Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hidden Turkish Treasure Becomes a Favorite

Dayi'nin Yeri
333 Palisade Avenue
Cliffside Park, NJ 07010

The better half of Garden State Grubber cannot get enough Mediterranean food. Since moving, we have had trouble finding a place to curve this constant craving. At the last second last night we looked up a few places, picked one, called in our order, and headed out to pick it up. To our surprise, this highly rated restaurant was less than 10 minutes away. The parking situation was difficult because there is no parking lot and street parking is hard to come by, so we double parked and one of us ran in. Sitting in the car with the window open, you can smell the delicious aromas radiating from the restaurant. We cannot imagine driving past everyday and being able to resist stopping. 

Inside of the restaurant was packed! Everyone was smiling and enjoying themselves, eating what we could only imagine was their delicious meals. We ordered a large Shepherd Salad, an order of Humus, two Lahmacun (we really like it, so we did not want to share), Cop Sis, and Tavuk-Doner combination platter. To our surprise we were also given a huge piece of Turkish bread for dipping and whatnot. 

The car immediately filled with that pleasant aroma that we smelled outside the restaurant. We wanted to rip open our bags and just start eating right there. However, we have some self-control, and decided we would enjoy it more if we waited until we got home and ate like civilized people. It was the longest drive of our lives. As soon as we walked through our door, we laid out our array of fare and dug in!
Lahmacun is ground meat blended with peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsley, and herbs on a thin, crusted dough. The crust was perfectly thin and crispy, while the meat topping was extremely moist and flavorful. We were very happy we ordered two. The Hummus was smooth, creamy, and a bit tangy. The Sheppard Salad had the perfect amount of acidity and was extremely refreshing. The Tavuk, or chicken, was succulent and by far our favorite of all of the meats we ordered. The Doner was well seasoned and very flavorful. The Cop Sis, or cubed lamb, was extremely savory. 

We are always impressed when a Mediterranean restaurant can elevate the flavors that seem so common from restaurant to restaurant, and Dayi'nin delivers. If you are as big a fan of Turkish food as we are, we highly recommend you check our Dayi'nin Yeri. It was well priced and extremely delicious. We will definitely be going back and will bring our friends and family. Hopefully next time we will be able to eat at the restaurant and add on to this experience. Yemek ve zevk!

Authentic Korean BBQ Steps from the GWB

Dong Bang Grill
1616 Palisade Ave
Fort Lee, NJ 07024

While my brother attended Rutgers University, we found a Korean BBQ gem called Kimchihana in South Plainfield, NJ (it's just off of Route 287). It was a new cuisine to us at the time, but we were hooked. Fresh, delicious, and filling family style Asian food; could it get any better? Since he graduated, we have no longer had an excuse to drive down there, so we had to find one closer to where we live in north Jersey. There are quite a few Korean restaurants in Fort Lee, so it can be quite difficult to decide which one you want to go to. We heard great things about Dong Bang Grill from friends, so the choice was made easy for us.

On a cold January evening, we decided to venture into the Tundra to finally try Dong Bang Grill. We had called ahead of time to make a reservation, but when we said four people, we were told to just come in. We assume they only take reservations for larger groups, but this is good to know. There is valet parking at the restaurant, which we took advantage of on the 10 degree evening. We walked upstairs and were seated right away. The dining room was relatively empty; one large group and a handful tables with two to four people at each. We were immediately worried that after over a year of wanting to try Dong Bang, we had hyped it up too much in our heads. 

The menu is large. Appetizers, BBQ, vegetarian, vegetarian BBQ, à la carte dishes, Japanese food, sushi (I forgot to mention they also serve Japanese food), and more. If you have never been to a Korean restaurant it may seem quite daunting, but if it sounds good it probably is, and we say, try it! Along with your food you are given banchan, which are small side dishes. This restaurant in particular seemed to give you a lot of them, which is definitely a good thing because they were all fantastic. 

For appetizers, we ordered Haemool Pajun, Korean style pancakes with scallions and assortments of seafood, and Goon Mandoo, homemade fried dumplings. We like to order BBQ, it is cooked at your table on a grill in the middle, so it is semi-interactive, and its delicious. For BBQ we ordered Galbi, marinated short ribs, Bul Go Gi, marinated rib eye steak sliced extremely thin, and Jae Yook Gui, marinated pork loin. We also ordered a Gopdol Bibimbap, vegetables, ground beef, over rice in a hot stone, and Al Jigae, spicy codfish caviar stew.

The banchan came almost immediately after we ordered our food, and the appetizers came shortly after. While we enjoyed the banchan and our appetizers, our waitress placed the first meat on the grill in front of us. She kept coming back to flip it and make sure it was okay, once it was cooked she told us we could start taking from the grill. 
All of the food we ordered was great! Two of us favored the Galbi the best, because it was extremely flavorful and juicy, while the two others favored the Jae Yook Gui, because it was spicier. We all agreed the Bul Go Gi was very good also, extremely thin, but the others had a bit more flavor from their marinades. The Bibimbap, pictured above, was a tasty side to share with the rest of our food. The rice gets crispy from the stone, and the sauce they give you to put over it is great. The Al Jigae was extremely flavorful and full of fish and vegetables. If you are a little more of an adventurous eater, order it!

We highly recommend checking out Dong Bang Grill if you are in looking to try Korean food or if you already love Korean food and are in the Fort Lee area. It was not what we would call a budget meal, but it was extremely filling and because this meal was shared amongst four people, we feel it was worth it. We also ordered a little more food than necessary. 

On another note, if you are in the central New Jersey area we also highly recommend trying Kimchihana in South Plainfield, NJ .