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The Pandan Room – Hackettstown

If you travel for work, sometimes you get to go to really awesome places, like Italy or Boston. Sometimes you get to go to less illustrious places. But wherever I’ve ended up, I’ve always managed to eat somewhere interesting. I’ve had to go to Hackettstown, NJ, a lot, and my best meal there was at Pandan Room. Man alive I love these prawn crackers! I ate the whole damn bowl. I can’t buy these in a store, because I would eat them too quickly.
I got the soup special which was a pumpkin chestnut soup. What’s not to love? I love pumpkin! I love chesnuts! Put them together!
For my main dish, I got the Babi Kecap Manis. These were little mini pork shanks marinated with Indonesian sweet soy, fresh shallot, lemongrass, and medium chili sauce. They were served with a sweet potato puree and quinoa. Quinoa at an asian restaurant? Yep! I’ve never had an entree quite like this. It was delightful!
Everything had been so delicious and also interesting, so even though I was beyond stuffed, I wanted to get some dessert. So I picked the banana mini cheesecake with vanilla ice cream. These were essentially deep fried cheesecake bites topped onto ice cream, with some sliced strawberries. Talk about decadent! This place was such a nice surprise. Service was great, attentive, and my server was super friendly. I was glad to see many people eating there, and it seemed to be mostly locals and regulars. 

Pandan Room Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sagami Reopens

Sagami closed for a short time this summer, to go on vacation and to raise their prices. It’s ok though, because they probably needed to do that, their prices were probably too low. Even with the newer slightly higher prices, eating at Sagami still beats most other sushi spots, in quality and price. They still have amazing sushi and other japanese foods that are beyond worth the drive over to New Jersey. They still make the best agadashi tofu. Ever. EVER. I could eat this every day. I often wish I could. My uncle also got the sunomono, and the one at Sagami is particularly fancy, but the picture is not working. For the love of food, it just won’t upload! 
My mom and her sushi regular. She’s so regular with her sushi regulars. Everything is so beyond fresh! And we know this for sure, because we went the first night it reopened.
We’d been planning this family outing for weeks, and until we went, my aunt and uncle kept going on and on about the chirashi. Chirashi this, chirashi that. I had no idea wht chirashi even was. Well, they finally go their chirashi, and it’s so much food, neither of them could finish their’s.  It’s a giant pile of thick slices of sashimi, heaped on top of a giant pile of sushi rice. Whoa nelly. 
I got the kitsune udon because I’m the weirdo that didn’t order sushi. And I’m fine with that. Give me the agadashi tofu and udon and I’m a happy camper. I don’t make the trip over to Collingswood, nearly enough. But I really should, I really really should. It’s that good. They still have low ceilings, you can still get lost trying to find it, and it’s still a byob. All things that make Sagami special.

Sagami on Urbanspoon

Not So Friendly At Friendly’s In Hackettstown

When it’s past 8 on a weekday in Hackettstown, the dining choices are beyond limited. I could have gone to Ruby Tuesday or something along those lines, but I decided to stop at Friendly’s instead. I haven’t been to Friendly’s for years. But the last time I was there, I remembered having a pretty darn good salad. So I thought I could try getting that again.
Indeed, I got that salad, the Asian Chicken Salad. It is a heap of mixed greens topped with sliced ginger-glazed grilled chicken breast, with mandarin oranges, almonds, and wonton strips with a sweet ginger-sesame dressing. This salad is really good! It’s especially good for those who like sweeter dressings. The chicken is really good too, cooked well and tender. I know it might surprise you, but really, this salad is quite good.
I was actually pretty full, but since I was at Friendly’s, I felt like I had to get a sweet treat. I got the Strawberry Shortcake sundae. It’s 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream with chunks of vanilla pound cake and strawberry topping. Well, this thing was kind of gross but kind of not gross. I thought it would be actual hunks of cake, but it was cubes of some weird packaged pound cake type substance that they must specifically make for this sundae. And as puzzled as I was whether I liked this thing or not, I ate it like it was my last meal and I only had 30-seconds to eat it. It was kind of disturbing how quickly I scarfed this down. But I’m still no sure what I thought about it. What I am sure of is that the lady who waited on me wanted nothing to do with me. And she was about the least friendly person that has ever served me, definitely ironic since I was at Friendly’s. Oh well. She can suck it.

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