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Is truly different even out there anymore?

Hi fellow Chowhounds,

I am disillusioned. I eat out every night and it always seems to be the same menu, no matter where I go. I have had Creative American, Italian, NE Seafood, high end sushi and several other Asian types, barbecue, Indian, etc, all in the past two weeks, and at this point I can only eat a bite without getting bored. Is anyone truly doing anything creative out there anymore??? I would love and appreciate suggestions of unusual ethnic food or other creative things going on that I may not have heard of yet. Otherwise I may have to start my own restaurant, and believe me, we don't want that to happen... Thanks Chowhounds!!!

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  1. What's your definition of "creative" and "different". ???

    1. Can you tell where you ate for the last two weeks? What is "creative and different" to one maybe boring to another. Why waste time with us possibly recommending the 14 places you went to recently?

      1. If all of the restaurants bore you, perhaps it's time to stop eating out every night. You don't need to start your own restaurant, but you might possibly be better pleased if you started cooking for yourself.

        1. When I think "really creative/different" mid-priced restnts, I think of 3 places:
          Oleana
          East by Northeast
          Strip T's

          All 3 have menus with dishes that you are(mostly) just not going to see elsewhere. Unique spices, sauces, condiments, components, combinations.

          OYa is also in that group but is dramatically more expensive.
          Clio, also $$$$, likes to flaunt the unusual components but their food has shattered our excitement every time we've gone.

          1. I sense this is a serious existential crisis in the making. Because after you find the next, truly creative thing and indulge, then what? After you have had the next foam, water and air, then what?

            What is for lack of a better term your "comfort food" ? Are you able to return to it for solace after indulging in the heights of cuisine?

            Or you could avoid all of this hand-wringing and go to Strip T's every night. ;)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              To put things in a different perspective.

              Go to Walmart and buy a package of ramen noodles. Ten or twelve packages for about $1.25. Eat only these for the next week. You cannot add anything except water and the flavor packet. Drink only water.

              Go to a greasy spoon diner and order fried eggs, bacon, hash browns. Milk to drink.

              You will be amazed at the explosion of flavors.

              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                Well said. Also was gonna suggest try cooking at home. Best place to experiment is in the kitchen.

            2. I dunno about you, but when I'm on vacation and "forced" to eat out every meal for a week or two, it's terrific at first, but after a couple of weeks, I'm eager for a plain, simple, homecooked meal -- or just a packet of ramen or a PB&J!

              I personally think your best bet isn't looking for something "crazy" -- it's looking for ethnic food you haven't tried (Persian? Nepalese? Greek? Haitian? Polish? Chinatown?) or going somewhere that serves really solid basic food in interesting ways.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Boston_Otter

                I'm with the otter. Have you tried Burmese at Yoma? That might be "different" for you.

                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  To expand on my post with specific examples:
                  Turkish: Pasha in Arlington
                  Nepalese/Tibetan: Martsa on Elm
                  Greek: Greek Corner, Cambridge
                  Hatian: Highland Cuisine, Somerville
                  Polish: Cafe Polonia
                  Spanish: Toro, Solea, Dali

                  Or try something unique to the area, like Yume Wo Katare -- they're the only place in Boston (or the east coast?) with Jiro Ramen. Or go to DooWee & Rice and get fried chicken hearts on french fries with garlic sauce... you won't find that sort of thing anywhere else.

                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                    You can get a fried chicken heart appetizer from Oasis less than 1 mi from Do Wee something they have offered for about 15 years now -- I think its offered with fried yuca, but could be confusing that with their torresmo appetizer. And grilled chicken hearts per-lb from Oasis (gas) and Valentim (charcoal), both within roughly a mile. Eat it with vinagrette (tomato relish with garlic) and farofa, french fries or yuca if you want from their buffet. Lastly the bar at Midwest Grill offers a chicken heart and fried yuca appetizer again with vinagrette and farofa if you need.

                    1. re: itaunas

                      Yeah, but do any of them put 'em on french fries, like chicken heart poutine? :)

                      I love the chicken hearts at Midwest Grill, indeed.

                      1. re: Boston_Otter

                        When you order a "porção" of chicken hearts, its usually served with fried yuca to the side and toothpicks. I usually make a puddle of pepper sauce and a pile of farofa. I pick up one heart and one yuca cube, then drag them in the farofa and then the pepper sauce. If I am eating it with rice, then I use the vinagrete. In Brazil you can usually get a squirt or shake bottle of garlic sauce (sometimes house made, more often store bought) and "shoyu" is a common marinade (particularly in fried and pre-marinated hearts) although at churrasco places coarse salt is very common.

                        Not poutine because no gravy or cheese curds, but it is rib-sticking bar food. I think the Midwest appetizer is the best of the bunch, although on basic churrasco you can do quite well at Valentim. I do want to get to DooWee & Rice and assume that weekdays lunches are probably better now that Tufts is only on Summer school, but was afraid of the weekend crowds.

                        Another thing I would suggest is not only trying different ethnic foods, but different types of food within one ethnic cuisine. In other words instead of having "feijoada," try other Brazilian caldos (mocoto, bobo de camarao). Like wise with Salvadoran try a caldo de gallina india instead of pupusas, sancocho in columbian instead of arepas (sorry its summer and soup came to mind because I am making a broth myself). Shanghai Gate with the specific suggestions (and possibly JoJo Taipai nearby) is a great idea for this.

                2. Unusual or creative food I think of right away: Oleana/Sofra, Myers + Chang, East Coast Grill, T.R. Street Food... Some might add Strip T's, but I haven't been so I don't have an opinion.

                  If you're looking for new genres to seek out, I'd add French (Les Zyg, Petit Robert...) and Spanish (Toro, Estragon, etc.) to your list. Also Greek/Mediterranean and African (Many Ethiopian options, Baraka, Tangierino).

                  1. Here are a fair number of restaurants that we should assume senji0000 is already familiar (and therefore bored) with:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7762...

                    1. You don't mention African cuisine on your rotation list. I know others mentioned Ethiopian which is a great choice. Curious to know if you've been to Teranga, the Senagalese restaurant in the south end. Truly some interesting items on the menu, including their stuffed fish dish or the yucca cous cous.

                      Another suggestion for a little "walk on the wild side" would be Shanghai Gate which serves authentic Shanghai cuisine which is vastly different than the typical Chinese restaurant here in Boston. Try dishes like West Lake Chicken, which is pickled and steamed or the fish soup which comes with a whole fish and pickled cabbage. Salty Duck with sticky rice and ham is a good choice. They have a number of other exotic choices like ducks tongue, frog, pigs bladder etc...

                      I think offal is the real new frontier of the culinary world.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: UnclePH

                        Apparently Teranga, Ethiopian food, and offal are among the things that have become boring - see senji0000's other post from yesterday, linked above.

                        1. re: Allstonian

                          HAHA! Maybe senji0000 should just stay home once in a while.

                      2. I think this must be Dave Andelman who infamously eats out every single meal.

                        1. Biriyani Park in Malden serves Sri Lankan cuisine that is markedly different from anything else I've had in this area. There's also Gene's Chinese Flatbread in Chelmsford, which serves hand-pulled noodles from Xi'an. Maybe less unusual, though still very good, is YoMa (Burmese) in Allston.

                          1. With echoes of addiez's comment, I think Myers + Chang's mixing of Asian with some southern is different and creative without being pretentious. I just had the "cheap date night" there and was really pleased---the greens (gai lan) were super fresh and the crispy whole fish was done perfectly. Not too salty, although perhaps a wee bit spicy (and I like spice!). Service was very good and the Chinese/diner decor meets my definition of creative.