Little soy, sweet black vinegar and black beans, the flavor balance was just right!
Chow Down Grill's Chef/owner Josh Marcus giving a lowdown on my Grilled Hamachi.
I am very excited to tell you about a lovely modern "Classic American Chinese" restaurant right in my own little neighborhood, Surfside.
I'm not sure Josh (2nd from right) should have called it 'Chinese' because it confuses folks who are expecting typical deep fried wings and a bucket of fried rice! This is hardly that kind of restaurant, far from it. I am not a fan of traditional Chinese food, often there's too much seasoning, salt and sauce. (I can say this, cause I'm half Chinese.)
What I like about Josh's cooking is that he makes the food taste good by using what's seasonal, fresh and sustainable and mostly local with daily Specials. Everything I've had there makes me so happy. It's 'real' cooking not 'restaurant' cooking. I can't put my finger on it, but it's food I would make 'at home'! Yeah, there you go.
Even though the mix and match menu is not a new idea, his choice of vegetables are! Not the usual combinations and always crispy, crunchy, not oily, goopy or deep fried.
You can choose from 4 different proteins then top off with 6 different sauces of your choice and vegetable selections. You can even ask for your dish Naked i.e. no sauce (this is how my husband and I eat nearly every night. When you have sauce, you want tons of starch to sop it up!)
Josh has a cute 3 wok station setup. Not woks I would recommend for home use, one handle, carbon steel but that's what most restaurants use. I explain in detail the reasons why here.
This week, I went with galpals, Josh's day off but you couldn't tell, cause Tiger, yes, that's her name, did a fabulous job with a nice smile. I always worry when the chef is not in the house, I just want consistency and hope the standard the chef has set is followed and in this case, Tiger definitely did. She also gave us a tip that the Mongolian BBQ sauce was their spiciest, that's what I want on my next visit there!
My friends kept asking why we can't have more restaurants that serve fresh foods with Asian flavors! I'm pleased to say there are a few just opened, will be posting more, so do come back and visit.
Lunch with galpals...
Spicy garlic-herb sauce organic chicken, Maitake oyster mushrooms and chives. The combination was such a nice blend.
More dishes I've tried...
Basil organic chicken dumpling, when it was cut open, it burst with such yummy smells. Friends put their spin with squiggles of chili sauce and hoisin dots.
Shrimp with sweet and sour sauce with pineapple, bell peppers, lila onion.
Angus Beef with Orange Chili Sauce, sunburst squash, baby zucchini, lila onions topped with kumquats.
Love the seasonings in squeeze bottles for a hit of spicy Siracha chili sauce or sweetness with hoisin sauce etc.
House Special Noodle Soup was very 'homey' and really enjoyed this. The soup was pure stock, no salty, MSG taste that you get in Pho restaurants that make your eyes look puffy the next day. Beef was very tender and tasty.
Basil Chicken and Shrimp Dumplings. I mentioned to Josh that dim sum chefs specialize in making this one thing and take years to refine. But you cannot stifle a chef's creativity, his concept was to use squid ink for color and flavor.
Crispy Crab Rangoon with spinach and mascarpone cheese were YUMMY with sweet chili dip.
Organic Chicken with Spicy Herb sauce, honshimeji-oyster mushrooms and chives. I don't usually order chicken because I find white breast a bit dry and tasteless. My husband won't eat it either, my mother was convinced he was a Chinaman in his previous life! But Josh's chicken was juicy and quite a nice surprise.
Dinner with my hubby...
DELICIOUS egg rolls, his fillings are so fresh and crunchy, none of that 'mystery meat filling'!
Chow Fun with spinach, lila onions, garlic and ginger, nice accompaniment with your mains.
Angus Beef with Green Curry Sauce, roasted potatoes and spinach.
I know foodies who are there nearly every week, sometimes twice a week, you know who you are! Run and give Chow Down Grill a try, open lunch and dinner, there's even delivery depending on your location, ask first. Keep your mind open about the 'Chinese' food and you'll be rewarded with some yummy Chow! When you enjoy Josh's cooking, praise him, he'll appreciate it. It's hard work running a restaurant and tell him you heard it through Wok Star...
More about Chow Down Grill...
Interact with Josh Marcus on Facebook. I'll be uploading more photos there, so remember to take photos when you go and share what you eat with us.
A foodie does a great job of reviewing restaurants on Food for thought.
Mangoandlime blogger, Paula Nino's First Impressions.