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  #51  
Old 08-07-2019, 03:08 PM
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For Chinese, the ducks need to be hanging in the window, and you need to time your dialog when placing the order in between the cook's thunderous chops with the ludicrously sized meat cleaver.
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  #52  
Old 08-07-2019, 03:25 PM
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For barbecue, the rule I've heard is that you can tell it's good if you see both pickup trucks and Cadillacs in the parking lot. That means everyone in town eats there regardless of their socioeconomic status.
  #53  
Old 08-07-2019, 03:32 PM
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The moral of the story is, if a Mexican restaurant has any people working there who aren't Mexican, run.
Our former favorite Mexican place had quite a few waitstaff of the Chinese persuasion. Not a problem at all.

But the management changed/got sloppy/whatever and things started going downhill. Not as clean, etc. Then it went out of business.

Now we go to a "chain" place. A whopping 2 locations. Being successful enough that you can open another site is a good sign. (And keep both open for years.) As long as you don't go all Frontera. (We known people who think that Frontera-type places are the peak of great Mexican food. Haven't they tried any non-chain places?)
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Old 08-07-2019, 03:43 PM
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For sushi, I avoid places that combine it with other Asian cuisines. A cliche is that sushi joints with English language names like "Blue Ocean Sushi" aren't good. Stick to Japanese names.

Good Mexican food was easy to find when I was in Silicon Valley. Since moving to a slightly rural area of Washington state, it's been next to impossible. Place with the usual indicators all serve the sneer generic sludge. I've only found one decent mole sauce.
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Old 08-07-2019, 03:55 PM
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Twin Cites? Authentic Mexican Food?



Where I come from Mexican Food is called "food" and yes, chips and salsa is standard, except in the few Mexico City style upscale places.

Only accepting cash means only that they are cheating on their taxes. I lived in San Jose, where outside of Asian, you can;t get more & better authentic Vietnamese food.

The Pho should be presented with a plate of peppers, sprouts, limes, mint and etc, to be added to taste.
Except for Little Saigon in Orange County, California.
  #56  
Old 08-07-2019, 04:02 PM
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Except for Little Saigon in Orange County, California.
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  #57  
Old 08-07-2019, 08:32 PM
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I’d like to emphasize what a few others have mentioned that authentic doesn’t mean a place is necessarily good. Here in Corpus Christi the most authentic sushi place serves some of the worst sushi. The owners and staff are all Japanese, and you won’t find any salmon or other non-traditional fish on the menu. The problem is that they go overboard with wasabi and no matter what you order all you taste is wasabi flavor. Ask for your sushi without wasabi and you’ll get the stink eye because that’s not the way it’s supposed to be served. The rice is also mushy. The sushi places with Mexican or Chinese chefs taste better than the authentic Japanese sushi place. Other than the presence of non-traditional fish like salmon the other places don’t seem any different than the sushi places I ate at when I went to Japan.

My guess is that even though the owners are Japanese and the restaurant is traditional, they just happen to be terrible cooks. It would be like if I went to Japan and opened a place serving authentic Texas barbecue. Just because I’m from Texas doesn’t mean that I can make good barbecue, and people who eat at such a place would get the wrong idea about Texas barbecue because I suck at making it, not because it wouldn’t be authentic.
  #58  
Old 08-08-2019, 08:38 AM
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Mexican - if they DON'T put out a basket of chips and salsa when you sit down.
This is very rare in Mexico.

Last edited by LoneRhino; 08-08-2019 at 08:39 AM.
  #59  
Old 08-08-2019, 08:49 AM
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The serving or not of chips and salsa isn’t really indicative of Mexican authenticity, as I’ve been to restaurants (mostly non-tourist restaurants) in Mexico that do, indeed, bring you totopos y salsas to your table. It’s nowhere close to universal, but it’s not extremely rare, either.

(For reference, I lived in Mexico nearly five years cumulatively one three separate occasions, and I’ve car-tripped extensively, covering nearly everything between Sonora and Quintana Roo.)

I’m usually down on Mexican food in the United States, because while it can be tasty, it’s usually not what I’m looking for when I’m in the mood for guacamaya. If there’s a guacamaya on the menu (the torta, not the bird), then it’s probably a good Mexican restaurant, but the lack of a guacamaya doesn’t disqualify it, because it may simply be a different type of Mexican restaurant. The same for tamales, etc.

If the Mexican restaurant is in a popular tourist spot, say, Old Town San Diego or near Vernor Hwy and I-75, it’s probably going to to have “wet burritos” on the menu and most things will be covered with yellow cheese. If everything comes with beans and rice, it’s probably not authentic (I’ve literally, never, ever ordered a plato in Mexico that came with both beans and rice, except in the airport restaurant at BJX).

If the name of the place is “Taqueria Place-Name” and you go inside and have to stand at a counter and all they have is tacos plus maybe a couple of other things, and a fountain with aguas frescas, then it’s probably going to be an awesome taco place. Restaurants that don’t specialize in tacos tend not to have very good tacos.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:02 AM
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If the name of the place is “Taqueria Place-Name” and you go inside and have to stand at a counter and all they have is tacos plus maybe a couple of other things, and a fountain with aguas frescas, then it’s probably going to be an awesome taco place.
Of all the sweeping genralizations I have read here, this is the one that really rings true to me.

Salt Lake, San Diego, Denver, Tucson, all over the Western US, little nondescript, hole-in-the-wall places like this are where I will try to seek out for excellent, inexpensive, fresh and filling fare.

Is it "authentic"? i am perhaps not the one to ask, but it is almost always damn good food, which to me is the only thing that matters.
  #61  
Old 08-08-2019, 09:19 AM
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Most of my recent experience is in Oaxaca, which kind of has its own culinary traditions. So extremely rare was a bit of an exaggeration.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:29 AM
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My clue is if there are people of that ethnicity, as customers, give it a try. If there are no Japanese in a Japanese resturant, it's likely not that good. Or that ethnic.
Sometimes.

However, it also turns out a lot of people, of any ethnicity, are cheap, and many immigrants tend to be poor and stay around people who look like them, which explains why the Chinese buffets, which are generally complete shit, are always packed with Asians; they offer familiar-looking food and at least the illusion of value.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:38 AM
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The serving or not of chips and salsa isn’t really indicative of Mexican authenticity, as I’ve been to restaurants (mostly non-tourist restaurants) in Mexico that do, indeed, bring you totopos y salsas to your table. It’s nowhere close to universal, but it’s not extremely rare, either.

(For reference, I lived in Mexico nearly five years cumulatively one three separate occasions, and I’ve car-tripped extensively, covering nearly everything between Sonora and Quintana Roo.)

I’m usually down on Mexican food in the United States, because while it can be tasty, it’s usually not what I’m looking for when I’m in the mood for guacamaya. If there’s a guacamaya on the menu (the torta, not the bird), then it’s probably a good Mexican restaurant, but the lack of a guacamaya doesn’t disqualify it, because it may simply be a different type of Mexican restaurant. The same for tamales, etc.

If the Mexican restaurant is in a popular tourist spot, say, Old Town San Diego or near Vernor Hwy and I-75, it’s probably going to to have “wet burritos” on the menu and most things will be covered with yellow cheese. If everything comes with beans and rice, it’s probably not authentic (I’ve literally, never, ever ordered a plato in Mexico that came with both beans and rice, except in the airport restaurant at BJX).

If the name of the place is “Taqueria Place-Name” and you go inside and have to stand at a counter and all they have is tacos plus maybe a couple of other things, and a fountain with aguas frescas, then it’s probably going to be an awesome taco place. Restaurants that don’t specialize in tacos tend not to have very good tacos.
That's pretty much what I was getting at; Mexico is a big and diverse place, and there's a lot of overlap in border states as well, so there are a lot of dishes that can be described as authentically Mexican that only have the vaguest of common threads between them.

And beyond that, if Mexicans invent a dish in the Mexican style somewhere else, is it not Mexican as well, even if it's also a dish from wherever they are?

But I would say that if I go to a taqueria and they serve me lime quarters, chopped onion and cilantro as my garnish, that's usually a sign of a place that's catering mostly to Mexican people and not anglos.

Last edited by bump; 08-08-2019 at 09:39 AM.
  #64  
Old 08-08-2019, 09:45 AM
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Here in Tucson authentic Mexican is likely to be Sonoran, which tends towards savory over spicy. So guests try it and come back complaining that it's not spicy. Well, no. You wanted local Mexican.

A local Chinese restaurant is a mix of authentic- they have a menu with dishes only in Chinese and I know from what my brother has said, who has asked and ordered from it, parts of animals not normally served here, for example - and really not. They have chop suey on the menu.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:13 AM
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A local Chinese restaurant is a mix of authentic- they have a menu with dishes only in Chinese and I know from what my brother has said, who has asked and ordered from it, parts of animals not normally served here, for example.
An authentic Chinese dim sum place will have chicken feet as one of the items.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:20 AM
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Mexican - if they DON'T put out a basket of chips and salsa when you sit down.
That's not really fair. A lot of places are fully aware of American expectations even if the owners are first generation immigrants. And if you don't do that, the customers are gonna feel cheated. Might as well complain if give free drink refills. That is almost uniquely American too.

I mean, maybe an authentic experience, but I think that has nothing to do with the food's authenticity.

Last edited by Ashtura; 08-08-2019 at 10:20 AM.
  #67  
Old 08-08-2019, 10:43 AM
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For me the #1 indicator that I'm in for a good, authentic meal is the clientele. IThe good taquerias here are usually full of immigrant Mexican farm workers. The better Chinese restaurants are usually full of Asian families (for Szechuan, full of Mainland Chinese students from the local universities.). The best Indian restaurant here (Cleveland) is almost always populated by Indian university students, professors, and families. It's even nicknamed the Indian Student Union Bldg. The best Shawarma joint is jammed packed with Muslim families for iftar or during Eid al-fitir. And so on and so forth.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:52 AM
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This is very rare in Mexico.
No, it's not- at least in the border areas. In Mexico city, etc, they serve a different cuisine than the border.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:53 AM
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Most of my recent experience is in Oaxaca, which kind of has its own culinary traditions. So extremely rare was a bit of an exaggeration.
Yes, there are several Mexican cuisines. The one us Americans are familiar with, and call "Mexican" is from the border areas.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:17 PM
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Yes, there are several Mexican cuisines. The one us Americans are familiar with, and call "Mexican" is from the border areas.
same with Indian food. the usual stuff we're familiar with (palak paneer, chana masala, tandoori chicken) is from a few northern parts of India. Lately in my area there have been a lot of South Indian restaurants opening up with things like dosas, idli, Gobi 65, and so on.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:08 PM
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Yes, there are several Mexican cuisines. The one us Americans are familiar with, and call "Mexican" is from the border areas.
Mexico has such a wide array of cuisines that having Sonoran/Border as the default borders (heh!) on the criminal. At least for most of the US. Some of us live in areas blessed by restaurants from every corner of Mexico.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:07 PM
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same with Indian food. the usual stuff we're familiar with (palak paneer, chana masala, tandoori chicken) is from a few northern parts of India. Lately in my area there have been a lot of South Indian restaurants opening up with things like dosas, idli, Gobi 65, and so on.
Just seeing the dosa is making my mouth water.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:55 PM
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Yes, there are several Mexican cuisines. The one us Americans are familiar with, and call "Mexican" is from the border areas.
Here in Chicago, most Mexican immigrants are from much further south. Jalisco, Guerrero, Oaxaca and, especially, Michoacan are well represented. I work with a guy from Veracruz and know a other family from Yucatan/QR. Closer to the border, Mexicans do seem to be from more northern areas.
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:46 PM
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Actually, I would also allow divided plates. That way the best BBQ place in the country gets the Silenus Authentic Star of Approval. But butcher paper is standard at the best places in Texas.
In North Carolina BBQ on a regular plate isn't uncommon at all. Same at Ridgewood in TN.
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:59 PM
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In Blue Highways, William Least Heat-moon road trips off the beaten track and rates cafes based on how many calenders they have on the walls. The more they have the more of a home cooked family restaurant it is likely to be.


I really enjoyed Blue Highways but I avoid any restaurant that announces "home-cooked" food. If I wanted home-cooked food I would eat at home.

Furthermore, based on my observations, any restaurant with the word "family" in the name will not have very good food.

YMMV.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:39 PM
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There is a great Mexican restaurant a few minutes from my house that opened a year or two ago. Family run all first or second generation. There were two types of reviews they got when they opened... "Wonderful authentic food", and "they charge $2 for chips and salsa... I'll never come back." After a month or two they started giving out free chips and salsa to appease the mid westerners. Now they get almost all 5 star reviews. I don't think the chips policy changed the authenticity.
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Old 08-09-2019, 02:08 AM
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An authentic Chinese dim sum place will have chicken feet as one of the items.
I think what he tried was beef tendon.
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Old 08-09-2019, 04:42 AM
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In Blue Highways, William Least Heat-moon road trips off the beaten track and rates cafes based on how many calenders they have on the walls. The more they have the more of a home cooked family restaurant it is likely to be.


I really enjoyed Blue Highways but I avoid any restaurant that announces "home-cooked" food. If I wanted home-cooked food I would eat at home.

Furthermore, based on my observations, any restaurant with the word "family" in the name will not have very good food.

YMMV.

's why I chuckle at people who sneer about things and gloat about how they'd rather go to any "mom & pop diner" over other places.


I'm like, "why, so you can sample the finest wares off of a Sysco truck?"
  #79  
Old 08-09-2019, 08:51 AM
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If a Mexican joint doesn't have a painting and/or statue of Popocatépetl & Iztaccíhuatl, is it even a Mexican restaurant?
Are those her panties at her ankles? Just curious...
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:25 AM
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Best Chinese food I ever had was in 1994 at a place in San Jose, CA. The only English on the storefront was the phrase "Chinese Food Restaurant". Everything else was in presumably Chinese writing. Inside, 90% of the clientele was Asian. Food was fantastic and they did take out too.
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  #81  
Old 08-09-2019, 11:21 AM
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Ordering chinese via grub hub or door dash is fun. Around here anyway, the actual menus have a chinese language only section where they put the things like intestines and fish head soup and cow stomach. Ordering online means it's all in english and you can order the interesting stuff without having an argument. (You won't like it. But I'd like to try it. Why? You won't like it. etc.)
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:14 PM
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Ordering chinese via grub hub or door dash is fun. Around here anyway, the actual menus have a chinese language only section where they put the things like intestines and fish head soup and cow stomach. Ordering online means it's all in english and you can order the interesting stuff without having an argument. (You won't like it. But I'd like to try it. Why? You won't like it. etc.)
"You won't like it" is code for "we're afraid you'll ask for your money back."
  #83  
Old 08-09-2019, 08:56 PM
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Cuban: there better be a counter. With old guys drinking coffee.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:21 PM
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I think what he tried was beef tendon.
What who tried? Beef tendon doesn't have toes and scales. (I quite like chicken feet.)
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:59 AM
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I wouldn't guarantee it - sometimes, I get the impression Chinese and Japanese tourists veer towards signs of home, fearful of the local cuisine. Often escorted straight there by tour operators. Don't think it's a guarantee of quality.
Yes. My rule of thumb was that ethnic families, not tourists, eating there was the sign to look for. Our favorite Japanese restaurant in Jan Jose featured that. The homework-covered table mentioned above is also a good sign.
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The aforism refers to when there's several of those. I know a particular stretch of road a bit south of Burgos where you can find something like a dozen truck stops, but all the trucks go to the same one.
Or may be features at least one cute waitress. I am reminded of a full page cartoon in Playboy, showing a bunch of hulking truckers holding sandwiches to their mouths looking enthralled...

at a pair of legs on the counter in heels, up to mid-thigh...

looming over an American Gothic couple looking upward, dismayed...

and the counterman saying, "You didn't think they stopped here to eat this slop, did you?"
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:18 AM
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What who tried? Beef tendon doesn't have toes and scales. (I quite like chicken feet.)
My brother is the one who ate what I think he said was beef tendon.
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:46 AM
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My brother is the one who ate what I think he said was beef tendon.
Yeah, beef tendon is a common ingredient in all sorts of Asian cuisines (you'll see them at Vietnamese and Chinese, for instance, especially in soups. I think pretty much every pho place here offers at least one type of pho with tendon as one of the ingredients). It can be a little odd texturally (it basically turns into a gelatinous mass after long cooking), but I quite enjoy it.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:57 AM
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Our top Mexican food hangout offers menudo and serves chips and salsa. So pbfft to that stereotype.

A good negative authenticity clue is a Chinese restaurant with a bottle of ketchup on the table.
Unless it is a bottle of chili sauce.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:04 AM
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Goin' Indian


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same with Indian food. the usual stuff we're familiar with (palak paneer, chana masala, tandoori chicken) is from a few northern parts of India. Lately in my area there have been a lot of South Indian restaurants opening up with things like dosas, idli, Gobi 65, and so on.
Yup, lots of variety, the standard "Indian" restaurant in the USA and the UK does mainly north Indian food, plus rice-based dishes that are typical of further south. As time went by there was a move towards Indian regional, such as Sri Lanka. Also Nepalese, which is basically Indian. But after trekking in Nepal I would not be in a great hurry to go to an authentic Nepalese restaurant.Three weeks of tarkari dal baht was enough. That said, I did go to a great Nepalese restaurant in the UK, but the food was more what I know as Indian.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:24 AM
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The one I ran into recently was when I went to our local ethiopian/eritrean restaraunt and they were using the "vacation" menu. I couldn't get ketfo because the owner and his wife (she who is the only maker of ketfo) were on vacation visiting family in Ethiopia
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:55 AM
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and veal on the menu.
Not any veal, but vitello tonnato. In my experience (Europe) if an Italian offers good vitello tonnato, it will be a good Italian. And most vitello tonnato is good, because, frankly, it is fairly easy to cook. But mediocre Italian restaurants do not even offer vitello tonnato on the menu. No idea why.
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Old 08-10-2019, 04:29 PM
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For Chinese food: a bottle of soy sauce on the table, not packets. It's not a sure thing but if they only have packets, the food's likely lousy. One exception: if the packets are genuine Kimlan soy sauce.
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But after trekking in Nepal I would not be in a great hurry to go to an authentic Nepalese restaurant.Three weeks of tarkari dal baht was enough.
My brother has a very easy-to-please palate spent a number of months in Nepal and said the food was about the worse part of it. To hear him tell it, the main ingredients of the cuisine are blandness, plain white rice & grit.
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Old 08-10-2019, 04:40 PM
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Another "authentic" is not "good" example.

I remember a Mexican restaurant in the SW that went full tilt on stuff. E.g., they had a cage on a pole out back for preparing carne seca.

But the food was slightly off from average. It was apparently considered a tourist draw thing by the locals.
  #94  
Old 08-10-2019, 05:11 PM
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This might sound a bit off-topic, but there have been a few "Cockney" or similar "we're just like the locals, really," establishments in London over the last few years.

They could have got it with it if they actually sold Cockney food alongside some other food. But no, their limit of Cockney was usually fish and chips. No pie and mash (and definitely no liquor), no cockles as a starter or side, no eels, mushy peas made in a weird way. Staff entirely under 30, not very good at serving, and trying very hard to talk in whatever they perceive the local accent to be.

Better to go to a greasy spoon instead.
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Old 08-10-2019, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Jophiel View Post
If a Mexican joint doesn't have a painting and/or statue of Popocatépetl & Iztaccíhuatl, is it even a Mexican restaurant?
Is that a Boris Vallejo ?
  #96  
Old 08-10-2019, 06:44 PM
dropzone's Avatar
dropzone is offline
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Huh. Don't think I've seen that in any of the Mexican joints around here. A painting or statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Yes. Pretty much required.
How about Nuestra Senora AND San Martin de Tours AND a Blackhawks jersey AND a photo of the owner posing with the Stanley Cup?

Last edited by dropzone; 08-10-2019 at 06:46 PM.
  #97  
Old 08-10-2019, 07:26 PM
longhair75 is offline
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Location: omaha, ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpha Twit View Post
I'll do better than that. I went to a place in Omaha (fricken OMAHA!) that gave me a couple of free cannoli when I recognized the image of Mario Lanza framed near my table.
I grew up near Omaha's Little Italy. I don't know where you ate, but the best Cannoli is at Malara's

Also: "Try the veal. It's the finest in the City"
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  #98  
Old 08-11-2019, 11:07 PM
Canuckistan Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
Well, no. It just means that there is parking for semis.
And a waitress with large breasts
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