Friday, November 18, 2011

Overview of College Eats Since October

So how's the food at Penn? 

Thus far incredible, but mostly because I've been blessed with some great food experiences so far. I've been eating out a lot, and seriously avoiding the dining halls. At most of the halls, the food is hardly bearable--I usually just go for the sandwiches when I'm forced to eat at the halls. 

So I got that new Iphone in late October and I've been taking pics non-stop, mostly of my food. Here's what I've been eating since late October. 

Here's some grilled chicken, msuhrooms with peppers, roasted tofu with garbanzos. From the one of two solid dining halls on campus. This is actually from the Kosher dining hall. I'm not Jewish, but I go there because all the servers are so much friendlier. It's nuts.

Scallops from Distrito. Been to Distrito a few times since it's right off campus. Always fun to go, food is always good. I've basically had everything on their menu once.

Hiramasa (yellowtail) ceviche with habanero sauce and sangrito sorbet.

 The mushroom flatbread from Distrito. This is a great dish at Distrito.

 Half-eaten ice cream sandwich from Insomnia. 2 warm chocolate chip cookies sandwiching vanilla ice cream.

 Dan dan noodles from Han Dynasty. These noodles are one of the top dishes in Philadelphia. It's unreal how good these are. So oily, but not unpleasantly so and you hardly pay attention when you're grubbin hard on these.

Went to Han Dynasty with this girl from one of my classes who is also into food. Great experience overall. Fun company, laid back atmosphere, great food. Han Dynasty isn't too expensive either. We were stuffed and had leftovers after spending $22 each on food.

 Pork dumplings at Han.

Tripe in chili oil at Han. Soo spicy, love the funky flavor of the tripe.

"Rabbit hot pot." Basically rabbit with lots of vegetables in a spicy sauce.

After eating at Han Dynasty we went to the Franklin Fountain a few blocks over and I got the maple walnut and the pumpkin ice cream. Great stuff. I love anything pumpkin flavored in the fall, and the mixture of the pumpkin and the maple was great.

This is a roasted who branzino from Susanna Foo's in Wayne. I went with my best friend/roommate's family. Was really underwhelmed by this. Expected something really delicious but the sauce was really lackluster. Nothing exciting about this dish.

This is a burrito bowl from the other acceptable dining hall on campus. Unlike the other one, this one forces you to use "dining dollars" which are part of a meal plan, but are a more precious commodity than the meal swipes, which you can use at the other halls.

The burritos they make there are great. Approaching Chipotle status. The meat is consistently underseasoned however and the "spicy" salsa barely provides any kick. They really need to work on ratcheting up the flavor, making it less bland.

I also went to Pod with my best friend's family. I enjoy going to Pod everytime I go, but it's like the food there is just so boring. All of it tastes good, but if I'm spending my own money to go out to a nice restaurant, please take me somewhere where I will be wowed by the food.

That said, it's such a fun place to go with groups (we were sitting in one of the pods) and its always fun eating in the restaurant because you feel really young and hip.

Sushi at Pod.

Braised baby back ribs.

Rock shrimp with pecans in aioili.

A brownie for the birthday girl, my roommate's sister.

My favorite dessert, cheesecake, for me.

The lunch trucks are huge around Penn. They're really popular among the students because they provide a cheap, welcome alternative to the dining halls. Something I learned the other day was that each meal swipe at a dining hall is worth $15!!!! 15 DOLLARS. I could get 3 meals at a cart out of that.

I still need to check out more carts, but this one is great and its legendary around Penn. It's called Hemo's and they're famous for their chicken and their cheesesteaks. I really like the grilled chicken with mushrooms, extra chicken and two fried eggs. Nothing better for a hangover.

I tried out Il Pittore with a Upenn alumni. It was a very good meal, but not worth the price. I won't go back. Nothing made me jump out of my seat for the price I paid (I'm still kind of bitter).

Here's foie gras with some pitzelles and preserves. Uhhh, good, but no different than any foie I can get anywhere else.

These were delicious, pumpkin/mascarpone gnocchi in brown butter. Very pillowy and not so heavy gnocchi. Like just reading the description of the dish you automatically think how could this be bad? Some chefs say "when all else fails add more butter" but I would like to extend that to "when all else fails add some browned butter."

I'd honestly like restaurants to start serving congealed brown butter with bread instead of regular butter. I did that at home once. It was great.

Duck agnlotti. Great. Phenomenal. Probably the best dish of the night, although I am a HUGE sucker for suckling pig (which I had later in the meal).

Turbo with bagna cruda. I loved the anchovy in the sauce. Bagna Cauda is great, but maybe a tad overpowering for a lean white fish like turbot.

Overall not an incredible dish--the sides could definitely use some work--but the suckling pig was great. Crispy skin, tender meat.  29 bucks is a lot to pay for this dish though.

Here's a dish from Sabrina's which I went to last Saturday for brunch. It's right up on Drexel's campus, just a good 10-15 minute walk from my dorm. It's an egg white omelet with turkey bacon. It was Underseasoned!!! Egg whites have no flavor as is so make sure you season the damn thangs!

It's also my fault for ordering egg whites. What was I thinking? I don't know. The potatoes were real good though--not your frustratingly greasy-gross potato concoctions that you get from Joe's diner down the street.

Also the inside of Sabrina's is really really nice. Like I want to go there again this weekend. It's such a nice place and they make a real solid cappuccino which I'm a HUGE sucker for (it's impossible to get a good cappuccino on campus).  And literally every publication raves about their cream cheese stuffed french toast. I also really want their pumpkin pancakes because I love all things pumpkin.

That's it for now, but now that I have an Iphone and an actually decent camera on my phone, I really do expect to be back here frequently. It's just too easy to take pictures of food when a decent camera is right in your pocket. Talk to you guys soon


cd0103 said...

Thanks for sharing! Hope to see more.

Anonymous said...

It is about time you got to work and started writing again. This higher education crap may be all well and good, but we haven't been reading for three years to watch you turn into a college student. Thanks for the good words and pix, it is good to read your adventures.

Nick N said...

hahaha thanks craig and cd

Oridusartic said...

Eyes on that noodle from Han! Seems real good!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Incredible meals! You should add these to

Anonymous said...

Sadly Nick I loved your blog, but am going to have to "unbookmark" you - 1.5+ months between posts is tooooooo long. (Hint: even a funny post about the school cafeteria would have been good, sadly now I won't even see it)

Loved it while it lasted. Best of luck.

Amandha Silva said...

They say when you go to college, your chances on getting weight gets higher.
You do a great job providing so many pictures and making me feel hungry!
Distrito seems be a nice place, with good food and nice people!
The desserts are the best part.
But what makes me impressed is the fun you show trying the foods. Seriously, is contagious!
You have a new fan and you better keep posting!!!