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Cheu Noodle Bar

I don’t often end up going to new and cool restaurants right after they open, but it just kinda happened that way with Cheu Noodle Bar. It was a last minute decision that ended up working out. On the Saturday night of their first week, we happened to be in the neighborhood so we thought we’d give it a shot. They said it would be about a 45 minute wait for a 2-top, but it actually ended up 30 minutes. It’s pretty small on the inside, with one long bar, behind which all the cooking is done, and a fairly small number of tables. The menu is also fairly small, which I like! 
Instead of complimentary bread or peanuts or shrimp chips or whatever, they crush a package of shin ramyun into a bowl so you can snack on the uncooked noodles that are now covered with the flavor packet powder. It’s delicious! But shin ramyun is spicy, so be careful! That big red piece almost killed me!
I’d read that the bbq rice cakes were a must order, so we definitely got those. Oh my word. I could eat these all day, every day! The term rice cakes may scare some people off, but they are the kind of chewy rice-based asian rice cakes, not the crunchy diet snack food. As a korean, I call these ddeok, and I freakin love ddeok, in all forms. And these were amazing! The rice cake pieces seemed a bit caramelized so they were crispity on the outside and chewy and hot on the inside. They’re sweet and savory and just amazing. I just wish that there were more in a portion! It seemed so tiny and they were gone so soon and it made me sad! :-(
M got the ramen which had a thick and porky broth with hunks of melty pork belly. 
I got the brisket noodle which came with a giant matzo ball and brussels sprouts in a spicy broth. This was so good! The broth is slightly spicy and a little bit sour, which is right up my alley. There were several thick pieces of brisket and oh boy, the matzo totally filled my belly! Cheu was so much fun. They just added some new items to the menu so we’ll definitely go back! Service was good and friendly and the food came out fairly fast!
Cheu Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Golden Lotus – Niagara Falls

Sometimes work takes me to the randomest places. Like Niagara Falls. But on the Canadian side. I hadn’t been there since those junior high orchestra trips to Toronto. We stopped there both times for rides through the falls. Those are some fun memories.

And at these randomest places, sometimes you have to stay across the street from a casino, because that’s where your conference is. So when it came time for dinners, I went across said street and ate. Golden Lotus is a chinese restaurant and buffet at the Fallsview Casino. I was in no physical position to eat my money’s worth at the buffet, so I just dined a la carte.
This is a rather fancy place, so they actually have porcelain dinnerware. And tablecloths! I got hot and sour soup. You know it’s my favorite of the chinese soups. This soup looked amazing! It was super duper hot. It was good, but not nearly as amazing as it looked. It just lacked a certain zest. But you could definitely taste fresh and high quality ingredients.
I love dduk (korean rice cake) and I know that they have it at chinese restaurants sometimes, so I was happy to see it on the menu here. Here is the Seafood Shanghai Rice Cake. Basically, if I had ordered chow fun or ho fun or something, it would have been the same, except instead of a wide flat rice noodle, they used the rice cakes. Yum! The doughy and chewy and hot rice cakes were exactly what I wanted. There were tons of big scallops, shrimp, and squid to. The squid was a little bit funky for my liking (something I often experience when I try squid at chinese places, which doesn’t happen at other types of restaurants when I order it) but the rest of it was great. The other options around my hotel ran the gamut of not-so-amazing chain restaurants. For whatever reason, both the casino and Niagara Falls, in general, were rampant with Chinese tourists. And there were lots of them at this restaurant. So if there’s a chinese restaurant and there’s lots of chinese people dining there, I feel pretty safe with that decision.

Peru Food Roundup

I took a rather kick-ass vacation to Peru awhile back. They have wonderful food. I absolutely loved pretty much everything I ate. So here are some very few highlights. I guess you could say these are a version of corn nuts. Except these corn kernels are ginormous. They’re a salty and crunchy snack.
The ceviche is pretty much the best around. I should think so, since Peru invented it. We were taught by a Peruvian to only get ceviche for lunch, only when you’re in a coastal town, and only at a cevicheria. If not, you risk the the seafood not being its absolute freshest. We had absolutely no issues with that here. Here’s the giant corn again, which is a very common accompaniment. I quickly learned to love the giant corn.
The rice with seafood. Holy crap this was amazing. If I could learn to make one thing that I ate in my 2 weeks in Peru, it would be this.
Not only is the corn big, they also have purple corn.
This purple corn is used to make chicha morada. It looks like red wine, but it’s a completely non-alcoholic drink made from boiling purple corn and adding some spices. It’s an unfamiliar taste, but something we all learned to love. I’m going to attempt to make this some day, as soon as I get my hands on some giant purple corn!
They love their meats, and you’ll find plenty of it at anticucheras. Beef and chicken are popular, but you need to try the beef hearts. Even I liked it. We also tried alpaca steak. It’s delicious, but you need to eat it only when it’s rare. It’s exotic but delicious. Speaking of exotic, no one tried the cuy (guinea pig). It seemed too bony!
We couldn’t get enough picarones – pumpkin and sweet potato donuts served with a sweet and sticky syrup. You have to eat them fresh! They are crispity on the outside and doughy and amazing. These beat any kind of american donuts.
Fresh fruit is everywhere, so you can pretty much get any kind of freshly squeezed juice you can think of. Fresh limeades and lemonades are particularly refreshing.
You can also pretty much get any kind of smoothie that you want. You’ll find an amazing array of fruits. Some stuff will be completely foreign to you.
Sometimes, you have to take risks and buy soup from a little old lady on the side of the street. Sure, you’re not quite sure if your stomach will agree, but it has to be done. Even if you’re just about to start a 4-day inca trail hike where there’s no indoor plumbing. Adventure is fun.
And when you’re hanging out in Lima’s famous JFK park (famous because there are hundreds of adorable cats there), you’ll try a random sweet treat from one of the mystery carts. You have no idea what this is, but it’s crunchy and covered with a sweet and orangey syrup. It’s all sticky and gooey but you love it. We ate a lot of homemade foods while we were on the Inca Trail and on our rafting trip. Everything was made with love and absolutely delicious. Lomo saltado was probably a particular standout. It’s like a peruvian stir fry. In general, we were all fans of Peruvian cuisine. I think it would appeal to just about anyone. In fact, I wish there was a genuine Peruvian restaurant near me. I would go all the time. 

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