Category: buffet

Four Reasons Why Fogo De Chao’s $15 Lunch Is So Great

At first I thought about adding a blurb about Fogo De Chao’s lunch to my Minneapolis Skyway food post. However, Fogo’s Market Table lunch is so glorious that it deserves a post of its own.

Fogo De Chao is a Brazilian steakhouse chain. Servers wander the dining room with metal spears of meat that they slice table side. You can choose from a wide variety of steaks, and cuts of chicken, pork, and lamb. The options are practically endless. Bacon-wrapped, ribs, parmesan chicken, filet mignon, top sirloin, you can have it all. Servers will also ask what doneness you prefer. The well-done people can have their well-done steaks without preventing everyone else from eating medium rare.

As if all of the meat isn’t enough, all meals come with the salad bar Fogo calls the Market Table, feijoada and soup bars, and side dishes.

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Cleveland Wok: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Some things don’t seem to change and sometimes that’s a good thing. 

Technology, fashion trends, seasons, seasonal latte flavors, these are all things that can change. But my favorite Chinese buffet? I don’t mind so much if this stays the same.

In high school, the Highland Park area of St. Paul was the place to meet, at least for our groups of friends. Jake and I didn’t go to the same grade schools and wouldn’t meet for many years to come, but we both gathered at the Highland Park Perkins, Caribou, Jimmy John’s, and Cleveland Wok back in the day.

Finals week and that break between the ending of a school day were special times where we piled into someone’s car and headed to Highland Park. We like to imagine that we crossed paths at some point.

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Date Night At The Chinese Buffet

There’s a new buffet in town!

Saturday date nights are sacred. They are the one evening we go out together for the point of doing something fun. Usually they revolve around dinner and sometimes, they’ll include a movie or friends. I look forward to date nights each week.

The few weekends ago, we visited New City Buffet, the newest restaurant in town that also advertises having a hibachi grill and sushi. My local blogger friend said she enjoyed her meal so we went to try it for ourselves.

The inside of the buffet is deceptively large. I had pictured a small buffet line and one room of tables, but there were rows and rows of booths and almost all of them were full. It was really busy and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people in one place yet, in Mason City.

There were so many options. Just like any other buffet, I found some items more appealing than others, but most everything we tasted was thoughtfully prepared and nicely flavored.

I love Chinese food and I love Americanized Chinese food. I’m no snob regarding authenticity. What really bugs me is when Chinese take-out is overly oily, bland, filled with grisly meats or soggy when it should be crisp.

Honestly, I didn’t find any of these issues at the buffet. Because the restaurant was so busy, the turnover of food trays was high. The staff hustled to quickly replace dishes and clean up tables so they could seat more customers.

There are some foods I never try at buffets, such as mussels. However, I did try the whole shrimp with their heads and legs fully attached, fried in a crumbly salt and pepper coating with thin slices of fresh jalapeno. I think we both chickened out on trying the fried frogs legs.

The fillet of salmon was moist and flavorful and there were a couple of meat dishes that actually tasted spicy. Sauces for the other dishes tasted better than what we’ve typically found. The whole, garlicky green beans with blistery skin reminded me of those I used to eat at Cleveland Wok in Saint Paul, MN.

I didn’t get too adventurous with the sushi but the California roll was fine and the creation covered in mayo and eel sauce was sweet for my tastes, but still edible. Certainly good enough to scratch the basic sushi itch and I appreciated that the rice wasn’t mushy.

It was hard to eat the fried foods in moderation. I’m terrible when placed in a situation with unlimited cream cheese wontons (more commonly referred to as crab ragoons in Iowa). And then there were those donuts rolled in sugar.

All hail the Chinese buffet donut!

They taste like deep fried bam/wham/whomp biscuits, a treat an old childhood friend’s family used to make the morning after sleepovers. They were special then and they’re special now.

I’m generally not fond of buffets. I can’t eat that much food at one time and hate feeling pressured to overeat so I get my money’s worth. I’m happiest if I can take home my leftovers and enjoy them in the comfort of my own home at my own pace. Fortunately, it looks like New City Buffet offers a take-out menu that we will likely order from.

We enjoyed our dinner, all for $10.99 per person before tax and tip. The price includes sodas and even hot coffee with real cream. The restaurant appears to be family run and they were all welcoming and worked hard to keep up with all of the guests. We hope they succeed.

Norwegian For A Night: A Norsk Christmas Dinner At The Kringen Lodge

I may not be ethnically Scandinavian, but feel just as Scandinavian as most any Scandinavian.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was adopted from South Korea by a Scandinavian family when I was about six months old. While my parents didn’t observe many Scandinavian traditions, my grandparents did. My grandma decorated her kitchen with those little blue plates and made pepparkakor cookies. When we visited their home in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, I looked forward to sitting on her couch and flipping through her big book about Norwegian trolls.

We celebrated most of our childhood holidays with my mom’s cousins family. They make lefse every Christmas and I’m excited to have recently learned how to make it for myself (you can read about my first lefse-making adventure here). One of my cousins married into another Scandinavian family. We celebrated a holiday at their house where I tried pickled herring and actually liked it. Now, I’m married to a man of Scandinavian descent whose family is named after a small town in Norway.

This weekend, Jake and I attended the Traditional Norsk Christmas event at the Sons of Norway lodge near downtown Fargo. I had seen the event advertised in the local papers and didn’t want to miss this opportunity to share authentic Norwegian foods. We arrived an hour into the event and settled into the back of the long line which snaked around the lodge. Fortunately, it moved relatively quickly. We were entertained by admiring the silent auction items and taking in the atmosphere. Dark wood paneling and regal, Scandinavian wallpaper. There were lots of Vikings and trolls who appeared in paintings and sculptures everywhere. We also admired the other attendees’ outfits. Many wore their best Scandinavian sweaters while others wore suits.

We tried a little bit of everything from the buffet spread. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Lefse and flat breads. Meatballs in a creamy gravy and spicy barbecue sauce. Thick slices of silky and buttery cured salmon and briny, pickled herring. A man carefully carved a large block of Gjetost cheese.

There were also numerous baked goods and desserts. Slices of bread with candied fruits and the obligatory lefse with butter and brown sugar. Cones of krumkake that tasted like homemade waffle cones. Delicate rosettes that literally melted in our mouths. Soft, heart-shaped waffles. And chewy rings of kransekake that tasted like almond.

And then there was the rommegrot.

A large pot of this porridge perched at the very end of the buffet line. In fact, it had it’s own table. The man serving the rommegrot told us it was made mostly from cream and flour. We curiously watched the more experienced attendees fill their dishes with mostly melted butter, a smaller amount of rommegrot, and spoonfuls of cinnamon-sugar. I wasn’t sure if I liked my first bite so I returned to the rommegrot station to do it right. This meant adding more butter and more sugar. 
We enjoyed dinner with another young couple who was also visiting the lodge for the first time. The woman had spent a summer studying in Norway and shared a little about some of the food and traditions we were seeing. Glogg, a fragrant Norwegian-mulled wine, flowed freely. It was so rich with clove that my tongue felt a tinge of numbness. 
Then we watched them dance. The older Norwegians, many of whom seemed to wear stoic expressions on their faces when sitting, lit up while dancing. Round and round they waltzed, with an air of grace and serenity that put us all to shame. I have no doubt they continued to dance late into the night, long after the youngest of us went home to sleep well before the closing time of 12:30 a.m.
We peeked inside the bar on our way out the door. The bar was majestic and made of more dark wood. The room sparkled with lights, and we studied murals featuring more Norwegian trolls. We quickly decided this was the coolest place to enjoy a drink in Fargo.
This Norsk Christmas was certainly joyful. We left, full from new tastes and warmed from the hospitality that was bestowed upon us both. The Norwegian and the Norwegian at heart. 

My Grilled-Cheese Week: An Update

Oh this week. . .

My busiest work week since we moved to Fargo, which also precedes a holiday weekend.  Unfortunately, these factors coincide with a low number of weekly posts.

Today, I drove for hours through the rural North Dakotan countryside in a company rental car vastly nicer than my own.  My first time driving a company car and second time driving a rental.  Somehow and somewhere, I blinked and became a big girl.

At the mercy of the FM radio, I flipped through dial that went something like country music, Christian music, country, country, Christian, Country, Christian, Christian, OMG Katy Perry!, darn it I’m back to country, Christian. . .

I also passed by Wilkin Drink & Eatery in beautiful Breckenridge, MN.  Jake’s coworker recommended this 100-year old establishment and we plan to embark on a field trip in the near future.

As I visit small towns and meet people who grew up in them, I giggle as I remember how I used to whine about how boring life was in a 45,000+ suburb.  It also dawned on me that I have never set foot on a real farm.  Only fake farms.  Like Murphy’s Landing and the Dakota County Historical Society on grade-school field trips.

What do I eat during exhausting work weeks?  My tired foods include the following:

  • Cheese, black bean, onion and vegetable quesadillas.  I add whatever vegetables I have on hand and an fond of the addition of hot, pickled cherry peppers.
  • Crusty, Gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches made with American cheese and Campbell’s tomato soup.  My favorite comfort foods at their finest.  
  • Eggs, over-easy.
  • Leftovers from Sunday evening.  I re-purposed our leftover sticky rice, short ribs and vegetables.  
  • Whatever is in the freezer.  Kimchee pot stickers or samosas, anyone?
  • Fresh fruit.  We have a grapefruit obsession, but also treat ourselves to organic kiwis and mango.

    My love for Fargo’s Passage To India is no secret.  And it’s still our running favorite restaurant in the Fargo-Moorhead area.  Last weekend, we visited their often-mentioned Saturday buffet for the first time and it was every bit as good as the rumors.  Passage’s selection was larger than the Indian buffets I’ve visited, the food was steaming hot and constantly refilled, and it was flavorful and spicy.  Not toned down and bland, but actually spicy.  I was in heaven, despite the fact that buffets and “all you can eats” never work out well for me.  One plate and I’m full.  Two plates and I feel sick.  Oh well. 
    Last weekend, we also joined a coworker for drinks and dinner on Monte’s cozy, back patio.  I enjoyed my first taste of a crisp, icy-cold gin martini (or any martini, for that matter), though I also learned that martinis don’t work out that well for me, either.  Two sips and it’s time to inhale the nearest bread basket.  The entrees seemed incredibly pricey for what was actually delivered, but I was thrilled with my $9 Greek Flat Bread.  A generous appetizer topped with shrimp, plenty of creamy feta, briny olives, cherry tomatoes, and onion.
    On Friday, we will leave for the Twin Cities directly from work to spend a long holiday weekend with our family and friends.  Per usual, we look forward to letting our parents spoil us rotten with home-cooked foods and visit at least one of our old haunts.
    I’ll post again, as soon as I can and, until next time, I wish you all well.
    Love,
    Jen

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