H-Mart, the Korean grocery store, is open in Central Square and 7pm last night it was carnage in there!
I can see I’m going to have a love/hate relationship with this place. Love because it has all of the best aspects of an Asian supermarket and more. Hate because everyone else is going to love it and it’s always going to be busy!
The Central Square H-Mart has a mini food court at the front on the Mass Ave side of things. There is a Paris Baguette sandwich and patisserie place, a Go-Go Curry! and a Sapporo Ramen place that last night was sold out of ramen. Everyone loves ramen.
I couldn’t take an exhaustive tour of the store because it was so packed but I did get a bargain on some pork bulgogi ($2.99 a Ib) and bought a tray of accompaniments to the Bulgogi ($11.99) and some Asian snacks.
As I left (via one of the side exits to avoid the crush of disappointed ramen hunters at the front of the store) a young woman handed me a melamine dish painted with fruit and homely scenes saying “free gift”. She didn’t seem to have an H-Mart uniform on so maybe she was using me a mule for her shoplifting. Anyway, the joke’s on her as I now have a rather kitsch melamine tray holding my planting supplies. All in all a successful first trip except for the ramen.
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This year I was lucky enough to go to Bondir for my birthday dinner with my fiancee. We were there on the evening before my birthday (a Thursday) due to the difficulty of getting a reservation that Friday (book early people!). Bondir has been on my must-try list since I walked past the place after first moving to Cambridge. It did not disappoint.
Inside the restaurant is cosy and the rustic touches lend charm without being too faux. Our waiter was very charming and very french. He was attentive and friendly without being intrusive and was well-versed with the intricacies of the menu.
My fiancee and I both had the prix fixe menu. Satisfying mouth feel and intricately blended flavors are the order of the day at Bondir. My Bresaola salad expertly melded the flavors of the salty, deliciously musty bresaola (which I think was aged in-house) with lighter notes of white asparagus and the sharp contrast of pickled radish.
The Salt Cod Brandade was the standout dish of the evening and the favorite of both my fiancee and I. The salt cod flavor was allowed to shine through and was complemented, rather than overwhelmed by being paired with both lobster and pancetta. I’d go back and eat this dish right now if I could.
For the main course I was torn between the local Scituate Scallops, the duck and the Tamworth Pork Shoulder. In the end I chose the Rouen Duck Breast and Confit Leg. Duck two ways! Double duck delicious! I got the best of both worlds with the perfectly cooked duck breast and the yummy, crispy duck confit. My fiancee had the Tamworth pork and that was delicious too.
For dessert I chose the Caramel Poached Rhubarb Tart. Unlike many places, Bondir doesn’t skimp on the desserts and the portions will be pleasing to dessert people everywhere. I am not a dessert person but managed to scarf down my dessert, the birthday confection kindly provided by the restaurant and wonderful mix of ices that my fiancee couldn’t manage to finish. It’s been a long while since I stuffed myself so gluttonously but it would have been a shame not to when the food is this good.
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