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.


Appetizers
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.

Desserts
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.

Monday, September 12, 2016

PappaRich in Flushing, Queens

I have passed by PappaRich many times and have heard a lot, but never had the opportunity to visit it. Will and I decided to jump out of our comfort zone and try out PappaRich. The restaurant is located is located on the third floor of One Fulton Square.

The restaurant has outside seating and the restaurant itself is pretty big with lots of seating inside too. Once we arrived, a staff member greeted and escorted us to our seats.

There's a unique ordering system at PappaRich. Every table has a buzzer (how you let the staff know that you're ready to order). The waiter/waitress will hand you the menu, a sheet or paper and a pencil so that you can write in your order along with little indications of food allergy, spice allergy, and etc. The menu is helpful for someone who isn't familiar with Malaysian dishes and it has very clear pictures of most of the menu items.


3 Layer Iced Tea
The 3 Layer Tea is a popular menu item at PappaRich, so that's why we opted for it. It's a Malaysian version of black milk tea, but with a rich tea taste to it. 

Roti Canai & Roti Telur
PappaRich offers an array of roti canai and roti telur dishes with different dipping sauces. The first one we ordered was the Roti Canai with Curry Chicken and the second one was Roti Telur with Beef Rendang. 

The level of spice in the sauces couldn't be altered and it was milder than the usual curry sauce I've tried with roti canai. The sauces in both dishes were quite dangerous in my opinion. However, there was one sauce that wasn't as dangerous or powerful. Overall, the presentation and quality looks neat and interesting, but I think I prefer just one sauce and a big,puffy roti canai. 

Hainan Chicken Rice with Steamed Chicken Set 
Will always orders the Hainanese Chicken when we have Malaysian food. At PappaRich, he ordered the Hainan chicken rice with steamed chicken set. The chicken was tender and served alongside of bean sprouts. There was also a trio of sauces to dip at your own liking. The chicken rice wasn't fragrant nor did it taste like chicken. The set was served with a chicken soup too.

Will and I felt the bean sprouts was unnecessary and filler. It didn't complement very well together. He didn't really like the dish too much as there was a lack of flavor.

Kampung Fried Rice with Chicken Satay + Chicken Wing
This dish looked very interesting on the menu so I ordered it. It's an authentic Malaysian wok-fried rice with sliced chicken, anchovies, egg, onions, kangkung, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red chili. I asked for no chili since I can't handle spice. While I was halfway into the dish, I lost my appetite for it as the taste of the anchovies wasn't very nice. I also didn't understand those two round chips that were placed on top of my dish. It didn't do much to save this dish. The chicken satay was decent, tender and tasted amazing with the curry sauce.

Before our entrees hit our table, the waiter already came with our bill/receipt when it wasn't crowded at all in the restaurant nor were we ready to leave. It was a little distracting and disrespectful. 

Overall, I felt there wasn't much of an interaction available because you basically just fill out your orders and the waiter/waitress brings it to you. If you get a nice waiter or waitress, than I am sure you will receive interaction and answers to questions you may have. Besides the lack of interaction, it was nice to see that the staff knew when to return to pour extra water when our cup ran empty.

The quality of the food didn't really impress me. I definitely would prefer Sentosa (across the street) as the service is more quick and efficient. In addition, Sentosa has the typical Malaysian dishes you would find at a traditional Malaysian restaurant. The price at PappaRich was also quite pricey and not worth the quality that's being delivered in the dishes we had.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Birthday Dinner at Thanya Thai Cuisine

Last month, Will and I went to our friend's birthday dinner at Thanya Thai Cuisine with our other friends as well. The dinner was on a Saturday evening at 8PM and strangely, it was very empty and maybe there was only one table that was filled. The service was okay and accommodating. A friend and her husband brought their baby to the birthday dinner and the servers/owner didn't mind it at all. As a matter of fact, they brought a bowl of hot water so that our friend can warm up the milk for the baby to drink. Good eye and service on this part. However, the food didn't really wow me.

It seems that this restaurant doesn't have a beverage menu which is strange and feels awkward, but basically they have your typical drinks you would find in a Thai restaurant minus the alcohol. Most of us got the Thai Ice Tea or Lychee Tea. We did family style so we shared the appetizers and entrees.

Appetizers
We ordered five different appetizers to share. The Papaya salad (green papaya, carrots, tomatoes, peanuts, string beans, fresh lime juice, chili, and garlic) sounded really refreshing, but it tasted very bland. The Thai Summer Rolls were simple, beautiful, and perfect. The Crispy Calamari was fried to perfection. A friend ordered the Mussel Hotpot, but I wasn't a fan of it because the broth was very bland and didn't taste very good. Another friend ordered the Tom Kha Soup , but I didn't try it as it is a spicy soup.

Entrees 
These are the two entrees our friends had, but I didn't try them.

Drunken Noodles with Beef
Will ordered the Drunken Noodles with Beef and originally it's suppose to be spicy, but he asked the waitress to not make it spicy. Unfortunately, when the dish arrived it was spicy which ruined his appetite. They remade his dish, but by the time it arrived he wasn't very hungry.

Squid Pad Thai
I ordered the Squid Pad Thai, but I wasn't a fan of this because it tasted and felt watery and although it was too tangy. This was definitely not the best Pad Thai I've had.

Overall, I felt the service was mediocre. Although the restaurant wasn't busy, it didn't feel like the servers were very alert or attentive. The food wasn't very tasty and the quality could be improved. I don't think I would be back here again, nothing really impressed me during our visit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ramen Quest: Kogane Ramen

I must admit there aren't a lot of ramen spots in Brooklyn, but they are slowly spreading out. Earlier this summer, I discovered that a new ramen spot opened up in Brooklyn Heights called: Kogane Ramen. I promised a ramen outing with a friend, so we came here with his girlfriend and Will. 

It's in a very nice and tourist-like location. The space is mid-sized,  but you don't feel cramped inside and the kitchen here is closed. I recommend reserving a table if you have four or more people because it can get crowded.

We ordered two types of appetizers to start off: 


Jimmy insisted on trying the Black Sesame Tuna and Pork Jowl Buns. I don't like tuna very much, but the black sesame tuna turned out to be decent. It's seared with mango salsa and wasabi dressing. It had a slight tangy, tropical taste and with a hint of spice in it. It was super smooth and fresh.

The Pork Jowl Buns were made up of braised pork jowl and cucumber with spicy mayonnaise. It was moist, delicious, and juicy. I really enjoyed it and the flavor.

Parco Ramen
Jimmy ordered the Parco Ramen (pork bone and curry based broth, pork katsu, spicy Japanese pickles, soft boiled egg, menma, scallion, and black garlic oil), It sounds pretty interesting and also a bowl of spiciness at the same time. 

Seafood Ramen
Will ordered the Seafood Ramen (chicken & seafood broth with snow crab, mussels, shrimp, fresh corn & scallion). This is the first time I've seen a ramen restaurant serve a seafood ramen. The seafood ramen was legit! They had decent size shrimps, real mussels, and snow crab that was moist and delicious. The broth was very light, but it still maintained the seafood flavor.

Tonkotsu Ramen
Jimmy's girlfriend and I ordered the same ramen: Tonkotsu Ramen (pork bone based broth, braised pork jowl, menma, Japanese wood ear, mushroom, soft boiled egg, scallion, and black garlic oil). Tonkotsu is one of my favorite ramen by far! The Tonkotsu Ramen at Kogane was really delicious, creamy, rich, and just completely satisfying. I enjoyed every piece and slurp from my bowl. 

Overall, I truly enjoyed the experience and food at Kogane Ramen. This is truly a gem and I highly recommend any ramen fan to give this spot a shot because it's authentic and true. I hope to return soon as I haven't had ramen in about two months.

Service: 90%Food: 80%Taste: 85%Likelihood to return: 100%

Monday, August 15, 2016

Snow & Cream

After dinner at Piccoli Trattoria, we went to Snow & Cream which is a step away from Prince Tea House on 7th Avenue for dessert. Sam & Alex had already been here, but I wanted to try it out.

The interior and decor wasn't extravagant nor captivating. The service is quick. They serve shaved ice, rolled ice cream, egg waffles, and etc (basically Asian desserts that are hot and trending now).
Apparently they have a backyard/outdoor seating, but we couldn't sit there the night we went because there was a private gathering.

Earl Grey & Thai Ice Tea Shaved Ice
Sam & Alex shared the Earl Grey shaved ice and Will & I shared the Thai Ice Tea shaved ice with grass jelly. 

Sam told us that their toppings aren't good quality, so I decided to just stick with plain grass jelly. The Thai Ice Tea shaved ice was alright. I didn't think it was wow and it could use more tea flavor.  The Earl Grey shaved ice was mediocre. I felt it could have used more flavor.

All in all, I feel Snow & Cream was mediocre. There was definitely nothing that is keeping me coming back for me sadly. I feel they are are trying to incorporate different products from dessert spots I've been to already. I also think it's weird that they call their rolled ice cream - "Stir Fry Rolled Ice Cream" - it makes me think the rolled ice cream is suppose to be savory. I definitely think a little more creativity needs to be involved in this place if they expect to succeed.