Tropix: After spending the weekend in LA, I was looking for a fun, alfresco experience on Tuesday, and decided to check out Tropix. Surprisingly, it was my first time there, even though I've heard good things about it for a while now.
I didn't get to sample too much, as my "dining" companion informed me at the last minute that she was on some kind of no-food-or-drink-after-6 diet. It woould have been nice to know this *before* we made dinner plans. :-)
First, the place. It's wonderful. Casual, yet festive, with a nice little outdoor sitting area. I imagine it would be fun on a really warm night, with all the lights twinkling. I liked our affable yet efficient waitress a lot.
Given that I was the only one eating, I went for maximum variety at the risk of overordering. Even though I knew I needed to pace myself, I couldn't help scarfing down the spicy cornbread that was brought to the table soon after we were seated, accompanied by a mango habanero (i think?) chutney. Great, spicy cornbread, and the chutney's initial sweetness was a deceptive precurser to a slow, substantial burn.
I got the mixed appetizer platter and a basket of the plantain fries (because I'm a plantain fiend, and can't NOT order them!). The platter was huge (for one diner) with two salt cod fritter balls, a bean and corn fritter, and a jerk pork skewer. The savories were napped with a dense green sauce (parsley, cilantro, oil?) and some sour cream. The huge order of plantain fries came with a little bowl of black bean sauce.
The salt cod fritters were a disappointment, Doughy and underseasoned, I only caught the faintest hint of what should have been an assertive baccala flavor. The bean and corn fritter fared much better. It had great texture, with many little nubbins of corn, peppers and herbs, and a deeply savory, almost falafel-lke flavor. The jerk pork was delicous. Perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of give, and an interesting, but not tongue-numbing jerk marinade. I particularly enjoyed the balance of tangy, sweet, and hot in the marinade. On other occasions, I've often found that the heat in jerk can overpower tangier, sublter flavors. The plantains were greasy and wonderful, and I could, on another occasion, probably make a meal out of just those and their deeply flavored black bean sauce. All this was washed down with a refreshing bottle of Red Stripe, but had I been with someone who wanted to share in the dining experience, I would have definitely ordered Bul, their beer-lime cocktail.
Korean: After reading a post today about the no-English name Korean place on 13th and Harrison, I decided to lunch there after my workout. As the previous poster mentioned, the place is nothing to look at decor-wise, and both the front of the house and kitchen are run by this one lady, making for looong waits. I was the only diner there at first, and got my meal about 30 minutes after I ordered it. But it was worth the wait. The $5.95 lunch special plate of Pork BBQ came with numerous dishes of panchan, including 2 kimchi plates. Also, I had an MFK Fisher moment while waiting for my meal, watching life slowly go by in downtown Oakland!
So the panchan were: soybean and mungbean sprout salads, battered sweet potato, a delectable potato and scallion pancake like thing, smoked tofu (a little singed around the edges in a cute, homestyle kind of way), crisp pickling cucumber in red chili paste, spinach, cellophane noodles (wonderfully flavored) daikon kimchi, and cabbage kimchi. The pork itself consisted of thinly sliced pieces, each with a wide border of fat, almost bacon like, in a spicy red chi/bean marinade. It was very flavorful, and well cooked, but I almost wanted a break from some of that taste overload. Luckily, the beef stock soup with radish pieces that came with the meal did the trick. Of course, I could't finish my lunch (not to mention I was really running late), so the leftovers made a great tea-time snack. I highly recommend this place to anyone with a flexible schedule!
On another note, I just discovered a wonderful, mold ripened goat cheese: Selles Sur Cher. I got it on a whim at Market Hall, and now I have a new favorite goat cheese (the last one was the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company's Bonne Bouche).
Until next time, folks!