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Best *new* food in 2006?

I was thinking about the best new** entries into the Boston chow market in 2006. Of course I return to my favorites, but this year I was happy to have for the first time:

- salty spicy chicken from Mulan
- pepperoni pizza from the Paddock
- Beef on Weck at ASSBar
- lavender ferns at Anise
- many new nibbles at Gargoyles' bar, most notably tuna poke
- my first try of Hei La Moon
- mutton chops at Tamarind Bay
- chicken liver crostini at Trattoria Toscana
- salade nicoise at Eastern Standard
- squid and borlotti beans at Rendezvous
- beef stew with bahn mi at Xinh Xinh
- cold noodles with asian pear at Wu Chon house

** Some of these aren't new, but they were new to me, and for that I have Chowhounds to thank.

What tickled your fancy this year?

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  1. Great topic! Here are some good ones that were new to me in 2006:

    --pepperoni pizza at Bianchi's in Revere
    --Caesar salad at Potbellies in South Boston
    --cubano at Chez Henri in Cambridge
    --arroz con pollo at Las Palmas de Cuba in Hanover
    --cheeseburger at Mission Bar and Grill in Brigham Circle
    --beef dumplings at Shanghai Gate in Allston
    --steak tips at Salem Wood Cafe in Malden
    --country pad Thai at Sweet Chili in Arlington

    The best of the best would have to be the cubano at Chez Henri...

    2 Replies
    1. re: hiddenboston

      Ya know ... I was lucky to be able to compare the cubano at Chez Henri to the one at the Plough and Stars over this past week. The P&S version is not too shabby (although they use gherkins instead of pickle strips which is a little annoying), but I'm changing my last meal request to the amazing sandwich at Chez Henri. Alert the warden. That's what I want before heading to the chair.

      1. re: yumyum

        I had the same comparison meal recently. The P&S is a decent version, but no one is de-throning the cubano at Chez Henri.

    2. -Gnocchi and shortribs at Grotto
      -Skillet cornbread at Union
      -Strawberry cream puff at Beard Papa
      -Dragon Roll at Douzo
      -Crayfish Bisque with Reuben Fritters at Gargoyles

      1. New to me this year:

        -reuben fritters at Gargoyles
        -cuban at Chez Henri
        -peking duck and those delicious homemade noodles at King Fung Garden
        -steak tips and pizza at the Paddock
        -Big Night dinner at Grotto (loved the timpano)

        2 Replies
        1. re: lissy

          Reuben fritters!! Please elaborate!

          1. re: tatamagouche

            OMG they were so good (I was the lucky one to share the order with Lissy!)
            Basically they are everything that goes on a reuben sandwich (corned beef, kraut, swiss cheese) formed into a (big) bite-sized ball and deep fried. Served with russian dressing for dipping.
            SOOOO Good! Definitely an indulgence and not for every day, but man were they good.

        2. Does Tamarind Bay really have mutton chops yumyum? How are they cooked? I've been looking for these ever since having them at a place called Keen's in NYC.

          5 Replies
          1. re: steinpilz

            Yep, they were mutton, (right Alcachofa)? Or were they just described as mutton? They were a special dish made for us because one in our party knew the owner (and hence we didn't think it was appropriate to write a review).

            My memory is a little hazy at this point but I believe they were marinated in yogurt and spices and grilled. You might call them and inquire.

            1. re: yumyum

              I'm guessing that it's called mutton but isn't really. Indian restaurants sometimes use the term interchangeably or to describe older lamb. Even Keen's no longer serves a mutton chop but a larger chop from an older lamb. The one time, I had a mutton chop at Keen's it was gargantuan and gamey tasting in a pleasant sort of way.

              1. re: gourmaniac

                Sure it wasn't goat? "Mutton" is Indian English for goat.

                1. re: gourmaniac

                  Right, a big saddle cut broiled and crispy. I also read that at Keen's it's an "older lamb" but it was clearly much bigger and more flavorful. Not sure about mutton and goat, I've never had goat actually so it might be fun (couldn't bring myself to buy any at Haymarket). I'll try calling.

            2. i LOVE the nicoise at eastern standard! that and their salmon are my two favorite things on the menu!!

              1. Great topic yumyum and I'm glad you liked the beef stew at Xinh xinh. Many thanks to chowhounds everywhere. New foods gleaned from this board:

                Adana kebab at Family Turkish Restaurant
                Fried clams from Agawam diner
                Squid salad from Floating Rock
                Eel with fried udon from Rainbow Cafe

                1 Reply
                1. re: gourmaniac

                  You remind me how much fun it was to meet hounds in person this year -- and that I need to have that eel/udon dish in 2007.

                2. Nice thread YumYum.

                  All delicious and new to me this year - Thanks 'Hounds!

                  Hot buttered lobster roll at Neptune Oyster
                  Pressed Cuban from Volle Nolle
                  Garlic and Hot Cherry Pepper Pizza at the Paddock
                  Flower Tofu and Lavender Fern at Anise
                  Zaitun- E Parwardeh and Kashk- E Bademjan at Lala Rokh
                  Tacos from Taqueria el Rancho Grande
                  Beef and Leek Pancake at Mulan (mmm... I could go for that right now)

                  Resolution for the coming year:

                  To try at least one new dish from each list on this thread :)

                  1. A couple of newish dishes that moved me in 2006:

                    Pan con tomate at Toro. This place annoyed and charmed me by turns, sometimes in the same night, but I and everyone I brought here loved this eminently simple dish.

                    Arepas. Didn't really know them before I tried them at Orinoco, but became more enamored with a less swanky version at Viva Mi Arepa in West Roxubury.

                    Overstuffed pork-skin banh mi at Pho Viet in the Allston Super 88 food court.

                    Caldeirada, the seafood stew of the year, at Casa Portugal.

                    Grilled baby octopus at La Brace.

                    Mucver (shredded zucchini fritters) at Brookline Family.

                    Alfajores at Rincon Limeno.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      pork skin banh mi? I didn't see that when I went there, it sounds scrumptious. Was it crispy? Also, do they happen to serve pate or head cheese at that particular banh mi outlet?

                      1. re: bitsubeats

                        It's just listed on the menu as "Bi (shredded pork)", and it's not crisped, just cut into thin shreds, quite chewy. There's another item listed as "Thit ngui (ham)", which might be a cold cut type with pate and/or head cheese, but I didn't try it. Other options include grilled pork, grilled beef, grilled chicken, and tofu. The chicken was very nice, a big slab o' chicken breast.

                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                        Grilled baby octopus! Wow...I haven't had that since Baltimore sushi. Definitely going on my list. ( I don't understand why NO sushi places in Boston make baby octos this way - only the cold marinated app, which is not in the same league.)

                        Were those alfajores home-made? I am pretty sure Capone's in Union has a couple of imported varieties (or at least they did last year around this time).

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          No, Rincon Limeno's alfajores are imported from Peru.

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            Bricco did it (grilled baby octo) when Bill Bradley was chef there. One of my fav apps ever.

                            1. re: Bostonbob3

                              Desfina in East Cambridge does a good grilled octopus dish.

                        2. What comes immediately to mind is seafood waterzooi at the Publick House.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: steinpilz

                            I'll agree with yum yum on the Beef on Weck at All Star, that was really good too.

                            1. U Burger's fries - but not the medium burger! Ha!

                              Nice question Yumyum. I've been so lucky to be introduced to great food and such interesting, fun people who also love food. My recent fave has to be Anise, esp. dumplings, green beans, battered chicken.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Niblet

                                nope, definitely not the medium well burger.

                              2. MACCHERONCELLI: American kobe beef meatballs, barolo sauce and parmigiano from Sorellina

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: jody

                                  Oh, I agree! Well, then if I was doing another list of new favorites that I didn't read about first on the Board, then it would be that dish (I just love that hint of sweetness from the reduced Barolo), along with Sorrelina's spicy tuna tartare with mostarda. I thought I was bored with the ubiquitous tuna tartare, but I'm converted.

                                  Hmmm...some other local highlights this year -
                                  Michael Scelfo's rosemary french fries at (formerly) North Street Grille
                                  Copia's baby octopus in harissa
                                  Pimiento de Padron peppers at Prezza
                                  Dave's Juicy Bacon Cheeseburger at Pizza Oggi - always medium rare
                                  Churros with chocolate sauce at Avila
                                  "Fries with Eyes" at Dante
                                  Uovo raviolo with white truffle and butter sauce at Prezza (in fact, this would be my #1 dish of the year)

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    Rubee, I look at your list and realize I didn't have one really upscale meal this year in Boston. I had a couple in New York, and certainly ate well in the middle ground, but I need to put aside some time and money for a really great meal at No. 9, or Troquet which I've never tried. The list for 2007 is already taking shape.

                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      Is that an invite, why of course I'll join you ;)

                                      Though right now I really really want that garlic and hot cherry pepper pizza from the Paddock, or Peking Duck from King Fung Garden, or is it the intriguing-sounding Reuben fritters from Gargoyles I'm craving, or.....

                                  2. re: jody

                                    This dish should probably have made my list, too. I wish that I'd had other as-memorably-good dishes at Sorellina, but this is the only one I thought worth crowing about, which is too bad, as that place is expensive.

                                  3. Okay this is why this Board contribues in a negative way to my waistline. Called King Fung Garden (usually have to order 24 hours ahead but sometimes they have extras!) - and my 3-course Peking duck dinner, along with their excellent scallion pancakes, will be ready for pick-up in half an hour. It's all Lissy's fault for mentioning it on her list and reminding me that it's been a while since I've had it.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Rubee

                                      What no dumplings? Mmmm King Fung ...

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Hey Rubee, this board contributes to lots of expanding waistlines! But, it's all worth it! Love that peking duck. And by the way, I have never been to Troquet either, so if you ladies make an outing of it, I'd certainly be in!

                                        1. re: lissy

                                          It's a plan Lissy!

                                          Dax, that's funny you mention the dumplings because that's our 'usual' order for pick-up - Peking duck, dumplings, and scallion pancakes, but, ya know, I'm on a diet. :P.

                                          BTW, the Peking duck was delicious as usual. Lots of leftovers. Plenty of pancakes, I crisped the skin up in the oven, and the duck stir-fry was especially tasty last night, though the soup could have had a little more flavor. Scallion pancakes were great - flaky and crispy.

                                        2. re: Rubee

                                          Damnit, Rubee. You just altered the shape of my weekend with that comment.

                                          I am such a whore when it comes to duck.

                                          1. re: Psmith

                                            Have to say I laughed out loud when I read your post.

                                        3. Cubano at Chez Henri
                                          Bolognese at No. 9
                                          Pan con Tamate at Toro
                                          Grilled cheese with coarse mustard at Eastern Standard (don't laugh - it's THAT good)
                                          Pepproni pizza and steak tips at the Paddock
                                          Big Night dinner at Grotto
                                          Reuben Fritters at Gargoyle's
                                          Grape leaves appetizer at Oleana
                                          Tuna tartare at Sibling Rivalry (the former version with asian flavors)

                                          1. Mouhamara and grape leaves at Karoun
                                            Lamejun at Eastern Lamejun
                                            Beef in flatbread (not exact translation -- niu rou jia bing in Chinese) and pearl meatballs at New Shanghai
                                            Bahn mi bo kho (beef stew with bread) at Xinh Xinh
                                            Veal chop at La Brace
                                            Oatmeal with huckleberries, grilled bananas and candied walnuts at Volle Nolle
                                            Beef rendang at Spice King
                                            Mini ristaffel at Jakarta Corner
                                            Fried sweetbreads with cortland apple puree at Aujourd'hui
                                            Crepe at Bon Savor
                                            Grilled fish with a Moroccan sauce at Cafe D
                                            Tea (e.g. the rare Scarlet Robe) at Swan cafe, Park Plaza Hotel
                                            Lasuni gobi (cauliflower with potato) at Kebab Factory
                                            Pheasant meatballs at Domani
                                            Khinkali at Bazaar International Foods
                                            7 kinds of fish and beef at Anh Hong
                                            Hotpot at Little Q

                                            1. cubano @ chez henri
                                              ginger soda @ dante
                                              tacos al pastor @ tacos lupita (somerville)
                                              chicken hearts @ churrasco (magoun sq)
                                              fresh corn soup @ clio
                                              infused bourbon @ gargoyle's
                                              spicy green beans @ shangri-la
                                              fatback bacon thing @ monte cristo (somerville)
                                              palm-oil orange rice @ churrasco
                                              brioche au sucre from Peytra @ flour

                                              ...and a moment of silence for the (temporary) loss of Urban Gourmet due to fire.

                                              1. I forgot two winners:
                                                1 -- naanwich (I had tandoori chicken as my filler, tangy smoky and great!) at Punjab in Arlington
                                                2 -- grilled octopus at Desfina -- served drizzled with a little olive oil and a lemon wedge to squeeze over. Perfectly cooked. Another dive, in a good way.

                                                Again, neither of them upscale but both very good.

                                                1. these lists make me realize that i had sort of a staid, stick-with-the-old favorites kind of year. i guess i'll have to use this post as a road map for 2007!

                                                  that said, the three things "new" that are really memorable for me from this past year are:

                                                  tasting menu at dante
                                                  salt and pepper pork chop at mulan
                                                  the paddock in general, a great neighborhood spot in somerville that i had neglected for the ten years i've lived in the town but which i was finally enticed into trying by this board and that i now can't wait to drag my friends to.

                                                  thanks, hounds.

                                                  1. New to me:
                                                    --The Chez Henri Cuban sandwich (looks like a lot of us discovered this one this year...).
                                                    --The tasting menu at No. Nine Park--turns out that hype about food I can't afford is sometimes actually true: see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
                                                    --The food court at Super 88, now a treasured place for lunches on rainy days (Chowhounds, with this recommendation alone, you made Boston a better place to live for me, and you can't possibly know how grateful I am for that).
                                                    --I just discovered I can finally once again use my old pre-CNET workaround: using google to enter |Site:www.chowhound.com "query phrase"|.

                                                    Just plain new:
                                                    --Petsi Pies new branch near my house: excellent scones (I'm a partisan of the pear and pecan scone, with a hint of ginger); and their pear, prosciutto and gorgonzola sandwich is something made of "gourmet" ingredients that serves as comfort food.
                                                    --El Oriental de Cuba: phoenix from the flames. Straight-up Cuban sandwich that's a simpler, more basic thing than the Henri version, but great--EOdC:Henri::Ibrahim Ferrer:Ry Cooder. ( http://www.pbs.org/buenavista/musicia... )
                                                    --Rendezvous in Central Square. We find that we make good meals of their small plates; of these, I especially liked their sardines, fresh, piquant and strong, dissected with skill by my comrade-in-chow--looks like they're rotated off the menu now, but I hope they'll be back.

                                                    Although it sucks that Toscanini's is getting pushed out of their Harvard Square spot for at least half a year, and I'm bummed that Rendezvous has nixed the bluefish cakes and the sardines, and I miss the f-ed up design of the old chowhound that made me feel like I was part of an arcane underground sect, still, like my old chowhound search strategy, I hope that all good things will in some form return.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: aquariumtown

                                                      Nice! You did the No 9 tasting menu, I'm glad it was as fantastic as the first time I had it. Be sure to try the decadent lunch one - especially if it's an occasion and you take the day off. :)

                                                      On your list, which I still have to try is Petsi's, and yes, I'm another one who has yet to try the fantastic Cuban's at either Chez Henri or El Oriental. I've been to Chez Henri for dinner (great, but it's been about 5 years), but never at the bar. We already have plans for our New Year's resolution to do that in January.