Broward Dining: Bluefin Parkland

October 19, 2013

Bluefin Sushi & Thai Grill
6694 Parkside Drive, Parkland, FL 33067
(954) 755-0120

Web Site:

Note: Bluefin Parkland is now running an extremely aggressive “crowdsourced” gift card deal that frankly is one of the best fine dining bargains in the greater Broward and Palm Beach County area right now. For $100, you get a gift card worth $180. For $500, you get $1000, which you can split up into multiple gift cards if you like. If you’re a sushi fanatic like I am, you’d be crazy not to take advantage of this. The cards are good for up to one year at the Parkland location.

One of the first priorities for us after moving to South Florida was finding our “local” sushi place. Sushi is one of our favorite cuisines, and when you live in a warm climate it also is one of the most refreshing after a long and hot day.

But high-quality, authentic Japanese-style sushi can be extremely difficult to find in South Florida. Heck, it was difficult enough to find in suburban New Jersey where we used to live, and it’s still something of a challenge in New York City unless you go to the most expensive and well-known places.

We are lucky enough to live less than 10 minutes away from one of the best sushi restaurants in Broward County, if not all of South Florida, the Parkland location of Bluefin Sushi.

Chef Yozo Natsui, Proprietor of Bluefin Parkland.

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NJ-Based Chinese OTB Groupie Needed

January 18, 2010

Yup, it’s finally come down to this, we’re absolutely desperate. We’re looking for that special someone who can speak Mandarin, Cantonese and other regional Chinese dialects that is familiar with the New Jersey Chinese restaurant scene and knows how to get us “The Good Stuff”.  There are restaurants we’d like to go to, but our lack of Sino-communication skills are preventing us from getting the very best authentic dishes.

If you can tolerate hanging out with a bunch of hungry and loud food-obsessives that like to take photos of every single thing they eat, inquire within to jperlow AT Gmail DOT com.

NJ Dining: Little Charm

July 22, 2009

Little Charm Thai Kitchen
210 Main Street, Fort Lee NJ

Little Charm, Fort Lee NJ by you.

Little Charm, located on Main Street in Fort Lee, is a tiny storefront serving inexpensive Thai food.

I love cute little restaurants, particularly inexpensive ones. Recently, a tiny little Thai place, Little Charm, opened up shop next door to another one of my favorite Asian restaurants, Mo’Pho in Fort Lee. I must say up front that I am a long time friend of the owner of Mo’Pho and I am predisposed and biased towards eating her cuisine, so when I saw the competition next door, I thought I had best check it out.

Little Charm really isn’t competing with Mo’Pho in the sense that its price point is  lower and is not trying to match their next door neighbor on a qualitative or creative level and is serving a different type of Asian cuisine, but from the perspective that they are next door and are serving similar types of dishes, I wanted to see what it was all about.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Columbia SC Dining: Blue Cactus Cafe

October 11, 2008

Blue Cactus Cafe
2002 Greene St #H, Columbia SC 29205

Web Site:

When I inquired about other good Asian restaurants in the Columbia area, the folks over at Baan Sawan suggested that I check out the Blue Cactus, another Five Points restaurant for lunch.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Its kind of a funky combination of Mexican and Korean” said Sam.

“You mean like Kimchi burritos and stuff? Like what David Chang makes in New York at Momofuku Ssam Bar?

“Yeah, sorta, but they’ve been there for like 14 years, at least as long as we have been around.”

Given how much I trust Sam’s judgement on good food, particularly Asian cuisine, I had to go check this place out.

As it turns out, an American guy who was familiar with Tex-Mex cooking married a Korean lady, and they opened Blue Cactus in 1994. The menu is an eclectic mix of Korean and Cuban/Mexican/Tex Mex cuisine. I didn’t try much of their Latino/Mexican stuff, but what I will say is their Korean is very good, given what they have to work with in Columbia and not having a lot of access to Asian markets.

Blue Cactus Cafe, Columbia SC by you.

Mexican…. Korean! Which one is it? Does it matter if it tastes good? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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The Evolution of Re-Engineering Chinese “Takeout”

August 10, 2008

Since I embarked on my “course correction” in October of 2007 and becoming 67 pounds lighter, and with Rachel herself carrying 50lbs less — we’ve been doing a lot of Asian-inspired stir-fry cooking at home as our “go to” typical dinner when we are very hungry but want to eat something healthy. Where we used to order from our favorite Chinese American local delivery places, we now cook our own healthier, albeit different versions, with higher amounts of vegetable and protein content and much less fat. To be perfectly honest, I actually prefer eating this way now, even though I really miss my egg rolls, fried rice, lo mein, and egg foo young soaked in gravy.

The photos I am going to show you should give you an idea of how we’ve been approaching our typical, non food porn meals. You will notice a common theme is that we incorporate a lot of green vegetables as well as tofu in our cooking, and many of our sauces are stock based. We also now use a large, nonstick wok and “paint” it with a small amount sesame oil using a silicone basting brush instead of free-pouring oil, which also cuts down on the fat content quite a bit. We also use a lot of alternative whole grains to just plain brown rice as the beds for our stir fries, such as Quinoa, Kamut, or Barley.

Beef with Oyster Sauce by you.

Here is one of the earliest attempts to actually “re-create” a takeout dish, Beef with Oyster Sauce and Chinese Broccoli. Note that we are now using portioned controlled amounts of brown rice instead of white rice.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Columbia SC Dining: Baan Sawan

June 26, 2008

Baan Sawan Thai Bistro
2135 Devine Street, Columbia, SC

Web Site:

I’ve been backlogged for weeks on content — I haven’t even completed my posts on Raleigh and Cape Cod, but I wanted to share with you with what I think is one of the best Thai restaurants I have ever eaten at in my entire life. The crazy thing about it is that it seems to exist in a place where it clearly shouldn’t.

Let me start off again. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on assignment in the town of Columbia, South Carolina. Suffice to say that Columbia, while it is the largest city in the state and the capital, isn’t exactly the most progressive town in the South from a culinary perspective — it boasts very few quality Asian restaurants — well, let me rephrase that — few quality restaurants, period, and is about as meat and potatoes as you can possibly get. However, it is also the host to the University of South Carolina (USC) which is considered one of the better research universities in the region, so some diamonds do thrive here. The college kids and academicians need good places to eat.

Against all odds, Baan Sawan thrives. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NJ Dining: Pawana (UPDATED)

May 18, 2008

Pawana Restaurant
63 Nathaniel Pl., Englewood NJ 07631

Two years ago, not long after its grand opening, I visited Pawana restaurant in Englewood, and this is what I wrote about it at the time:

Pawana, a new Thai restaurant, has opened in what was the failed Thai Chef space in Englewood in the Shop Rite plaza.

Thai Chef in my opinion was an overrated and expensive restaurant which had poor service and served food I could have better at Wondee’s or Bangkok Garden in Hackensack, the two best known Thai restaurants in the area. They spent a fortune building the space and promoted the hell out the restaurant, but they were never able to get a decent following and the restaurant was frequently mostly empty. Their problems were also compounded by the fact that the restaurant group opened ANOTHER Thai restaurant in the same town almost simultaneously, Kratiem (which is still in business but has different owners now). Thus it failed, and many began to wonder if opening a high-end restaurant in that shopping center was such a hot idea in the first place.

While the new owner, a woman also named Pawana, is related to the Thai Chef company (she’s a cousin) the prices here are scaled back (comparable to Wondee’s or Saigon R in Englewood) the service was very good, and the food is excellent — in fact I’d say it will give both Wondee’s and Bangkok Garden a run for the money.

In the two years after it opened, I only visited the restaurant perhaps one other time. It’s not that the restaurant wasn’t good — as you can see above, at the time I thought it was very good — but at the end of the day I felt that the food at Wondee’s was more to my personal taste in terms of authenticity. Due to the demographic makeup of Englewood versus Hackensack, Pawana is attracting more Americans, whereas Wondee’s attracts more Asians.

Be it as it may, that was then and this is now. My tastes have changed and so have my dining habits. I recently returned to Pawana after a two year hiatus. I honestly have to say “What the hell took me so long?”. If you are willing to tell the server “I want it Thai spicy”, then Pawana will pull out the stops for you and give you a truly Thai experience.

By the way — while the restaurant doesn’t say so on its menu, they serve brown rice if requested. Score one big point for the low-carber crowd.

Main Dining Room — 2008

If you’ve been waiting to try Pawana, you can stop waiting. Run and eat there right away. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Podcast #46: Momofuku of the South — Charlie Deal and Jujube Restaurant

April 30, 2008

Jujube Restaurant
1201-L Raleigh Rd, Glen Lennox Shopping Center (next to BIN 54)
Hwy 54 at 15-501, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 960-0555

Web Site:

Click to Listen to the Off The Broiler Podcast

Charlie Deal, Northern California transplant and Chef/Owner of Jujube Restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

A sampling of Jujube’s eclectic Asian Fusion cuisine.

Click Here to view a Hi-Res Slide Show of Jujube Restaurant