Monday, July 25, 2016

Doka Square

Last month, our friend Jack hosted his birthday dinner at Doka Square which is an Asian Fusion restaurant and located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I never heard or noticed of this restaurant, but I really enjoyed the chic atmosphere and ambiance. It's super spacious and perfect for a birthday dinner or gathering.

Their menu amazed me especially with the different cocktails, mocktails, and different entrees available. 

We started off with appetizers that we shared with the friends around us. We tried the Crab Rangoon, Gyoza, and Spring Rolls. Each appetizer had unique flavors and textures. The Crab Rangoon is deep-fried , cream cheese filled wonton dumplings with crab meat and minced vegetables served with spicy mayo. I've never really been a fan of this type of appetizer, but the one from Doka Square tasted extra yummy.

The Gyoza is a choice of beef or pork pan-fried dumplings with cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, scallion and bamboo. The other appetizer we had was the Spring Rolls which contained cabbage, carrot, mushroom, vermicelli, served with sweet chili sauce. 

The Surprisingly Green Mocktail
Most of my friends and I got the The Surprisingly Green mocktail (kiwi puree, apple juice, chrysanthemum, honey tea, mint and Calpico). It was surprisingly yummy and refreshing! I really enjoyed this. It was absolutely kiwi heaven!

Loco Moco
Will asked me what was a signature/recommended dish here based on Yelp Reviews and I said the Loco Moco, so he actually got it. It looked amazing! You don't just taste different textures, but you see different textures on this plate too.

So what is a Loco Moco? It's a beef hamburger steak on a bed of rice, topped with gravy and an egg tempura, shimeji mushrooms, and fried shallot. I tried a small piece of the hamburger steak, gravy, and egg tempura and it was divine! The egg was runny, so perfect for me. I was hooked on Will's dish, so I definitely have to get that for myself next time we return to Doka Square.

Garlic Short Rib Steak
I decided to get the Garlic Short Rib Steak (short rib steak with home-made garlic soy reduction sauce, with truffled marble potato, pearl onion and asparagus). I liked this dish because it was very simple and neatly plated. The short rib steak was a little overcooked, but overall I liked the dish.

Doka Chili Crab
Another one of Doka's signature dishes is the: Doka Chili Crab. This is their popular Singaporean style hard shell or soft shell crab with the chef's sweet chili sauce. I didn't take part in this dish because I don't like/slightly allergic to spicy dishes. However, Will thought it was impeccable and had good flavor.

Overall, I really and truly enjoyed Doka Square. Their flavors, service, and menu is different from many Asian Fusion restaurants I've been to. I am currently working on a project with them, but can't say much or my secret will blow up. However, I can tell you there will be a return to Doka Square in the near future.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Kane's Diner in Flushing, NY

Kane's Diner has been on my places to try and visit for the past year or so. I finally got to visit it and try it with Will about a month ago, since we weren't craving for Asian food and I wanted brunch-like food for lunch.

It's a local, family-owned diner that's open for 24 hours, but be aware the parking lot is small so if you happen to go at a time where it's packed, be sure to have some patience. Their tables can fit large an small groups, and there's also booths on the side. Service is adequate. The women's restroom is only one stall, so be prepared to wait ladies.

I must admit that their menu is crazy and filled with pictures and prices everywhere. I also must admit that I had to flip back and forth at least 2-3 times before I was able to decide what was it I exactly wanted.

Complimentary Muffins

We were given complimentary muffins to start off and to munch on. They were adorable, moist, and tasty.

Meat Lover's Skillet
Holy cow! Honestly, I don't quite remember what inspired me to order this because I'm not big on eating too much meat during brunch. I guess I was thinking with my stomach and not my head when I ordered the Meat Lover's Skillet. The Meat Lover's Skillet entailed: diced ham, bacon, and sausage over seasoned country potatoes topped with shredded cheddar and two eggs. It also came with pancakes and toasted bread which I absolutely forgot that it's part of the meal. 

It was tasty, but I didn't quite finish my meal as I was already full from the meat, cheese, and the seasoned country potatoes. I didn't even touch the pancakes, that's how bad and full I was. I deeply regretted ordering the meat lover's skillet as I was just too full and stuffed. Never again.

Steak and Eggs
Kane's Diner is best known for their Steak and Eggs ($8.99), so that's what Will ended up getting. He asked the steak to be medium well, but I guess it became well done. It was a little difficult to chew, but at least it was a decent size. Overall, he liked the dish very much minus the overcooked steak.

Will also ordered a plate of fries (as if our dishes weren't big enough). I guess he ordered it because his dish didn't seem to come with pancakes or toast, so needed a little starch.

Overall, this diner is pretty interesting and the portion size of the dishes is absolutely no joke. I'm sure their other dishes taste amazing, but I don't think I could order the Meat Lover's skillet again. However, next time I come back to Kane's Diner I think I will try their famous steak and eggs. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Boston Trip: Island Creek Oyster Bar

The final food destination in Boston was at Island Creek Oyster Bar.

We came just before 5PM and was seated immediately. I really liked the ambiance because it was chic, modern, slightly dim, high ceilings, and just feels very cozy and spacious.

We started with drinks and light appetizers.

Cocktails, Wine, and Cider Beer
Appetizers & Side Orders
Will, Jack, and Katy ordered the Crispy Oyster Sliders on a brioche bun and lime chili aioli. I didn't eat any of it or the raw oysters since I am simply not a fan of oysters. We had the Fried Ipswich Clams as well which is way cheaper then what we had at Neptune Oyster (the night before). The fried clams were crisp perfection, but not as juicy as the ones from Neptune.

We also had the Fried Calamari which was pretty tasty and I wanted to try the Roasted Crimini Mushrooms which was mediocre. It didn't really taste like it was roasted, more like it was bathed in a bath of butter and oil.

Lobster Bisque 
We also ordered the Lobster Bisque. This was hands down, the BEST lobster bisque I have had so far. It's bright, warm, and inviting and has rich lobster flavors and juices. I was dreaming about it for days because it was truly delicious. 

Lobster Roll
We couldn't pass up the opportunity of ordering a Lobster Roll. This lobster roll was made differently compared to the one from Neptune Oyster. The lobster roll was served cold and with mayonnaise which I much prefer then butter. We asked our waiter to have the lobster roll cut in four sections so we can split it evenly among the four of us. 

It was extremely yummy and worth the $28.00. It was also accompanied with cole slaw and the kettle chips.

Lobster Roe Noodles
The last item we had was the Lobster Roe Noodles which is a highly recommended dish at Island Creek Oyster Bar. It's cooked with braised short rib, grilled lobster, oyster mushooms, and Pecorino.
It was absolutely beautiful, the way it's plated and an interesting dish. This is definitely something I haven't found in New York City restaurants yet. It's also a little expensive ($36.00 to be exact), but I guess if you're sharing it with other people then that's okay.

Overall, I think we all prefer Island Creek Oyster Bar much more. We didn't have to wait five hours for a seat and we didn't feel squished or rushed. The entire experience was great and relaxing. I would definitely come back here again when we return to Boston.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Boston Trip: Quincy Market - Boston Chowda Co

On the second/last day of trip at Boston, we had to stop and visit Quincy Market. If you haven't been here, you should definitely check it out especially if you enjoy shopping, entertainment, and dining of course.

We came here to try out the seafood and as a tourists. I made a stop at Boston Chowda Co. and got a few items.

Shrimp Salad Roll & Lobster Bisque
Our friends ordered the Shrimp Salad Roll served with lettuce and lemon and we ordered the Lobster Bisque. The shrimp salad roll was mediocre. I prefer having a lobster roll because it's much meatier. The lobster bisque was very creamy and rich. However, I didn't really see any lobster chunks.

Maine Lobster Pie
I also got the Maine Lobster Pie which was filled with their Rockport lobster bisque and topped with their seasoned Ritz Cracker crumbs. This pie was absolutely wonderful and delicious! It was extremely creamy and the lobster meat was delicious. I highly recommend this pie if you like something savory and different and if you're a seafood lover!

All in all, I really liked the Maine Lobster Pie and it was extremely yummy. Boston Chowda Co. offers a lot more and I definitely would like to come back to try some of their other foods.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Boston Trip: Neptune Oyster

Prior to our trip to Boston, I did research on restaurants to visit in Boston. Neptune Oysterwas one of the first restaurants that came up on my search on Yelp. I didn't read reviews, but I should have because what happened during our Neptune Oyster experience was interesting.

Jack told us Neptune Oyster has a 4.5 star rating on Yelp with over 3000+ reviews which is tremendous. We arrived on the street of Neptune Oyster Bar and made a reservation which we found out would be a 4 hour wait, so we had to come back before 7:30PM.

We went to our hotel, walked the Freedom Trail, got ice cream, sight see, and sat in a cafe until 7:15 and found out the wait was until 8-8:30PM, so stretch that to approximately a 5 hour wait. We got a call around 8-8:15, but when we arrived we still had to wait for a seat.

The restaurant is very dark and dim. It's also very tight and small inside. I definitely think a plan to expand their space would be best. The staff here are very friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful They made us felt welcomed.

We started off with appetizers:

The Fried Ipswich Clams came with a tartar sauce and was market price: $21.00 which isn't expensive at all. The fried clams were fried to perfection, but juicy and full of clam deliciousness inside. I liked the tartar sauce a lot because it was rich. We also had Razor Clams which I thought was excellent and delicious. Jack, Will, and Katy also ordered oysters from the raw bar and I ordered a shrimp cocktail since I am not a fan of cooked or raw oysters at all.

Wellfleet Clam Chowder
We got two bowls of the Wellfleet Clam Chowder ($11.00) , one per couple. The clam chowder is a popular menu item, but honestly I thought it was alright. It's definitely very filling because there's a lot of cream and chunks of potatoes. There's a good amount of clams in the chowder, but I just felt it was okay, not the best.

Maine Lobster Roll
Another popular menu item at Neptune Oyster is their Maine Lobster Roll ($29.00) - toasted roll, available hot with butter or cold with mayo (available without roll). We both ordered it hot, but little did we know that it wasn't the best route. 

The lobster and roll were both submerged with so much butter that it was too overwhelming. However, the lobster was delicious and so were the fries. The butter did make Will feel slightly sick, so he wasn't able to finish his half of the lobster roll.

All in all, I feel the five hour wait was definitely overboard and an experience I never want to experience again at any restaurant. Was the five hour wait really, really worth it? I feel like it wasn't because the food wasn't five stars in my opinion, maybe 3.5. Would I return? No, because a five hour wait is crazy and it can definitely drive a person nuts. I've definitely had better seafood dishes before without having to wait so long.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Boston Trip: Chip's Family Restaurant

Last month, Will and I went on a Memorial day weekend road trip to Boston with our friend Jack and his girlfriend Katy. The next few posts you will see on the food blog will be a review of restaurants/places we've eaten at.

The first restaurant we visited during our trip was Chip's Family Restaurant which actually has five restaurants in the state of Connecticut. The location we visited was in Fairfield, CT. We came on a Saturday and was expecting it to be packed, but far from it. When we arrived it was busy and bustling, but there was no wait and we got a seat with no issues.

The restaurant has a diner feel to it and very family and tourist friendly. The staff are quick, friendly, and very helpful. Jack told us that they are best known for their pancakes, so three of us actually ordered pancakes. They also had a Memorial Day weekend special menu, so the three of us also ordered from the menu.

Strawberry Pancakes & Mushroom Omelette
Will ordered the Strawberry Pancakes & Mushroom Omelette. The pancakes were flat, but also had a fluffy bite to it. I like that Chip's Family Restaurant offers different types of syrup: strawberry, pecan, coconut, and apricot. The mushroom omelette was yummy and also had bits of sausage in it. 

California Eggs Benedict
Katy ordered the California Eggs Benedict which is two poached eggs, avocado, and tomatoes served an English Muffin topped with Hollandaise sauce and served with pancakes or homefries. I never tried California style Eggs Benedict, so it was definitely a different experience. I thought it was decent, but I prefer my Eggs Benedict with meat. 

Pineapple & Cherry pancakes with Chicken Omelette
Jack ordered the Pineapple & Cherry pancakes with Chicken Omelette. This was one of the Memorial Day special items. The omelette was delicious and felt very healthy since it had chicken in it. Unfortunately, I didn't get to the point to eat part of Jack's pancake because I was too full and having trouble finishing mine.

BBQ Brisket Eggs Benedict & Cinnabon Pancakes
I ordered the BBQ Brisket Eggs Benedict which also came with Cinnabon Pancakes. The BBQ Brisket Eggs Benedict was another Memorial Day weekend menu special item. First off, it's super super heavy! They gave a generous amount of brisket which was very moist and tender by the way and tasted absolutely amazing with the barbecue sauce. I don't think there was need for black beans at all. 

Although I shared with my BBQ Brisket Eggs Benedict with my friends and Will, I still couldn't finish my dish nor the pancakes. I ended up sharing my pancakes and the pancakes were very moist and fluffy and is sweet enough without syrup.

Overall, definitely a good and uber busy spot for breakfast and brunch, but I would highly recommend it if you're traveling and Connecticut just happens to be one of the states you have to or will pass by. I definitely wouldn't order the BBQ Brisket Eggs Benedict again because it was super super heavy and definitely one of those dishes that will give you a serious food coma.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Caffe Bene (Bensonhurst) - 18th Avenue location

I've been recently coming to Caffe Bene a lot , at least once or sometimes twice a week. It's a very cozy, comfortable atmosphere and has that local, neighborhood vibe to it. There's an abundance of seats and tables available and a couple of outlets available if you're bringing your laptop to do work or you need to charge your electronic devices. Most of the customers are between High School students - 50-60 year old

I typically come here to get my blogging done and Yelp reviews on the days I don't have internship. It's also pleasant to sit here while they have the AC on a good blast. There's a lot of beverages to choose from, sandwiches, waffles, and sweets.

I've recently been addicted to their Portabella Sandwich because it's super crunchy, delicious, and I love mushrooms. It typically come with mustard, but I hate mustard so they usually do well in removing the mustard for me. I've also tried their Mango Berry Mojito (non-alcoholic) which is quite refreshing, but too bad it only comes in one size. 

Any way, I really like this Caffe Bene mostly because of the cozy and relaxing atmosphere and it's convenient to Will's house. They haven't built one near me on 86th street and I think they should build one for many reasons. Food and beverages can be a little bit expensive in my opinion. Staff is very friendly! There's one man that works at this location and it's quite possible he could be the manager, usually brings the food and drinks to the guest that ordered it. Now that's good memory and service if you ask me.