Lunch 3/30/22

Fried chicken sandwich with tater tots

Fried chicken sandwich places are popping up all over the North Shore. There’s a small local chain called “Flip The Bird” which has several locations, but this sandwich comes from a new place in Lynn called “YAS Chicken”. While our duaghter was home for spirng break a couple of weeks ago, she wanted to try YAS Chicken, and it was very good, so Bridget and I got lunch from them last week.

This is the “Yas O.G.” sandwich – fried chicken breast, pickles, lettuce, and house-made mayo, but they also have a couple of spicy versions, one topped with their excellent mac & cheese (which I think I will try next time), and even a chicken & waffles combo. The tots are great, too.

The night we went with our daughter, the place was slamming, and it’s only been open for a few weeks, so I think they’ll do quite well. At least until the fried chicken sandwich craze passes.

Lunch 3/26/22

Grilled cheese sandwich

Our beloved local cheese shop does grilled cheese sandwiches to order on Saturdays, and we finally remembered to go and get them. This is Alpine Swiss, Vermont Cheddar, and balsamic onion jam on sourdough (freshly made by the bakery around the corner) slathered with butter. They make the sandwiches in a grill press, and you can order ahead or have them make it while you wait. it is worth the 10 minutes or so of waiting. Because, damn, it was gooooooood.

We each got a sandwich, but neither of us could finish a whole one in one sitting, so another time we’ll split one. I reheated mine in the convection toaster oven the next day, and it was *almost* as good as it was fresh.

Lunch 3/9/22

Hot pastrami sub with mustard and Swiss cheese

Just a good-looking pastrami sub I had a couple of weeks ago. I usually have mustard and Swiss. The cheese is totally optional. The mustard is mandatory. I would rather have grilled rye bread than a sub roll, but sometimes you have to go with what you can get. Nevertheless, I thought this looked pretty good, and it hit the spot that day.

Lunch 3/19/22

Spicy soy noodles with fried egg

I’ve been buying these “instant” noodles online from Momofuku. After trying all three varieties, I’ve settled on the Spicy Soy flavor as the best of the three. They are a step up from your supermarket ramen noodles, but still pretty quick and easy. I didn’t eat breakfast on Saturday morning, so by the time lunch rolled around, I felt like I wanted some protein, but I couldn’t be arsed to do anything involved. So instant noodles topped with a fried egg it was!

The runny yolk from the sunny-side-up egg is key. That yolk oozes into the noodles and coats them, giving them a silky texture they don’t have on their own. The spicy soy and sesame sauce pairs perfectly with egg. I considered adding a quick squirt of sriracha for color, but the noodle sauce is spicy enough on its own. You could scatter some very finely chopped green onion if you wanted a pop of color.

Lunch 3/4/22

Grillked SPAM, egg, and cheese sandwich

SPAM is a divisive food. I like SPAM just fine, but I know a lot of people who would not eat it if you paid them to. I suspect that they have never actually tried SPAM, they are just put off by its processed nature. The actual flavor is unquestionably ham/pork-like, but a bit saltier (although you can buy low-sodium SPAM, if so inclined). It’s best when it’s browned a bit on the stove. SPAM musubi is also okay, as long as it’s not the only sushi you’re having.

I like a grilled SPAM-egg-cheese sandwich for breakfast or lunch, but most recently have made them for lunch a few times. I don’t really want to have to cook when I get out of bed in the morning, and it requires just enough effort to cross that line most days. I put a couple of slices of SPAM in the pan to brown, and then crack an egg into a silicone egg ring that makes the perfect round fried egg for sandwiches. I shoot for over-easy on the egg, because I like a runny yolk, and I put a lot of freshly ground black pepper on it. Once those elements are ready, I butter a couple of slices of bread, and combine the browned SPAM, the fried egg, and a slice of American cheese and grill until the bread is golden and the cheese has metled a bit. It is incredibly satisfying when you are hungry, and fills you up.

Lunch 3/1/22

Empanadas

A trio of empanadas from a sandwich place near my office that also has some Latinx dishes. One of my co-workers swears by their Cubano sandwich, and apparently they make excellent tostones. I got one beef, one chicken, and one pork empanada. Thew chicken was the best of the three. The meat was nicely seasoned and juicy. The pork was my second favorite; again, well-seasoned, but it was dry. The beef one was unexceptional. I was disappointed that there was nothing other than the meat as the filling in them. I would have expected some of the other ingredients that often come in empanadas like olives and/or raisins, or even some peppers and onion. As you can see, they were deep-fried and quite crispy, which I liked. I’ve made empanadas at home a few times and bake them.

Lunch 2/24/22

Pork belly bao

This type of bao is called gua bao (or one of several other names depending on the region it is from). A slice of glazed pork belly with pickled carrot and daikon and a bit of cilantro inside a folded-over bit of steamed dough. They’re usually fairly small and 2-3 of them make for a good lunch. I had just this one as an appetizer along with some “Drunken Noodles” from a Thai takeout near my office. Bao aren’t typically Thai, but this Thai restaurant has other sort of pan-Asian items on their menu.

Probably not the best version of this sort of bao that I have ever had, but it was perfectly acceptable as an appetizer. My favorite comes from a little mom-and-pop noodle joint in Billerica that we used to go to when we lived in that area.

Lunch 2/21/22

Sichuan-style hand-pulled noodles with lamb

I wanted to go to Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe for lunch yesterday, but they are closed on Mondays, so my wife suggested we go to Sichuan Gourmet instead. I didn’t need my arm twisted.

Sichuan Gourmet has a specials menu that changes up from time to time, and I think this is the first time we’d ever seen hand-pulled noodles on their menu. I was primed for noodles, so I ordered the hand-pulled noodles with lamb (pork intestines being the other meat option), and Bridget ordered “sweet-and-spicy”. The waiter pointed out to her that her choice was a “two-pepper” dish (everything at SG comes in either HOT or VERY HOT), but she waved him off because we know how spicy the food is.

I’m not sure that I believe that the noodles I got were hand-pulled, because they seemed a lot like regular wide noodles to me, but maybe that’s just the differene between Sichuan-style and Xi’an-style (the noodles we get at Gene’s). The dish was decidely Sichuan, though. Plenty of Sichuan peppercorns, and a thin, peppery sauce filled with chopped red chilies. It also had several whole baby bok choy in it, and thinly-sliced lamb. It was really good, but I think I like the thick noodles and heavy garlic of the Xi’an noodles a little bit better.

Lunch 2/10/21

Beanie Weenie

Inevitably, on those occasions where we make baked beans, I use the leftovers to make what I call “Beanie Weenie”. You might have a completely different dish that you call “Beanie Weenie”, or maybe it’s the exact same thing, I dunno. I like to jazz up th leftover beans with some fresh chopped onions, a little barbecue sauce, and some Worcestershire sauce. Then I slice a couple of hot dogs and throw them in the pan and heat it all up.

This strikes me a kid food, but when I was a kid I would not have eaten it on a bet. My mother made hot dogs and a can of B&M Boston Baked Beans for my father every Saturday night, but I didn’t like baked beans at the time. Our daughter would never eat baked beans either, and still doesn’t even though she is only a few months away from her 21st birthday. But I do enjoy beans and Beanie Weenie now, so there’s hope for her yet.

Lunch 2/5/22

Shoyu ramen, gyoza, aji-tama

It was back to Cambridge on Saturday to pick up the desk we had ordered a couple of weeks ago, so for our lunch this time we ate at Santouka Ramen. It’s Hokkaido-style ramen, and one of the best ramen places around Boston. My absolute favorite ramen spot is Amateras Ramen, near South Station.

We were able to get a 30-minute parking spot directly in front of the restaurant, which was a small miracle. The place was absolutely jammed, and yet we managed to wait for a table, order, eat lunch, and get back to the car only 10 minutes after the meter expired – and didn’t get a ticket! Yay!

Seriously great ramen. Seriously great. I had the shoyu ramen and my wife had the spicy miso ramen.