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!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Royal Caribbean - Anthem of the Seas: The Grande

On our second day of Anthem of the Seas, we tried very hard at dodging Hurricane Hermine, but still felt the tremendous effects (strong and gusty winds, rain, wobbly ship and etc.). It was quite serious since they had barf bags available at the stairways and by your room door. They also canceled all activities and shows.

Will and I came to The Grande for lunch. Passengers who have been on Royal Caribbean or love formal night adore The Grande, where formal dress and suit is required every night. However, if you come for breakfast or lunch, you are entitled to wear whatever it is that you please. The space is large, elegant, and feels luxurious.

For appetizer, I had the Chilled Strawberry & Mint Soup which was surprisingly delicious! I've never had a sweet soup to start off my experience at a restaurant. It tasted like a strawberry smoothie, but in a soup form. I really enjoyed it. Will ordered the Lobster & Shrimp risotto which I also really liked. It tasted buttery, creamy, and delicious. 

For entrees, Will had the Smoked Chorizo soup. However, he wasn't a huge fan of it. I had the Mushrooms with Ratatouille which I really enjoyed. The mushrooms were cooked to perfection and so was the ratatouille. A true comfort dish! 

Finally for desserts, Will had the Apple Fritters with Caramel sauce which looked really good, but he didn't enjoy it very much. I don't even remember why I didn't try the apple fritters since I love apples. I had a super fattening dessert - S'Mores dessert with lots of whip cream, caramel sauce, and just melting and over the top. Overall, it was a tasty dessert especially with the devil's chocolate cake. 

I really enjoyed the ambiance and atmosphere in The Grande. It's too bad everything was moving and wobbly the day we went. It was a mission impossible to have dinner here because they weren't accepting walk-in's and reservations were all booked. It was sad since Will and I really wanted to dress up for this specific restaurant. Hopefully we can another time or on another ship. The food was mediocre, so we've definitely had better.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Royal Caribbean - Anthem of the Seas: SILK

The next few posts will be about the food and restaurants that I tried while I was on the Anthem of the Seas cruise with Will and family.

On our first and last evening, we actually went to the same restaurant since it was difficult to get a reservation/table for a large group.

The restaurant we went to was called SILK and it is a Pan-Asian restaurant with influences from Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. The restaurant and decor is very beautiful, elegant, and has gorgeous oriental design and architecture. Service was okay, but nothing over the top in my opinion. SILK is part of the complimentary dining, so we were able to order as much as we wanted.

This is what Will and I had at our first time at SILK:

For appetizers, I had the Korean Fried Squid and I thought it was mediocre. The squid felt very hard and dry. Will had the Salmon Sashimi which was nicely sliced, but didn't taste right as there was no wasabi given to us or soy sauce. For entrees, Will had some type of steak dish (Sorry I forgot the name). I had the Salmon with Green Tea Rice which was mediocre. The salmon was cooked perfectly, but tasted a little bland. The green tea rice was mediocre as well, didn't taste very much like green tea or tea at all. For desserts, I had the Mango Rice Pudding which I thought would be similar to mango sago, but nope. It was definitely rice with mango with a dash/taste of cinnamon in it. Will had a custard (I also forgot the name) , but it was rather small.

Will and I were not impressed with our first experience at Silk. The final and second experience was a little bit better:

Will and I ordered a lot to try this time since it was complimentary and our final family dinner on the cruise. Will ordered the Chinese Style Chicken Noodle Soup and the Vegetable Samosas. I didn't try the chicken noodle soup since it don't look very appealing, but I did try the vegetable samosas. They were prepared adorable and delicious, but not enough curry flavor. I also got what they call Asian Pork Tacos which puzzled a lot of people, but it was actually pork buns. They were quite delicious and other people in the table got them too. I also had the Asian Chicken Salad which was extremely light and delicious. We also got the Crabmeat & Cheese Wontons which I thought were very small and you can definitely see all that grease on the leaf.

For entree, I had the Korean Short Rib which was very moist and tender and had good flavor. Will on the other hand had a Beef Shank or Steak dish that he was not pleased with because it was overcooked and tough. For dessert, Will got his mochi which was good and can't be messed up on. I had the Lychee Custard with Kiwi coulis. I was hoping for more lychee flavor in the custard, but it just tasted a lot like cream and almost 0% lychee flavor. The kiwi coulis was tart.

Overall, I thought the food could be improved and I think it's funny how it's an Asian restaurant, but where are the chopsticks? I understand they are a fine dining restaurant, but where's the Asian utensils you're suppose to use to pick up rice or dumplings? The service was okay, but there seemed to be a little bit of mix-up with the dishes at times.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's Been Cooking In My Kitch - Part 2

I must admit when you're not in school anymore and you're not working, but you are actively and painfully looking for a career opportunity - you definitely have a lot of time on your hands. I seem to have had a lot of time this summer to create delicious masterpieces as I'd like to unveil them to you:

Fruit Salads
I absolutely love fruits. This summer while I was at my internship, I would always prepare a fruit salad to bring so it helps me get through my day and add a little sweetness. I always loved that it comes out refreshing, bright, and warm.

Summer Rolls & Smoked Salmon Crackers
For Father's Day, we went to Will's sister's home and everyone made a dish or two. I always like it when we're able to bring our own food to share. It's such a delight! I've also been on a Vietnamese summer roll binge as I've been making quite a lot of these this year for different parties. This was also my first time making smoked salmon crackers and everyone seemed to like it.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Pork & Shrimp and Salmon Toast
One evening I volunteered to make dinner for Will and his partners. I made Vietnamese summer rolls, but this time with some shrimp and some Vietnamese pork. I actually wasn't a fan of the Vietnamese pork. The salmon toast was amazing because instead of using crackers, I used garlic bread and toasted it for a little crunch. 

Avocado Toast with Smoked Salmon and Fried Egg
While my parents were away in San Francisco last month, I spent time at home and I made an avocado toast with smoked salmon and fried egg. The egg was a little overdone, but overall I really liked my toast and the colors. It was super filling and delicious!

Linguine with Smoked Salmon & Asparagus in light cream sauce
I had smoked salmon left over so I lightly cooked it with some linguine and asparagus with light cream sauce. It was amazing! It looked great, smelled great, and best of all tasted great. I was very happy with the outcome. 

So this is what I've been cooking on and off these last two to three months. Cooking sure can help you feel better and much more. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dinner at Blue Bay Diner

Will and I have been to Blue Bay Diner prior to the food blog, so therefore there was never a blog post written about our experience before. We recently returned to Blue Bay Diner for dinner since we were around Bayside, Queens.

From the outside, the diner looks small, but it's actually pretty big inside and love the different shades of blue. The air conditioner is on full blast in the summer/warmer seasons at Blue Bay Diner, so I would recommend going in with pants or a thin sweater/shirt. The service is pretty on point. The quality of the food improved from the last time we were here and the portion size is huge! The price is slightly more expensive compared to other diners we've been to.

French Onion Soup
Will and I have been addicted to French Onion Soup and since it was freezing inside Blue Bay Diner, we both ordered a bowl of this delicious soup. There was just enough onions, cheese, and bread. However, the soup was a little too salty. It was a bit overwhelming.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce
Will ordered the Linguine with White Clam Sauce which is one of my favorite Italian dishes. The clams were cooked to perfection and tasty. The only issue with this dish was there was not enough sauce.

Penne with Mushrooms
I've ordered the Penne with Mushrooms before and I really liked it so I ordered it again. I like this dish a lot because of all of the mushrooms and it's literally like a pizza on a plate without the crust. Everything works well together and the portion was humongous! Unfortunately, I couldn't finish the whole dish because of it's size and plus the French Onion Soup.

Overall, not a bad diner at all, but it is a little pricey. The food is quite tasty here. If it's late and you're hungry, Blue Bay Diner is definitely a place you can come to satisfy your late night cravings. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Our first NYC Restaurant Week Experience - Brasserie Seoul

As someone that's born and raised in New York City and as a foodie in my family, I've never had the opportunity to experience NYC Restaurant Week until this summer.

This summer seemed like the perfect time for Will and I to take advantage of NYC Restaurant Week because I've officially finished college and my degree, so it was the perfect time to celebrate my accomplishment. The restaurant I initially chose was Delmonico's, but later changed my mind to Brasserie Seoul  (a new, hip, and trendy restaurant with Korean and French flavors and techniques) in Downtown Brooklyn. The restaurant is tucked away inside the new Holiday Inn. I've visited the hotel twice during my summer classes. My class and I met the General Manage who said next time we return we would receive 10% off our bill since we were City Tech students.

Will and I were seated in the center of the restaurant and had a good view of the kitchen (it's semi-open). The servers/staff were nice, friendly, and took initiative when an issue rose. We asked for a sparkling water, but unfortunately the rim around my glass cup had a fuzz around it. The General Manager was behind me and asked if everything was okay, but I showed him my glass, he kindly apologized and replaced it with a new and clean glass.

Will ordered the Crispy Salmon (salmon, sashimi, crispy sushi rice, and chipotle aioli). This was truly an interesting appetizer and spin on a sashimi. The crispy sushi rice had a little kick and spice to it. I ordered the Wild Mushroom & Asparagus (wild mushrooms, asparagus, truffle soy sauce).  I really liked this appetizer because I am naturally a mushroom fan. 

Duck Confit
For entree, Will has the Duck Confit (endive, shallot, thyme orange sauce) which was recommended by a mutual friend. The duck was delicious and cooked just perfectly. The meat was really soft, smooth, and moist.

Waygu Rib Eye Steak
I opted for the Waygu Rib Eye Steak (waygu rib eye with grilled vegetables) *$5.00* additional for my order and I also asked for medium rare, but not too rare. While eating my steak, I noticed parts of it was a little too rare, but I didn't say anything. The steak also tasted very bland. I wished they provided a sauce or rub on it. The vegetables were grilled to perfection, but I would have preferred some type of starch incorporated in the dish.

I think the best part of the experience were the desserts! Will ordered the Strawberry Pie (puff pastry, gelato, and housemade strawberry jam). The strawberry pie was puff pastry and strawberry heaven! It was crispy, flaky, and buttery. So good and so cute! I ordered the Banana Split (devil's food cake, caramelized banana, vanilla ice cream) and when it arrived to our table, the general manager explained each component of the gorgeous dessert. Everything and all of the flavors really came together and tasted amazing! The devil's food cake was absolutely to die for.

The Bill
Our dinner cost less than I thought. The general manager mentioned to us that the first bottle of sparkling water would be on him since there was a slight issue with my glass, but I guess the waitress wasn't informed. Any way, the general manager did indeed give us the City Tech discount which was very kind of him. 

Overall the experience was pleasant. Service was top notch and food was definitely unique. Brasserie Seoul isn't your typical Korean restaurant you would find in Queens or Manhattan, but this is definitely a gem and a great addition to Downtown Brooklyn. I think the combination of their service, food, and ambiance adds a different concept to the neighborhood. The price is on par with the price at most restaurants within the neighborhood. I would definitely be back if I want to have Korean food or maybe for a special celebration. 

I am definitely looking forward to our NYC Restaurant Week experience.