Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Did A New H Mart Already Open In Ellicott City?

Did a new H Mart already open in Ellicott City? 

I had posted about the H Mart that is replacing the Shopper's Food Warehouse on Rte 40.  A reader today commented that the store is open.  Already serving up samples!!

This is on Rte 40 at Rte 29.  The address is Ridge Road.  It's across Rte 40 from the longtime Lotte supermarket.

I'll be interested to see the new store and how it affects the area.  The new Lotte in Catonsville is beautiful, and I feel like it made the existing H Mart in Catonsville up its game with renovations.  I wonder if the new H Mart in Ellicott City is enough to cause changes at the Lotte.

HowChow needs to go on a holiday hiatus, but I will check out the H Mart right after New Year's.  Also, has anyone heard about a Chinese company taking over the Lotte shopping center and maybe changing the stores there?  There was a comment about that, but I haven't heard any details or seen any other mention.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Da Rae Won Black Bean Noodles And Lollipop Chicken; The Best Fuel For Ikea Shopping

"Lollipop" chicken wings at Da Rae Won
For a Korean food deep cut -- or just a great way to jazz up a trip to Ikea -- we recommend Da Rae Won in Beltsville.

This is Korea's Chinese food.  No more authentically Chinese than General Tso's chicken, but just as tasty. 

You can get black bean noodles, sweet-and-sour pork and other Korean-Chinese dishes at Tian Chinese Cuisine or Hanjoongkwan in Ellicott City.  But the noodles -- called jajangmyeun -- may be a touch more delicious at Da Rae Won.  Just a little most-complex flavor in the black bean sauce and an even-more-toothsome noodle.  Some Korean friends have definitely said Beltsville has the best.

From Howard County, the real beauty of Da Rae Won is that it is on the way to and from Ikea in College Park.  Look for directions, and you'll see you get to Da Rae Won from Rte 212, then shoot down U.S. 1 to the Swedish home store.  We ate lunch on the way home earlier this month, and I promise that it's better than anything you'll get in Ikea's meatball shop.

Personally, I suggest jajangmyeun and an order of the chicken wings -- sliced into lollipops and then fried with a slightly-spicy sauce.  They're different from the crunchy crisp of Bon Chon's chicken, but they might be just as delicious.  We have also had the sweet-and-sour pork, which a friend has compared to the deep-fried morsels of fried clams.  It's traditional and good, but heavy enough that I prefer the chicken unless I'm with a crowd and can order a bunch of dishes.

On our next trip, I want to try the spicy seafood soup. They use the same noodles in the soup, and people have recommended it as delicious and terrific for winter.

Da Rae Won is really casual.  It's the corner store in a shopping center just off U.S. 1.  Parking can be tight, but the place opens into a good-sized restaurant.  You can hear the bang-bang-bang of the noodles being made in the kitchen.  That's the gold standard for jajangmyeun.  If you're into  Korean food, this is worth driving to check out.  And if you're going to Ikea, this can turn your chore into some fun.

Da Rae Won
5013 Garrett Ave
Beltsville, MD 20705
(301) 931-7878 

NEAR:  This is just off U.S. 1 in Beltsville.  Garrett Avenue intersects with U.S. 1, and Da Rae Won is in the back corner of a shopping center that also has another Korean restaurant.  On-line maps often send me from Howard County to Ikea through a back way using Rte 212 (Powder Mill Road) and Odell Road.  That actually takes you with a few blocks of Da Rae Won.  So you can just go for the great food, then head from Da Rae Won to Ikea by just turning  south on U.S. 1 and watching for the store on your right.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fulton's Ananda Is One Of Washington's Top 20 Restaurants, Says The Washingtonian

The new Indian restaurant Ananda made Washingtonian Magazine's list of the Top 20 restaurants -- putting Fulton on a list dominated by downtown spots.

This is a great restaurant, and we have loved it since our first visit.  But I have been surprised and pleased to see such enthusiastic raves from professionals like the Sun's Richard Gorelick and Washingtonian's Todd Kliman.

I teased a bit when Kliman's first post seemed to gratuitously describe my part of Howard County as "the middle of nowhere."  But maybe I should have pulled back even on that now that he has show such love for a local place.

Local Oysters Join The Baskets At Columbia's Friends & Farms; Somewhere Steve Vilnit Smiles

Sapidus Farms oysters that you can buy through Friends & Farms
Folks who love local oysters should check out the Friends & Farms offering where customers can add Chesapeake and other oysters to their weekly food baskets.

Friends & Farms is a Columbia service where customers buy regular baskets of seasonal food.  It's a variation on a CSA, except that the company doesn't farm.  They buy meats, fruits and vegetables from a variety of places.

As long as the season lasts, they're now buying oysters as well.  You need to be buying a basket to sign up for add-ons, but that would let you buy any of four different oyster varieties -- listed on the Friends & Farms Web site by the aquaculture group that farmed them.

I'm a huge fan of Chesapeake oysters.  Last summer, Steve Vilnit took me along on a tour of an Eastern Shore oyster operation.  Vilnit promotes Maryland seafood for the state government.  The oysters were exceptional, and I could see why it's great for the bay and why they're worth seeking out.  This week's varieties at Friends & Farms run from $38 to $60 for 50 oysters.

Check out Friends & Farms' web site for more about the food baskets.  I haven't tried them yet, and I was surprised at how weekly CSAs didn't mesh with the way that I cook -- and that was when I had the freedom to eat late and cook anything for two adults!  But CSAs and Friends & Farms have great supporters, and they're terrific for bringing real foods to the fore.

Joe Squared Pizza Coming To Main Street Ellicott City, Landlord's Manager Tells The Sun

Joe Squared's pizza -- maybe coming to Ellicott City
Joe Squared Pizza will open an Ellicott City branch in the former Taylor's Antique Mall on Main Street, the landlord's project manager told the Sun earlier this month.

Joe Squared is a really good pizza restaurant with two locations in Baltimore.  We ate lunch at one today after a morning at Port Discovery.  It's a thin-crust square pie with high-quality toppings.

Blair Ames wrote a story on Dec. 11 about a tax credit announcement held on Main Street with a bunch of elected officials.  I would have thought tax credits were news 20 years ago when I was a newspaper reporter.  But amid a stultifying list of projects, Ames quotes Don Reuwer with information that actually affects people --  that they have a tentative deal for Joe Squared to occupy the first floor of the former Taylor's Antiques with offices on the second and third.

This is a prominent spot right at the intersection with Old Columbia Pike.  It is across from Pure Wine Cafe, which pairs nicely with Joe Squared's casual vibe and attention to ingredients.  The Taylor's folks have talked about a restaurant since at least January, and Reuwer told Ames that they hope to finish the project in six to eight months -- so figure next summer or fall because construction is always difficult and often delayed.

Hat tip to the anonymous commenter who mentioned Joe Squared and Main Street on yesterday's post.  I hadn't read the Sun article, and no one had mentioned it to me.  There is another comment that says the new restaurant from the folks who own Victoria Gastro Pub will be FoodPlenty in Clarksville.

Double hat tip to the HoCo Rising blog that noticed the lede buried in the Sun story last week.  Of course, some bloggers live a leisurely life where their new baby can't run yet.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Who Knows About New Projects By Victoria, Bon Fresco And Bistro Blanc? More Good Stuff?

Talk is cheap, but it is getting louder about supposedly new projects by the folks behind Victoria Gastro Pub, Bon Fresco and Bistro Blanc.

Does anything know the actual plans?  I've heard talk that they're all working on new projects.  Maybe a sibling for Bon Fresco in an office park off Broken Land in Columbia.  Maybe a second restaurant from the Victoria folks?  Maybe a new or second location for Bistro Blanc near Rte 32 and Cedar Lane?

These are places that people love, and new restaurants would be great fun -- especially if they're opening late in 2015 when we may have enough control on our lives to get out to them.

Please comment if you know anything.

Madame BBQ Has Joined The Food Truck Party, Bringing Lunch To Offices Around The County

Madame BBQ is a new food truck working Howard County, and she is sparking loyalty in hungry HowChow readers.

I laugh at how I once imagined paternity leave would include trips with Lil' Chow to lunch spots that my DC job kept me from trying.  Now, my job and the boy will conspire to keep me away from Howard County lunches, but you can enjoy the reports from readers like Dana and Lisa.

They both said that Madame BBQ and its chef Nikki McGowan show up with really good pulled pork, sandwiches, tacos and soup.  They're pleased that Madame BBQ shows up at all because they're in spots like Elkridge that don't have many other options.

That area is a "lunch culinary wasteland," reports Lisa.  Nikki actually came tino their office to talk about the truck.  Lisa has tried carnitas tacos and the "Todd" sandwich with pork, bacon and deviled eggs.  "That's deviled eggs on a sandwich, yes!" says Lisa.  "My co-workers also love the Todd and have also tried the tacos and the  pork cheesesteak which is sometimes on the menu.

Dana echoed similar happiness at having Madame BBQ pull up at her Deerpath Road office:
I’m not sure you could find a more delightful food truck chef than Nikki. She’ll tell you all about how long she’s had a food truck, how she’s learning what takes too long to make for waiting customers, and she does it all with one of the biggest smiles and friendliest personalities I’ve ever seen!
I’ve eaten there twice, and today I had what can only be described as the best smash-up of breakfast and lunch I’ve ever had. Hash with pulled pork, potatoes, and fried egg and topped with beer cheese soup and jalapenos. The beer cheese soup is one of those things on the menu that you will always hope for (and pray she hasn’t run out of by the time you get there)! She also has amazing pork tacos and sandwiches with unique ingredients (the Todd has pulled pork, bacon, deviled eggs and siracha pickles). 

The key to finding Madame BBQ -- like most food trucks -- is to bookmark their Twitter feed or Facebook page.  That's where McGowan updates about her location for the day.  Check the Twitter feed, and you'll see that she was worked outside Aerotek, offices on Broken Land Parkway, and offices on Coca Cola Drive.  They also worked the Jailbreak Brewery parking lot, which is a fun spot to eat and drink.

Thanks to Dara and Lisa for the photos and descriptions.  I really wish that I could stroll over one day.  Check out all my posts about food trucks -- and let me know if you have a special one that stops near you.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Two Kinds Of Hand-Made Noodles In Catonsville; Or "Pair Your Clam Soup With Clam Pancakes"


Hang Ari's clam soup
I have raved before, and I will rave again:  Something terrific is going on at Hanoori Town in Catonsville.

The three restaurants have been revamped in the Hanoori Town section of the H Mart's shopping center.  Hang Ari's hand-cut noodles are the shiny new star.  Imported from Los Angeles.  Unique in the area as far as I know.

But they're not the only hand-made noodles in town.  Chan Mat -- the restaurant in the back -- appears to have chef Chang Yon Huh banging out the noodles for black bean noodles as well.  Those are jajangmyeun, a cornerstone of Korea's Chinese restaurants.  The chef works in an open space where you can see and hear him throughout the dining room.

Hang Ari's clam pancakes
Seriously, these are exceptional, reasonably priced, casual meals.  I treated my parents to lunch of Hang Ari's clam soup and a clam pancake.  One order of each served three of us.  The clam broth alone is worth driving to Catonsville. The bowl can filled with tender clams and again had perfectly-cooked squash and potato.  The noodles are slightly chewy and contrast beautifully with the briny flavor of the clams.

The clam pancake was just as perfect.  Imagine chopped claim with just enough batter to brown and crisp.  The minimal-filler construction of a great crab cake.  That means they don't stay together like a finger-food latke, but they're delicious cut with a fork and dipped in a sauce.

New parenthood definitely makes blogging tough.  We are still learning to be efficient enough to have any free moments.  So I'm writing short posts this weeks on the theme of two items that you could buy at a single stop.  At Hanoori town, you could pair clam soup with clam pancakes or order one dish from each restaurant and pair Chan Mat black bean noodles with Hang Ari's noodle soup.

These are videos below of both the hand cut and "Chinese" noodles being made.
video video video

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Noodles And Fried Chicken: Pair Chapchae With Spicy Wings At Rte 40's Bon Chon Chicken




Chapchae at Bon Chon

Lil' Chow dances for noodles.  Thick noodles.  Thin noodles.  Fetticine with tomato sauce.  Udon with sesame oil.

That how we discovered the chapchae at Bon Chon Chicken, where we normally just ordered fried chicken and called it a day.

Bon Chon is the local outpost of a Korean chain that does amazing fried chicken -- crisp and crunchy  shell around moist and delicious meat.  We have left satisfied many times after nothing more than chicken and beer.

Fried chicken -- still amazing
But chapchae is a Korean noodle dish -- glassy sweet potato noodles stirfried with vegetables and sometimes meat.  I've recommended them as a vegetarian option at Shin Chon Garden, and I needed them for a boy who will sit patiently through dinner if you keep filling his plate with noodles.

Bon Chon's chapchae was exceptional.  Noodles with a terrific chewy texture.  The mild flavor of a sauce made with sesame oil and soy sauce and a generous mix of vegetables and thin-sliced beef.  Lil' Chow chowed and flirted with the waitresses.  I actually ate some chapchae because it was delicious enough to forgo even a few pieces of that great chicken.  Easily as good as Shin Chon Garden, our standard in Howard County where Lil' Chow had chapchae as recently as Sunday night.

Don't get me wrong.  You can go to Bon Chon just for the chicken and beer -- or the "Chi Mec" as it is known for the first syllable of the Korean work for beer.  But the chapchae makes a great pair if your group wants to try several flavors.  You could also order it vegetarian if your carnivore friends drag you to Bon Chon for dinner.

If you go to Bon Chon, definitely check out Shilla Bakery for dessert.  Bon Chon is in a shopping center that is parallel to Rte 40, but set back from the main road.  You actually enter from Plum Tree Road.  Shilla is in the shopping center that separates Bon Chon from Rte 40, and it has great coffees, pastries, cakes and other sweets.

New parenthood definitely makes blogging tough.  We are still learning to be efficient enough to have any free moments.  So I'm writing short posts this weeks on the theme of two items that you could buy at a single stop.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pair It Up: Oil And Bread At The Breadery

Oils and vinegars at the Breadery
The basics are new again -- this time at The Breadery in Oella that has added artisan oils and vinegars to the hot breads that they pop out every day.

I have raved about the Breadery since they moved just outside Ellicott City and started to offer a mix of crusty and soft breads, rolls and other items.  Now, I rave again because they're offering flavored oils and vinegars that can make a meal in seconds.

Again, this is basic stuff.  A dash of olive oil or vinegar to dress a salad, improve a sauce, or marinate a meat.  But it's new to me, and I love the ease of adding sweet, spicy and other flavors with just the tip of a bottle.

Honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar
The Breadery's selection is similar to the Secolari store in the Columbia Mall.  Vinegars with berries, chilis, or other spices.  Oils from a range of locations, some goosed with citrus, fruit or spices.  Great fun for a cook.  Great gifts if you buy for one.

For this week's blog theme, I'll emphasize that a Breadery loaf pairs beautifully with these oils and vinegars.  Dipped in an oil.  Served with a salad dressed with vinaigrette.  My Secolari finds let me make an ancho-lime dressing in seconds.  At the Breadery, I took honey-ginger vinegar.

You won't stumble on the Breadery unless you have business up the hill in Oella.  But it's a really easy drive from Main Street in Ellicott City -- even a beautiful stroll up a parkland path if you want to mix eating and exercise.  Definitely worth the effort.  With the occasional BrickNFire appearance, you can go there to eat immediately (BrickNFire's pizza), eat later (the breads) and cook for yourself (the oils and vinegars).

New parenthood definitely makes blogging tough.  We are still learning to be efficient enough to have any free moments.  So I'm writing short posts this weeks on the theme of two items that you could buy at a single stop.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fun You Can Only Have In Howard County; If You Like Twitter Humor, Follow Colonel Gateway

My new favorite Howard County joke is the Colonel Gateway Twitter account that I just discovered today.

I've said before that I spent years thinking there was a road off Rte 175 called Colonel Gateway.  That's because there is a sign on Rte 175 that says "Col Gateway."  As if anyone ever abbreviates "Columbia."

Now, there is fun to be had.  Someone has created Colonel Gateway.  He is tweeting about Columbia and posing at local landmarks.  That's fun that you can only have in Howard County.

Pair It Up: Kalbi And Tofu Soup At Lighthouse

The table of food you get with a single combo order of kalbi and soup at Lighthouse Tofu
Our new toddler means that we need to be efficient, so this week's posts will be two items to try in a single meal.

First stop: Lighthouse Tofu, one of my favorite Korean restaurants in Ellicott City.  It's a casual place that specializes in a tofu soup called soondooboo.  Very friendly place.  A great spot to expand your Korean eating if you have only done barbecue before.

And my Lighthouse recommendation is a two-part order that lets you enjoy a little barbecue and expand into soondooboo.

Mushroom soondooboo
That's the combo order of kalbi and soup.  You can pick your soup -- mushroom or meat, spicy or mild.  I heard mild ordered as "white" because the basic soup looks white and the spicy pepper sauce turns it red.

Lighthouse's soup is a spectacular winter meal.  Piping hot broth with deep, earthy flavor on its own.  Spicy if you want it.  Thick like a stew with mushrooms or meat and vegetables, then the silky tofu throughout.  I didn't grow up with tofu, so I lack the vocabulary to really capture the pleasure.  It holds its shape, but goes down without the chewing that you'd need for meat or pressed tofu.  It's a delicious, filling bowl.

Then you get a small platter of kalbi as well.  That's beef rib meat, marinated and then cooked tender and full of flavor.  I often pass on kalbi because it can be pricey, but Lighthouse gave me exactly what I want -- rich and flavorful like I don't get from just vegetables, but even better because it was reasonably sized and paired with the soup and side dishes.

Lighthouse Tofu is a terrific restaurant -- casual, kid-friendly, and reasonably priced at $10-15 a person.  I'm highlighting the kalbi and soup here, but you won't do badly ordering anything.  In February, I wrote about Lighthouse as an alternative for Korean Food 101.  That post has step-by-step instructions about going to Lighthouse and ordering some basics.  In Step Two, you could order kalbi instead of the pork belly that I  mentioned there.

I highly recommend Rte 40 and its Korean restaurants for anyone who wants to try great food in Howard County.  I posted a Korean Food 101 that explained how to try barbecue at Shin Chon.  I'm currently infatuated by the noodle soups at Hang Ari, which is in Catonsville but still on Rte 40.  You could also scan down all the posts about Korean food.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Garbanzo And Gadsby's Appear To Have Closed, And Folks Have Reported On Korshi Buffet Too

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill and Gadsby's Bar American both appears to have closed in Columbia.

Garbanzo was part of a small chain, and it definitely drummed up a devoted following.  Folks have been emailing and posting in comments for a while, but I've been to crazed to even post.

Gadsby's Bar American had replaced Greystone Grill just off Rte 100.  This was Robert Gadsby's restaurant.  People have lauded the place for an innovative bartender, but I had heard so many disappointed reports that I kept postponing a visit in the hope that they would get it together.  Now the Web site is gone, and the phone has been temporarily disconnected.

I'm always bummed when people work hard on a restaurant and see it close.  This morning, Carole posted a comment on the Facebook page saying the Korshi buffet in Columbia has closed as well.  No one answered the phone when I called, but I don't know the situation.  Does anyone know the story?  Does anyone know any of these stories?