Too bad, I came down with something awful and I've been sick for the past few days. When I'm sick...I rarely ever take any medicine, rather I try to get over it by sleeping well and eating well. And when I say eating, I mean eating a lot of spicy Korean food. It's very strange, I crave for spicy Korean food especially when I'm sick.
I got on a taxi, and headed out to Cho Dang Gol. Cho Dang Gol is a Korean restaurant located in K-Town, which specializes in Korean tofu. I had one dish in mind, and that was Seafood Sundubu Jjigae. Sundubu Jjigae is a spicy seafood tofu stew - it's hot and spicy, just what I needed to ward off whatever I came down with.
I actually prefer Cho Dang Gol over BCD Tofu...Cho Dang Gol is slightly more expensive, but it's clean, their ingredients are very fresh, and their tofu is a lot more authentic. Highly recommend it for those of you Tofu junkies.
This one's a freebie - they give it out to every customer. It's basically Korean soft tofu...very yummy.
These are small dishes almost every Korean restaurants give out before your meal. They are called 'Banchan' - Cho Dang Gol's banchan dishes were very well prepared, fresh ingredients. Their Kimchi was da bomb.
Ordered steamed dumplings for an appetizer.
Multi grain rice, and Seafood Sundubu Jjigae...this is why I came down to Cho Dang Gol. Look at that mean looking, hot, and spicy tofu stew...that's my medicine.
All the ingredients in the stew were very very fresh...highly recommend this place.
If you are looking for a consistently excellent, reliable seafood restaurant, then you may want to try Aquagrill. Aquagrill is located in SoHo (Spring St. & 6th Ave.). Their seafood is very fresh and well presented - we tried a variety of dishes ranging from Tuna Carpaccio and Oysters to Seared Sea Scallops, Sea Bass, and Crab Claws.
The place is definitely one of my top choices for seafood in town - highly recommend this place!
Excellent wine selection!! Obviously went straight for Chardonnay!
...and an excellent raw bar menu...lots of variety here!
Now for the real stuff...very well prepared menu here...was a challenge to choose one dish, honestly - I would have tried all if I could
More seafood choices
The usual suspects here - bread and olive oil
Now this is Peppered Tuna Carpaccio - I mean, it was UNREAL. Seriously, if you go to Aquagrill, you MUST get this if available.
Peppered Tuna Carpaccio with Fresh Avocado and Roasted Bermuda Onions...
This was at leat 12 out of 10 - so delicious
You can't get seafood without quality white wine - a bottle of Neyers Vineyards Chardonnay 2011
It's good quality for sure
We got 18 oysters, 2 of 9 different types of oysters!
We got 2 of the following types: Gold Creek, Potters’ Moon, Eagle Creek, Little Creek, Moonstone, East Beach Blond, Raspberry Point
Oh yea, <3 oysters
Andrew's main dish: Chilled Fresh Maine Jonah Crab Claws Served with Jícama-Jalapeño-Pineapple Slaw and Dijon Mustard Sauce
It's a mean looking claw for sure - bu oh so tasty
If you don't get hungry looking at this fat crab claw meat...I don't know man...
It's just incredible - so tender, juicy and so meaty!
Simon's main dish: Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass with a Korean Kimchi and Tuice Cooked String Beans in a Wasabi-Miso Sauce
Finally, this one is mine: Seared Diver Sea Scallops with Dungeness Crabmeat Risotto and Sugar Snap Peas in a Tomato Shellfish Emulsion
These scallops are like a steak - juicy and meaty. yum!!
A pretty decent dessert menu
Chocolate Crusted Deep Dish Walnut Pie with a Chocolate Ganache Topping. This was my favorite dessert - amazingly rich chocolate, and a scoop of vanilla go very well, as we all know too well!
Technorati Tags: Aquagrill, Berry Cobbler, California Wine, Chardonnay, Chilled Fresh Maine Jonah Crab Claws, Chocolate Crusted Deep Dish Walnut Pie with a Chocolate Ganache Topping, Crab Claws, Crabs, Downtown, Eagle Creek, East Beach Blond, East Village, Fish, Gold Creek, Houston Street, Jennifer and Jeremy Marshall, Jennifer Marshall, Jeremy Marshall, Little Creek, Lower Manhattan, Manhattan, Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass, Moonstone, Napa Valley, Napa Valley Wine, New York, New York City, Neyers Vineyards 2011, NYC, Oyster Bar, Oysters, Peppered Tuna Carpaccio, Potters’ Moon, Raspberry Point, Raw Bar, Scallops, Sea Bass, Sea Scallops, Seafood, Seafood Restaurant, Seared Diver Sea Scallops, SoHo, South of Houston Street, Spicy Tuna Tartare, Village, West Village, White Wine, Wine
People normally don't think of Harlem as their "go to" neighborhood for trendy, quality restaurants. I'm hoping my latest blog posts will change your perception. I headed up to Settepani for a nice Italian dinner. The restaurant is located on Lenox Avenue (between 120th and 119th Street).
It's a very cozy place located in a nice historic area of Harlem. The interior is very nicely decorated and seems to be a good spot for a quiet date in Uptown. The food was wonderful - their focus is on Sicilian cuisine. I would definitely go there again and recommend this place for quiet dates or a dinner with parents. Plus, for
Enjoy the photos!
My photo makes it look a bit cluttered but the place is nicely decorated and neat.
A good selection of beverages - I ordered a glass of Merlot
It's a very well-thought-out menu...yet...I feel like getting today's special
My merlot has arrived - I love when red wine's poured in a short glass like this - it just looks better, and...tastes better, therefore.
I ordered my appetizer and it's their special arugula salad with pan-seared tuna
Perfectly pan-seared tuna - it was amazing, very well prepared to preserve that fresh tuna taste with the consistency of a very tender steak
Here is my main dish - special seafood risotto!
mmm...I love seafood, I love spices...and I prefer rice over pasta...so this is a no brainer choice for me and it was FANTASTIC
Another shot of it haha
It's got clams, calamri, shrimps, and mussels
Apparently the restaurant owners used to own / run another restaurant called Bondi
I got myself a tiramisu...which I couldn't finish...
Honestly, for quality Italian food at a nice restaurant like this...$56 is a VERY good deal.
It's been over a month since my last blog post - I've been busy with my new work and came down with the flu one week, etc. So it's good to be back.
I have been trying to hit up a couple of highly rated restaurants in Harlem but I just didn't get a chance to. It's crazy considering I'm closer to Harlem than to Lower Manhattan (as I live in Upper East Side)...
I finally went up to Harlem last night to this French restaurant called Chez Lucienne. The food was good, friendly wait staff, and good ambiance overall - I recommend it. But the place was too dark inside at night for photos.
So I headed up to Harlem again today, this time for brunch at Red Rooster. Red Rooster is actually located right next to Chez Lucienne, at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bldv. and Malcolm X Blvd. (125th St. and Lenox Ave.).
Red Rooster is a trendy, comfort food, southern cuisine-esque restaurant headed by Chef Marcus Samuelsson. I sat at the bar instead of the main dining area, which seemed more cozy to be honest so I will try that next time.
As usual...I took photos of all the greatness, enjoy:
Silly enough - I forgot to take a photo of the main dining area - which looked a lot more cozy than the bar
Fairly contemporary interior, decor
My mind was set on getting Bloody Mary as soon as I stepped into this place...but you wait, it isn't what you expected
A decent list of alcoholic beverages
Red Eye Rooster - it's beer meets Bloody Mary. For $17, I say it's a good value - it was surprisingly a very good combo...the usual Bloody Mary, then a bit of carbonation from beer. wonderful
Fried Yard Bird - basically a perfectly cooked fried chicken (dark meat) with mashed potatoes, hot sauce and pickles on the side.
The chicken was appropriately cooked - mmm..so juicy inside and crispy outside.
I really liked these little pickles and the hot sauce - definitely adds another dimension to the fried chicken, and satiates my Korean palate!
All that juicse, tender meat, crispiness, and hot sauce...wonderful
My dessert was a red velvet cupcake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
I got a free glass of Glögg (mulled wine)! Apparently, the owner/chef is Swedish and he's just started selling his own branded Glögg. This was fantastic, and went very well with my dessert.
Getting $17 / glass Bloody Mary certaintly didn't help!
Technorati Tags: Beer, Beer and Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Brunch, Comfort Food, Dark Meat, Fried Chicken, Fried Yard Bird, Glogg, Harlem, Marcus Samuelsson, Mashed Potatoes, Mulled Wine, Red Eye Rooster, Red Rooster, Soul Cuisine, Soul Food, Southern Cuisine, Southern Food, White Mace Gravy
I blogged about this hidden gem Italian restaurant in Norwalk, CT - my girlfriend and I revisited the place for some more photos for you folks out there. I am going to say this again, it's often hard to find, outside of Manhattan, local Italian restaurants that are head and shoulders better than your off-the-shelf pasta with Ragu sauce. Pasta Nostra is by far one of the best Italian restaurants I've come across so far - high quality ingredients, attentive staff and owner/chef Joe Bruno, and their superb home-made pasta are all the reasons why I revisited the place.
Enjoy the photos!
You can be assured of the quality of food at Pasta Nostra - owner/chef Joe Bruno is always at his restaurant, closely attending diners - you can see him in this photo.
The fact that it's a pretty much open kitchen layout tells me that they take pride in their clean/tidy food/kitchen/staff.
Their menu changes frequently - and their selection is more varied, in a sense that you won't find your generic "pasta with red tomato sauce."
It's a very well thought-out, prepared menu, with interesting dishes that you don't often at your often-visited Italian joint Vinny's
Rich, but not too dry - can't enjoy dinner without good wine
I am a big sucker for good home-made bread with olive oil! I've got to save some space for food!!
Appetizer - Salumi Misty & Bocconcino Cheese
This appetizer went very well with our wine - the meat quality was superb, the Gorgonzola cheese was excellent...and we loved the Sicilian Olive Salad!
Good lentil soup for this cold weather - excellent choice
Roasted mushrooms on a crepe with fondue - was excellent as well.
Our friend Gulab's choice - Spaghetti alla Puttanesca! It was an excellent choice - slightly spicy, their home-made pasta had just the right consistency. Highly recommend it.
My girlfriend's choice - Fritteddi with linguini on the side. These meatballs were excellent - juicy, perfectly prepared and cooked.
Good ingredients, excellent meat quality and appropriately cooked...look how juicy it is!
Side dish for the meatballs - liguini with tomato sauce
Here is my choice - Saltimbocca alla Romana - top-notch veal scallops! I loved this dish, and I am sure to order this again next time.
Perfectly cooked veal scallops
Besides the veal scallops, my favorite part of my dish were these artichokes. I've never had artichokes prepared this way - it was very fresh artichokes, retained all of its juice and taste in it - it went superbly well with my fettuccine on the side.
Always leave some room for dessert!
A good selection of dessert wine
Hot chocolate cake - the whipped cream was excellent, went well with the chocolate
Yes - it was amazing
My banana foster sundae!
Technorati Tags: Appetizer, Artichoke, Banana Foster Sundae, Banana Sundae, Cabernet Sauvignon, Connecticut, Crepe, Dessert, Entrée, Fondue, Fritteddi with linguini, Gorgonzola Cheese, Hot Chocolate, Hot Chocolate Cake, Italian Cuisine, Italian Food, Italian Restaurant, Joe Bruno, Lentil, Lentil Soup, Linguini, Meatballs, Merlot, Mushrooms, Norwalk, Pasta Nostra, Puttanesca, Red Wine, Roasted mushrooms on a crepe with fondue, Salami, Saltimbocca alla Romana, Salumi Misty & Bocconcino Cheese, SoNo, Soup, South Norwalk, Spaghetti, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, Sundae, Veal, Veal Scallops, Wine
It's that time of the year - when families get together and exchange gifts and have a real good time!
My girlfriend of over 5 years and her mother came and visited New York this past weekend...and my mother and her mother got to meet for the first time - I guess it's about time - a small, yet big, step forward for me and my girl.
A couple of my former colleagues as well as Joe Bruno from Pasta Nostra (another great Italian restaurant located in South Norwalk, CT) recommended Jungsik...I thought I should give it a try! Jungsik is definitely one of the hottest restaurants right now. What's better than inviting a couple of special folks in my life for this special occasion to Jungsik?
Jungsik is...well, a Korean restaurant - but it doesn't really justify to label it as such. Surely, you will see many familiar names on the menu...but what's really incredible was that Jungsik really brought out all these very familiar Korean-cuisine ingredients and expressed them in a very contemporary / well balanced way...this made our dinner much more exciting. I would definitely recommend Jungsik to anyone looking for that special occasion dinner. (By the way, the food was phenomenal, excellent...lived up to all this hype...but their service level was a bit disappointing - they forgot a couple of our requests, mixed up on our water between still and sparkling, forgot to bring us a couple of plates, rushed us a bit to order wine in the beginning before everyone got to the table and I wished our Sommelier would explain a bit more about their wine pairing selection...)
Jungsik's interior design is eloquent, yet cozy.
My mom, posing.
My girl, smiling.
All four of us went with the ten-course tasting menu and wine pairing.
You can see some of the more familiar Korean dishes on their A La Carte menu.
Saint-Chamant Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Let's start the dinner with some champagne!
Toy-like, very cute amuse-bouches!
More amuse-bouches - the waiter called it Korean Fried Chicken (KFC)
More amuse-bouches...Wagyu beef burger! That was really good.
A potato foam with a piece of clam and chopped chives.
Clam chowder soup - when this dish first came out, my reaction was....where is the other 99% of the dish?!
Declicious clam chowder soup...!
Salt and butter for some bread action...
Their home-made breads were awesome - so good, that the waiter warned us not too eat too much! or we will regret...
2004 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese
Riesling is my mom's favorite...and you can tell...
It looks more liquid than it actually was - this was probably one of the best foie gras paste I've had in my life - a bit sweet, but still had that gamey foie gras taste to it. Look how intricately garnished.
Toasted biscuits for the foie gras paste.
It was so good, and I was eating so fast, I almost forgot to take this photo!...already half gone.
My second favorite dish of the night - Wagyu beef tartare - this is an interesting way to express the Korean beef tartare dish called "Yukhoe" - the yellow balls are quail eggs, which went VERY well with the beef tartare and its sweet, spicy Korean sauce called "Gochujang" - it was superb
They turned this very traditional Korean dish into an avante garde fusion dish...incredibly well balanced between all these ingredients. The Wagyu beef was definitely top-notch.
Let's get some Greek wine...you can imagine the kind of dishes they are pairing with this...
Reminds you of the clear, blue Mediterranean Ocean?
Hidden inside fried, what I think is black seaweed, is the fried oyster.
Again, Jungsik turned some of the most widely used, traditional Korean-cuisine ingredients, such as oysters, into a cutting-edge fusion dish that walks a fine line between tradition and revolution.
This was my mom's favorite dish - Sea Urchin!
They prepared sea urchin in a Bibimbab-style dish.
You can see that it comes with crispy brown rice to emulate the texture and taste of...well, crispy rice stuck at the bottom of a Dolsot Bibimbab dish!
Sea urchin is Korea's ultimate delicacy...and my mom fell in love with this dish, obviously.
Korean rice wine, the brand name reads "Hwarang" My mom insisted that I explain to my girlfriend and her mom what "Hwarang" means...
Of course, Korean rice wine goes very well with grilled octopus...yummmm
Perfectly crispy outside, and perfectly cooked inside
More white wine!
Red snapper - no oil was used, instead, they used drops of very hot water to create that crispy scale effect!
This perfectly cooked red snapper went very well with their parsley sauce.
Truffle Risotto! Truffle risotto with white kimchi and melted cheese atop - again, familiar Korean-cuisine ingredients put together in a very interesting way. It was phenomenal!
Look how pretty this truffle risotto is...very intricate...
Yum.....it's my first time ever eating melted cheese and white kimchi at the same time.
Paella - my mom's second favorite dish! She especially liked how they used brown rice...more healthy/lean than white rice...
Another phenomenal dish.
Now comes our first and only red wine of that night! 2008 Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas.
Top-quality, Wagyu beef steak...this was my favorite dish.
So tender, so succulent, so juicy and terrifyingly beautiful!
Let's bring in some Korean-kick in to this dish - pour me some Kimchi sauce! This dish was 12 out of 10 for me.
Some ice cream to cool down...
Gift exchange - my mom's gift to my girl!
and her gift to my gf's mom!
A gift and a letter from my mom, to me. That's my first name written in Korean.
What a wonderful night, and what a wonderful dinner. Jungsik definitely lived up to its hype and I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for that special occasion dinner option. The only downside is that their wait staff was a bit amateurish...
Technorati Tags: Beef Tartare, Christmas Dinner, Family Dinner, Fancy Dinner, Foie Gras, Fried Oyster, Gastronomy, Gourmet Food, Holiday Dinner, Jungsik, Kobe Beef, Korean Cuisine, Korean Food, Korean Restaurant, Michelin Star, NYC, Red Snapper, Sea Urchin, TriBeCa, Wagyu Beef, Wagyu Steak
My girlfriend, her roommate and I went out for dinner in Norwalk, CT the other night (South Norwalk to be precise). They had a corporate event at this Italian restaurant called Pasta Nostra located in SoNo. I am usually sceptical of the quality of Italian restaurants outside NYC (of course, in the US...). Pasta Nostra well exceeded my expectation. Apparently, Martha Stewart stops by this place from time to time - you be the judge.
My dish, it is linguine with white clam sauce. Note the quality of pasta was superb - it was definitely made of authentic durum wheat. Highly recommend it.
My girlfriend's dish - butternut squash risotto with pesto paste. This was perfect for this season.
Four of my colleagues and I went to Wolfgang's (Midtown East location) for my birthday. We ordered juicy, perfectly prepared, superbly tender porterhouse for five, delicious side dishes, bottles of Shafer (was my first time encountering the Shafer wine, and it has since become my favorite) and scotch...awesome.
The juiciness and tenderness of Wolfgang's medium-rare porterhouse was absolutely wonderful - the Shafer red went superbly well with the steak.
Never mix Dalwhinnie scotch with your birthday cake...not tasty.
My girlfriend gave me a nice present and bought us tickets up to Boston and stayed at a swanky boutique hotel in the heart of Boston! How lovely. Unfortunately, our trip got cut short because we had to rush back to NYC ahead of Frankenstorm...nonetheless, we had fun, lovely time together in Boston and had lots of very good seafood. Enjoy!
Today's special at Trattoria Il Panino on 11 Parmenter Street (North End Boston, off of Hanover Street). Fresh ingredients and the pasta was done just right!
My girlfriend's...also today's special! yum
Just looking at this photo makes me hungry right now...!
After stuffing ourselves with excellent Italian food...we decided to go for light seafood dishes for dinner that night...and we ended up ordering the Shellfish Tower at Mare Oyster Bar (135 Richmond Street, North End Boston, off of Hanover Street). Really liked this oyster bar and this shellfish tower was amazing...especially with some good Pinot Grigio (my gf's choice) and Sicilian Mojito (my choice). The seafood here was incredibly fresh! and the oysters were mostly native to Massachusetts or Maine.
You cannot go to Boston and not pay a visit to Mike's Pastry. Their Cannolis are my favorite by far and perhaps the best in the world...but expect a huge line, even spilling outside the pastry shop. Yum!
Posted at 08:44 PM in Cuisine: Italian, Cuisine: Mediterranean, Cuisine: Oyster Bar, Food: Seafood, Location: Boston, MA, Price: $$, Price: $$$, Restaurant: Mare Oyster Bar, Restaurant: Mike's Pastry, Restaurant: Trattoria Il Panino | Permalink | Comments (2)
Technorati Tags: Boston, Cannoli, Cannolis, Clams, Hanover Street, Jumbo Shrimp, Lobster, Mare Oyster Bar, Mare Shellfish Tower, Massachusetts, Mediterranean, Mediterranean Cuisine, Mediterranean Food, Mike’s Pastry, North End, Octopus, Oyster Bar, Paccheri con Aragosta, Pasta, Seafood, Shellfish
It's been way too long since my last post...I am obviously back in New York from Seoul and this post is long over due - blaming it on my busy schedule.
The good news is that I have some amazing Korean BBQ photos I would like to share with you! My aunt and I went to one of the more famous BBQ places in Seoul (called Budnamu Jib - they actually have a few locations throughout Seoul). Fairly decent beef quality, went very well with Naegmyun, and their Doenjang Jjigae was awesome...IMHO, Korean food is the safest bet when it comes to hearty, fulfilling dinner. Enjoy!
Their entrance...this location was by the Bang Bang intersection
Pretty decent marbling going on...charcoal grilled right in front of you - that's the way to do it! I wish New York Korean restaurants would use charcoal fire as well...
The meat was very juicy, tender and absorbed the charcoal grill scent - it was phenomenal
almost ready to eat!
very tender, top-notch beef selection
you can't have Korean BBQ without a side order of Naengmyun! Wrap the noodles around a piece of your tender BBQ beef...yum!
Doengjang Jjigae being cooked right on the charcoal pit!
Technorati Tags: Airbus 320, Bang Bang Intersection, Bang Bang Intersection, BBQ, Beans Bins Coffee, Boeing 777, Budnamu Jib, Budnamu Jib, Changdeok Gung, Changdeok Palace, Daedo Restaurant, Daedo Shikdang, Delta, Delta Air Lines, Doenjang Jjigae, Galbi, Gangnam, Gangnam Station, Garosugil, Gyudon, Italian Cuisine, Italian Food, Italian Restaurant, Korea, Korea Palace, Korea travel, Korea travelog, Korea trip, Korean BBQ, Korean BBQ, Korean cuisine, Korean food, Korean Palace, Korean restaurant, Mediterranean Cuisine, Mediterranean Food, Mediterranean Restaurant, Naengmyun, Onigiri, Pasha, Rabbit in the Moon, Samsung, Samsung Headquarters, Samsung Town, Seoul, Seoul Metro, Seoul Palace, Seoul Subway, Sinsa-dong, South Korea, To Dam Gol, Traditional Korean Food, Turkish Cuisine, Turkish Food, Turkish Restaurant, Turkish Restaurant, UNESCO World Heritage, Waffle, Woo Lae Oak
I am finally getting around to posting long overdue 'travelogs' for my latest trip to Korea.
On my second day in Seoul, I decided to had to over to one of the 5 most famous/popular/delicious Naengmyeon restaurants in all of Seoul. Naengmyeon is a Korean cold noodle dish especially popular during the summer months.
The restaurant I went to is called Woo Lae Oak (pronounced 'U Rae Oak') located in Jukyo neighborhood in Seoul (north of the river). The restaurant's history goes back all the way to 1946...pretty amazing.
I am uploading photos taken in Seoul as well as Woo Lae Oak. Enjoy!
Notice how the Korean subway stations have these glass walls to prevent any accidents or suicide attempts...with recent tragedies in NYC, I wish we had something like this too. This was taken at the Gangnam Finance Center subway station.
Notice how spacious the subway trains are! And the train rides in Seoul are so much more enjoyable as they are fully air conditioned, spacious and less bumpy.
After getting lost trying to find the restaurant, finally arrived here...it's situated on one of the small alley ways...
Conveniently, it was a pretty hot and humid day...and after walking for about an hour, cold noodles was a no-brainer to me.
And there it is, Naengmyeon. It comes with slices of Korean pear, julienned cucumbers, slices of lean beef, boiled egg and noodles in a bowl of tangy cold broth. You add a bit of vinegar, mustard and, in my case, also a bit of red pepper paste...yummmmy
I finished the dish in less than 5 minutes...wow. This was probably the best Naengmyeon I've ever had in a long time. The broth was perfect, the noodles had the perfect consistency and the vegetables were very fresh. No wonder Woo Lae Oak is considered one of the top 5 Naengmyeon restaurants in Korea.
On my way back from the restaurant, I went near by one of Seoul's many ancient palaces (there were 5 palaces built during the latest dynasty, Joseon Dynasty)...and found this cute sidewalk.
Which led me to Changdeok Palace...look how beautiful the architecture is...very elaborate and the colors are stunning.
This is my favorite shot at the palace. Wow. Such vibrant colors!
...and the king's royal throne...
...inside the palace...getting cloudy outside...
I think these are Korean pine trees...there were hundreds of Chinese tourists - good business.
Technorati Tags: Airbus 320, Bang Bang Intersection, Beans Bins Coffee, Boeing 777, Budnamu Jib, Changdeok Gung, Changdeok Palace, Daedo Restaurant, Daedo Shikdang, Delta, Delta Air Lines, Gangnam, Gangnam Station, Garosugil, Gyudon, Italian Cuisine, Italian Food, Italian Restaurant, Korea, Korea Palace, Korea travel, Korea travelog, Korea trip, Korean BBQ, Korean cuisine, Korean food, Korean Palace, Korean restaurant, Mediterranean Cuisine, Mediterranean Food, Mediterranean Restaurant, Naengmyun, Onigiri, Pasha, Rabbit in the Moon, Samsung, Samsung Headquarters, Samsung Town, Seoul, Seoul Metro, Seoul Palace, Seoul Subway, Sinsa-dong, South Korea, To Dam Gol, Traditional Korean Food, Turkish Cuisine, Turkish Food, Turkish Restaurant, Turkish Restaurant, UNESCO World Heritage, Waffle, Woo Lae Oak
The last time I had been to South Korea was over 10 years ago (back in 2002, when Korea and Japan hosted the 2002 Soccer World Cup games). Fortunately, there came this opportunity at work and I got to go on a business trip to Seoul, South Korea. I will be taking lots of photos for you guys, both food and just random sightseeing photos.
It's been good so far, except I hadn't slept for 28 hours straight then I slept for only 4 hours (I've been up since 2:30 AM here...). Except for the sleep deprivation and my sore butt, neck and back from traveling on a plane for about 18 hours in total (from New York to Seoul via Detroit on Delta)...it's been good so far. Seeing my relatives whom I hadn't seen for so long was amazing.
On my way to Detroit on Delta (Airbus 320)...my travel to Seoul consisted of making one stop at Detroit. This photo was taken somewhere above the upstate New York (or Connecticut) and you can see Long Island and the beaches stretching far out in the horizon.
Now I am on my flight to Seoul from Detroit (Delta's 777-200)...this was my first meal - my choices were (1) Vegetarian Pasta, (2) Chicken (3) of Korean Chicken...(?). I just got the "Chicken" dish...this was definitely a less than stellar meal but it was certainly better than nothing. The best part was the brownie.
About 6 hours past (half way to Seoul from Detroit) - we were just coming out of Alaska and pushing into Far East Asia...but butt and neck started to hurt by now...
They served us our second meal at about 10 hours into the flight...This was Delta's attempt (failed) at making a Korean dish (Bi-Bim-Bab). Again, it was better than nothing and I actually asked for one more.
Our flight was delayed by over 30 minutes because of a persistent, strong headwind...at this point, we were about 13 hours into our flight and I was literally about to go insane...my neck was pretty much disabled by this point and my butt was so sore, it was becoming numb...it was definitely not a pleasant flight. Notice how close North Korea (Pyongyang is North Korea's capital) is to South Korea (obviously) and Japan...very unsettling. Interestingly, planes traveling from North America into South Korea briefly enter into the North Korean airfield.
Finally landed in Incheon International Airport. The airport is top-notch - consistently ranked top 5 in the world. You can see the plane I just got off of (Delta).
Dinner time with my relatives - we went to a hanshik (traditional Korean cuisine) restaurant called To Dam Gol located in Gangnam...um, it was incredible.
Just look at the variety of dishes you get with their hanshik set.
Technorati Tags: Airbus 320, Boeing 777, Delta, Delta Air Lines, Korea, Korea travel, Korea travelog, Korea trip, Korean cuisine, Korean food, Korean restaurant, Seoul, South Korea, To Dam Gol, Traditional Korean Food
I heard about Creperie NYC but never had the chance to go there actually until now. It's literally a hole-in-the-wall type place, with a huge selection of crêpes...I went with Nutella, strawberries, bananas, with a scoop of ice cream and whip cream atop. If you like crêpes, I mean good quality crêpes, go to Creperie NYC located in Lower East Side at 135 Ludlow Street. Enjoy.
Look at how small this place, 3 people crowded the whole place. Meanwhile, their menu is huge.
Look at the size of that Nutella jar! If you love Nutella, like I do, then come to Creperie NYC and witness by far the largest Nutella jar in New York...I want one of those.
Look at the amount of stuff that goes into a crêpe...and how much Nutella there is...they don't joke around.
My crêpe, finished with a scoop of ice cream and whip cream on top. There was so much Nutella and inside it was oozing out..so good!
From a different angle...same good stuff
It took me less than 5 minutes to gobble up this badboy.
I was really craving for Sundubu Jjigae, which is basically a Korean comfort food often popular during the cold winter months. It is a spicy Korean tofu (soft tofu) stew dish, with mixed seafood and beef in this boiling red hot, spicy stew served in a Korean stoneware bowl. Since BCD Tofu in Manhattan is temporarily closed as it relocates, I got on a bus and made a short trip to BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee, NJ. Enjoy!
Saint Rocco's festival going on in Fort Lee, NJ just a block away from BCD Tofu House. Many roads were blocked and buses were re-routed...so I had to walk a bit to get to the restaurant.
A fairly modern decor and spacious - what you see here is about 1/4 of the entire restaurant floor.
This was interesting - a display of Korean stoneware where Sundubu Jjigae (as well as rice) is served in.
A rather unncessarily large and elaborate menu...
Didn't take me too long to decide on what I wanted. I ordered Sundubu Jjigae, medium spicy, with an assortment of mixed seafood and beef. I also ordered a deep fried tofu appetizer.
Almost all Korean restaurants give you small dishes (dishes may vary) - these are called Banchan, basically small dishes (they come even before your appetizers) to appetize and they are for free.
A vinegary seaweed dish with thinly sliced pickled radish.
A traditional Korean fermented dish called Kimchi - often they are spicy and sweet, fermented cabbage with red chili pepper flakes.
Korean potato salad...it's got mayo in it.
...deep fried fish...
Now comes my appetizer - it was huge. There was no way I was going to finish all that. Basically, these were deep fried tofu with beef stuffing inside them.
A bit more up close...
You can see the stuffing inside the tofu...
Here comes my main dish - Sundubu Jjigae - it looks devilishly spicy, doesn't it? Well, it is! But it's so damn incredibly good!!
...the reason why their tofu is so good is that, these tofus are very, very soft. They literally melt in your mouth. You can see there is an assortment of seafood and beef inside the stew.
All this much for $23? Not bad, and the food is incredible - my ultimate comfort food.
Technorati Tags: BCD Tofu House, Bergen County, Book Chang Dong, Fort Lee, Jjigae, Korea Food, Korean Cuisine, Korean Restaurant, Korean Stew, New Jersey, Soft Tofu, Soon Doo Bu Jjigae, Soup, Spicy Food, Spicy Soup, Spicy Stew, Stew, Sundubu Jjigae, Tofu
I came across Jack's Wife Freda while searching for an affordable weekend brunch place. What was intriguing about Dean Jankelowitz's SoHo brunch spot is its South African, Israeli Jewish mom-and-pop menu...I wanted to give it a try and headed out with my friend.
It's a fairly low-key restaurant with limited seating area...
Feels a bit like you are at a diner when you walk in...cozy. I don't think they take reservations.
Their table papers are menus...
I ordered Jack's Breakfast and a bottle of Leffe and my friend ordered Rose Water Waffle and Iced Tea.
A chocolate croissant to start our brunch - nothing really special.
Leffe blonde beer for me...
My main dish - Jack's Breakfast: Grilled Strip Steak, Two Poached Eggs, Grilled Tomato, Pickled Red Onions and Sourdough Toast. All good stuff. yum!
Zooming into my poached eggs...
The picked red onions went very well with my steak and the poached eggs...
Pretty decent strip steak, cooked to my order (medium).
The poached eggs were something to rave about - they were poached just right, really good consistency and downright tasty. Just what I needed for a lazy Sunday.
I like to eat an egg yolk by dipping/applying on a piece of bread...on this occasion, it's a sourdough bread meets poached egg yolk.
Poached egg, grilled strip steak, and picked red onions all in one bite! mmmmm
My friend's order - Rose Water Waffle with Lebanese Yogurt, Strawberries and Honey Syrup. Very tasty as well.
All this much food for just $41 amongst the two of us. Pretty affordable for what you get - good value, good food, cozy/homey atmosphere. I am definitely going to Jack's Wife Freda again soon.
Technorati Tags: 2 Eggs, Blonde Beer, Breakfast, Brunch, Chocolate Croissant, Croissant, Dean Jankelowitz, Greek, Grilled Strip Steak, Grilled Tomato, Honey Syrup, Jack’s Breakfast, Jack’s Wife Freda, Lebanese Yogurt, Leffe, Mediterranean, Pickled Red Onions, Poached Egg, Rose Water Waffle, SoHo, Sourdough Toast, Strawberries
I ran 7 miles around Central Park on Saturday with the sun scorching down on me for the first 4 miles - the weather was humid and in the 90's...I had this excruciating headache after the run - but managed to drag myself all the way to a German beer garden in Brooklyn. And I am glad I did.
Radegast Hall & Biergarten is a fun, hipsterish German beer garden located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The atmosphere was fun, young, hipsterish and jovial - unfortunately, I wasn't in the mood for beer. But I had a good at their bratwurst and it was all that I could ask for after running 7 miles on a very hot and humid day. There are lots of little gems like this in Brooklyn - I shall pay visit to Williamsburg more often...enjoy.
All seven of us sat in the front corner of the beer garden - the place looks smallish in this photo but it was huge - there were a number of different halls packed to the brim.
...full of drunk and happy people...
I headed straight to their grill area. You can order entrees at your table or you can go straight to the grill and order bratwurst (different menus). They do accept credit cards at the grill.
Plenty of condiments to choose from - I went for horseradish and German mustard.
I ended up ordering a beef & pork kielbasa with french fries. It was damn delicious.
Another shot of the sausage from a slightly different angle.
Radegast Hall & Biergarten was definitely a fun place to hang out. I wish to go there again, hopefully without the headache this time.
Technorati Tags: Austrian Beer Garden, Austrian Biergarten, Austrian Pub, Bar, Beer, Beer Garden, Biergarten, Bratwurst, Brooklyn, German Bar, German Beer Garden, German Biergarten, German Cuisine, German Food, German Pub, German Restaurant, Grill, Kielbasa, Pub, Radegast, Radegast Hall, Radegast Hall & Biergarten, Sausage, Williamsburg
A few of my colleagues, including summer analysts, and I went out for Japanese ramen last Friday. Hide-Chan is an authentic Japanese ramen noodle shop, which is conveniently located in Midtown East near my work. This was my second time going there - their noodles are firm, broth well prepared and their pork slices are amazing. Enjoy.
Have you ever wondered - what the heck is Chicken and Waffles?! I usually like to have my waffles with strawberries, bananas doused in maple syrup, and maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Never once in my life did I think fried chicken would go well with my waffles. Interestingly enough, chicken and waffles is the staple food of the cuisine of the deep South (specifically, soul food). How bizarre...!
Anyway, I wanted to give it a try and headed over to New York's finest soul food restaurant called Amy Ruth's located in Harlem.
I got there around noon on Sunday, and there was already a long line of people waiting to get in. Beware there may be a lot of tourists...
I got in after waiting in line for about 15 minutes. Most of these better dressed white people were tourists (mostly Europeans). Others were regular New Yorkers enjoying their brunch...
I was led into a separate dining area (extension I assume). This part was definitely newly constructed and didn't really have the authentic Harlem soul food restaurant feel to it. But the main dining area was packed to the brim and I was nonetheless happy to sit down and order my food.
Grandmas chatting and enjoying brunch after church on Sunday.
A rather large menu - I didn't look much further - I went and ordered "The Rev. Al Sharpton: Fried Chicken and Waffles"
Hot sauce for the chicken and maple syrup for the buttermilk waffle.
Complimentary cornbread...came in very handy as I waited for almost an hour for my food to come out...!
...after waiting for an hour, my waitress finally brought out this BEAST. Look at this monstrous dish. Buttermilk waffle with fried chicken atop. DAMN. Some serious stuff going on here. I couldn't take photos anymore - I had to dig in and taste all that goodness. I was literally starving by then.
Perfectly fried chicken that was so crispy outside and the meat was very tender and juicy. The buttermilk waffle was perfectly cooked as well...chicken and waffle went surprisingly well together indeed...
How do you like it? I loved every bite of this beast...yummm
Look how I destroyed the whole plate. That was probably about 2,000 calories right there, no joke.
All this massive fried chicken wings and buttermilk waffle and a glass of coke came out to be $12.45. This is definitely a huge bargain.
After chowing down The Rev. Al Sharpton, I sort of understood why people are crazy - however bizarre this combo may be. It is incredibly savory, sweet and filling - it may well be my new comfort food. I recommend Amy Ruth's to those of you who want to try New York's finest soul food in Harlem.
Technorati Tags: Amy Ruth’s, Brunch, Buttermilk Waffle, Chicken and Waffles, Chicken Wings, Fried Chicken, Fried Chicken and Waffles, Harlem, Home-Style, Smothered Chicken, Soul Food, Southern Cuisine, Waffles
I've been sick for the past three days and it certainly isn't fun to be ill. So last night, in order to cheer myself up and fuel my body after a long run on Saturday morning (I still ran 6 miles and went to my Pilates class...though almost died afterward) I looked for a restaurant in my neighborhood. I didn't want anything heavy because I still didn't have much energy to chew and digest...perhaps I thought seafood seemed like a reasonable option. Then I remembered reading somewhere that the lobster prices are at all time low.
So I Googled "Lobster Roll UES" and there was Luke's Lobster on 242 E. 81st Street - very close my house. I literally crawled out of my bed and walked to Luke's - I must have looked like a zombie with the way I was walking after sleeping in for two days straight.
Luke's has several locations in Manhattan and their UES location is situated in a rather quiet, quaint neighborhood - it is UES after all. It's on 81st Street, just around the corner from the Starbucks on 2nd Avenue, 81st Street.
I didn't take many photos inside - but it was a fairly small lobster joint. Their menu was simple and liked that they had combos (lobster roll, crab roll, shrimp roll combos). I went for their "Taste of Maine" which came with a bottle of soda of your choice, half lobster roll, crab roll and shrimp roll, and a bag of chips. I would have liked french fries instead...
All that for $21.78, including tax - not bad.
They have four locations in Manhattan.
Since it's close to my house - I figured I would come here again in the future. I got their LOBSTA MOBSTA card. What does that even mean??
And here comes my dinner! "Taste of Maine": 1/2 Crab Roll, 1/2 Lobster Roll, 1/2 Shrimp Roll, 1 bottle of root beer, and 1 bag of chips - fresh from Maine.
They look incredible - their seafood was top notch - really fresh, seasoned just right and the buns were beautifully buttered. I was literally salivating as I was taking these photos.
The crab roll was fantastic - look at all that crab meat. And they are real! Crab sticks (imitation crab meat) suck compared to this bad boy fresh from Maine.
Now the climax - the lobster roll - it was unreal. Very fresh, very well prepared, all that lobster meat just melted in my mouth the second I bit into it. The buttered buns went very well with it. Just look at that - it's gorgeous.
The shrimp roll wasn't as special as their lobster or crab rolls - but still tasty.
Intense Lobster Roll porn to finish off. Looking at these photos makes me want to go to Luke's again.
I headed up to Papaya King on the 86th Street this weekend - took some photos. Their hot dogs and papaya juice never cease to amaze me. Simply, New York's finest. Enjoy.
Papaya King located at 86th and 3rd Avenue. This is their original location, opened in 1932.
Their ridiculously bright yellow and clustered menu intimidates you.
That's where all that goodness flows out of...
All kinds of hot dogs you can order from.
Classic frankfurter with onions and relish, and papaya juice.
There is something wrong with you if you don't feel hungry looking at this photo.
I couldn't eat fast enough - and I had to take photos at the same time - that was very frustrating.
Do you want a bite of this piece? :)
Who's better - Papaya King or Gray's Papaya?
After my pilates class and running in Central Park for an hour - my body was calling urgently for some SERIOUS TACO ACTION. I've heard of Taco Mix located in East Harlem that's supposed have tacos that are as authentic as they can get in New York. I walked to the 116th Street (was quite a walk, and all I could think about was how good the tacos would be).
East Harlem is a bustling area, no doubt, there were little stores, delis, restaurants and eateries everywhere and people literally spilling out of hole-in-the-wall type restaurants. I loved the vibe up in East Harlem. So I finally got to Taco Mix after some serious walking and feeling seriously starved the entire way up. Taco Mix is your typical hole-in-the-wall Mexican tacos place with no seating area. I ordered three tacos: 2 Tacos al Pastor and 1 Taco de Carnitas.
The tacos looked authentic, tatsed awesome with their meats so socculent and the spices, salsas, condiments and fresh herbs (cilantro) just bursting like crazy in my mouth. I mean, these were arguably the best tacos I've ever had so far. It all came out to be $8.75 (I think the guy charged me $0.50 extra...but whatever). No doubt, Taco Mix is now my "go-to" place for their very authentic tacos. I took lots of photos - enjoy!
Getting cheap tacos is the best way to get rid of your coins laying around in your apartment...
East Harlem is a very exciting neighborhood - I wish I had taken more photos of East Harlem.
Taco Mix - exterior view. It's a hole-in-the-wall type tacos place with no seating area. There is nothing special about the decor...
It definitely wasn't the cleanest restaurant but it still had an "A" inspection rating from the city. Who cares when the food is that good. You can see the Al Pastor rotating. Yum!
There was definitely a bit of language barrier - ordering was a bit awkward as I had to make hand gestures and etc. to make sure that I am getting 2 Tacos al Pastor and 1 Taco de Carnitas.
When my tacos came out - my jaw dropped. It looked seriously authentic (for the record, I've had tacos in Mexico in the past - these tacos looked as authentic as they get in New York) and the smell was incredible - actually the entire restaurant smelled so devastatingly good. They obviously prepared the tacos properly - none of that lettuce, tomato, onion, corn, sour cream nonsense people order at Chipotle or Qdoba etc. The tortillas were authentic tortillas (not like Chipotle's where you get a burrito the size of your head). Minimalist, soft corn tortillas, diced fresh onions, cilantro, meat of your choice and that's it. Total awesomeness.
Everyone online was raving about Taco Mix's Tacos al Pastor - so I tried them. Taco al Pastor is actually influenced by shawarma spit-grilled meat brought in to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants. The meat was tender, succulent, fatty and just downright tasty. It came with chopped onions, cilantro and, interestingly a piece of pineapple atop. I put on some condiments, salsas - they were perfect, very authentic tacos. I loved every bite of my tacos al pastor.
Tacos de Carnitas - same deal here - very simple. Soft corn tortillas, carnitas, diced fresh onions and herbs (cilantro) atop with condiments and salsas. Amazing - the meat melted in my mouth as soon as I bit into it. So flavorful with all these salsas and fresh onions and herbs. I wanted just one more! But I ran out of cash so had to stop at 3 tacos in total.
Unlimited condiments and salsas for everyone.
They told me this one is MUCHO HOT!! So...I stayed away from it.
...the same guy told me this one is HOT!! So...once again, I stayed away from it.
These chili peppers freaked me out - they look so evil, don't they? The guy just shook his head and gave me this look - which I took it to be "if you eat this, you are going to die"
Taco Mix rocks. I mean their tacos are so incredibly flavorful and authentic - there is no way anyone would ever want to go back to eating Chipotle and Qdoba after having some of the most authentic, tasty tacos in New York - at Taco Mix. This is now my official, "go-to" tacos place. I highly recommend Taco Mix to all of you.
Technorati Tags: Affordable Food, Affordable Restaurant, Al Pastor, Authentic Tacos, Authentic Tacos in New York, Barbacoa, Best Tacos, Best Tacos in New York, Bistek, Buche, Carnitas, Cecina, Cheap Eats, Cheap Food, Cheap Restaurant, Chorizo, East Harlem, Enchilada, Lengua, Mexican, Mexican Cuisine, Mexican Food, Mexican Restaurant, Mexico, Mixtos, Most Authentic Tacos in New York, Oreja, Pollo, Quesadillas, Sopes, Spanish Cuisine, Spanish Food, Spanish Restaurant, Suadero, Taco House, Taco Mix, Taco Restaurant, Tacos, Tripa
My colleague, Byron, again recommended this awesome restaurant called Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar. It is located in Lower East Side and is owned by Jack Lamb, whose culinary fiefdom includes Jewel Bako and Degustation.
The restaurant is tiny - it has about 25 seats including the bar area. The exterior is not prominent so I actually missed it and passed right by it. They have a 6-course prix fixe menu for $55 or you can order a la carte. A 6-course prix fixe menu for $55 is virtually unheard of in Manhattan - I had to try it out.
Unless you are on a date, I would recommend seating at the bar. The bar is actually constructed like a Sushi bar (and actually, there was a Japanese restaurant on that site prior to Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar) and Chef Nicholas Licata cooks right in front of you and hand delivers each dish to you personally, explaining each dish and its ingredients.
The prix fixe menu turned out to be fulfilling, full of flavors and creativity - all the dishes looked gorgeous, tasted great. For $55 - this is a great deal. I highly recommend Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar to anyone looking for a low-key, quality, good value prix fixe in New York. Enjoy.
It was pretty empty when I got there at around 7:30 PM (Friday). But then it got busy quickly around 8:00 PM and the place was virtually packed. As you can see, it's a tiny restaurant and I am sitting at the bar.
One oddity is that Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar shares its bathroom with all the building residents above.
Chef Nicholas Licata in action. He was phenomenal, and if you sit at the bar, he would hand deliver you each dish explaining what it is and what's inside. More fun to sit at the bar than at a table.
I got the 6-course prix fixe tasting menu...for $55.
A decent wine, champagne and beer selection - I ordered Syrah by the glass.
First Course: Oysters on the half shell with pancetta and home fries. Lightly cooked oysters on the half shell with diced chorizo sausage and shredded potato crisps atop. Its flavors got me appetized. A great start.
Second Course: Cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese balls and...mysterious stuff at the bottom. I will ask next time what that was...
Third Course: Seared arctic char over somewhat mashed peas, crisp potato stack and topped with sunchoke chips and finally white wine foam. Beautifully presented. The fish was cooked perfectly and it just literally melted in my mouth. All the ingredients went very well together.
Fourth Course: Rock shrimp and chorizo risotto. It's difficult to say which dish was my favorite, but if I were to pick one, this may be it. It was perfectly put together and the taste - wow, very exquisite.
Fifth Course: Caramelized pork belly over cream dill succotash and a fried squash blossom filled with mascarpone - mmm, savory. This was my favorite dish by far - wow. Wait, didn't I say the same thing about the Fourth Course? See, every dish had its own very unique flavors and they were all devastatingly tasty. All of them were my favorite!
Sixth Course: Espresso ice cream over coffee crumble and topped with dried milk crumbs. It was a perfect dessert to end my incredible 6-course journey.
A 6-course prix fixe tasting menu and a glass of Syrah plus tax got me to $73. This is a quality 6-course prix fixe tasting menu in New York that won't break your bank. I would definitely go again - and highly recommend Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar to all of you.
Technorati Tags: Caramelized Pork Belly, Chorizo, Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, Lower East Side, Oyster, Oysters on the Half Shell, Palate Cleanser, Pork Belly, Prix Fixe, Risotto, Rock Shrimp and Bacon Risotto, Salad, Seafood, Seared Arctic Char, Squash, Succotash, Syrah, Tomatoes, White Wine Foam
Le Relais De Venise L'Entrecote offered a discount deal for their steak frites and salad prix fixe through Gilt City. For those of you who don't know, Le Relais De Venise L'Entrecote is a French steakhouse that ONLY serves steak, salad, wine and desserts. Yes, steak, french fries and nothing else. I actually didn't realize that I have been to Le Relais De Venise L'Entrecote in the past until I noticed their familiar interior design (bright red banner and waitresses wearing French-maid type uniforms etc.) I remember Le Relais De Venise L'Entrecote was conveniently located near my work in London (their City branch). And this time, again, it's located right next to my new office in NYC. (590 Lexington Avenue) The Gilt City deal was $31 for two people, and it came with salad and steak frites. It was a really good deal. To be honest, this is not not your top-notch steakhouse that will blow you away, (if that's what you are looking for, head over to Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, Wolfgang's, or BLT Prime) but it is a decent steakhouse and a good value play for what you get. I, of course, liked their steak and the french fries were truly fantastic! I ate two servings of french fries...didn't feel guilty at all, these fries were just that good. I also recommend their profiteroles, the chocolate is very rich and it was a perfect dessert option after having steak frites.
Just as a word of advice to you - in case you don't know this already, when you go to a steakhouse, please do NOT order your steak well done, medium well done or any of that nonsense. It is an insult to the steakhouse if you order your steak anything besides blue or rare.
Enjoy your steak frites food porn!
Technorati Tags: Cream Puff, Dessert, French Cuisine, French Dessert, French Food, French Fries, French Restaurant, French Steak, French Steak Frites, French Steakhouse, Frites, Le Relais De Venise L'Entrecote, Les Tartelettes aux Fraises ou Framboises, Prix Fixe, Profiterole, Salad, Steak, Steak Frites, Steakhouse
My colleague, Byron, has recommended this newly opened, supposedly up-and-coming popular Chinese restaurant called Yunnan Kitchen located on 79 Clinton Street (Lower East Side). I did some research on the Internet and noticed everyone was raving about this place. Their website reads: "Yunnan Kitchen brings the vibrant flavors of China's Yunnan province to New York City." For those of you who don't know, Yunnan is a south-west province in China bordering Vietnam, Burma and Laos - so I expected the Yunnan province cuisine to use a lot of fresh spices, herbs and vegetables, kind of like the Vietnamese cuisine. And interestingly, Yunnan Kitchen is a Chinese tapas place. Just so you know, I usually prefer not to have the typical Americanized, greasy Chinese restaurant food. Yunnan Kitchen, however, sounded almost like an antonym to all things, what we Americans call it, Chinese food. It's fresh, less greasy and the food is served in small plates so you don't stuff yourself to death (and, most importantly, so you can try many different dishes!). I MUST go, I said to myself.
So I went with 2 of my friends last night. It's always better to go to a tapas place with more than 2 people in total so that you can taste a variety of different dishes. Yunnan Kitchen does not take RSVP for a party under 6 people - don't be surprised if the wait is very long. When we got there, we were told the wait would be for an hour and half for three people. No way! We went straight to their bar area, got ourselves beers and I started taking photos of the place.
It is a small-ish restaurant, the decor is not special, not bad at all - its rather simply yet modern.
I liked how they had an open kitchen so that people can peek into it even from outside. So I went out of the restaurant to take photos of the kitchen - little did I realize I was still holding my beer...I quickly got called back in by their staff member. Oops! I may be a bit excessively paranoid of Chinese restaurants as I am wary of the cleanliness of some of the Chinese restaurants in NYC. However, at Yunnan Kitchen, you know their kitchen is clean and you can see for yourself! Great!
Anyway, I thought Yunnan Kitchen's bar area had plenty of space for people to eat and drink. So if your wait is too long, I recommend you seat at the bar and dine. I think sitting at the bar turned out better because we were constantly served by the bartenders who took our drink orders as well as food orders. They had a decent wine and beer selection - I went with Ommegang (white beer). As we were chatting with the bartender, we realized Yunnan Kitchen is actually only 2.5 months old. For a new restaurant, I thought they had their acts together and it's operated like a proper restaurant from the get-go - impressive. And the bartender told us that the lady who took our name down at the entrance is the owner of the restaurant. That was pretty cool. You know you are going to be served properly when the owner is right there present at the restaurant.
Their food menu is divided into four different sections. (1) Cold, (2) Hot, (3) Shao Kao (Chinese BBQ?), (4) Rice & Noodles. Of course, we ordered from all four sections (thus, I highly recommend you go in a group of three people at least so you can try a variety of different dishes).
(1) Cold: Tofu ribbon salad with mint, cilantro and chilies
(2) Hot: Scrambled egg with jasmine flowers, Fried pork belly with mint and Yunnan spices(?), and Crispy whole shrimps with lime leaf
(3) Shao Kao: Spicy pork, and Fingerling potatoes and Shishito peppers skewers
(4) Rice & Noodles: Ham rice cakes with chilies, and Mushroom rice cakes with fermented chilies
I first tasted their Tofu Ribbon Salad - not kidding you, it was probably one of the better tofu salads I ever had so far. The tofu ribbons were soft yet had the perfect consistency for a salad. All the spices in the salad literally burst in your mouth and the cilantros, mint and chilies really go very well with the greens and the tofu ribbons. It was just so flavorful. All three of us chowed down on that salad within seconds.
Crispy whole shrimps with lime leaf was fantastic - the shrimps were perfectly prepared, so crispy yet fresh and the lime really heightened the flavors of the shrimps. I thought our combo ordering of the shrimps and Shishito Pepers was a good move. The shishito pepper skewers added a different texture and flavor and they somehow managed to complement our crispy shrimps very well.
And there was the scrambled egg with jasmine flowers - I was curious to see what scrambled egg would look like at a Chinese restaurant. It indeed looked much like the kind of scrambled egg you would see at local diners, except it had jasmine flowers in it! Yea, you don't get to add jasmine flowers to your scrambled egg order at EJ's - but you can at Yunnan Kitchen. It was phenomenal. Especially the jasmine flowers as they added a whole new dimension to your scrambled egg. Will definitely order that again.
My favorite dish at Yunnan Kitchen was their Fried Pork Belly with mint and Yunnan spices. It came with the spice on the side, but you really don't need to dip into it because the pork belly itself is just incredibly flavorful. It was crispy, yet still managed to retain much of its pork belly flavor which bursts in your mouth as you chew. If you want to take it to the next level, try it with their Yunnan spice on the side. I thought their fried pork belly went very well with either the Tofu Ribbon Salad or the Scrambled Egg - or just with jasmine rice. Definitely order Fried Pork Belly, you won't regret it.
Our next dish was the Spicy Pork skewers. If you were to get only one pork dish, I would recommend the Fried Pork Belly dish over Spicy Pork skewers. The skewers were, nonetheless, fantastic with so much flavors and spices. But after eating Fried Pork Belly dish, I couldn't stop thinking about ordering more fried pork belly and their spicy pork skewers tasted underwhelming after all. But no doubt, it was very good - just not as good as their fried pork belly.
Our last course was their rice cakes. These were really good - the rice cakes are often to cook properly so they have that perfect consistency you want - but the rice cakes at Yunnan Kitchen were cooked just right. All the spices, plenty of mushrooms and vegetables, and chilies went very, very well with the rice cakes. It was a perfect way to end our dinner. The rice cakes were very fulfilling so I wouldn't get more than one unless you go in a large group. We ordered two, and we were absolutely full.
By this time, our mouth was just overwhelmed by all these incredible spices, and fresh flavors of herbs and vegetables. We wanted to cool down a bit and indulge in some sweets. But oh no! Yunnan Kitchen currently does not have desserts and I don't know if they ever will. However, they gave us little green tea cookies with our bill.
The bill came out to be about $108 including tax, for three of us (or about $36 per person) - that includes 8 dishes and 5 beers. This is an incredible value play for what you get - high quality, very fresh, slightly unique Yunnan-cuisine tapas. I highly recommend this place - it would be best for light dinner (don't have to order as much as we did...) with small plates before going out. Might hit up Yunnan Kitchen again soon.
Technorati Tags: Chilies, Chinese Cuisine, Chinese Food, Chinese Restaurant, Chinese Small Plates, Chinese Tapas, Cilantro, Crispy Whole Shrimp, Fingerling Potato, Fried Pork Belly, Ham Rice Cakes, Jasmine Flowers, Jasmine Rice, Lime Leaf, Lower East Side, Mint, Mushroom Rice Cakes, Scrambled Egg, Shishito Peppers, Small Plates, Spicy Pork, Tapas, Tofu Ribbon Salad, Yunnan Cuisine, Yunnan Food, Yunnan Kitchen, Yunnan Kitchen Restaurant, Yunnan Spices
Things have been pretty good so far this year at work - a few of my colleagues and I had something to celebrate and we all decided to grab dinner together. It's always difficult to accommodate everyone's schedule and find just the right time slot that works for everyone - but we managed to squeeze in our little celebratory dining and wining yesterday. My colleagues chose Kellari Taverna, which is conveniently located on W. 44th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue, a walking distance from my office. For those of you who don't know, Kellari Taverna is a Greek restaurant specializing in seafood, of course, Greek style.
I've been to a couple of Greek restaurants in the city (i.e. Snack Taverna etc.) but this was my first time going to Kellari Taverna so I was pretty excited. I must say, though, I am not a huge fan of seafood, and especially during the summer when it's scorching hot and humid in NYC. I just feel wrong about eating seafood when it's hot out - something worries me that the seafood I am eating has gone bad...Anyway, my excitement over our celebratory dinner quickly overcame this phobia - so I headed over to the restaurant.
I arrived slightly late to dinner. As I was walking in, I noticed that the restaurant is located in a business area so it didn't surprise me when their decor, crowd and overall atmosphere felt "business" to me - kind of like the Wolfgang's or Smith & Wollensky, but a seafood restaurant equivalent (kind of like Docks). I wouldn't take my girlfriend to Kellari Taverna for dinner - I would rather prefer a more cozy restaurant (try Snack Taverna, which is equally Greek, equally awesome, but a lot cozier and romantic, but less focus on seafood)
Interestingly, Kellari Taverna has this display of a wide variety of fresh delivered fish and shellfish in the middle of the restaurant. I can imagine some people can't stomach looking at this display, but it was definitely pretty cool to see...just for the record - no, the restaurant did not stink.
By the time I got there, my colleagues had already ordered appetizers. One thing I love about Greek food is their awesome small dishes, mezes. We ordered their Plevrakia, Spanakopita and Tzatziki. Plevrakia is slow roasted lamb ribs sprinkled with Taygetos oregano. The Plevrakia lamb ribs were so tender and juicy it literally fell off the bone and melted in my mouth. I would definitely order Plevrakia again. Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie filled with leeks and feta cheese - this one was awesome too, but a bit heavy with all that cheese. But if you are a cheese lover, Spanakopita is a must. And everyone knows what Tzatziki is - no comment needed, it was great. The only problem with Tzatziki is that it always gets me way too full way before my main course arrives. I was already stuffed once we chowed down all our meze.
We ordered some wine to complement our food - we picked from their Greek white wine selection, Assyrtiko. This Greek white wine was very smooth (I noticed all Greek wine I had so far, red or white, tend to be very smooth), mildly fruity with a slight zesty kick toward the end which made it all more interesting. It did go very well with our meze and our main course. We also got some champagne to celebrate our occasion...and another colleague of mine ordered Guinness, which the waiter poured into a wine glass. Fancy. o.O
Now it's time for our main course. Amongst the five of us, we ordered a 4 lbs Red Snapper and two GIANT tiger shrimps. And when I say GIANT, I mean, these shrimps were MASSIVE like you've never seen before. The shrimps were awesome, though my colleague complained they were overcooked. It was so enormous and had so much meat to it, the shrimps tasted more like a proper steak. I would order that next time I go. The four pounder Red Snapper was also insanely large, but somehow I was too awed and distracted by the sight of this enormous Red Snapper that I forgot to take a photo of it! Darn...next time. The 4 pounder Red Snapper was very, very tasty indeed. It was cooked just perfectly, all the juice was intact, seasoned just right to really enjoy this fresh delivered fish. My colleagues jokingly gave me the fish head to try...but I didn't care for it. Then there were side dishes, all great as well. We ordered Greek Rapini and asparagus, which went very well with our seafood main course. Our potato side dish was good, but we felt it was a bit too salty - or rather, there was too much lemon juice to enjoy the potatoes. I would order it again, but I will make sure to tell them to go easy on their lemon juice on the potatoes next time. These were some fantastic seafood dishes, and I am usually hard to please when it comes to seafood.
What's next? Let's bring out all the sweets. We ordered two Pagotos (which is Greek ice cream), Baklava and Greek coffee. Pagoto was very good, it was properly creamy, properly made - yes, forget Ben & Jerry's, I thought Kellari Taverna's ice cream was a lot better. And then there was Baklava. Do I need to say more? Baklavas rock - I love them. The Baklava had perfect layers of all the good stuff, coated in honey and rose-water syrup, and savory walnuts. This was one of the better Baklavas I've had so far, and I've had authentic home-made Baklavas before and this one almost nearly matched that level. I also ordered Greek coffee (mild), which turned out be more like espresso on steroids with a lot of sugar in it. It somehow went quite well with my Baklava. My only caution would be that you don't drink Greek coffee after 6 PM. Otherwise, I guarantee you will be tossing and turning all night. I have to say that their dessert turned out to be quite good, which is surprising as my impression of "business" restaurants is that they tend to not focus whole lot on their dessert menu.
I was quite happy with how our dinner turned out - Kellari Taverna is a great Greek seafood restaurant and would be best for business occasions as opposed to spending romantic time with your date. Try their mouthwatering meze, but careful not to stuff yourself with pita bread and Tzatziki before your main course. Their Greek wine selection (I recommend their white wine selection) complements very well with their meze and the main dishes - I found their white wine to be very smooth, mildly fruity yet still had that zesty kick toward the end, which made it whole lot more interesting. I would recommend ordering their special main dishes and off the menu. We ordered their daily special, fresh delivered Tiger Shrimps and a 4 pounder Red Snapper - they were prepared exceptionally and cooked just perfectly (though my colleague complained that the shrimps were overcooked...). And their dessert was quite impressive for a "business" restaurant - I would wholeheartedly recommend their Baklava, it was almost authentic and properly prepared, glazed in honey and rose-water syrup. Lastly, if you want a good-night sleep, go easy on Greek coffee.
All this came out to be $314 for 5 people (or around $62.80 per person) - I think it's very reasonably priced considering the quality seafood we got, the atmosphere was welcoming and the service was well controlled (I liked how the waiter cleaned up our table after every course...though expected). Overall, a solid restaurant I would recommend to people looking for a reasonably priced seafood place for your business occasion.
Midtown East is not exactly the "go-to" area for your weekend dinner - it's got many good weekday lunch places but the area is pretty dead on weekends. I was stuck at work on one Sunday night - and was browsing through the Internet for dinner places. FYI, my typical process of choosing a place is going through different cuisines and narrow down by customer review ratings...silly but it has worked quite well thus far. So that night, just happens that the Peruvian cuisine option caught my attention, which brought back all the fond memories of my trip to Peru way back in 2003.
It's been almost 10 years since I've been to Peru - but I remember vividly, sitting in a bustling local restaurant with my local friends, chowing down on a rotisserie chicken, crispy french fries, spicy green sauce and a side of fresh salad. It was too good - couldn't eat fast enough, I was double fisting the chicken and french fries, occassionally downing ice cold coke...I had no idea what the name of that chicken dish was until I...Googled it. I literally googled "Peruvian chicken" and boom, the Peruvian rotisserie chicken is actually called "Pollo a la Brasa". I ended up going to Flor de Mayo where I had this amazing Peruvian style rotisserie chicken.
Apparently, I am not the only one in New York who's crazy about Pollo a la Brasa. http://www.tierraunica.com/tierra_unica/2008/09/new-yorker-go-crazy-over-peruvian-wood-rotisserie-chicken---gringos-a-la-brasa-en-manhattan.html
Tonight, I was once again craving for Pollo a la Brasa and was going to hit up the same place, Flor de Mayo. Out of curiosity, I looked at Zagat.com's customer reviews on Flor de Mayo and found this rather pointed review by Sarah B.:
So I decided to try Pio Pio and see, feel, smell, taste what it's all about. Pio Pio first started out in Queens and is considered by many to have contributed to NYC's Pollo a la Brasa craze. It is now a large franchise with restaurants all over NYC. Tonight, I went to its Upper East Side location, located on First Avenue, between 90th and 91st Street.
Its exterior decor was rather simple (though I haven't been to its other locations) and it was definitely quite small. They didn't seem to take RSVP so keep this in mind if you are going with a group of people - it's a very small place...I did like the fact that the restaurant is Grade A restaurant hygiene inspection rating. I had to wait for about 15 minutes. I also noticed that there were regulars who stopped by and ordered takeaway - they also deliver so I may do that next time when I'm feeling lazy...
Their interior was also simple, it was cozy. Tables were quite cramped in together especially toward the second half of the restaurant toward the kitchen (the layout is a railroad style one). Nothing special about their interior. I would have preferred more authentic, local Peruvian restaurant atmosphere with their typical run-down decor, fans blowing on your face, bustling place packed to the brim, loud Peruvian music in the background with people moving in and out of the restaurant all around you. After all, this is a Peruvian restaurant located in Upper East Side - the atmosphere was rather subdued and there were many families with kids dining.
I liked their no-nonsense menu. It was simple and had only two pages with their main dishes (Pollo a la Brasa or "Chicken Pio" as they call it) in a large font so you don't miss it. However, I soon found out they may have omitted some crucial information from the menu. I ordered their famous Chicken Pio with Avocado Salad and Papas Fritas on the side and ice cold coke to wash it all down.
About five to ten minutes passed and my waiter brought out my order - the chicken looked AMAZING - but the problem was, why did he bring out two orders of Chicken Pio?! I told my waiter I only ordered one Chicken Pio - he then told me that one Chicken Pio is one whole chicken rotisserie! and that he split the whole chicken into two halves. Watch out when you go to Pio Pio, don't order Chicken Pio by yourself. Make sure you ask to have a 1/4 or 1/2 Chicken Pio otherwise you are going home with a doggy bag, which is what I ended up doing with the other half of my Chicken Pio.
The chicken looked fantastic, and it was indeed tasty. It was cooked just right, the meat was tender and their Avocado Salad was superb - very fresh ingredients. I didn't like their french fries all that much - it was rather too chunky for my taste, and it was not crispy at all. I would say their Chicken Pio was good, but it didn't have that authentic Pollo a la Brasa taste to it - the seasoning was not quite there, and it was not nearly succulent enough to be called Pollo a la Brasa. I had equally tasty rotisserie chicken at Boston Market, and I am not kidding.
Their Aji sauce, which is a Peruvian spicy sauce, was not spicy enough and the recipe seemed altered to cater to the Upper East Side community - there was no spice to be found, and I would rather have Chipotle spicy sauce over Pio Pio's Aji sauce. Pio Pio's Aji sauce was too dull - Aji sauce is supposed to spice things up with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and hot peppers. This was rather disappointing.
All in all, my dinner came out to be about $33 - but considering I mistakenly ordered one whole chicken, this dinner should be around $17 per person if you were to split the chicken in half. Price wise, it's very reasonable. My checkout time took a bit too long - the waiters looked flustered at times and there were literally 6 bills to be processed at the counter stacked up. The service was not really existent - it's simply you order, they take your order and they give you the food, no-nonsense. There was no happy banter, exchanges or anything - so if you are looking for good service, this place is not really the place for you.
In Summary: Flor de Mayo gets my vote over Pio Pio, no doubt. I prefer Flor de Mayo's rather old school decor, the service was much better at Flor de Mayo where my waiter was more friendly. And ultimately, the battle came down to who's got the better Pollo a la Brasa - I would say, Flor de Mayo. In comparison, Pio Pio's Chicken Pio was not tender enough, not succulent enough, not seasoned properly - their french fries were rather soggy and definitely not crispy. I really liked Pio Pio's Avocado Salad though.
I will post my full review of Flor de Mayo in the future - may not be too long until I crave for more Pollo a la Brasa!