Red Star Sandwich Shop

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Sandwiches, people love them, right? Sure. I’m actually not wild about them (shhhh don’t judge), but, if they’re delicious enough, you’ve got me. And, if a place is serving them with amazing sides? Ok, definitely in. Well, you’ll find all that at Red Star Sandwich Shop in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. This fast-casual spot is serving up a variety of delicious Asian-American sandwiches, along with some equally tasty sides. Oh, and they even have a great collection of board games to play while you eat. No one said they had to be for the kids. Being mainly veggie, they had me covered with different options, and I was pretty pumped.

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To start, I had the Seaweed Noodle Salad. It was the perfect little bowl to get as a side. It’s light, but still has a wonderfully delicate vinegar flavor, mixed with sesame seeds, that goes so well with the noodles, cabbage and seaweed.

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Next, I had their Tater Tots as another side. So, heads up, these are probably my most favorite tater tots I’ve eaten. Why? Well, because they’re amazingly awesome, and they’re scratch made. Forget those frozen tots you’ve had in school, and probably in some lazy restaurants, and focus in on these little guys. They’re perfectly crisp and golden brown on the outside, and then, the inside is basically like mashed potatoes. Yeah, you’re pretty much eating fried mashed potato balls, and it’s incredible. Get some of their chili sauce on the side, and it might be the best decision you make that day.

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Finally, I had their Fried Tofu Sandwich (sautéed shiitake mushroom, corn, mixed greets, sweet Dijon mustard). This was great. The tofu has a marinade, making it really flavorful. The shiitakes are kind of everything in this sandwich though. They’re tender and savory, and really go well with all the ingredients. I love corn, so you could literally throw that in any dish and I’d eat it, and the sweet mustard brought everything together really nicely.

The Shorts:
Name: Red Star Sandwich Shop
Location: 176 Smith Street, Brooklyn NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Absolutely. The staff is awesome, and the restaurant itself is open and airy and super inviting.
Would I recommend it? For sure. And get those tots now, because rumor on the street is, they might be taking them off the menu (insert panic here). So, eat them, and then sign a petition to keep them on the menu.

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The Cecil

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I’m not always uptown, so, I sometimes slack on all the great places that are there. But, this past weekend, I was in Harlem and got to experience dinner at The Cecil. This Afro-Asian-American brasserie (yes, it’s quite the combo) opens into a cocktail bar, with some seating in a cozy environment. Then, through the passageway, it opens up into the main dining room, chic, with large, beautiful paintings around the space. 

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To drink, I ordered the Blood and Fire (Olmeca Altos Blanco Tequila, Jamaican Sorrel, Fresh Lemon Juice). Now, I was a little confused when the drink wasn’t spicy, as its namesake would infer. Where’s the fire? Luckily, our bartender was quick to recommend the addition of some chili peppers to make all that happen. So, I usually love spicy tequila drinks, but, perhaps adding this chili into the drink may have altered its intended taste. Next time, I might try it as is, or, go for the Thai 75, which sounded really great. 

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To start, we had their Spicy Crispy Ginger Squid (Okra, Sweet Chili Peanut Sauce). This was awesome. I love squid, spice, peanut sauce, well, ok, all of these ingredients, so it wasn’t hard to decide on this one. It was really delicious, the squid was fried just right, not too much breading, but just enough to hold the drizzles of sweet chili peanut sauce, which gave it a little kick and smoothed out the flavor at the same time. 

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For my entree, I ordered Citrus Jerk Wild Striped Bass (African Fonio, Okra, Burst Tomatoes, Parsnip Purée). I really enjoyed this dish as well. The bass was tender and delicate, absorbing the savory, yet subtle flavors from the other components. It was my first time having fonio, a grain, which to me was a bit similar to small grain couscous. Set atop the creamy parsnip puree, the textures of all the ingredients went really well together.  

The Shorts:
Name: The Cecil
Location: 210 West 118 Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Yes, the vibe here is really great and the service was excellent.
Would I recommend it? I mean, how many places have you gone to that are serving Afro-Asian-American fare? Exactly. So, yes, I would recommend checking it out. Lots of options and flavors to choose from.