Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pita & Rye May Be Closing Next Week

Pita & Rye in Fulton wrote on its Facebook page that it will be closing next week.  They say they'll be open for lunch until February 10.  That's a real bummer.  I never want to see a place close.  They say that they'll "announce new plans for the restaurant soon."

Pita & RyePita & Rye will be closing on
Friday, February 10, 2010.
We will be open with a limited menu for lunch service until then.
Monday-Thursday 11 am – 3 pm
...See More
 ·  ·  · about an hour ago · 

A New Picture Of An Loi Pho

Soups -- not pho -- from An Loi Pho
Maybe I'm just ridiculously shallow, but the new menu at An Loi Pho gave me a new picture of the Vietnamese restaurant in Columbia.

I don't truly know it's a new menu.  For the past few years, An Loi had been just for comfort food takeout.  I'd order pho or the lemongrass chicken on nights when we needed some easy and simple.  Most everything tasted the same.  Good, but nothing new and intriguing.

That's until we were flipping through pictures in the An Loi menu last weekend.  We had gone to fight our colds with bowls of soup, and the photos in the menu offered up variations to the northern Vietnamese soup that gives the place its name.

I went with a rice noodle soup heavy on seafood (H1), and Mrs. HowChow went with udon noodles in a broth with shrimp and lean sliced pork (H4).  They're both delicious, and they come with the plate of sprouts, lime, and green herbs that let you doctor your bowl your way -- along with a half dozen condiments like soy sauce, sriracha, and a spicy oil.

Papaya salad
Suddenly, I feel like there are all kinds of options here.  More choice than just which meat you put in pho.  The soups made us happy.  I liked the mix of fish balls, squid, shrimp and pork.  Mrs. HowChow slurped her udon noodles, although she isn't a huge fan of dealing with tail-on shrimp and big pieces of pork in the bowl.

But the soups weren't even our favorite part of the meal.  I took a flyer on papaya salad, and that's a must-eat.  Shredded papaya comes mixed with cellophane noodles, shimp, cilantro and other vegetables.  It's a crisp, light salad full of the salty-sweet-citrus flavors that make Vietnamese so delicious.  They're all set in almost a broth flavored with fish sauce.

Now, I want to go back for more An Loi variation.  Remember the salted plum soda and the "French" coffee with condensed milk.  I don't claim this is Vietnamese that should make people drive from the city, but it's a better local joint than I was giving it credit before.

Monday, January 30, 2012

ToreOre Fried Chicken At H Mart

Fried chicken from ToreOre 
While we're waiting for Bon Chon to open, it's time to check out the other Korean fried chicken options nearby.

H Mart has a stand in the back corner where they sell ToreOre chicken -- a variation on the Korean friend chicken of made-to-order, double-fried birds with spicy, sweet sauces.  We split a medium box on out way back from the greatest furniture store ever in Catonsville.

The box comes with a red ribbon.  Seriously.  It's the coolest fast food box that we have ever seen.

The box pops open to reveal fried chicken coated in ToreOre's sauce.  We went sweet and spicy (#2), and there was spice there.  Enough that I appreciated that the ToreOre woman shook us away from the really spicy sauce.  They're frying it special, so it takes 20 minutes to cook.
Hot fried chicken is delicious.  We tore through the entire package.  It's moist meat with a crunchy coating.  They pour on a bunch of sauce, so get a pile of napkins.  The bird is chopped into more pieces than just "leg, wing and breast," so you'll get a mix of white and dark.  It's piping hot, and we pulled meat off the bone, laughing and talking about what food we were going to buy.

Honestly, the chicken at Tian Chinese Cuisine still rates best.  The coating there is super thin and crispy, and the sauce has a fresher, less-sugary flavor that makes the unique Korean fried chicken experience.  ToreOre is more like a good casual lunch.  This is thick crust, not the brittle edge at Tian.  That makes this more like Harvest Fried Chicken in Woodbine -- with, of course, the sauce on top.

My suggestion is that you split some chicken and then shop at H Mart.  To order, you go to the ToreOre counter in the back right corner.  Ask there for someone to take your order.  You pay at the main register, pick up at the counter, then eat at the little restaurant next to the produce section.  (To wash the sauce off your hands, go to the bathrooms next to the produce section.)

ToreOre Chicken & Joy
inside H Mart
800 N. Rolling Road
Catonsville, MD 21228

NEAR:  The H Mart is on Rte 40 at Rolling Road in Catonsville.  It's easy to reach from Ellicott City -- just head east on Rte 40.  You turn right into the H Mart shopping center.  There is a Starbucks on the end.  The ToreOre counter is in the back right corner.

ToreOre Chicken & Joy on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What's Your "Best Night" Restaurant? I Have Let Barbi Down, And I Hope She'll Get Another Night

Oh, no!  I have let Barbi down!  This morning Mrs. HowChow found a comment from days ago where Barbi asked for a "best night" restaurant -- price and cuisine no concern.

I missed it!  Stacy and RHFoodie both chimed in, but I wish that I had seen this to post earlier.  Let's hope Barbi gets another night.  Dinner out with husband and friends.  Where should she go?

I have to say the private room at Sushi Sono.  Our dinner for six was delicious and extra special because you're cocooned up with your conversation.  But I could think of other suggestions as well -- Victoria Gastro Pub and pizza at Facci Ristorante.  I tend towards the casual and being able to try lots of different food, so I'd love to fill the large table at Grace Garden, which I know wouldn't please many folks out for a date night.

Obviously, I need to read the comments more.  You should as well.  Folks post and send me emails with great ideas, and I like sharing those as well:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Howard County Restaurant Weeks Runs To Jan 30

We are in the middle of the winter Howard County Restaurant Weeks, and restaurants are offering all kinds of specials through January 30.

Check out the official Web site to find the specials.  I kept wanting to go out and come back with a great restaurant weeks post, but it's been a rough week of HowChow House coughing and aching.  I'd love reports or recommendations from anyone else!

Link: Kloby's Smokehouse In The WPost

The WPost wrote a short review of Kloby's Smokehouse this week with compliments on the pulled pork, the smoked turkey and the baby back ribs.

Rina Rapuano makes some detailed points in a talented way.  She notes that takeout fries went soggy immediately and that Kloby's designed its current mac and cheese with kids in mind.  But she highlights the food that she enjoyed and got a bunch of information in a short piece.

That's a skill that I certainly appreciate -- even though it means Rapuano doesn't cover recent innovations at Kloby's -- "jarbecue" and the flight of bread pudding!

Thanks to Dave for the email with the link.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maple Cotton Candy At Whole Foods

When I say that I have tried a lot of cotton candy, I mean that I have carried a stick of the stuff home to my wife from a hockey game.

Hockey games, frou-frou restaurants, Korean markets, the kosher-for-Passover display at Giant.  I have grabbed cotton candy almost everywhere that I have found it -- in no small part because Mrs. HowChow loves to the stuff.

That's how I know that Jed's Maple Cotton Candy has broken the plastic tub barrier.  Before this, all tub candy tasted like tub candy -- wiry and a whiff of chemical.  Don't get me wrong:  I ate all of it except one kosher container that had hardened, but they didn't have the airy texture of fresh candy or the real flavor of something from a restaurant.

Jed's does.  The candy feels cloud light, then melts in your mouth into a maple flavor.  It's gone in a flash, and my hand reaches back in the tub for more.  I don't know how they do it.  The ingredients say it's just regular sugar and maple sugar, and the sell-by date is three months in the future.  One day, we'll have our own Whole Foods in Howard County.  But for now, this is one of the new items to fill the cart when we trek past one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Italian Caramels At Facci - Wait, Those Aren't Caramels! What Do They Mean Balsamic Action?

I have been sick for the past several days, and Mrs. HowChow fortified my recovery with tea, fruit and takeout pizza from Facci Ristorante.

That is really delicious pizza.  Even after a ride home in a box, the charred crust makes it one of my favorites around.

In the takeout area, Facci stocks the walls with Italian packaged goods.  I had thought they were decorations, but Mrs. HowChow realized that they were for sale.  As a special treat, she bought me some candies.  She roughly translated the Italian label to be caramels.

Turned out to be cough drops.  Sugar free, but "filled with balsamic syrup."  Balsamic?  We had a good laugh, and it turns out that I need these more than candy anyway.

Has anyone bought other Italian goods from the display in Facci's takeout section?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bread Pudding Flight At Kloby's

The local tasting scene has expanded with the off-menu offer of a "flight" of bread puddings at Kloby's Smokehouse on Johns Hopkins Road.

In the style of flights of bourbon or beer, the barbecue restaurant offers four tiny glasses, each with its own bread pudding.  The menu has several flavors, plus several specials each day.  We had chocolate-covered banana, cookie dough, Butterfinger, and raisin.  The raisin came with a bourbon sauce.

That's what Mrs. HowChow is talking about.

She will take bread puddings over cake every day, and she picked chocolate-covered banana as her favorite.  They're all different, which made for a fun dessert splitting them.  The bourbon sauce really tasted like liquor.  As far as we can tell, they're microwaved in the glasses, which probably disqualifies them from Top Chef Just Desserts.  But it's cool to see a casual place try something different.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Columbia Foodies Are Looking For Members

The Columbia Foodies are a small group of singles and couples who get together over food.  Some cooking, some themed meals, and other outings.  They're getting together on Sunday afternoon at Donna's in Columbia.  They emailed me to invite people to join.

If you're interested, call George at 410- 290-8380 or e-mail columbiafoodiesgroup at gmail.  He can give you the details for Sunday.

Cool Posts On The Wegmans Facebook Page, Including Great Breads Made By Monks (Monks!)

If you want to hear some more cheering for the coming Wegmans, check out the posts by Myles Gray on the I Want The Columbia Wegmans page.  Myles is posting reasons to shop at Wegmans.  He is on #4 so far.

The bonus is Janice's comment on Myles' post about bread.  Janice says you can great bread at the Shrine of St. Anthony.  Bread made by monks?  Why hasn't someone mentioned this before?

Janice Maketa Orlik If you live in the Columbia area and like homemade bread..(rye included-with seeds) the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City sells bread made by the monks..awesome!!The Maple/Cinnamon is great !
12 hours ago · 

(Update: Marcia actually saw the Facebook comment and heard back from the Shrine. They confirmed that they have been selling bread made by Trappist monks since November.  The bread is shipped from New York State.  They're $5 each or three for $12.  There are varieties, including white, whole wheat, maple cinnamon, sunflower, and Genesee rye.  They also sell jam.    The gift shop is open 7 days a week from 9am - 4pm.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Link: The Future Of The Mall On TOTC

Wordbones posts today to try to explain what GGP will propose tonight for the Columbia Mall and basically predicts LL Bean moving to a smaller space and the owners building new construction towards the lakefront.

Real estate isn't HowChow's normal beat, but the downtown development -- with the possibility of Whole Foods -- could have a lot to do with food and restaurants.  Wordbones writes about the history of the mall with photos.

Any Advice For The Lunar New Year?

Coscto in Elkridge is selling pineapple cakes from a renowned Taiwanese bakery, reports Min who emailed me the photo above.  She assumes the Isabelle cakes are a seasonal item for the lunar or "Chinese New Year" that arrives next week:

Though it's generally called a "cake," this sweet treat tastes more like a soft, buttery shortbread with sweet, thick jam-like fillings. It's commonly found in bakeries everywhere in Taiwan, and like this article says, they are often nicely wrapped and packed in nice boxes for gift giving. We usually bring back about 4 boxes (of 12 cakes) for stocking up and for gifting. 

Are there any other seasonal finds that people would suggest?  Specials at local bakeries like Bon Appetit on Rte 40?  Anything special on restaurant menus around town?  I'd appreciate any advice for fun over the next week.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Coupon Sites II: The Restaurant View Of Groupon

This morning, I posted my question about how people use Groupon, Living Social and other coupon sites in a way that makes the experience fun.

I had been soured by fine print that surprised me.  I was wondering what people thought.  You should probably start with that post and the comments.  I learned a fact and two strategies from the comments.  Fact: You can redeem some coupons for your purchase price even after the promotional piece expires.  I didn't know.  First strategy:  Buy a bunch of coupons and just expect that you'll have some great dinners and some not-so-great.  Second strategy:  Think of these deals as exchanging money for flexibility.

I also got an email from Lee Biars, one of the owners of Portalli's and the Diamondback Tavern in Ellicott City.  He said he started a comment and it expanded into the longest thing that he has written in probably 10 years.  He explains the coupon sites and the thoughts from the restaurant's point of view:
A great topic and some great comments here. As a restaurant owner, I'd like to shed some light on our side of things and why certain things are the way they are with these deals. I am part owner of both The Diamondback Tavern and Portalli's, both in historic Ellicott City. We immediately recognized the marketing value these deals provided our places and we got in on the ground floor and ran features on Groupon within a couple months of them bringing their deals to the Baltimore area. For that reason, they've been very loyal to us, as we are to them, and we've probably run more Groupon deals than any restaurant in HoCo and possibly Maryland. Having said that, there are definite drawbacks to these deals and a restaurant needs to be very careful that they don't shoot themselves in the foot (most will the first time they run one of these features). 

Are You Enjoying Groupon and Living Social?

Has anyone figured out a strategy to use coupon sites and enjoy the experience?

I loved the idea of Groupon, Living Social and their ilk, and I have mentioned some of local coupons on the blog.  But they haven't paid off that often.  We did splurge for a Venegas dinner that we probably wouldn't have done before, but we also lost our money at Hunan Taste when the coupon expired before it could inspire a drive to Catonsville.

That put me on the fence.  I passed a few because I wasn't certain that we would use them.  Saving $10 or $15 seems great.  But I don't know if it justified paying $10-15 up front for a dinner that I might never enjoy.

Then we suffered a second failure last week at Tersiguel's.  I wanted the coupon so that I could take Mrs. HowChow to a fancy lunch after she got off a month on call at the hospital.  I didn't have $100 in the budget for a dinner, so I focused on the lunch that people have called a great way to enjoy Howard County's most famous restaurant.

Tersiguel's rejected the coupon.  It says "$40 for Dinner," and they mean just dinner.  Not lunch.  The waitress handled us politely and perfectly, but it's not fun to have to read a gift certificate like a legal contract.  The companies snuck one past me.  I can't really complain -- especially because Mrs. HowChow said she wasn't surprised that "for dinner" was a limitation.

But I'm not going back.  My coupon days are over unless I see something obvious -- or unless someone can explain how you make sure these are worth your investment.  My work days are full of people trying to sneak fine print past me.  When I go to a restaurant, I want to enjoy the kitchen's work, not deal with its attorney.

(Update #1:  Check out the comments below.  People are saying very reasonably to read the fine print, although the restrictions were strong yet variable enough that they were what made me ask the question in the first place.  By 9:30 am, there were at least one fact and two more strategies that seemed to make a difference to me.

Fact: You can redeem some coupons for your purchase price even after the promotional piece expires.  I didn't know.  First strategy:  Buy a bunch of coupons and just expect that you'll have some great dinner and some not-so-great.  Brent The Brewer says "Roll the dice."  Second strategy:  Think of these deals as exchanging money for flexibility.  Both may seem obvious, but I was using a "single night" mindset that may be why I was so mixed on my coupons.  We eat out far less than some people think, but I may just plan on buying five coupons as a personal package!)

(Update #2: Check out the later post by one of the owners of Portalli's and Diamondback Tavern, who wrote about restaurants' view of coupon sites and how you can get the most from your experience.)

(Update #3: I should be explicit that DineHowardCounty.com sponsors HowChow.  I'm very appreciative of their support.  I absolutely recommend that people check out the site.  Click the ad.  They sell discount coupons too.  I didn't really think that I was criticizing DineHowardCounty's competitors above.  But I should mention the connection.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mango Grove Still Building; New Turkish On Rte 40; And Where Do You Eat In WeHoCo?

Mango Grove is still renovating its new space.  We're desperate for a dosa, desperate enough that we were staring in the window last weekend.  They're building.  Anyone know a timetable?

In the same line of news, there appears to be a new halal butcher and Turkish grocery in Ellicott City.  That's Turkish Family Grocery at Rte 40 and Normandy Woods Drive, reported Sarah Says on Twitter. I need to check it out.

Larriland tomatoes
Now, a question: Where are the good places to eat in Western Howard County?  Dave emailed me that he and his wife are thinking about buying a house in Woodbine.  They're Columbia people.  They need some advice:
Everything in western Howard County is sort of foreign to us.  We've never gone beyond Clarksville, other than Bistro Blanc.  Are there any good dining spots out there?  What about farm-fresh food?  Seems to be a lot of farms near the house we're looking at.  I know of Larriland Farm, wasn't sure if there were other produce or meat farms out there to get some quality ingredients.  
If you have advice for Dave, please comment below.  Check the comments on all the HowChow posts.  People jump in.  This week, a bunch of people gave their feedback -- positive and not-so-positive -- about Asian Palace Fusion.  In the same way, people jumped in with comments about the macarons at Linda's Bakery.  And there was more:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bloom In Laurel To Become Food Lion

The Bloom on Rte 216 in Laurel will become a Food Lion, according to a story in Washington Post.

Apparently, the corporate parent of both chains will abandon the Bloom chain and convert most of them to Food Lions.  Several Bloom stores in Virginia are being closed, but the Laurel store isn't on the closing list linked from the Post.

Link: Wilde Lake Village Center Recap By Patch

The Wilde Lake village center has been the subject of redevelopment plans -- and operating pretty close to where Wegmans will open this summer.

Cindy Stacy recaps the situation, including interviews with both the Bagel Bin and Today's Catch owners, in a Columbia Patch article.  I'm not the right audience for the Columbia rhetoric about saving the holy relics of James Rouse, but I like checking out the Wilde Lake food spots, including David's Natural Market, and definitely make special trips to the fish market.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

McCraw's Taffy At Sweet Elizabeth Jane

McCraw's Taffy at Sweet Elizabeth Jane
Keep your eye out for treats.  They hide in the most unusual of places.

Sweet Elizabeth Jane is a housewares store on Main Street in Ellicott City.  For Main Street, the store is unusual in itself for being airy and bright and for having a touch of fun scattered around.

Fun for shoppers like cool soaps and arty match boxes.  Fun for HowChow like candy!  Candy like the paper-thin taffy from Hammonds in Colorado.  Their McCraw's Taffy has fruit flavors in a ribbon like a multi-colorful ruler.  The flavors trend sour.  The taffy dissolves on your tongue, and you can share a piece .

Snap up some candy if you're walking Main Street.  It's great fun, especially to share, especially if you want to keep a few kids -- or any non-shoppers -- happy while you're looking to browse.

Sweet Elizabeth Jane
8125 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD  21043

NEAR:  Sweeet Elizabeth Jane is on Main Street in downtown Ellicott City.  It's on the run of shops running uphill from the river.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Pork Sandwich At Tersiguel's

The "croque monsieur" at Tersiguel's
Four ingredients -- one great sandwich.

The proof of Tersiguel's talents are in its variation of the croque monsieur where my brain was surprised that there was no barbecue sauce at all.

The sandwich -- a variation because it isn't the grilled, cheesy version most restaurants would serve -- comes at lunch with slow-cooked pork, creamed cabbage and an alioli.  Four ingredients if you add the bread, almost plain-looking for a $12 plate.

But those ingredients sing.  Moist pork with a subtle, but strong flavor that paid perfectly with the fresh taste of cabbage.  I don't normally want creaminess in slaw, but I loved it on the Tersiguel's sandwich.  And the bread.  The bread!  Tersiguel's bakes beautiful bread -- a crisp crust, an airy interior -- for both your bread basket and for the sandwich.  The roll was soft, yet held up to the moist fillings even as I ate slowly to savor our fancy lunch.

My brain expected meat so moist and flavorful to be covered in sauce.  Tersiguel's has basically created a pulled pork sandwich, but they have the skill to bring everything out of the pork with just the simplest support.  That's the fun of a pro kitchen.

Lunch at Tersiguel's is a less-expensive way to try Howard County's most famous restaurant.  I chose between the sandwich and several crepes that looked equally delicious.  If you can catch a pretty afternoon, it's perfect to eat and then window shop along Main Street or walk downhill for a coffee at the Bean Hollow.

8293 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043

NEAR:  Tersiguel's is in downtown Ellicott City.  It's on Main Street right next to the large public parking lot.  That's just up the hill from the light at Old Columbia Pike.

Tersiguel's on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bon Chon Update: Fried Chicken In Late February Or Early March -- After A Month Of Training

Ellicott City will get its Bon Chon franchise in mid-winter -- after the new owner gets a month of training up in New York City.

That's the report in a comment on last month's post about the new Korean fried chicken spot scheduled to open next to Serafino on Plum Tree Road.  John Kim wrote in the comment that he is training now in NYC and aiming to open his Bon Chon in late February or early March with a full menu and full liquor license.

Check out that prior post for links about Tian Chinese Cuisine -- where you can get the double-fried-style now -- and about Bon Chon.

Asian Palace Fusion in Columbia

Roti canai at Asian Palace Fusion
I'm the last guy who should be writing, "We were shocked to find such an interesting restaurant in a shopping center," but I have to admit that it's the truth.

Asian Palace Fusion is a new restaurant tucked into an office building near Howard County Hospital.  It's a stretch to say "city restaurant," but it's a sleek and modern layout with a sushi bar, cascading water, and the sparkly look of neon, metallic cloths and cool lights.

It's not exactly a fusion restaurant.  They're not rethinking one cuisine in light of another.  Instead, they're creating the pan-Asian menu that seems more and more popular these days -- sushi, Chinese, and a touch of southeast Asia.  In this case, the touch seems heavily Thai.

Asian Palace played to the HowChow by offering an appetizer that we had never seen before -- roti canai, a Malaysian or Indonesian flatbread with Indian influences.  The flaky, fried bread was interesting, but the curry dipping sauce made this a must-try.  Maybe coconut?  It's a rich, strong flavor, and I wouldn't let them clear the bowl.  I poured another serving on white rice with the main courses.

Our main courses were split like the menu -- one sushi roll and one Thai stirfry.

On the Thai side, we tried the Bangkok basil with chicken.  It's a winner.  Long slices of white meat served with a strong taste of basil and tender vegetables.  Thick slices of onion, zucchini, and pepper weren't popped frozen from some food service pack.  They're fresh vegetables cooked through, but still crunchy.  A thin brown sauce brought the dish together.  I have no idea if this is authentic somewhere, but it's delicious.

On the sushi side, we went with the naruto roll.  We're fans of big multi-ingredient rolls, and Asian Palace enticed us by wrapping three kinds of fish and avocado in slices of cucumber.  It's pricey at $13 for five pieces, but it's beautiful and unique.  The cucumber is an integral part of the roll, slices thin enough to bend but thick enough to crunch.  They balanced the fish, and they gave a contrasting texture -- a crispness like tempura but fresh and light instead of fried.

In the end, Asian Palace is worth a drive even past your local Chinese joint.  Asian Palace aspires to be more than a neighborhood place, and it has the decor and the menu to be something special like Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro.  I'm eager to try some of the Thai dishes like penang or green curry.  There are also dozens of sushi rolls ranging from basics through multi-ingredient monsters.

Asian Palace is especially worth a drive for a group of people who want different foods.  A bunch of you could split sushi while the outlier enjoys a Thai dish.

Has anyone tried the lunches?  Asian Palace is just south of the hospital and Rte 175.  This is pretty convenient for people who work near the hospital or the Columbia Mall.

Asian Palace Fusion
10801 Hickory Ridge Rd 
Columbia, MD 21044

NEAR:  Asian Palace is in the first floor of a commercial building at Hickory Ridge Road and Cedar Lane.  We get there by turning off Cedar Lane.  It's the same building as Mad City Coffee.

Asian Palace on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wegmans Won't Sell Liquor, But There Will Still Be Wine And Beer (Almost) In The Columbia Store

The new Columbia Wegmans won't have its own liquor license, but it turns out that you'll be able to buy beer and wine (almost) in the store.

"Almost" because the liquor store on the site will actually be an independent third-party store adjacent to the Wegmans.  That's the report from the Wegman Twitter's account earlier tonight.  Thanks for the update Wegmans!

There is a followup to the prior post about how Wegmans won't have its own liquor license.

Hokkaido Has Opened For Sushi In Elkridge

A new Hokkaido Restaurant has opened in Elkridge, and T.J. Mayotte reviewed the sushi and other items for the Elkridge Patch.

T.J. liked the decor and the food, although he said that the rolls weren't outstanding.  Most importantly, he revealed himself to have water-slurping proclivities similar to my own:
I have two basic benchmarks any restaurant must pass to be considered for a repeat visit. Does my water glass remain filled, and (perhaps related) is the bathroom up to snuff? At Hokkaido, I never saw the bottom of my glass, and the marble-tiled bathroom was a clean little oasis of calm.
Anyone else been to Hokkaido?  There is a nice comment on T.J.'s review from Wendy about her meal there.

Hokkaido Restaurant
6325 Washington Boulevard (U.S. 1)
Elkridge, MD 21075

NEAR:  Hokkaido is on U.S. 1 north of Rte 100.  It is just bit south of Montgomery Road, which means that it is pretty convenient if you're north of Rte 100 even west of I-95.

Vittorio Opens In Glenwood (Former Pasta Blitz)

The new Vittorio restaurant opened in Glenwood on Wednesday.  This is the former Pasta Blitz, which changed names like several of that small chain.

I haven't been to Vittorio, but I'm happy for every opening, grand opening or re-opening.  The Vittorio folks have a Facebook page.  I'm unclear whether people are commenting in Spanish or whether my weak Spanish actually lets me read more Italian than I'd expect.

Anyone tried the food yet?

2490 Route 97
Glenwood, MD 21738

NEAR:  Vittorio is on Rte 97 south of Rte 144 and U.S. 70.   It is close to, but south of, the Glenwood Library.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Columbia Wegmans Won't Sell Liquor [Updated]

Does anyone know if the Wegmans in Columbia will sell liquor? [Update -- See the answer below.]

I know that grocery stores don't sell beer or wine around here.  I understand that there are a bunch of laws designed to protect small liquor stores.  I had assumed Wegmans wouldn't sell liquor either.

But people on the I Want The Columbia Md. Wegmans Facebook page have said other Wegmans employees are saying that Columbia will sell liquor.  Anthony posted Tuesday that customer service in Bel Air said that the Columbia store had applied for a license and would have a wine store.

Anyone know?  Anyone know how to search liquor license applications in Howard County?

[Update -- Lisa Rossi on the Columbia Patch confirmed that Wegmans won't get a liquor license.  However, Wegmans tweeted that there will be a third-party liquor store adjacent to the grocery.]

Invite your friend to join the I Want The Columbia Md. Wegmans Facebook page.  There are 916 members now.  Any current member can approve their friends' requests to join.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Growing Up In A Korean Kitchen By Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall: A Cookbook To Teach You Korean

Sautéed cucumber, steamed eggplant
In many ways, there is nothing I'd like more than bringing a little Korean into the house.

It's easy to eat Korean food around Howard County, but it was  a challenge to learn to cook the stuff.  After test-driving a bunch of cookbooks, Growing Up In A Korean Kitchen is my recommendation for someone inspired by Shin Chon Garden.

Korean recipes are pretty easy and wonderfully healthy as well.  Lots of vegetables.  Some easy pickles.  Some soups and stews.  Some grilled meat.  You could enjoy Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall's cookbook just for side dishes and main courses to incorporate into your regular meals -- a cucumber salad, steamed eggplant, braised spicy chicken, a ginseng chicken soup.

Mostly, that's what I have done.  I used the clam cake recipe when I overbought seafood.  I made hot pepper sauce that ended up in everything from eggs to pasta sauce.  The steamed eggplant has become a staple technique that I can alter with different flavors.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is There New Indian Coming To Maple Lawn?

Has anyone heard about a new Indian restaurant coming to Maple Lawn in Fulton?

There is talk that an Indian place might be looking to build in the undeveloped area just off Johns Hopkins Road near the bank and the medical building.  The talk was that it's a branch of an Indian place from Baltimore.  But you know there is more talk than building.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"Jarbecue" At Kloby's: Surprisingly Delicious

Jarbecue at Kloby's: Pork, cole slaw and beans
For the record, I opposed ordering the "jarbecue," which made it ironic that the late crew found me digging pork from the mason jar when they arrived.

A group of friends grabbed drinks Friday night at Kloby's Smokehouse, and we augmented a little beer and bourbon with a little barbecue.  Kloby's wings are my absolute favorite.  I got two orders -- including my regular "dirty and old" -- and guys were dropping bare bones on the bar in seconds.

But the hungry among us went back to the menu.

As part of a larger menu expansion (more salads!), Kloby's added the "jarbecue."  That's a mason jar layered with pulled pork, cole slaw, and beans.  You eat with a fork like the ultimate "no carbs" version of a barbecue sandwich.

The '34 Act Gourmet actually ordered the "jarbecue" over my objection.  I had a taste for the blog, and I kept going back for more.  Kloby's pork is meaty and smoked, and the mixture gives contrast, not muddling, with slightly-sweet beans and crisp cole slaw.  Bread has always been a weak link, which is why I usually pass barbecue sandwich for ribs or wings.  (I advocate Kloby's bulk pork as takeout and tarting it up with your own toasted buns and homemade oven fries.)

I recommend the "jarbecue" with a flight of beers.  For $10, you get four five-ounce pours, and Kloby's has a fun, rotating list of craft beers heavy on flavor.  The bartender did a great job picking four based on my comments about hoppy beers, Guinness and a thirst for variety.  I already drunk most of the flight when the mason jar arrived, so you might want to get a head start as well.