Thursday, April 7, 2011

Go Explore New Food -- Guaranteed That You Won't Be Shocked By What You're Eating

Soon doo boo
No one likes to be surprised by fork-full of organ meat.

I'm with you people.  I love to explore new food.  I do worry that the search for authentic can lead to the frontiers of what I really want to eat.  Add a language problem, and you might scare yourself from trying something new.

So here are some no-risk ways to try something new.  Vegetarian items where the cuisine may be exotic, but you have eaten all the ingredients before:
Veg sampler w/all-teff injera

  • All-teff injera at Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine in Burtonsville.  A vegetable sampler is a no-brainer here.  The all-teff bread makes this exotic even for people who know Ethiopian food, but you could safely stretch to any of the meat tibbs as well.
  • Soon doo boo at Lighthouse Tofu BBQ in Ellicott City.  The spicy tofu stew makes a delicious dinner, and you don't have to worry about what lurks below the red, cloudy broth.
  • Masala dosa and a mango lassi at Mango Grove in Columbia.  You get a plate-sized crepe stuffed with spicy masked potatoes.  You wash it down with a fruit-yogurt shake.  What could be better?
  • Any of the breads at Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery in Columbia.  The standard focaccia made an amazing sandwich the first time that I stretched out from my normal baguette.  Watch for specials like rye or challah (on Fridays).
  • Veg dumplings
  • Dim sum -- including vegetable dumplings, Chinese broccoli, and sesame balls -- at Red Pearl in Columbia.  Look for peas on top of the steamed dumplings, or just ask one of the waiters for help.  You can order all kinds of cool meat dishes as well, from roast pork to shrimp dumplings,
  • Bingsoo at Bon Appetit Bakery in Ellicott City.  You need dessert.  The Rte 40 bakery is a great place to explore.  The shaved ice bingsoo is certainly a unique sweet, but in the end, it is just mochi, red beans, chocolate syrup, fruit and condensed milk.

That's just the start of cool things you can try.  The pumpkin appetizer at Maiwand Kabob in Columbia could almost make a meal with a piece of bread.  If you'll eat a little ground meat, you can order mantwo or a kabob.


EGKate said...

I have the same issue. I really want to be adventurous and try everything that is put before me, but I just can't do it. Thanks for the ideas here! Howard County is so full of amazing but potentially organ-filled Asian food. I love Soon Doo Boo, but I haven't made it to Lighthouse Tofu yet. I generally go to places in the city, and I have yet see it served with an egg, so I'd really like to go there to try their version.

A great meat-free dish I had recently was the eggplant in garlic sauce at Hunan Taste. The salt and pepper shrimp was also phenomenal, but quite spicy and I know that some people have issues with head on shrimp (for some reason, my squeamishness does not extend to the ocean), so it's not for everyone. They may not be the most authentic dishes, but they were very well done. Another great recent dish was the Dal Makhani at Mango Grove, and the whole lunch buffet is great.

John Thacker said...

No one likes to be surprised by fork-full of organ meat.

Strongly disagree; speak for yourself.

I love organ meat, and I love to be surprised by organ meat in a dish that I didn't know had it. Pork kidneys, small intestine, hocks and trotters, chicken liver, hearts, and feet, beef tendon and sweetbreads, foie gras, jellyfish, live abalone, it doesn't matter, I'll eat it.

John Thacker said...

If you're not eating the tacos (or huarache) de lengua at R&R, you're missing out IMO.

HowChow said...

@John -- PLEASE do a guest post. One cell phone and three paragraphs about great places to sample organ meats around here. Your first comment is a great introduction. Lengua tacos is the first paragraph! I would love it. Just email me.

Brandon Miller - Milhouse44 said...

@John Thacker,
I too am a big fan of Offal but being suprised by an organ meat in a dish is a hard thing to swallow. litteraly. Textures, favors and apperances can be offputting and unsettling to the unsuspecting diner. It is not for everyone...and you are correct the Tacos de Lengua at R&R is tops!

Amelia said...

On the topic of mystery meats . . . We went to R&R again last weekend and ordered a huarache with al pastor (delicious) and then I was feeling adventurous so I ordered the "tacos surtidos" off the hand written menu taped to the register. I have a passable food vocabulary in spanish, but I didn't know "surtido." At 3 tacos for $5 it was a good deal. The mystery tacos arrived with what looked like pork and the usual topping of cilantro and onion. The meat was very tender and flavorful, but I did sort through the tacos and remove some of the pieces that were almost entirely fat or skin?etc. After we got back I looked up "surtido" and it just means an "assortment," but when you are dealing with tacos it usually means the less recognizable parts. The order of tacos we had didn't have anything I could point out as organ meat, often that gets sold separately as a delicacy like tripa or menudo. So I picked out some fatty pieces - it was so delicious and moist that I would definitely order it again.
We also went upstairs for candy at Estrellita and had a rectangle of dulce de leche, the dark coconut macaroon, and a guava jelly candy (dulce de guayaba). I liked them all but the guava candy was probably my favorite. Thanks for introducing us to R&R!

Morty Abzug said...

I find the meat in the R&R tacos de lengua to be excessively tough.

Normally, when I cook tongue for myself, I have to boil it for a long time before it's acceptably tender.