Friday, June 22, 2018

Earnest Eats Oatmeal Bars

More healthy granola-ish bars.

Earnest Eats promises whole foods, supergrains, detox support, and more, all in forms related to oatmeal.

They make several styles of healthier oatmeal: "Proteinbiotic" (extra protein and probiotics), "Superfood", and "Energized" (with natural caffeine from coffee fruit added).  And baked bars, which is the product I tried.

Baked Whole Food Bars

"TASTY, CHEWY AND TOTALLY UNCOMPLICATED. No spray-on vitamins or protein powders. No corn, peanut or soy oils. No ingredient lists with long compound words. We make our bars with whole nuts, fruits, seeds and grains, and rich roasted almond butter. We bake them in small batches in real ovens for a soft cookie-like texture. And we do all of this so that you can eat a bar carefree, and enjoy every last bite."
The bars aren't quite granola bars, since oatmeal based, and softer.  All are square shaped, and clock in more calories than I expected given the small size.

Bars are available in 5 varieties: apple ginger, choco peanut butter, almond trail mix, cran lemon zest, and doubel choco espresso.  I went straight for the choco peanut butter, because, um, chocolate and peanut butter are often the only way to save healthy bars.  Also, because they taste great together.
Choco Peanut Butter.
"We couldn’t resist the tasty duet of chocolate and PB, so we made it our own with dark chocolate chips, oats, and natural peanut butter. Indulge yourself."

Ingredient-wise, this didn't sound to bad.  Oats as the base, cane syrup and brown rice syrup to sweeten, dark chocolate chips and peanuts for the goodness, plus almond butter, oat bran, and sunflower seeds to healthy it up.

It looked pretty real too.  The texture was decent, soft but not like a cookie, although a bit crumbly.  It broke apart easily.

However, I didn't really taste much peanut butter.  Or, any, really.  I didn't look at the ingredients until later, but I thought I tasted almond, and it had a strange grittiness that I associate with almond butter, and a slightly odd sweetness that I also often associate with almond butters that I don't like.  And ... yes, it did indeed use almond butter.  I felt deceived, as I expected peanut goodness, and got almonds instead.

The chocolate was there, in the form of little chips.  They were fine, but, I wanted chocolate peanut butter!

Overall, this was fine, not bad, but not something I wanted another of.
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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Flour Bakery, Boston

Flour Bakery has been on my list of bakeries to try in the Boston area for ages.  When locals find out I am coming to town, and they know my love for baked goods and sweets, they always mention it, and in particular, the sticky buns.

Flour is a mini chain at this point, with eight locations in the Boston area.  They produce morning pastries of all kinds (scones, muffins, breads, croissants, yadda, yadda), plus cakes, tarts, cookies, pies, etc, etc.  On the savory side, they have sandwiches on their own bread, grain bowls and salads, quiches, and the like.

I've actually stopped in several times, always aiming to try those sticky buns, but alas, they sell out quickly.  My eyes were also on the bread pudding, as, well, I adore bread pudding, and they make it ... from the sticky buns!

I finally got to try a bun.  I was ... underwhelmed?
So Many Treats.
One night, I stopped by at 7pm just to see what they had left, hoping for some of the bread pudding perhaps, and was shocked to see sticky buns.  I had no choice but order it.

The Setting

I visited the Back Bay location, likely one of the least popular, but, convenient to where I was passing by.  My previous stop ins were to the Cambridge locations, much more inviting.
Interior.
The space at the Back Bay Flour Bakery location isn't particularly large nor charming, a narrow place, with a counter up front to order and retrieve your food, counter seating with stools along the window, and just a handful of tables (maybe 2?).
Hallway Seating.
There was additional seating for 3 more people at a counter along the hallway to the bathroom.  Again, not very charming, but, at least when I visited, most people were by themselves, and so this worked well.

The Treats

Flour Bakery does serve savory food.  They have salads, sandwiches, quiches, and more.  But I was there just for dessert, as I wanted my baked goods!
Cookies & More ...
The lineup, even at 7pm, was fairly extensive.  Tons of cookies (easily ruled out since I don't like cookies), breads, and cupcakes.

Although I'm not one for quickbreads, I've heard great things about the coffee cake and the apple snacking cake, so those were both on my list to check out.  But better things lay ahead ...
More Tempting Treats ...
The next section captured my eye instantly.

Not pictured (whoops) is a strawberry rhubarb slab pie that looked excellent (just to the right of the chocolate brioche).  The chocolate brioche looked good too.  As did the homemade poptarts.  Even some of the bars looked good.

But ... the famous sticky buns somehow still remained.  I didn't have a choice, did I?
Refrigerated Tempting Treats ...
The refrigerated case however caused me some grief.  They had ... sticky bun bread pudding.  Incredible looking cream pies (coconut, lemon, and chocolate).  Moster slices of Boston cream pie (and I *was* in Boston after all!).  Trifle.

If there is something I love even more than sticky buns, it is bread pudding.  Um, and bread pudding made from sticky buns??!!!

However, it is served cold, and I like mine warm.  It isn't served with whipped cream or ice cream.  Just the bread pudding.  In the end, I asked the person taking my order which he'd pick, and he said he hadn't tried either yet, but, that it seemed to make sense to start with the basic sticky bun.  Which I suppose makes sense (although, how could I trust someone who worked there and hadn't tried their most famous item?!).  Plus, I wanted to save the bread pudding for a time when I could take it home and heat it up, and add the requisite whipped cream.
Boxed Up!
I placed my order, paid, and gave my name.

Several minutes later, a (large) box came out with my name on it.  I wasn't asked if I wanted it for there or to go, and, I actually intended to eat it there.  Luckily, they had plates and real silverware available in a self-serve area, so I just moved it to a real plate.
Sticky Sticky Bun. $3.75.
"Dark, sticky caramel and toasted pecans."

My sticky bun was ... massive.  I didn't think that box size was needed at first for *just* a sticky bun, but, well, it was.

On top was a very sweet sauce, sticky, yes.  It seemed rather honey based though?  The sweetness wasn't one I actually was particularly fond of.

There were plentiful chopped pecans, always appreciated on a sticky bun.

The dough was a bit dry.  A sweet dough, kinda dense.  Very heavy.  Very bready.  Some cinnamon between the layers.

This sticky bun was fine.  But it wasn't particularly good.  I rather suspect that part of my problem is that I had it at 7pm.  Freshness matters for sticky buns, and, the dryness in particular I think was likely attributable to that.

I guess I need to try again, earlier in the day ...
Flour Bakery + Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Duck & Waffle, London

Duck & Waffle.

A very hip, very trendy, very famous spot in London.  Notable for many things, ranging from the views (up on the 40th floor of Heron Tower, highest restaurant in the city), to the hours (open 24 hours, 7 days a week), to the cuisine (not just including the signature Duck & Waffle), to the ridiculous advance reservations you need for any reasonable meal time (literally, at least a month out).

I've wanted to visit Duck & Waffle on previous visits to London, but was never able to plan far enough in advance ... several weeks wouldn't cut it.  Finally, on my most recent trip, I made the reservation the moment I booked my flight, nearly two months in advance.

We secured a coveted Friday evening time slot, for a group of 6.  I was quite excited, although still a bit skeptical that it would actually taste good, and not just be all about the experience.
Trendy Meal.
We tried a large assortment of items.  They sounded great.  The looked great.  Most were underwhelming, with, oddly, the exception of the duck & waffle, not something I expected to like, but, clearly a signature dish they have perfected.

Setting

Duck & Waffle is located in Heron Tower, on the 40th floor.  They have a private glass elevator that whisks you to the top.  To get to the elevator, you go through red ropes, must confirm your name, go through a X-ray, have your bags searched, and your water confiscated (seriously?).  It was a scene just to get in (that said, the view from the elevator was perhaps the highlight of the experience).
The View.
The view once inside is also impressive, but a bit hard to capture on my cell phone camera.  This is the best I have, sorry.
Bar.
The front area is a bar, very ... busy, both in decoration and in activity level.  I believe this area is for walk-ins only.
Round Room.
The main dining room is a stunning space, round, large glass windows on all sides.  Coveted seats are along the windows, but the middle seats are comfortable round booths.

Many of the window seats are intimate tables for two, couples enjoying dates overlooking the city.

We had one of two large wooden tables, right near the entrance, but also along a window.
Open Kitchen.
The side of the room that isn't glass is the open kitchen.  There wasn't that much to see though, as it had high counters, just, dishes flying out of the pass, constantly.

Cocktails

"This month’s list of cocktails comes from the recently launched first self-titled book by Rich Woods (AKA The Cocktail Guy). The Cocktail Guy is available to buy in the restaurant and includes brand new creations as well as some of his iconic drinks from both Duck & Waffle and SUSHISAMBA. @the_cocktailguy"
The cocktail menu was amazing sounding.  "I want like all of these!", I kept saying.

They sounded better than they were, and were *very& pricey.  Also, the staff kept trying to get us to buy the associated cocktail book.  Pushy, pushy.

 Our drinks didn't arrive until after multiple dishes.  Minus a few points.
Black Cherry Godfather. £14.
"Monkey Shoulder whisky, black cherry liqueur, dry essence, caramel bitters. Served short and over ice. The Black Forest gâteau of Godfathers."

For my cocktail, I finally decided on the Black Cherry Godfather.  The large ice cube in the center was impressive at first, until I realized just how small my actual cocktail was.  Sure, this wasn't a fruity drink nor mixed with much, but, uh, it was less than a shot, seriously.  Other drinks were similarly thimble sized.  Minus a point.

It tasted like whisky, sure, but I didn't detect the black cherry nor caramel tones.  It was highly lackluster.

At nearly $19 USD, this seemed ... ridiculous.  I know I was paying for the view, and the creative cocktail, but, seriously?

I also tried my companion's "Peanut, Rye & Dry".

"Rye whiskey, peanut butter liqueur, dry Vermouth. A rich, nutty and dry cocktail. Served short and over ice."

It was actually incredible, the most memorable part of the night.  The peanut flavor was just crazy.  Liquid ... peanut.  I loved it, but didn't order it, too disgruntled at the slow drink service and prices.

Food

But we were (mostly) there for the food right?

Overall, everything was well conceived, decently executed, and well presented, but really failed to impress me.
Menu.
The menu is broken into 5 sections: Snacks, Freshly Baked Breads, Small Plates, For the Table, and Sides.

Everything is designed to be shared, and arrives as it is ready, a fact that the staff told us several times, warning us that things might not come in the order we expected.  Which was basically true, our main dish showing up halfway through the small plates, the bread coming last.

Small Plates

The largest section of the menu is small plates, about 15 choices in all.  These were the dishes that sounded the best to me, and luckily my fellow diners agreed, so we focused on order on this section.

We skipped the "Snacks" section (even smaller bites than "Small Plates"), but, I was certainly tempted by the bacon wrapped dates or the bbq crispy pigs ears.  Still, I was happy with our selections, we ordered nearly every small plate I wanted to try, 
SPICY OX CHEEK DOUGHNUT. £12.
"Apricot jam, smoked paprika sugar."

Ok, ox cheek may not be something I generally get excited about, but a savory doughnut sounded pretty awesome.  Plus, reviews rave about this.

It was a giant (seriously, huge) donut hole.  I tried to describe it to my fellow diners before we ordered, assuring them that one would be fine for our group of 5, but "donut hole" and "shareable" are hard to reconcile.  It was indeed easily sharable, and really, quite impressive when it was set down in front of us.

The doughnut itself was coated in paprika sugar.  I loved the flavor in that coating.  It was crispy on the outside, sorta doughy on the inside, but I didn't actually like the doughnut that much.
SPICY OX CHEEK DOUGHNUT: Inside.
And stuffed inside it?  The shredded ox cheek.  This was good, fine, savory.  Pulled pork would probably be more of a crowd pleaser, but I like that they did something different.

The sauce was a sweet apricot jam, like the exterior sugar, very sweet.  Too sweet for me.

Definitely an interesting dish, and I like the idea of it, and the sweet and savory combo, but, I didn't care for this.  One diner liked this, the others lacked enthusiasm but ate it.  Not in anyone's top three.
ANGUS BEEF TARTARE. £11.
"Pickled onion, mustard, marmite egg yolk & dripping croutes."

Next up was tartare, which I actually skipped, as I don't generally care for tartare, and I was still awaiting my drink ...

No one rated this a favorite either.
FOIE GRAS CRÈME BRÛLÉE. £13.
"Pork crackling & marmalade brioche."

Ok, now we were getting somewhere.  Was this the reason we were there?  Well, maybe.

You know how much I love foie gras and creme brulee, so, this was entirely up my alley.  Add in a pork crackling coated brioche (!), and clearly, I had to get it.

The creme brulee was perfection in terms of execution.  Super crispy top, very creamy.  Great caramelization on the brulee top.  They nailed this aspect of it.

The brioche was warm, soft sweet, decent enough.  The pork cracklings were on top of this, which gave it some crunch.

As much as this was executed well, it didn't wow me.  The foie flavor wasn't that great, and really, I had much, much better foie gras at Frenchie the night before (stay tuned!).

It was the favorite for one diner, third for another.
CELERIAC CARBONARA. £13.
"Pancetta cream, truffle rapeseed oil, confit duck yolk."

Next, there play on a carbonara, with shredded celeriac instead of noodles (channeling the ever trendy zoodles).

I didn't really taste the pancetta cream, but the truffle flavor was strong and good.  The confit duck yolk yielded appropriate food porn when it was cut into.

But overall, another meh for me.  One diner rated it their favorite.
'NDUJA SEARED OCTOPUS. £12.
"Whipped yellow lentils, fennel, green sauce."

Now we were getting to one that I was excited about.  I adore seared octopus, and please, who doesn't love 'nduja?

The presentation was great, topped with shaved fennel.

But ... the octopus lacked any of the smoky flavor I was hoping for.  The lentils kinda took over, and I don't like lentils.  And I'm not sure where the 'nduja was hiding.

It was the favorite of one diner though.

Freshly Baked Breads

I knew that Duck & Waffle specializes in fresh breads (not standard breads at all), so I insisted we get one of these.  There were many fantastic options, like a 'nduja & gruyere one (!), but, we went for my top pick, the cornbread.

We were warned when we ordered that this would take a while to prepare, and come "out of order", so we weren't surprised when our bread was the last item to arrive.
MAPLE GLAZED CORNBREAD, HARISSA YOGHURT. £7.
Like most dishes, the presentation was great, served in a hot cast iron skillet, on a wooden board.

A very hot cast iron skillet.  We had to be very careful serving this and passing it around.  I don't think a restaurant in the US would dare serve something like this, as I'm sure someone would burn themselves and sue.

The cornbread was great.  It wasn't anything like traditional cornbread though, it was really moist, filled with herbs, and full kernels of corn.  I loved the maple glaze, the maple flavor was strong, and it was nicely sweet.

The harissa yoghurt was on top, along with a few slices of jalapeno, but I mostly avoided it, choosing to enjoy the sweetness.  I think it would have been amazing with maple butter or something instead ...

Still, one of the better dishes.

For the Table

From the main dish section, "For the Table", we only got one item: the signature duck & waffle, but other choices were more pedestrian crowd pleasers: whole roasted chicken, whole roasted sea bass, bone-in rib-eye, uh, rabbit, and a vegetarian ravioli.

All designed to be shared, obviously.

We skipped the side dishes, just a salad or roast sweet potato.
DUCK & WAFFLE. £18.
"Crispy leg confit, fried duck egg, mustard maple syrup."

I've never really cared for duck.  I don't like eggs.  I had little hope for the waffle.  I figured this was mostly a gimmick, a play on chicken and waffles, and, well, people love fun concepts.

It turned out to be really good.  We very, very quickly ordered another.

I wish I had a better photo so you could see the full dish composition, but, there was a half a waffle, topped with a duck leg, topped with the fried egg, with a little pitcher of mustard maple syrup on the side.

The waffle wasn't particularly good, just a crispy waffle, no real distinct flavor, certainly not buttermilk.  But fine for a generic waffle.  I didn't try the egg, but, it did look nicely prepared.

But the duck.  Wow.  It was very, very, very good.  The best duck I've ever had, no question.  It was crazy crispy, so flavorful.  I have no idea how they prepared it, but, wow, it changed my view on duck entirely.

This was my and one other's favorite dish, and the second pick of another.

Desserts

I had high hopes for the desserts.

I'm a dessert girl in general obviously, but the dessert lineup in particular sounded fantastic.

However, of my group of 5, we had one person who wanted to abstain from dessert, one who wanted to order a personal dessert rather than share, and then two others who were willing to share with me, but wanted different items than I did. 

The other two wanted the exact same two items, and one of the desserts they wanted was explicitly very large, noting that it served two on the menu.  Hmmm.  And they didn't really want my top choice.

I begrudgingly agreed to get their two (one of which was my third choice), but also still got my top choice, leaving out my second choice (baked Alaska).  I knew that ordering 3 desserts (which the menu said would be for 4+)when there was only 3 of us who wanted it might be risky (only because I always feel compelled to polish off all the desserts), but, I was so unsatisfied I couldn't give up on ordering the one I wanted.
SALTED CARAMEL CHOUX BUN. £10.
"Smoked hazelnut cream."

First up was the one that the other two wanted, that I really could care less about.  I don't ever like choux pastry.

The choux was incredibly dark, something everyone commented on.  I guess this was the caramel?  For me it was still just choux, and not my thing.  It was topped with cream and shards of something.

On the side was hazelnut cream and hazelnuts.  The cream was very sweet and didn't taste smoky in any way.

It looked good presentation wise, but none of us liked this.
WHITE CHOCOLATE AND CHESTNUT MOUSSE. £9.
"Vanilla shortbread, clementine sorbet." 

Next, my pick, because I was a bit obsessed with chestnut since my time in Japan, chestnut mousse.

This was not what I was expecting, at all.  Where was the chestnut mousse? (A: hiding behind this all).  But again, a nice presentation.

The very base of the plate did have a chestnut paste, very flavorful and tasty, and it met my needs for chestnut.

But everything else ... meh.  The vanilla shortbread was an interesting texture, somehow very crispy and airy at the same time, but cookie/biscuits aren't really high on my list.  On top was clementine sorbet, and, well, I don't like sorbet.  The jelly cubes also seemed to be citrus, presumably clementine.

For a dish called "white chocolate and chestnut mousse", I was disappointed by how much of it was shortbread and sorbet, as those were really not what I was going for.  Overall, it was fine, but not great, not really what I wanted.

I was very glad we got the torrejas.
TORREJAS (Serves Two). £16.
"Maple caramel apples, cinnamon ice cream."

Next, my third choice, the torrejas.  This turned out to be the crowd favorite, and, my favorite too.

Compared to the others, it looked like a rustic mess.

Served in a square cast iron skillet, hot and fresh.  Two huge slices of french toast, a scoop of cinnamon ice cream, and some cooked apples sticking out awkwardly.  They weren't wining any presentation points on this one, but, it was the best tasting dessert we had, so, who cares.

The star was the french toast, super thick slices, really well caramelized (although borderline burnt).  It was super crispy, yet fluffy inside.  Warm and satisfying.

The cinnamon ice cream was pretty standard, creamy enough, and it melted in well.  The apples were decently cooked, slightly sweet.

Definitely a huge portion, and a bit hard for us to finish, but it was everyone's top pick for dessert, including the person who wasn't sharing with us, who went in for some of this too.
Duck & Waffle Local Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, June 18, 2018

Private Event @ Osha Lounge

I've long lamented the lack of great thai cuisine in San Francisco, which is not to say we don't have a lot of options, at all levels of the price spectrum, but, compared to the incredible thai food I've had in Sydney, I just can't find myself really that enthusiastic about options in San Francisco.

When you mention thai food in San Francisco, one of the very first places that people will mention is Osha, a small chain, with several concepts, including full service restaurants (in upscale or tenderloin locations), an "Express" version (in a food court), and a more recently rebranded and modified northeaster thai restaurant (Lao Table, which I've reviewed before).  They also used to have a fast concept place, After Osha, where I used to love trying desserts, but it sadly has closed.

I've visited different Osha restaurants many times over the years, and always found it to be reliably decent, just, not rave-worthy.

But now I have a reason to rave.  They do an amazing job with private events in their space at the Embarcadero location.  I do not hesitate to enthusiastically endorse it.

They really delivered on all fronts: a beautiful space, good food, incredibly reasonably priced, and ridiculously easy to work with.  They made organizing a large event remarkably easy, and I can't wait to work with them again in the future.
Thai Feast!
Everything we had was good.  Very solid execution of classic thai dishes.  Nothing mind blowing, but all good, and, particularly if you consider this was buffet style for a large group.

I highly recommend for large group private events, no caveats at all.

Setting

The location we picked as in their Embarcadero Center location, in the private lounge.
Private Entrance.
There are two private entrances to the space, one from inside 4 Embarcadero Center, one from the walkway near the front of the restaurant.

Signage was placed out saying that the lounge was reserved for a private event, and they even made a sign with our logo on it -- which I didn't even provide!
Lounge Seating.
One large area was all couches and comfortable seating, with lots of low tables.  Very comfortable for group conversations.
Fun Seating.
Another area had ... this.

I'm not sure if this was practical, but it was a pretty cool piece of furniture, and with the ottomans and side tables, it actually did work out well!
Food Serving Room.
Food was all laid out in the other large room, two different buffets, each serving different items, with lots of space to flow around them.

Drinks

For a drink package I had the option of just beer/wine/soft drinks, or I could add on a bar package for $15 more per person, which I did.  The package included basic well beverages for standard liquor, but I also asked to have a few signature cocktails and mocktails added.  My requests were easily accommodated, at no extra charge.
Private Bar.
Our space had a private bar, with multiple bartenders working.  They worked efficiently, we never had long lines.
Drink Menu.
Our custom printed drink menu had a single offering for sparkling, white, and red wine, and a single beer.  Everyone seemed happy enough with these, even though not much variety.

In addition to the basic soft drinks, I also asked for more interesting non-alcoholic offerings, since we had a number of people who do not drink, plus many who were driving that night.  Classic Thai iced tea was on offer, plus Lychee Iced Tea and a Mango Mojito.

On the cocktail side, they offered up three signature drinks: Thai Smile, Lychee Martini, and Bangkok Mule, plus basics made with vodka, rum, gin, and tequila.
Thai Smile.
"Jack Daniel's Whiskey, Amaretto, Fresh Orange Juice, Cinnamon Stick, and Lemon."

For my first drink, I went for the "Thai Smile".

It was too sweet for me, far too much orange juice, not enough whiskey.  I liked the maraschino cherry in it though.
Lychee Rocks sub Gin. 
"Absolut Vodka, Lychee Juice, Peach Schnapps, and Drop of Grenadine."

Next, I went for the "Lychee Rocks", but, not being a vodka lover, I asked to have it made with gin instead.

This was better, fine, and I liked the huge lychee inside, but, still not a very remarkable cocktail.  Still, I was glad they had signature cocktails available, it made things a bit more fun.

Food

The cocktail package normally comes with 7 items, served buffet style, ranging from appetizers to more substantial noodle and rice dishes.  The lineup covers all standard dietary needs: gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, along with a beef, a chicken, and a seafood option.

I asked to make a couple small tweaks, substituting pad se ew for the pad thai (uh, because I like it more) and crab rangoon for the firecracker prawns (again, uh, cuz I like it more), and these requests were easily accommodated, free of charge.

In addition, since our group was large, we were able to include dessert, complimentary.

I was really pleased with the food lineup, everything was hot and fresh, items were replenished constantly, and the signage was extremely clear for dietary needs.

Service was also excellent, dishes were cleared out of the way as soon as people set them down, and when the event was winding down, we were even offered boxes and doggie bags to pack up whatever leftover food remained.

Appetizers

Our buffet started with several appetizers.  The standard package included one seafood, two veggie, and one beef appetizer.  I subbed out the seafood one for a different seafood one.  Osha has a ton of starters on the regular menu, and I suspect I could have changed out more of these if I wanted.
Dungeness Crab Wontons.
"Crispy wonton filled with Dungeness crab meat, cream cheese, water chestnuts, onion, carrot served with plum dipping sauce."

The cocktail menu normally came with simple grilled firecracker prawns, but, when looking at the restaurant appetizer menu I saw bacon wrapped scallops and crab wontons, and asked if we could have those instead.  The bacon wrapped scallops were available for an additional fee, but, the crab wontons were a free of charge substitution, so I went with that.  Why?  Well, I like crab?

The wontons were fine, nicely crispy, and generously filled.  I didn't really taste crab though, mostly just cream cheese with some kind of other flavors.   I was sad to not really taste the crab, but they weren't bad exactly.  I almost had a second one, but didn't, so, I guess that is saying something?
Vegetarian Thai Samosa.
"Potato, carrot, curry and onion in a pot sticker wrapper."

A thai samosa?  What is that exactly?  I don't know, but these were surprisingly good.  I almost didn't try one, and didn't have one until my final round through the savory buffet (after I had moved on to dessert even!).  These are a signature item, from the regular appetizer menu.

The filling was very familiar; yes, it was a samosa, with potato, carrots, and onion, curry spices.  Warm, soft, comforting filling.

But the wrapper?  Not a standard Indian samosa wrapper, but instead, a kinda flaky pot sticker wrapper.  Yeah, what?  I know, they were different.  But very good.

The size of each was quite large, larger than an Indian samosa, and they were loaded with filling.  Not a dainty bite, particularly as they were fried.

My favorite of the appetizers, and I gladly took extras home with me, and they reheated easily.
Vegetarian Gyo-Za.
"Pot sticker wrapped with minced vegetables."

The final fried appetizer was gyoza, an item on the Happy Hour menu, but not on the regular restaurant menu.  I almost subbed it out for spring rolls (fresh or crispy), and rather wish I had opted for the fresh rolls, so we could have a non-fried item.

This was my least favorite of the appetizers, fairly greasy, the filling just minced veggies, none of which stood out.
Sauces.
On the side was two sauces, I think one was the plum sauce for the rangoon, and the other the dipping sauce for gyoza.  Neither were labelled, a bit odd given how well labelled everything else was.  And neither had spoons to serve, again, a bit odd given how well everything else was done.

I did ask a server for spoons, and they were quickly fetched.
Kobe Mini Burgers.
"Kobe beef sliders served with Asian slaw."

The sliders did surprise me.  The menu said "kobe mini burgers", and I expected sliders more like burgers.  Not that burgers are thai style at all, but, that is more what I thought they would be.  These are not part of the regular menu.

I didn't end up trying one of these, I was somewhat saving it for round ... 4 or 5 after I had the dishes I wanted more, but when I went back finally, they were gone.  Doh.  The only item we ran out of, otherwise, quantities were great.

The rolls did look like generic soft buns, but the pulled beef did look saucy and flavorful.  Next time, I'll be sure to get one!
Fresh Spring Rolls with Shrimp (Gluten-Free).
"Shrimp, lettuce, mint wrapped in fresh rice paper and homemade peanut dipping sauce."

These weren't served at my event, but, at another event I attended at Osha (along with the crab rangoons and the dreamy thai samosas).  Also on the regular menu.

They were good, fresh spring rolls.  The lettuce was very fresh and not wilted in any way.  The rice paper was soft and not dried out nor too soggy.  Clearly very freshly made.

I really liked the peanut sauce, but wished there was extra served on the side.

Salad, Noodles, Rice

Our menu was rounded out by a salad dish, a noodle dish, and a rice dish.  The noodle dish I changed from the original menu, but only slightly.  All of these dishes come from the regular restaurant menu.

No curries were offered as part of the standard lineup, which surprised me a bit as they seem particularly buffet friendly, but perhaps less easy to eat while standing and walking around.

These items were all well executed, very standard, decent versions of classic Thai dishes.
Chieng Mai Larb (Gluten-Free).
"Famous northern-style chicken larb lettuce tossed with aromatic herb and onion served with Artisan romaine."

I don't like chicken, so I skipped the larb, served with really nice looking large romaine lettuce leaves.

While this wasn't for me, I appreciated that the standard lineup had something gluten-free and low carb for those members of my party who preferred this.
Vegan Pad Se Ew.
"Rice noodle stir-fried with broccoli, black soybean sauce."

I switched in pad se ew for the pad thai from the standard cocktail party menu.  I wouldn't normally opt for it to be vegan, but, this is what was suggested to handle the most dietary constraints, and I didn't really mind.  And why pad se ew?  Well, I like it more.  The special event coordinator admitted that it actually works better in buffet steam trays too, but they have pad thai on the standard offering as it is more of a crowd pleaser.

It was, well, classic pad se ew.  Large, thick rice noodles, chunks of broccoli (not asian broccoli though), and cubes of tofu, in a black bean sauce.  The noodles were not clumped together, not mushy.  The broccoli wasn't too mushy, nor too crisp.  Flavor was mild.

Overall, solid, decent pad se ew.
Pineapple Fried Rice.
"Fried rice with egg, tomato, onion, green onion, cashew nuts, raisins, pineapple, chicken and prawns."

Fried rice isn't really my type of dish, and I didn't have any interest in the chicken nor prawns in it, but, I could appreciate it for being totally loaded up with goodies.  There were so many things packed in, all generously distributed.

I did try a small serving, mostly for the cashews and raisins, and it was good.  The rice wasn't clumpy, there was plenty of flavor, and I liked the textural elements of the crunchy nuts and the sweet plump raisins.
Crab Pad Thai.
"Rice stick noodles stir-fried with chicken, egg, bean sprouts, chives, tofu, and ground peanut served with fresh lime."

One diner had a number of food limitations (no onion, garlic, or gluten), and was able to order off the main menu, since the buffet items all contained at least one of these things.

He selected the pad thai, crab version.

The serving was ... massive.  So he shared with me.

It was my favorite dish of the night.  The base was fairly standard pad thai - rice noodles, sorta sweet sauce, decently cooked,  bits of peanut.  But on top ... that was tons and tons of stir fried crab.  Wow.  The dish carried a $5 premium for the crab, but, they really did give you your money's worth.  I liked it quite a bit, and would have loved just a big plate of stir fried crab!

Served with fresh juicy bean sprouts, a lime wedge, and, uh, a flower.

Dessert

Desserts are normally an add-on of $5 per person, but, given our group size, complimentary.  The more exciting Osha desserts, like the shaved ice creations, tempura ice cream, fried bananas and ice cream, and warm chocolate souffle are not really suitable for large banquets, so, our options here were limited.
French Macaroons.
The package included macaroons.  I ... don't like macaroons.  But others seemed happy with these, easy to grab, and in assorted colors and flavors.

Uh, not so Thai though, really, a bit random, and not part of Osha's regular menu.
Mango Sticky Rice.
"Sweet sticky rice served with mango topped with coconut cream."

Mango sticky rice is obviously *the* dessert of choice at a Thai restaurant, so I was happy they also offered this for our group.

Served appropriately formatted for a cocktail reception, in cute little glass parfait cups, sticky rice on the bottom, cubed mango on top, garnish of sesame seeds.

I've had Osha's mango sticky rice before, and it is always pretty good.  This was no different.  The sticky rice was, well, sticky.  Coated in not too sweet sweetened coconut milk.  Those elements I really liked.  The mango though, eh, mango in the US just isn't great, not very flavorful, not very juicy.  Not Osha's fault, but not great.

Overall though, I still liked this, and gladly downed, uh, 3 of them.  They were small, really.
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