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Archive for the ‘take-away’ Category

The Fractured Prune

The Fractured Prune
127th & Coastal Highway
Ocean City MD

You’d never think that someplace called “The Fractured Prune” is practically a gourmet doughnut shop, but it is. Discovered via FoodNetwork and Meghan, The Fractured Prune is an Ocean City-based chain doughnut shop in Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (a list of their exact locations can be found on the website). Their specialty is hot, hand-dipped, made-to-order, made-your-way doughnuts.

Doughnuts at The Fractured Prune can be customized with glazes, toppings, and sugars.

Glazes come in 15 flavors: honey, banana, chocolate, maple, cherry, strawberry, lemon, raspberry, orange, peanut butter, blueberry, mocha, mixed berry, mint, and caramel.

There are 7 toppings: rainbow sprinkles, chocolate jimmies, coconut, peanuts, Oreo cookie, mini chocolate chips, and graham cracker crumbs.

And there are 3 sugars: powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon sugar.

Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. The Fractured Prune also has a menu of pre-selected combinations, like “Banana Nut Bread” (banana glaze, cinnamon sugar, and peanuts), “Strawberry Shortcake” (strawberry glaze, graham cracker crumbs, and powdered sugar), and “Black Forest” (raspberry glaze, coconut, and mini chocolate chips). Ordering off this specialty menu is a good way to get familiar with Fractured Prune doughnuts, and you can customize or expand from there. I, for instance, ordered Banana Nut Bread without the peanuts, which was just a doughnut with banana glaze and cinnamon sugar. I could have added coconut or mini chocolate chips instead. Because they’re made and dipped to order, you can ask for any combination of glaze, topping, and sugar that tickles your fancy. During our vacation we sampled the Morning Buzz, Reese’s Cup, Plain Jane, Peppermint Patty, French Toast, Banana Nut Bread (minus the nuts), and Myrna Medley.

Because the doughnuts are hot, the glazes and toppings melt right in to the doughnut and the doughnut itself melts in your month. The base flavor of the doughnut is not overly sweet, as I discovered when I sampled the Plain Jane. This is a good thing, or else the fully-loaded doughnut would be too sweet to eat. The only downside to the hot doughnut is that when all the flavors do melt together, it is difficult to savor each of the flavors individually: the French Toast is not maple glaze and cinnamon sugar as two separate tastes and textures, it is one melty mapley cinnamony sweet concoction. And unfortunately, when the doughnut starts to cool, as it inevitably will, the melted sugar-and-glaze combination starts to harden in to a candy shell.

If you’re near a Fractured Prune and the doughnut mood strikes, stop in and give them a try. I’m already making a list in my head of which ones I want to try the next time I’m in Ocean City. But I’m not going to drive 8-10 hours to OC just for a hot, hand-dipped, homemade doughnut. It’ll be the whole OC package that brings me back, of which the Fractured Prune is only part of the treat.

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Two Morning Buzzes, a Reese’s Cup, and a Plain Jane.

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Early Saturday morning.


photos by Rachel

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Mr. Chan's 2

Mr. Chan’s
East Milton Square
Milton MA

large Egg Rolls 
one pint Hot & Sour soup
Appetizer A
Boneless spareribs, chicken fingers, beef teriyaki
General Gau’s Chicken
Crispy chunks of chicken sauteed with our master chef’s special spicy sauce
House lo mein
with chicken, shrimp, and pork 

 

I wish that “large” egg rolls meant “more than two.” If I were a restaurant I would assume that the majority of my patrons are either singles (who would like leftovers) or couples (which contain two people), and in either case two egg rolls would be necessary. If the two of us wanted more than one egg roll each, e.g. as a leftover, we would need to order two large orders of egg rolls, and this seems excessive. But the egg rolls, no matter how many come in a “small” or “large” order, are well-made and fried evenly but not soggy with oil.

The hot & sour soup is DH’s treat, and while he was not impressed with it at first, he says it has improved over time as a leftover and it actually wound up quite tasty. I don’t know what sort of soup needs to be aged that much beyond when it was first served, it seems to me that if the soup needed to rest to let the flavours mature, this would have been done before it was served at the restaurant.

Last time we visited Mr. Chan’s we ordered Appetizer C, because we thought the “pork strips” would be the barbeque-flavoured strips DH likes so much in pu pu platters; they weren’t, they were just medallion-sized slices of plain pork. Appetizer A contains “boneless spareribs,” which is exactly what DH wanted.

The General Gau’s chicken that was divine last time we visited Mr. Chan’s completely put me off this time and I am sad to say it. I found two small pieces of cartilage in two pieces of chicken right away; DH found one the next day, a larger piece, while reheating leftovers. After the first incident I avoided the chicken because I was not willing to chance a repeat incident, but DH soldiered on.

I felt like the quality of this visit was starkly inconsistent against the quality of our last visit. Maybe the kitchen was strapped for manpower; maybe it was an off day for everybody; I’m not sure. But the next time we decide to get Chinese take-out, I might be tempted to go somewhere else just for a little break.

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Mr. Chan's

Mr. Chan’s
Adams Street, Milton
East Milton Square

Egg Rolls
Appetizer C
Pork Strips, Chicken Fingers, Crab Rangoons
Beef Lo Mein
Chicken & Shrimp Pad Thai
General Gau’s Chicken
Crispy chunks of chicken sautéed with our master chef’s special spicy sauce garnished with broccoli

A bad day in the office is usually what drives us to order Chinese for take-home. We both had rather blah days, so we decided to buoy our spirits and commemorate the President’s first annual message to the joint session of Congress with culinary indulgence. We could have gone to our default place at the bottom of the hill, but I felt like something new was in order. A little bit of online research returned consistent good review for Mr. Chan’s in East Milton Square, not too far from where we live, and their website, www.mrchans.net, showed a wide menu with many standard, and a few non-standard, selections. We were excited to try someplace new, especially if it came with good recommendations from the people at Yelp and Chow, but the website doesn’t list prices, so we weren’t sure we wanted to order from there (we’re trying to be cash-conscious even when we’re indulging in take-away).

It looks like Mr. Chan’s has on-street parking only, but luckily we found a space only a couple of storefronts down from the restaurant. The interior of the restaurant is decorated in warm colors: subdued orange on the walls, creamy tan tile flooring, warm wood accents, and fabrics in a lush plum. There is a small eat-in seating area to one side that is modest but very clean, a row of bar-style seating along the window front, a small couch for sitting on while waiting for your order, and the counter itself is large, clean, clutter free, and inviting. The staff was also friendly, polite, and well-dressed. If I could only use two words to describe the interior of Mr. Chan’s, they would be “posh” and “welcoming.” It doesn’t seem like those two words go together, but at Mr. Chan’s, they do.

And behind that promising façade? The prices on the extensive menu are slightly higher than your local corner Chinese restaurant, but when you factor in the ambiance, the quality of service, and the quality of the food, what you get in return for the price you pay is actually a steal.

We aren’t sure how they do it, but Mr. Chan’s food actually tastes like food. You know how after a while, Chinese take-away can become sort of homogenous? How no flavours really stand out in the egg rolls, the crab rangoons don’t taste very crabby, the lo mein noodles taste the same as all the other ingredients? Well, not at Mr. Chan’s. They worked some sort of magic back in the kitchen, because each item had a distinct flavour, and the flavours in each item worked together or pulled against each other on the palate. The egg rolls tasted like dough, cabbage, and seasoned pork, not a homogenous mixture of shredded filling. The crab rangoons tasted like seafood — !! – with a little crisp texture from the scallion surrounded by smooth creamy filling. Usually I couldn’t blind-taste-test the difference between crab rangoons and cream cheese wontons.

I had two of the smallish chicken fingers. The meat was more moist than chicken fingers tend to be, which was rewarding, but there was a slight bitterness to the fried batter that marred the experience.

I did not try any of the pork strips, that’s all DH. They aren’t strips so much as they appear to be slices from a pork roast, about the size of a man’s palm. What DH actually wanted, in his mind, was boneless spare ribs, and pork strips could conceivably be a way of describing what he was after. I do think that the pork will make a good open-faced sandwich, if I also had leftover bread stuffing and cranberry sauce on hand.

I only tried a piece of beef from the beef lo mein, lo mein noodles being DH’s special love. It was tender and lightly seasoned and in perfect, chopstick friendly, bite-size chunks (not long strips of grayish meat, which I sometimes see in other lo meins).

The chicken & shrimp pad thai was not as sweet as the pad thai that I reviewed in an earlier entry from Lucky Dragon, but it had a more subtle flavor. The small pieces of chicken and shrimp had not absorbed the full effect of the pad thai sauce, so the flavour was more subtle, and built in complexity in the mouth over time. Occasional bursts of sweet flavour would explode on the tongue, and sometimes a mouthful would be more savory than sweet. The scallions and carrots were still firm, however, and scallion- and carrot-flavoured, respectively. The noodles also did not glob together, but cohered – and yes, I am going to describe pad thai this way – elegantly. But not persistently; a little shaking freed them and made them more manageable (for me – I use chopsticks, DH uses a fork).

Usually a Chinese restaurant will have either General Gau’s chicken or orange chicken, very rarely both. Mr. Chan’s listed both on the menu, and in retrospect I realise we should have ordered a small orange chicken for comparison. Usually we can’t tell the difference between one restaurant’s orange chicken and another’s General Gau’s, except that one often has pieces of orange peel in the sauce. They are usually both a little spicy, and they are usually dished up or garnished with broccoli. Some restaurants put whole chilis in the sauce, some use only small pieces. Usually the chicken is heavily breaded and sautéed prior to saucing. Only once before our visit to Mr. Chan’s had I had General Gau’s chicken that didn’t taste the same as orange chicken, at Quincy Dynasty in North Quincy. Like the General Gau’s chicken at Quincy Dynasty, Mr. Chan’s General Gau’s has a savory, distinctly-not-orange flavour – and Mr. Chan’s General Gau does pack some heat. Not a lot, just a little, and it creeps up on you after you’ve popped a few of their tender, lightly breaded, perfectly sautéed morsels in to your mouth. DH needed a glass of milk to cut the heat, I just kept a few pad thai noodles on my plate to eat when the spice started to become too much, and kept the heat at bay that way.

The big test for take-away: How good are the reheated leftovers? DH and I buy more Chinese than we know we can eat in one sitting, and it actually lasts us three or four servings a day for a few days. The General Gau’s chicken became one solid tray of refrigerated goodness – exploratory surgery followed by a few sharp jabs with the chopsticks were required to separate the chicken pieces, so the breaded and sautéed outer layer suffered a little, but the flavours held up. The pad thai dried out a little in the refrigerator, but reheated nicely, maintaining its taste and texture. Extra crab rangoons are always eaten cold out of the refrigerator, never reheated, and the filling remained moist and flavourful (it firmed up a little, but that was expected from an overnight in the fridge).

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Lucky Dragon

Lucky Dragon
Quincy, MA

Tidbit #2
Egg roll, crab rangoon, chicken fingers, fried shrimp
Pad Thai Noodle
Rice pasta stir fried with shrimp, chicken, bean sprouts, scallions and egg with crushed peanuts
Orange Flavored Chicken
Wonton soup 

When DH and I order Chinese food, we always order some variation of the same thing: chicken (either Orange or General Gao/Tso/Tsu), a noodle (usually lo mein, either beef or shrimp), and egg rolls. If I have been very good, I can have crab rangoon too.

Tidbit #2 has all the things we like; it is basically a pu pu platter without chicken wings, which we never ever eat, except only one egg roll — so you also have to order a small (= one piece) egg roll if each of two people wants an egg roll.*

The orange chicken was not the best orange chicken we’ve ever had, but if you like orange chicken that is a little bit spicier than usual, then it may be to your taste. The orange peel is usually particularly potent, and whole chilies as well as chili seeds are used in the sauce. And yet when DH is asked to describe the flavour, his first word is “bland.”

However, I was surprised and delighted to see pad thai on the menu. DH loves lo mein, but in almost every single instance, I find lo mein too slippery, too greasy feeling, to be very delectable. I had been wanting for months to take DH to a nearby Thai restaurant just to have their pad thai, so I leapt at the opportunity to satisfy my cravings for Chinese and pad thai simultaneously. The pad thai was fantastic, excellent of texture and taste, just enough crushed peanut, lots of chicken infused with the pad thai flavour but, unfortunately in my opinion, not enough shrimp. The shrimp were big and plump and firm, so they were definitely not skimping on the shrimp-quality front — so maybe that was why there weren’t more shrimp in the pad thai. DH can pass on a shrimp if he has to, so I think that I actually got most of the shrimp.

Lucky Dragon also sells their excellent duck sauce by the pint. DH judges Chinese restaurants by how much he likes their duck sauce and how generous they are with it, so that fact that a pint of excellent duck sauce can be for $3 at this establishment makes him very happy to be their customer every now and then.

Maybe next time we visit Lucky Dragon, we should go completely outside the box and not order orange chicken at all, but branch out.

 

*NB: Some Chinese restaurants have been willing to not include the chicken wings in their pu pu platters, and throw in a few extra pieces of whatever component is most plentiful at the moment: a few extra fried shrimp, a few extra chicken fingers, an extra half dozen crab rangoon. Lucky Dragon, because of the computer system linking their counter and kitchen, will not make this sort of substitution.

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