Thursday, February 04, 2010

10 Best Restaurants I've Eaten At

There's a reason I haven't updated in a while. I'm waiting for responses from the PhD programs, and that's always on my mind. But that story really needs an ending before I write about it. Hopefully that ending will come soon, but in the meantime...

I was sitting in Minga, one of my favorite restaurants, today. I got to thinking about some of the best meals I've had and how much I really enjoy good food. As I'm wont to do, I started making a list in my head of all the restaurants that I've eaten where I just had that feeling of "ahhhh" after my meal. Here are ten of my favorites:

1. The Chicago Diner--Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Diner gets #1 on the list simply for it's milkshakes. The food is great, sure, but the milkshakes the reason that I generally book my flights back to the US for Chicago and not Fort Wayne. I need a stop off at the Chicago Diner before going home. Definitely the best vegetarian restaurant I've eaten at.

2. Minga--Busan, South Korea

I really love this place. It's near my house and is just a simple little house made up to be a restaurant. It actually only has two main dishes, both a kind of bean soup. I suppose when you make it perfectly, though, you don't need anything else. The dish I normally have is dwang-jang soup, which is a spicy soup a little bit similar to Japanese miso. The place uses only fresh vegetables and makes all of its dishes on-site. Really great food.

3. Mother's Cafe and Garden--Austin, Texas

I only have been here one time, but after just that once, I wanted to move to Austin. I had BBQ tofu and mashed potatoes. I don't even like tofu that much, but I nearly crapped my pants when I took that first bite. The rest of the food was equally good. I generally don't overeat, but I simply couldn't stop eating this stuff and ended up lying on my hotel bed moaning in glee after finishing.

4. Mad Mex--Pittsburgh, PA

Man was this place good. It's definitely the best Mexican food I've ever had, and I really love Mexican food. Hye Sook, Joel, Danielle, and I stopped there on a whim while in Pittsburgh, and I was pleased to find that they have tons of vegetarian stuff on the menu. I got the enchiladas and had some of Hye Sook's burrito. I couldn't believe how good the stuff was.

5. Loving Hut--Busan, South Korea

Despite being a chain and being run by a creepy cult, this place is surprisingly good. I find myself making the trip across town to get some of their "Sweet and Sour Delights" at least once a week. There are three branches of this place in Busan (and others around the world) but the best one is in Seomyeon. There's a branch of the same restaurant in Fort Wayne (there called the Loving Cafe) which is also pretty great.

6. Taj Mahal--Fort Wayne, IN

I've been around the world now, and I tend to eat at Indian restaurants no matter where I go, so I've tried quite a few. Oddly, my favorite one is still Taj Mahal in Fort Wayne. They have great samosa and aloo gobi. They have a cheap lunch buffet ($8) that always has lots of good things on it. The only Indian place that even comes close is the India Garden in Indianapolis, but I just don't like it quite as much. Who would have thought Indiana would have such good Indian food? Maybe it's the name.

7. Pita Jungle--Tempe, AZ

Despite the really stupid name, this place had amazing food. I went with a group of friends and everyone really enjoyed it. I had a great falafel pita with a side of new potatoes. Both were great. Actually, just writing about it right now makes me want to go back.

8. Dragonfly--Columbus, OH

While taking a trip to the east coast once, I decided to stop off in various cities along the way and try a restaurant in each. I got to Columbus early, so I had to wait in my car for a hour before going in for lunch. I'm glad I did. I like it so much, that I hit it again on the way back home--and again a few years later while in town--and tried to again while staying at a bed and breakfast an hour or so away (but couldn't because it was closed). Simple, classy, delicious food. I only wish it were open more often, as I've had to wait around for it to open or simply missed out every time I've stopped by.

9. Thai Basil--Tempe, AZ

I love Thai food, but I only wanted to put one Thai restaurant on the list. It was a close call between this and Hello Thai in Busan. Despite actually having BEEN to Thailand, I still think both of these restaurants have some of the best Thai food I've ever had. Thai basil had an amazing green curry that simply had more and fresher vegetables than the one at Hello Thai (which itself is pretty good).

10. Life Restaurant and Bar--Hong Kong, China

I didn't like the food in Hong Kong much, but this place was great. It's an odd little mix of Western and Eastern food, reasonably priced and delicious. Hye Sook and I had a good meal there and then wanted to go back the next day but couldn't make it across town to try it out. I'd definitely stop in again if I was in Hong Kong a second time.

Honorable mentions:

Hello Thai--Busan, South Korea
Josan Kalgooksoo--Busan, South Korea
La Victoire Suprême du Cœur--Paris, France (now closed)
Le Potager du Marais--Paris, France
Guen Mai--Paris, France
The Spa Resort--Kao Samui, Thailand
Three Rivers Co-op, Fort Wayne, IN
India Garden--Indianapolis, IN
The Blue Nile--Columbus, OH
Flat Top Grille--All over the freakin' place