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Recipe inspiration, tips, and kitchen hacks from the Chowhound editors.

Mama Lucy’s Soulful Comfort Cuisine

Mama Lucy’s has amazing fried catfish, says Benny Choi. It has a thin, crunchy crust covering the hot, moist, tender fish–and it’s not at all greasy. Fried chicken wings are also admirably fried, with a nice crust and tasty flesh. Also try the tender collard greens, with a subtle balance of sweet and tangy. Lunch is around $16, including an entrée, two sides, and a drink. Sweet corn and red beans are just OK.

Mama Lucy’s Soulful Comfort Cuisine [SoMa]
1 Gilbert Street, San Francisco

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Mama Lucy’s Soulful Comfort Cuisine

Pardo’s – Superior Peruvian Chicken in the Village

At Pardo’s, a Peruvian chicken chain, the secret is in the marinade. Brewed from a recipe developed at the source in Lima, it works its way deep into the bird, resulting in exceptionally flavorful meat. The chicken comes off the rotisserie moist and tender, with crisp, delicious skin. “Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good roast chicken,” notes jdmetz, “and this place came through big time.” Alongside the chicken come a couple of house-made sauces, of which the green peppercorn is the winner, says Benjamin68.

There’s more than roast chicken here. Hounds recommend yuquitas (yucca fries), chicharron (fried chicken with an unusually light cornmeal crust), garlicky, bacony stewed canario beans, and dense but refreshing flan for dessert. Parrillero (grilled chicken fillet), anticuchos (grilled beef heart), fried rice, and a handful of other sides round out the short menu.

Pardo’s [West Village]
92 7th Ave. S., near Grove St., Manhattan

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Pardo’s chicken–Just as good as now-defunct El Pollo
The Best (Peruvian) Rotisserie Chicken–Pardo’s
New Peruvian Chicken Place in West Village

Exit Bar Minnow, Enter Brooklyn Burger Bar

Bar Minnow, a once-promising Park Slope seafood house, has finally gone under after months of decline. In its place is Brooklyn Burger Bar, which appears to be struggling in its opening weeks. Assessments of the food range from tasty to just awful, and service sounds like amateur hour. One bright spot: the black and white shake, tasty and enormous, with just the right ratio of chocolate syrup to vanilla ice cream, reports redgirl.

In Astoria, Le Sans Souci has closed, ending a two-year run of solid bistro fare, friendly service, and live jazz. Kitchen turnover did the place in, according to the owner. “It is sad to see this happen,” laments bebe.

Down on the Jersey Shore, Pearl of the Sea is no longer by the sea. Displaced by redevelopment from its oceanfront space, this hound-endorsed Portuguese restaurant has moved inland and rechristened itself Pearl of Lisbon. Still good, says jsfein: sangria, garlic shrimp, filet mignon, and bony but delicious whole snapper are as satisfying as ever.

Brooklyn Burger Bar [Park Slope]
formerly Bar Minnow
444 9th St., at 7th Ave., Brooklyn

Le Sans Souci [Astoria]
44-09 Broadway, Astoria, Queens

Pearl of Lisbon [Monmouth County]
formerly Pearl of the Sea
609 Broadway, near Grand Ave., Long Branch, NJ

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Bar Minnow is now Brooklyn Burger Bar
Brooklyn Burger Bar: Uh Oh…
Did You Know Le Sans Souci in Astoria closed down?
Pearl of Lisbon (formerly Pearl of the Sea), Long Branch

Shopsin’s Packs It In; and Other New York News

Shopsin’s, the quirky grab-bag eatery in the Village, has closed its doors. After months of rumors and feints, it has sold its lease on Carmine Street. Chef-owner Kenny Shopsin plans to reopen in much smaller quarters in the Lower East Side’s Essex Street Market, probably a sandwich stand with a drastically reduced version of the menu that once offered mac-and-cheese pancakes, Nigerian beef soup, and Georgia barbecued pork oatmeal, among several hundred other things. “Whatever Kenny does,” promises G4Gluttony, “I will follow him there for his prolific and mad scientist-like culinary chops.”

March, the elegant town house restaurant off Sutton Place, has also shut down, temporarily. Wayne Nish, co-owner and founding chef, is downscaling the menu, recasting the kitchen staff, and aiming to reopen sometime in January.

Inside, the cozy hideout on Jones Street, closed on New Year’s Eve. “We, along with many others in the neighborhood, loved their consistent food and generosity, and always felt at home there,” eulogizes erin07nyc.

Shopsin’s General Store [Lower East Side]
to open at…Essex Street Market, stall 16
120 Essex St., between Rivington and Delancey, Manhattan

March Restaurant [Sutton Place]
405 E. 58th St., between 1st Ave. and Sutton Pl., Manhattan

Inside [Greenwich Village]
9 Jones St., between Bleecker and W 4th, Manhattan

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Shopsins closing
Shopsin’s Closed for Good?
March closing–worth trying to go beforehand?
goodbye, Inside

Four-Stop Ramen Slurping Spree

Pleasurepalate went ramen tasting recently, checking out Koraku, Shinsengumi Hakata Ramen, Santouka ,and Daikokuya.

Shinsengumi is a favorite, with its incredibly rich, porky broth (tonkotsu). Being able to customize the soup is also a plus: “Firm noodles? Check. Normal soup oil? Yes. Strong soup base? Definitely.” This soup is really a meal. Side dishes (spam musubi, gyoza, ground chicken bowl), though, are nothing special.

Daikokuya’s tonkotsu is less refined, more intensely meaty, and still mind-bogglingly delicious. “To my palate, the Hakata ramen was more refined. It’s the part of James Bond that is sophisticated, cool under pressure, elegant,” he says. “You can taste the porkiness of the broth but it wasn’t completely in your face. Daikokuya, on the other hand, was that part of James Bond that was rough and tumble, aggressive and took no prisoners.” In other words, Goldfinger vs. Casino Royale.

Santouka’s shio ramen is a hybrid of tonkotsu and clear shio soup. So it’s cleaner and smoother than Shinsengumi, but still packs a hit of porkiness–the best of both worlds. The noodles aren’t that firm, although rameniac says this is a style called asahikawa ramen. Leek rice and egg are nice on the side.

Koraku, while not strictly a ramen place (a Koraku Ramen opened recently in Sherman Oaks), offers a huge variety of ramen soups, including daily specials. Sutamina ramen, with a light, possibly shoyu broth, garlic sprouts, ground pork, green onions, and mushrooms, is decent but not spectacular. The garlic sprouts and scallions add good flavor, but broth is a little too thin and the noodles too mushy. Note that ground meat isn’t a good choice for ramen–it all escapes to the bottom. Still, there are plenty of other options.

Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen [South Bay]
2015 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. #C, Gardena

Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen [South OC]
18315 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley

Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen [San Gabriel Valley]
8450 E. Valley Blvd. #103, Rosemead

Santoka Ramen [South Bay]
in Mitsuwa Marketplace
21515 Western Avenue, Torrance


Santoka Ramen [South OC]
Mitsuwa food court
665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa

Daikokuya [Little Tokyo]
327 E. 1st St., Los Angeles

Koraku Restaurant [Little Tokyo]
314 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles

Koraku Japanese Ramen [East San Fernando Valley]
14425 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks

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Koraku opens in Sherman Oaks

Stuffed: The Search for a Great Burrito in Pasadena

If you’re looking for a new burrito joint in the Pasadena area, the chile verde at Tonny’s has been getting raves lately. Chile verde burrito has huge chunks of tender, luscious pork (you can’t go wrong with pork here, says yoyomama). Birria is great too, the red sauce complex and not just spicy. Carnitas and chile relleno are also excellent–the only thing that’s consistently subpar here is the al pastor, says Oro3030.

For bean and cheese burritos, J&S (home of the pastrami quesadilla) has the best, says SoCal Foodie–the beans and cheese are blended together for a silky texture. Chorizo burrito is also big and cheap.

Get a bean and cheese burrito at La Bodeguita; the beans aren’t refried, but whole boiled beans in broth, says WildSwede. It’s a very good burrito. Al pastor is just about irresistible, and they make a damn good carnitas burrito too.

ipsedixit recommends Rosarito for carnitas, but the best in Pasadena, says condiment, is the modest Mi Casa. These are Michoacan-style–not very crisp, but intensely porky, with enough crunchy edges to keep you going. They have birria on the weekends, too.

Birrieria La Barca does great birria, of course–probably excellent in a burrito, says Clare K.

Rick’s has an awesome vegetarian burrito, says ciaobella.

Tonny’s Restaurant [Pasadena-ish]
843 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

J&S [Pasadena-ish]
887 N. Garfield Ave, Montebello

La Bodeguita Mini Market [Pasadena-ish]
1135 N. Summit Ave., Pasadena

Rosarito [Pasadena-ish]
2120 East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

Mi Casa Mexican Fast Food [Pasadena-ish]
812 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

Birrieria La Barca Jalisco [Pasadena-ish]
10817 Valley Mall, El Monte

Rick’s Drive-In [Pasadena-ish]
680 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

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Trying out Tonny’s
Chile verde heaven
What to get at Tonny’s?
Where to get a burrito in Pasadena

Supreming Citrus

To “supreme” a citrus fruit is to cut away its peel and pith, then remove its segments from between the membranes. It’s a nice technique for fruit salads and sauces; while you lose a bit of the fruit, you don’t get any white pith or fibrous membrane in your dish as you would by simply peeling and sectioning it.

Here’s how: Using a sharp knife, slice the rind off the top and bottom of your fruit, exposing the flesh. Stand the fruit on one end (it’ll now sit flat, for easy paring) and cut the peel and white pith away, going from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit. Trim away any pith still attached. Hold the fruit in your non-dominant hand, and use a paring knife to cut down one side of a segment, separating it from the membrane. When you get to the bottom, twist the knife up and around the other side of the segment, flipping it out. When you’ve taken all the segments out, squeeze the juice out of the membranes. If you don’t use it in what you’re preparing, you can drink it or save it to use in something else.

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The secret to supreming?

Solid Honey

Unprocessed (i.e., raw) honey can become solid and need liquefying before you can use it easily. Rexmo says that all honey will solidify with time; the exception is Tupelo honey. The speed at which honey goes solid depends on what sort of flowers the honey came from. Stirring honey incorporates air, and that will lead it to solidify, too.

To return solid honey to a liquid state, gently heat it in a water bath. Jcannuck says that heating in the microwave will break down the healthful goodies that are found in unprocessed honey.

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raw honey question

Fage Yogurt

Fage “Total” yogurt is a Greek strained yogurt, thick and tangy. The full fat version is creamy thick, and can stand in for sour cream. It’s perfect when you require decadence, and for the special sauce, tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, dill, garlic and spices).

It’s available, too, as light, 2% and 0%. Zero percent, with no fat, is lower in calories but higher in protein than the others. Liu recommends starting at 0% and working your way up, to decide which reduced-fat version tastes best to you. All of the reduced-fat versions have enthusiasts.

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Fage 2% vs. Fage Light

Truffle Seasons

White truffles are on the market from early fall through December. They can be extravagantly expensive, especially when fresh. They have a delicate, intoxicating fragrance. Don’t cook with them, for heaven’s sake! Just use the shavings raw or add them to a dish at the last minute.

Black truffles are also known as winter truffles, and are available fresh now, into the very early Spring. They’re more strongly flavored than the white variety, and work well in risottos and omelets. If you peel the dark bumpy outer layer away, save those expensive parings to flavor sauces or soupy dishes.

Use truffles soon after purchase, and if you can’t, store them in a container containing uncooked rice, cover tightly and refrigerate. The rice will absorb the flavor and taste wonderful. Use the truffles within three days.

Urbani truffles is a recommended source:

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Truffles black/white -