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Baba chef opens another restaurant.

Byline: Barbara M. Houle

COLUMN: TABLE HOPPIN'

Executive chef/owner Wilson Wang of Baba Sushi in Worcester has
officially opened his new restaurant, Kozara, and you can feel the
energy and excitement when you walk in, especially when Wang is in the
house.

Kozara, 301 Park Ave., is located next to Baba Sushi in a building
that formerly housed a convenience store. Wang bought the property and
spent almost four months in building renovation.

Vinh Ly of Worcester, who helped manage Baba Sushi, is general
manager of Kozara, which in Japanese means small plates.

The enthusiastic Ly described Kozara's menu as "Asian
tapas," or "small bites of food that will thrill you."

Wang said the idea to open another restaurant started more than two
years ago. The building next door to Baba became a "vision,"
according to Wang and Ly, who said the restaurants in a way are
interconnected as people can opt to begin their dining experience with
appetizers and drinks at Kozara and then eat sushi at Baba.

"Baba customers sometimes will have dessert and drinks at
Kozara," said Ly. "Both restaurants offer different options,
and it all depends on what the customer wants. We say it's like the
Chinese concept of yin-yang."

Kozara is a restaurant that can stand on its own.

It seats 80 in a lounge-type area and bar. The decor is not only
inviting and upbeat, but also very comfy. Wang has followed the open
kitchen design trend in the restaurant.

"Kozara is new and different in the Worcester area," said
Ly. "It's a place to relax and enjoy."

The menu highlights creative tapas dishes with mainstays such as
beef, chicken, shrimp and pork.

The restaurant also offers a variety of "Tori" skewered
meats and vegetables. Chefs use a custom-built charcoal grill, turning
the skewers and basting with sauces. Hot-off-the-grill "tori,"
or
yakitori
  
n.
A dish of bite-sized marinated chicken pieces grilled on skewers.



[Japanese : yaki, roasting + tori, bird.]
, are traditional-style Japanese kebabs.

If you enjoy seafood, especially oysters, you definitely will want
to try the raw bar at Kozara.

On the menu: soups: Bering Sea, which consists of Alaskan king crab
in a
miso

, buttery, creamy broth; Soothing Soul, which features
tofu

,
seaweed in a clear broth with soft clams, and
Vegan
 /veg·an/ () () a vegetarian whose diet excludes all food of animal origin.


n.
, a mixed vegetable
soup with tofu in a clear broth. Price range, $4 to $9.

Salads: fresh root, $4, a combination of shredded
daikon
  
n.
A white radish (Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus) of Japan, having a long root that is eaten raw, pickled, or cooked. Also called Chinese radish, Japanese radish, Oriental radish.
 radish and
carrots with a vinegar, salt and sugar dressing (can be ordered with
shrimp), and sesame greens, $9, steamed shrimp with spinach and rice
noodles mixed with sesame oil, sugar, salt and topped with sesame seeds.

The list of tapas specialties, $5 to $9 includes Golden Jewel Box
(tofu filled with choice of shrimp, chicken, beef, or pork); crunchy

tilapia
  or  a spiny-finned freshwater fish of the family Cichlidae, native chiefly to Africa and the Middle East.
; Little Joy (tomato stuffed with a choice of chicken, shrimp,
pork, beef, crab or
veggies

); Spicy Joy (a jalapeno pepper filled with
chicken, shrimp or pork); Rise and Shine (coffee-infused chicken wings);
Wang Chicken Wings, salt and pepper chicken wings; Wang Frog Legs;
calamari; Hot and Spicy (a choice of shrimp, chicken or pork with
stir-fried bell peppers and dried hot peppers); Momo Shrimp (whole
shrimp, stir-fried with a tomato garlic sauce); and Asian Hushpuppies.

Executive pastry chef/owner Michele Bohigian of Something Sweet by
Michelle in Worcester provides Kozara with desserts, including a
dynamite gluten-free chocolate torte, passion fruit cheesecake, green
tea creme brulee and lemon-ginger creme brulee.

Kozara opens at 4 p.m. daily. During the week, the restaurant
closes after midnight; 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; there is a full
liquor license. There is parking at night in the rear of the building,
courtesy of TD Bank, according to Wang.

Telephone: (508) 762-9213; Weekend reservations recommended.

The restaurant makes its own vegetable and meat filled dumplings.
Ask about new items added to the menu.

Tidbits

:

Before joining Baba Sushi, Vinh Ly operated the former Apsara, a
restaurant on Park Avenue that specialized in Vietnamese and Cambodian
cuisine. Ly was born in Vietnam.

Fans of Wilson Wang will be happy to learn that he will continue as
executive chef at Baba Sushi. He likes to schmooze, so expect to see him
at Kozara now and then.

Kozara's grand opening celebration will take place sometime in
February, according to Wang, who wanted the party to be held after
Worcester's Best Chef competition, which is scheduled Jan. 27 in
Mechanics Hall in Worcester. Visit www.worcestersbestchef.com for
tickets.

Wang is competing, representing Baba Sushi. Kozara is also
participating.

Wang won the People's Choice Award in the 2012
Worcester's Best Chef competition and the Judges' Pick and the
People's Choice Award in 2011. He was a finalist who competed for
the coveted Iron Chef title in 2010. He also has won other local and
national honors.

Get your chopsticks out!

The folks at Ritual, 281 Main St., Worcester, got to strut their
stuff last week when "Phantom Gourmet" popped in to film for
its cable TV show.

"It was an exciting frenzy," according to someone in the
know.

Russ and Melissa Watson own the restaurant; Sean McCabe is chef.

We know local diners will look forward to watching the segment when
it's aired. Date and time
to be announced

.

There's a "Closed" sign posted at John Grosse's
restaurant at 352 Shrewsbury St., Worcester. It has been there for a
couple of weeks.

It's a wash, folks.

Grosse originally opened the business as Bread & Pizza, a
wholesale and retail business that sold artisan breads and pizza.

He later changed the name to East Park Grille and dropped his
wholesale business, concentrating on lunch and serving dinner several
nights a week. He also made fresh bread and pizza daily.

Enough said.

Tomasso
Trattoria
  
n. pl. trat·to·ri·as or trat·to·ri·e
An informal restaurant or tavern serving simple Italian dishes.



[Italian, from trattore, host, from trattare
 in Southboro is among participating restaurants
in the annual Super Hunger Brunch event to benefit the Greater Boston
Food Bank.

The brunch at Tomasso will take place Jan. 27. The restaurant will
serve a three-course menu, $25 per person, plus tax and tip, with 100
percent of the proceeds going to Greater Boston Food Bank.

Visit www.tomassotrattoria.com for more info, or call (508)
481-8484.

Sutton Wines & Liquors, 160 Worcester Providence Turnpike,
Sutton, will have an in-store wine tasting from 4 to 7 p.m. Jan. 25.

Benziger is "wine of the month."

If you have a tidbit for this column, call (508) 868-5282. Send
email to bhoulefood@gmail.com.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Standing in the new Kozara are Wilson Wang, owner of
Kozara and the neighboring Baba, and Vinh Ly, manager of Kozara.

PHOTOG
  
n. Informal
A person who takes photographs, especially as a profession; a photographer.
: T&G Staff/TOM RETTIG

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