Monday, May 23, 2016

Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar at Chelsea Market

During the visit at Chelsea Market, Will and I made a stop at Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar which is located next to The Lobster Place for lunch. The lunch menu actually says "All seafood  is provided by our sister company, The Lobster Place, next door." which is good to know as a customer and if you are a seafood lover.

The restaurant is quite small, dim lights. I like that the restaurant was divided by half of it was table and seats whereas the other half was counter and bar. We chose to sit at a table. Our waitress was very friendly, helpful, and nice. Unfortunately, two customers were sat in the table next to us and they were constantly staring at us, our food, and as I was carrying out my food photography in front of Will. The experience became uncomfortable as they kept staring. Food was average, but the price was quite ridiculous. 

Homemade Iced Tea
Will and I ordered their iced tea which we later learned that it was homemade, which is always a plus in our books. The Homemade Iced Tea wasn't sweetened, so our waitress provided us with a container of sugar to add our own liking. The iced tea was very refreshing!

Will ordered the Lobster Ramen (that's the first time we've seen lobster ramen on a menu) and it was $21.00. This was by far the MOST expensive ramen we've experienced. The ramen had the typical toppings you would expect at a typical ramen shop: bamboo shoots, runny egg, corn, and scallions. The lobster ramen also contained the claw & knuckle, mushrooms, chili oil bathed in a lobster-miso broth.

Kudos for giving us the meaty lobster chunks, but the broth was sub par. The broth came in a gravy boat that was poured into the bowl which I thought was interesting. I don't know why I was expecting the broth to be thick, cream-like almost like a Tonkotsu broth consistency, but nope. The broth had acidity in it which was very weird and threw off the whole ramen. The noodles were thick and wavy and cooked al dente.

Lobster Roll - Connecticut Style
I opted for the Lobster Roll - Connecticut Style which tasted delightful, but the price of it was a little too expensive. The lobster was warmed in lobster butter & lemon with kewpie mayonnaise and toasted with top split bun. The lobster was on point and tasted amazing especially with lobster butter goodness. They gave plenty of new bay fries which was fried to perfection and had a slight crunch to it.

Overall, the experience here was a hit and miss mostly because the customers next to us were an annoyance to us, prices of the food were steep and although my lobster roll was delicious, the ramen was a disappointment. This was by far of the most expensive lunch we've ever had or at least so far. I definitely think that the next time we are itching for seafood, we will return back to Mussels & More or a less expensive seafood restaurant.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Food Market: Chelsea Market , NYC

It feels good to be back on blogging especially since I have a lot of food adventures to share with you.

Last month, I went to visit both Chelsea Market and Eataly, both of which are foodie destinations for a school project/presentation that I had to complete. Today, I will be sharing with you about my visit to Chelsea Market and thoughts.

I've been to Chelsea Market 2-3 times already, but didn't know anything about the history of the building or the building at all.

The building has an industrial, woodsy, and stripped-down brick walls, The lighting is quite dim between 9th avenue & 10th avenue, but there's a beautiful lighted walkway in the center of market.

Chelsea Market was actually built  in the former National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) factory complex where the Oreo cookie was invented and produced. The display case is filled with assorted vintage Nabisco memorabilia, including old Saltine tins vintage advertisements and even a clock. 

There's a beautiful lighted walkway at the center of the market that I've never seen before and it is absolutely gorgeous and bright!

Most of the stores are bright, inviting, and has big signs to let you know where you are. There are some stores that do get extremely crowded.

Overall, I feel Chelsea Market is quite pricey especially when eating in the restaurants. It gets very crowded here on Saturday and I know because I came on a Saturday afternoon. It also gets very crowded here on Friday afternoons too, so I would suggest not coming on the weekends or Friday. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Nan Xiang Dumpling House (Revisit)

Before I immerse myself in endless amounts of projects that I need to sit still (maybe) and work on, I just want to update the blog.

Lately, I've been eating out a lot at different restaurants and cafes, so have no fear because there will be a lot of posts coming your way as soon as this semester is over and I have free time.

It's been less than a year since Will and I last visited Nan Xiang Dumpling House in Flushing, but we decided to give it a second shot since we were already in Queens one evening. We arrived around 6-6:30PM and already there was a 10-15 minute wait, same as last time.

The experience was close to sub par, but at least the soup dumplings made up for it.

Soy Milk
I heard the Soy Milk ($1.50) was sweet tasty goodness here so I ordered it and what I heard held truth. The soy milk had just the right amount of sweetness and you can taste the rich soy bean flavor. 

It reminded me a lot of the fresh soy milk and tofu an aunt of mine used to make when she owned this establishment in Toronto. 

Seafood Crispy Noodles 
Will ordered the Seafood Crispy Noodles ($9.95) to share. The noodles weren't very crispy and the dish itself was okay, but not great. They definitely added either a lot of corn starch or a lot of MSG that did not dissolve completely because it sure felt like a lot of clumps.

Pork Soup Dumplings
We also had the Pork Soup Dumplings ($5.50) which I was absolutely excited about. I had a craving for delicious, juicy pork soup dumplings and I got it. These were probably one of the biggest soup dumplings I have had so far, about the size of a baseball almost.  

They were made fresh and served hot! Each soup dumpling was squirting out the rich and savory broth with the chunky pork filling. I was so excited that I ate all three faster than I normally would and I was soup dumpling satisfied instantly.

Shanghai Shu Mai
I also wanted to try the Shanghai Shu Mai ($2.95) because it looked tempting and worth trying on Yelp. We ordered it as soon as we sat down, but it took forever to come even though the waiter was assuring it would be ready in five minutes. I got annoyed at one point because we finished all of our foods in 15-20 minutes and still no shu mai in sight.

When it finally did come, the waiter apologized for the delay. The Shanghai shu mai is basically delicious sticky rice wrapped in a dumpling or wonton skin. The Shanghai shu mai was absolutely tasty and worth every penny. It had just the right amount of flavor in it and very fresh!

Overall, there were up's and down's in our experience at Nan Xiang Dumpling House. If it weren't for the tasty, fresh soup dumplings than I don't know if I would have been happy. So far, this restaurant is on my top place to go for savory, hot soup dumplings and for cheap eats. 

Will and I ordered four items and including tax and tip, our meal only cost about $25-$30 which is very cheap and good price.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

321 Ice Cream Shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

After having dinner at Aurora, our next stop was for dessert at 321 Ice Cream Shop where our friend told us that you can see liquid nitrogen in action. It sounded like an exciting science experiment. 

It's a mid-sized and cozy ice cream shop. They have a few seating areas and their menu is on a screen where you can see when you come in.

There is special discount on Yelp, but unfortunately you can only use it on your actual birthday not any time earlier or later.

Liquid Nitrogen in Action

Green Tea & Rocky Road
Our friends Sam and Alex had the Rocky Road which was interesting and tasted like coffee. Will and I got the Green Tea which I fell literally head over heels for! I've had a lot of green tea desserts before, but this was by far the best one! It was soft, moist, not too sweet, and the green tea Kit Kat bars really added a unique aspect to the ice cream and crunch.

All in all, I really liked the Green Tea ice cream. I think it would be even more delightful if they came out with a Thai Iced Tea flavor. It would be a lot tastier and unique.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Aurora in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

So for the next birthday celebration, Will and I had dinner with Sam and Alex at Aurora. This restaurant was recommended by my friend (former colleague) that I had dinner with at Zundo-Ya. He recommended Aurora a long time ago and I finally got to try it.

I love the name and the decor and ambiance matches perfectly with the name. The decor and ambiance is rustic, intimate, but also elegant. They also have outdoor seating in the backyard, but the evening we went it was chilly and cloudy outside so we couldn't do the outdoor dining. I am definitely going to have to return to experience the outdoor dining. 

Aurora has an extensive wine menu, but also serves beer as well. Will and I didn't have wine or beer, but Sam and Alex did.

For appetizers, we had the Fritto Misto ($18.00) which was flash fried white shrimp, Rhode Island squid and seasonal vegetables with salsa tonnata. I don't know why I ordered this and should have inquired exactly what it was. It basically tasted and felt like tempura, so I wouldn't recommend ordering this. Sam ordered the Cavolo Nero ($12.00) which was Tuscan kale and Brussels sprouts salad with pistachios and Five Spoke Creamery Tumbleweed Cheddar. This was a very interesting salad and the Tuscan kale and Brussels sprouts were delicious and had a buttery taste to it. Sam & Alex also ordered the Formaggi - artisanal cheeses served with seasonal marmalade , almonds and honey (I forgot to take a picture, sorry).

Will ordered the Tagliatelle wild boar which was homemade hand cut pasta with wild boar. This is a popular menu item at Aurora which is precisely why Will ordered it. I really liked his dish! The pasta was actually made from chestnut which is why his dish had a slightly nutty and sweet taste to it.

Sam ordered the Strangozzi all Norcina which was house made hand cut pasta with fennel pork sausage, crushed truffle, porcini mushrooms, and sheep's milk ricotta. According to Sam, her dish was very heavy from the cream or butter that was used. Alex ordered the Polipo alla Griglia  which was grilled Mediterranean octopus with cipollini onions potato salad, almond romesco, and Calabrian chili. I didn't get to try everything in that dish, but I did try the octopus and it was grilled to perfection!

Mushroom Risotto
I had the Mushroom Risotto which was a special of the day. The risotto was very buttery and made me very full after a few bites. It wasn't too salty and had a lot of mushroom flavor int it.

Overall, I liked Aurora and it's definitely different in terms of decor and food than what I usually eat. Although, I would prefer if the dishes didn't have as much cream or butter to it. Next time I return to Aurora, I will definitely have to opt for the outdoor dining. 

Aurora also has another location in SOHO, NYC.

Next post is on -321 Ice Cream Shop (dessert after dinner with Sam & Alex)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Birthday Dinner at Basta Pasta - Flatiron, NYC

As you may or may not know, my birthday was last month and I had multiple celebrations (good cause I ate a lot of delicious foods, but bad because the calories added up). The first celebration was at Basta Pasta with my girlfriends and Will. Will and I have already been to Basta Pasta for our 3rd year anniversary, but I wanted to give Basta Pasta a second chance. 

We came to Basta Pasta on a Friday evening and boy was it a packed house, but luckily we made reservations so we didn't have to struggle with the wait. 

Red Sangria & Pompelmo
We started off with drinks. I got a Red Sangria and everyone else got the Pompelmo. The red sangria was very refreshing and fruity, loved it!  Everyone else got the Pompelmo (fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, fresh mint, soda, tonic *non-alcoholic*) and it was refreshing as well!

Bread & Bread sticks
We got an assortment of bread, breadsticks, and bread with fish spread. I've had the bread with fish spread before, but amazingly it didn't taste fishy at all.

We shared four appetizers: Asparagi Gratinati (al dente asparagus, golden Parmesan crust) , Calamari alla Griglia (grilled squid, homemade sausage stuffed with curry risotto, golden raisins, pistachios, and prosciutto), Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare *appetizer size* (spaghetti,fresh Sea Urchin, fresh tomatoes, JalapeƱos, garlic oil, and fresh basil), and Tonno Fresco Scottato (prime tuna tataki, original wasabi tartar sauce, cucumber fingerling potatoes, hearts of palm, saffron orange sauce).

The aspragi gratinati was delicious. The asparagus was cooked al dent as the menu description said and that golden Parmesan crust had a slight crunch and was tasty. The calamari alla griglia was very different, but just a medley of delicious flavors and textures. The calamari wasn't overcooked, thankfully. My friend ordered the spaghetti ai ricci di mare, but I didn't try it only because I feel quite squeamish when I see Sea Urchin. She also ordered the Tonno Fresco Scottato which I tried and didn't enjoy because it was spicy and just not a fan of tuna at all.

Will had the Trancio di Salmone (charcoal-grilled Scottish Salmon fillet with grilled vegetables)  and our friends ordered these for their entrees - Tagliolini con Ragu di Pesce (homemade Tagliolini, Chilean Sea Bass ragu,capers, shredded zucchini in a spicy tomato sauce), Crespelle con Funghi e Ricotta (Homemade silk handkerchief pasta, mixed mushrooms, lemon zest, and ricotta cheese) and
Spaghetti con Proscuitto e Parmigiano  served in a half wheel of Parmesan cheese at the table.

I tried the salmon from Will's dish and I wasn't very pleased with it. Although it was cooked to the right texture, it tasted very bland - could have used a little salt and pepper. I didn't try everyone's dish, but everything looked amazing!

Fettuccine alla Bolognese
I ordered the Fettuccine alla Bolognese (homemade Fettuccine with Basta Pasta original meat sauce). I really, really enjoyed my entree because the texture of the fettuccine was different compared to other pastas I've had before. The fettuccine here feels a lot thicker but tastier since it was homemade and the sauce tastes amazing.

Overall, the experience at Basta Pasta was pleasant and exquisite. Food was on point and service as well. It looks like the food at Basta Pasta has improved and I was very happy with the quality.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ramen Quest: Zundo-Ya in East Village, NYC

Zundo-Ya has been one of the newest addition to the ramen joints in New York City. It's tucked away on the side stress of where the infamous Ippudo is and unlike other ramen spots, the space at Zundo-Ya is open and has large communal tables.

I came here with my friend (former colleague) to catch up and plus we are both ramen fanatics. We arrived at 6PM on a weekday and luckily it wasn't crowded. The staff were extra perky and ready to serve. Service was on point and the experience was pleasant.

The menu was straight to the point. So far Zundo-Ya is the only ramen joint that I know that lets you choose the noodle type and broth richness which ranges from light, regular, rich, and super rich. The waiter told us that super rich has a gravy-like consistency, so we both stuck with rich for our ramen.

Additional Toppings
First we received a plate of additional toppings which were: sesame seeds, pickled ginger, and spicy cabbage).

My friend ordered the Kaarage and another friend once told me that kaarage is amazing with ramen, but I just ate it separately. It was crunchy, juicy, and tasty. This one came with Japanese mayo, salt and pepper to dip. I think I would order this again on my next ramen quest.

Pan-fried Gyoza
I always have gyoza when I am on a ramen quest. The gyoza had a nice pan-fried texture, slight crunch. The filling was tasty and had good flavor.

Ajitama Hot Ramen
My friend had the Ajitama Hot Ramen ($17.00) and I give him credit for ordering a hot and spicy bowl of ramen. Although it was appropriate on the day we went since it was still Winter at the time. The ramen had Zundo-Ya's classic Tonkotsu with slices of roasted pork, medium-boiled egg, scallions, and seaweed. They have a non-spicy version of this available too.

Ajitama Ramen
I ordered the non-spicy version of what my friend had and also known as the "Signature Dish". The ramen had everything my friend's bowl had minus the spicy sauce.

The noodles I got were the thick wavy noodles and they were delicious and cooked to al dente which I liked very much.  The Ajitama Ramen was $15.00 and it was well worth it. The medley of all the ingredients made the broth super delicious and everything looked so bright, inviting, and vibrant.

I would most definitely return especially because they have a variety of ramen to choose from and next time I want to try the Zenbunose Ramen which literally has all Zundo-Ya's ingredients, so how can you say no to that. I haven't returned yet, but soon I will make another trip and I highly recommend this spot. It's new. It's fun and worth every penny.

Service: 90%
Food: 90%
Taste: 85%
Likelihood to return: 100%