Jen’s New York Deli: at the corner of Five Forks Trickum Road and Oak Road, across the street from the Rite-Aid pharmacy is this little hole-in-the-wall. Unlike most chain food at this corner, this is a Lawrenceville original, in a location that might as well be part of Snellville. Open essentially for breakfast and lunch, Jen’s Deli offers bagels and good, inexpensive sandwiches for people on the go.

The outside of Jeni's Deli

The outside of Jen's Deli

The inside is small, with just a few chairs and tables, and there is a really nice mural, a take off on old movie posters from years past, opposite the steel cabinets stuffed with bagels and meats.

The walls of Jen's Deli are covered in a mural of movie images.

The walls of Jen's Deli are covered in a mural of movie images.

If this deli lacks anything relative to the bigger sandwich shops closer to the perimeter, it’s the prepared foods a shop like Alon’s might have. But what it has is good, and inexpensive. A sandwich and coke costs less than $7.00, for example.

A grilled ham and cheese with slices of banana pepper, from Jen's.

A grilled ham and cheese with slices of banana pepper, from Jen's.

Verdict: If you’re in the area, give this place a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Jen’s New York Deli
875 Oak Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30044
(770) 978-7653‎

Jen's New York Deli on Urbanspoon

Because of the kinds of jobs I do, I’m always looking for something that is cheap, filling, good, low sodium, low glycemic index, requires little refrigeration, and microwaves easily, to serve as a “good lunch”. And although I’m very happily omnivorous, I’m conscious of the kinds of themes that Michael Pollan touches on in the books, “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food“. I’m equally aware of the kinds of issues that Mark Bittman touches on in “Food Matters“,  in the article “Vegan Before Dinnertime“,  and in what I regard as his best article, “Putting Meat Back in Its Place.” And I believe this “more plants, less meat” trend is attracting attention not because it’s outrageous, but because it makes both sense and dollars and cents. In the case of the “good lunch”, interestingly, these disparate themes merge. Vegan dishes tend to have all the traits I’m looking for, and I can control the salt content if I cook it myself.

Kashi makes a number of prepared products, some of them good, others really good, but they also make a 7 grain cereal mix:

Kashi 7 grain pilaf.

Kashi 7 grain pilaf.

With 2 cups of water and a cereal packet from the box, you can make a nice hot cereal in about 25 minutes.

Uncooked kashi, with 2 cups of water

Uncooked kashi, with 2 cups of water

I was thinking I didn’t want just cereal, and it would be a shame to waste those nice grains. So I decided on a stir fry. To note, there are very few Kashi based stir fries in the blogosphere, and this one from the Plain Cook site is more complicated than I wanted.

Total time required: ca 40 minutes.

Ingredients:

1 package Kashi 7 grain pilaf.
2 cups water
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced finely
2 stalks of celery, sliced thin
1 poblano pepper, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, diced
some green onions
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin.
ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil.

So, we put the kashi in a pan once the water is boiling and simmer 25 minutes. In my case, it wasn’t quite done at 25, there was still some water, but I had started and ended the first 25 minutes with the pot covered. I’m much more likely to leave it uncovered after 10 minutes or so, if I do this again.

Prepare the vegetables as the kashi simmers and just before the kashi is ready, add olive oil to a pan and heat the pan on high. Once the pan is hot enough, add vegetables, and reduce the heat to medium.

Vegetables, ready to stir-fry.

Vegetables, ready to stir-fry.

Let the vegetables cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring, waiting for the onions to begin to turn translucent. At this point add the kashi and let it cook for about 3 minutes more. Afterwards, put the stir-fry into serving bowls and season to taste.

A kashi stir-fry. Season to taste.

A kashi stir-fry. Season to taste.

The recipe above serves about 3-4. In practice, kashi is a bit stickier in the pan than quinoa, so my suggestion is transfer it into microwave bowls (that portion you’re preserving for lunch) as soon as you can.

The vegetables I chose were simply those I had around. You can substitute as you wish (cubes of zucchini would be good here, and I’m personally fond of baby bok choy).

Sri Thai is a Thai food and sushi restaurant right on the corner of Scenic Highway (124) and Highway 78, in the same strip mall as Provino’s Italian Restaurant, Books for Less, and the Snellville Diner. It follows an older Thai restaurant that wasn’t as successful and perhaps is haunted by the older restaurant’s lack of success. I know I avoided it in part for that reason, and also in part because Danthai, which is very close to me, is better than their predecessor. But I snuck into this place for lunch, recently, just to see if that was a true impression or just a lingering prejudice.

The inside of the restaurant is prettier than I recall, and the waiters are dressed all in black. The place is a little small, and probably couldn’t handle a huge crowd. The menu they present has two sides, one a side with Japanese dishes and another a side with Thai dishes. The bento (lunch) boxes looked good, with picture of various sushi rolls and good looking slices of sashimi. I know they are advertising $1 sushi specials, and while those aren’t bad, the fish tends to get awfully thin in dollar sushi.

It’s also not unusual to have the Thai food/Japanese food pairing. The restaurant Wild Ginger, off Savoy Road, does the same. I’ve been relatively outspoken about my Japanese preferences, so I didn’t want to explore that in this restaurant. I wanted a simple curry and wanted to see how the meal went.

My daughter was with me. She had the basil roll. I ordered a masaman curry, with beef. Masaman is a milder curry with coconut milk, and is particularly good with beef and cashews. It stores well and ages well. And my favorite place to get it was the now closed “Bites”, where Eric, the cook/owner, went out of his way to make the food both look and taste good.

Imagine my surprise when I get my dish and it comes out looking great. This is not exotic food in Thailand, and serves a role similar to mom’s beef stew. But they went the extra mile to make the dish look fantastic. It tasted good too. The serving size was appropriate for lunch and the price – $7.50 as I recall – was reasonable.

Service was complicated slightly by language issues. Some of the staff had some trouble with things I said, and were probably new to English. Otherwise I had no problem with service.

To end, we had their mango ice cream (with cooked banana, wrapped in pastry), and it was as good looking as the curry.

Verdict? This is hardly a test of how they operate during peak dinner hours. I came in during a quiet period at lunch. But what I saw was promising, and I’d go back again, to find out if they stand up to a dinner crowd.

Sri Thai on Urbanspoon