Tag Archives: Asian

Mark Pi’s China Gate

14 Feb

To recognize the Chinese New Year, I wanted to celebrate with food. A quick shake of the Urbanspoon app had us standing outside Mark Pi’s China Gate. Located off North Meridian, hidden in a strip mall like so many Indy restaurants, I hadn’t noticed it despite living close. From outside, it looked like it was busy, so I was excited to give it a try.

We were greeted with a warm smile and friendly service. However, rather than being seated, we opted to order take out from the bar. Along one side of the restaurant, we found that though the tables were full, the bar was empty. Overall, the atmosphere is comfortable yet slightly upscale. It isn’t your basic take out Asian, but fresher, more inviting. We decided to grab a seat and order a roll to share while enjoying a beer and waiting for our food.

With only two beers on draft, we each ordered one to compliment our rainbow roll. After watching the sushi chef at the end of the bar (behind the sushi counter), we were presented with a beautiful plate. It was a bit more jazzed up than a normal plate, adding a bit of flair. I haven’t seen lemon served on top of sushi before, but I liked that just by touch alone it helped freshen up the fish even though it wasn’t needed. The fish was fresh and vibrant in taste. The rice was clean in flavor, sticky in texture and a great vehicle for the avocado, crab, and crisp cucumber. It was quite a large portion as rainbow rolls normally are, so I was happy that we split it. As we wrapped up our appetizer, our entrees were delivered. We paid our bill and made our way home.

I didn’t get to try hubs entree, but he enjoyed his pepper chicken saying it had a nice kick without being an overkill in spice. I opted for the classic hunan prepared with scallops. The gentlemen who took our order gave us a great piece of information – they use fresh peppers. So when you ask for spicy, or for them to hold off, it isn’t quite something they are able to do. It all depends on the peppers that they have, rather than creating different levels of spice with prepared peppers. I liked the fresh approach and was hoping to have some spice to the hunan. Success  – with my first bite there was some heat, but not overwhelming. The mushrooms, baby corn, and broccoli were cooked perfectly, crunching with crispness and vibrant in color. There was great flavor to the hunan sauce without a hint of being overly salty, which I sometimes get. The scallops, bay scallops, were small but tender, cooked well. I would have liked a bit more out of the seafood option, but appreciated that it was at least an option rather than the standard chicken or shrimp. I substituted brown rice, and was disappointed it was an extra charge, but still was cooked properly.

Serving size was large, as I expected, and made great leftovers the next day. It was a bit more pricey than I was anticipating for the evening, but they are going for an above average Asian concept. The service – all friendly and personable. I enjoyed speaking to the owner while we enjoyed our sushi and waited for our dinner. I also appreciated that he was honest in that they haven’t advertised too much, because he wants his staff to really understand the food as they continue to build their menu. There were flairs of Korean food, and I could tell how passionate the food and culture. He doesn’t just want his guests to enjoy the food, but understand the flavors. I’d return to continue to sample items off the quite extensive menu and the sushi they continue to develop.

Mark Pi’s China Gate * 12297 N. Meridian St. * Carmel, 46032 * 317.848.1888

Mark Pi's China Gate on Urbanspoon

Walt Disney World Dining, Part I

30 Jun

Hubs and I made our way to Walt Disney World this past May with two of our closest friends.  I’m a huge fan of The Mouse and his World, so getting their once a year is on the schedule.  And while we are there, eating all the great food is a priority as well.  We tried a few new things while we are there and a few favorites – thought I’d share the experience with all of you.

Epcot

Germany’s Biergarten – a buffet of meat and pretzels and then some.  You can begin with the salad buffet, which doesn’t just include your basic salad building ingredients, but also pate and pretzel croutons.  Creamy macaroni salads and beet salad, there is a variety for any tastebud.  The main courses include a variety of sausage (all spiced accordingly that I find to be decent for a buffet in this type of atmosphere), schnitzel with brown gravy, salmon with dill and lemon slices, meatballs (these may be one of my faves on the buffet, tender and well seasoned), spaetzle (with or without cheese!) and pork tenderloin with 7 different options of chutney or mustards to choose from as a topping (I selected spicy mustard, cinnamon applesauce and apricot chutney).  The best part of it all – the desserts: apple strudel (all delicious with cinnamon love and a whipped topping), bread pudding, German chocolate cake, German cheesecake and so much more.  Pending on how much you want to stuff in your stomach, the price can be good or pricey (approximately $28 for lunch and around $35 for dinner).  But if you love German food like hubs and I, you may want to give it a go.  The ambiance is similar to a beer garden, with entertainment and German servers.  One thing to not miss, grabbing a pretzel and beer from the vendor outside of the restaurant – always a good bet.

United Kingdom’s Rose & Crown Pub – the menu is full of traditional English fare – from bangers & mash, corned beef sandwich and sheppard’s pie, there are many options to satisfy your taste buds.  Not to mention the full bar available to quench your thirst.  This is a popular establishment, so make reservations early if you can.  Or, do what we did, and grab fish and chips from the vendor outside.  It is all they sell, but it is the most popular item they sell so it is self explanatory.  Crisp and perfectly fried, it is always a great entree that is a go to for me in Epcot.

Magic Kingdom

Tortuga Tavern – right outside of the Pirates of the Carribean ride, there is a quick-service restaurant for burritos and tacos.  The thing I like about this place is the toppings bar – it makes the casual food customizable.  Surprisingly, the tortilla is quite big and stuffed black beans, rice and chicken.  Then you top it with tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, salsa and whatever you would like.  A quick bite that is satisfying, but I’m not going to compare this to other Mexican burritos.  It is overpriced for quality, but I expected this to be ‘park food,’ and I got exactly what I thought I would get.  But, it was a good first try and change from the frozen hamburgers or hot dogs offered at other quick-service restaurants.

Hollywood Studios

Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre – I have to admit, I really like this place because of the atmosphere.  It is set like you are at an outdoor movie theatre, sitting in ‘cars’ while watching ‘B’ rated science fiction, complete with servers on skates.  The food can be hit or miss though.  This time around, hubs and I shared an order of onion rings, perfectly salty and crisp.  Hubs ordered the corned beef sandwich which was a very large portion.  A lot of corned beef with good flavor, served with creamy thousand island dressing on rye bread.  I don’t normally enjoy rye bread, but it was good and I wished that I had ordered his (maybe next time).  I ordered the steak salad – was surprised to see it as a wedge (maybe I didn’t read the description clearly) and to see that my steak was actually cooked to what I ordered.  The steak was served warm and had apparent grill marks (which you may be able to see in the photo), though I’m not quite sure it was ‘grilled’.  It was satisfying, but of course, I’ve had better steak salads.

50’s Prime Time Cafe – though I haven’t eaten at all the restaurants in Hollywood Studios, this is my favorite.  Why?  Fried chicken.  I don’t know why, bu I just love the fried chicken.  So much, I have a hard time ordering anything else on the menu.  It is always crisp and perfectly fried, extremely tender and juicy on the inside just like it should be.  Plus, you get a ton of chicken – a breast, thigh, wing and drumstick.  I enjoy the green beans more than the collard greens, so I always swap them out as an accompaniment to the mashed potatoes and gravy.

Animal Kingdom

Yak & Yeti – a perfect place to cool down as the AK seems to be the hottest park to me.  We were looking for something not too filling so we opted for something to share.  We settled on a few appetizers including fried rice, egg rolls and the dim sum for two.  Hubs could NOT stop raving about how much he loved it all and I do have to agree.  The fried rice was great, buttery but not enough to linger on your tongue to make it overwhelming.  Egg rolls were crisp on the outside and filled with a pork and veggie filling – I loved that it wasn’t heavy with grease.  The dim sum for two appetizer was really good – lots of options that left hubs and I wanting more.  It included pork pot stickers, Cha Su Bao (barbecued pork buns), Shrimp Siu Mai and Pork Siu Mai.  These were all steamed on a banana leaf and served with a soy lime dipping sauce.  The potstickers were great, as were the shrimp siu mai and pork siu mai – we thought it was mean to provide three of each item because it left us bargaining for the last piece.  Our least favorite was the pork buns, but they were still very good.

This is a quite delayed post due to work and all that jazz, but things are calming down.  I have a few extra’s from the trip as well – to be posted soon!  Thanks for bearing with me and continuing on the nom nom journey!

Sawasdee

11 Feb
Working on the northwest side of Indy, there are many chain restaurants to dine at for lunch.  I’m a brown bagger, since I love to cook at home, but sometimes you need to get out and dine.  One of my favorites in Sawasdee for some Thai food.
Bestie and I headed our way there for a Friday lunch and as always, the place was busy.  But not too busy that we weren’t able to get a table immediately. We sat down and placed our orders, both with began with their spring roll and soup.  The spring roll is a standard spring roll, nothing too bold in flavors, not greasy, but nothing to rave about either.  The soup, Thom Yum, is the hot and sour soup.  The broth is heavy in pepper taste and also thick in fat flavor.  The spice was mild enough to eat, but with a slight kick to remind you that it is a hot soup.  Bits of green onions, tomatoes and cilantro lent minor flavor, as the broth was the main taste.
Bestie ordered the classic Padd Thai.  Served with a large serving of sprouts, her noodles were mild in spice, great in flavor.  Lack luster in color, the brightest element was the green onion chopped up with the chicken and stir fried noodles.  It was classic Padd Thai, and mild in spice.  I had ordered the Padd See Ewe, a thick noodle dish at medium plus one heat.  Anything beyond medium plus one at Sawasdee is too much heat for me, and this dish had the perfect amount that left my mouth with a slight fire but lots of great flavor.  A vegetable mixture of greens, broccoli and carrots were crisp and perfect with the thick dense noodles and thick chunks of chicken.  Easily could have been made into two portions, I must have been really craving Thai because I ate it all.
Lunch specials run cheaper than the dinners, but portions are still large for the under $10 fare.  Sawasdee is “decorated” in a hodge podge of items, so don’t base your overall opinion on the decor.  But when you want convenient spicy food, Sawasdee may be the place for you.
 
Sawasdee * 1222 West 86th Street * Indy, 46260 * 317.844.9451

Sawasdee on Urbanspoon