Monday, February 9, 2015

Friend or Pho?

Lately, I’ve been remiss in writing this blog.  Unfortunately, health issues with the King of the Chinese Buffet (my dad) have taken priority, but I did want to discuss a few new places.  In his honor, let’s talk Asian cuisine.

First, ChineseMirch, with two locations:  Route 9 in Framingham and Mass Ave. in Boston.  They have a unique spin on Chinese cuisine, merging Indian spices and flavors with the cooking style of Chinese cuisine.  I’ve been there a few times lately, for lunch, and have been really impressed with their delicious food and presentation.  A few weeks back, Mrs. Palate and I enjoyed dinner at the Framingham location.  It was a big hit.
Salt and Pepper Gobi

We started with Salt and Pepper Gobi, which is cauliflower florets tossed with ginger, garlic and onion.  These were some serious flavor bombs.  IMHO, cauliflower on its own doesn’t really have any flavor, but fry them up with ginger, garlic and onion, and it’s a party in your mouth.  This was a grand-slam (if I knew anything about Cricket, there might be a more appropriate reference) and a dish Mrs. Palate said she would order again.

For main courses, we settled on Mirch 65, which is chicken spiked with curry leaves and red hot chiles and Chicken Hot Garlic, which is diced chicken in a crushed garlic and chili sauce (George likes his chicken spicy!)  With a lot of exotic names, and meats, the menu is varied, with a number of Chinese based specialties and an overlay of Indian cuisine, all looking, smelling and tasting delicious.  I strongly recommend Chinese Mirch, just make sure you bring your own fire extinguisher…for your mouth!
Mirch 65
Chicken Hot Garlic

About a year ago, after the closure of the classy, and aptly-named “Limey’s Pub” at the location of the former SamPan (a great source of business from my criminal defense days), in an effort to establish a renaissance of Downtown Framingham, “Pho Dakao” of Worcester opened their second location.  I had heard good things about Pho Dakao…the Yelp reviews (not that I usually rely on those) are generally positive, but I had to try it for myself…winter time is a great time for Pho (pronounced “fah” for the uninitiated, like me).

Pho Ga 
My dining companion, “Critical Lisa” and I met for lunch on a cool January day.  We both decided on the pho (noodle soup, for the uninitiated, like me).  I got a large Pho Ga (chicken) and Critical Lisa got beef meatball pho.  The pho is Vietnamese beef broth soup, served with scallions, onions and cilantro. Accompanied with a plate of bean sprouts, fresh basil, sliced lime and chili peppers (sliced fresh jalapenos) on the side.  Also, if you’re like me, please pass the Sriracha, which they gladly did.  Served with chopsticks, a spoon and fork, it really hit the spot.  A large was hard to finish, but it was delicious enough that I forced myself.

Pho Dakao really is in deep, downtown Framingham, but a really nice addition to the neighborhood.  It’s clear the owners pumped some money in to redecorating, and it was bright and airy, and very clean.  The staff was friendly and efficient; it can be hard to go to an ethnic restaurant where the food is unfamiliar, but the staff was more than happy to describe and explain the choices, and there were several repeat customers around us more than happy to share their suggestions.

While I don’t find myself in downtown Framingham often, with Pho Dakao, and the recent addition of the Deluxe Depot Diner, there’s finally culinary reasons to venture down there.  You should go too.