Thursday, July 11, 2019

Soft Swerve, NYC

Update Review, July 2019

My trip to New York *started* with Soft Swerve.  I have #priorities.

Literally, landed at 8:20pm, spent waaaaay too long in horrible traffic getting to hotel, checked in at 10pm.  10pm!  I was grumpy, I was confused about what to eat (too late for big dinner in this time zone, had been munching nontstop on the flight, etc), and soft serve ice cream was all I could think about.  Luckily for me, I knew Soft Swerve was a 14 minute walk from my hotel (or, 11 minutes, as I did it in a all-out power walk).  I literally checked in at the hotel, dropped my bags, and left, immediately.

11 minutes, plus a minute to wait for the one guest in front of me, and that was all it took for me to be instantly transported out of my funk.  Soft Swerve is just *so* good.

And pretty much exactly the same as my last visit.  Really friendly service.  Offers to try the flavors without me asking.

I did try the macapuno again, to give it another shot, and again didn't care for it.  The coconut flavor just isn't for me, although I think it likely is great with the ube, and you can swirl them.  I also tried the black sesame again, and did like it, the nutty nature was pleasant again, but ... this time, I went straight for the ube.  No need to mix it up here, I knew I had a winner.
My Creation: Halo Halo Toppings (base), Ube Soft Serve, Condensed Milk Drizzle, Rainbow Sprinkles, Mochi.
This was near identical to what I got last time.

Halo halo toppings in the bottom.  This time, ube soft serve only (the black sesame was good, but, I wanted #allTheUbe).  Same condensed milk drizzle and rainbow sprinkles on top, and this time, I added mochi was well.  They were nicely arranged around the edge.

The ube soft serve was as magical as ever.  Perfect consistency.  Soooo purple.  Lovely ube flavor.  Just, fantastic.  

The mochi was soft and a nice compliment, and the sprinkles were just for fun, but I loved them.  I wish I had left off the condensed milk this time though, as it made the whole thing just too sweet, particularly with the mostly sweet toppings in the base.  I think the black sesame was a more bitter flavor, and so that actually helped last time.

The halo halo toppings seemed to be a slightly different mix this time, but still included soft sweet red bean mash that I appreciated, you know, for the "protein", nata de coco and assorted jellies that were sweet and slimy and fabulous.  The palm seeds were definitely my favorite.  I'm not sure there was boba in here this time, I didn't find any, but then again, it was dark as I walked back to the hotel devouring it, so I may have just not seen them.

Overall, I was pleased with my creation, although it was kinda pricey.  $5 for the soft serve, $1 for mochi, $1 for halo halo, $0.50 for sprinkles, $0.50 for condensed milk ... $8!

I'd get this again, leaving off the condensed milk and adding something for crunch on top.  Or, if it was a nice warm day, I'd be more than happy with a colorful cone of ube soft serve, with rainbow sprinkles, and nothing more.

I wish I lived in NY.  Seriously.

Original Review, October 2018

OMG. <3. <3 <3 <3.

Yes, that is my summary of Soft Swerve, a Asian influenced soft serve ice cream shop in New York City.  The Yelpers agree, awarding 4.5 stars with nearly 1500 reviews.

It truly is some of the best I've ever had, and the toppings lineup is incredible.  In my "normal" life, I eat ice cream at least ... 5 times a week (often paired with a warm dessert), but when I visit the East Coast, I'm all about the soft serve.  It may be normal to folks who live there, but is a rare thing in San Francisco.

Luckily for me, New York is filled with soft serve, ranging from ice cream trucks everywhere, to fancier artisan places, to those that are all about the Instagram shots or "creative" flavors ... complete very long lines (hello, Big Gay Ice Cream, Dominique Ansel Kitchen, etc.  Of course I've tried those too (sorry, the burrata soft serve that Dominique Ansel I actually just didn't find very good ... it was icy and didn't taste like burrata at all, but the Cheetos soft serve with crumbled Cheetos on top at Big Gay Ice Cream was surprisingly delicious ... in small quantity).

Soft Swerve does create Instagram worthy ice creams (yes, colored cones, yes, a wall with the perfect backdrop for your snaps, etc), but they also don't complicate things too much.  And I've never encountered a line there.  And the ice cream is good.  Really, really good.

I don't know much else about them, not where they source the dairy, etc, etc, but I know this.  100% worth the trek.
On the sidewalk is a chalkboard, I think with messaging that changes regularly.  I giggled when I read this one, but it did set off my "trying to hard" radar (unwarranted, luckily).
Inside more chalkboards present you with your choices, and a step by step guide to ordering (not that it is complicated).

Step 1: Cup, classic cone (red colored, $1 extra), chocolate cone (black, $1 extra).  One size only ($4.50), besides pints.

Step 2: Flavor.  4 choices only: Ube (Purple Yam), Macapuno (Coconut), Matcha (Green Tea), or Black Sesame.  The first two and second two can be swirled, or you can layer 2 flavors.

Step 3: Toppings ($0.50-$1 each).  Many, many toppings, crunchies, drizzles, etc.  More on these soon.

You can also pick one of their pre-designed creations for $5.99.

Over my multiple visits, I tried all the flavors besides the matcha (since I was always visiting later in the day and didn't want caffeine).  All flavors were incredibly creamy.

Coconut is the one flavor I didn't select for my full size creations, although it was creamy, and good soft serve, the flavor wasn't as intense as the others, and I just preferred the ube and black sesame more.
You order right up at the counter, where the toppings and cones are displayed in glass containers, just for looks.
More toppings display.
The toppings lineup is also on the other side of the area, in bigger jars, labelled.  It includes ...

Crunchies: Oreos, Toasted Coconut, Cereal Marshmallows, Cap'n Crunch, Reese's Puffs, Toasted Almonds, Freeze Dried Strawberry, Almond Cookie, Sprinkles, Chocolate Sprinkles, Fruity Pebbles, Skor Toffee, Crushed Nilla Wafers.

Mochie, Halo Halo Toppings

Strawberry, Chocolate, Condensed Milk, Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Pineapple

Pick as many, or few, as you wish.
My Creation: Halo Halo Toppings (base), Black Sesame Soft Serve, Ube Soft Serve, Condensed Milk Drizzle, Rainbow Sprinkles.
For my creation, I went for the ube and black sesame.  Since they weren't on the same machine, I had to layer them.  I appreciated that I was asked which I'd like on top, and went for the ube ... yes, because I thought the purple would be prettier on top.

The black sesame is a wonderful flavor, nutty in a way that reminds me of peanut butter.  I think that a full cup of just that would be too much, but combined with any other flavor it works great.  So creamy and flavorful.

But the ube.  Swoon.  Again, perfectly creamy, and excellent flavor.  Seriously, one of the best ice cream flavors I have ever had in my life.  Anywhere.  I *adore* this ube soft serve.  It is perfection.

On top I drizzled condensed milk for a little sweetness, and it complemented the ube magically.  I added rainbow sprinkles, uh, for fun?  I love sprinkles, and I really appreciated the little bit of crunch and pops of color on top.

The base of the cup however is the most interesting part: Halo Halo.  I didn't realize when I selected it that it would be in the bottom, but, it made sense.  There was tons of this, and it was very fun to dig through and find all the bits.
Palm Seed.
The Halo Halo "topping" was a scoop each of sweetened red bean (actually really good, not mushy!), mochi (soft and pillow-y), nata de coco (slimy, slippery, and flavorful, great flavor alongside the ube), pandan jellies (more fun texture, but not much flavor), boba (good texture, not too firm, not too mushy), and palm fruit seeds.

I loved all these "toppings", on their own, combined, and with the ube soft serve.  It was like the merging of an asian dessert and soft serve of my dreams, and, yes, it was my dreams.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mac's Maple, New Hampshire

Update Review, July 2019

I was only in town for 4 days this summer, and Mac's Maple was only open and serving their maple creamees 2 of those days, but, I made it a priority to visit.  I'm so glad I did.
Ice Cream Window.
It was fun to see the slight evolution of the place, with ice cream taking even more of a center stage (as it should!).

One new change is the ice cream window, where the creamees are served.  Not ordered, but served.  People were fairly confused that you had to go inside the store to order and pay, and then come back to the window to get your ice cream (and tell that person what you had ordered too), but there wasn't really enough space for the machine inside the small store space, so this makes sense.
Maple Kettle Corn - vacuumed sealed and ready to freeze!
Oh, and of course, I stocked up on the amazing maple kettle corn again.  I brought it straight to my parent's house and vacuumed sealed it, and popped it in the freezer to best keep it fresh.  I know now from experience that sealed this way, and frozen, it will last all year, without really degrading in quality.

Maple Creamee, Waffle Cone. $5.
The other new change from last year?  House made waffle cones!

I normally get the kid's cone, regular cone, but ... how do you resist the house made waffle cone?

Now, recall the menu: soft serve made with their own maple syrup (it is a maple farm after all) and milk from McNamara dairy, only maple flavor available.  Only one adult size, very large, for $3.  Kid's size for $2.  Add $0.50 for maple candies (great, but way too sweet for me with the soft serve).  Cup or cake cone.

And now, waffle cones.  $2 more, but also ... HUGE.  This isn't just a cone upgrade, it is a portion upgrade too.  The regular size cone is too big for me (kids size is great), but this was ... even more massive.  Honestly, it was a pint of ice cream.

The ice cream was again lovely.  Very creamy, perfect texture, melted nicely, sweet but not cloying, very real maple flavor.  Quality, quality soft serve, no question.  Go for this alone.  You won't find better maple creamees anywhere around.

The cone though took it up another notch.  Ridiculously good.  I can't say I've had *that* many fresh waffle cones, but wow, this was certainly the best I've ever had.  It shockingly never leaked either.  It was thick, thicker than most waffle cones, crispy and almost caramelized yet softened nicely with the ice cream, and the waffle and maple combination was, well, very breakfast inspired.  I loved it.

This much waffle cone, and this much ice cream though, was way too much.  I came prepared with a travel mug (Timolino brand, they are amazing!), and saved half the ice cream to have after dinner.  It stayed the perfect texture (I did put the mug into the freezer, and it was only about 4 hours, but my mom didn't believe that it would be nearly identical, and I proved her wrong!).

I'd gladly get this again, I'd just be sure to have a smaller lunch next time!

Update Review, Farm Visit, August 2018

I discovered the existence of Mac's Maple soft serve creamees last summer when I visited my family in New Hampshire.  I adored it, but was only able to get in one visit, as I was in town a short time, and the available hours are quite limited.  The farm has a little shop open only on weekends that sells the creamees, or you can find the creamee trailer around town at events (like fairs, and ball games, which is where I sought it out last time, yes, actually going to a ball game not to see the game at all).

When I returned to visit this year, I was determined to get it again, but it was late August, the sports season had ended, leaving weekends only, at the farm, as the only place to get creamees.  I was there for one weekend.  My mom had a big family bbq planned for one day.  Yes, I had exactly one day when they were open, and, even though it was not ice cream weather (cool and stormy), I sought it out.
Charming Sugar Shack!
I'm glad I did.

My visit was to the farm, where I was able to check out the cute shop with assorted other maple inspired and local items for sale, plus, well, get my creamee.

And this time I went prepared, with my own toppings, since I knew they only offered sprinkles.  It was a great success.
The Farm Store.
Located right on the farm, they have a small storefront, mostly a retail location for their maple syrup (as Mac's Maple is a syrup business after all!).

It is quite cute, farm style obviously, a few small tables outside at which to eat your goodies.
Goodies for Sale.
They sell much more than just syrup inside, although, of course, you can get that.
Maple Sugar.
The maple sugar had this before (Santa clearly shopped here when doing stocking stuffers one year).  Basically just maple-y sugar, a bit more fun to use than brown sugar as a topping on oatmeal and the like.  You can also buy larger quantities for use in baking.
Bourbon Maple Syrup.
"100% pure wood fired maple syrup aged in a Bourbon Barrel."

In addition to regular maple syrup, they also make a bourbon maple syrup (aged in a bourbon barrel, it isn't actually made with bourbon).  The packaging, displays, everything about this was adorable.
Bourbon Maple Syrup Samples.
They also had samples of the bourbon maple syrup, and I tried it.  I didn't really taste anything particularly special, but it was sweet and tasty, and my mom enjoyed pouring it over her creamee for even more maple flavor.
Gift Basket.
They also had a large selection of gift baskets, filled with syrups, sugars, t-shirts, and even house made maple cotton candy (which is also for sale separately).
Maple Kettle Corn.
And of course, bags of their maple kettle corn in assorted sizes, which I had picked up from the trailer at the ballgame last time too.  And of course I grabbed a bag of that to take back to my parent's house, vacuum seal, and bring back West with me.
Local Dairy Items.
If you don't recall, Mac's Maple is the sugarhouse associated with the McNamara Dairy, a local dairy farm, so of course they had the milk, chocolate milk, butter, maple butter, and cream available to purchase, along with farm fresh eggs and bottles of water.

I know their milk well, as we sometimes got it as a splurge when I was growing up, particularly the chocolate milk, or, seasonal eggnog.  It is sold at most of the grocery stores in town.
Frozen Products.
The freezer cooler had other cow products ... yup, ground beef, steaks, and kabobs, plus their own smoked applewood maple bacon.

And ... ice cream.  Quarts of vanilla and chocolate hard serve from the McNamara Dairy, but also, packaged creamee pints, although of course the texture would change considerably for soft serve that is packaged and frozen.  Still, better than nothing!

And their incredible sounding Maple Creamee Pie, with waffle cone crust, and optional maple candy topping.  I was a bit sad that they had them, actually, because I had wanted to surprise my mom with one of these some day for Mother's Day (I thought they were a Mother's Day only thing, and had tried to get one to her last year, but couldn't find someone to pick it up for me, as the location isn't exactly convenient, way out on the farm).
Creamee Station.
But we were there for one main reason: creamees!

The creamee machine is located behind the register, with a chalkboard sign listing the offerings.

The options are extremely limited.  

Creamees come in one size only, no option for a kiddie size.  It is a generous serve, so I'm not sure what you'd really do for a child.

You can get it in a cup, a regular cake cone (Joy brand, gluten-free available), or waffle cone ($2 extra).  With maple candy or rainbow sprinkles ($0.50).  And that's it.

I'm surprised Mac's Maple doesn't offer the maple syrup drizzle as a topping option, who wouldn't want more maple flavor?

I came prepared with my own toppings, but was glad to see they had rainbow sprinkles here (the trailer had only the maple candies when I visited before, which were good, but just too sweet for me on the ice cream).
Maple Creamee Dish. $3.
My mother went simple.  A creamee, in a dish.

Of course, she knew I brought toppings to add, and opted for some of the crushed walnuts I brought along, and drizzled hers with her bourbon maple syrup sample, creating quite a nice little sundae for herself.  She enjoyed it very much, saying it really just was the best maple soft serve she's ever had, the best soft serve in general in town, but not somewhere she can easily stop by, so, Dairy Twirl remains her regular place.

The $3 price is entirely reasonable for a large serve, of ice cream made with quality dairy from their own creamery, and real maple syrup, when everywhere else in town carries "maple" flavored soft serve, made with fake syrups and powders, not the real thing, and generic dairy base.
Maple Creamee Cone, with Rainbow Sprinkles. $3.50.
I opted for cone (soft serve is all about the licking experience for me!), with rainbow sprinkles, even though I had more toppings to add.  I love my rainbow sprinkles for color and texture.

The soft serve was very good, a tiny bit softer than you'd necessarily want, but given that it wasn't hot, this was fine, and it did not melt too quickly.  Very creamy, clearly quality rich base, and more maple flavored than any other soft serve maple I've ever had, because, well, it uses real syrup rather than sugar and artificial flavors.  The difference is very obvious.  This is very good soft serve.

The sprinkle application left something to be desired, I thought because it was a bit soft they were worried to roll it in the sprinkles, and just spooned it on, kinda sorta covering some of the cone.  I was pleased with the sprinkle quality, they weren't waxy as I've been finding Dairy Twirl's lately, but they weren't particularly special.

But I had more toppings to add.
Maple Creamee with chopped walnuts, fake bacon bits, rainbow sprinkles.
When I had Mac's Maple the first time, I wrote in my notes that I'd love to try it with crushed walnuts as a coating rather than the maple candies, and so I came prepared, with my own crushed toasted walnuts and candied walnuts.  Oh, and fake bacon bits.  Maple pecan, maple bacon, these are things others go for right?

The walnuts were a nice touch, adding the texture I wanted, and even better on my mom's sundae with her drizzle of syrup.  I suggested to Mac's Maple that they add walnuts to the topping lineup, but they didn't really want to go near nut allergies, which I can understand.  If you like maple walnut, bring your own nuts!

I also added bacon bits.  Fake bacon bits.  Because, well, I'm silly?  Maple bacon, sure, that is a thing, but I didn't think real bacon bits would work well, as they are soft.  I wanted the crunch of those fake bacon bits.  They too were a fun topping, and I appreciated the salt level they added, and definitely the crunch.  The texture, and salt level, were perfect.  The flavor was ... fine, but not really something I'd do again, although I more blame the brand of "bacon" bits I had than the concept.

So altogether, I had fun adding my toppings, appreciated the crunchy things, but the rainbow sprinkles really would have been fine.  I'm glad they carry those now.

Original Review, Creamee Truck, 2017

Bear with me for some story time.

I grew up in New Hampshire, in a fairly rural area.  There was a dairy in town, that still sold milk in glass bottles at the supermarkets.  But it was far more expensive than the regular milk, so it was something we only splurged on from time to time.  Like when my mom REALLY wanted the chocolate milk, or eggnog, both which are amazing.  And then we had to deal with bottle returns, which always seemed complicated.  Those are my memories from childhood of the dairy.

Anyway, that dairy, McNamara Dairy, is a place I've been aware of most of my life, really.  It is located on the outskirts of town, down the street from the farm where we always went strawberry picking.  I've mentioned it before, like when I had eggnog whipped cream on my bread pudding at Lou's one time and it was made with McNamara Dairy eggnog, or when I reviewed my amazing experience at Home Hill Inn, which was located right down the street as well, and sourced all their dairy there as well.  But it wasn't a staple of my life.

Associated with the dairy is a sugarhouse, Mac's Maple.  My godfather makes his own syrup, so, we never got maple syrup from elsewhere, although I tried the syrup from Mac's Maple when I went to brunch at Home Hill Inn as well.  They also make maple sugar candy, so I'm pretty sure some of that must have shown up in my Christmas stocking at some point, I just don't recall.

So where is this all going?  To a great discovery I made in July 2017.  The maple creamee.

I'll back up a bit to admit that I did not know what a creamee was.  Urban Dictionary tells me this is what Vermonters call their soft serve ice cream.  I grew up in New Hampshire, not Vermont, but we are *right* on the state line.  I spent a lot of time in Vermont.  I've eaten an insane amount of soft serve ice cream.  I had never heard this term until about a year or so ago.

A maple creamee, then, is a soft serve ice cream, made with maple syrup instead of sugar.  And during the summer, McNamara Dairy and Mac's Maple combine forces to make it.  Yes, soft serve, made with local premium dairy and maple syrup.
Maple Creamee Experience!
As a soft serve lover, this sounded, well, amazing.  I honestly do not understand how it had not crossed my radar before.

The soft serve is sold at the dairy farm on weekends only, at a little stand they run, from 10am-5pm on Saturday, 12pm-5pm on Sunday.  My mother, who loves ice cream perhaps even more than me, did not know this.  She says they really have not publicized it at all.  I have no idea how long they have been offering it.  The stand also offers many other maple products, including the syrup of course.

Once I discovered the existence of this amazing creation, I had to seek it out.  The only problem?  I couldn't go during those limited hours on weekends.  I reached out to Mac's Maple on Facebook (not *really* expecting a response), to find out that they also have a mobile ice cream trailer that they bring to local baseball games.  And there was one that night.  Bingo.

I immediately told my mom we needed to go.  To White River Junction Vermont, to, uh, go see our local baseball team play.  It would cost $5 to get in, but, maybe we could tell them we were just there for ice cream?

We ate a rushed dinner, hoped in the car, and headed to the game.  We didn't regret a thing.
Side of the Ice Cream Trailer.
I spotted the ice cream trailer the moment we pulled into the parking lot.  It was adorable.  It looked like a mini maple sugar shack!  It had signs for both Mac's Maple and McNamara Dairy painted on, and beautiful artwork on the back side.

They even had little trees set up around the trailer hitch.
Ice Cream Trailer!
The front side featured the ordering window and pick-up window.

Seriously, how cute is this thing?  Look at the roof!  It has a smokestack!

The menu is pretty simple: all the maple products!  The only variety of soft serve ice cream, er, creamee, that they sell is maple.  They also sell maple candy, maple kettle corn (!), and maple cotton candy, plus that aforementioned amazing chocolate milk.
Maple Creamee + Maple Candy "Sprinkles".  $3.00 + $0.50.
Soft serve is available in a cup, cone, or sugar cone.  I went for regular cone, as I have a very strong belief that soft serve should basically only be eaten from a cone.  My mom choose a dish.

The ice cream comes in one size only.  It was ... really quite generous.  It was more than I wanted actually, I would have loved a half-size, kiddie cone, whatever you want to call it, but, alas, no choices.  It was large, but very well twirled.  There was absolutely no hollow part in the center.

The soft serve was great.  Very creamy, very smooth.  It melted perfectly in the setting sun.  The maple flavor was intense, certainly sweet, but not too overpowering.  Far better than any other maple flavor ice cream I've ever had, which makes sense, as this was real syrup, and normally they use flavored stuff.

You can add what they dub "maple sugar sprinkles" to your creamee, which I did, mostly out of curiosity.  I love sprinkles, so, why not maple sugar ones?  I didn't quite know what to expect.

The answer was little bits of maple sugar candy.  Now, these were good.  Intensely sweet maple candy.  And this is a fun idea.  But ... it was way too sweet for me with the maple ice cream.  I sadly ended up knocking them off my cone.  I think these would be incredible with vanilla ice cream.

Overall, this was wonderful.  High quality soft serve, perfectly creamy and melty, great flavor, generous size.  It was fine without the maple candy sprinkles, but I think it would have been awesome with bits of walnuts instead (hello, Maple Walnut is a popular flavor for a reason!)

I'd gladly get it again, although I'd like to split with someone, and, uh, bring my own nuts?

(Suggestions to business owner: offer walnuts as a topping! And maybe vanilla, I really think it would be amazing with the maple candy sprinkles, or for those who want something a bit less sweet and want a swirl ...)
Maple Kettle Corn (small).
"Beautiful maple kettle corn, made fresh for you!"

It is no secret that I'm obsessed with popcorn.  There is a reason, just like ice cream, I have a whole label on my blog devoted to it.  I eat more of this than ice cream, probably.  Some kind of popcorn, sweet or savory, is part of my daily snack line up.  I have opinions on popcorn.

I couldn't resist grabbing a bag of the maple kettle corn alongside my ice cream.  I *did* manage to make it all the way home before opening the (sealed) bag, which is probably a good thing, because I would have turned right back around and grabbed the family size bag too.

This was very good popcorn.

The popcorn itself was light, airy, well popped.  No duds in the bag (although, to be honest, I do like the duds too!).  The kernels were well coated.  There was some variation in the coating levels, just enough to make it impossible to stop eating, in the "oh, i just want one more perfectly coated one" sense, but all had plenty of coating.

That coating was maple flavored, sweet, beautiful flavor.  Such an extra dimension over regular kettle corn made with white sugar.  I imagine they make this with their maple sugar.  There was a slight saltiness to offset it.  Personally, I prefer a bit more salt, but, still, this was great.

Overall, wonderful, and one of very few popcorns I enjoyed just eating out of the bag at room temperature ... normally I freeze my popcorn to make it extra crunchy, and that was not needed here at all.

I'll clearly gladly consume more of this!

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Double Chin, Boston

Double Chin is an Asian fusion restaurant in Boston, on the edge of Chinatown, owned by the Chin family (who own several establishments on the street).
"We specialize in Chinese dishes with modern twists—Asian Fusion done right. Here you can find innovative salads and sandwiches but also glorified comfort food classics. "
It gets mediocre reviews, and seems mostly known for a few very Instagram worthy signature dishes, both sweet and savory.  Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just dessert, and open super late (4am!).

The menu really drew me in, regardless of the lack of glowing reviews.
Spam and Taro Fries?!
The front of the restaurant is plastered in menus with photos, and articles about their goods.  They clearly set out to draw you in. Which worked, on me.
And so in I went.  6pm on a Tuesday night, and the restaurant was nearly empty, at least, void of customers.  Uh-oh.

It wasn't empty though - there was a lot crammed into the space.  Like, um, a porch swing.  It felt crowded, even though there was only one occupied table.  Something just felt kinda tacky to me.
The tables were clean though, nothing was dirty, but the crowded, cluttered nature left it feeling unclean, in a strange way.

It didn't help that one table was clearly just used by the staff to put down their own person drinks.
Bathroom Stall.
I always say I don't post about bathrooms unless they are interesting, but, this one was interesting!  The stall was filled with what looked like magazine pages, filled with recipes of Asian cuisine.

I can safely say, I've never seen this before.


So, yeah, the menu.  Yes, it drew me in.  Fascinating items like peking duck fries, lobster rangoon, mac and cheese made with wide Chinese rice noodles, waffle fries poutine topped with "kimcheese" ... and don't even get me started on the shaved ice creations, ridiculous mounds of cube toast, and other extremely photographic desserts.  I think many people visit just for dessert.
Spam and Taro Fries. $8.
But I wanted, yes, the signature, totally ridiculous, spam and taro fries.  If you dine-in, they come served in an actual Spam container, standing up, but I got mine to go.

I dug in ... immediately.

Unlike many people, I actually ordered this for the taro fries, more than for the Spam.  I planned to try the Spam fries of course, but I was really excited for the taro fries.

The taro fries let me down.  They ... weren't crispy at all.  Just, soggy kinda, but hard too (although soft inside).  I tried several, I tried dunking them in things, but the texture was just ... wrong.  Honestly, they seemed like they had been cooked way in advance, and warmed up in a microwave or something.  I couldn't get myself to like them, as much as I wanted to.

But the spam fries?  Well, they were ... delicious.  Fried, super greasy, totally unhealthy, porky, salty ... and somehow apparently exactly what I wanted, even if I didn't realize it.  Best dunked in the provided sauces, but I think they'd be great chopped up on a salad or something too.

I wouldn't get this again, but I did really enjoy those spam fries.
Sriracha Aioli.
The fries come served with two dipping sauces, sriracha aioli, and classic Kewpie mayo.  I opened my bag to see only the former.  I turned *right* back around (I literally hadn't even made it out the front door) and asked for my Kewpie mayo.  The staff were friendly, apologized, and quickly filled a container for me. 

The Kewpie mayo I loved for its simplicity and, well, it just is killer mayo.  If you've had it before, you know what I mean.  The spam dunked in it was a nice pairing, greasy/salty/porky with a simple creamy/fatty dip ... it worked.  The taro fries didn't go as well, they wanted something more flavorful to pair.

Like, the sriracha aioli.  It had some slight heat, was perfectly creamy, and went better with the taro fries (although it couldn't save them), and it went well with the spam too.

I really liked both sauces, and I'm not sure which I preferred with the spam.

Double Chin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato