Negril exterior

I had originally gone to the west side of town for a completely non-eating reason — it happens every now and then — but when I saw Negril Jamaican Restaurant I immediately changed course.

Negril is a fast-casual restaurant, more casual than it is fast and it’s pretty fast: most of the food is already prepared and in a steam table set behind glass.

The menu has Oxtail, Brown Stews, Jerked dishes and Jamaican Fried Chicken. But every menu listing for a curried dish — available in goat, chicken and shrimp — included the line “Best Curry in Town.” How could I not go with that?


Shin Jung front

Shin Jung, one of the area’s oldest Korean restaurants, is closed after a fire Wednesday destroyed the building in which it was housed.

The structure, a former house in the Mills 50 district, caught fire early Wednesday morning (June 26) at approximately 1 a.m. The restaurant was closed and no one was injured. According the the Orlando Fire Department the cause was possibly due to an electrical problem; foul play is not suspected.

Shin Jung roof

Shin Jung side

Flames shot through the roof, and considerable damage can be seen from the outside.

Shin Jung condemned

A bright orange sign affixed to the front door declares that the property has been condemned.

Shin Jung opened in late 1994 as one of only three or four exclusively Korean restaurants in the Orlando area. It took over the space that had previously been a restaurant called Chubby’s. Originally, the building, at 1638 E. Colonial Drive, had been a private home, one of the few remaining houses frontingState Road 50.

The owners of Shin Jung could not be reached for comment.


Saigon Noodle Bumby soup

The nominees listed below are the semifinalists for Best Vietnamese Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.

During the nomination phase, you may select up to three restaurants. The top vote getters will advance to the finals. To place a vote, check the box next to the restaurant’s name then click the VOTE button below the poll.

If you would like to nominate a restaurant that is not already on the list, you may write in the name. Please note: The Foodster Awards are open to independent restaurants only, defined as those having three or fewer locations. Write-in candidates from chains with more than three locations will be deleted. Also, before submitting a write-in candidate, verify that the restaurant is not already listed. Duplicate nominations will be deleted along with any accumulated votes.

Finally, after you place your vote, leave a comment below telling us who you voted for and why you think it has the best Vietnamese food in Central Florida. (We can't see who you vote for, so be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in your comment.)

Nominations will be accepted through July 9. The finalists will be published on July 10.


Chefs de France placesetting

I took advantage of a complimentary day at Epcot recently to pay a return visit to Chefs de France, the big brasserie on the first level of the France pavilion. True, the upstairs bistro, Monsieur Paul, offers a more sedate dining experience, at least relatively so, but Chefs de France can be as equally enjoyable, as was the case on my latest visit.

My companion ducked into the restaurant just ahead of a massive downpour and were shown to a table by the window where we could watch the crowds scurry.


Lott with bookPhoto by Lucy Hill

Correction: An earlier version of this article had an incorrect date for the book signing at Buttermilk Bakery. It is July 28, not June 28.

Too often, restaurant guides are just glorified directories, lists that offer little more information than you can get from the Yellow Pages. (You remember the Yellow Pages, don’t you?) I should know, I’ve participated in some of those publications, including a couple of Zagat Surveys.

But Kendra Lott, publisher of Edible Orlando, has produced a guide that goes beyond mere cross-referenced listings with her recently released book, “Unique Eats and Eateries of Orlando” (208 pp. Reedy Press. $20.95). It’s a great resource not only for newcomers but for longtime locals, as well, from an entertaining writer, dedicated culinarian and Central Florida native.

First of all, the book is not a comprehensive guide to every restaurant in the area, not even close. Even longevity and general popularity weren’t enough for some establishments to make the cut. (I was amused by the omission of one particular longtime restaurant with an inexplicably diehard following; If I see you at one of Lott’s upcoming book signings I’ll tell you which one.)