Quigley FOOD Journeys: Philly Style

I heart food.  Then again, who doesnt?!?!  Nowadays, an endless amount of shows, networks, and media are strictly dedicated to all things food, making it difficult to ignore delicious temptations and intriguing recipes.  I became a victim in college, as I devoured everything the Food Network offered, rushing home in between classes for Sara's Secrets and sneaking in an episode of 30 Minute Meals before I rush off to work at night.  Back then, Rachael Ray was still an underground celeb and Giada was rockin crunchy, curly hair.  My foodfernalia sources have expanded since then, and I now enjoy reading chef biographies, exploring food blogs, and learning about different love affairs with food.  Yelp and Chowhound are my two favorite online food review sites and sources.  I also check out restaurants mentioned in The Best Thing I Ever Ate (although I often wonder if some of these places are simply commercial plug-ins).  The results of my research and analysis led us to eat at the following places in Philly.

Jim's Steaks
VIllage Whiskey
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House

Jim's Steaks...AWESOME!  We were strugging on whether to go to famous Pat and Geno's, which are across the street from each other, or to Tony Luke's for the quintessential Philly cheeseteak.  On the ardent advice of our concierge, we opted for Jim's Steaks, which we never heard of before but was within walking distance.  My oh my, it was a risk that paid off well.  
The line was out the door and wrapped around the corner; a good indication. 
Two cheesesteaks: both topped with onions, mushrooms, and peppas; one with provolone and one with whiz and banana peppas.  MMMM MMMMM MMMMMM.
Village Whiskey...we ate here for a late night dinner after watching some hilarious acts at the nearby Helium Comedy Club.  Chef Jose Garces is one of the new Iron Chefs, and Hubs was aching to try the Whiskey King Burger, which has foie gras.  The entire meal was sinful, superbly rich, and indulgent.  My only disappointment was the Pickled Green Beans and Shallots dish (no pics) because it wasn't pickley enough for my taste.  My pickle preference is driven by the principle that the more distorted my face gets from puckering, the better.  Bring on the vinegar, I say!  Sadly, the pickled green beans dish was barely tangy.  Aside from that, the rest of our choices were fantastic, service was great, and the ambiance was very warm and sexy with dark wood furnishings, low candles, and leather booths.
Short Rib and Cheddar Fries.  WOW.  Generous amount of deliciously tender short rib meat and high quality gooey cheddar cheese over perfectly crispy french fries.  Eating this deceived me into feeling wealthy.  Wish I could have some right now... 
Whiskey King Burger: maple bourbon glazed cipollini, rogue bleu cheese, applewood bacon, foie gras.  Hubs said "each outstanding flavor dances on the tongue."  The delicious brioce bun deserves an award for best supporting actor as the valuable vehicle uniting such formidable ingredients.

Morimoto...Although we had a horrible server, the meal itself was genuinely magnificent.  It's hard to express this notion without being too dramatic, but it truly was a life-altering, opens-your-eyes, awakens-the-senses type of experience.  And this being said after having to deal with an arrogant, condescending, flippant waiter who seemed to insist on ruining our evening.  After Hubs articulately communicated his extreme dissatisfaction to the manager, our server was immediately replaced with a reassuringly happy, friendly girl who just moved to Philly from New Orleans (automatic 100 bonus points).  We were also compensated with additional specialties to placate my fuming husband. (He rarely gets mad, so when he does, it's scary.  And this was cartoon-smoke-shooting-out-of-his-ears type of mad.)  The manager was charming and her quick response to correct the situation eliminated any resentment we may have had and elevated our dining experience even further.      
Amuse Bouche: Cream of Tomato with Lobster Ceviche
Tuna Pizza: crisp tortilla, spicy tuna carpaccio and anchovy sauce
Toro Tartare with fresh wasabi.  Easily and certainly, this is on my personal list of top ten Best Thing I Ever Ate...ever ever ever.  I could write an entire book on the experience of eating this stunning, almost too good to be true dish.  It seems like a very tiny portion, and Hubs and I were certainly pleased at how many indulgently satisfying bites this deceivingly small plate provided.  The presentation, colors, textures, freshness, flavors, sauces, and the meticulous cohesion of it all...BRAVO.  I can get really artsy fartsy on this one, discuss its ethereal dimensions, use a ton of superlatives, and so on and so forth.  But honestly, every single component of this dish was enhanced each and every brilliant bite.  I imagine that this is passed around as hors d'oeuvres upon entering heaven. 
10 Hour Pork Kakuni: braised pork belly with hot rice porridge.  Fantastic again.  Wonderfully tender and tasty.  However, if I have to leave out one dish from the evening, it would be this.  Simply because I've had braised pork belly before, and although this was perfectly delicious, it wasn't anything new and exotic like the other dishes.
Ishi Yaki Bop: rice dish prepared at your table in hot river stone bowl with bok choy and Kobe beef.  Delicious.  It's hard to argue the ridiculous price of Kobe when you taste it for yourself, especially when it's prepared in such a remarkable way.
This is one of the ways they made it up to us.  And oh did it work.  Trio of Gelato: coconut (MIND BLASTINGLY GOOD), chocolate, and tangerine.  Two glasses of Sparkling Ume: orange blossom, champagne.
One picture not featured that was a part of our meal is the Morimoto Ramen Soup: iron chef’s chicken noodle soup.  It's a low down, crying shame that the ramen we associate with is even called ramen, if this is what ramen is supposed to be, because it was the ultimate, maximum-umami noodle soup experience.  I could eat Morimoto's version of ramen everyday. 

Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House was our final food stop before hopping back on the train for DC.  It was my first time to a restaurant with six words to its name, but its reviews were awesome, prices were cheap, and we were hungry.  Soon after ordering, our bowls were placed in front of us, filled to the brim with hot, deliciously comforting and tasty broth, tender slices of beef, and perfectly cooked noodles. 
I ordered the Sliced Beef with Shaved Noodle Soup.  The noodles were a bit thinner, more like fettuccine.  This whole bowl was $5.25.  Yummyyyy!  I'm definitely going to crave this once winter rolls around.
Hubs ordered the Beef Brisket with Hand Drawn Noodle Soup.  It may look a bit similar, but the cut of meat and the broth were different.  This was a bit more beefy, but if I had to choose, I liked this type of noodle more.  It was wider and a bit thicker, more like pappardelle pasta, so it was a bit more satisfying, albeit unladylike, to slurp up a of mouthful of noodles and chew.  This was also $5.25.  SIGH.  I wish this was in DC!
I hope you'll get to try at least one of the places or dishes I mentioned.  Philly was definitely a fun town for eats, and I eagerly await my next trip there to try out even more!

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