section.  Then a series of rows of national organic packaged goods.  A little cheese.  A little frozen meat.

There is something for anyone at David's as long as they're looking for healthy food.  It's a real resource like Roots in Clarksville and Mom's Organic Market in Jessup, although, as I have written about all of Howard County's organic markets, I'm not the perfect customer because I balk at most of the packaged food and don't need gluten-free, soy-free or oddities like Goraw "live" granola bars.

I value David's for basics like bulk grains, Muir Glen canned tomatoes, and the vegetables that you can't buy at a normal supermarket.  The bulk grains are at the farthest wall from produce, and they're worth a trip by anyone looking for flavor, variety or health.  For a few dollars, you can walk out with bags of basics like cous cous or brown rice and with exotic items like red quinoa that I found this month.  Between the organic chard and the bulk quinoa, David's has aisles filled with most of the national organic brands that I recognize.  There is also Trickling Spring milk and Roseda Black Angus Beef hamburger patties.

I also love searching for treats.  Among the items being sold for being healthy, some are are just plain delicious and worth the price that David's charges.  My recent finds: Tommy's Naked cream soda, Reed's ginger candies, and Schorr's pickles in the refrigerated case near produce.

You do need to watch the prices that David's charges.  They don't always have a price on the shelf, and I had to send back the bottle of honey when it scanned at $15.  There were also items that I recognized as more expensive than the Whole Foods in Silver Spring.  (More expensive than Whole Foods?)  But there are treasures, generally simple ones -- products that list five ingredients that you recognize instead of the 15 ingredients (half from a chemistry lab) that you would find in a supermarket. That's why the pickles are so delicious or sodas taste so fresh.

In the end, you should check out David's if you're interested in good food.  Lunch at the cafe is worth however far you drive -- as discussed on the Kevin & Ann Eat Everything blog.  Then you can search for your own treats among the shelves.

If you're interested in organic shopping, check out my prior post about organic markets in Howard County.

If you go to David's, you should definitely stop in the other section of Wilde Lake for the Today's Catch fish market.  High-quality seafood.  If you have no other ideas, start with the scallops that guarantee a delicious dinner or with the fish scraps that are perfect for seafood soups.  They christen the scraps with a French term and sell at a discount price.

David's Natural Market
5430 Lynx Lane
Columbia, MD  21044

NEAR:  This is in the Wilde Lake village center.  It's not in the section with the Bagel Bin and The Melting Pot.  It is across Lynx Lane in a separate set of stores.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Vegetarian At Grace Garden

You should go eat at Grace Garden this week -- a fun dinner for yourself and a "welcome back" to the owners who just endured several weeks closed by snow on their roof.

With my cousin last weekend, we explored the vegetarian options, which were more limited than I had predicted when I suggested the joint.  Grace Garden puts slivered pork or shrimp in almost everything.  That's how you to make authentic-tasting Chinese food, but we still got a nice meal -- although we did cheat and order fish noodles for me and Mrs. HowChow.

The key to getting vegetarian at Grace Garden is to ask the question.  Last weekend, they had three seasonal vegetables -- pea shoots, baby bok choy, and Chinese chives.  They also had two tofu dishes that could be made without meat -- ma po and "homestyle."

I loved the bok choy.  It's the skill of Grace Garden that the tiny bok choy arrive perfectly cooked -- tender, but still slightly crisp.  The sauce was garlicky and satiny.  The sauces are what really separate Grace Garden from other Chinese restaurants and from anything that I could wok up at home.  They're thick without being greasy, satiny without tasting like corn starch.  The "homestyle" tofu came with cabbage, hot peppers and shittake mushrooms.  Again, everything was cooked perfectly.  The shittake mushrooms alone are worth a visit.  But it was a one-note dish with the spiciness crowding out other flavors and without the complexity that we love in the fish noodles, the braised pork, and other dishes.

And remember:  A one-note dish at Grace Garden is still the equal of any Chinese in Howard County.

Click here for my original post about Grace Garden, which links to a bunch of other bloggers and directions to the Odenton restaurant.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Link: Asian Court on Microcosm K

Asian Court's dim sum keeps drawing bloggers to Ellicott City -- the latest being Kyle who wrote on his Microcosm K blog.

Kyle posts some really good pictures, plus a long description of the dishes that he ate.  Asian Court is strong dim sum in my book, and I still haven't even tried the chicken feet.  Kyle ate them.  He isn't a fan.

Pars Market in Columbia

Middle Eastern grocery stores are popping up in Columbia like crocuses in March.  (Lord, I hope those crocus pop soon!)

Pars Market opened last week on Snowden River Parkway in the same shopping center as Azul 17 and Nichi Bei Kai.  This is a small store where the owner is still filling the shelves, but it -- like the Nazar Produce Market that opened last weekend -- is already a resource for breads, spices, canned goods, and little treats like Turkish yogurt drinks and Iranian fruit rollups.

For now, Pars has basic supplies to cook Middle Eastern food -- rice, lentils, bulgar wheat, spices, yogurt, etc. -- and an array of packaged items like pickles, grape leaves and even rose water.  You can buy lavash and other breads, and there is a small refrigerated/frozen section.  Check out the fruit rollups in the display by the counter.  They're Iranian and quite delicious.

Pars' owner seems really nice and enthusiastic.  I picked up a bag of dried rose buds and brought them to the counter to ask what I would do with them.  He said that he didn't know.  So he called his sister on a cell phone, and we figured out together that they're used in teas and cooking for the rose aroma.  He talked up the hookahs and peach tobacco, which I have to admit smelled delicious.
If you're looking for ethnic grocery stores, you can see my 2009 post about them -- although I need to update now that Pars, Nazar and Columbia Halal Meat have opened.

Pars Market
9400 Snowden River Parkway
Columbia, MD  21045

NEAR:  This is in the shopping center on Snowden River with Azul 17 and Royal Pizza.  This is south of Rte 175 and Oakland Park Boulevard.  Pars is right next to Royal Pizza.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Link: Stanford Grill Aiming To Open In May

The new Stanford Grill replacing Lone Star in sight of Rte 175 in Columbia will open in May, not March as originally hoped, according to the Tales of Two Cities blog.

Facci Ristorante In Laurel (Truly South Columbia)

I can't applaud Facci Ristorante enough, but I'm worried that I won't get to eat there again now that people have discovered this new treasure off Rte 29.

In January, Facci replaced a Pasta Blitz on Johns Hopkins Road.  The practical differences were obvious -- a wood-fired oven, new design, and a menu titled towards house-made pastas and pizzas aspiring to live by the rules of Naples.

In several months of meals, Facci has never disappointed.  Like Bon Fresco or Victoria Gastropub, this is a casual place that pays close attention to ingredients.  So you just order what you prefer, and it makes for fun meals, whether you're blowing out with wine and three courses or you're splitting three pizzas among four adults just to escape your snow-bound homes for an afternoon.

Facci fills a valuable niche -- interesting food, affordable prices, and a decor that feels more like a date night than a shopping center restaurant.  That makes it a restaurant that I want to visit again and again -- a weeknight with Mrs. HowChow, a "snow day" afternoon with neighbors, the Saturday night when my parents drive up from Virginia.

The problem is that I can't get inside.  Facci is packed, and they take no reservations.  Last night, we waited 20 minutes.  The Saturday night when my parents were here, my father and I circled the parking lot for 15 minutes just to find a space, and the wait was still 75-90 minutes once we got to the hostess.  We ended up eating southern Indian food instead of southern Italian that night.

When I get my parents back, we'll probably start with the "Italian boat" antipasta.  As I wrote in my first thoughts on the soft open, you get a platter of meats, cheese, toasted bread, grilled zucchini and roasted peppers. It's an auspicious start because each piece was delicious, and each offered a distinct flavor -- charred zucchini, sweet peppers, salty cheeses. The zucchini was tender with a vinegar bite. The bread was perfectly brushed with oil, then toasted. Five minutes into our first meal, we were talking about summer nights on Facci's patio with that antipasta and a drink.

Then, we have grazed the pasta and pizza.  The pasta highlights are ravioli and gnocchi made in the kitchen.  They come drenched in sauces -- maybe even too much sauce for Mrs. HowChow -- and they have the firm consistency and the flavor that stand out from Italian places.  Normally, I'd rather make pasta at home and order something else in a restaurant, but Facci's pastas are the exception to that rule.  But don't leave without a pizza.  Again, this is about personal taste.  All the pies come with the charred crust of the brick oven.  Personally, I'm infatuated with the "mamma lina" with gorgonzola, mozzerella and speck and the monteso topped with arugula, but I will work through the entire list.

On some visits, the service has been inconsistent, but it always come with a casual energy that makes Facci feel friendly even while we're waiting too long for food or the check.  I'm hopeful that energy will carry Facci into the future.  To me, it's a pleasure to pay $12-14 an entree for something unusual and delicious, but I recognize that Facci is taking the road less travelled between "reservation restaurants" like Iron Bridge Wine Co. and the casual joints like Kloby's a few doors down.

If you have the choice, consider asking to sit in the dining room so that you avoid the televisions that overlook the entire bar.  And, if you have the self-control, save a little space for dessert.  We had canoli the first night, and Mrs. HowChow thought it rivaled the best in Baltimore.  So far, we have stuffed ourselves at every other visit and been too full to want a sweet.  Next time, I'm planning ahead.

In all seriousness, the hostess told us last night that the way to avoid waiting at Facci is to come before 6 or after 8.  They're so packed at dinner time that they haven't offered takeout.  They literally don't have enough people to stand around.  If I can get this Wegmans open, I might bring my cordless drive to Facci and help them expand into the empty store next to them!

There have been a string of comments with detailed reviews on my initial post by Cathy and others and on my post about the opening by Stacy Lyn, Jason and others.  They're a fine source for reviews of specific dishes, and you should read the Pizzablogger's comment about how Neapolitan pizza can be "wet" in the center.  The PB talks about "tip sag" and suggests how to eat it.

In addition, the Hungry Wanderers blog has a bunch of photos and a detailed review, and Facci has had quick pieces written by both the Sun and the WPost.

Facci Ristorante
7530 Montpelier Road
Laurel, MD 20723


NEAR:  The key fact is that Facci isn't in Laurel.  It's in a shopping center on Johns Hopkins Road just west of Rte 29.  This is the same shopping center as Kloby's for BBQ or La Palapa Too for Mexican, so expect the lot to be full at prime dining times. This sliver of land is south of Columbia and north of Fulton and Scaggsville, but it certainly isn't Laurel.

  Facci Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Has Grace Garden Reopened?

A post on Don Rockwell says that Grace Garden was planning to open again today.  Anyone been?

(Update:  We went, and Grace Garden is delicious -- even with some vegetarian limitations.)

Bare Bones in Ellicott City

Bare Bones Grill & Brewery is the kind of place to visit when you can provide the inspiration for the night.

Everyone once in a while, I just get in the mood for onion rings and barbecue ribs.  We rode that craving to Bare Bones on Rte 40 in Ellicott City, and we left feeling sated and satisfied.

First came the onion loaf.  Not rings, but more a pile of battered onion pieces deep fried and served with a horseradish-flavored sauce.  Hot, the onion loaf was exactly what I wanted.  We pulled out individual "rings," and the onion was sweet and moist.  After about half, I could feel the oil coming out of my pores as I smiled, so I pushed the remainder away.

Good thing, because we also ordered a full plate of ribs.  Bare Bones satisfied both side of our divided family.  Mrs. HowChow likes "fall off the bone" ribs -- for example Lone Star Steakhouse in Columbia.  I'd rather chew a little to avoid meat that has become soft and flavorless in the oven -- for example Kloby's off Rte 29 or Pappy's Smokehouse that I discovered when I was stuck in St. Louis.  Bare Bones delivered on both accounts -- tender and flavorful, with a pretty good cole slaw and an unusual fritter made by deep-frying kernels of corn.

We left with satisfied, although I can't say that Bare Bones delivered much more than the bar food that we had been craving.  There is a plain, basic dining room and a loud bar that looked like the Looney's for the 50s set.  But I wasn't that inspired by the menu -- or that wowed that I'd hunt that menu for delicious surprises.  For our next night out, I don't know that Bare Bones could tempt me to pass the more-interesting beers and the Cuban sandwich at Victoria Gastropub.  For a carnivorous craving on Rte 40, I don't know that it can compete with Korean barbecue or the smokey pit beef at Pioneer.

Consider Bare Bones for a night when you want to satisfy a crowd.  Those ribs -- and the other standard American fare -- will please a wide range of people, including those who might not want to experiment at Shin Chon Garden.  It's also ideal for a table of kids.  You get a beer.  You get some onion ribs.  You get some ribs.  When you're in the mood, that can really work.

Bare Bones Grill & Brewery
9150 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042


NEAR:  Bare Bones is on Rte 40 just west of Rte 29.  It is in the Chatham Mall shopping center, which is the huge center just west of St. Johns Lane.  Bare Bones is on the far west side of the center.

Bare Bones Grill & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pani Puri at Mango Grove

Mango Grove is the unique place for Indian food in Howard County.

I can't recommend enough an evening where you try the dosas and other southern Indian food.  Dosas are thin crepe-like pancakes that are cooked crisp, then rolled around flavorful fillings.  The masala dosa makes for a terrific starting point, and the special Mango Grove dosa is lacy and different enough that you should bring along friends so you can order both.

If you want to start with a mild adventure, try the pani puri.  Your appetizer will be a plate of crisp, puffed shells and a bowl of cooked vegetables.  With a spoon, you break part of the shell, then scoop in some of the filling.

The beauty of Mango Grove is that you can order the most-exotic items off the menu and know that you're eating vegetables.  This isn't Hunan Taste where I was surprised to learn that "Ox Lung" isn't ox, isn't lung, but still isn't body parts that I order regularly.  The pani puri is a conversation starter, and it's a plate to start if you're splitting with four or five people.  Consider the samosa chat appetizer as well.

Click here for last year's post about Mango Grove.  You can actually make your own pani puri at home if you stop any almost any Indian grocery store.  Click here the 2009 "best restaurants" in Howard County or for my overview of Indian restaurants in Howard County.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Union Jack's Columbia To Open March 12/13

Union Jack's in Columbia will open March 12 and 13 with a VIP party on March 11, according to a tweet from HoCo Tourism.

I'm not sure of the provenance because Union Jack's own Web site doesn't have the dates, but it seems legitimate.

Nazar -- A New Mediterranean/Middle Eastern Market -- To Open This Weekend In Columbia

Columbia gets a new market for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food when Nazar Produce Market opens in Columbia this weekend.

Nazar Market is opening in the exact space where Sizar's sold Middle Eastern food until last year when it moved to Elkridge and changed its name to Ceazar International.  I stumbled on the new market Monday night when I was picking up dinner at Bon Fresco.  When I stuck my head into Nazar, the folks inside said that they would open this Saturday.

Based on the signs and the Web, Nazar will be open 10a to 8p daily.  That will fill a gap in the Columbia shopping, where you can get Mexican items at Lily's Mexican Market and Indian at a bunch of places, but had to go to U.S. 1 for Middle Eastern.  (Click here for a prior post about ethic shopping.)

The place has been completed rebuilt.  The signs are up.  The decor is modern and bright.  All the shelves and fixtures look new.  The folks there said they'll sell Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, and the store's Facebook page suggests that the owners are Turkish.  (As in, some of the posts appear to be in Turkish.)  Packaged goods were already on some of the shelves.  There is a place for cheeses and a huge display at the entrance for baklava.  A wall of baklava!  Now, I just have to hope that Nazar will stock pistachio nougat!

(Update:  After a few weeks, Nazar dropped the "produce" from the name.  They added a halal butcher, which makes it a fine spot for lamb and goat.  Try this post about lamb kabobs.  The cooler also has delicacies like chicken hearts.  Personally, I keep going back for dried fruit, sausages like soujouk, and Middle Eastern ingredients like beans, bulgar, and dried lemons.  We also discovered Tamek sour cherry nectar, which is an uncarbonated soft drink that you can buy by the can or larger packages.)

Is it possible that two Middle Eastern markets are opening at the same time?  There was a comment last month saying that a market appears to be opening next to Royal Pizza on Snowden River.  I drove by in the dark last night, but I didn't see anything -- and didn't have the comment with me to know that I should actually stop at look in the windows next to Royal Pizza.  Anyone know about that?  (Update: Pars did open, and it's a Persian alternative in Columbia.)

For coupons, click on the Nazar Produce Web site.  For more, become a fan of Nazar on Facebook.  With Nazar, the local Middle Eastern market scene includes Ceazar International Market (the renamed Sizar's) in Elkridge and Aladdin Food Mart in Laurel.

Nazar Produce Market
6955 Oakland Mills Road, Ste A
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: Nazar is opening in the same store that used to be Sizar's.  It's just off Oakland Mills Road on the west of Snowden River Parkway.  From Rte 175, drive south on Snowden and turn right at the traffic light on Oakland Mills.  Then take the first right into the shopping area.  Nazar is on the right on the ground level.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Be HowChow's 200th Friend

I just need two more friends to break the 200 barrier on Facebook.  If you enjoy the HowChow blog, become a fan on Facebook.  You'll get updates when I post and links that you can share with friends.

(Update: Wow!  Blew past 200 into the 240s.  Thanks.)

Next Vietnamese Question: Where Bahn Mi?

Where are the closest bahn mi -- the spectacular Vietnamese sandwiches that mix a tasty meat with fresh and pickled vegetables?

French bread.  Barbecued pork, lemongrass chicken, pate, or some other savory base.  Topped with cilantro, cucumbers, pickled radish, hot peppers.   These sandwiches were some of my favorite treats when I lived in Northern Virginia.  We stopped at Ba Le in Rockville on the way home from the Container Store, and it made us both crave them again.

Ba Le is a hole in the wall.  It's counter service with sandwiches, pho, and some other basics.  We loved the $2 glasses of young coconut milk, and we split three sandwiches.   Does anyone offer a bahn mi around here?  Any Vietnamese places?  Anywhere else?  The Chinese takeout across from the Columbia Halal Meat in Elkridge advertises bahn mi in its neon sign, but they say that was a former owner.

My plan is a "Bon Fresco bahn mi."  They don't sell bahn mi now, but Bon Fresco and the bahn mi both thrive on great baguettes and high quality ingredients.  The Columbia restaurant just needs to add lemongrass pork or Chinese sausage to the Italian cold cuts that they do so well.  I'll stand in line.  I'll start a Facebook group.  I'll do whatever we need.  Hell, I picked a opening date for the Columbia Wegmans.  Why can't I propose a sandwich for Bon Frescho?  I need bahn mi.

Until I can buy bahn mi, I'm going to try to use some recipes that I found on the local Fat Kinds LIke Ranch blog.  Christy links the the Battle of the Bahn Mi site -- and also to Andrea Nguyen's Viet World Kitchen.