Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mosaic Cuisine & Cafe, Rockville MD

We've actually been to Mosaic cafe 2 times already, the food is always descent, but does not stand out when compared to other brunch venues.  But since IHOP and Original pancake house all had at least 30 min wait on a weekend morning, we've decided to support the local small business and brought ourselves to Mosaic cafe again.

From exterior

I like the interior decor, it's decorated with nice pictures and the lighting provided was warm and cozy.  I took this picture with some minor adjustments to show the interior decor.  It's one of those small places that makes you feel welcomed as soon as you walk through the door.  The menu is clean and shows a good selection of menu items for brunch, with lunch menu on the back.

view of interior


I ordered a decaf Cafe Au Lait to start the morning.  Then we proceeded to order our brunch dishes.

my decaf Cafe Au Lait

I ordered the egg white omelet with sauteed vegetables.  It was pretty good, nothing too surprising here though, basically egg white omelet with some vegetables smeared with a bit of pesto sauce.  It came with a side of a half waffle.  The waffle was good, it had light and crispy crust on the outside and was soft in the center.  The best waffles I've had from  restaurants is still none other than Pocahontas Pancakes in Virginia beach though....

egg white omelet with vegetables

He ordered the traditional breakfast with couple strips of bacon, one piece of waffle, scrambled eggs, and a potato hash.  Again, nothing too surprising here, the scrambled eggs were delicious and fluffy though.  The potato hash made the grade too.

traditional breakfast

Overall, we enjoyed the brunch at Mosaic cafe.  Everything was descent and the restaurant had great ambiance.  Would we come back just for the food?  Probably not, but I'd come back to skip the 30 minute line at IHOP again.

FoodiePop's rating: 3.6/5

Mosaic Cuisine & Cafe
186 Halpine Road
Rockville, Maryland 20852

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

East Pearl, Rockville MD

We had a hard time deciding on what to eat for lunch on president's day, and finally decided to try Pho Nom Nom (opened where Bale used to be on 355).  When we got to the spot, we saw the new Cantonese restaurant opening sign on the same strip, so we changed our minds and figured we'd give it a try!

The restaurant just opened its doors on 2/15 Wednesday, so not many people know about it yet.  We arrived a little after 1pm and the restaurant seemed busy still.  We were greeted by nice waitresses and handed a couple of menus, including lunch special menu and a nice pot of pu-er tea (typical of Cantonese restaurants).

special noodles and rice menu

regular menu

roast meat display case on the left & bar on right

plate setting, Paris??

We wanted something quick and easy for lunch.  So we each ordered the Cantonese style noodles.  I ordered the wonton without noodles, and the hubby ordered the dumpling noodles.  Of course we can't settle for just two bowls of noodles.....so we also ordered the double roasted meat platter with roast pork and roast duck.  We were later informed they ran out of roast duck, so we got the soy roast chicken instead.

wonton soup, look at the size of these Wontons, $7.50

dumpling noodles, but they forgot the noodles, $7.50

double roast meat platter, $12.95

They made a mistake in the order and gave us dumpling in soup (sans noodles) instead of dumpling noodle soup.  But their lady manager quickly fixed it and gave us another big bowl of noodles with soup, so it was all good!  The wontons and dumplings were all excellent and portions were big.  The roast meats tasted fresh, definitely freshly made on the same day!  Hopefully they will keep the quality of the meats up and not use overnight leftover meats like ** some other restaurants (no names given here.....)

We liked the overall quality of lunch and the restaurant seemed new and clean.  The lady manager kept apologizing because they made a mistake in our order and their staff still needs training, but we were compensated nicely and we will definitely be back again to try the other dishes!

FoodiePop's rating: 4/5

East Pearl
838 B Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Clyde's Tower Oaks Lodge (revisited), Rockville MD

We gathered at Tower Oaks Lodge situated off Wootton Parkway to celebrate two friend's birthdays last week.  I've always liked the place, and definitely enjoyed the food again this time!  We had a reservation for 8pm and were seated promptly at 8 when we arrived.  Parking was a bit difficult since the place was packed Friday night, but you can always opt for the valet park option.

We were greeted with menus and filtered water after we sat.  The menu consisted of variety of dishes, from seafood to steak (even cow liver ??).  The February month special is the cowboy steak for $19.95.

filtered water pitcher, cute

We had 2 orders of the jumbo shrimp cocktail.  It was fresh and delicious, nobody opted for the raw oysters this time since we had people with limited diet (okay, that person is me....)

4 jumbo shrimps in one order

The hubby ordered the cowboy steak so I could steal some off his plate.  I ordered the rock fish with mussels.  Everything looked and tasted delicious!  The cowboy steak was especially a steal for $19.95, it was cooked perfectly medium with some red and darn tender to the bite.  Rock fish portion was a tad small, but it had great flavors and flaked easily with the fork.

Feb month special, cowboy steak $19.95

rock fish with mussels

At the end of the night, we all enjoyed our entrees and each other's company.  It was a fun night and a shout out to my two best girls for their birthdays!!  Happy birthday and may the two of you look 18 forever :)

FoodiePop's rating: 4/5

Clyde's Tower Oaks Lodge
2 Preserve Pkwy
Rockville, MD 20852

Panera Bread (revisited), Gaithersburg MD

I have been trying to eat a low carb diet, and since I love the Thai chopped chicken salad at Panera.  I visited Panera bread twice in the last week.

I usually end up getting the half and half deal, which consists of a half salad and a bowl of soup.  It's the perfect combination for a stomach warming meal in winter!

Thai chopped chicken salad

hearty chicken stew with scone on top

To stick with low carb diet, I picked an apple for the side item, I'm glad they had it listed as a choice!  Even though I love Panera baguettes, I had to opt for the low carb option.....

On the second visit of the week, I picked the salmon salad for a $1 more.  The salmon was a little fishy for my taste.  Thai chopped chicken salad still wins hands down!  I picked the vegetable tomato soup to go with the salmon, it was just okay as well.

salmon salad

vegetable tomato soup

I still love Panera and will always give the place high ratings.  My only gripe is, it's so hard to find seats during lunch hour!  Apparently everyone loves Panera as much as I do, on top of that, they provide free wi-fi so I'm guessing a lot of guests linger all day.  But, I'd definitely go back and fight through the crowd for their yummy lunch combos again!

FoodiePop's rating: 4.2/5

Panera Bread
285 Kentlands Boulevard
Gaithersburg MD 20878

Ren's Ramen (revisited), Wheaton MD

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, a few friends and us visited Ren's ramen again at their new location in Wheaton.  We've visited the spot once before and we both thought it was really salty the first time, plus parking was not easy for the location.  Since a friend of ours wanted some ramen, we came back again to give it another shot (yes the one who wanted ramen ended up not making the trip.....)

They had some daily specials that looked very enticing.  One was the Bakudan ramen which was extra spicy and the other was 'ga-tree miso ramen' which had extra bean sprouts and cabbage toppings.  We ordered both to try!

today's special menu

We also ordered 2 gyoza small plates.  They were actually really good!  The wrapping was thin and the meat abundant, even though it was pricey, I'd probably order it again.

gyoza $4.95

Then the ramen came!  This was the Bakudan ramen, it was more spicy than I thought but I loved it.  Their imported ramen noodles were good and chewy as always, broth a bit on the salty side but acceptable.

Bakudan ramen $11

This was the 'ga-tree miso ramen', it had extra cabbage and bean sprout toppings that shaped into a tree top. It was pretty good as well from what I heard.  Reminded me of pho toppings though with all the extra bean sprouts!

ga-tree miso ramen $12

This was a regular tonkotsu ramen, it was consistent with what we had before.  Still, everything was on the salty side, but nothing a glass of water can't fix afterwards (or maybe 2 or 3....).

large tonkotsu ramen $12

We thoroughly enjoyed the ramen experience on Sunday, the wait wasn't too bad.  We waited about 15 minutes after arriving around 1:15pm on a Sunday.  The only issue I have with the place is the 'cash-only' policy.  There are very few restaurants that don't accept credit card nowadays, especially when the prices are toward high-end such as $10 and above.  I really hope they can add a credit card machine so people don't need to be surprised and stranded with not enough cash...

FoodiePop's rating on ramen: 4/5

Ren's Ramen
11403 Amherst Ave
Wheaton, MD 20902

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kushi, Washington DC

We had the early Valentine's dinner at Kushi on a Saturday night.  We both loved the place!  I made a reservation on open table so we were seated right away at the grill bar.  The grill bar is situated at the center of the restaurant and it's where all the action happens at the grill and the robata grill.  I love watching the chefs cook, it's almost like dining and entertaining all in one!

daily menu

view from grill bar

They have a paper daily menu with date printed on top.  From what I've observed from yelp reviews, they constantly adjust their menu for variety and to add something new.  We order some dishes from the get-go and kept ordering more when the plates emptied.  We ate for almost 2 hours by the time we were done!

This was the charamushi (steamed egg).  It was delicious, the egg cooked perfectly and had the right flavors. I believe it was around $4.50.

charamushi  蒸蛋

Grilled jumbo shrimp: it was A+ even though pricey.  $6.00 for 2 shrimps.  I'd order it again though.

grilled jumbo shrimp

Grilled pork belly.  Everybody raved about it on yelp, we thought it was good but not over-the-top like most claimed.  This was about $4 as well for one skewer.

Grilled squid body, LOVED it!  Grilled just right with a side salad garnish.  I finished everything on this plate.

grilled squid body

Grilled squash, the only dish we didn't like.  It had some unexpected texture, maybe it's not the America squash that we're used to?  Anyway, this is not on my list for next visit.  I'd probably order the grilled mushrooms instead since I saw a few other people ordering that.

grilled squash

Another mediocre dish.  The only reason I ordered it is because the girl chef in front of me kept preparing fresh batches of seaweed salad and it looked enticing...  This had a lot of vinegar dressing it it, so if you're not a big fan of vinegar, don't order it.

seaweed salad

This was the duck sausage. The flavor was actually really good, but ours came out luke warm.....  Maybe that chef on the robata grill needed to pay a little more attention.

duck sausage

Yes, I ordered a miso soup.  The descriptions look good, but this was just okay.  Just like any other Japanese restaurant.....$4 wasted, my fault...

Grilled chicken breast with wasabi.  Nothing special about the chicken, but the wasabi itself tasted fresh and had exploding great flavors.

grilled chicken with wasabi

Now onto the better items:  we absolutely loved the crispy dusk thigh.  It definitely made the top 3 items of our meal.  We observed the chef later on and found out this was first steamed, then fried, then put on the grill for the char.  Absolutely delicious and worth the $10 high price tag!

crispy duck thigh

We also ordered the miso marinated grilled halibut for $12.  It was yummy as well, the fish flaked easily but not over-cooked, with a hint of miso flavor.  We finished this in no time..

grilled halibut

We were actually pretty full at this point.  So we called it quits....time to look at the dessert menu!  This was their special dessert menu for the day.

dessert menu

Sea salt gelato??  That sounded like a must try!  Of course we ordered the sea salt gelato.  It looked ordinary but it had very interesting flavors.  Good thing they leave you the whole water bottle because even though it didn't taste very salty at the time, you'll be drinking a lot of water afterwards!  It tasted like sweet caramel with salt, so it was a good kind of sweet and salty!

sea salt gelato

We thoroughly enjoyed our Kushi experience.  The restaurant had the right vibe and the food was mostly excellent.  The service was prompt and courteous as well.  The center grill bar is where I would recommend if you're bringing a date or just hanging out with a friend.  It's not ideal for large groups but perfect for two.  The restaurant tends to be pricey though, all the little things add up (similar to tapa restaurants), if you don't watch your wallet or if you're really hungry, expect a large bill!

FoodiePop's rating: 4.7/5

465 K St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ikea Cafe, College Park MD

We needed to buy a couple pieces of furniture, and what better place than Ikea?  Ikea has descent quality furniture at reasonable prices, even though it requires massive amount of time to assemble...  So on this past Saturday, we ventured out to Ikea in College Park looking for dressers and a night table.

Ikea cafe has always been a 'tourist attraction'.  The place has amazing deals on breakfast and their Swedish meatballs are tasty for lunch or dinner.  So as soon as we arrived, we tackled Ikea cafe immediately to get some good breakfast.

I picked up the breakfast sandwich for ...I want to say $2.99.  It was pretty good, nothing surprising though except for the price tag.  It was a good deal!  The baked potatoes were ordinary but good nonetheless.

breakfast sandwich

He picked up the big breakfast for $2.99, it was also descent.  There were some scrambled eggs, french toast sticks, bacon, and baked potato on the plate.  Nothing extraordinary but the price tag made up for it.

big breakfast

We also picked up the Swedish pancakes since we were greedy.  This was 3 for $1.99.  I have to say the pancakes were very disappointing.  I make much better pancakes.....but for the price I guess I can't complain much.

Swedish pancakes

We got 3 plates of breakfast and a juice, came to a whopping $8 for breakfast for two.  Not bad at all!  Even though the food was not over the top, it was okay for a quick and easy fill up before furniture shopping.

We ended up stopping by the cafe again before we leave to pickup some Swedish meatballs for lunch.  The meatballs were delicious as always, and the gravy just right.  This IS the best dish in Ikea cafe, hands down!

Swedish meatballs

FoodiePop's rating on food: 3/5

10100 Baltimore Ave.
College Park, MD 20740

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Matchbox, Rockville MD

I've visited Matchbox in Rockville several times after it first opened, but haven't gotten a chance to write a review.  On this past Sunday, we made a reservation for brunch at Matchbox again since they have a live jazz band performing during brunch hours. We had a very relaxing dining experience!

huge fire pit outside Matchbox

matchbox logo

Small food/bar area at the door

I made a reservation through open table, and we were seated immediately upon arrival.  We had a very nice table right by the Jazz band, the music was great and the atmosphere relaxing.  We were greeted with smiles and handed matchbox regular menu and a special brunch menu.

matchbox regular menu

special brunch menu (Sunday 10am-3pm)

After going over the special brunch menu, we placed orders for a breakfast pizza since the toppings all looked really good and I've always loved the pizza there.  He ordered the steak and egg on flat iron skillet.  While we were waiting for food, we just chilled and enjoyed the Jazz live band, they were great!

Our food arrived in 10-15 minutes, which was descent.  My breakfast pizza was delicious, the crust was charred perfectly from the brick oven and the breakfast toppings were delicious.  What's not to love?  Scrambled eggs and sausages!  Not sure what dressing they put on top of the pizza but it was the perfect companion for the toppings, maybe close to a thousand island & mayo combination?

The steak and egg entree was presented beautifully.  The steak was tender and cooked just right, the baked potato on top was delicious as well.  The dish had a lot of egg though, we ended up taking some of it home to avoid egg overdose :)

the steak and egg skillet

We both had a pleasant experience at Matchbox for brunch.  When the weather warms up, maybe we could try taking our dog and sit in their patio area!  I can't wait!

FoodiePop's rating on brunch: 4.2/5

1699 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852-1619