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tapas

Sampan Happy Hour

I had just gone to Sampan for a regular meal, but after finding out about their happy hour, I decided to go check that out as well. There are a number of small plates for $2 and drink specials too. What’s to lose with $2 appetizers?
One of the cocktail specials… fruity… tasty… We got some seats at the kitchen bar, so you could watch all the action.
Up top we have the scallop with haricot vert, mustard, and almond. Delicious, and well cooked. Bottom is the chicken and shrimp spring roll. They serve it with mustard, but I really wish they just gave me duck sauce. I’m terrible that way. The roll it self was really good though.
The chicken dumplings with soy, sesame, scallions, and radish. Meh.
The chicken satay. This was bland. It was beyond bland. The peanut sauce was fine, but the chicken tasted like nothing. And the chicken had crunchy bits in it. I did not enjoy that. What was it, knuckle or something? Please skip this.
The korean bbq rib, which I got before, and liked before. I still like it! It’s still great!
The lamb chop! I’m not even into lamb, but this was my favorite dish of the night. For real! It’s got a little panko breadcrumb action going on with ginger and yakitori sauce.
The kobe beef hot dog! So yeah, I paid $2 for a hot dog. But the hot dog was made with kobe beef! But it still tasted just like a regular beef hot dog. It was a good dog though, don’t get me wrong. They serve it with mustard but I wish they would have just given me some ketchup. I know ketchup on a hot dog is for weenies, but that’s what I prefer! They broil these little dogs so the outside of them bursts when you bite into em and the rolls also have a bit of crunch. I would get this again! As far as happy hour deals go, this is a pretty darn good one! Get it while it lasts!
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Sampan Small Plates

Sampan is Philadelphia’s latest entry into the celebrity chef dining scene, with Michael Schulson at the helm. It’s a modern asian tapas type of joint, with asian inspired small plates. The place is pretty cool looking even from the outside. Look at those crazy wooden slats, they totally draw you in!

It is a small plates place, and they recommend 3-5 plates per person. And each plate is not cheap. So get ready to spend! Here we have the edamame dumplings. These little translucent pockets are filled with a puree of edamame. The consistency is very creamy and ricotta cheese-like. It is served with a very mild sake based broth. These are very different and delicious! Don’t expect tons of flavor, as these are quite subtle.
Here are the kobe beef satays, with apricot, soy, and mirin. These were pretty good, but I don’t know man, they’re awfully expensive for two teeny little skewers of meat. I realize that the kobe cows are massaged daily by their individual handlers and pampered and such, but I’m just not sure that’s worth it when you just put hunks of their meat on sticks.
Here are some more meats on sticks that I can get a bit more excited about. These are the korean BBQ beef satays. They’ve basically taken bulgogi, rolled them and stuck them on sticks, and topped them with kimchi. Yes sir, these were fantastic!
Here we have something with slightly more heft, the pork banh mi, or at least Sampan’s take on the banh mi. It has berkshire pork belly as the main ingredient, with the standard carrot, cucumber, and cilantro as fixins. This is not nearly like the banh mi you will find at your neighborhood vietnamese sandwich joint, but these are definitely yummy. They do not have the shredded daikon, which I love, so that kind of bummed me out a little bit. And there’s a sauce in there that’s not typically found in other banh mi. It’s also pricey for a banh mi, that’s for damn sure, but for Sampan, it’s one of their tastiest bargains. E was absolutely crazy about this, and this was probably her favorite dish of the night.
Here is Sampan’s version of the “Philly Cheese Steak”. It’s got shredded beef plopped on little toasted buns, and are topped with shallot, cheese, and sriracha. These are a bit on the salty side, but I really enjoyed them anyway. The strong smell of the cheese threw me off initially, but then once my nose got used to it, I really found these to be quite delicious. I think this was probably my favorite of the night, along with the korean bbq satays. They don’t really taste anything like philly cheesesteaks at all, but I think that’s a good thing.We topped off the evening with a visit to Capogiro, my first all summer. I got half blackberry and half yellow plum sorbetto. Jimminy christmas trees, was this yellow plum some of the most fantastic frozen treats I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten yellow plums, but if they taste like this, then sign me up! The blackberry was delicious as well, and really tasted intensely like blackberries, but the yellow plum just blew me away. Definitely thumbs up on both the dinner and the dessert!
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Latest Visit To Bar Ferdinand

We headed over to the Liberties Walk to have dinner at one of the newer restaurants. We didn’t end up going there, and ended up having dinner at Bar Ferdinand instead. One thing I love about Liberties Walk / the Piazza… the free parking! I’m not sure how long that will last, as I have a feeling that whenever the Pathmark goes up, the free parking will be gone. But in the meantime, I enjoy taking advantage of it. It was another beyond steamy night, so we got a table inside. I was kind of stunned that there were people eating outside. Unless you’re that addicted to smoking, it’s just not worth it! The tapas here comes out as it is prepared, so you don’t have any real courses. You just get your food as it’s ready.

Since it was so unbearably hot, if I had my choice, I would have eaten all cold dishes. Alas, the menu really didn’t have very many cold things, unless I just had salad or booze. Luckily for me, one of the specials of the day was a cold dish! Here’s the beautiful and delicious chilled local corn soup with peekytoe crab. Yes people, this was seriously yummy and luxuriously cold! It was really just want I wanted. I would have loved to have eaten a giant punch bowl worth of this. Heck, throw me in the bowl so I could cool off along with eating my way out of the bowl…

I had been craving short rib earlier that day, so I also lucked out with the Montadillo de Costilla – braised beef short rib and olive mashed potatoes with a pomagrante jus. The beef was super tender and fall off the bone and I enjoyed this whole dish immensely.

Here we have the Pastel de Pastor. It is sherry braised lamb, topped with harissa mashed potatoes, further topped with herbed breadcrumbs. It’s sort of like a lamb pot pie? It’s quite lamb-y, but still quite good.

Here is the Mejilliones con Chorizo y Fideos. This is a slightly bigger plate of sauteed mussels, chorizo, and fried capellini in a tomato and beer based sauce. I’ve had this before, and loved it, so I definitely wanted to get it again. The sauce is surprisingly strong and goes well with the mussels as well as the pasta. I could do without the chorizo, because I’m not that crazy about them in general, but it definitely works in this dish.

It was a weekend evening, so they had the outdoor paella. It’s mostly seafood, but there’s also some chicken in there. I don’t know very much about paella, but I know that I like it here. It’s not the largest portion, but it’s plenty for one person. The shrimp in here are ginormous! And I love the fact that there are fresh green beans in this. It’s definitely one of my favorite things to get here.

The last dish to come out was the least exciting. It took so long to show up that we secretly hoped they’d forgotten about it. But alas, it eventually did come out. Here’s the Samfaina. It is a little bake of zucchini, squash, plum tomato, ricotta cheese made from tofu, and sofrito. It was a perfectly fine dish, but neither of us was crazy about it. We would have preferred more cold soup!

I’ve always had good experiences here. The food has always been consistent, and the service tends to be quite good. Our server this night was particularly awesome. He was friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.

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