Sunday, June 14, 2015

Because We Can't Get Enough of Samurai Fusion Sushi

Samurai Fusion Sushi
1709 86th Street Brooklyn, NY 11214

I can't believe I've never reviewed this restaurant especially since it's one of my favorite Japanese and sushi restaurants.

Will and I enjoy coming to this restaurant because not only is the food and service pleasant, but there's a relaxing and comfortable ambiance at this restaurant. I like the background noise of the water fountain and jazz music.

On our most recent adventure, we tried the following:

The waitress gave us a complimentary serving of edamame for me and Will. This was a nice little snack to munch on while we were waiting for the rest of our food.

Miso Soup & Green Salad
Since we ordered a chicken hibachi set, it came with a soup and salad which Will and I shared. The miso soup wasn't anything too special tastes just as an miso soup. The salad was light and refreshing.

Hibachi Chicken
We ordered the Hibachi Chicken which comes with assorted vegetable, fried rice, and sauce. The vegetables were delicious. The chicken tasted and felt a little undercooked.

Ginger Squid
I really enjoy this appetizer because the squid is soft and delicious especially with the sweet ginger sauce drizzled on top of it.

Volcano Roll, Salmon Crunch Roll, Salmon Roll, Boston Roll
We also ordered four rolls to share. The  Volcano Roll has spicy crunch shrimp and crabmeat topped off with spicy lobster meat and tobiko. I really enjoy this roll because it has a combination of shrimp, crabmeat, and lobstermeat. It is very moist, with a little spice, and delightful to eat. I didn't try the Salmon Roll but I did try the Salmon Crunch Roll and I liked the addition of the crunch in the roll. It adds a different texture and taste. I also had the Boston Roll which is simply shrimp, cucumber, and lettuce.

All in all, we really enjoyed our dinner at Samurai Fusion Sushi. We have been to many sushi restaurants, but this one is and will be definitely one of our favorites. Their menu items are priced at a decent price, but in return you will get good quality food! 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

First Vineyard Visit at Whisper Vineyards

So as you may know I've taken a Wine & Beverage class this Spring and one exciting project that my classmates and I were given was that we had to visit a vineyard of our choice and write a 3-5 page report about our experiences, what we saw, fermentation methods, bottling methods, and etc.

I've never been to a vineyard before, nor have I ever done a wine tasting outside of school so this was very exciting, new, and different for me. I obviously couldn't go alone so Will drove and we invited my classmate Elena and our friend Suzanne.

There many vineyards to pick from ,but to save time and with research we visited Whisper Vineyards located in St. James, NY in Long Island.

Vineyard (Outside)
This is the outside and fields that belongs to Whisper Vineyards. It is across the road from the actually tasting room/gift shop. Since we went to the vineyard in April, the grapes weren't growing on the vines yet since the grapes were still in dormancy.

Interior of Tasting Room & Menu
I liked the atmosphere of the tasting area/winery, but in my opinion it was a little small. There were a lot of gifts, wine openers,  an assortment of wines, miniature snacks, and much more. There's a few wooden tables and stands for customers to stand by or sit and enjoy wine tasting.

When we arrived there was a poetry reading, but a friendly and kind woman named Elizabeth assisted us to the best that she could during our visit. She was helpful in answering our questions and explained the types of wine and grapes that was available or grown at Whisper Vineyards.

Will and our friend Suzanne did the "Simply Chardonnay" tasting - $11/flight and had three glasses. Elena wasn't able to participate the tasting because she was under 21 at the time. I tried the "Steel" tasting because it appealed to me most so I chose that instead. 

The "Steel" tasting included a 2012 Pinot Gris, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Starling Rose, and a 2013 Riesling. I chose the "Steel" tasting because not only the tasting notes on the menu sounded good, but I've recently found myself enjoying drinking and/or tasting white wines. I was the only one that had a tasting that consisted of four different wines.

"Steel" Tasting wines
I forgot to take pictures of the wine and the glass that I tried, but I did take pictures of the actual wine bottles from which the wines I tried came from. So I tried the following:

  • 2012 Pinot Gris 
    • Appearance - pale, yellow, light, no bubbles, clear, and had medium to high viscosity.
    • Smell - like granny apple, citrus-like, and pears.
    • Taste - like granny apples, citrus-like, smooth, and not dry.
    • Conclusion:  I really liked this particular wine and would pair it with a salad or chicken.
  • 2013 Sauvignon Blanc 
    • Appearance - light, gold-like color, pale, clear, and again medium to high viscosity
    • Smell - kiwi, tropical fruits, lychee, no oak, and very fruity
    • Taste - smooth, doesn't linger, not too citrus-like
    • Conclusion - It was refreshing and I would pair it with seafood or cheese (goat cheese)
  • 2011 Rose wine
    • Appearance - orange and gold tint, no bubbles, light, clear, and amber-like color
    • Smell - tropical, papaya, strawberries, fruity
    • Taste - melons, clean and silky finish, strawberries
    • Conclusion -  I would definitely eat this with maybe salmon, salad, and rustic dishes.
  • 2013 Riesling  
    • Appearance - light, pale yellow, medium to high viscosity, clear
    • Smell - pears, copper, tropical fruits
    • Taste - fruity taste like kiwi
    • Conclusion - This wine was okay, but not my cup of tea. I would pair it with chicken, seafood, salad or cheese.
This experience was very different from what I've experienced in class. After our tasting I asked Elizabeth questions, but she said the vineyard manager was not here and if we shot her an e-mail with all our questions, they would get back to us. It took them two weeks to respond and all the responses weren't too helpful with the project.

All in all, I thought the experience at Whisper Vineyards was pleasant, but it definitely could have been better. I enjoyed the wine tasting, the ambiance and atmosphere of the vineyards, and the staff were pretty friendly. I would love to visit a vineyard again, but probably not Whisper Vineyards since they are relatively new and the experience was indeed pleasant, but not excellent. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

It was always 5PM in my Wine & Beverage class

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Man it feels good to be back on the blogging and Yelp grind. I am so glad the semester is over because it's been lots of hard work, rough, and stressful. I'd like to share with you my experience in my Wine & Beverage class.

First I'd like to say there's definitely a lot more to wine than what you see, smell, taste, and hear. Wine and Beverage was no joke! There was a lot to learn especially in fifteen weeks and a lot to remember and it was a lot for me to handle. I mean there's different countries, regions, grape varieties, bottling, fermentation methods, and a lot more.

The class is 2.5 hours and we spend 1/2 of the class lecturing and 1/4 of the class  tasting and analyzing the wine/beverage. The other 1/2 of the class is spent setting up for class and cleaning up.

Here is a glimpse of some of the wines we've tried:

French Red Wine
I've learned through a few of my classes that I'm not a super huge fan of red wine. The French red wines we tried were quite dry, high in acidity, and had a tad of bitterness.

 Wines from Southern Hemisphere, Austrailia, New Zealand & South Africa
We also tried wines from Southern Hemisphere, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Most of the wine smelled fruity, herbaceous, and like passion fruits. However, the taste of it was dry, lingers, and a bit of high acidity. I wasn't a fan.

German Wines
I actually enjoyed the German Wines class because German is the Riesling country and the wines we tried were all refreshing and had good acidity. They smelled amazing like pear, citrus,floral, and apples.

My favorite class and tasting was the Champagne class. My favorite one was the Moscato by Cupcake because it was sweet and tasted like lychee. I would like to purchase a bottle of this at some point. I liked most of the Champagne we tried and it smelled amazing very buttery, apple, pear-like, and rich.

Beer & Sake
Our very last lecture class and tasting was a beer and sake class. Honestly, I'm not a fan of beer or sake. It was an interesting class because I always wondered how or what ingredients make beer. As for sake, I learned a little bit more about what I knew already.

Although this wasn't my best class nor did I know too much about wine and beer when I first started, I feel I do know a sufficient amount of information now. I feel a little more experienced in looking for wine to purchase at retail stores and I am so happy that I was taught on how to analyze wine, how to smell and taste wine. 

I've never been a fan of wine before either, but I am definitely going to seek out opportunities for wine tasting this summer and improve my wine knowledge.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

All Those Carbs at Jin Jin Hong Kong Cafe

Jin Jin Hong Kong Cafe
6224 18th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11204

I have been utterly busy with school and work. I've also been sick and fighting a viral infection last week with a nasty cough. It's been awesome! I finally have a little down time to blog so here's a long overdue review I've been meaning to post.

Will and I have been to Jin Jin Hong Kong Cafe quite a few times. It's similar to a diner, but an Asian version. The interior, decor, and even down to the tables and seats has a diner vibe to it. They serve Hong Kong style cuisine, beverages, and also serve sushi and a few Japanese dishes.

Will, our friend Jimmy, and I came to Jin Jin for dinner one evening since he's never been here and we were hungry after a networking event.

Complimentary soup
Most of the time when you come to Jin Jing for lunch, dinner, or order take-out they usually have a complimentary soup which is pretty decent.

Scallion pancake
We ordered an appetizer - scallion pancake to share. It was a bit small for three people especially since Will and Jimmy eat like a lot. I wished it was a lot more crispier and crunchier.

Baked Portuguese Salmon Rice
Since Jimmy was on a meatless diet at the time we went to Jin Jin, he ordered a Baked Portuguese Salmon over rice. This is actually one of my favorite dishes to order here because not many Chinese or Hong Kong style restaurants make a Baked Portuguese Salmon or those that do, haven't done as a good of a job as Jin Jin does.

Baked Portuguese Seafood over Spaghetti
I ordered the Baked Portuguese Seafood over Spaghetti. This is absolutely seafood galore because there's shrimp, crab meat, mussels, squid, and scallops. It's a pretty heavy, but delicious dish!

Baked Portuguese Steak over Rice
Will ordered the Baked Portuguese Steak over Rice. As you can see it's very much so similar to mine and Jimmy's dish too.

So the mistake we made was that all three dishes were Baked Portuguese and all were carb-loading! We were all tremendously full afterwards and some of us couldn't even finish our meals. There's a lot and I do mean a lot of cheese and carbs.

I actually do enjoy the food from Jin Jin because it's quick, inexpensive, and tasty. It's not the best Hong Kong style food, but it's a good place to come for a quick and yummy fix. Next time, I think we will be mindful about what we order and not turn it into a carb-fest. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

My Birthday Dinner at HOPHAP

204 Smith Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

Earlier this year, Will and I visited a Thai restaurant in Cobble Hill by the name of HOPHAP. Since I really enjoyed the ambiance, service, and food at this restaurant, I decided to host my birthday dinner here. It was a huge blast especially since we had a party of 18 people including myself and Will. 

White Lychee Sangria & Red Mango Sangria
A birthday dinner is not complete without a good and refreshing drink. I ordered the white lychee sangria and my girlfriend Diane ordered the red mango sangria. I tried both and I really liked my sangria because not did it taste like lychee, but it was also garnished with one and chunks of green apple. It was really light and refreshing!

On my side of the table, we had four different appetizers. The crispy calamari with sweet chili sauce was a lot more tastier than the ones we had during our first visit. They were a lot crispier and actually seasoned with a little salt. The triangle fried tofu with ground peanut and sweet chili sauce was pretty tasty, but could use more seasoning.

The rocket shrimp was another appetizer I didn't find too exciting or intriguing. The last appetizer I would like to share with you is golden curry puffs (chicken & potato served with cucumber chili sauce). I really, really enjoyed this appetizer as many of my friends did. It was seasoned just perfectly and it wasn't too spicy. I would definitely order this again.

These are a few of the entrees a few of my friends and Will had. Most of our friends had either a classic Pad Thai, a noodle dish, or curry dish. I actually really liked Will's dish. He ordered the tropical salmon which was a special of the day. We both really like salmon and this tropical salmon was spot on perfect! It was perfectly moist, lightly sweetened and tangy. It sure felt and tasted tropical.

Pad See Ew
I typically order a Pad Thai at Thai restaurants, but this time I decided to order a Pad See Ew. I actually didn't like the Pad See Ew because it just didn't taste as delightful as I thought it would. I also lost my appetite a bit because my dish was the last one to arrive to the table. I think next time I would just roll with a Pad Thai.

All in all, I had an amazing night with my friends. It was good to see friends that I haven't seen in months and catch up with everyone. This birthday dinner wouldn't have been possible without my friends and the good service and experience the restaurant provided

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brunch at Le Barricou

Le Barricou
533 Grand Street Brooklyn, NY 11211

My friends, Will, and I had brunch at Le Barricou in Williamsburg, Brooklyn about a month ago. They don't take reservations so we had to put our name down when we arrived at the restaurant. Since Will and I were first, I put my name down and the hostess said the wait would be 40 minutes. When our friends arrived we returned to the restaurant and the wait was over.

I really liked the ambiance and decor at Le Barricou because it's warm, homey, cozy, and just a really pleasant place to enjoy good company and good food. I like how the front and entrance of the restaurant is a few tables and a bar and as you may your way in to the back there is additional seating and cozy couches with a warm fireplace. It's truly a nice, cozy waiting area. There's a nice roof above the dining area where natural light from comes bursting in.

We started off with drinks than placed our orders for brunch.

Mimosa & Bellini
I had the Mimosa and Will had the Bellini. I really liked the Mimosa. It was very refreshing!

Shrimp Cocktail Bloody Mary
Our friends Samantha and Alex had the Shrimp Cocktail Bloody Mary which looked really intriguing. I thought it was very creative. I never tried a Bloody Mary before, but would like to someday.

Duck Confit Hash
I read on Yelp that the Duck Confit Hash was a must have at Le Barricou. I typically order eggs Benedict at brunch, but I decided to stray away and try something new. 

The duck confit hash is slow cooked using the leg of a duck. It was sauteed with caramelized shallots & Yukon gold potatoes, with two sunny eggs and field greens. This was an excellent dish! The duck was really moist and delicious! I really liked the field greens too. This whole dish was very rustic and delightful.

Steak & Eggs
Will ordered the Steak & Eggs. The black Angus hanger steak was cooked to perfection. Although, Will asked for medium well - the texture felt like medium rare which I prefer. It wasn't chewy and it wasn't tough. It was just right! The pommes frites were decent, but I wished there was a crunch to it.

Pate Sandwich & Lamb Meatballs
Samantha had the Pate Sandwich which is filled with housemade duck liver mousse on a toasted baguette with grainy mustard, cranberries, and cornichons. It was served in a bed of market greens. Sam also ordered lamb meatballs which I thought were decent, but nothing too exciting.

French Toast
Alex ordered the French Toast with fresh berries. This was the best, best, best french toast ever! I had a small piece of it and it was amazing. It has an indescribable crunch to it and it was possibly the best I've had so far! I definitely want to come back to Le Barricou to have the French toast.

All in all, we were all very happy with everything at Le Barricou. The food was phenomenal and ambiance and service was up to par. This definitely a homey and cozy brunch place worth visiting again. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dessert Review: Caffe Bene

Caffe Bene
106 Mott Street New York, NY 10013

I've seen Caffe Bene popping up in almost every neighborhood in Manhattan and I knew that at some point I had to visit one of their locations.

Will and I passed by Caffe Bene in Chinatown and decided to check it out after our dinner.

First, I would like to say that I truly love the decor and ambiance. It's like a homey, spacious, and upgraded version of Starbucks. It's relaxing, cozy and perfect for post-date coffee an desserts, studying, catching up with a friend/s, or catching up on work.

There was a lot of beverages, sweets, and savory items to choose from. We didn't know what to order so it took us a while to decide. We wanted to bring a dessert home to share with his family. We ordered the strawberry waffle and strawberry honey bread. We waited approximately 15-20 minutes for the strawberry honey bread which seemed to have took a long time.

Strawberry Waffle
The strawberry waffle was made prior to us visiting Caffe Bene. I felt like we were tricked by this. The strawberry waffle looks nothing like the one shown on the website. The most disappointing part of the strawberry waffle was that it was hard like a rock. It took a lot of strength to bite into it. The second disappointment was that it was way, way, way too sweet! True disappointment.

Strawberry Honey Bread
Will ordered the strawberry honey bread to share with his family. This was the dessert that we had to wait 15-20 minutes for. I assumed if we were waiting this long for it must take time to prepare and be delicious. The presentation of it was pretty and adorable just like it shows on the website. 

The dessert itself wasn't good at all. It was a giant piece of bread with a layer of cheese spread and slice of strawberries. It was a little funky at first and also the bread was very soggy. I was expecting a golden, toasty, and crunchy bread not a soggy and mushy bread. Second disappointment.

In conclusion, we felt like we wasted our time waiting for these two disappointments. Everything tasted under par and mediocre. Customer service was mediocre as well. I am sure there are other menu items that are not disappointments at Caffe Bene  and we will definitely have to give their menu items a second shot, but absolutely not the strawberry waffle or strawberry honey bread. Never again.