Charlotte · Cramerton · Hickory · Huntersville · Lincolnton · Miramar Beach · Mooresville · Myrtle Beach · Raleigh · Restaurants

The Best of Restaurants: Soups

Soups are a wonderful judge of a cook.  I love a restaurant that serves a homemade soup packed with flavor.  Here are some of the best I’ve tried.

Clam Chowder from Fresh Chef in Mooresville.  Creamy and clearly made with love.  The best clam chowder I’ve ever eaten.

Lobster Bisque at Fourk in Hickory, NC

Broccoli Cheese Soup from Croissants Bakery in Myrtle Beach.  Clearly homemade, creamy and cheesy.

Chicken Salad Croissant, Broccoli Cheddar Soup & Ambrosia Salad

Tomato Basil Soup from Fatz in Lincolnton, NC

Whiskey Chicken Gumbo at Citrus Diner in Denver, NC

 Miso Soup at Shan Kishi in Miramar Beach, FL

Curry Kick Soup Noodles from Kung Foo Noodle in Huntersville

Chef-Foraged Cream of Mushroom Bisque with pine needle gremolata and a slice of truffled grilled cheese at Heirloom in Charlotte, NC

Hot and Sour Soup at Asian Garden in Cramerton, NC

Tom Kha Chicken Soup from Sushi O in Raleigh

Black Mountain · Charlotte · Cornelius · Denver · Gastonia · Huntersville · Mooresville · Raleigh

Best of Restaurants: Asian

Mary Ashley makes sure I get plenty of opportunities to eat Asian food.  She wears me out on it.  Upside is that I know where all of the good spots are 🙂

Pink Volcano Roll at Joe’s Asian Grill in Mooresville, NC

Crunchy Roll from Jia Asian Fusion in Gastonia, NC

The “Prime Time” Filet and Lobster Roll at The Cowfish in Charlotte, NC

Dumplings & Tom Yum Noodle Bowl at Kung Foo Noodle in Huntersville, NC

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Spicy Crab Roll from Sake Sushi

Pad Krapraw at Thai House in Gastonia

Ginger and Garlic Miso Ramen at Ramen Soul in Mooresville, NC

Chicken Hibachi at Hasaki Grill in Charlotte, NC

Crab Rangoon Roll at Monsoon in Mooresville

Thai Tea at the Thai House in Cornelius, NC

Hot & Sour Soup at Kung Foo Noodle in Huntersville, NC

Sushi Salad at Japan in Denver

Lil Bastard Roll from Pisces Sushi Bar and Lounge-Lake Norman in Mooresville

Bang Bang Shrimp Roll at Sushi O in Raleigh

Veggie Spring Rolls at Barrel and Fork in Cornelius

Kei Krob at Phoenix Thai in Mooresville

Crab Fried Rice from The Goodyear House in Charlotte

Huntersville

Kung Foo Noodle in Birkdale Village

My kids wear me out on Asian food.  I love it, but not EVERY.SINGLE.TIME we get to go out to eat.  But, knowing this, I use this to get them to go on errands with me that they’d rather not do.  Give and take.

This place I didn’t mind going.  It’s new to us, it’s in Birkdale Village..and turns out it is awfully good.  Everything we had was delicious and you can bring your dogs with you and sit on the patio.  It was a perfect night for it, too.

We started with Dumplings.  The waitress advised us to get the pan-fried ones because the steamed dumplings got cold and gummy.  She was right.  Those little pork filled nuggets were warm, just crispy and perfect when dipped in the sauce.  That was a favorite.

We also tried the Spicy Wontons.  I thought wontons were like those above, but here they were steamed and very pliant.  Even though it wasn’t what we thought, these soft pillows filled with pork and shrimp were incredible and we all agreed (even our seafood hater!) that we’d get them again.

For my dinner, I had the Tom Yum Noodle Bowl.  It was so spicy and delicious!  Sour broth chock full of homemade noodles, shrimps, bok choy and flavored with lemongrass.  If I ever get sick, someone better bring me this soupy goodness.  It’s miracle healing level good.

Ty got his standard…ahem… Thai/Ty dish: Pad Thai!  He said it was sweet and delicious, with peanuts, chicken and chewy noodles.  It came with 2 limes to counter balance the sweetness of the sauce with a little added acid.  Perfect!

Mary Ashley got her standard: Sushi.  She had two rolls.  The first was called Bubba Shrimp roll.  It was tempura friend shrimp in the middle, with ebi shrimp on top, covered with shrimp sauce.  It was her favorite. She wouldn’t let me try it.  Her second roll was a Volcano roll, which was a friend roll with crab and crab salad. She did let me try that, and it was really really good.  Especially with the cream cheese inside.  Loved!

For dessert we got Bubble Tea!  The tea part was delicious, but I’m on the fence about those bubbles.  They are gelatinous masses (Tapioca pearls, I’ve heard) that are barely flavored and just make your drink chewy.  I don’t get it.  Anyway, we got Thai tea flavored and Mary Ashley got Taro.  Hers was the best…it tasted like a sugar cookie.

The service here was also impeccable.  The place is smallish on the inside, but it was not overflowing with folks when we got there.  Lots of windows and high ceilings do a lot for not feeling crowded.  We’ve found a new favorite spot.

 

Asheville · Boone · Charleston SC · Charlotte · Cornelius · Davidson · Destin · Isle of Palms · Lincolnton · Morganton · Rock Hill SC · Savannah · Wilmington

Best of Restaurants: Appetizers

Appetizers are my very favorite part of the meal.  Not a big commitment, you can be adventurous and not break the bank.  Here is a list of my favorites:

Spinach and Artichoke Crostini from Crafted Southern Speakeasy in Lincolnton, NC

Caramelized Gnocchi from Aria Tuscan Grill

Fried Green Tomatoes at Huey’s Southern Eats in Isle of Palms

Mert’s Soul Rolls at Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte

Homemade Lime Tortilla Chips served with Pineapple Mango Salsa from Caterer extraordinaire Food Junkie

Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Food Junkie

Filipino-style Pork Eggrolls with Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce from Food Junkie

Funghi Repieni at Caruso’s in Mooresville

Peirogies from Twisted Oak Bar and Grill in Statesville, NC

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Manchego Skillet at Tybee Island Social Club in Tybee Island, GA

Warm Pimento Cheese & Jumbo Lump Crab Cake  from Tupelo Honey in Charlotte, NC

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Oysters Rockefeller at the Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, SC

Shrimp Flatbread from 5 Church in Charlotte, NC

Stuffed Portabello Mushroom at Chillfire Grill in Denver, NC

Beggar’s Purse with Cream Cheese and Salmon, Rock Shrimp & Fried Calamari with Vegetables from Wasabi in Asheville

Smoked Tuna Dip from Louisiana Lagniappe

Prime Rib Stuffed Mushrooms from Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails in Cornelius, NC

Escargot with Lemon and Sweet Pea Risotto from Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse in Davidson

Crispy Pork Rinds with Pimiento Cheese and Valentina Hot Sauce from Root +Vine in Morganton

Shrimp Cocktail at the Pump House in Rock Hill, SC

Escargot at Gamekeeper in Boone, NC

Deviled Eggs and Millionaire’s Bacon from Bricktop’s in Charlotte

Crab Dip from Circa 1922 in Wilmington, NC

Butter Bean Spread and Marinated Shrimp from Goodyear House in Charlotte

 

Recipe

Pioneer Woman Recipes

I love love love Ree Drummond!  That sweet disposition, that beautiful smile, that fiery red hair.  She’s just a delight.  And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a heck of a cook.  Anyway, she is my hero, honey.

reeMain

This post is going to be all of the recipes of hers that I try.  You’ll love it.

First up: Simple Sesame Noodles.  You’ll love them.  We ate ours with teriyaki chicken.

To Try  PW Simple Sesame Noodles

You can find P Dub’s Recipe here:  Simple Sesame Noodles

 

Gastonia · Restaurants

Jia Asian Fusion in Gastonia, NC

Jia is one of my favorite restaurants in Gastonia.  The only problem is it is nearly in Cramerton, so if I’m out shopping on the main drag (read that Franklin Blvd.) then it is kind of a haul.  But, lucky me, my sister is in Cramerton, so I usually stop by pretty often 🙂

The restaurant is small and unassuming, but we’ve never had a bad meal here.  I’ve worked my way through most of the menu, and some of my favorite dishes include the calamari, spring rolls and hot and sour soup.  The calamari is crispy and spiced perfectly.  The spring rolls have pork and shrimp and are served with the most delicious sweet chili sauce for dipping.  But my favorite appetizer is the Hot and Sour Soup.  It is chock full of mushrooms and tofu and comes with crispy fried noodles.  Perfect for winter!

Hot and Sour Soup
Hot and Sour Soup

The sushi at Jia is among the best I’ve ever had.  The fish is fresh, and the rolls are innovative.  If you will check out the Specials board when you enter, you’ll see some specialty rolls that aren’t on the menu and even some that are with lower prices.

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Lobster Cha Cha Roll
Lobster Cha Cha Roll

Jia Asian fusion & sushi bar on Urbanspoon

Charlotte · Restaurants

P.F. Chang’s

I’ve been hearing about P.F. Chang’s for quite a while.Usually I turn my nose up at chain restaurants. I have been proven wrong. We visited for the first time today after living here over a decade. What was I thinking? All of this time I’ve missed!

The interior is richly appointed with dark woods and a couple of statues of Chinese warriors. The setting is elegant, though when we visited at 3pm, we and most everyone else were dressed casually. I’d dress a little more “nicely” for dinner.

The service here, from management to wait staff was exceptional. Everyone seemed to work together in perfect synchronicity to make the dining experience all it could be. Seriously the best I’ve been treated in a long time!
We were informed that they had a new menu, and they have this “Dinner for Two” deal on the back where you get 2 soups, 1 appetizer to share, 2 entrees and 2 mini desserts. All for $40. It was a deal! It also gave us an excellent sampling of all of the great dishes we’d heard so much about.

Hot and Sour Soup
Hot and Sour Soup

We selected the Hot and Sour Soup and the Egg Drop Soup. The Hot and Sour Soup was dark and flavorful and properly tangy. The Egg Drop soup was lighter, but had no less flavor. We both agreed it was the best of both soups we’d eaten.

Lettuce Wraps Unassembled
Lettuce Wraps Unassembled

 

Lettuce Wraps Assembled
Lettuce Wraps Assembled

For our shared appetizer we chose the lettuce wraps. Don’t miss this! Small dices of water chestnuts, chicken, mushrooms, scallions and seasonings accompany leaves of iceberg lettuce, which you assemble like a taco. Fresh, light, crisp and wonderful!

Kung Pao Scallops
Kung Pao Scallops

We had Kung Pao Scallops and Mongolian Beef for our entrees, and of course shared. The scallops were my favorite. They were fried, but not over cooked, and then tossed in a hot and sweet sauce with peanuts and chili peppers. It was fabulous. The Mongolian beef was so tender, you cut larger pieces easily with a fork. It was garnished with scallion tops and both were served with steamed white rice.

I wish I could comment on dessert, but they were out of mini desserts, so our server gave us the option to have our soups deducted from the over all price to compensate for it. We were so stuffed, we readily agreed.
I ate there 12 hours ago and I’m ready to go back 🙂