National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day: Comfort in a Bowl Around the Globe

It’s no secret chicken soup is good for the soul. The nourishing broth, nutrient-dense veggies, and hearty noodles always do a body good, particularly at this time of year when cold and flu season is ramping up. So in honor of National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day, we’re putting a fun twist on the expressive holiday and rounding up five kinds of chicken soup from around the world, upping the ante on canned Campbell’s — you can even find these soulful soups right here in the States.

Japanese Ramen
When most people think of ramen, their minds drift toward the cheap packets they ate during their college dorm days — or, if they’ve experienced authentic Japanese ramen, then likely to steaming bowls of noodle soup spiked with tender pork. But there’s also a version that relies on chicken stock—it’s called shio and shoyu ramen. And one of the best spots to try this curative soup is in Decatur, Georgia, at Makan, where the miso-based broth is simmered overnight for maximum depth of flavor. Each bowl is laced with Sun Noodles and topped with a soft poached egg, roasted pork belly, and seasonal vegetables.

National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

Jewish Matzo Ball Soup
Though not technically from one specific country, the Jewish culture relies on restorative matzo ball soup around the world particularly on Passover or when a hint of a cold comes on (see penicillin, Jewish). Their version is a light chicken broth peppered with dumplings (they’re made from a mixture of matzah meal, eggs, water and fat) and often veggies, such as onions, carrots, and celery. In San Francisco, Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen simmers their broth for 12 hours with thyme, browned onions, vegetables, and chicken bones, adding schmaltz’d up matzo balls at service.

National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

Thai Khao Soi
In Northern Thailand, street vendors throughout the region dish out a Burmese-influenced chicken soup called Khao Soi around every corner. The coconut curry-esque base (it’s similar in flavor to yellow or massaman curry) is brimming with fresh chicken, boiled egg noodles, pickled veggies, and shallots, and it is finished with crispy fried egg noodles, lime juice, and ground chiles. Head to Pok Pok in Brooklyn, New York, where James Beard Award winner Andy Ricker serves an authentic Khao Soi made with a from-scratch curry paste and house-pressed fresh coconut milk, alongside chicken, house-pickled mustard greens, and roasted chili paste.

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Celebrating the New Food Emojis: Champagne, Tacos + More

Food Emojis

Like the rest of the iOS-using world, we’re bursting with excitement over the release of the new food (and more!) emojis. Finally, we can tell our friends in icons (as well as actual pictures) about all the delicious things we have — or want — to eat and drink. As we’re celebrating the new food emojis, we thought it would be fun to highlight reviews of the IRL versions.

If any diner needs a cheese emoji, it’s this one, who recently feasted on this perfect plate at Rotisserie Georgette in New York City.”The service was wonderful, the food original, especially the sugar snap peas and the first course, called a burrata, I believe.” Yes, it’s burrata — and yes, it’s fabulous!

Rotisserie Georgette

The humble American favorite was dubbed an “uber hot dog” by a recent guest at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter in Somerville, Massachusetts. “We came for the hot dogs and beer and were not disappointed. Pickled mustard seeds were a revelation.” Something tells us that Tony Maws and his crew are going to be seeing an awful lot of tweets with hot dog emojis very soon if this pup remains on the menu.

Hot Dog Emoji

Thanks to Apple for granting our gourmet wish for a taco emoji. Or maybe we should say mahalo instead, if we’re talking about the amazeballs fish tacos at Blue Dragon in Kamuela, Hawaii? A guest writes, “We ‘discovered’ Blue Dragon a few years ago, and I fell in LOVE with the fish tacos. Delicious, flaky fish in corn tortillas with salsa and guacamole. YUMMO!!”

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I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter: 17 To-Die-For Vegan Dishes #vegforward #chooseveg

Ask any chef or vegan eater and they will tell you that what you’ll experience at today’s #vegforward restaurants is not your grandmother’s vegan diet. The plant-based food culture has evolved exponentially beyond bean sprouts and garden burgers. The cuisine at the 52 Best Restaurants for Vegetarians in America is thoughtful and progressive — and playful, too, as you’ll see below. And while the chefs may have decided to skip the dairy, among other things, the fact that the dishes are vegan is, in a way, a happy (and sustainable) by-product of their creativity.

You see, these forward-thinking culinary pros are simply smitten with plants — the idea of plants, the texture of plants, the colors of plants, the flavors of plants. We could go on, but you probably get the picture. The possibilities and combinations are endless, and the results, whether rustically simple or elegantly elaborate, are delicious. Check out these 17 to-die-for vegan dishes from some of our 52 #vegforward restaurants.

Langos at V Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Hungarian fried potato bread gets a vegan twist when topped with smoked beets and a lush sauerkraut remoulade from chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. Take our advice and order one for everyone at the table. You will not want to share this divine savory doughnut of a dish.

V Street Bread

Artichoke Oysters at Crossroads, Los Angeles, California
The land trumps the sea in chef Tal Ronnen’s presentation of this delicate jewel of a dish. It includes artichoke purée, crispy oyster mushroom, a yellow tomato béarnaise, and kelp caviar.

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Kale, Corn, and Sweet Onion Pakora at The Herb Box-DC Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona
These gluten-free bites from executive chef Becky Windels are made up of kale, fresh corn, and sweet onion coated in a chickpea batter with crushed fennel seed and turmeric and fried crisp in rice oil. Plated with a roasted yellow pepper aïoli and a sweet hot Serrano garlic glaze, Martha Stewart loved these so much that so much she asked, “How is this made?”

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Savoy Cabbage at Natural Selection, Portland, Oregon
Stuffed cabbage finally gets the filling it deserves. Emerald Savoy cabbage envelopes a harmonious trio of quinoa, sweet peppers, and sultanas in chef Aaron Woo’s exquisite version.


Deviled Turnips at Encantada, Baltimore, Maryland
Who needs eggs when you’ve got turnips bedeviled by tofu, chickpeas, Dijon mustard, turmeric, and other savory spices from executive chef Melanie Molinaro? These are fun enough for a picnic and still sophisticated enough to accompany an ice-cold martini.

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Papillote at Equinox, Washington, D.C.
Chef Todd Gray’s papillote expertly combines cauliflower mushroom and Brussels petals with curried kabocha squash, artichoke hearts, and gently sweet quince vinegar. It’s almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

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Zen Salad at French Meadow Café & Bluestem Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Power up with this goodness-on-a-plate salad. Steamed organic brown rice is covered with organic blanched kale and fresh housemade hummus and guacamole. It is appointed with crispy radish, cucumber, scallion, and organic micro greens, and then studded with roasted tomatoes, kalamata olives, and toasted sunflower seeds. A roasty Harissa vinaigrette brings it all together.

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Tomato. Parsley. Onion. at The Gadarene Swine, Studio City, California
Chef Phillip Frankland Lee keeps it simple when tomatoes take the plate. This seasonal stunner stars marinated raw tomato, parsley, and onion. They sit atop a throne of sweet corn pudding and are crowned with crispy tomato, parsley, and onion.

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Trending on Restaurant Reviews: Gumbo

gumbo-blogHappy Fat Tuesday, foodies! It’s the most delicious day of the year in New Orleans — and anywhere that embraces the spirit of Mardi Gras. Naturally, we’ve got NOLA’s best-known dishes on our minds, from crawfish étouffée and jambalaya to beignets and king cakes — and, of course, gumbo. Gumbo is one of those dishes about which everyone and their Cajun or Creole grandmother seems to have a strong (and often differing) opinion. This iconic stew takes its name from kingombo, the African word for okra, a once-paramount ingredient in gumbo. The foundation of a great gumbo is its roux, a blend of fat and flour that is cooked to a smoky, rich brown. Seafood, andouille, duck, and chicken are common ingredients used to round out this deeply satisfying dish. Find out what diners are saying about the gumbo they’ve been sampling at OpenTable restaurants recently. You may be surprised to find that you don’t need to travel to the Big Easy to experience authenticity. 

Atchafalaya, New Orleans, Louisiana: “We were very tired. And hungry. Three parades in one day is probably too much for people travelling with infant twins and another child. We were sans kids for the first time in about a week just for dinner. The staff was very kind to us and rushed us some complimentary gumbo. It was about the best dark roux gumbo I have ever had and really hit the spot.”

Cajun Pacific, San Francisco, California: “I am of Cajun descent, so I am picky and know what gumbo is. I had a bowl of the chicken and andouille version and was not disappointed. The wine list is short but well chosen and reasonable. Having passed the gumbo test (Most places don’t even know the difference between a gumbo and a creole dish), I will be back for something more substantial.”

* Cedar Creek, Glen Cove, New York: “Finding a good Cajun entree on the north shore is harder that finding an actual Cajun! Wasn’t expecting amazing gumbo, but that’s what I got!”

* The Chew Chew, Riverside, Illinois: “One of the many nice things about the Chew Chew is the special menu and theme party offered during Mardi Gras. The restaurant is bedecked with beads, the staff dons masks, and on certain nights a costumed fortune teller visits patrons’ tables. We sip a Sazerac and wander through a small tasting plate of oysters, a cup of spicy (yet beautifully balanced) gumbo, a delightfully moist blackened redfish, and a trio of warm beignets dusted with powdered sugar and artfully poised in a swirl of raspberry coulis.”

Devon Seafood Grill, Hershey, Pennsylvania: “My husband always orders the gumbo, which he says is as good as down south.”

Hammocks Trading Company, Sandy Springs, Georgia: “My order was six delicious, filling grilled oysters stuffed with crab, cheese, and jalapeno. Oh my! Followed this with fried green tomatoes and their fabulous seafood gumbo with the thickest, darkest roux, six nicely sized shrimp plus crabmeat you could see and taste — my favorite dish.”

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