After much ballyhoo due to the all-star cast behind it, Orlando's new DoveCote restaurant made its debut on Wednesday. The grand establishment is a 5,000-square-foot brasserie serving Bank of America employees, and the rest of us, all day long.Read More
This restaurant -- a comfy, relaxed fine-dining establishment sitting within a lush green yet buzzy-busy theme park -- is based on travel around the world.Read More
LakeHouse at Hyatt Grand Cypress, a bright and polished newcomer, is sassy in look and menu.Read More
I was never a huge fan of Tabla, and Indian restaurant, and was wary to return when it added Chinese and Thai dishes along with a spiffier decor. The owner invited me back for a look-see, and I'm a fan now. Several of the dishes are memorable.Read More
A Venezuelan family just moved in next door. Within 15 minutes, I had the well-heeled woman with an impressive corporate career bubbling enthusiastically about where she finds the flavors of home. It's no fancy spot--just a spiffy, upbeat self-service joint turning out abundantly stuffed, flavorful versions of Venezuelan street foods. So yesterday I tried Arepas el Cacao.Read More
Mamak is a terrific new place to eat Asian street food. It's a handsome spot with an expansive menu of small dishes meant to share, from pad Thai to coconut shrimp. Yet I'm stumped. The menu--not just the offerings, but also the execution--is nearly a duplicate of the one at Hawkers, a nearby establishment. Why is Mamak so much like Hawkers?
I like having a choice, don't get me wrong. Hawkers is a family favorite. Its spiffy if budget dining room is often so packed that we have to wait for a table--and we're willing to, which we won't do elsewhere.
I sure would like to know the back story, though. While the Mamak bill of fare offers far more than Hawkers does, much of the line-up is a carbon copy. Take the roti canai, flaky bread with a curry dipping sauce. We order it every visit and always want more. Not only does Mamak's look just like Hawkers' version, it tastes the same too.
The beef skewers, pictured above, are a bit different: They're more caramelized at Mamak, which I prefer, but don't come with a spicy peanuty sauce, which I miss. The barbecued roast pork is pretty spectacular, with its sweet outer area and tender insides. The hoisin dipping sauce is a plus.
The sesame noodles were a little pasty at Mamak. Still, I'm glad the cold, kid-friendly item is on the menu. Until a couple of years ago, we could barely find this dish in Orlando.
I don't recall seeing wontons in hot sauce on Hawkers' menu. These peanuty, spicy dumplings are a treat. Maybe Hawkers should do the carbon-copy thing itself.
French fries with five-spice powder? Both restaurants. Coconut shrimp? Both. Lettuce wraps, chicken tacos, stir-fried string beans ... I could go on. In fact, both restaurants use Facebook pages as their websites, which usually only smaller spots do.
I'm happy to have a second Asian street food restaurant in Orlando's Mills 50 district, and I'm glad the food is promising. If you know who owns this grand space, and why it's so doggone similar to Hawkers, please let me know. Otherwise I'll do a feature for a print magazine at some point and do intense digging myself.
For $9.99, I got a fresh little salad plus steak, griddle-cooked cheese (we practically arm-wrestled over who got to finish it), green plantains, and fried casava.Read More
No ma'am. No sir. A journalist does not guarantee, promise, pledge in writing, with a signature, that s/he will spread word of your glory because s/he ate a pork chop with slaw as your guest at a media dinner.Read More