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.

Opium

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Ok, so, after you get over the awkward choice of names for an Asian restaurant, Opium in Ipanema is a great choice if you’re looking for Asian cuisine from many of the continent’s countries. The aesthetic here is clean and sleek, and the food ranges from sushi, to noodles, to curry.

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To start, I had a drink. No, not Oolong or Green tea, sorry. I went for a typical Brazilian cocktail, a Caipirinha (cachaça, sugar and lime). I’ve had these before in the States, but ended up drinking quite a few of these in different spots around Brazil. You know, research, you have to see who’s making them best. Opium’s was pretty good, not too, too sweet, but a bit strong. Success. 

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Next, I ordered Miso Soup (soy paste, tofu, seaweed and chives). A very standard Japanese starter, pretty hard to mess up, and this one did not disappoint. 

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Then for my entree, I ordered Phat Ma Maung Him Ma Pan (braised shiitake mushrooms and vegetables in a mild sauce, covered with toasted cashew nuts, pineapple cubes and coriander with jasmine rice). I really liked this dish a lot. It was different from other stir fries that I’ve had, this one on the sweet side with a really nice glaze. The veggies were really bountiful, I loved the crunch from the cashews, and I especially liked the raisins that also added that natural sweetness. 

The Shorts:
Name: Opium
Location: R. Farme de Amoedo, 34 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Yes, I really liked my food and there’s really something for everyone. 
Would I recommend it? Yes, and, the Ipanema Plaza Hotel is conveniently adjoined to the restaurant, so, you can kill two birds with one stone  (ugh, I really hate that phrase…so violent).