Italy claims half of your Insider’s DNA, so you should know this: the feast of seven fishes on Christmas Eve is a bigger deal than Christmas itself. This year, anyone can experience it at Union City Grille in Wilmington, starting at 4 p.m. on Dec. 4. Check the menu: UCG Clam Chowder, followed by an appetizer of (your choice) marinated shrimp cocktail in lemon-sriracha sauce, oysters baked in bourbon barbecue sauce with garlic and panko, or brie baked in phyllo with pears, roasted peppers and candied walnuts over arugula drizzled with fig balsamic. Choose a main course: boneless short rib on Gorgonzola polenta with Royal Trumpet mushrooms and oven-dried grape tomatoes, pistachio-coated lamb chops with Dijon demiglace, smoked bacon Brussels sprouts and caramelized shallot-sage mashed potatoes, or, of course, the aforementioned feast of seven fishes—clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, octopus, scallops and rock fish simmered in tomato broth with olive oil. Your dessert consists of cinnamon-fried gnocchi and ice cream or truffle crème brulée. How do you choose? It all sounds good enough to tempt the staunchest of Italian Americans. 654-9780, unioncitygrille.com
During a time of year when we’re supposed to think of others, your Insider brings you a reminder from the Food Bank of Delaware: There are people in Delaware who don’t eat regularly. A glimpse at the numbers:
About 17,500 different people a week receive food assistance through the bank’s network of hunger-relief partners. It serves 241,600 individuals a year—a number that continues to rise. As the economy continues to slow and food prices skyrocket to all-time highs, more and more Delawareans will seek help.
44 percent of the members of households served by The Food Bank of Delaware are children under 18 years old.
6 percent of the members of households are children age 0 to 5 years.
6 percent of the members of households are elderly.
About 19 percent of clients are non-Hispanic white, 71 percent are non-Hispanic black, 4 percent are Hispanic, and the rest are from other racial groups.
43 percent of households include at least one employed adult.
72 percent have incomes below the federal poverty level during the previous month.
15 percent are homeless.
Among all client households served by emergency food programs of The Food Bank of Delaware, 72 percent are food insecure, according to the U.S. government’s official food security scale. This includes client households who have low food security and those who have very low food security.
32 percent of the clients have very low food security.
Among households with children, 68 percent are food insecure and 30 percent are food insecure with very low food security.
33 percent of clients served by The Food Bank of Delaware report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel.
21 percent had to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage.
32 percent had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
22 percent had to choose between paying for food and paying for transportation.
19 percent had to choose between paying for food and paying for gas for a car.
The Food Bank reminds us that hunger will not end until its root causes—lack of job training, education, transportation, childcare, literacy, affordable housing, healthcare, drug treatment—are addressed. If you want to help, contact The Food Bank at 292-1305 in Newark, 424-3301 in Milford, or online at fbd.org.
North by Northeast
Does SoDel Concepts ever stop? Between wine events, beer events and charity functions, the group of restaurants that includes Blue Coast Seafood Grill and Lupo di Mare always has something cooking. On Dec. 19, visit Northeast Seafood Kitchen in Lewes for a cooking demo based on foods from Vermont. If you wonder what to do with maple syrup, apples or cheddar cheese, this is the place to be. These events sell out quickly, so holler back at chef Ronnie asap. 537-1785, Ronnie @sodelconcepts.com, sodelconcept.com
Eating at a good pan-Asian restaurant should be the gastronomic equivalent of an hour-long tour of Asia. Given the stark rise in popularity of mixed-bag Asian places, Delaware diners have become more than willing tourists. At Kenny’s Pan Asian Cuisine in Bear, the menu ranges from China and Japan to Malaysia and Thailand. Jasmine in Wilmington has a few Korean favorites on its menu. Rather than specialize in one ethnic fare, pan-Asian cuisine selects dishes from everywhere. It gives Kenny’s owner Kenny Wang the freedom to get creative with his menu. That, in turn, he says, gives his customers more freedom to choose. “The style and presentation of the mix allows us to be more contemporary versus the old styles of Asian food,” Wang says. Take for example, the omnipresent General Tso’s chicken. “It’s a popular dish for Americans,” Wang says. But Kenny’s transforms delicate white meat chicken with a blend of sweet, sour and crunchy. “That way it appeals to a range of backgrounds. We have a lot of Filipino and Indian people in this area, so I wanted to make a menu for them, too.” Here are a few classic places. For more on great ethnic dining, click here.
721 College Square, Newark, 368-9933 • House specialties like luscious green tea-smoked duck only begin to tell the story at Bamboo House. Locals love the quality sushi menu and value that comes with it: sizable portions at a reasonable price. Original creations like the College Square roll (yellowtail tempura with asparagus) and the toasted Pocono Mountain roll (ebi with crabstick and masago) are under $10.
Cultured Pearl Restaurant
301 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-8493 • Featuring a menu that’s dotted with Japanese and American classics and a dining area dotted with bamboo, soft lights and Koi ponds, the Cultured Pearl is a true comfort dining experience. The sushi menu, overseen by chef Kiyomi Yamanaki, contains the house favorite Cultured Pearl roll with tempura tuna, scallops, avocado, cream cheese and cucumber. Fusion entrées include the cashew chicken with bell peppers, scallions, and cashews in a sweet-and-spicy sauce over jasmine rice.
3618 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 479-5618 • The menu features eclectic elements of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food. The sleek interior and incandescent lighting scream high end, but it’s not uncommon to find families with kids dining there. The expanded Jasmine Lounge has even provided North Wilmington a bona fide cool place to hang out.
Kenny’s Pan Asian
Cuisine Governor’s Square II, 1255 Quintilio Drive, Bear, 838-1725 • Customers flock to Kenny’s for its fresh take on General Tso’s chicken and fried rice, but regulars come back for the mammoth Kenny’s Delight: whole lobster tail, chicken, beef, scallops and vegetables. More adventurous devotees go for the crispy whole red snapper with spicy mango sauce. One can’t-miss dish is the volcano roll, a concoction of tuna, crabmeat and cucumber, lightly fried and assembled lengthwise to form a mini mountain—with lava of spicy mayo sauce and tiny red Tobikko caviar.
Mikimotos Japanese Restaurant
1212 N. Washington St., Wilmington, 656-8638 • Haven for the downtown Wilmington crowd and crown jewel in owner Darius Mansoory’s collection of Cherry Tree restaurants, sleek Mikimotos is a true collaborative effort. The results are original fusion creations that are fun, fresh and mouth-watering. Take for instance the not-safe-for-search-engine Hairy Mexican, with its fried shrimp, avocado, crabstick and eel sauce. There are also bento boxes and dim sum.
Potstickers Asian Grill
1247 Churchmans Road, Newark, 731-0188 • With its heavy wood tables, warm, red glowing hanging lamps and Buddha statues as far as the eye can see, Potstickers blends Cantonese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese with a European flair. The restaurant’s inspired take on the angry tuna roll is black peppered tuna and avocado. And you can’t leave without sampling some actual potstickers—part crispy, chewy, all savory—stuffed with pork, chicken, Shanghai shrim
18814 Delaware 1, Rehoboth Beach, 645-2818 • As at its sister place, Jasmine, the menu features eclectic elements of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food, including sushi and sashimi. The interior is sleek and modern, but also like Jasmine, you’ll find families with kids.