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Posts Tagged ‘NJ’

Dynasty is easy to spot on Route-22 thanks to its tall sign with lobsters on it and the stone lions guarding the doors. The best to go is right when the restaurant opens at 11am to get a table for dimsum on the weekend, because this is a popular dimsum place with long waiting lines during peak hours. Newly renovated a couple of years ago, it now has a bar and a nicer, slightly more open dining area. Gone (unfortunately) are the big fish tanks by the door and the paper parasols that used to decorate the ceiling, but now part of the kitchen is visible through glass, which adds some entertainment value.

Carts are pushed around the dining area, but also sometimes waiters with trays of dishes will pass by. Service is usually quick, though during peak times it can be hard to get immediate attention. But the dishes are excellent. There’s hot and tender taro cake, plump chive dumplings, steaming and fragrant lotus rice, tender tripe, and those long steamed noodles wrapped around shrimp and basted with soy sauce. When we accidentally ordered a dish, thinking it was something else, they immediately took it back and crossed it off our bill without blinking. There’s a good variety of foods and they’re always hot and fresh.

100 U.S. 22  Green Brook, NJ 08812, USA

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Coppola’s will forever be Villascotta’s in my mind, the pizzeria at the end of a small strip mall where teams went after soccer matches to get tall sodas and huge pizzas dripping with oil and hot cheese. It’s busy for lunch and busy for dinner, even when the tiny town had one or two other pizzerias. Villascotta’s had the pizza to which all other pizzas were compared. But times change, and the pizzeria expanded and morphed into Coppola’s – pizzeria on one side, and nice sit-down Italian restaurant on the other side that’s often used for high school graduation dinners or a nice dinner out. It was a good renovation.

My husband is puzzled as to why I like NJ pizza so much. It’s not gourmet pizza, so what’s the big deal? I answer thusly: A good pizza is a combination of many factors. Coppola’s crust is thin, chewy, and firm and still soft enough to chew. The crust is never greasy or burned or soggy. The sauce is tasty, of the right quantity, and is spread to a good part of the crust. Next comes just the right amount of flavorful cheese, then generous toppings. When it comes out of the oven, the cheese is hot and stringy and the huge slices have to be at least half folded to keep the cheese from sliding off. Some pat their slices with paper napkins, or fold their slices completely in half to create a calzone, but I say that the oils are meant to be savored and if I wanted a calzone, I’d have ordered one.

And that is why NJ has the best pizzeria pizza.

590 Central Avenue, New Providence, NJ 07974, USA

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One for the Money; B-

Upon learning that I hail from New Jersey, one of my Canadian friends has confessed that everything she (thinks she) knows about the Garden State has come from watching Jersey Shore and reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum book series. We might as well throw in the Sopranos as well. (disclaimer – I know of Jersey Shore and the Sopranos by reputation only)

I wasn’t born in New Jersey, but I have spent, off and on, about seventeen years there. I don’t think I’ve ever developed a regional accent, much to my dismay (I’ve love to have a regional accent). Apparently when I first moved there at age six, I quickly assume my first grade teacher’s thick accent, and was saying things like “dawg” and “cawfee” to my parents’ amusement. After a few weeks, it evened out with my birth Midwestern accent, and now I think I have mostly a generic East Coast accent if anything at all. Recently, after listening to a lot of Taylor Swift, I started talking to some Canadian acquaintances, who immediately laughed at hearing my “New Jersey accent.” Taylor Swift is from PA, not NJ, but for some reason that brought it out of me. Apparently I’m unconsciously affecting a generic Canadian accent now to fit in. To me, that means over-enunciating vowels and hesitatingly over-thinking word choice. Canadian anglophones are always torn between longing to use the Queen’s English and fighting the pervasive influence of the more geographically closer American English. Every time they say something, it’s almost like they’re internally questioning, “Is this correct?” Even native anglophones have trouble with spelling agreement (color vs. colour, favorite vs. favourite, theater vs. theatre). They’re both correct, but which one is correct in “Canadian”?

We went to see the film adaptation of the first Stephanie Plum book, One for the Money, last night. I wore a plum-coloured twinset to show spirit. Earlier that day, I’d read some terrible reviews and after seeing the unpromising trailer, went to see it with very low expectations. I spent the first twenty minutes trying to stomach the accents – for some reason, the actors assumed that Jersey accents are low-pitched and loose-jawed like Hollywood NY thugs, even though Trenton isn’t that close to NY – but for the most part enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind if there were a sequel. Now I want to reread the books. At least no one said “Joisey.”

Why couldn’t they have gotten any NJ actors? While Katherine Heigl made an effort, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the film was going to end on a “single girl gets an epiphany and ends up a glowing bride” note that many romantic comedies follow. Anne Hathaway, I think, could have a possible choice for Stephanie Plum and Jay Mohr or Taye Diggs could have been in there somewhere. One of the more distinctive NJ accents I’ve seen on television has been Bitty Schram’s – with some aging makeup she could have been Mrs. Plum or even just a dialect coach. The book has a lot of minor characters, so it could have been easy to cram as many NJers in there as possible.

My favourite part? The gratuitous screen coverage of an enormous Rex the hamster, credited at the end as Rex the hamster. There are few animals funnier than hamsters.

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Alas, this beacon of Korean goodness is located in NJ, USA and not in my new home of Montreal, QC. Still, if you’re ever in the area, it’s just over the Piscataway/South Plainfield border, just past the best ShopRite in NJ. Just a hop away from Rutgers, New Brunswick. They don’t advertise and it’s hidden in the far corner of a strip mall, but who care’s about the exterior when it houses such a gem inside?

This is one of the best Korean restaurants in NJ – I’m including the Fort Lee/Palisades Park area as well in that sweep. The food is exactly what one expects when one goes to a Korean bbq place. Several private tables are available behind sliding paper doors (and yes, you’re supposed to leave your shoes on the steps), a great selection of those little appetizer dishes (mook, a mung bean paste gelatin, is my favorite; hot spiced sweet potatoes are my husband’s), hot roasted tea, and glowing coals inserted into the bbq grates in the middle of your table.The kimchi is fresh and the bibimbap is perfect. And yes, the japchae is steaming hot.

The waiters are all Korean, and the menu includes everything you might possibly want – including a couple of sushi options for those uninitiated in the joys of gochujang. It’s all delicious. Everything. Service and food are consistent, though we still get slightly better service when we go with a Korean than by ourselves. It’s ok – we love Kimchi Hana so much that we even had our wedding reception there. That’s right – it’s that good.

6101 Hadley Rd., Middlesex Mall, South Plainfield, NJ 07080, USA

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