Monday, September 29, 2014

Center Park Grill Replacing Cafe De Paris

It looks like a restaurant called Center Park Grill will replace the closed Cafe De Paris in Columbia.

DozyCat snapped a picture today and posted on Twitter.  Does anyone know more about the restaurant or the timing?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LA Chef Bringing Handmade Noodles To East Coast; First Step: Catonsville's Hanoori Town

An Los Angeles chef is opening his first East Coast location in Catonsville -- and bringing hand-cut noodles, reports Lisbeth of the Lisbeth Eats blog.

Lisbeth and I actually emailed weeks ago, and I overlooked her report about a new restaurant going into the shopping center with H Mart in Catonsville.  Down from the supermarket is a space called Hanoori Town that has three restaurants and a frozen yogurt store upstairs and a housewares store in the basement.

A Korean-Chinese restaurant in Hanoori Town has closed, and a new restaurant specializing in handmade noodles is opening there.  The noodles are kal guk su, a Korean noodle dish served in large bowls of broth.  I don't have full details, but it's exciting enough that folks should know.  I'll update as I learn more.

Here is Lisbeth's full email with a quick description of the restaurants in the Hanoori Town down from H Mart and some news about the new noodle restaurant that is coming:
When you're standing in the parking lot facing Hmart, Hanoori Town is to the right.  There's a Korean food court on top with Korean retail stores (Asian housewares, gifts, beauty products, clothes and bedding) below.  When the place was called Besesto, I think everything was under the same person.  But it was reopened as Hanoori Town under new management about five years ago, and I think each individual shop is sub-leased under one owner. I think the owner wanted to create a space where different ethnicities could come together to shop and eat.  Hanoori means 'Us as one.'

On the top floor there are actually three different restaurants -- two to the left and one facing you as you walk in.  When we went there [in August], I heard that a new restaurant is going into the second space. 
So as you walk in, the first restaurant to the left is Bu Du Mak (closest to the window). They specialise in a cold noodle soup called naeng myun, Korean blood sausage called soon dae, and traditional Korean soups and stews.

The restaurant next to Bu Du Mak was a Korean/Chinese noodle restaurant that specialised in jja jang myun (black bean noodles), jjam ppong (spicy seafood noodle soup) and typical Korean/Chinese dishes like Hanjoonggwan in Ellicott City.  But they are no longer there.  A new kal guk su restaurant is going into that space.  The new chef/owner is famous in LA for his fresh hand pulled noodles and soup, and he's bringing it to the East Coast with his first location in Hanoori Town. I was told that it should be open in roughly late September. 
I love kal guk su  so I'm very much looking forward to checking them out. Kal guk su is well known in the Myung Dong neighborhood of Seoul. 
The restaurant facing you as you walk in is called Chan Mat and they offer all sorts of Korean food, Japanese sushi lunch buffet and I saw new signs for Korean/Chinese cuisine on their wall. I 'm guessing when the Korean/Chinese restaurant in the middle closed, Chan Mat added those items to their menu. 
I like the housewares store and the Korean bedding store in the basement. I got my shabu shabu pot from there and the Korean bedding shop in the back corner has lots of gift items and comfortable blankets, mats and pillows for the house.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Huge Korean Festival In Columbia Saturday, And They Want You To Come For K-Pop And Kimbab

The Korean Society of Maryland is hosting a gigantic festival Saturday in Columbia -- making a giant invitation for folks to come for food, music and entertainment.

The party will be at Centennial Park, and they're bringing in some big-name entertainment and serving Korean food from 10 vendors, including Honey Pig.

Janene Holzberg wrote a nice piece in the Sun on the festival and on the generational change at the Korean Society.  Festivities run 10:30 am to 7 pm.  They even have two overflow parking sites -- all laid out in the Sun article.

Did Frank's Seafood Close In Jessup?

Details are sparse, but Frank's Seafood in Jessup may have closed.

This would be a bummer.  Frank's was a retail store inside the wholesale seafood market.  They were an invaluable place for fish, seafood and crabs.  I got crabs there last month.

Again I don't know details.  But the phone want answered this afternoon, and the Twitter and Facebook pages seem to be deleted.  A friend of mine who knows that market says Frank's has closed.  (Update:  I have heard this from two other people as well, including Nicole who put a comment on the HowChow Facebook page saying a guard at the seafood market said they have been closed since Monday.)

Does anyone know details?  I would love to be wrong.  I assume that Frank's was hurt when Wegmans and Whole Foods opened big retail fish counters in Columbia.  I love both of those places, but I recognize that they are changing the landscaping and taking business from businesses that welcomed me when I moved to Howard County.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

German Revival: Beer & Wurst From Blob's Park Taking Over Gunning's Space In Hanover

I'm behind the times here, but the former owners of Blob's Park in Jessup have reopened as the Bavarian Brauhaus in Hanover, taking over the space that had been Gunning's.

This is a German restaurant, and its Facebook page says that it is open for business.  Steve gave me a heads up in early September.  I'm just getting my in-box under control.  Richard Gorelick had written in June about the plans.

In that article, owner Max Eggerl had said there wouldn't be space for the polka dancing that had been a major part of the Blob's Park experience.  But the menu on their Web site looks like a broad selection of German and American food from sausages to schnitzels to a crab cake.

(Update: Headline fixed from "Blog's Park" to "Blob's Park."  You can see where the blogger's mind lies.)

Has anyone eaten at the Bavarian Brauhaus? How is the food?  How is the beer selection?  Thanks again to Steve for the tip.

Bavarian Brauhaus
7304 Parkway Drive South
Hanover, MD 21076

NEAR:  This is right on the Howard County line.  It's basically Rte 103 just off Coca Cola Drive.  You can take the Coca Cola Drive exit south from Route 100, then turn left on Rte 103.  It's near Timbuktu. If I read Google Maps correctly, the Bavarian Brauhaus is just in Anne Arundel County, but it's the part that I claim.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Whole Food Has House-Made Popsicles -- Juice Pressed, Mixed And Frozen In The Store

Store-made popsicles at Whole Foods
Mrs. HowChow had looked in the window of the new Columbia Whole Foods, so she knew that it was enormous when she told me that she only wanted one thing if I stopped on opening day.

House-made popsicles.

Whole Foods presses their own juices in the store on the Columbia lakefront.  Then they freeze them into 99-cent popsicles.  Little bundles of icy happiness.  Some adult flavors with kale and greens.  But most are sweet and fruity.  They're definitely worth checking out if you're still exploring the new Columbia store.

I'm still infatuated with the new Whole Foods.  I have gone the last two weekends and bought our food for the week.  I'm making a seasonal effort to cook whole grains, and the bulk section is a terrific way to try different stuff -- bulgar, quinoas, beans, etc.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Victoria Gastropub Family Plans A Restaurant For Clarksville, No Timing, Says Her Mind Mag

The Marriner family that owns Victoria Gastropub has plans to open a restaurant in Clarksville -- including a name (FoodPlenty), but no timing, reports Carol Sorgen in Her Mind magazine.

No huge details in the article, which is a nice profile of the family and their plans for a brewery.  But Victoria is such a Howard County mainstay -- Mrs. HowChow ate with friends there on Sunday -- that another restaurant seems like news.

Who knows more?  Where?  When?  What is the plan for FoodPlenty?  Hat tip to Cindy, who spotted the article and posted on the HowChow Facebook page.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ananda Breaks Into The County's Best Restaurants, Gets Raved By The Sun's Gorelick

The shrimp dish jinga kararii at Ananda
I tamped down my excitement when I first wrote about Ananda.

The Fulton restaurant is the closest food to my house, serving a cuisine that I love.  And I'm just a hobby blogger, which makes me reticent to act like I know exceptional food after a meal or two.

But the professionals love Ananda, so I'm letting myself wax poetic.  It's a new restaurant, but I think it already matches the best restaurants in Howard County.

We had another amazing dinner last night.  Great cocktails.  Spectacularly flavorful shrimp, chicken and dessert.  The class of white tablecloths and subtle waiters, paired with the friendliness of a veranda full of families and kids.  All as the cool evening rolled in through open walls.

It's a magical combination, and it's getting notice.  Todd Kliman of the Washingtonian mentioned Ananda on-line a few weeks ago -- distilling the observation that the kitchen fuses Indian cuisine with a local seasonal vibe of a city bistro.  Then Kathy Patterson of Minx Eats enjoyed both the drinks and food.  Then yesterday Richard Gorelick gave Ananda four stars in the Sun:
Ananda strives to evoke something of the same nostalgic feeling, and it succeeds. The atmosphere is sophisticated but not stuffy. . . The food — in particular, the items listed as house specials — is elegant, too.
Boom.  Now I can say that I love the food without feeling like I'm infected with amateur-writer puppy love.  We have eaten three meals at Ananda, each better than the last.  This time, I ate the shrimp dish jingha karari and used rice and bread  to lap up every drop of the sauce rich with ginger and garlic.  Mrs. HowChow ate a chicken kabob that was juicy white meat chunks, cooked perfectly and then served with an herb sauce.  We finished with a special peach crumble that rivaled our favorite seasonal desserts at Woodberry Kitchen.

Read the professional reviews.  They all capture the place -- and Gorelick goes respectful when he describes the Maple Lawn development.  I'm amazed that Ananda's kitchen is serving recognizable -- even traditional -- Indian food in ways that seem unique.  It's a bit in the food itself.  A bit in their offering plated entrees.  My shrimp came with a choice of lentils or spinach as a side dish.  A bit in the local and seasonal specials like the watermelon salad that we ate on an early visit and that Gorelick raved about.

We're not the only ones raving.  The table next to us last night ordered three watermelon salads for three diners.  It's so good that they didn't share.  We have neighbors who have gone with their toddler every Sunday night since Ananda opened.  They love the food, and they're making a family tradition.

As I wrote in my "first thoughts' post, Ananda has an atmosphere that welcomes toddlers in t-shirts and women in date-night dresses.  You should try dinner on the veranda on a fall evening.  But I can see that Ananda will covert into a cozy, warm winter spot once they bring down those glass walls and turn up the fireplaces.  The bar and the interior dining rooms will give you all kinds of options.  Gorelick's review got a laugh in our house because he called out Ananda's three televisions.  It's a discordant sight here and in other really good restaurants.  You'll just need to look the other way.

7421 Maple Lawn Blvd
Fulton, MD 20759
 (301) 725-4800

NEAR:  Ananda is in the Maple Lawn development just south of Columbia.   It's on Maple Lawn Boulevard, which connects Rte 216 and Johns Hopkins Road just west of Rte 29.  Ananda is a stand-alone building.  As of September, it had no sign.  It is across the parking lot from a Suntrust bank.

Ananda on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog Party Today At Nottingham's

Come blow off some steam this evening with HoCoBlogs next blog party -- hosted this time by Nottingham's in Columbia.

HoCoBlogs runs these casual events for people who write and people who read.  My schedule doesn't let me come often, but they're fun and relaxed.  Check out the details -- and sign up for free -- through their posting.

A Great Breakfast Sandwich With Breakfast Sausage From Laurel Meat Or Boarman's

I should have known that I already had the key to a great breakfast sandwich.

A few weeks ago, I asked for suggestions after trying the egg-cheddar-and-sausage croissant from Touche Touchet.  Folks recommended their favorites in the comments, but the '34 Act Gourmet came to my house with the answer.

Breakfast sausage from Laurel Meat Market.

I have extolled sausage as the gateway drug to try your local ethnic butchers.  Laurel Meat Market's loose breakfast sausage -- like the similar sausage that people love from Boarman's in Highland -- is the easiest gateway around.  Basic pork sausage flavored with sage and other spices.

We pressed out two patties.  I cooked them in a cast iron pan while two eggs fried in a skillet and some Wegmans bread toasted nearby.  Wegmans' bakery will slice any loaf, and the thin, even slices have made this a staple that I keep in the freezer for sandwiches or toast.

Simple and superb.  I try to find delicious meat because I'd rather eat a small amount of the great stuff than a daily ration of the mediocre.  Laurel Meat and Boarman's grind their own sausages, and they give a full-flavored mix that just tastes fresher and better every time.

We had superb breakfast sandwiches in minutes, then went on about our day.

If you're intrigued, check out a line of HowChow posts about meat and local butchers.  I did a survey of butchers a few years ago in a longer post about places to shop, and I try to code posts when they're about barbecue or grilling.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Leelyn's Makes The Unmanly Chef Sing About His Supper; His E.C. Spot For Soup, Salad, More

The "Seasonal Salad"
The Unmanly Chef cooks up a storm on his own blog -- including a great series of "Five Lunches, Five Days" where he recommends a recipe you can cook Sunday and then pack good food all week.

But the Chef is a Howard County local, and he graciously offered to write up a joint that we haven't visited in years.  Leelynn's is an Ellicott City spot just off Rte 108.  It's an American kitchen with a menu that changes and offers everything from drinks to small plates to big entrees.  As I remember, they have some nice outdoor seating, which will just get more cozy as we move into fall.

The Chef has lived in Howard County for 27 years, so he remembers Lee Stumpf back from the years at G.L. Shacks, a local hangout.  Once they parted ways, Stumpf opened Leelyn's, and the Chef said it quickly became of his family's "go to" spots:
There are so many things that I like about Leelynn’s, but I’ll rattle a few off before I get to my review.

The first -- and I think most important -- is the sense of community you feel when you go there.  I dare you to go and not recognize someone.  You feel at home or like the Cheers theme song said,”You wanna go where everybody knows your name.” 
The pork belly
Second, it lacks any sort of pretentious, over the top salesmanship which I can’t stand. Their staff knows the menu well enough to give recommendations but they’re not going to hit you over the head with the menu, which I like. Finally, Leelynn’s has an adventurous kitchen which has always been fearless to try new menu items.

A menu feature that I love about Leelynn’s is that they have a small plates menu.  For the crowd that doesn’t want a huge plate of food, this is a great feature.  This is the portion of the menu that changes often, so it’s hard to get sick of an item.  I am sad that they don’t do mac & cheese anymore, because it was unreal. Their chips are made in house and are stellar.

They have unreal cream of crab soup.  It’s one of my favorites in Maryland.  I’ve eaten this soup all over the state, and Leelynn's tastes just as good as the soup at the Inn at Perry Cabin, one of the highest rated restaurants in the state.  It has plenty of jumbo lump crab meat to go long with a great cream soup.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Here Come Brews #2 And #3, Updates The Sun

With Jailbreak Brewing in Laurel, Howard County got its first brewery this year.

Now Julekha Dash of the Sun has written an update on the two other groups looking to open competitors -- Black-Eyed Susan Brewing slated now to open this fall in Columbia and Manor Hill Brewing Company in Ellicott City in 2015.

I've visited Jailbreak, and this is a fun concept.  These breweries will sell most of their beer to restaurants and liquor stores, but they can run tasting rooms -- without kitchens -- where people can hang out and sample the beer.

Jailbreak pairs with food trucks who operate in the parking lot.  It's a fun scene, and I assume both of the new places will aim for something similar.

Check out Dash's article for Howard Magazine.  And also check out an April 2014 article by Sarah Meehan in the Baltimore Business Journal.  Both articles say Manor Hill will not have a retail scene like Jailbreak.  It says there may be private parties, but no tours because of traffic issues.

Please comment below with any advice about Jailbreak's beers or any other news about plans by Black-Eyed Susan or Manor Hill.  Manor Hill is run by the folks who own Victoria Gastro Pub, which makes me doubly interesting in how they'll mix food and drink even if it is just at the restaurant.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ali Baba And The 40 Donuts, A Story Of Sweets To End A Chinese Feast At Grace Garden

Grace Garden's donuts
This is what you get for being stereotypical:  Forty donuts.

There were three of us, including one Chinese speaker at Grace Garden in Odenton, and we were pretty stuffed from three entrees from the best Chinese restaurant in the area.  But we were enjoying the afternoon and finishing off our tea when our friend recommended the donuts.

We looked at the menu, and, for about $5, there was a line for "40 donuts."  That can't be right, we all agreed.  You know how Chinese restaurants have language issues.  I've seen stir-fried "prok."  I've seen "shimp."  That must be an order with four little donuts.  That would be perfect.  We just need four.

Out came 40 donuts, maybe more.  They're each the size of a donut hole from one of the national chains.  Beautifully fried, warm and crisp but not oily.  Dusted with a large-flake sugar that created sweet crunch.  These are a terrific dessert.  Probably smarter if you have four or six people to eat 40 donuts, but we hoovered most of them.  I concentrated on the section with the most sugar.

I can't recommend Grace Garden's food enough.  It's one of my best restaurants of Howard County even though it is across the border in Odenton.  It's well worth the drive our Rte 32, and now it comes with a sweet ending.

For more about Grace Garden, check out Lisbeth's post on Lisbeth Eats.  As always, she has terrific photos, and she suggests her favorite dishes at what I consider the best Chinese food near Howard County.  Read all my posts about Grace Garden to see what inspires you. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Special Monthly Buffet At Mango Grove -- Drawing The No-Meat Crowd, Plus Cool Kids

Big plates from Mango Grove's vegan buffet
Anyone can love Mango Grove because it serves some of the best food in Howard County, but they're breaking out the welcome mat for a niche market -- that's still a welcome adventure for everyone.

Okay, they're breaking out the dinner buffet, not the welcome mat.

Mango Grove does a lunch buffet most days with both vegetarian and non-veg options.  But the Columbia restaurant is adding a monthly dinner buffet with all vegan food and attracting a young, cool crowd in the process.  It's a partnership with the Humane League, which advertises the event and gets a donation as well.

We stumbled on August's vegan buffet in mid-month, and it's a feast for about $20.  The buffet shows off what Mango Grove does best -- a mix of straight Indian food like spinach and chickpeas with Chinese-Indian dishes like "broccoli 65" and a noodle dish that is their version of chow mein.

That broccoli 65 is a treat.  Deep-fried and spicy, it's a dish that will please even folks who don't normally like the green vegetable.  But the best dish was jackfruit and potatoes, a savory curry that shows off the jackfruit's sweetness.  A guy at the buffet compared the consistency to pulled pork.  Not exactly, but it is a substantial dish that is really unique.

The monthly buffet is clearly a treat for vegans.  But it's no compromise for anyone.  The food is really good, and you can always order off the menu if you need a dosa or some other dishes.  (Mrs. HowChow got a lassi, then hid it behind the wine list so that she could fit into the vegan crowd, but still have her yogurt shake.)

Mrs. HowChow and I were amused because the Mango Grove crowd definitely took on a different look.  It's always fun to be in a restaurant full of happy chatter.  We're just not used to a crowd of tattooed 20-somethings in an Indian restaurant.  A few older folks, a few kids.  But it felt more like Fells Point than Columbia.  Bravo!

I think the monthly vegan buffet will be the fourth Monday of every month.  That's what I wrote down, although I realize that doesn't match August 11.  Check out the Human League's Facebook page for Maryland.  They posted about the August event, and they say the September one will be on the 22d.  I assume they're publicize future ones.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Steamed Dumplings At Manna: Mandu To Almost Fill The Void Of The Late Honey Pig Dumplings

Steamed mandu from Manna in the Lotte food court
For those in search of steamed dumplings after the closing of Honey Pig Dumpling last year, the time has come to slake your hunger on Manna.

That's Manna's mandu -- $9 for a six-dumpling order -- in the photo above.  It's one of the stands in the food court next to Lotte in Ellicott City.

We got the pork variety, and they're a tasty snack.  A bit less filling and a bit more dough pressed together at the top than the Honey Pig variety on sale briefly at the new Lotte in Catonsville.  But they're a welcome find because we had loved the steamed mandu as a party food.  They re-heat beautifully in a steamer.

The Lotte food court has a series of restaurants, each with a pretty large menu.  Does anyone have specific recommendations?  I have looked a few times, but I don't know what you suggest.

(in the back of the Lotte food court)
8801 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

NEAR:  The Lotte in the Golden Triangle shopping center has a connected food court.  This is the shopping center on Rte 40 just east of Rte 29.  Manna is the stand all the way in the back.  They have a menu in signs above the register, including several ramen varieties.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hot, Hot, Hot: Why Nashville Laughs At Your Spiciest Fried Chicken Through Fiery Tears

The spiciest food that I have ever eaten
At some point -- as I finished eating the chicken wing -- my brain gave clear instructions that I should stand up and run away from the only people who I knew in Nashville.

I should have known there was trouble when the only local had said we had to visit Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish, then announced "I'll just have a soda."  Nashville has a "hot chicken" tradition where lethal quantities of cayenne and other spices are mixed into or spread onto fried chicken.  Bolton's is a concrete bunker of a restaurant where you take out or eat at one of the worn tables.  (See below.)

Overall, this is delicious chicken, well worth an adventure if you visit Nashville.  On the main part of the breast, the ratio of moist white meat balanced out the crazy spice in the breading.

Bon Chon's wings and pickled radish
But eating the wing first was murder.  The red-stained breading was as thick as the meat on a wing.  Spice overwhelmed everything and filled my mouth.  I puffed out breaths.  I drank down Diet Coke.  I ate the pickles and white bread.  I actually had the urge to run away, flee the chicken, find ice water to dunk my  head.

But I'm a guy.  The other two guys kept eating their chicken, so I kept going as well.  Our local stole a few slices, but it was the travelers who finished off the "sandwiches" and felt like they had their taste of Nashville.  I felt flames in my stomach for the rest of the day.  And that was Bolton's medium chicken.  I hadn't been crazy enough to start with the hot or the extra hot.

For local chicken, the spiciest probably comes from the kitchen at Bon Chon Chicken in Ellicott City.  That's a terrific spot.  They also serve pickled radish as a side dish.  Those cubes do wonders to cool off a fiery mouth  tongue.  The hottest local food is probably the chili naan at Tandoor Grill on Johns Hopkins Road, although a friend said that bread had been toned down a bit the last time that he ordered.

Hot chicken at Bolton's reminded me that I need to return for pit beef at Pioneer Pit Beef in Woodlawn.  That's our answer to a local delicacy cooked in shacks and concrete bunkers.  Ironically, I think my last lunch on Pioneer's picnic tables was with my Nashville buddy.  For the record, I ate exactly what I told him to eat.

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