A styrofoam container with a stir-fry, including chicken, carrot, green beans, onion and red and green bell peppers from Eve's Thai Kitchen

Eve’s Thai Kitchen

A look at the owners working behind the counter at Eve's Thai Kitchen

In the last two years, I have found myself more and more at the Shillington Farmers Market. The Farmers Market of Wyomissing – just a few blocks from our house – is still our go-to for our fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy, but it just can’t compare with Shillington when it comes to take-out meals.

Brocmar Smokehouse has been one of my favorites since it opened. Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe is always good. And we even enjoyed our simple breakfast we tried at the Market Cafe.

Last year, the market added a new stand that brought even more variety to the market: Eve’s Thai Kitchen.

The Specials of the Day sign at Eve's Thai Kitchen with menu items written in colored chalk

Eve’s Thai Kitchen opened in May, offering a selection of made-to-order dishes from southeast Asia. The menu is limited but still offers variety with both noodle and rice dishes and appetizers that include spring rolls, cheese rolls, soup and chicken satay.

Like most farmers market stands, Eve’s has a pretty simple setup. Guests order at the counter and wait, either hanging out until the food is ready or making a couple stops around the market while the food is prepared. Eve’s does have the advantage of having two dedicated tables with six chairs across the aisle.

Pineapple fried rice with chicken, broccoli and carrot from Eve's Thai Kitchen

I made my first visit to Eve’s back in August and was very impressed with both the service and my order of pineapple fried rice with chicken.

The dish is a great blend of savory and sweet. The pineapple is wonderful and the fruit definitely stars in the dish. But there are more hits of sweetness from the dried cranberries that were mixed in. Cashews added some crunch while the addition of broccoli and carrots both added color and made me feel less guilty about finishing the whole thing.

My first impression made me want to come back and try even more, but it took several months before I found time to return. This time, I brought along Julie and our little man, Jakob.

A styrofoam container of pineappel fried rice with shrimp and vegetables from Eve's Thai Kitchen.

Like me, Julie couldn’t resist the pineapple fried rice. But instead of chicken, she ordered hers with shrimp. And she enjoyed it just as much as I had. She had enjoyed the addition of the shrimp.

She shared everything with Jakob. While he refused the shrimp, he loved the rice and kept asking for more. He also liked the baby corn, which I hadn’t remembered from my order of the pineapple rice. The baby corn is a favorite of mine as well and was a nice addition.

For my second visit, I decided to try something different. On the specials menu, I saw a basil stir-fry. It included your choice of meat (chicken, for me), green beans, onion, carrots and bell peppers over white rice.

A styrofoam container with a stir-fry, including chicken, carrot, green beans, onion and red and green bell peppers from Eve's Thai Kitchen

It was very good and used fresh basil that gave the deep brown sauce a nice herby flavor. I enjoyed everything about it. I especially liked that it was served over white rice instead of fried. While fried rice is good, I always prefer white rice because it soaks up the flavor of everything around it so well. It makes for a much more complete dish, in my opinion, and in this case it allowed the basil sauce, chicken and vegetables to really shine.

Also, I should mention that Eve’s allows you to choose your level of spice: none, mild, medium, hot or Thai hot. Julie went with “none” while I went with “mild.” I didn’t find mild to be very spicy at all, but that doesn’t mean I’m brave enough to raise my spice level next time.

Our food didn’t take long either. Though it was obviously made fresh, it wasn’t more than 15 minutes before it was ready for us. And the price was right as well. Adding on two bottles of water, it was less than $25 for our meals.

On both of my visits, Eve’s Thai Kitchen really delivered with impressive food done well – and done quickly – at a very reasonable price (as you would expect at a farmers market stand).

And it fits in well at the Shillington Farmers Market, which has become a destination for great food here in Berks.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Good
Price: Very Reasonable

Eve’s Thai Kitchen
10 S. Summit Ave
Shillington, PA 19607

Asian & Pacific Islands Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Masa Sushi & Hibachi

One of the cool things about this blog is I have the opportunity to watch a space evolve as old restaurants move on and new restaurants arrive.

A perfect example of that sits in the center of a strip mall in the Broadcasting Square Shopping Center in Wyomissing.

The space was original home to Super King Buffet – a rather ordinary Chinese buffet. More recently, it was home to Hong Thanh, an inspired Vietnamese restaurant that left the city of Reading only to return to its original location last year (under the new name Lang Restaurant).

Now, the space is home to Masa Hibachi and Sushi. It’s the third Asian restaurant at the location, but that’s where the similarities end.

 

Masa opened at the end of 2017 after a renovation that completely transformed the space. Gone is the booth seating that ran the length of the dining room. Instead, the dining area has been broken up. There are tables for two and four by the window. Beyond that are two hibachi grills, a sushi bar, another bar and more tables.

The hibachi grills were fired up – two young children sat with parents and grandparents, mesmerized at the show of fire and cooking skills – but we skipped the performance to try some of Masa’s other menu items.

Julie’s meal came with a house salad, served with ginger dressing. At first glance, it looked like honey mustard, but looks can be deceiving. The ginger was ever-present in this citrusy dressing. It had a nice tang to it and was very easy on the palate. The dressing really made the difference for what was otherwise a standard bowl of lettuce garnished with a cucumber slice and a pair of cherry tomatoes.

My meal did not come with salad so I ordered a cup of coconut chicken soup. Unfortunately my soup didn’t arrive as an appetizer and instead showed up with our entrees.

I had coconut chicken soup once before, in February 2015 at China Penn in Exeter Township. The two dishes were similar but with some key differences. At China Penn, there was one large piece of chicken and the broth was filled with carrots and herbs.

Masa’s version featured bite size pieces of chicken – as a soup should. There were no carrots, but there were pieces of hard-boiled egg and cherry tomatoes, the latter adding a pleasant flavor burst in those bites. The broth itself was very good, if a little sweet. I only wish that I wasn’t eating it with my main course.

That main course was a yaki udon stir fry. Yaki literally means grilled or fried in Japanese. Udon noodles are thicker, white colored noodles. The sauce for yaki udon is soy-based, but this was not soy sauce. It was light sauce that was much less salty than I was expecting from an Asian stir-fry.

Noodle dishes at Masa are served with the choice of vegetable, chicken, beef, shrimp, seafood, or “house.” I went with the beef, which was cooked in the sauce with the noodles, greens and carrots. It was a nice dish, but the size of the udon noodles made it almost impossible to get anything else on the fork.

Some of it – a little less than half – went home with me for lunch the next day.

Julie, on the other hand, left none of her sesame chicken and rice when she was finished.

Sesame chicken is a staple of Americanized Chinese food menus. There is something about getting sesame chicken served on a plate instead of in a box that seems to add flavor. Or maybe this was just a better version of the dish. But it still felt familiar like the comfort food that it is.

The meal may have been slightly more expensive than a Chinese take-out restaurant, but the $30 price tag was certainly a modest cost for a sit-down meal for two that included a bowl of soup and two soft drinks.

I wouldn’t put it among the best meals that I have had on Berks County Eats, but overall, I was impressed – both by the changes made to the space and with the dining experience at Masa. It was a good meal in a cool atmosphere.

But in this case, good is good enough.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: Reasonable

Masa Hibachi & Sushi
2733 Papermill Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Masa Hibachi and Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Asian & Pacific Islands Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Relish the Deli-sh – CLOSED

On Berks County Eats, we are always looking for the best dining in Berks County – whether sit-down or take-out.

And as new parents, Julie and I are also looking for easy meals that we can make at home.

We found both at the Relish the Deli-sh.

Not to be confused with Relish, West Reading’s breakfast and lunch spot, Relish the Deli-sh is located in an otherwise residential section of Wyomissing.

As the name suggests, it is, first and foremost, a deli. But for locals, it serves multiple roles. It’s a place to do light grocery shopping. In the summertime, it’s a spot for kids to grab a cone of ice cream. And it is also a place to get a quick a meal – either grab-and-go sandwiches or prepared meals that can be reheated at home.

We were interested in trying both of the meal options: fresh-made sandwiches and something to make for dinner the next day.

The meal menu is actually quite large, all things considered. It features nine cold sandwiches, eight hot sandwiches, two dinner salads and a range of side salads (pasta, potato, etc.).

One man was working both the cash register and deli station. He grilled my hamburger, built Julie’s sandwich, scooped out our prepared meal and rang us up. It took about 15 minutes – my burger was grilled to order – before we were on our way back home.

I had kept it simple by ordering a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion. A half-pound patty, and all the fixings were stacked on an ATV Bakery roll.

The burger exceeded all expectations. Even after a ride home in a plastic clamshell, it was delicious. The vegetables were fresh and flavorful. The burger, itself, was high-quality. And the roll was just the right size so it didn’t get in the way.

It was simple, but it was one of the best burgers I have had on a Berks County Eats visit.

One of the many things that Julie had a craving for during her pregnancy was an Italian sandwich. For nine months, cold cuts were off-limits. But Jakob is with us and this was a chance to satisfy her craving.

Relish doesn’t do a standard Italian sub. The deli offers the garlic Italian. It features all of your standard ingredients – meats, cheese, LTO. Then it gets kicked up a notch with garlic aioli and ciabatta bread.

Julie loved both additions. The aioli provided additional depth of flavor while the ciabatta bread was better than a boring hoagie roll. Overall, it was a great sandwich that more than satisfied her craving.

At the checkout counter, we made an impulse purchase of two white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

I’ve never met a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie that I didn’t like, and these were no exception.

So our first meal was a winner. What about the next night? That’s when we would try the Asian beef and white rice from the prepared foods.

I cooked off some baby carrots in the skillet before adding in the beef, rice and a little water to steam it in. The reheating process actually went better than I expected, and within a few minutes, we had a good looking meal on our plates.

And the taste was up there as well. The beef was actually cuts of steak, prime meat that was marinated in a sweet and salty sauce. It was simple, but very good. And the flavor held up, even after soaking into the rice.

It was a very good dish, and I look forward to trying other meal solutions from Relish the Deli-sh, but I probably wouldn’t get this again. Though good, I would probably just pick up Chinese take-out if I didn’t feel like making a similar dish myself.

That said, Relish the Deli-sh is certainly somewhere that we will return. With a newborn at home, we’re going to doing a lot of takeout and looking for a lot of easy meals. This is a place where we can do both.

And all for a reasonable price. Our two meals cost us a total of $30. It felt like a real value, especially for new parents like us.

But I’d recommend it for anyone who is looking for a quick bite or an easy-to-make meal at home.

Relish the Deli-sh does both. And they do both very well.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: N/A
Price: Reasonable

Relish the Deli-sh
105 Evans Ave
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Relish the Deli-sh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Reading Hospital

If you’ve followed Berks County Eats, then you know that Julie and I have been expecting the arrival of our first child. Well, last Friday, he decided it was time.

On November 17, 2017, at 8:21 p.m., Jakob Laurence Brown was born at the Reading Hospital.

Mommy and baby came out of it happy and healthy, and we arrived home on Sunday evening, but not before Jakob joined us for his first Berks County Eats review.

After completing a three-week birthing class two months ago, Julie’s reward was a coupon for a celebratory dinner for two after the arrival of our baby.

On Sunday morning, just a few hours before we were scheduled to leave the hospital, a special menu was delivered to our room.

“You’re Expecting the Best. We Deliver.” When you’re delirious with joy at the birth of a child, you forgive menu puns, even bad ones.

The meal included a tomato mozzarella salad (also known as Caprese), choice of entree – either steak and shrimp or vegetarian stir-fry – and a three-layer chocolate mousse cake for dessert.

For the salad, our bowls were lined with thick-sliced mozzarella, which was then filled with cherry tomatoes, drizzled with a thick balsamic and topped with basil leaves for garnish.

The salad was very good, but way too much. We each only ate a very small amount so that we had room for our main course and dessert (we managed to sneak the rest home with us for later).

My diet had been thrown out the window over the previous two days, with meals that included:

  • Friday Lunch: McDonald’s chicken strips and fries
  • Friday Dinner: Famous Amos cookies and Icy Tea
  • Saturday Breakfast: French toast and home fries from Reading Hospital
  • Saturday Lunch: Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and carrots from the PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomssing
  • Saturday Dinner: A giant chocolate chip cookie

So while steak and shrimp was appealing, I thought the hoisin vegetable stir-fry was a more sensible option.

It was actually really good, all things considered. It wasn’t anything special, but the sauce had a nice flavor – a typical sweet and salty Asian stir-fry. The menu listed soba noodles as part of the meal, but they were missing. So it was all vegetables – peppers, squash and onions. I certainly wasn’t going to send it back (it’s a one-hour wait from order to delivery).

Julie, on the other hand, did all the work so no one was going to deny her the surf and turf dinner that she earned.

It included a small filet and shrimp with a baked potato and mixed vegetables (the same medley that was used for my stir-fry.

The steak was topped with gravy (meh) but was fair. It certainly was nothing like eating in a steakhouse. The steamed shrimp was ok, too, but nothing outstanding.

The hardest part about the meal was having to stare at the chocolate trilogy cake. The best part of the meal was eating it.

It was fantastic. The layers of white, milk and dark chocolate mouse melted together. There was the thinnest layer of cake on the bottom to add a little texture. And the pieces of dark chocolate on the top were the icing on the cake, so to speak.

If only we didn’t have to be in the hospital to enjoy it.

For anyone out there looking to deliver in the Reading Hospital and unsure about whether to take the birthing class: take it. If only for the chocolate trilogy cake.

While we ate, Jakob lay in his crib – a clear, plastic tub that we had wheeled next to us. It was our first real sit-down meal as a family, and Jakob’s first official Berks County Eats review.

It wasn’t the best meal we’ve ever had. But it is easily among the most memorable.

Dessert Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Leesport Diner

Diners hold a special place in the hearts of many. They’re comfort food destinations that in many ways harken back to a bygone era.

And you certainly can’t mistake a great diner when you see one.

Leesport Diner shines brightly at the corner of Routes 61 and 73 just south of the Leesport borough line.

It replaced the Leesport Family Restaurant, a tired, worn down building that never seemed to have any cars outside. Toward the end, the former 24-hour diner had a plywood board out front with hours painted on it.

The only thing the restaurant had going for it was a great location. So it was no surprise that after the restaurant closed, a buyer stepped up and started over.

Everything about the new Leesport Diner looks clean and new, even though it is now more than a year old. The stainless steel still shines. The blue and white decor brightens the interior.

Leesport Diner is a stereotypical diner in many ways. There’s the obvious aesthetics. Then there’s the menu – a seemingly endless array of options including all-day breakfast. And what diner is complete without a soup and salad bar?

It may not be the largest salad bar in Berks County, but it is certainly one of the best that I have found. It has a range of ingredients with the most popular dressings. There are three made-fresh soups available. And for grain lovers, there is a case full of warm breads and rolls to choose from.

I loaded my plate – plates to be more specific – with all of the above. I built a salad with my favorite ingredients: lettuce, red onion, cucumber and ranch dressing. For my soup, I chose chicken orzo. And for my grain, a plump dinner roll that was calling my name.

All was good. The soup was a little salty, but was definitely hearty. The greens on the salad bar all tasted fresh. The warm roll was a good addition to my appetizer ensemble.

It wasn’t long after I finished my salad that my entree arrived. I looked through the entire menu at least twice before finally deciding on one of the weekend specials: chicken and spinach.

The Italian-inspired dish featured white meat chicken with spinach and red peppers in a white wine sauce – one of those dishes that fits for a diner but you would never see on an authentic Italian restaurant menu.

I enjoyed the flavors of the dish. The sauce was heavy and a little creamy, and it complemented all of the ingredients well. What I didn’t enjoy was the chicken. It was the processed chicken breast strips that felt artificially inflated, and it has that texture that just isn’t pleasant.

It’s really a shame because the flavor was very good. I just may have enjoyed it more without any meat.

Julie went with a meal that is on every diner menu in the country – roast beef and mashed potatoes.

There are two kinds of roast beef that you get at diners: the thin slice that’s closer to deli meat and the thick slice that feels more like a pot roast. This was the former.

Roast beef and mashed potatoes is an old favorite of mine from my trips to Risser’s Family Restaurant as a kid. Leesport Diner’s version is very much a comfort dish because it has that familiarity. The flavors are familiar and enjoyable.

As someone who has tried dishes from around the world and eaten at the highest quality restaurants, I still have a soft place in my heart for a good roast beef dinner. This was a good roast beef dinner.

And the food at Leesport Diner comes at reasonable prices as well. Our bill for the two dinners plus a glass of iced tea was right around $25, which is pretty standard for a diner today.

The Leesport Diner may not have the best food in Berks County, but it serves a niche and serves it well. It’s a nostalgia, but it’s also more than that.

A diner meal isn’t going to compare to a high-end steakhouse, but it’s enjoyable in its own way. That’s the legacy that Leesport Diner carries on.

BCE Rating
Food: Fair
Service: Good
Ambiance Good
Price: Very Reasonable

Leesport Diner
5407 Pottsville Pk
Leesport, PA 19533

Leesport Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Diners Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Michael’s Restaurant

Berks County is blessed with roads.

Lost in the complaints about potholes and the seemingly endless construction projects is the fact that Berks County has one of the best networks of roads in the state.

There are no two points in the county that are separated by more than an hour’s drive.

Yet the city of Reading becomes a roadblock for cross-county travel. For those of us living on the west side of town, places like Boyertown and Douglassville can feel like an eternity away.

One look at the Berks County Eats map shows that my trips to the “other side” have been few and far between. Part of it is the incredible dining options west of the city, but there is a part of me (the Pennsylvania Dutch part) that keeps me from wandering too far from home.

One of the few eastern Berks County restaurants I have frequented is Michael’s Restaurant in Douglassville.

Just two miles from the Montgomery County line, Michael’s Restaurant is your typical diner. A pair of dining rooms flanks the long lunch counter just inside the doors. A row of booths sits against the wall opposite the counter, each one equipped with a small jukebox filled with songs from the “Now That’s What I Call Music” series. I’m not brave enough to drop a quarter in to see if they actually work.

Michael’s menu is expansive, eight full pages plus daily specials, so there are always going to be hits and misses when you’re serving that many dishes. That’s why  I always stick to the Sautéed Specials page.

The Sautéed Specials includes Asian-inspired stir-fry, Italian pasta dishes and unique creations, each one mixing meat with vegetables, sauce and either pasta or rice, all for between $10-14.

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A trip to the soup and salad bar is included with all of these sautés (those without pasta also get an additional vegetable). Though not the best or biggest salad bar in Berks County, Michael’s does offer two kinds of soup and a rainbow of salad ingredients.

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On my most recent trip, I opted for one of the more original sautés: chicken tossed with spinach, white beans and bow-tie pasta in a light cream sauce.

IMG_3063

My dish had a beautiful presentation, and everything in it was really good (the flavor of the spinach really came through, and there was more than enough to ensure some in every bite). The only downside to the dish is that instead of coming together as one dish, it was more like a collection of individual items than a true sauté.

IMG_3064

The same held true for my wife’s sauté, which included chicken, broccoli and pierogies over angel hair pasta. Though everything in it was very good, I can’t help but think that it would have been better served as a pasta entree with broccoli and pierogies on the side.

I enjoy Michael’s for what it is – a family restaurant at a convenient location with good food for reasonable prices.

It’s also a marker on the right side of the map, the first of many trips to the “other side” of Berks County.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Good
Price: Reasonable

Michael’s Restaurant
1211 Benjamin Franklin Hwy
Douglassville, PA 19518

Michael's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Diners Lunch & Dinner Reviews