Monday, March 17, 2014

Eating Ethnic in Texas

This blog will prove that, when in Texas, man (and woman) does not live on barbecue and Mexican (or Tex-Mex) alone. So we are off to sample two of Georgetown’s most popular ethnic restaurants. And perhaps I should note that Mexican food does not seem to be considered ethnic food in these parts.

We start with my craving for falafel that has gone unsatisfied for many a month, which led us to Plaka Café, a restaurant that has been voted Best Ethnic Food in Georgetown four years in a row (2010 – 2013).
I was enticed by reviews like this one at urbanspoon.com: “You could throw a dart at the menu board to make your choice and not go wrong at this place. Casual atmosphere, reasonably priced and always fresh food prepared in authentic Athenian style is what you get. I stop here at least once a week…. George and his crew keep cranking out the best Greek food I've found in the Austin, TX area….”
And here is another from urbanspoon.com: “First an admission: I'm 100% Greek. That being said, Plaka's food rivals some of the best in Greek Town in Chicago! Second admission: I admit that I was skeptical when I first dined there, mainly because they serve cafeteria-style. But George, the owner is a real Greek, the place is clean, the servers are friendly and the food was fresh & really delicious!....”

As the writer above noted, Plaka is set up cafeteria style with the menu posted above the line.
As we stood and dithered, we let more experienced Planka diners go ahead of us while we contemplated our choices.
Since I was hungry for falafel, I ordered the vegetarian falafel wrap—a huge concoction of cucumber, red onion, tabouli (a cracked wheat and parsely salad), lettuce, tomato, feta cheese, tzatiki, and, of course, falafel.
And what did I learn? I learned that falafel does not hold up well on a cafeteria steam table. Not only were these almost tasteless, they were soggy. Which may be why virtually all other diners choose one of the wraps (chicken or gyro) that were freshly cut to order from one of the vertical rotisseries.
I had my choice of soup or salad and opted for the small Greek salad.
This was a nice mix of crisp lettuce, red onion, tomato, and olives in a feta dressing.

Chuck chose the beef and lamb gyro and seemed happier with his selection although he did say that it was somewhat light on the tzatiki.
He had the same choice—soup or salad—and opted for the soup. Rather than the avgolemono (chicken, egg, and lemon) soup that is always on the menu, he selected the day’s special: bean soup.
This may have been the best item we ate that noon. The soup was definitely spicy (I don’t associate Greek food with spicy.) with an almost sweet undertone.

And we decided to share an order of hummus—the most tasteless hummus ever served in a Greek restaurant. No lemon. No garlic. No flavor. And we had to make a special request for the single pita that we shared with the order.
As we finished our 2.5 Addie meal, we contemplated the significance of Charlie Chaplin in Greek culture.
The only reference I can find is that a song entitled Charlie Chaplin was the 1978 Greek Eurovision Song Contest Entry sung by Tania Tsanaklidou.


A Few Days Later,

and still practicing barbeque and Tex-Mex avoidance, we again ventured forth for ethnic eats at Wasabi—an Asian fusion restaurant.

“When Jamie Johnson and Danny Zheng decided to open a restaurant, the lack of sushi in Georgetown got their attention. ‘We saw Georgetown didn’t have any competition,’ Johnson said. ‘Originally we were going to do Japanese, then we realized that it might be smarter to have more of a cooked-food menu. That’s why we brought in Chinese, also.’
“When deciding what sushi to offer at Wasabi, Johnson said the couple took regional tastes into consideration. ‘We use a lot of ingredients Texas people will like, especially spicy flavors,’ Johnson said” (Audrey Spencer at impactnews.com).

The sushi bar is just inside the front doors and given the very extensive sushi menu, Wasabi seems to have found a niche in the Georgetown food scene.
“’I enjoy Georgetown because the people are really friendly and easy to talk to,’ said Zheng, who has worked as a sushi chef throughout the U.S. ‘I’m happy to bring sushi to Georgetown, since it wasn’t available before’” (Audrey Spencer at impactnews.com).
But we were there to satisfy another food craving—Chinese food. And so, both of us started with small bowls of hot and sour soup.
This was a most promising start. Each bowl contained a good mix of tofu, egg thread, fungus, and bamboo shoots in a dark intensely flavored stock that was dotted with chili flakes. In fact, this had the almost perfect balance between hot and sour. Too often the restaurant overdoes the sour and underplays the heat.

Now the whole point of eating at a Chinese restaurant is ordering food to share—and the more diners the better. But this was just Chuck and I, so we were limited in our sampling. One of our two entrée choices was the chicken in black bean sauce with snow peas, water chestnuts, green peppers, onions, and carrots in dark black bean sauce.
While the menu warned that the dish was spicy, it really wasn’t all that so. But the sauce had the sharp, pungent, and salty flavor that one associates with Chinese black beans. And the chicken was extremely tender and managed to absorb the taste of the sauce.

And when we saw Szechuan String Beans on the menu we knew that this would be one of our choices.
This proved to be an entirely different version of one of our Chinese restaurant favorites. We are used to seeing string beans with little sauce and no other vegetable additions. Wasabi’s take was to include onions, carrots, baby corn, water chestnuts, mushrooms, green peppers, bamboo shoots, and broccoli (very woody and inedible broccoli) to the mix. And the sauce seemed similar to that used in the chicken, minus the black beans plus the addition of vinegar.
This was certainly not Chinese food to write home about (So why am I writing about it? My editor says I must.) and deserves no more than 3.0 Addies. It may be a long time before we see good Chinese food again.

I may have to unpack the wok I bought in San Francisco and get to work.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

3 comments:

eyad ammar said...


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eyad ammar said...


شركة نقل عفش الجبيل
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
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شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
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ارقام شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
ارخص شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
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eyad ammar said...



شركة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة وشقق بالمدينة المنورة شركة غسيل خزانات ومكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة
شركة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة انها الاولى فى مكافحة ورش الحشرات بالمدينة المنورة رش البق رش الصراصير مكافحة النمل الابيض بالمدينة المنورة
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة