Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mekong Grill is Pho-Tastic!

Mekong Grill
24 Chestnut Street
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Friday evening, after a long week at work, like most people, the last thing we want to do is cook dinner. On our way home, our job is too decide what kind of food we want, how far we want to drive, and if we want to try something new or stick to somewhere we know is great. On a good day, we will both be thinking the same thing and it will take seconds to decide; but on a bad day, this process could take upwards of an hour. Recently it has been easy because we both have wanted the same thing; Mekong Grill in Ridgewood, NJ. When this spot first opened, we walked in unsure of what to expect, and since then it has been our favorite place to satisfy our Asian food cravings.

We have three appetizers that we like a lot; one being the Lemon Grass Beef Roll, another the Beef Satay, and of course the Chicken Vegetable Dumplings.  Dumplings are a life source in our relationship, we crave them, judge them harshly, and utterly enjoy them when they are as perfect as they are at Mekong. The sauce is light, but bold and layered with multiple flavors that go beyond the traditional dumpling sauce. The dumpling dough is almost see through, and steamed to perfection. They are filled to capacity with the fresh vegetable and chicken mixture. These are, in a word, heavenly, and we urge you all to go and indulge in these delicious dumplings. 
Pho was something that we both had not tried until last year. The pho at Mekong is a staple of the menu that delivers in flavor and is a dish that simply makes you feel good after eating it. The pho pictured below is a Hue Style Pho with spicy lemongrass beef broth. It is filled with huge portions of eye round beef, beef flank, Vietnamese pork roll, and shrimp dumplings. It may sound like an over cluttered dish in need of some refinement, but every flavor comes together and enhances the next. The accouterments of been sprout add texture, while the mint and lime add an overall freshness to the dish. If your a pho-newbie or a pho-niciado, you will love this dish!
We love Asian style noodle dishes and never shy away from trying a new one especially from a new style of cuisine. We tend to order the stir fried vegetarian thick rice noodles with tofu and mixed vegetables. This dish is delicious. The noodles were thick, so they pick up the sauce well. Also, there a lot of vegetables and they all keep their texture to give the dish depth. The tofu is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, while it takes on the delicate flavor of the sauce. We are not vegetarians, but do like tofu on occasion when its cooked well. But for those of you who do not, there is a non-vegetarian stir fried noodle dish as well, which is just as fantastic. 
For dessert we ordered banana crepes. The crepes are filled with banana, apple, and fried to a perfect crispiness. It is accompanied by vanilla ice ream. It is not too overpoweringly sweet for a dessert, it is perfect. We were told by the waiter if we are adventurous next time we should try the mochi. Since he was so helpful throughout the all of our visits, we will be taking his advice and trying it next time. 
Ridgewood has an array of restaurants to choose from, some good and some not-so-good, but Mekong Grill happens to be a great one. The food and service are both fabulous, plus the price is great. If you want to try a Vietnamese drink, there are quite a few options on the menu. If you want an alcoholic beverage with your meal, it is BYOB, but there is a liquor store conveniently right next door. We highly recommend checking out Mekong Grill. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fantastisch Deutsch B├Ąckerei

Heidi's Finest
47 E Ridgewood Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Ridgewood is a quaint town, both unassuming and welcoming. It has an all-American, small-town feel to it, and makes all of its visitors feel at home. One thing Ridgewood continues to deliver on is its culinary offerings. We have eaten a multiple spots in the past, and we are constantly looking for more to try in the town. The last few time’s while driving through we had noticed a small German Bakery called Heidi’s Finest. We decided last Sunday after a late breakfast to stop in a see what this small food gem had to offer.

Initially walking into Heidi’s Finest you are visually pleased by how all of the effort that was put into it. The tables are modern, while the stonewalls are a perfect contrast to the changing lights above. We decided that since we had just had breakfast that we would get some dessert to go. The server behind the bakery counter was very knowledgeable about each pastry, and told us that every item was made with the finest imported ingredients. He explained that their desserts were light and made with significantly less sugar and preservatives than other bakeries. We opted to choose a Cherry Cheesecake Bar, Apple Cheesecake Bar, Chocolate Pistachio Tart, and a slice of Marble Cheesecake. He packed them nicely for us and even gave us a 10% discount for no reason whatsoever. We felt that everything was priced well, but it was very nice of him to give us a discount, especially after we asked questions about everything. The most difficult part would be waiting until after dinner to try these tantalizing treats.

What seemed like days later, post dinner, we started out with the Cherry Cheesecake Bar; the cherries were tart and worked well with the light, airy cheesecake. The bottom layer of crust held up well, and we were both overly excited about our choice. It was light and did not leave us feeling full, which was good because we still had three more to try.

The Apple Cheesecake Bar was one of our favorites. It was an apple pie like topping that tasted homemade and delicious. It contrasted perfectly with the cheesecake bottom, just as the cherry one did. It was a gracious union between two of our favorite desserts.
The Marble Cheesecake was our least favorite. Not that it was bad by any means, but it was not rich like most cheesecakes. We both understood that he had told us that these
desserts were light and not made with an abundance of sugar, so maybe were both
just too stubborn in our ways when it comes to classic cheesecake. 

The Chocolate Pistachio Tart was a crowd favorite, and when we tried it we both had an understanding of the difference between Heidi’s Finest and other bakeries. The chocolate layers were light and airy, and never overbearing, while the pistachio layer on the top was an amazing compliment to the already complex dessert. Also, it was not overly sweet or rich, as some chocolate mousse desserts are. 
We will most definitely be returning to Heidi’s Finest in the near future. They also have soups, waffles, breads, pretzels, coffee, and more. Next time you feel the need to get out and do some work at your local Starbucks, maybe you should opt to make your way to Heidi’s Finest for a delectable treat and cup of coffee.