As much as I love eating in NY, I live in NJ. And so it's imperative that I have some go to places close to home.
And I've found a couple since moving in August. I love Paratha Junction for Indian food. But I haven't found some staples like a money Chinese food spot or just local places with good dishes. So I set out to try four local spots with my wife. The spots we tried were Szechuan Ace, Paradise Biryani Point, Dosa Grill and Rai Rai Ramen. All located within a quarter of a mile of each other. All 5 minutes from home. And all on the same night! Sounds like fun, huh?
I ordered from the train so I could pick each up on my way home. First, Chinese food.
I got a spicy chicken dish off the regular menu and fried chicken over rice and shredded potato cooked in red oil from the szechuan menu. I also got a scallion pancake, although it was more pancake than scallion. The highlight was the potato. It had a nice flavor and texture. The chicken was cooked well and was served with minced pork and the Chinese greens, like the NYC Cravings truck introduced me to. It wasn't as good as the NY counterpart, which wasn't surprising to me.
I didn't get the biryani here because I my eye on another rice dish. Plus, the biryani at Paratha is really good. Instead, I decided to try the butter chicken. It was enjoyable, but with a closer and equitable option, I doubt I would go back just for that.
I got some vegetarian Indian from Dosa Grill. Bhindi masala was the order here (okra in a mild curry sauce) was also very tasty. But it wasn't a game changer. Udipi is closer, so we'll probably stick with that. That's the bhindi masala below.
Rai Rai Ramen
I was excited to try this spot. They have a lot of standard Chinese dishes and sushi on the menu, but I was focused on the Japanese ramen section. I got the chicken katsu curry ramen and kim chee fried rice. The curry broth that came with the ramen was delicious and flavorful. The chicken katsu was nice; panko breaded, crispy and juicy. The only downer were the noodles which were very much like what you would get out of a package. The star of our tasting was definitely the kim chee fried rice. Absolutely delicious! It's hard to mess up fried rice, but this was just great. The kim chee gave great flavor and the pickled ginger gave a bit of bite. We will definitely be heading back here!
It was definitely a fun night of eating, and we now know some more local spots with unique dishes. Love eating, even on the other side of the commute.
It was also date night, and you can read more about that from my wife Tanya over at tanyaandeddie.com.