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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Hi Everyone!

So I realized that I almost forgot something very very important. Sushi! Well...I have a short, but sweet recommendation. ICHIBAN! This place is pure perfection!! I thought I had eaten good sushi before, but I promise you, if you have not eaten here, you are deceiving yourself. I have multiple friends who never even liked sushi before and after trying this place, they started going there to eat sushi every weekend. I'm so serious! It's to the point the water knows them personally. But this place is AMAZING! Nice ambience, but we all know I could care less about that if the food makes up for what's lacking in the space. So I will give you a list of my faves. Unfortunately, I can never remember what's in which roll, but I know the names of the ones I like

My recommendations
Tokyo Roll
Spider Roll
Richmond Roll
Rainbow Roll

My try it at your own risk list:
spicy tuna roll

I was pretty shocked that Ichiban fell short on the basics. The spicy tuna roll is just not good at all. It has way too much tuna and not enough anything else, so the texture and flavor is completely crocked. Besides that, I'm all about Ichiban. The flavors are creative and no one comes near the delish caviar cream sauces they put on top. I haven't found anything near the quality they give you at Ichiban anywhere else in Richmond. They always smile and make sure that everyone is well taken care of, they're incredibly friendly, and they always show how much they appreciate their frequent customers. So, in closing on the Ichiban portion of this post, you will never get sushi as good as what you'll find here...unless of course you go to Umi on West Broad, right across from Short Pump's owned by the same people :P.

Ichiban (**check the business hours before heading there**)
10490 Ridgefield Pkwy
Richmond, VA 23233
(804) 750-2380

Another tasty place for sushi is Sushi Go Round ***NOW CLOSED***
4040 Cox Rd # H
Glen Allen, VA 23060
(804) 346-1005

This place is a bit hidden, but it' pretty tasty. It's actually a cool place to try because the sushi is made fresh in front of you and placed on a conveyer belt. The table is a huge square with one side being the part where the sushi chef prepares and the rest of the table is for patron seating. The pricing is pretty convenient because everything is placed on the belt on color-coded plates according to price. If you don't want what's on the belt, simply put in a request and it will be ready shortly.

Below are some of my faves. Again, I forget what's in them, but they're definitely good!

Hot Night (yummy, especially when prepared fresh! It has cream cheese and it's so good when it's melting!)

Crystal Shrimp

eel (not a roll, but just plain cooked eel. I forgot how they prepare it, but it's tasty)

The spicy tuna is good to go at this place ;P

Also, I haven't tried any of them, but this place always has some AMAZING looking dessers on the belt. All kinds of gourmet cakes and delicious parfaits with fresh fruits. So, all in all, Sushi go Round is way above a Kabuto-like place, but not up to pare with Ichiban. Again, Ichiban is way above most of our expectations for sushi, so don't let the comparison lead you to believe a visit to Sushi go Round won't be worth your while. Have fun eating some delicious sushi!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cambodian Food Part II! Banh Chao (Banh xeo)

So I made Banh chao today!! It turned out perfect!! I was soo happy!  Banh chao is the Cambodian version (different only in name) of the Vietnamese crepe called banh xeo (bahn say oh). In Vietnam and Cambodia, it is a common street food. I actually tried to make it once a while ago, but I had never actually seen anyone make it before, so I totally messed it up.  It just fell apart, and my boyfriend's mom laughed at me.

Here is a video for you to take a look at the technique. It's very important that you tilt the pan immediately to spread the batter evenly because the temperature is up so high that this makes a huge difference in the end result.  If you don't tilt the pan properly, part of your banh chao will be doughy.  The goal is to have a nice, thin and crispy texture.  Dark brown spots are actually a good thing in this case.

So the recipe is as follows:
1 pack Banh Xeo mix (Banh Xeo is the Vietnamese name--Banh Tsyow)

2 green onions thinly sliced

1 yellow onion thinly sliced (rings cut in half)

2 cloves of garlic (optional)

medium shrimp (2 per crepe)

thinly sliced pork loin(about 3 pieces per crepe)(you can buy thick-cut center-cut pork chops and slice it)

bean sprouts (2 bags from Asian market)

1 cup coconut milk (not cream)

3-1/2 cups water

about 1/4 cup oil for pan

fresh basil
fresh mint
butter lettuce (also called bibb or Boston lettuce)
1 thinly sliced cucumber, seedless preferred
sweet fish sauce (

After slicing, preseason all meat with salt, pepper, and garlic (fresh or powder).
Mix both portions of Banh Xeo mix according to pack (1 c coconut milk and 3-1/2 c water) and add green onions (not the yellow) and let sit for 15 minutes.

Heat a skillet to high and put enough oil so that an omelete won't stick, for example. As skillet is heating, add pork, shrimp, and yellow onions stirring constantly. Once the meat is cooked and skillet is fully up to high temperature, ladel batter into pan (least amount possible to cover pan, assisted by tilting pan side to side). Put a hand full of bean sprouts on one side and let crepe cook until edges turn up. Another indicator to confirm doneness is that bubbles will come close to the center.

 Once dark golden brown, fold crepe and plate with herbs and serve with small bowl of sauce. Remember, the key to this dish is the crispiness, so don't rush it. It is worth it to wait until the pan is nice and hot and the crepe becomes dark golden brown. It really should be darker even than the picture I showed.

How to eat:
This dish is eaten with your hands using lettuce to grab crepe along with herbs and cucumber. Dip what you grabbed with the lettuce into the fish sauce and enjoy!

Can be refrigerated for a couple of days and enjoyed later.  Just cover well and reheat in a hot pan.

This dish can be found at Mekong (where it is horribly greasy and I don't recommended it there) and at the place in the plaza beside Tan A Market (I forget the name) at the corner of West Broad and Horsepen. Theirs is good, but I can't say the same for their spring rolls because they put entirely too much overpowering basil.

Source of picture:,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cambodian Food, Oh How I Love Thee

Hi again!

I'm back after a long break! The semester's about to end and final are soon to come, but I had to share this with you all. So last night, I made ktiew chaa. DELISH!! Ktiew chaa is Cambodian stir fried rice noodles. So, before I continue, just for a brief moment in education, Cambodian is in Southeast Asia (in otherwords, South of India), sandwiched in the middle of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. It has some elements in common with Thai cuisine, but much more in common with Vietnamese. In fact, Cambodian (Khmer - prnounced "k.mai" (the "i" sounds like "eye" in Cambodian)and Vietnamese food have tons of dishes in common.

So, back to the dish I made. Ktiew chaa ("iew" pronounced like the interjection "eew!" in English) is deeelish!! Cambodian food tends to be fairly low in fat and always maintains a flavor balance between sweet (sugar), sour (typically by use of lime or unripe fruits), salty (mainly through use of fish sauce), bitter (by use of herbs such as basil and cilantro and leaves such as lime leaf), and hot (lots of Thai chili peppers).

So in ktiew chaa, what you use is round pho noodles (those used in the delicious Vietnamese soup we all love), a base sauce made of fish sauce, salt, sugar and water with lots of chives, julienned carrot, green onion, yellow onion, bean sprouts, thinly sliced pork belly, and shrimp. If you like Thai food, you'll love this! It's a much "cleaner" flavored rice noodle dish, more along the lines of a Pad thai than a dark sauce dish like pad se-eew or drunken noodles. Below is the recipe I used. I am still learning Khmer (Cambodian) food, but I'm getting better and trying new things. This dish was pretty easy. Just spoon about a tablespoon of the sweet fish sauce you prepare at the end over your serving of ktiew chaa and enjoy!!

Where do you buy all of this stuff?? Well, we actually have plenty of Southeast Asian markets in the Richmond area, both in Chesterfield and in the West End. In Chesterfield, we have two within about 10 minutes of one another.

This place keeps fresh tasty Cambodian treats and Vietnamese pork-stuffed buns ( available for sale. The young staff members are fully bilingual and the older ones speak some English

New Battambang Market
6517 Iron Bridge Pl
Richmond, VA 23234
(804) 230-7267

This place is fully bilingual and the staff is very friendly
Sahath By Asian Grocer
4004 Meadowdale Blvd
Richmond, VA 23234
(804) 275-1444

In the West End, just turn turn right onto Horsepen from Broad(turn toward the side of the road Home Depot is on)and keep going until you can turn near Full Kee and there is a small complex of houses turned into Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries, and markets. Just drive around that block. The Vietnamese one is called Far East (they have a little more variety as far as other Asian foods, like Korean) and the Cambodian one is Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia). The one I go to, Phnom Penh, is on the street before you get to the last street of the complex, which is where you find Kim's Bakery and Tay Do Restaurant, but on the opposite side of the street, facing in the opposite direction as well.

So, enjoy your trip to the Asian market, look around (their limes tend to be way better than the crappy dry ones Food Lion has been getting lately)and compare prices. Herbs, leaves, and lettuces as well as coconuts, coconut milk, and Asian sauces (ie: fish sauce) tend to be much cheaper at Asian markets than elsewhere, though many of these products can easily be found in any supermarket.

Enjoy! I think I might make some Banh Chao tonight! It's the same as Vietnamese Banh Xeo (crispy Vietnamese meat-filled crepes)! Ill post about how it turns out :P!! Cant wait!

Bonus suggestion:

Though this post does not specifically relate to Thai food, it reminded me of something you may want to know. For anyone who has tried to make Thai at home, if you can't get it right, one reason may be that you are using regular basil found in the supermarket, as opposed to Thai basil, which has a strong licorice flavor and is a dark purple color. You cannot substitute one for the other. You can Thai Basil in any Southeast Asian market for cheap. Probably less than a dollar for a sizable bunch. Sometimes you can even manage to find a plant during the summer at Tom Leonard's Farmer's Market (actually a farmer's market-like grocer) behind Best Buy and World Market on West Broad Street. (4150 Brook River Drive, 23060)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fish in Coconut sauce (Pescado con Coco)

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but I'm back! This one will definitely be well worth the wait. So my good friend and I were studying...or at least trying to, and we were terribly distracted because we were both really hungry. So I started looking around online to see what type of local international restaurants were good in Charlottesville, where I study. After looking at a few places, particularly a Korean place and a Central American/Caribbean fusion restaurant, I decided I wanted Dominican food. Lucky me, no real Dominican food in Charlottesville.  How sad. But lucky me again, I DO know how to make my own Dominican food. Despite the lack of Dominican markets in the area, there are a few dishes I can make using what's available in the regular grocery store.

My friend Justin had already taken out Tilapia to thaw, so I remembered I had a recipe for Pescado con Coco (fish in coconut sauce) from when I was in the Dominican Republic. I had never made it nor eaten it before, but I figured it was worth a try. There are very few Dominican dishes I don't like. So we went to the store and gave it a go. Let me say, it was DELICIOUS!! For those of you who are picky about anything beyond the typical American or have friends or family members like that, this is the meal for you. I can't imagine anyone not liking this, and I have some terribly picky eaters in my family. I will likely make this dish for Easter to get the feet of some of those people wet as far as the international food goes.

So let me get down to the nitty gritty. This dish is AMAZING! It's creamy and has a very slight sweetness, which is a nice contrast to the faint lime flavor and the nice dark oregano that ties it all together. This one is a MUST try!!! Here's the recipe! It's courtesy of a kind santiaguera in the Dominican Republic, one of my host mom's neighbors when I studied there. Many thanks to her!


Dominican Fish in Coconut Sauce

6 pieces of fish is what I used. What you want is enough to cover a rectangular Pyrex
dried oregano
Adobo spice mix (found in Latin foods isle of any grocer or in Latin market. Get the Goya brand with the blue top)
4-5 garlic cloves, mashed
1 onion (sliced into rings)
about 1/2 cubanelle pepper (light green pepper found in most grocery stores ( here's a pic Be careful not to confuse with Hungarian
1 can coconut milk (NOT cream. They are different)
          This can be found at any grocery in the Asian section of the International aisle or in any
          Latin market or Asian market) If you have to get Thai kitchen brand because that's all
          you see, be aware that it will likely be completely separated when you open it. Don't
          worry, just scoop it all out and it will mix once you stir the sauce over the stove
2 TB tomato paste (NOT tomato sauce)
          be sure your paste is not seasoned/flavored - sometimes it is written small on the front
          and you may not notice it says basil flavor)
2 tsp cilantro
1-2 limes (NOT key lime)
flour - for battering the fish (don't do a cornmeal mix, just regular flour)
oil for frying

Heat a frying pan with oil over medium heat. Heat another pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat (# 3 or #4). Wash the fish with lime (rub lime juice all over the fish and do not rinse it off ). Salt and pepper the fish and further season with Adobo. Sprinkle lightly with oregano (don't overdo it. Maybe 5-6 pieces of oregano per side. you dont want a coating).

 Season the flour generously with Adobo, add salt and pepper, and add oregano). Place vegetables (garlic, onion, cubanelle) and tomato paste in pan with olive oil over low heat and sautee, mixing tomato paste in well and stirring occasionally to avoid sticking or burning of paste. Sautee until translucent. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

In the meantime, toss the fish in seasoned flour until well-coated. Fry fish until golden brown on both sides.  Drain oil with paper towel and place fish in Pyrex in a single layer.

 Shake can of coconut milk well and pour it into pan with sauteed vegetables (should be translucent at this point) and tomato paste. Stir until uniformly mixed and pour sauce over fried fish.

 Enjoy!! Ahi tiene tu pe'ca'ito con coco pa' chuparse lo' dedo' (There you have your finger-likin' good fish in coconut sauce)!

 Buen provecho!!