NJ Dining: Honey

April 6, 2011

Honey Mediterranean Gourmet & Market
1150 Teaneck Road, Teaneck NJ
(201) 530-5083

Restaurants sometimes have good reasons for calling themselves something they are not. In the case of Honey in Teaneck, it’s because that marketing is often more effective than full-monty disclosure. Which is very, very sad, because I think Honey is one of the most interesting ethnic restaurants to open in our area in a very long time.

Why the deception? Honey’s cuisine is Persian — which originates from the country that in the modern day is called Iran.

While the restaurant bills itself as Mediterranean, modern day Iran is nowhere near the Mediterranean Sea. Iran borders the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and cuisine-wise bears only a passing resemblance to most Mediterranean food.

Sure, Persia once controlled the territory which is now modern day Turkey, which does border the Mediterranean, but that was between 550 and 330 BCE , when the Achaemenid Empire controlled most of the civilized world.

The history of Persia is complex and one of the most fascinating in ancient history. Its cuisine is unique, delicious, and exotic. And in this part of Northern New Jersey we’ve had the unfortunate situation of previous Persian restaurants failing, such as Shiraz in Edgewater.

Up until Honey’s opening, we’ve only had access to Afghani food at the very excellent  Teaneck Kebab HousePamir in Morristown and Kabab Paradise in Lake Hiawatha. While sharing a similar cultural history as well as a similar language with Iran, Afghan food is very different in terms of their cuisine. Aside from Honey, Negeen in Summit is one of the few other legit Persian restaurants in the area.

[Editor’s Note: Shahrzad in Edgewater, which took over Shiraz’s space, also opened in June of 2010, after this post was originally written]

Like other Muslims residing in this country Iranian-Americans are often the unfortunate recipients of bad behavior and harassment from ignorant people who vandalize restaurants and businesses as a result of misdirected anger and hatred.

Because of this Persian cuisine in this part of the country frequently goes unappreciated. Los Angeles by comparison has a thriving Persian community, but in New Jersey not so much.

Teaneck just got its Persian on. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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August 29, 2009

BHOJ Restaurant
430 Market Street, Elmwood Park
(201) 797-6800

Even with the economy in decline, there are probably no less than fifty Indian restaurants in Northern New Jersey (not counting Iselin and Edison) and I am probably underestimating that. With so much competition in that cuisine, it becomes hard for individual Indian restaurants to distinguish themselves from others and to attract a dedicated set of diners, particularly if a restaurant isn’t in the best of locations.

One particularly exceptional Indian restaurant is BHOJ, a small intimate Northern-style Indian restaurant in a secluded strip mall in Elmwood Park. From the outside, it looks like more of an Adult Video store than it does a restaurant, with bright red neon lights against white curtains — and I could see how many people could just pass this place by. Frankly, Rachel and I discovered this place by accident about six or seven years ago, when we happened to be in Elmwood Park shopping for appliances for our kitchen renovation. I was hungry, and I saw the restaurant from the side of the road. We went in, and I am glad we did.

Bhoj is not a unique Indian restaurant in that they are doing dishes that are significantly different than anyone else does — they’re serving probably the same two dozen Punjab-style Northern Indian dishes you’re used to, with a few added things like Dhosas and Kaathi Rolls (which, by the way, are excellent).

The way Bhoj distinguishes itself is it does all these things exceptionally well — the spicing is excellent, they are using fresh ingredients, and they are executing the dishes consistently and with skill. It should also be noted that their portion sizes are very generous, which for this day in age is a big plus because you’ll probably end up taking food home. Plus, I think their Tandoor breads and kebabs are awesome and cooked perfectly (nothing comes dried out) which scores big points when it comes to an Indian place for me.

Bhoj also does a really nice daily and weekend lunch buffet where you can try a whole bunch of their dishes for a set price — its how we first became familiar with the restaurant and probably a good way for you to do as well.

Storefront, which resembles more of a adult business than a restaurant. Still, don’t be afraid to go inside. (2007)

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OTB Economic Stimulus Dinner I: Chengdu 1

April 26, 2009

I’m happy to report that our first OTB Economic Stimulus dinner was a fantastic success. On April 25, 2009, 14 foodies converged on Chengdu 1 restaurant in Cedar Grove, New Jersey for a night of major league, mouth numbing and mucus membrane burning Sichuan goodness.

Related OTB Post: NJ Dining – Chengdu 1

Chengdu 1
89 Pompton Ave (Pilgrim Shopping Plaza)
Cedar Grove NJ, 973-239-7726

Web Site: http://www.chengdu1nj.com/

OTB Stimulus Dinner I Collage by you.

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Fun with COSTCO Frozen Scallops, Hong Kong Style

February 14, 2009

Welcome to the recession folks. That means all of us should be mindful of how we spend our money, and that means for some of us a lot less dining out.

But eating at home doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t even have to sacrifice on quality, “Luxury” ingredients that would otherwise cost you an arm and a leg at a restaurant to eat. You just need to think about buying in bulk and doing a lot of meal planning.

One of my favorite things to eat is jumbo sea scallops. At a decent restaurant, particularly if they are using high-quality dry pack scallops, you can expect to pay between $18.00 and up for an entree with five or six of these guys in them. At a quality fishmonger fresh dry pack sea scallops command a hefty price.

But COSTCO has them frozen, and if you buy a large bag of them the price becomes much more economical per portion. You can eat them over a couple of weeks or even longer, if you have the ability to re-seal the bag with a home vacuum sealer. I also like COSTCO’s shrimp, they are of exceptionally high quality for frozen product, and when COSTCO has their “Seafood Roadshow” events every month, they are even cheaper than the regular discounted COSTCO price.

Oyster Sauce-Glazed Pan Seared Scallops with Stir-Fried Vegetables in Spicy XO Sauce, Nasi Goreng Brown Fried Rice by you.

Oyster Sauce Glazed Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Spicy XO Vegetables and Nasi Kuning Brown Rice.

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