Saturday, December 12, 2009

On Time? About time!

Let it be known - I am a big fan of dim sum. I just love the entire process of ordering a variety of small, tasty Chinese finger foods, sitting around a table with friends, and sharing. Throw in a bottomless pot of hot, green tea and I'm in heaven. When my favorite Indy dim sum spot, Shen Yang, closed its doors earlier this year, I started going exclusively to Great Garden for my dim sum needs. (Shanghai Lil, at Keystone at the Crossing, also serves dim sum, but, well, the less said about that the better.) So, when I showed up at Great Garden with some friends for lunch a couple of months ago, I nearly broke down and cried when I saw the "closed for good" sign on the door.

Now, though, like a Fenghuang (that's a Chinese phoenix) rising from its own ashes, another Chinese restaurant has taken over Great Garden's former location (3623 Commercial Drive; 317.293.8888). The rather oddly named "On Time Seafood Restaurant" serves Americanized Chinese favorites, fresh seafood, and, at lunch, dim sum! That's right, dim sum. Oh, it's on! I tried all of my old dim sum standbys like har gau (shrimp dumpling), siu mai (pork dumpling), nor mai gai (rice in lotus leaf), baby squid in curry sauce, and jin deui (sesame balls filled with lotus paste) for dessert. Everything that I sampled was delicious, matching or surpassing dim sum that I've eaten in larger cities like Boston, Chicago, and Washington DC. Of course they also offer the typical dim sum items that I've never been able to bring myself to try such as fung zao (chicken feet) and beef tripe. Helpfully, their picture menu comes complete with a list of English translations to help guide the dim sum neophyte. "On Time" has only been open for around a month and I've already been there twice (and thinking about when I can for a third time), so that has to tell you something!

Aside from dim sum, the restaurant features fish tanks along its back wall with a variety of seafood on offer. I haven't yet tried any of the seafood dishes, but the lobsters were tempting me during my second visit. I think one even winked at me. I wasn't sure how to take that, actually.

As an added bonus, the restaurant has received a classy makeover since it was Great Garden. Its all hardwood floors, warm colors, and Chinese lanterns. The mocha tables and chairs are stylish and the dining room now features a great number of cushy, comfy booths hugging the restaurant's outer walls. Oh, and if you happen to be there for lunch you may even get to watch Chinese Idol (or whatever American Idol is called in China) on the wall-mounted, flatscreen TV, which is always entertaining!

Man, I'm getting hungry for dim sum already. Who's game?

On Time Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ah, City Cafe. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways....

City Cafe (located in downtown Indy at 443 North Pennsylvania Street) has slowly worked its way into my brain lately (kind of like those scary ear-worm things in Star Trek II but in a much more appetizing way) to become my breakfast spot of choice. I can be found dining on their scrumptious vittles pretty much every Saturday morning. Why can't I pull myself away? Here are just a few of the reasons:

1. The food, obviously. I especially dig their french toast (coated with crushed cornflakes!) and breakfast burrito.

2. Their specials are always a treat and rarely repeat. Hey, that rhymed! I'm a poet and didn't know it. Cool.

3. The Saturday cinnamon roles are so good that I would trade my TV for a lifetime supply.

4. The strong Hubbard & Craven's coffee makes a great way to wake up on lazy weekend mornings.

5. Many of the ingredients for their dishes are sourced locally. Now that's just a bonus.

6. The staff are attentive and friendly. The servers really bust their butts, and Brad and Nancy, the owners, are nearly always in the kitchen and dining room (respectively), ready and willing to answer questions.

7. The atmosphere is cozy and warm. During its busiest periods it can get a little cramped, but cramped in that "look at us, aren't we all just one big, extended family?" way not in the "I'm becoming claustrophobic" way.

8. They display interesting art. I've actually purchased some of it, which is a rarity for me and cafe art. Check out Josh Johnson's site for examples.

9. They also have an excellent weekday lunch menu with a different soup everyday (except Fridays when we get the always-delectable tomato-dill soup).

So, it looks like I love City Cafe at least 9 different ways. That's a lot of love - especially coming from me.

City Cafe on Urbanspoon