Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Taiyaki NYC - Ice Cream stuffed inside a Fish Cake

Ice cream stuffed inside a fish cake? Yes it does exist, but it's not what you think. It's the most Instagrammable dessert you can find.

At Taiyaki NYC, they have a fish-shaped cake into a makeshift waffle cone and lines it with custard (my favorite) or red bean paste before filling it with a swirl of soft-serve ice cream - you can pick from the following: vanilla, chocolate, black sesame, and the on-trend matcha) and drizzle (chocolate, caramel, condensed milk, or strawberry) and adorning it with an array of toppings such as: mini M&M's, mocha, Pocky sticks, and etc.

I shared a fish cake with Will and we got the custard filled fish cake with matcha ice cream, strawberry drizzle, rainbow sprinkles and strawberries on top. I'm serious these fish cakes were made for Instagram! Any way, the cake is super delicate and better to eat with caution because the cake is soft and so is everything else which means without serious caution, it can have an accident.

It was definitely one of the best desserts I've had so far. It was moist, soft, and not overly sweet. You get a combination of cold and warm, velvety and melt-in-your-mouth custard beneath. The cake was inexpensive - only $7-$8. 

Taiyaki NYC is definitely a great addition to Chinatown because although there's a few dessert spots in Chinatown, there are none like Taiyaki NYC. It's different, genuine, and delicious. If you haven't came here yet, I highly recommend you check it out. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Family Dinner at Joy Luck Palace

My family and I had dinner in early October for my mom's birthday celebration. We wanted to go to Royal Seafood on Mott street because we like it there, but they were completely booked out for a wedding. We decided to eat at Joy Luck Palace instead. It was surprising that the restaurant wasn't filled up when it was a Saturday evening.

The restaurant that used to occupy this space was Grand Harmony, but because it's a new restaurant and under new management there were new renovations. Unfortunately, the renovations weren't very intriguing. I feel that the decor was downgraded. I thought with new renovations, the stinky and old restrooms would get an upgrade too, but nope. Service improved from the last time I was here with my family.

These were the dishes we had:

Fish Maw Soup
As always we ordered the Fish Maw Soup which was quite scrumptious.

Lobster, Crispy Chicken, and Oysters
We ordered the lobster which I thought was decent, but I feel it was a little small. The crispy chicken was delicious and tasty. I'm not a fan of oysters so I can't comment on how fresh or did it taste.

More food
The broccoli and shrimp was tasty and delicious! We also had blanched snow pea leaves which was very simple and light. We also got one of my family's favorite dishes: steamed pork with salted fish. I thought it was pretty tasty, but the homemade version taste a lot better. We also ordered a steamed fish dish.

Overall, the food was alright, but nothing that really wow'ed us. I think it's pretty bad that more than half of the restaurant was empty on a Saturday night. I wasn't too happy with the quality of the dim sum and food the first time I visited Joy Luck with my family. Hopefully the quality will improve soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

BCD Tofu House - Bayside, Queens

The weather last month was a little crazy. It was a lot windier and colder compared to the weather today. It's been windy at times, breezy, but mostly warm. Last month, Will and I visited BCD Tofu House in Bayside, Queens for dinner since I was craving for soondubu (tofu soup) and it was the perfect weather for it.

I've been to BCD Tofu House in Manhattan and it's definitely a lot smaller compared to the one in Bayside. The Bayside location has a parking lot and it's super spacious! 

After we ordered our entrees, we were given complimentary dishes to try. I love the fried fish that they always give here despite the little bones in the fish.

Hot-Stone Bibimbap
This was part of a set that Will ordered with his soondubu. We shared the hot-stone bibimbap. I always love this at any Korean restaurant we go to. I especially love the crunchy rice along the side of the pot. It's truly yummy!

Mushroom Soondubu & Seafood Soondubu
I got the mushroom soondubu since I am huge mushroom fan! This was definitely mushroom and tofu heaven. Our waitress gave us two bowls of rice to eat with our soups. I literally got full mostly from my soup as it was truly scrumptious! Will got the seafood soondubu from his set and there was an assortment of seafood (shrimp, clam, mussels, and scallop?).He wasn't a huge fan of his soup not sure if it's the taste or because he doesn't like tofu too much.

We also ordered the Japchae which I absolutely love eating in Korean restaurants too! I like that BCD Tofu House adds in their fried tofu into the Japchae - different texture to the dish. Unfortunately, I thought their Japchae has a little too much oil and greasy compared to the other ones I have had.

The food at BCD Tofu House was scrumptious! However, the service was mediocre. I feel our waitress was no where to be found a lot of times. I've been here twice so far and I really liked the food. I think I like this location better than the one in Manhattan.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Banter - Irish Bar & Kitchen

Will and I visited my sister and the future brother-in law's new nest in Forest Hills, Queens after the NYC Dumpling Festival. I like the quiet and relaxing vibe of the neighborhood and not too far is where all the buzz, shopping, restaurants, and bars are along Queens Boulevard.

My sister and future brother in-law took us around the neighborhood before and after our dinner. For dinner, we went to Banter - Irish Bar & Kitchen. I found this place on Yelp and it turned out to be a pleasant experience for us. It's located conveniently close to a theater, so great place to check out after the movies. The restaurant was smaller than I imagined, but I was surprise a lot of families ate here because it felt more like a pub than a place for family dinner.

The service was on par and food is heavy, but delicious! Their menu is full of delicious Irish and comfort food. This is what we ordered:

Irish Five Onion Soup
Will and I have been ordering French Onion Soup quite often so when I saw that Banter had it on their menu - we had to have it. The Irish Five Onion Soup was filled with Irish croutons and Swiss and Irish porter cheese. The soup was extremely delicious and not oversalted which I was very happy about.

Mozzarella Pinwheel Salad
My sister said we didn't have enough greens for dinner so she ordered the Mozzarella Pinwheel Salad to share. The salad was full of deliciousness and filled with homemade mozzarella cheese rolled with basil pesto and prosciutto with garlic toast tossed over mixed greens, green olives, pine nuts, and roasted red peppers in white balsamic vinaigrette. I really enjoyed this salad because it's a plate of different textures and flavors that just really come together and it's rustic and just delightful!

Signature Banter Burger
Both the brother in-law and Will ordered the Signature Banter Burger which contained pepper jack cheese and creamy Chipotle mayo. The burgers looked delicious and perfect if you're looking for a simple dinner. 

Beef & Guinness Pie and Chicken Pot Pie
My sister and I decided on a very different dinner. I got the Beef Guinness Pie and my sister got the Chicken Pot Pie. The Beef and Guinness pie consisted of prime beef cuts with carrots, potatoes and peas in a Guinness infused gravy with a fresh pastry top. This was a heavy and quick-filling pie. Honestly I would recommend sharing it between another person because I only finished a quarter of it. The pie was full of delicious comfort ingredients and definitely perfect for a chilly day. 

The chicken pot pie which consisted of chicken, corn, pearl onions, baby potatoes, carrots and celery with a pastry top. The chicken pot pie is somewhat similar to my beef Guinness pie, but minus the infusion of alcohol and some ingredients. My sister enjoyed it very much, but also had an issue with finishing the pie as it was too filling.

Besides the food, we also had a little booze. Two Blue Moons, Magners, and Strongbow. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the food and selection of drinks at Banter - Irish Bar & Kitchen. I definitely would like to come back here as I've noticed there are certain menu items that pique my interest. Looking forward to my next visit here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NYC Dumpling Festival - September 2016

It's been very busy after Will's birthday with family and friends. Although, I'm a month and a half late with writing about the NYC Dumpling Festival, I still want our thoughts with you and show you what was featured this year.

This year Will and I were a little proactive when it came to purchasing tickets because instead of getting online on the day of the festival. We bought the tickets online since they guaranteed a free bag if you purchase online. The event took place on September 24th, 2016 at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park from 12PM - 5PM, but Will and I didn't stay too long at the duration of the event.

Last year I didn't blog about the NYC Dumpling Festival, but I liked the selection, vendors, and etc. a lot better. This year was below par in every aspect except for the customer service. Last year there were 8-10 vendors to choose from, but this year it was only 5 which were split by boroughs (Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island) which I didn't quite understand what the logic behind it was.

Queens was serving chicken soup dumplings, pork and shrimp shumai, and chicken wonton with a side of kimchi. The pork and shrimp shumai was delicious and so was the chicken wonton - nice and crunchy, but the chicken soup dumplings had very little soup. I think it's perhaps the filling soaked up all the soup. I didn't bother trying the kimchi since I can't have spicy foods too much.

The Bronx
Will went to The Bronx and they were serving vegetable curry samosa, buffalo chicken dumpling, and Thai chicken dumpling. The vegetable curry samosa was crispy, crunchy, and delicious! The buffalo chicken dumpling wasn't very tasty and neither was the Thai chicken dumpling.

I went to Brooklyn and that they were serving kale and vegetable dumpling, edamame dumpling, and spinach dumpling. The dumplings here were mediocre and completely vegetarian. The only dumpling that tasted fairly decent was the edamame dumpling, Although the dumplings appeared to have a charredness on it - it wasn't actually crispy or crunchy. 

Manhattan seemed to have a lot more variety. They were serving BBQ Pork bao, Kung Pao chicken dumpling, pork and kimchi dumpling, chicken and cilantro, and a mini dumpling,  I think out of all the dumplings that were served, I liked the chicken and cilantro the best. I wasn't a fan of the BBQ Pork bao at all and everything else had spiciness in it.

Staten Island 
Staten Island was serving drinks and dessert dumplings. They were serving a custard bun, red bean bun, and pumpkin pie dumpling. The pumpkin pie dumpling was quite delicious, I liked it. I wasn't a fan of the red bean bun and the custard bun was crisp, crunchy, and delicious.

Overall, Will and I didn't really enjoy this year's festival at all. Most of the dumplings were all cold. stale, not crispy or crunchy, and a waste of money. All of the dumplings were pre-made. Each ticket allows you for four tastings, so Will used two stamps and I used three. We had four stamps left so we decided to use our remaining stamps on Chef One's frozen dumplings to bring home and we also got an insulated bag. We tried the frozen dumplings at home and they were a serious downgrade compared to the brand we usually buy from.

It was a total disappointment this year that we're not sure if we'll even come back next year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Family Dinner at Benson Eating Station

My family and I celebrated our parent's anniversary at Benson Eating Station, just a few blocks from our house. Apparently this restaurant has been here quite some time and has an extension into next door for extra dining area. This wasn't my first experience at Benson Eating Station, but the restaurant is mid-sized, decent space, and bright. I would suggest that it's good for a small family dinner, but if you're looking to host a party here I wouldn't recommend it.

We arrived at 6PM and there was a lot of tables available, but a few that were reserved for a special dinner for later. They had napkin cloths for us, but the waiter took and stored our cloths away which is completely unsanitary. I didn't want to give my cloth away so I hid it on my lap. I didn't really enjoy the area we sat in because there were just flies or mosquitoes everywhere and Will and I are mosquito magnets. They were also flying throughout dinner too.

Fish Maw Soup
We started off with the Fish Maw Soup which happens to be one of our favorite soups now. It was very tasty!

Lobster with Ginger & Scallions, Crispy Chicken, and Broccoli & Shrimp with Walnuts
After the soup, we had the Lobster with Ginger & Scallions which was mediocre. My parents said the ones at Fu Kee (at Bay Parkway) are a lot better and bigger. The  crispy chicken was meaty and delicious. I really love the Broccoli & Shrimp with walnuts , but the broccoli was extremely bitter. It was definitely not fresh and had a lot of black dots around it. The sauce they used for the shrimp tasted slightly different than the ones I've tried before. It had a much sweeter taste to it.

Ong Choy, Toisan Cauliflower, and Oysters with Black Bean Sauce
We also got a plate of Ong Choy with bean curd sauce which I really enjoy eating, love this vegetable! I've recently started liking Toisan Cauliflower. It's quite delicious and has a nice crunch to it (if cooked right), but the chefs definitely used too much oil on this. I'm not a fan of Oysters with Black Bean Sauce, but dad got it any way for the others.

The service was decent, but I felt the quality of the food wasn't great. I didn't enjoy biting into the bitter broccoli or having flies flying around as I was trying to enjoy my dinner. Hopefully the restaurant will do something about the flies and find a better vendor for their broccoli. Apparently they have a two star rating on Yelp which is NOT a good sign at all, but I'll be submitting my review on them soon.

Once again, I would only recommend coming here for a small dinner and/or dim sum.  If you're looking for a better quality small dinner, I would suggest going to Fu Kee.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jamie's Italian - Anthem of the Seas

On our third evening at Anthem of the Seas, Will and I decided to have dinner on our own at Jamie's Italian since it was a celebrity chef restaurant and we wanted to celebrate our monthly anniversary at the time.

We came in at 6PM for dinner and dinner was $30 per person. We definitely took advantage and ordered a lot for ourselves. The restaurant was spacious, hip, and had a casual environment. The staff were very friendly and nice. Our server was very friendly and helpful and made recommendations of what we should order and try.

We ordered the following appetizers: crispy squid, mushroom friti, proscuitto & melon, and rocket Parmesan salad. The crispy squid was delicious and fried to golden perfection with garlic & lemon mayo, chili, parsley and fried garlic. The proscuitto and melon was amazing and delicious! It complimented each other very well. The mushroom friti was king oyster, paris brown mushrooms coated in an herby breadcrumbs and served with garlic mayo. It was insanely delicious and crunchy. In my opinion, it felt like a mushroom pie! The rocket Parmesan salad was tasty, simple, and rustic. 

Ultimate Garlic Bread

We were also given their complimentary ultimate garlic bread which was warm artisan buttermilk buns, herby garlic butter, Bella Lodi & rosemary. The ultimate garlic bread was fluffy, moist, and delicious! This was possibly one of the best garlic breads I've had so far.

For entree, I had Caprese Risotto and Will had the Taglitatelle Bolognese.  The Caprese Risotto was fairly delicious at the beginning, but later on it got pretty salty so that's why I didn't finish it.However, at least the dish was brigh and warm and the colors did complement very nicely and it's neat too. The Tagliatelle Bolognese is from Gennaro's original pork & beef Bolognese receipe, slowly cooked with red wine and served with herby breadcrumbs & Parmesan. The Tagliatelle Bolognese was mediocre and I've definitely had better. I thought it was a little too salty for our tastes.

We also had desserts: Tiramisu and Cheesecake. The desserts were okay, but nothing too great. 

Overall, it was a wonderful experience at Jamie's Italian. I enjoyed our appetizers very much and I enjoyed the service too!