Several new places have all opened up, but are they any good?

This week, I thought I’d try something a little different: a few mini-reviews of some of the (surprisingly many) new restaurants which have been opening all over New Haven.

I’ve written reviews in the past, but I thought a shorter form mini-review may be more informative and let’s face it, how much can you really say about one Pho place.

So let’s try this out and if it’s terrible and you hate it, we’ll never try again.

Amoy’s Brings Cajun Flavor to South Orange Street

I have no idea how New Haven went so long without any Cajun or Creole food and now, with Queen Zuri, we suddenly have two, but have no doubts in your mind: Amoy’s is the superior restaurant.

Tucked into this little street between Thali and Hunan House, Amoy’s transports a little bit of New Orleans straight to the Ninth Square.

Done up with purple walls and jazz pianists all over the wall, this place oozes Nola. Luckily, it has the food chops to back it up.

They started us with some sweet cornbread, warm right out of the oven and holy cow I think I saw an angel ascend to the Heavens cause that stuff is good. Absolutely worth the sticky hands.

 

Oh god it’s so beautiful.

I ordered the Shrimp Po’ Boy, which came out exactly as I imagine a Po’ Boy should (and no I’m not comfortable saying that word out loud). Just the right amount of mayo, tomato, and perfectly fried shrimp on a soft, doughy roll. It isn’t fancy. But it will hit the spot.

Shrimp Po' Boy

Pretty sure the Food Pyramid has a section for Half A Pound of Fried Seafood, no?

My friend got the Jambalaya, which had a nice kick to it, and some great, deep flavors.

The service was a little slow given we were quite literally the only people in the restaurant, but as the waiter (owner?) ambled over, I had to remind myself, this is a Southern thing. They just move slow. It’s not their fault, they don’t have that impatient New England blood in their veins.

They weren’t serving alcohol when I went, so it was BYOB, but that may change if/when they get a liquor license.

Grade: B+
Yay: Shrimp Po’ Boy, Jambalaya, Awesome Sweet Cornbread
Meh: Slowish service, lack of music in empty restaurant

‘Authentic’ Western Chinese Cuisine Debuts at Hunan House

Reading about the owner of Hunan House, she wanted to bring “authentic” Hunan cuisine (I wouldn’t have any idea if it was or wasn’t) to New Haven, given the dearth of legitimate Chinese restaurants around.

When you walk in, it will remind you of… just about every other Chinese restaurant you’ve been to, including its previous tenant, Royal Palace (RIP awesome crab rangoon). White walls. A few decorations. It’s sparse.

Hunan House

Yep, it’s a Chinese restaurant.

I called ahead and found out they didn’t have their liquor license so we brought a bottle of wine (nobody else got the memo, sorry jerks!). They brought us wine glasses and we glossed over the immense menu.

While it may have authentic dishes, it also has… I mean, just about everything. There’s probably a hamburger on there somewhere.

I was torn so we asked the waiter what her favorite seafood dishes were, and we got them: the Fish in Hot Chili Sauce and the Salt and Pepper Prawns.

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to eat prawn before, but it should come with some kind of manual. It turns out you basically just peel them open, coating your fingers in a nice prawn/salt dust, and then bam, you eat them.

Safe

Just open this up and enjoy your prawn, sir!

It’s not a good look on a date, if you were wondering.

Meanwhile, the Fish in Hot Chili Sauce, which is exactly what it sounds like, was actually pretty out of this world. Just the right amount of spice, and it just had this robust, deep flavor to it. We were both pretty enamored by it.

For some reason, when it came time to pay, the folks at Hunan House totally forgot we were there, even though everyone else had left, but hey, we had wine, so whatever!

Grade: A-
Yay: Fish in Chili Sauce Most Literal Dish Ever, BYOB
Meh: Prawns are hard to eat, they don’t like taking your money

Pho Ketkeo Brings Another Pho Option to New Haven

If you haven’t noticed Pho Ketkeo yet, don’t blame yourself. It’s tucked away in the monstrosity that is the Temple Street Garage, past K2, in an unassuming little area that looks like it could be a laundromat.

That’s because the lighting is terrible. It’s basically like eating at a laundromat. I think they also are BYOB/no liquor license, but I didn’t ask.

The ambiance is… a little stark, let’s say. But you’re not here for ambiance, you’re here for Pho (pronounce it “Fuh” you heathen).

Pho with Chili Oil

My eyes are watering just looking at this.

While not quite Mechanoodle quality (what is?!), the Pho here is actually quite excellent. And unlike Mecha, they actually have more than one vegetarian option, which I really appreciate.

They also provide some chili oil on the side, with a warning that it’s very hot.

I will repeat the warning: It’s very hot.

Chili Oil

You have my attention.

I don’t know if my companion was impressed by how much I was sweating while eating my pho due to the deranged amount of chili oil put in there, but… I’m pretty sure she was. Cause who wouldn’t be?

Grade: B
Yay: Solid vegetarian options, all the heat you can handle
Meh: Eating in a laundromat is definitely a kind of ambiance

Also, I kind of missed a chance to do a review of Mechanoodle, but let’s just say it: It’s awesome. If you haven’t been, go. It’s fantastic.

So what should I write about next week?

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