October 14, 2009 Updates: Daruma, Havana’s Cuban Cafe

October 14, 2009

Daruma 2009 Collage II by you.

Daruma in Englewood, opened in 2004, is still producing some of the best and most creative Sushi and Sashimi creations in Bergen County.

Havana's Cuban Cafe, Edgewater NJ by you.

Babaloo! Havana’s Cuban Cafe in Edgewater is still banging out delicious Latino delights.

NJ Dining: Best Dumplings

August 28, 2008

Best Dumplings
16 Humphrey Street, Englewood NJ

Englewood has been undergoing something of a transformation lately, with a lot of new businesses sprouting up among the new condominiums as well as a result of renewal as a result of the demolition of older buildings off the main drag on Palisades Avenue. One such new business that caught my eye recently is Best Dumplings, a commercial Korean Mandoo manufacturer (Which used to be based out of the industrial part of town and was previously known as Mandoo, Inc.) that now has a retail outlet.

For those not familiar with Mandoo, they are Korean dumplings, similar to  Japanese Gyoza or Chinese Jiaozi, although in terms of wrapper thinness they are more like Gyoza. Like Gyoza, they can be deep fried, pan fried, or steamed. Most Japanese gyoza is limited to pork and scallion filling, but Korean Mandoo are quite varied, which include mixed vegetables with bean thread noodles, pork, beef, chicken and shrimp, and of course Kimchi. If you like Gyoza, chances are you’ll love Mandoo.

Best Dumpling, Englewood NJ by you.

They’re not kidding when they say these are the Best Dumplings. 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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