What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

This week in Richmond restaurant news.

11 Months, the rotating restaurant concept brought to you by the owner of Don’t Look Back and New York Deli, is now open in Carytown. It’s opening theme: BFFs. Seriously. Soft open hours through the weekend. Yaki, in Jackson Ward, appears to be days away from opening — it just got its ABC license — and we cannot wait to taste all of the yakitori. The Capital Ale House owners are planning to open a beer garden/restaurant in the Woodlake Commons Shopping center (in Midlothian) later this summer. And also in Midlothian, Chesterfield County’s first Mellow Mushroom is set to open in June. Look at you go Midlo, look at you go.

An avocado toast article, but probably not the one you saw floating around Facebook.

If you’ve ever ordered avocado toast in a restaurant and thought to yourself this is amazing but why am I paying $11 for half an avocado smashed on toast? Here’s your answer. P.S. If you’re in San Francisco, or planning a visit, I highly recommend the avocado toast at Cafe St. Jorge. But only if you bring me back a slice!

On the other side of the coin, Richmond is home to some delicious cheap eats.

Richmond Magazine’s latest cover story was all about the cheap eats. And they even included some of our favorites, like the pupusas from Shelly’s Food – Comida Latina, the bagel sandwiches at Black Hand and the battle ships at Black Sheep. And Stephanie Breijo has us dying to try Pop’s Dog’s & Ma’s Burgers, the 16 ft. x 16 ft. diner in Lakeside. She’s been doing God’s work taste testing a variety of chili cheese fries options at Pop’s and we salute her for it.

For what it’s worth.

The people have spoken and Style Weekly’s Best of Richmond list has been released. You’ll find the results from this year’s reader’s poll for a variety of categories from burgers to doughnuts and brunch to favorite Richmond chef. See if your favorite spots made the cut here.

Step up your Memorial Day Weekend game.

Grilling season officially kicks off this weekend — okay realistically it probably kicked off weeks ago — and if you’re looking to impress your friends and family over the weekend here are a few things to get you started: when to grill with the lid open or closed, apparently wine coolers are back and these are the one’s worth trying, the best use cases for gas vs. charcoal (I thought the answer was always charcoal?), and 13 tips for improving your grilling from BBQ experts.

In weird food trends made popular by you guessed it, Instagram.

Last but not least, in why do we need this land, I leave you with activated charcoal pizza and the (secret) history of cloud eggs.

What to add to your calendar

If Saturday Farmers’ Markets aren’t for you.

The Scott’s Addition Farmer’s Market kicks off this Sunday at the Veil. Drink a brew while you shop, we hear they have good ones, and stock up on fresh produce and meats for Monday’s grilling festivities. You can expect vendors like Stock Provisions, Agriberry, Nate’s Bagels and Ninja Kombucha.

I want to ride my bicycle. 

Breakaway RVA’s second ride of the season is tomorrow! Join your fellow community members to explore RVA and make Richmond a more bike friendly city. Routes range from 3-5 miles and will take place throughout the city at 6 p.m. Find the nearest starting location and sign up here.

Sour beer lovers, where you at?

Confession: I love sour beers. Really they are the only style of beer I consistently like no matter the brewery, and Ardent has teamed up with O’Connor (a brewery in Norfolk) for a Gose release on June 3. Added bonus: ZZQ and Aloi will be on site feeding hungry beer drinkers.

Go early, or suffer in the crowds. 

That is the advice I always give when someone asks me about Broad Appetit. Can you believe my favorite Richmond Food Festival is just a week and a half away! Here’s the 411: $3 small plates, some of Richmond’s best restaurants, come hungry, leave full and it all benefits our local food bank — FeedMore.

Speaking of events with delicious foods benefiting a good cause.

The food and drink line up at the Brewer’s Ball (on June 1) this year looks fantastic, as always. Some of the participating breweries include Triple Crossing, Isley, Ardent and Steam Bell, and some of the participating restaurants include Rappahannock, Southbound, Heritage and Mosaic. The night’s festivities benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Tickets are $75 and include food, drink and parking.

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What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

If you’re lazy like me but still want a garden full of fresh veggies. I saw these cute little seed packets on a recent episode of Shark Tank and I’m obsessed. I like the idea of gardening, but who really has the time. I think I am going to order the Grow Your Own Taco SeedSheet, which includes cilantro, arugula, scallions and radishes.

Restaurant news round up. Eleven Months, the spot brought to you by the folks behind Don’t Look Back, just posted hiring information on Facebook which means the opening date can’t be too far away. If you follow Bon Appetit on Instagram, you might’ve seen a peek at the status of Brenner Pass which looks like it might be opening in the next month or so. Frontier — brought to you by the owner of Alamo BBQ — is shooting for a September opening date. And Athens Greek Tavern (on Robinson) is set to reopen later this spring.

If my post about Shagbark brunch didn’t convince you to go, maybe this will. Tim Vidra has all the details on his dining experience at one of our favorite Richmond restaurants. Spoiler alert: he gave Shagbark 3.5 out of 4 forks.

What would you do for free chicken nuggets? A tweet about free chicken nuggets for a year just surpassed Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscars selfie tweet as the most retweeted tweet of all time. And speaking of fast food if you’ve ever wanted to know what it takes to own a fast food franchise Eater has a comprehensive guide for you to read.

It’s ok to lie to your mom about this gift. Impress her with these ready to bake morning buns from Whisk and we won’t spill your secret. If these are anything like the take and bake croissants they offer, your mom will love them!

Hot ticket. Alton Brown is coming to Richmond this fall to the Carpenter Theatre and tickets for his“Alton Brown Live — Eat Your Science” tour go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. See you at the show?

Bitter sweet news from L’Opossum. Chef and Owner David Shannon is stepping aside to let former sous chef James Garland take the reigns. Brandon Fox has all of the details over at Style Weekly including info about a forthcoming L’Opossum cookbook.

What to add to your calendar

Give me all of the Berliner Weisse. I recently tried Triple Crossing’s Berliner Weisse, the Waxing Poetic, and I cannot wait for Ardent’s release later this month. If you love a good gose, you’ll like a Berliner Weisse. If sour beers aren’t your thing, you can still enjoy one of Ardent’s other beers and food from ZZQ or the Continental Divide.

Peonies galore! Tuckahoe Plantation is hosting its Peony Picnic this Sunday (perfect Mother’s Day timing). Tours of the historic house will be offered for a small fee and Gelati Celesti will be on site with their ice cream truck.

Riverrock is coming. Mark your calendars for May 19-21 because outdoor sports are coming to town. My personal favorite event at Riverrock is the Air Dogs competition. Sadly Hazel will not be entering because she refuses to willingly let water touch her, but we’ll be there to cheer on the other brave dogs.

Families that brunch together stay together. If you were wondering where to take your Mom to brunch this weekend, Richmond.com has all of the details on what restaurants are doing buffets, prix fixes and special menus. My best advice if you want to go to brunch this weekend is find a place that takes reservations and do it now.

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Brunch at Shagbark

Richmond was recently named to Travel and Leisure’s list of America’s Favorite Cities for Brunch. In fact, RVA ranked number six on the list and I’m in full agreement — Richmond is a great town for brunch. But Travel and Leisure (and its readers) failed to mention one of the best brunches in town. Don’t get me wrong Metzger and Southbound deservedly made the list — I’ve been to brunch at both restaurants and was extremely impressed. But, Shagbark is also doing something special. (Note: Lucy’s is probably also deserving of its mention, I just haven’t had a chance to make it over there for brunch yet.)

On a recent trip (aka on Easter Sunday — which was a date chosen accidentally), I was smitten with everything that came out of the kitchen at Shagbark. And it didn’t hurt that the weather was beautiful and we were given the option of sitting outside on the shaded patio.

You’ll notice a common thread in my brunch adventures — sharing is caring — and my friend Nicky and I shared three dishes on this trip to Shagbark.

Our meal started where every good brunch meal starts: cocktails. I enjoyed the brunch punch while Nicky went a little more traditional and sipped on the classic mimosa. The brunch punch was sweet, but not overly so, and made for easy drinking — a good choice for a warm spring day.

Making decisions on what to drink was easy, making decisions on what to eat was a very, very hard. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, so we had a difficult time choosing between these four options:

BBQ spiced duck confit hash with roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, soft egg, buttered almonds and Highland County maple creme fraîche.

Dill pickle-brined chicken & waffles with Hubs peanut crumble and bourbon-maple butter.

Sub Rosa polenta bread french toast with local strawberries, lemon mascarpone and oat streusel.

The Old Virginia — Edward’s country ham steak, Byrd Mill grits, SSU hen egg, red eye gravy and a buttermilk biscuit.

Ultimately we went with one sweet and one savory dish. We couldn’t say no to the duck hash — (1) because I wanted to see how it compared to Metzger’s and Southbound’s versions and (2) because it is freaking duck hash. Always. order. the. duck. hash. For our sweet entree, we went all in with the french toast made with Sub Rosa bread.

What a pair. We cleaned both plates and we were dying for more. The Sub Rosa polenta bread french toast was less sweet than I expected, definitely less sweet than most french toasts, but I wasn’t mad about it. I mean, let’s be real, it is pretty hard to mess a dish up that starts with bread from Sub Rosa. The strawberries tasted so fresh and bright, and the lemon mascarpone was to die for. My only complaint was that the crust of the bread was a little hard to cut with the not so sharp knives we were given, but if that’s the worst part of the meal I’ll take it.

I’m honestly not even sure where to start with the duck hash. It was plated beautifully, and the soft egg was poached to perfection. The roasted sweet potatoes balanced well with the salty, rich duck and the toasted almonds gave the dish the crunch that it needed. And that sauce, I could eat that Highland County maple creme fraiche by the spoonful. I love the duck hash at Metzger and Southbound, but Shagbark’s version blew those out of the water. Let’s just say our server was impressed at the speed at which we consumed this plate of food. I promise I’m not exaggerating, it really was that good.

To wrap things up we split the coffee cake for dessert. The roasted banana brown butter coffee cake came topped with honey chantilly, fresh blackberries and toasted malt powder. I don’t know what honey chantilly or toasted malt powder is, but what I do know is that they taste great on top of this coffee cake. Similarly to the french toast, this dish was not overly sweet and it was a lot lighter than expected.

Overall the brunch experience at Shagbark is top notch. The service was lovely, the drinks were refreshing and the food was incredible. This meal for two came out to about $70 (including tip), which might seem a little spendy for brunch but when you factor in the fact that we both had drinks, shared a dessert, and we were at Shagbark, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive our meal was.

The cost of brunch at Shagbark is much more approachable than dinner is there but they are both equally delicious.

Shagbark is located at Libbie Mill-Midtown (4901 Libbie Mill East Boulevard, Suite 175) and they serve brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They do take reservations, and you can browse a sample menu here. P.S. There is plenty of free parking around the restaurant so you won’t have to worry about parallel parking.

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What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

Live your best sandwich life. One of my all time favorite food trucks in Richmond is the Sammich truck. Usually you can catch them at SOTJ for a breakfast sandwich or around town during the week (think Hardywood and at The Martin Agency). And now you can grab a sandwich on the go from Outpost Richmond. Three varieties are currently available, now including this vegan sandwich that can only be described as beautiful.

Brookland Park Boulevard is on fire (in a good way). Towards the end of last year, Richmond BizSense did a deep dive into Brookland Park Boulevard being a diamond in the rough, and some were even wondering if the area was going to be the next Scott’s Addition. Well, eight months later, new developments keep rollin’ in. Things sort of got worse before they got better with Street Car Cafe’s sudden closure. But since that news broke, Lunchonette Northside opened, Black Hand Coffee is officially roasting coffee beans with a cafe in the works, Lamplighter has an offer on a property and two sisters are turning an auto repair shop into a restaurant — Dixie Bell’s.

Puppers and doggos are a 12/10. DoggoLingo is a real thing people and if you need a pick me up this week I suggest reading this article from NPR on the internet trend that you might’ve missed. Hazel is of course is of course a h*cking good girl.

Happiest of hours. High on my happy hour to do list is Flora. One, because it is super convenient to my apartment and two, because they’re running some awesome deals. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. you find half price Pacificos and $2 off draft beer, wine, cocktails and small plates. I want the chilaquiles, like now, and I’m hoping this frozen hibiscus grapefruit sangria wasn’t a one time deal.

821 cafe is officially a teenager! The restaurant just steps from VCU’s Monroe Park Campus recently celebrated its 13th anniversary. They also recently unveiled a new spring menu (sign me up for the fried zucchini tacos) and a revamped outdoor patio.

Another day, another best of list. Richmond was recently named to Travel and Leisure’s list of America’s Favorite Cities for Brunch. Richmond, Va. ranked number six, featuring mentions of Southbound (I can vouch), Metzger Bar and Butchery (co-sign) and Lucy’s (need to try). Richmond wasn’t the only Virginia city to make the list, Norfolk came in at number 15.

What to add to your calendar

One night only? On Thursday, May 4, Stock Provisions is hosting a ramen pop-up (OMG!) at the Veil Brewing Company. They’ll be slinging all the nood(el)s, both of the veggie and pork variety and bonus points because the pork is coming from Autumn Olive Farms (fancy!). Join them from 6-9 p.m. but plan on going early in case they sell out. See you there?

Good things come in threes. Gold Cart is hosting its third pop up event on Sunday, May 7 and they must’ve known that Richmond made Travel and Leisure’s list of America’s Favorite Cities for Brunch, because you guessed it, they are taking on brunch. Everything on the menu sounds amazing and if you’ve ever wanted to have brunch at Pasture, here’s your chance. The Jean Claude Van Brunch Gold Cart pop-up is happenin’ on Sunday May 7th and starts at 11:30 a.m.

The O.G. Virginia Hopped Cider. This weekend, Blue Bee Cider (the first hopped cider made in Virginia) is hosting the Virginia Hopped Cider Festival to celebrate the beverage’s growth throughout the Commonwealth. Eleven Virginia hopped ciders will be available, and entry to the festival is free — although a $15 ticket will get you a flight of five Virginia hopped ciders, three glasses of cider or a ticket to a Grand Tasting class. Camden Dogtown Market, Continental Divide and Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches will be on site with food and there will also be art and live music. Pro tip: pack sunscreen it is going to be a scorcher this weekend.

This is your final reminder. It is Restaurant Week in RVA! $4.17 of every RRW meal at participating restaurants will be donated to the Central Virginia Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. Make plans and go enjoy a three course meal for a great cause, you have no excuses, there are 40 restaurants to choose from.

 

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What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

Dream job = ice cream flavor judge. Gelati Celesti just put out an open call for judges for its spring ice cream flavor contest and I want to know where to sign up. If you want to be in the running for this prestigious job, fill out an entry form at one of Gelati Celesti’s four locations by April 18. Must be available on the evening of April 25th for the spring tasting event.

The keyword here is newICYMI: Pop’s Market on Grace has new Saturday hours, now open 9 to 5. And Union Market just debuted its new spring/summer menu — that melon and prosciutto salad is calling my name — and its patio has a new look.

Get your game plan together, restaurant week is almost here. Meg mentioned Richmond Restaurant Week in last week’s What’s Happenin’ Wednesday, and we’re set to visit Laura Lee’s (also see: the RTD’s recent review of Laura Lee’s here)! More menus are now posted, so pick a spot and make your reservation(s) now.

That’s a lot of hardware. I speak for Meg and myself when I say how much we love reading content from Richmond’s super talented food writers. Richmond Magazine’s food editor Stephanie Breijo, took home all.of.the.awards. Cheers to local journalism! P.S. can we motion for an Instagram category, because this is a winner.

Explore Parts Unknown, to you. CNN is placing an emphasis on food with the launch of this beautiful new website for Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Also if you love to travel, add Roads & Kingdoms to your bookmarks folder. Anthony Bourdain is the digital publication’s editor-in-chief.

Take note Virginia. Arizona’s legislature recently passed the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act requiring that all students have access to the same lunch and banning practices like trashing lunches that have been served to students who cannot pay. What a great step towards ensuring that kids can focus on things like learning, while they’re at school, instead of whether or not they’ll be publicly humiliated because of something they can’t control.

What to add to your calendar

It is almost Easter weekend, people! Even of you don’t celebrate the spiritual holiday, you can certainly enjoy and appreciate the spectacle that is Easter on Parade. Stroll down Monument Avenue from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday and look for the pet bonnet competition at 3 p.m. Also, this is your reminder to make Easter brunch reservations if you haven’t already.

Sunday supper at The Roosevelt. The Sunday supper pop up at The Roosevelt is back starting at 5 p.m. on April 30. This go-round the focus will be Asian street food and cocktails.

Classical music pairs well with cider. Tomorrow’s (Thursday) weather is looking beautiful for Classical Revolution RVA’s event, Haydn Where You Least Expect It. Enjoy the musicians of Classical Revolution RVA performing a string quartet by Franz Joseph Haydn, while sipping on cider.

Egg rolls (not the crispy kind) and Nuclear Nugget release. Saturday, Lickinghole Creek is hosting its Spring Farm Fest in addition to its Nuclear Nugget beer release. There will be tons of age appropriate activities for the kids and lots of beer for the adults. Festivities kick off at noon and run through 9 p.m.

Early bird gets the worm. Early bird tickets are now on sale for Side by Side’s (formerly ROSMY) spring fundraising event on May 6th at Tuckahoe Women’s Club. Side by Side is a great non-profit organization that is dedicated to creating supportive communities where Virginia’s LGBTQ+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish.

 



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#cook90… is it over yet?

I hate that I am saying this but I have been counting down the days to April 1 — aka the end of my #cook90 challenge. The cooking part hasn’t been too bad but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience it’s that my next kitchen needs to have a dishwasher. Who knew one person could create so many dirty dishes? I want to say I’ve spent at least a half an hour every single day in March washing dishes, and I’m #overit.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed #cook90. I tried my best to cook things that were outside of my comfort zone and I’m excited that I’ve added a few more recipes to my repertoire. I’ve learned that making pasta from scratch isn’t really all that hard, but you do need a decent amount of counter space. And apparently, I like baking a lot less than I thought I did — probably because I don’t have a stand mixer or a normal sized food processor. Sadly, I’ll never make it as a baker on The Great British Baking Show, in fact, I cracked under pressure when my store bought pie crust wouldn’t cooperate.

I’ve had a bunch of people ask me if this challenge helped me save money on food and the answer is a resounding… no. I found myself more willing to splurge on higher quality ingredients from the grocery store to replace the instant gratification that I typically get from going out to eat. I think you could easily save money doing this challenge if you stuck to more budget friendly recipes than I did, but my goal wasn’t to save money, it was to learn more about cooking. And I don’t think anyone wants to read a blog post with 10 different ways to make chicken sausage pasta.

I missed last week’s recap— I was busy cooking my little heart out— so this post is on the longer side, but hopefully that means you’ll find at least one recipe to try! I’ll also be sharing a recipe next week for a mostly homemade roasted vegetable and sausage tart with an everything bagel crust, so stay tuned.

#cook90 Breakfast Recipes

Carrot cake smoothie

Smoothies // I’ve been drinking a whole lot of smoothies lately and my current favorite is this Almond Brothers Carrot Cake Smoothie from RVA Fit Foodie, it legit tastes like carrot cake in a cup and it has been a nice change of pace from my berry filled smoothies. The hardest ingredient to find was carrot juice that didn’t contain anything other than carrots juice and lemon juice, but I found an affordable option in the natural foods section of Kroger.

 

Lecker Baking Company // Knowing the limitations of my kitchen and available kitchen tools, I did not attempt to make any bread on my own — I’ll save that for my next #cook90 challenge. With that said, I did come across a gem of a bakery when I was looking for new bread options to try in Richmond. Lecker Baking Company is conveniently located in the Fan and if you are looking to pick up a loaf or two on your commute home, I highly recommend making a stop there. This month I stuck to the tried and true Billy Bread to step up my toast and breakfast sandwich game, but I’m pumped to try more of Lecker’s offerings.

Fried banana overnight oats

Overnight Oats // I mentioned my love of overnight oats in my last #cook90 post and the prospect of warmer weather means I’ll be eating my oatmeal cold for the foreseeable future. I keep my recipe simple using a 1 to 1 to 1 ratio of oats, yogurt and milk (I use unsweetened coconut milk) and then I add in a scoop of protein powder and a shake of cinnamon. Recently I’ve been adding “fried” banana slices to jazz things up — heat a small amount of coconut oil or ghee in a small pan and add your banana slices, flip them once they’re golden brown and finish with a drizzle of honey.

 

Sinless Samoas // If you follow Let’s Share a Dish on Instagram you might’ve seen my Instagram Story making these delicious sweet treats. They aren’t really for breakfast but could work as a small snack between breakfast and lunch. The recipe from Eating Bird Food is super simple and in total takes less than 30 minutes to make. My tip: add the toasted coconut to your food processor before it has completely cooled and it will melt the chocolate chips a little bit.

#cook90 Lunch Recipes

Chicken salad

Chicken Salad // I only recently started eating chicken salad and I love it as an easy and satisfying topping for salads. I found this easy chicken salad recipe by Ina Garten and it turned out wonderfully. My old modification was replacing half of the mayo the recipe called for with Greek yogurt to try and make it a little more healthy. This super simple recipe contains just six ingredients: chicken, olive oil, mayo, green grapes, celery and tarragon (not including salt and pepper).

 

Sweet Potato Bowls // These colorful bowls are super easy to throw together during the week. My bases for my bowls this month included roasted sweet potato, a tomato, cucumber and pickled onion salad, rice, tzatziki sauce and Cava Harissa. For proteins, I used Trader Joe’s Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage and shrimp sauteed in ghee and garlic. Throw all the components in a bowl and you’re good to go.

 

Mumbai Toastie // A Lodge Cast Iron Skillet wasn’t the only “kitchen tool” I bought during #cook90, I also purchased a new cookbook — Simple by Diana Henry. The key feature of this cookbook is that all recipes must fit onto one page. Some are easy, some might take you all day and all sound delicious. The Mumbai Toastie is the first thing I’ve made from my new cookbook and grilled cheese may never be the same. Indian spices and a fresh mint and garlic chutney give this simple meal a big flavor upgrade. And it didn’t hurt that I used Billy Bread for this recipe too.

#cook90 Dinner Recipes

Pierogies

Pierogies // The most challenging (re: annoying) recipe that I made during this entire experience were these potato and cheese pierogies *RIP Lucky Peach*. I naively tried to take on this feat on a weeknight, #neveragain. In the first five minutes of peeling potatoes I sliced my thumb which almost derailed me completely; nevertheless, I persisted and four hours later these pillows of doughy, cheesy, starchy goodness were ready. If you pack your patience for this adventure you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a comforting and delicious meal. I recommend serving these with some fancy sausage from Stock Provisions.

 


Egg Roll in a Bowl // There really was only one point during the challenge where I almost gave up. After a long and stressful week, including a 24 hour period with no water in my apartment, I was craving Chinese take out. With no food in my fridge, the prospect of ordering in was sounding more and more appealing but I took a deep breath and searched the internet for an easy recipe that would satisfy my craving. I came across this beef and cabbage stir fry recipe on Budget Bytes and was sold. I used pork instead of beef, and whipped together this dish in less than an hour, including time spent driving to and from the grocery store. To make it more filling, I served the stir fry over rice.

 

I feel like I learned a lot from the challenge and it really forced me to meal plan a little bit more than I typically do. #cook90 also reinforced my love for grocery shopping, and I’ll be a little sad that I won’t be spending as much time in the grocery store in April as I did in March. If you want to do your own #cook90 challenge, sign up for the newsletter and they’ll send you weekly updates based on how far along you are. And if you’re wondering what my first not home cooked meal will be tomorrow, its a toss up between a Stroops backdoor dog and Peter Chang’s Noodle and Dumpling!

If you missed my first two posts on #cook90 you can read them here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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