Tag Archives: shrimp

Mother Kelly’s in Cedarhurst – Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 2)

Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 1)

A family owned business with a loyal following, Mother Kelly’s is a five towns restaurant that is never empty. With a huge menu, mainly focused on home-cooked Italian food, there is a dish for anyone who visits. Whenever I travel home, a visit to Mother Kelly’s is usually in the itinerary. The consistently great food makes it a go-to place for everyone who lives within a 5 mile radius.
Time to look at the food, but before we get into the main courses, I would be brain dead if I didn’t mention the complimentary garlic rolls and bean salad every patron receives:

complimentary starters

complimentary starters

The rolls are spiral shaped and filled with garlicky butter and herbs. I pick around the basket for the crispy pieces (like my mom), while my sister and Lauren go for the softer pieces. Regardless of the type you prefer, these rolls are insanely good. It is a near to impossible to refrain from downing the bread basket before the real food comes along. If you have zero will power and are full of garlic bread fear, it’s a good idea to stick with the bean salad. Varying types and colors of beans covered with a vinegar-y dressing make my palate scream in anticipation for a hot meal.

After a few plates of the bean salad and around 10 minutes of deliberation, Lauren and I decided to split a meal. The portions could feed 2-3 people as it is, so I was not worried about going hungry. Here’s what was delivered:

makes me melt

makes me melt

Calamari and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce over spinach (instead of pasta) – there is nothing bad to say about this enormous plate of seafood. Some adjectives that come to mind: homey, comforting, filling, healthy. This dish doesn’t force you to think too hard and that is appreciated – I just tucked into the plate of goodness and finally felt like I was home.

Per usual, I saved the best bites for last – in this case, the calamari tentacle-y pieces:

to me, this is art

to me, this is art

And my sister decided to test out her camera skills with my last beautiful specimen:



My family ordered envious dishes and I made sure to taste each one:

Mom's shrimpies

Mom's shrimpies

Shrimp marinara over spinach
Quote from mother: “it was an explosion of flavors in my mouth – the shrimp were plump, firm, salty, with just the right amount of fishiness; the marinara sauce was sweet with a touch of basil; the sauteed spinach was delightfully garlicky.” I think she liked it!
steroid clucker

steroid clucker

My sister (lovingly known as Poop) had the chicken francaise – the white meat chicken (or many chickens) had a wonderful meaty texture I don’t often enjoy.
I'm a beautiful chick

I'm a beautiful chick

My stepfather, Ricardo, ordered another chicken dish, but this one was stunningly glazed with a balsamic sauce. I loved this sweet masterpiece – a real knockout.

As if that wasn’t enough food, the Mother Kelly includes a side of spaghetti:

don't ignore me!

don't ignore me!

If you can possibly manage it (and I never can), the desserts look like they are worth a food coma:

this pic does NOT do me justice

this pic does NOT do me justice

Forget the 5 mile radius, if you can get your butt in a seat at Mother Kelley’s……..GO!

Mother Kelly’s
490 Chestnut Street
Cedarhurst, New York 11516
(516) 295-5421


El Azteca for a work day lunch

During a busy workweek, it’s imperative to get out of the office for an hour or so to grab a bite to eat. This week, I lunched with my favorite work friend, Evie. We ran down the block to El Azteca, a mexican restaurant in midtown Atlanta. Although mexican food gets a bad wrap in Atlanta, the gnarly grub at El Azteca is consistently cheesy, fatty, and filling. It’s by no means great food (and many will argue it’s not even good food), but you do always get free chips and salsa.

I'm free!

The [free] chips and salsa come to the table right away. Hot from fryer and sprinkled with some salt, “it’s good” (says Evie). Personally, I like the non-chunky salsa for the nice amount of heat and the dressing-like consistency. The chips are a cunning distraction from the gaudy decor and the image-filled, Americanized menu.

the drinks are huge and refilled constantly

Evie got the lunch special: a chicken chimichanga with a guacamole salad (ensalada) and a side of [mexican] rice. (what makes it mexican rice, I have yet to find out.)

I'm the special one today!

The deep fried burrito was satisfying to Evie. Here is her review – “The pico de gallo was fresh, however the sour cream became warm and melty from the hot plate. Oh, and you can see the surplus of sour cream they give out in my empty plate picture below.” (Thanks Evie!)

job well done

In preparation for Thanksgiving weekend, I tried to stay healthy (which is quite a feat at El Azteca):

exceeded expectations

Other than the not-very-red-or-ripe tomatoes, the salad was pretty great. The lettuce was crisp, the avocado both firm and creamy, and the shrimp was seasoned well and sauteed to a T.

salsa was my dressing (you can see the extra drippings)

As far as El Azteca goes, it’s all about expectations. I had the lowest of the low expectations, and thus, I was pleasantly surprised.

My advice — come here for a quick mid-week meal with an empty stomach and your lowest expectations. Or, don’t eat the Mexican food and create your own salad.

Update: I was just told by a different work friend (Lauren) that her chicken tacos tasted like Campbell’s chicken noodle soup = FAIL. Quote, “it was even liquid-y and gross”

El Azteca Mexican Restaurant III on Urbanspoon

(404) 249-1522
1784 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Sushi House Hayakawa……Again?

It has become quite clear to me that my eating at, thinking about, photographing, and spending money at Sushi House Hayakawa has become a bit much. And, to add fuel to the fire, I’m heading back there tonight at a friends request (and because it is absolutely delicious, fresh, and reasonably priced). In order to refrain form repeating content on this infant of a blog, I will quickly highlight some of the new bites of Japanese food that have entered my belly.


ikura, ikura, galora

Sushi rice topped with chopped seaweed and ikura (salmon eggs). Simple, but intensely flavored with the sweet (from a soy/wine marinade), briny egg goo. When this arrived, I asked for a plate upgrade and got a few plops of uni (sea urchin).

oh how a lil uni can change a dish

It tastes as good as it looks – superb.

I’ve covered parts of my trio in the past (think Would You Eat This? and Dreaming About), so here is the big picture:


salty ikura with creamy uni, sour umeboshi flavored jellyfish, spicy wasabi raw octopus

It’s my version of a well balanced combination platter.

Lauren ordered a couple of rolls and I helped eat them:


spicy tuna


I'm special tonight!

The special roll had shrimp tempura, crab, tobiko (flying fish roe), eel sauce, wasabi mayo – while the size of each roll made it difficult to tackle, the taste made up for it.


blow torching

As always, the personable Chef Hayakawa, provided some entertainment with his blow torch act.

After tonight, I will most likely decrease my frequency of visits to Sushi House Hayakawa – if only to up the anticipation/appreciation ante.

Sushi House Hayakawa on Urbanspoon

Sushi House Hayakawa
5979 Buford Hwy. Red & Green Steakhouse Shopping Center A-10
Atlanta, GA 30340

Flip Burger Boutique: Lunch on Howell Mill Road

It’s no wonder it took me many, many months to visit Flip Burger Boutique – I don’t eat burgers. But when a work friend suggested a lunch trip and showed me the milkshake menu, we headed right on out onto I-75 North to Howell Mill Road. Located in a hustly bustly part of Atlanta in west midtown, Flip is a loud scene (both visually and aurally). It almost seems like a constant party within the restaurant walls. It was crowded when we arrived and jumped at the chance to sit at the interactive chefs’ bar. We were on top of the action:


working the busy lunch hour


plates waiting for burgs

We decided to order different milkshakes for all the more tasting.


impossible to choose

Inevitably, we went with the most popular shakes – nutella + burnt marshmellow & krispy kreme:


follow the smoke signals

You can still see the smoke coming off the krispy kreme milkshake from the liquid nitrogen – so very cool.
The creative director, Richard Blais (of Top Chef fame) definitely thought this one up all by his lonesome.
The nutella shake had a mostly chocolate flavor with only a hint of nutella/hazelnut. And the lightly scorched marshmellows added a dipping element to an otherwise ‘sipping only’ pleasure. Oh how I enjoyed eating this with a spoon rather than a straw – no complaints here!
The krispy kreme took a couple of sips to get the full donut-y flavor. It was tasty, as most iced cream mixed with donuts would be.

After the double milkshake action, I attempted to go the healthy route with my entree (which may have been my biggest failure at Flip):


we don't look much like burgers

I nixed the bread for lettuce wraps and the mayo for nothing. On the left you see the tuna burger made with spicy yellow fin tuna, pickled ginger, vietnamese herb salad. On the right is a ‘po boyger’ which is a shrimp patty, shaved lettuce, tomato, fried lemon, tabasco.
I’m sorry to say the tuna burger was a disaster. It was completely overdone to the point of no return (which is weird because the waitress asked if I would be okay with a medium rare cook and I said “the rarer, the better”). Looking back, I should have sent it back and pointed out the mishap but I was on a lunch break and didn’t have the time for that. Plus, it was kinda fishy tasting – it went almost untouched 😦
The shrimp, on the other hand, was a plump, tender patty that fell apart with every bite (and I liked that – it made it messy). The tabasco was the shrimp’s best man in this wedding of flavors and fell hard for him. He lit up my mouth (read: heart).

My coworker was wise and went beefy. He ordered the philly and the rBQ:

2009-11-10 12.48.23

atta boy!

and here’s the detailed review (thanks, Andrew!)
“The philly had french onions, green peppers, American cheese whiz and ketchup and the rBQ had pulled brisket, coleslaw, rBQ sauce and smoked mayo. In hindsight I think I should have eaten the philly first because the cheese whiz had congealed into a semi…-solid state by the time I got to it. The rBQ was great! I was impressed that they actually cooked the burgers med-rare. With the assembly line of burgers and their smaller size I was not optimistic that they would be the correct temperature. Flip had a trendy feel which made me feel a bit out of place. Kinda like the time I wandered into Hot Topic looking for some khaki pants. I WILL go back, even if it is only to try another one of their decadent milk shakes!”



pillars of health

Hand cut french fries and vodka battered onion rings balanced out the rest of the meal. They were perfectly crisp, salty, and delicious.

I’m with Andrew- I am more interested in going back to Flip to taste out the rest of their interesting milkshake flavors, rather than the burgers. Or to sit at the chef’s bar and watch the hardworking guys use gadgets to create a tweaked version of classic American fare.


squirting mayo from a cannister

2009-11-10 12.30.01

they love this technique


eggs and BBQ sauce in an immersion circulator

FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon

Flip Burger Boutique
1587 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318

Chateau de Saigon Take Two

My first meal at Chateau de Saigon was excellent. I craved the Lemon Grass Tofu dish everyday, so I was pulled back for a visit a few days later.

Of course, I had to get the tofu:


must snap a


photo before


diving in

It was just as delightful as I remembered: crunchy outer layer with a silky smooth innard, topped with a nice bit a heat.

My friend, Lindsey combined her Jewish roots with traditional soup and ordered the Pho with brisket:


meat - check, broth - check, noodles - check

It came with the expected herbs, sprouts, and flavor enhancers:



I caught her picking some of the white fat off the meat, but I believe she enjoyed the broth.
Meredith (of the home-made blintzes fame) had a salad and noodle entree:
Goi Xoai Tao Tom Thit – Shrimp (no pork) Apple Mange Salad with mint leaves, fried onions, crushed peanuts. The salad was only ok – it does not live up to C’om’s version but it is passable.


noodles, where are you?



Crispy Fried Egg Noodle with chicken – the noodles were crunchy (as advertised) and the chicken was tender. I did not love the sauce, but there was nothing wrong with it. It was just a bit glossy and a touch sweet.

I ordered the Seafood Clay Pot or Hai San Tay Cam:


covered with herbs



It came with shrimp, scallop, calamari, calamari ball, fish filet, and tofu – for the most part, the seafood was cooked correctly, slightly veering on overdone (read: rubbery). I bet this tends to happen in clay pots since the bubbling sauce continues to cook your protein as it sits in front of you at the table – you gotta eat fast!

I had a love affair with my favorite bite:


meant to be together forever


just me and you


ahhh, life is good

The main event of the meal was Lauren’s order of La Vong Sizzling Fish. There’s a lot of ground to cover so it’s coming up next………

Chateau de Saigon on Urbanspoon

Co’m Vietnamese Grill on Buford Highway


Co’m Vietnamese Grill is an ethnic restaurant that I visit more than any other. It’s consistently good, the food comes out fast, and it is one of the better places that is the shortest distance from the city. I haven’t tried out too many dishes because I am far too infatuated with the ones I always get.


Viets make salad a celebration


I'll never cheat on you

A combination of mango, papaya, apple with any choice of protein (I chose shrimp) topped with fresh herbs, crushed peanuts and a spicy chile sauce. The chopped up ingredients create a texture that is uber pleasing to my mouth and the flavors of the sweet and salty excite my tastebuds. This salad is a part of every meal I have at Co’m and will continue to be.


stuffed leaves

What a cool concept! I had never tried grilled grape leaves stuffed with a meaty substance until I started eating at Co’m. I always choose salmon to fill up my leaves and it never disappoints. The salmon is ground up and resembles a hamburger texture, while the leaves are crisp. It’s hard to break the rolls into pieces, so you are better off not sharing :).

Seafood fragrant rice topped with flounder is Lauren’s go-to dish. It is also served with the spicy chile sauce, which fits on almost anything Co’m serves up.

Notice that weird looking pate-like thing on the side of the plate? Have a close look:


what in the world?

Lauren requested a single shrimp crabcake as a tester item. And for 75 cents, she got this gray-looking slab. It was interesting to say the least. I didn’t love and I didn’t hate it, but I won’t be ordering it anytime soon.

Lastly, it is important to visit Co’m if you need a caffeine/sugar kick to the dome. The iced coffee can jolt you back to life and send you off to complete your day at lightening speed. Maybe stick to these before 8pm to ensure a sound sleep.


not as innocent as I look

Co’m is mostly known for the grilled meat, but I can vouch for the lovely grilled fish and seafood preparations they are knocking out of the kitchen. I would steer clear of the cakes and balls and stick to the seafood in its natural shape and form. No one needs to eat a gray slab of sea.

Co’m Vietnamese Grill Restaurant
4005-E Buford Hwy.
Atlanta, GA 30345
404-320-0405 Tel.
At corner of Clairmont Rd &
Buford Hwy,
inside Buford Plaza

Co'm Vietnamese Grill on Urbanspoon

La Pietra Cucina: For the Love of Soup

Many of you are probably saddened by the recent death of Soupy Sales. In honor of the comic, I wanted to dedicate this post to him.

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea who Soupy Sales is. But, I have been sick recently and eating loads of soup so the timing just worked out (don’t you just love when that happens?).

An in-house work meeting prompted a nearby meal. My office happens to be located directly above one of the best Italian restaurants in the city of Atlanta, La Pietra Cucina.

Newly renovated with a high level of service, La Pietra is a luxurious way to spend a lunch hour. Case in point: my chamomile tea came in a large wooden box, and looked more like decorative potpourri than drinking tea.

Anyway, as soon as I looked at the menu I knew what was in order: SOUP


octopus can heal

Braised Octopus & Chick Pea Soup with escarole and olivastro

Boy, this really hit the spot. There was a strong lemony note within the broth that felt great on my throat. The octopus chunks varied in size and shape, which made the process of eating a joyous occasion – somewhat like enjoying alphabet soup as a child. The chickpeas added some heft and weight to the bowl; they also soaked up some of that good broth flavor.

For my entree, SOUP!


swimming squiddies

Calamari in Sicilian Tomato Zupetto with vermentino, toasted garlic, couscous, pine nuts

How can you have octopus without squid?

I’ve had this dish before and it is a satisfying meal – a heavier feel than the octopus due to the olive oil, but the flavors pop in a different way. Large slices of garlic, halved caper berries & olives, soft couscous, and crunchy pine nuts combine in a warm tomato base that begs to be drunk. This one warms the belly.

I’m not sure if it was the back-to-back soup action or the fact that I ate OctoSquid for lunch, but I left feeling a bit warmer and healthier.

Post-Script: my lunch mates ate very well.


I'm cut by human hands

Hand Cut Pappardelle with bolognese ragu, grana padano


order envy ensued

Black Spaghetti with rock shrimp, scallions, hot calabrese sausage

Both friends cleaned their plates 🙂

La Pietra Cucina on Urbanspoon