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Review: Aroma Mediterranean Cuisine

10104 Valley Forge Circle, King of Prussia, PA 19406

Came to Aroma this past Tuesday night for dinner. The location is a bit out of the ordinary for this area, it’s located in the apartment/condominium building at the Valley Forge Circle. When we were driving in, I wondered if the restaurant is run out of someone’s house! We walked in from the entrance facing the parking lot, and was a little confused because there were no cashiers or hostess stands. There was also no one inside! Walking in further, we finally saw the cash register at the other entrance on the other side, and was seated by the owner. He informed us that it was just his wife and him working that evening, so he’s working both the front and the back. The owner was super nice, even told us what was good, and what wasn’t. It’s not every day you come across an owner who tells you what not to get.

Drink: Aryan – The Middle Eastern Yogurt drink that I’m personally not a fan of.  They ran out of the packaged Aryan, and the owner was nice enough to offer to make it himself even though he doesn’t like to make it!

Both of our dinner platters came with a choice of hummus, soup, fries, or salad.  How could we not get hummus?  The owner said he made the hummus, and his wife made the soup, so he likes the hummus better.  And the hummus was mighty tasty indeed.  Perfectly seasoned, perfect consistency that doesn’t run when scooped up with the pita bread.  The pita bread though could’ve been better.  It was a bit hard, I would’ve liked mine softer or fluffier.

Dinner: Chicken Shawerma – Marinated chicken thigh meat grilled and served with grilled onions and tomatoes.  This was delicious!

Dinner: Mixed Kebab Platter – Beef cubes, chicken breast, and kafta kebab grilled.  The chicken breast pieces were well-seasoned and juicy, the owner warned us the beef cubes tend to be tough after grilling, but these are actually pretty decent.  We’ve had much tougher beef at other MiddleEastern eateries.

I noticed this owner has a hardened blister on his right index finger, and I know all too well that’s from holding the knife!  The owner reminded me a lot of my parents, who also have a restaurant business.  Please go out and support your local small businesses!

Why didn’t we come here sooner?  I can’t wait to go back!

TastyMoo RATING: cow_anb cow_anb cow_anb cow_anb cow_anb / 5

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Homemade: Pasta and Pan-Seared Scallops

The Monday night dinner turned out surprisingly well!  Picked up some super fresh Colassal Sea Scallops and Shiitake Mushrooms from the specialty food store Corrado’s in Wayne.  That place is probably my third favorite grocery store behind Wegmans and Whole Foods.  It was the only store I’ve seen that sells fresh mamey.  The first time we’ve had anything mamey related was in Miami at a Cuban Restaurant, and I pronounced it “mae mi”.  Apparently it should be pronounced “ma-may”.  The fruit looks like papaya, but the meat is light pink in color, and it makes awesome smoothies!  Too bad I missed my chance to buy fresh mamey, and haven’t seen it even at Corrado’s ever since.

Anyways, back to the dinner.  My description was: Flaked salmon and shitake mushroom in sherry cream sauce with pan-seared colossal sea scallops served over spaghetti.  Sounds like it’s ready to be put on a menu!  I was so proud.  :cool:   As for the ingredients, there really wasn’t too much involved.  I seasoned half of the gorgeous piece of salmon with Cajun seasoning, and the other half with Old Bay and baked it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  I sliced up the mushrooms, which nice and plump, let it sweat in a pan, then deglazed it with sherry.  It was then transferred to a saucepan, added a bit of water and chicken bouillion, and let it simmer for 20minutes before I added a splash of heavy cream to thicken the sauce.  While I was cooking the spaghetti, I pan-seared the scallops until caramelized on both sides.  By the time the scallops were done, the salmon was also done, so I added some to the mushroom sherry cream sauce, poured it over the spaghetti, and voila!

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Review: Han Dynasty – Exton – A Revisit

260 North Pottstown Pike Exton, PA

When we saw the poster for a 20-course tasting party, how could we resist the opportunity?  It’s usually the third Wednesday of every month, November was special.  It’s been pushed up a week due to Thanksgiving.  Luckily, I called a few weeks before, and signed up for it.  On the phone, I was told it’s $25 per person, cash only, arrive at 6:30PM, and everyone MUST eat spicy.   cow_angry I was a bit anxious, because my throat was super swollen over the weekend, and was afraid spicy foods would irritate.  Luckily, it wasn’t all too bad.

We arrived at 6:40PM thanks to rush-hour traffic, and were led into the private party rooms.  The round table with lazy susan was big enough to seat 12, there were already 6 people settled in, conversing and drinking wine.  The manager came in around 7PM informing us the tasting would start in a few minutes, it turns out, the un-accommodating waitress we overheard that said “no no no no no” to the table next to us is the manager!  When the food was brought to the table, we thought they would help distribute it to everyone, but they just leave it on the lazy susan for us to serve ourselves.  Sometimes the manager would come by and provide some descriptions.

 

Soup: Seafood Tofu Soup – The soup was very light in flavor, with tiny cubes of shrimp, imitation crabmeat, and tofu.

Appetizer: Wontons in Chili Oil – The filling flavor wasn’t all that memorable, because the spicyness of the chili oil overpowered everything.

Appetizer: Cucumbers in Chili Oil – These were surprisingly refreshing.  The chili oil is less overpowering, and the cucumbers have a slight sweetness to them.

Appetizer: Taiwanese Sausage – The pieces of sliced sausage are served with raw slices of garlic

Appetizer: Scallion Pancake – The pancake were well flavored, but my first piece was a bit undercooked, with a heavy flour taste.  It would be better if the pancake was more evenly cooked.  The dipping sauce complemented the flavor very well.

Appetizer: Fried Dumplings – The wrapping tasted homemade, something that I can appreciate since my parents do the same thing.  Unfortunately, the the filling was also not very memorable.

Appetizer: Beef and Tripe in Chili Oil – I couldn’t find pieces of beef, only sliced tripe.  Our dining companions coined this to be the spicyest dish of the night, maybe because they got a spoonful of crushed chili peppers.  I liked the touch of cilantro and sesame sprinkles.

Appetizer: Shredded Potato in Chili Oil – Not exactly sure if that is the right name of the dish since there is no chili oil.  But that is definitely shredded potato.  My mouth was numbed by the next appetizer, that I couldn’t taste if this was hot or cold.  :sick:

Appetizer: Spicy Noodle with Minced Pork – my enemy!  I was scared when they brought out the dish, I think I almost started sweating.  This was spicy, but not as spicy as the first time we ordered this noodle dish.

Entree: Tea Smoked Duck – Flavorful juicy duck with a good smoky taste.  The manager said this was smoked for 8 hours.

Entree: Sweet & Sour Fish Filet – Probably my favorite dish of the night!  The tender pieces of fish that’s been lightly battered, and tossed in a light sweet and sour sauce.

Entree: Mapo Tofu with Soy Beans – The tofu was super soft, all sunk in the bottom of the bowl.  As the color of the dish warns, this was spicy.  The crunchy fried soy beans added an interesting texture clash with the tofu.

Entree: Stir Fried String Beans – This dish also had minced pork.  The string beans are wrinkly because these are par-cooked by deep-frying in oil.

Entree: Long Pepper Style Chinese Bacon – The Chinese bacon is very thinly sliced, this dish was not spicy at all. 

Entree: Hot Sauce Style Beef – There were tons of crushed chili peppers all over this dish, the beef tasted soft and tender though. 

Entree: Chicken with Hot Dry Pepper – This is almost like spicy popcorn chicken.  The pieces of chicken are lightly breaded, with a good amount of spicyness.  The manager called this “Chicken Special #1″

Entree: Eggplant in Garlic Sauce – A dish that I usually order since I’m a fan of Chinese eggplant.  I wish there was chicken though.

 Entree: Triple Delight Chicken – Typically called “Three Cup Chicken,” it was weird they called this Triple Delight.  Nonetheless, the dish had ginger, and basil, which lightened the sweetness of the chicken. 

Entree: Bok Choy with Black Mushroom – By the time this entree came out most of us were already too full.  The bok choy was boiled, and didn’t provide much flavor, and the mushrooms were not juicy enough.

Dessert: Sweet Potato Egg Roll – This is something off the menu that they were trying out, the manager mentioned they had to steam the sweet potato, mash it, add flour and sugar, and then wrap it in the wrapper.  Personally, this was a tad too sweet for me.

For $25 a person, you get to try 20 different items from their menu.  Some of us at the table were hoping for other dishes like the Chinese Meatball and Dry Pot Chili dishes.   Overall, the Tasting Party was a great experience.  Be ready to interact with strangers, and enjoy some food! 

The TastyMoo rating has been up’ed from 3 to 4!

TastyMoo RATING: cow_anb cow_anb cow_anb cow_anb / 5

Han Dynasty85 reviews powered by Yelp

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Review: Han Dynasty – Exton

260 North Pottstown Pike Exton, PA

Having been to the Han Dynasty in Manayunk a few weeks prior, and the awesome reviews of how much better the original location is, how could we not try it out?  It was about 20minutes west from King of Prussia, which is a decent ways away from Philadelphia as well.

First thing we noticed was the poster on their front door about their 20-course tasting menu once a month for $25 a person.  Too bad we just missed it by a week.

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Dan Dan Noodles – At first glance, the dish doesn’t look as saucy, meaty, or spicy as the usual DanDan Noodles I’m accustomed to. And compared to their Manayunk sister restaurant, this one looks less greasy too.   After one bite, my mouth was numb, and I could not taste anything else.  It’s nullified my tastebuds for a good few minutes before I could taste the other 2 items we ordered.

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Twice Cooked Pork – Thinly sliced pork stir-fried with big garlic leek.  This was no where as spicy as the noodle dish.

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Lionshead Meatballs – Big balls of meat served over bok choy, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots.

Apart from the food, the service was just mediocre.  While the waiter that took our order was friendly, we couldn’t help overhearing the waitress helping our neighboring table said “no no no no no” when they asked if they could substitute something.  Is that really necessary?

Did I mention there were a lot of Szechuan places in the area?  I really had high hopes for the original Han Dynasty, but the DanDan Noodles was a big disappointment for me.  I was attacked by the ninja spice, and could barely recover.  I want my spices to warn me before they attack!  Nonetheless, I hope to try their 20-course tasting menu, hopefully they will redeem themselves.

TastyMoo RATING: cow_anb cow_anb cow_anb / 5

Han Dynasty85 reviews powered by Yelp

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Siam Spice

1174 Fischer Blvd., Toms River, NJ 08753

Siam Spice is a cute little place tucked in Toms River!  There’s less than 10 tables in the restaurant, but the modern decor and ambiance make up for it.  We came on a Thursday evening around 9PM, and the place was still decently crowded.   Their menu had the staple Thai dishes like Pad Thai, Curry, other stir fried dishes, it is also BYOB, so there were a few tables there with bottles of wine, and several tables celebrating birthdays.

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I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the metal cups Siam Spice serves water in!  Very unique.

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Appetizer: Thai Spring Rolls – Super crunchy rolls filled with light flavors that would satisfy any craving for crispy or fried food!  Wish there were more in an order.

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Entree 1: Crispy Siam Spice Roasted Duck -  House roasted duck breast in a delicate honey glaze and red curry sauce, with diced pineapple, cherry tomatoes, green bell pepper, basil and kaffir lime leaves.  I was reluctant in ordering duck at first, but the waiter assured me the dish is delicious.  And he was right!  The duck was not overcooked or dry, the sauce was slightly sweet, but well-balanced with the peppers and tomatoes.

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 Entree 2: “Sarah” Soft Shell Crab Spice – Battered fried soft shell crabs with homemade Siam Spice.  Crispy lightly battered soft shell crab served with peas and other vegetables in a light curry sauce.

Overall a pleasant experience.  One of the better Thai restaurants we’ve been to!  Although it is a tad pricier than most other Thai places, the dishes are still delicious!  I’m looking for an excuse to visit Toms River again so I can go back!

TastyMoo RATING: cow_anb cow_anb cow_anb cow_anb / 5

Siam Spice53 reviews powered by Yelp

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