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This week Rosie tells us about JukGajee in Bloomfield, Gourmet Chopsticks in Fairfield, a Sickles Market trip to the Di Bruno Bros. Gourmet Retailer & Cheese Makers in Philadelphia, and much more news about NJ restaurants.
In Thai, JukGajee, means to tickle and to create joy and laughter, and that’s exactly what happened to us at this gem of a restaurant. The storefront BYO at 30 Broad Street, Bloomfield, is serving some fabulous food.
Start off with crispy BBQ chicken wings drizzled in a chili vinaigrette marmalade. Six come to an order, and they’re so good you may want to plan on one order per person. Steamed vegetable dumplings, which come with a chili soy sauce, had a delicate wrapper and certainly tasted handmade as described on the menu. An astonishing preparation of mussels, which come in four versions, was also shared as an appetizer. We ordered ones cooked in a chili-basil sauce with onions, bell pepper, and Thai basil. The vegetables were crisp and the sauce scrumptious. We found all of the sauces that we tried to be delicious and have balanced flavors. Only one dish was a clunker, a soup called Rub & Roll, served with a bland chicken broth with rolled chicken and cellophane noodle balls.
Entrées come with a side of white rice, but brown or sticky rice, pasta, French fries, sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, or a small salad can be substituted for an additional price. Beautifully seasoned sourwee, aka pad preal wan, was made with sautéed tomatoes, cucumber, pineapple, and onions in a sweet-and-sour sauce. We had this with pork, but, as with most dishes, chicken, beef, shrimp, or squid can be substituted. Eggplant, bell pepper, and shrimp came in a coconut green curry sauce, and we loved it. Another entrée made with eggplant came with sautéed onions, Thai chili, and sweet peppers with a chili-basil sauce. We didn’t hate but didn’t love the gingery pasta with celery, onion, scallions, mushrooms, and beef, as there wasn’t enough of a ginger taste to it. It was served over egg noodles and just wasn’t as interesting as the other dishes we devoured.
Desserts delivered. We shared a creamy Thai custard made with warm coconut sticky rice layered with steamed sweet coconut custard flan and what was listed on the menu as chewy ice cream, which was vanilla ice cream on top of coconut sticky rice. Yum!
Food can be ordered on a scale of 1 to 5 for spiciness. We found 3 to be perfect for us. Be forewarned that service is very slow. You may want to dine here during the week, when hopefully the kitchen doesn’t get so backed up. Prices are incredibly low for the quality of the food; our meal ran $22 a person with tax and tip. Reservations: 973-429-1700; BYO.
JukGajee chicken wings.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.
GOURMET CHOPSTICKS, FAIRFIELD
On a Monday night, after trying to get into two other restaurants that we thought were open but weren’t, we decided to head over to Hunan Cottage, 14 Route 46 East, Fairfield. When we arrived, we saw that it had been sold and was now Gourmet Chopsticks. “It’s new—we might as well give it a try,” Lowell said, and we’re glad we did. The menu offers Shanghai and Taiwanese cuisine, and if you want nontraditional Chinese food, this is the place for you. Be warned that you may have to ask for the Chinese menu, and don’t be shy about asking a neighboring table what they’re eating if it looks good to you. Our waiter, “Lou,” was very helpful in steering us through the menu. For example, I asked if they had soup dumplings, and he showed me where they’re listed (steamed pork juicy bun, in the noodle section) and thoroughly described dishes that we were unsure if we wanted to order.
Along with the soup dumplings, we had a leek noodle box, a fried turnover filled with leeks. Adventurous eaters can opt for pig’s intestine blood soup, fish maws with seafood soup, spicy tripe, jellyfish, or crispy smelled bean curd. You get the picture—it’s not your American-style Chinese restaurant.
Mains were a vegetable chow fun noodle dish with ginger sauce; eggplant with basil; and a whole duck that was carved at the table with the bones removed and placed on a plate for us to chew on. The crispy and delicious duck was accompanied by steamed buns, pickled cabbage, slivers of cucumber, and hoisin sauce so we could make our own sandwiches. We had more than enough for dinner the next day. Although we played it safe with our mains, we certainly will go back to try some of the more unusual offerings, like steamed bean curd skin with salted pork; clam with silk melon; and water spinach in preserved tofu sauce—but not the spicy pig’s intestine with red bean curd or the pig’s kidney in sesame oil. Gourmet Chopsticks also serves dim sum on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations: 973-808-8328; BYO.
Duck on the bone.
Duck off the bone.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.
SUMMER COOKING CAMP FOR KIDS
Send your budding chef to a cooking camp this summer at WannaBee Chef, 18 Union Avenue, Cresskill. Half- and full-day sessions are available, and healthy and organic food is used in the lessons. Students will learn various cooking techniques and create diverse meals; there will be field trips as well. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call 201-503-0335.
ON THE ROAD WITH SICKLES MARKET
On April 24, as part of its road-trip offerings, Sickles Market, 1 Harrison Avenue, Little Silver, will host a visit to the Di Bruno Bros. Gourmet Retailer & Cheese Makers in Philadelphia. The day will include transportation; private tastings of charcuterie and selections from the Di Bruno Bros. cheese cave; exclusive behind-the-scenes tours at Di Bruno Bros., Italian Market, and Rittenhouse Square stores; a 10 percent shopping discount; a breakfast bag; ride-home tastings; and a foodie goodie bag. 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM; $150. For reservations, call Kirsty Dougherty at 732-741-9563 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHEESY FUN AT THE POP SHOP, COLLINGSWOOD
National Grilled Cheese Month is being celebrated at the Pop Shop, 729 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood (856-869-0111), with more than thirty variations on the menu plus a Grilled Cheese of the Day platter. Six open-face melts will be available, as will house-made tomato soup served with Goldfish crackers.
TASTE OF HOME COOKING SHOW
Live cooking demonstrations by Taste of Home culinary specialist Michael Barna, assisted by Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College students, will be held on Thursday, April 26, in the Walter Edge Theater, C-building, at Atlantic Cape’s Mays Landing Campus, 5100 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing. This Taste of Home Cooking Show, a partnership between the Academy of Culinary Arts and Town Square Media, is a traveling culinary event produced by Taste of Home Cooking, where attendees will learn cooking tips and also receive a gift bag containing more than $40 in merchandise, including cooking magazines, tools and utensils, promotional items, and coupons. VIP tickets $35, general admission $15. Tickets can be purchased through Town Square Media at 877-4-FLYTIX or online at www.ticketfly.com (type in “Taste of Home South Jersey”). Doors open at 5 PM, show starts at 6:30 PM, exhibitors from 5 to 7 PM.
CHANGES AT SATIS, JERSEY CITY
By May, Satis, 212 Washington Street, Jersey City (201-435-5151), will have a liquor license. The gelateria next door will also be replaced by a small wine bar.
In honor of its fifth anniversary, Blackbird, 714 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, will offer a three-course prix-fixe menu for only $25 through the end of April. Reservations: 856-854-3444.
Please send press releases and restaurant news, including information on staff changes, wine tastings, and cooking classes, to email@example.com.