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Mura North Hills

When we lived in Durham, we had the luxury of living 5 minutes down the road from Sushi Love.  It quickly became our “go to” dinner place thanks to their daily “buy one, get one free” special.  Since we’ve moved to Raleigh, I’ve been looking for a place that could serve as a stand-in on days we don’t want to drive to Durham for sushi.  I had heard good things about Mura, so we decided to check it out.

As soon as we walked in, I felt underdressed.  The inside of the restaurant is quite stylish and…in a word… sexy. I can see it being a great date night kind of place.

We started out with soup as our appetizers.  Ian had the cream of mushroom soup and I had the miso soup.  My miso was nothing to “write home about,” but then again, I can’t remember the last time I had one that blew me away.  It was good and it was warm – that’s really all I wanted.

Next up were the sushi rolls!  On the left – a TNT Crunch and a Screaming O roll.  On the right – a Lobster Salad and a HardRock roll.

I enjoyed both of my rolls (the ones pictured on the left) and Ian seemed to enjoy his as well.  I stole a piece of his Lobster Salad roll and was not terribly impressed.

Finally, there was this beautiful dessert…

This beauty is called a Tempura Ice Cream and it was the best part of the meal.  The crunchy exterior complimented the vanilla ice cream beautifully.  It was big enough to easily split between three people!

Overall, the restaurant was good.  The best parts were the ambiance and the dessert.  The sushi rolls were good, but not exceptional.  We visited Mura on a Tuesday because that’s the day when they have their “buy one, get one 50% off” special.  I’ll go back on a Tuesday again, but I don’t think the rolls were delicious enough to pay full price.  Next time, I’ll try the non sushi menu and see if it is more noteworthy than the rolls.

Finally, I wanted to point out two things about this restaurant.  First, the bar area is spiffy.  I can see it being a cool place to grab a martini.  Second, the restaurant has Tatami rooms for larger groups.  I haven’t been to another Japanese restaurant in the area (yet!  not to say that they don’t exist!) that had these pretty rooms available.  It would be a fun room to reserve for a dinner party with friends.

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Grand Asia Market – Part 1

This has to be a two-part review.  The Grand Asia grocery store has so much to offer, and I didn’t even get to explore it all!  Next time, I’m going to plan on eating at their in-store restaurant, the Joy Luck Club, and I will take a camera.

In preparation for a meal that is on the menu for this week, I went in search of a good Asian grocery store.  After reading a few local threads, I decided to visit the Grand Asia Market.  I was not disappointed.  The store was large!  Compared to the place I use to visit on 15-501 business, this store was palatial.  I wandered the aisles in awe of the selection and the variety of products (some labeled in English, others not).  I can’t wait to experiment and explore the different items this place has to offer.

As for today’s visit, I just came home with a few of my favorite things.  From left to right:

  • Genmaicha – green tea with brown rice
  • Fava beans – so that I can attempt the appetizer we had in Boston,
  • Shrimp Shumai – I love these dumplings!,
  • Kimchee – a.k.a. kimchi – my favorite cabbage side dish,
  • Red pepper paste – to add to the recipe I’m going to attempt this week,
  • Shiitake and Enoki mushrooms – I couldn’t get over how cheap these were, so I had to pick them up.

Our Vacation to Boston!

I was warned months ago:  keep the week of Fall Break open.  He was up to something… planning a secret trip as he does so well.  We were going to go away somewhere, but I was not allowed to know the destination.

Our trip began early on Wednesday morning.  We headed to the airport, and still I had no idea where we were going.  We made our way up to the security line.  The guard mentioned something about LGA, but I knew that there were 2 legs to this trip.  Where were we headed?  Once we cleared the security area, Ian asked if I wanted to know.  I looked at him as I eagerly awaited the answer… we were going to BOSTON!!!!

Neither of us had visited this amazing city, so it was really an amazing experience.  Everything from the people, to the architecture, to the food just oozed with character.  I loved every minute we spent exploring the city.  My two favorite attractions were the Museum of Fine Arts and the New England Aquarium.

I went nuts with the camera and took a picture of everything.  The cluster above are just a few of my favorite shots.  I’ll list them from left to right by rows going down.

  • The beautiful buildings that surrounded the Boston Commons.  I loved how they domed out towards the street.
  • A view of the Boston skyline at night shot from the North End.  We had dinner at a great restaurant off of Hanover St. called Villa Francesca.
  • A sign for a Facebook Burger at a local place just off of Harvard’s campus.  Cambridge was really beautiful too.
  • Picture of a barbershop selling pocket combs.  That’s right.  Pocket Combs.  I found that way too entertaining.
  • CHIPS!  Holy cow!  These were hands down the most tasty chips I have ever had!  The Landsdowne Pub (located directly across the street from Fenway Park) had a cool ambiance and super friendly staff.  But the chips were… wow…WOW!  We ordered ours with two dips: curry and gravy.  I know I must have eaten my sodium intake for 2 months, but it was so worth it 🙂
  • The New England Aquarium.  Easily one of the coolest aquariums I have ever visited.  The penguins were hilarious!
  • The gates of the Boston Commons.  The leaves were just starting to turn and the park was so lush.  It was beautiful to walk around and see the grounds.  The people watching was quite entertaining as well.
  • A local newspaper stand found around Fenway Park.  Clever name, I thought.
  • Myrtle the sea turtle.  She was the most graceful resident of the New England Aquarium.  No matter how many times she swam past you, you couldn’t help but go “wwwoooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww.”
  • Anemone with a fish.  The colors in this particular tank were breath taking.

Two meals stuck out in my mind from the trip.  The first I took the time to photograph (pictured above), the second I scarfed before I remembered to take pictures. The pot pie that we enjoyed at Kennedy‘s was easily the second best pot pie I have ever enjoyed (the first being Ian’s pot pie).  Now I’ve never visited Ireland, but Ian has and even he said this pie was delicious.  (The top right photo is of a coffee and Bailey’s – the best addition to coffee EVER.)

The second memorable meal was enjoyed at Casa Portugal in Cambridge.  Every single day we were in Boston, I heard somebody speaking Portuguese (whether Portuguese or Brazilian) and it made my heart jump.  With such a large population in the Boston area, I figured there had to be a good Portuguese restaurant in the area.  This particular restaurant was recommended to us, and it lived up to the reputation.  We started the dinner with a crisp Vinho Verde (a wine native to Portugal) and an appetizer of fava beans with chourico.  The main course was bacalhau (a cod fish based dish with onions, eggs, and potatoes).  For dessert… flan.  The result: a very very happy couple!  Easily the best meal of Boston.

Edible Art

I can’t tell you how bummed I am about our most recent visit to Edible Art.  Ian’s parents were coming to visit us to celebrate his birthday so in preparation, we put in an order with the same bakery that did our wedding cake.  The wedding cake, by the way, was awesome and left guests raving about it long after the last slice had been devoured.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Ian’s birthday cake…

I don’t know what happened!  Maybe the baker was rushing and not paying attention?  The pound cake was undercooked and dense.  It was… the kind of rookie mistake I expect when I’m baking.  One bite was all I could handle between the sweetness of the amaretto icing and the dense and damp almond cake.  I was embarrassed to admit that this was the same place that had done our cake and bummed by how bad it turned out.

Given some of the other bakeries we are discovering around town, I wouldn’t recommend Edible Art now.  Maybe it was just a fluke, but I don’t think I’d risk serving bad cake again.


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