Friday, December 27, 2013

"Princeton" dining guide UPDATED

Living in the woods has turned me into a far better cook than I'd have thought possible. Or at least more varied. Croissants! Sushi! Agedashi tofu! Pizza! And so much more. This is because my first year living here, without a car, the only possible restaurants were the ones in town, which tend to be places to take one's business clients - $50 a person for something bland. Relatively cheap, relatively flavor-having food seemed out-of-reach unless homemade.

A car changes everything. Once you go a bit further afield than the bike will readily allow, things improve. I'm including Philadelphia but not New York, because of the time, tolls, and NJ Transit required for the latter, and you have to draw the line somewhere.

Been, will be back:

-In Princeton itself: Stick with Ajihei (sushi), both coffee shops (Small World and Rojo's - the latter may have better coffee, but the former has seats/people-watching), and Terra Momo or whatever the bakery on Witherspoon is called these days. Also: Thursday farmers' market in season. Cheese from Despaña. Mozzarella from D'Angelo's. Bent Spoon for ice cream.

-Near Junction: Shanghai Bun. Closed Tuesdays, which is easy to forget.

-Nomad. Pizza in Hopewell, which is basically Greater Princeton. Since figuring out pizza at home, I've had less incentive to go, but it's there and it's excellent.

-Chung Sol Bat. Korean barbecue in Edison. Expensive and not especially vegetarian-friendly, but a good splurge for omnivores.

-Paris Baguette and H-Mart. French-Korean bakery (get the milk bread and cannelles) and Korean supermarket, respectively, in the same Edison strip mall. Combine the two if possible. And don't go late at night (which I almost always end up doing), or you'll miss the fish-market part.

-Pad Thai in Highland Park, Siam in Lambertville, Thai restaurants. I generally prefer the latter, but opinions differ. And it's mostly a question of which direction you want to go in.

-Shake Shack, Philadelphia. It's Shake Shack - fast food with a nod to quality.

-Spread Bagelry. Montreal bagels in Philadephia. Given the absence of even Northeastern U.S. bagels in Princeton, you may want to pick up a few.

-Nam Phuong. Vietnamese food is better in Philadelphia than NYC. This will prove it.

-Artisan Boulanger Patissier. As are croissants.


-Chaikhana Uzbekistan. In Philadelphia, but some part of outer Philadelphia that's apparently about a half-hour from where I live. The area also has Moldovan food, which I don't believe I've ever tried.


Uzbek mission accomplished. While this was not my first encounter with Bukharian cuisine, according to WWPD records, my last was in 2006, so it had been a while. This time, no explicit material flashed on the screen - just a musical variety show. It's a funny cuisine for me, I suppose, because it's on the one hand ever so exotic (Central Asia!) and on the other, something very close to my own ancestral cuisine. Is because these are Central Asian Jewish restaurants, or would there be significant Ashkenazi/Eastern European/Central Asian overlap regardless? Manti and kreplach taste just about the same - a bland, oniony meat dumpling you (apparently!) need to have grown up with to appreciate. In any case, I enjoyed it. Although I wouldn't recommend it to anyone averse to meat dishes listing unspecified "meat" as the principle ingredient. As the DVD playing on the giant TV screen suggests, this is not a know-where-your-food-comes-from cultural environment.


-Izumi. Japanese food in Philadelphia, inevitably closed whenever I'm in that area.

-Suggestions welcome.


rshams said...

For upscale modern Israeli...Zahav in Philadelphia.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Thanks! It's indeed supposed to be good, but I keep forgetting about it.