Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ramen Quest: Ramen-Ya

181 West 4th Street New York, NY 10014

Last month, Will and I came to Ramen-Ya with our friend Robert to have a belated birthday dinner with him. It started getting a lot chillier last month and Robert was craving for something hot and soupy and I told him about Ramen-Ya and it was on my list of restaurants to try, and  he agreed to try it as well.

There's not much special decor at Ramen-Ya. Tables and seats are limited and space is tight. I don't recommend having a group dinner here at all.

We ordered two appetizers and three bowls of ramen.

Kurobota Sausage with Mustard
Our first appetizer was the kurobota sausage with mustard. I wasn't planning to order this for our appetizer, but our friend Robert wanted to order this. The sausage tasted just like a hot dog and was slightly charred. The sausages wasn't anything too unique

Pork Gyoza
Gyoza is a must get whenever we order ramen! We ordered the pork gyoza. The pork gyoza was tasty, but the bottom part of the gyoza wasn't crunchy or crispy.

Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen
I ordered the Shoyu Tonkotsu ramen and I must admit this was seriously one of the best ramen I've ever had. The noodles itself was thin, reminds me of the one I had at Ippudo NY. I was very impressed with the broth because it was flavorful, thick, and didn't feel greasy at all. The cha-siu was thinly sliced and tasty. Everything came together and was especially delicious.

Shio Black with Chicken Broth
Will ordered the Shio Black with Chicken Broth. I don't think we've had ramen before with chicken broth, so this was interesting. We were actually impressed with the broth! It was flavorful and hearty! The Shio Black wasn't bad, but I liked my ramen more.

Our friend Robert had the Shio Ramen with the Pork Broth. It's similar to Will's ramen. The Shio Ramen with Pork Broth was tasty too.

Overall, I was very impressed with the quality and taste of the ramen. Very hearty and delicious! Will I be back? Absolutely. Ramen-Ya may be small in size, but the food packs a lot of flavor and savoryness!

Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: 3/5
Taste: 5/5
Likelihood to Return: 90%

Monday, December 16, 2013

Something yummy, Something soupy

Shanghai Cafe
100 Mott Street New York, NY 10013

It was a freezing Saturday night. Will and I were craving for something soup-like, so we decided on xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and we ended up at Shanghai Cafe, a restaurant we have been to previously, but weren't so happy with. We decided to give it another shot, because we heard from our friends that the food and service here has improved.

We arrived around 8-8:30PM and there was a line that almost stretched out the door. The waitresses have a have a habit of sitting you in a table full of strangers and this is what happened to us, but I didn't mind.

We knew exactly what we wanted and ordered our food right away.

Pork Soup Dumplings
Finally, we got a fix of soup dumplings! I can't remember the last time Will and I had soup dumplings. They were absolutely delicious! Hot, steamy, delicious broth inside, and meaty! We devoured this in minutes. This was a perfect pick for a freezing night.

Shanghai Pan-Fried Noodles
Will ordered this entree. I honestly didn't much specialness in this dish. It's just different vegetables, meat, and shrimp stir-fried and placed on top of a crispy, pan-fried noodles. I tasted a whole lot of MSG in it, it wasn't too pleasant. I guess the only plus about this dish was the crunchy pan-fried noodles.I really liked it.

Rice Cake with Shredded Pork & Snow Cabbage
This was the entree I ordered. I absolutely love any Shanghainese dish with shredded pork and snow cabbage. I haven't had rice cake in a long, long time. The rice cake is chewy, like gum. The rice cake with shredded pork and snow cabbage was seasoned perfectly, but way too much oil in my opinion.

I'm glad to see the food isn't as bad as it used to be and the service has definitely improve. The waiters/waitresses are more attentive and alert.

Will I be back? Possibly, because their food and service has really improved and I did enjoy our time and experience here, let's just help they'll continue to improve.

Monday, December 9, 2013

All Access to Food at Barclays Center

Barclays Center
620 Atlantic Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11217

Will and I recently visited the Barclays Center since we had tickets for a Nets game, but also for the food. All Access Passes for the win! This was our third time this year inside the arena.

Since we had all access passes, we were able to eat pretty much anything we wanted. We already tried a few food spots at the Barclays back in February 2013, so this time we decided to try other places.

Lobster Monsters
We started off with the Lobster Monsters from WFAN Boomer & Carlton Kitchen. I asked for no cherry pop peppers, but apparently the staff didn't listen. The lobster monsters were super spicy with the cherry pop peppers. I couldn't handle the danger, so I picked out all the lobster which was really tasty!

Brooklyn Cheeseburgers
Next, we decided to try out the cheeseburgers from Brooklyn Burger and got a side of fries and a drink with it too.

The burger was juicy and delicious. Although, I wished they asked us how would we like it cook? I don't like it when my beef is overcooked. The fries were good.

Mexican Corn
I haven't had Mexican corn since the Wildwood trip with our friends. I was so excited to see that Habana had Mexican corn. Will and I got two Mexican corns, one for each of us.

His had more chili powder on it. The Mexican corn was truly delicious and was great, but I think the one our friend Samantha made for us in Wildwood was a lot tastier and top notch.

There's a heck lot of food at Barclays Center. I've been to Barclays three times already and the food and the service never disappoints. If you haven't been to Barclays, I suggest you go at least once and try out the food  and just experience Brooklyn's finest arena.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weekend Brunch with Tabelog

403 East 12th Street New York, NY 10009

Last month, Will and I were invited to brunch by Erika (Marketing Director of Tabelog) at Hearth.

Tabelog is an awesome website. It's for foodies like us and by foodies It's similar to Yelp, but it's more food-centric (I made that word up) and great for bloggers to get into.

I must say Hearth is special in a few ways. First of all, the chef Marco Canora was a competitor on Season 3 of The Next Iron Chef on Food Network, so in some way that makes him kind of famous. Secondly, the food, the menu, the decor - simple and rustic.

Prior to Hearth, I decided to research on their Yelp page to check out what Yelp reviewers recommended. Our waitress was very friendly and took the time to explain to us some of their most popular dishes and how it's made.

Amuse Bouche
After ordering our food, our waitress presented us three glasses of this and of course due to my bad memory, I don't remember exactly what soup this was nor did I try it. Shame on me and Will for not trying it and asking clearly of what it is.

Apple Cider Doughnuts
The Apple Cider Doughnuts turned up on a few reviews on Yelp and reviewers have said these were delicious. The apple cider doughnuts were lightly glazed and topped off with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar. I'm not a huge fan of donuts/doughnuts, but surprisingly these were sweet, dense, and with each one I ate had a significant amount of apple flavor in it and I love almost anything with apple.

Veal and Ricotta Meatballs 
This was an item the waitress told us about and recommended. Erika ordered this and the veal and ricotta meatballs looked really amazing. She gave one meatball and some polenta for Will and I to try.

Whoever thought of mixing polenta or grits and topping it off with perfectly made and tasty meatballs with a little tomato sauce drenched over it is genius! I really enjoyed the veal and ricotta meatballs. The meatballs tasted like meatballs, but the sauce with the polenta - oh it's like the perfect marriage. I've never had polenta before, but it sure tastes as fine and good as grits.

Pig Trotter "Fiorentina" with Fried Eggs
Another menu item that was recommended to us. The Pig Trotter "Fiorentina" is really just braised and pulled pig feet. Will ordered this and may I say I was a bit jealous because I love pig feet especially in Chinese cuisine. Any way, I got to try a bit of his dish as well and fell in love with it. The pig feet was cooked just right, soft, velvety, and seasoned just right.

Poached Eggs with Tuscan Kale and Pork Sausage
I found out about this menu item on Yelp. I like kale and poached eggs, so that's another reason in why I ordered this dish. Sad to say, I wasn't too happy it. My dish came with two slice of toasted sourdough slices drizzled with olive oil and served on the side of the dish.

The kale and shredded pork sausage tasted as if it was slightly oversalted. The pork sausage added a savory meatiness. The poached eggs were cooked just right. 

To conclude, our brunch experience at Hearth was pleasant. The atmosphere and food was different for Will and I, but we had a lot of fun just discussing about food, blogging,and our passion for food with Erika. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Our Thanksgiving Celebrations!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving Fellow Foodies!

We hope you all ate as much as we did during Thanksgiving. This was our second year celebrating Thanksgiving with our family - my side and his side.

Luckily this year, it wasn't back to back in the same day like last year. This year we did my family's Thanksgiving on Thursday and his family's on Friday.

We didn't have time to record or write our recipes, but we did have time to take a lot of pictures.

This year was the first year my family and I had real turkey in our house and special thanks to Will and his dad for making this. Will's dad owns a restaurant in Chinatown and they do roast Turkey during Thanksgiving. Don't worry we didn't eat the turkey with the head on.

The turkey was delicious!!! It was my second time having turkey from Will's dad's restaurant. It was moist and full of deliciousness!

Yep, it looked like there was buffet in my living room. My sister and her fiance brought a tremendous amount of food - love them for that! They brought roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus, roasted peppers, mashed potato, sweet potato, and cranberry sauce. Delicious meal! Mom added a plate of vermicelli and Chinese stir-fry vegetables.
For dessert, my sister made Flan (for the very first time). It looked amazing and professionally made. I've never had flan before, so this was my first time.

I'm not sure if it's suppose to taste very sweet, but in my opinion it was a little too sweet for me. My sister's fiance brought strudel from Zabar's (one of my favorite desserts) and it was tasty and delish!

Jam-filled cookies
Everyone's been asking me about the special cookies I love to and am good at baking. On Black Friday, I literally went to sleep at 6:30AM and woke up three hours later and took the train home to bake my cookies since Will's oven has been out of service for 20+ years.

I baked strawberry, blueberry, and cherry cookies. I finally baked them just right. Mom told me to always add enough flour and I did. Everyone loved them!

Fruit Basket
We sure made a lot of food. Everyone kind of brought their own food or helped in some way or another. 

Cranberry Sauce
I've been trying to learn how to make cranberry sauce from scratch and I finally did, but I don't think this was the best. I think I could have done better. I added brown sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, and fresh cranberries. It wasn't too sweet, but a little tart for sure.

Mashed Potatoes
I made mashed potatoes. I added a lot of mashed potatoes and it took forever to mash, but eventually Will and I got it just right and topped it off with cilantro and parsley.

Lobster Salad
Will's cousin family made lobster salad. It looks just about like restaurant style. I finally learned the secret sauce that is used, now I can try to make this salad on y own. The salad was tasty and great!

Mashed Sweet Potato
Will's sister made this incredible mashed sweet potato topped with oatmeal and marshmallow. I've had this before at a previous family reunion, but I must admit this was excellent sweet potato! I fell in love with it and had several scoops of it. I love the crunchy sweetness from the marshmallow. This was my favorite dish throughout the night.

Overall, our Thanksgiving dinner was a delight. Good times, good food, and good laughs. How was your Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sala Restaurant - Something different, Something new

Sala Restaurant
189-11 Northern Boulevard Flushing, NY 11358

Earlier this month, Will and I celebrated our friend Mandy's birthday with our friends. We are always used to eating at Japanese or Asian-like restaurants, so this time we decided to venture into something different - Greek & Mediterranean food.

From the outside, the restaurant actually looks like a house. There's a bar once you enter and the dining area is in another section of the restaurant. I love the rustic decor and ambiance at Sala.

So, we started off with appetizers -

Pita chips and dip
Pita plays an important role in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. We were given a complimentary plate of pita chips and dip. The dip tasted a lot like ranch dressing. I love the pita chips - crunchy and lightly seasoned with salt!
Meat Sampler
We ordered a meat sampler which consisted of three wings, three barbecue ribs, three chicken kebobs, three shish kebobs, and four Greek meatballs. All of this for $24.95. A little too expensive in my opinion. However, I do love the variety of food on this platter. There's a different variety in texture and taste.

Chicken Milan
One of our friends ordered the Chicken Milan which was chicken breast rolled with ham and mozzarella cheese, topped with gravy. We all had the same rice and broccoli, so that wasn't too special. The Chicken Milan was delicious! It was moist, juicy, and seasoned just right!

Broccoli Penne 
Another friend ordered the Broccoli Penne which was penne cooked with garlic and oil with broccoli spears. I wasn't a huge fan of this dish, because it was a little too spicy for me.

Kiwi Mango Salmon
This was a popular dish according to Yelp reviews. Will ordered this. It looked amazing, but the quality of it wasn't superb. The salmon was so dry, no moisture at all.

Mediterranean Sea Bass
This was another menu item that Yelp reviews gave thumbs up to, so I decided to try it out. It was a pistachio encrusted, pan seared and drizzled with butter sauce and served with risotto style rice with a side of brocolli. I really liked the Mediterranean Sea Bass. It was moist, buttery, seasoned just perfectly, and really delightful. This was probably one of the BEST fish dishes I've had this year!

For the most part, I was very happy with the food and the service at Sala. It was nice to get away from eating the usual Asian and Japanese dinner. It was a nice change of scenery and cuisine.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Munchies Cafe - Enjoying dessert on these chilly days

Munchies Cafe
12 Bay 25th Street Brooklyn, NY 11214

Munchies Cafe is a nice and sweet addition to Brooklyn. I came here a lot with Will during the Spring, but didn't so much in the Summer. We've recently stopped by Munchies this past month for desserts again.

This little cafe is really bright and what sets it apart from other Chinese dessert places is that they have touch screen computer monitors. Each table of 4 has a computer monitor that is connected to the internet and you can use it like a regular laptop/computer, watch anything you want do whatever you want.

Their menu is pretty big, but they have made changes over the past month or so. Their menu ranges from desserts, to drinks, and savory foods.

On our most recent visit, this is what we've tried:

Papaya Sago with Grass Jelly 
During a visit at Munchies Cafe with my sisters and Will, I ordered the Papaya Sago with Grass Jelly ($5.50).  I like how they pureed the papaya and made it into a papaya broth. I like that there's chunks of watermelon, papaya, and grass jelly. In addition, there's sago floating in the broth too.

Mix Fruit with Coconut Sago
Will ordered the Mix Fruit with Coconut Sago ($4.75). This is slightly different from the Papaya Sago with Grass Jelly because it's coconut based. I tried this and it's good, but I like the papaya better.

Later that week, we had All-You-Can-Eat sushi with Will's friends and after dinner we all still had room in our stomach for dessert. Will and I brought our friends to Munchies.

Mario Brothers 
A lot of our friends saw this on Yelp and it looked really good to them so a majority of them ordered this dessert - Mario Brothers Snowy Mix Fruit.

For this item, you are allowed to choose two ice cream flavors and a fruit. Will chose vanilla ice cream and green tea ice cream and as his fruit was strawberry. The sweet soup was coconut flavored. This dessert was creamy and definitely filling for Will. I think next time I'll try the Mario Brothers.

Mix Fruit with Grass Jelly
I ordered the Mix Fruit with Grass Jelly ($4.75). I should warn you that I am a huge fan of grass jelly and plus it's healthier (according to my mom). I love this dessert, fresh fruits and grass jelly with a little coconut milk. Extra yummy! And the colors are so vibrant and inviting.

I haven't tried any of the savory items on their menu yet. I usually come here for desserts. There's a lot of Asian/Chinese dessert shops popping up in my neighborhood, Chinatown, and even Queens, but I must admit, so far Munchies Cafe has been my favorite and go-to-place for dessert.

Monday, November 18, 2013

International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show - November 2013

For the past two or three years, my boyfriend and I have attended the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show at the Jacob Javits Center. It takes place once a year, every November.

The show is geared towards students and professionals in the Hospitality industry. Although, I know I won't be working in the hospitality industry in the future, I still like to attend this event because they have some pretty great exhibits. 

There are a lot of high-end companies that shows off their hottest and latest products as well. One of the main reasons why I love attending is to see the culinary salon, where different colleges compete against each other. 

Can you believe these were made by students and professors? I can't. These look like they should be on the Food Network, don't you think? This is not all...

And there's more. Some of these pieces are just really takes your breath away. Absolutely stunning!

Oh My God! It's UP and Wall-E! Aren't they just beautiful and adorable? 

Us & The Cake Boss
Yep! We got a photo with The Cake Boss! I received an e-mail update from IHMRS just two days before the event and noticed that Buddy will be making a guest appearance at the show at 11AM. Will and I spent 10-15 minutes walking around in circles trying to find Buddy or at least the crowd that was screaming for him. We finally found him and had to line up to take a photo with him. I will forever remember this moment!

All in all, this was a fun event. It wasn't as fun the first two times I attended, but at least Will and I got to take a photo and meet a celebrity chef.

If you would like more information on this event, please click here

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Brunch with Jane

100 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10012

Late last month, one of our good friends Sam invited my boyfriend and I to a surprise birthday brunch for her boyfriend. It was an early Sunday afternoon and luckily Sam made advanced reservations otherwise we would be sitting and waiting for an hour and a half, or more.

The interesting thing is that Jane has been one of the restaurants I've really been dying to visit especially to try their Eggs Benedict.

The decor at Jane is unlike any other brunch spot I've been to. The decor is trendy, but also modern. There's two floors of seating and both floors are spacious and cozy.

We all got our own entrees and if you order your entree from a certain section, you get a complimentary cocktail.

White Peach Bellini
I decided to order the White Peach Bellini which was light, refreshing, a little bubbly from the sparkling wine. I enjoyed it very much.

Benedict Jane
Will ordered the Benedict Jane ($17). The Benedict Jane was really just poached eggs, crab and crawfish cakes, spinach, and tarragon Hollandaise sauce. It was such a beautiful dish!

Will gave me one of his eggs Benedict. I really enjoyed the meatiness of the crab and crawfish cake, very different, but tasty! The eggs Benedict was cooked just perfectly.

Benedict Johnny
I ordered the Benedict Johnny ($16) which consisted of poached eggs, maple chicken sausage, corn pancakes, and roasted tomato hollandaise sauce. It's similar to Benedict Jane.I really liked the home fries because they were crispy and crunchy and was possibly the best home fries I've had.

One of the things I love the most about eggs Benedict is the yolk oozing out and runny yolk. It's like magic. The eggs Benedict was cooked just right. The maple chicken sausage was yummy, but wasn't a fan of the corn pancakes.

Pumpkin Chair Profiteroles & Seven Layer Chocolate Cake
I can't believe we had room for dessert. Sam ordered the Pumpkin Chai Profiteroles ($8) which was seriously pumpkin heaven! There was pumpkin ice cream, candied pumpkin seeds, pumpkin paper, and chai sauce. I really liked this dessert because you can taste pumpkin in different textures, shapes, and sizes. My favorite was the pumpkin ice cream - seriously delicious!

The next dessert was the Seven Layer Chocolate Cake ($8). Absolutely Chocolate heaven! The seven layer chocolate cake consists of chantilly cream, whipped gananche, and a chocolate sauce. This was amazing. It was moist, chocolatey, creamy, and just... it'll take your breath away!

Our friend Alex (the birthday boy) was completely taken by surprise with this brunch. We successfully surprised him and he enjoyed the brunch very much.

I really enjoyed our brunch at Jane. The staff were very friendly and nice. The food was beyond perfection. I would love to come back here in the near future.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ramen Quest: Bassanova Ramen

Bassanova Ramen
76 Mott Street New York, NY 10013

For months I've been wanting to try out Bassanova Ramen and see what the hype was about. On a chilly Friday evening, Will finally took me here for dinner. I was very surprised that there was no line out the door like Ippudo and because it wasn't crowded when we arrived, we were seated in seconds.

Their menu is the smallest menu I have ever seen. For some people this is a negative and for some people this is a positive. I think it's great because in most restaurants I have been to, you just flip through pages and pictures and it can get confusing and hectic because you're struggling with what to order.

At Bassnova ramen, you won't have that problem. I love their idea of simplicity because the decor is simple and white, their menu is very simple and straightforward. Oh yes... I love their giant size spoons and chopsticks.

Moving along to the real reason why we came here:

Green curry ramen
Will is brave when it comes to trying spicy foods. He has a high tolerance for it, more than me. I have a low tolerance and plus I have found myself getting allergic reactions whenever I eat anything that is spicy.

Will tried the green curry ramen. It was a little too spicy for him so he asked for a bowl of coconut milk on the side to reduce the spicyness. It helped somewhat. I tried a bit of the green curry ramen without the coconut milk and I wasn't very enthusiastic about it.

Tonkadu Ramen
I had the Tonkadu Ramen which is basically Berkshire pork tonkatsu, topped with pork loin cha shu, kikurage, ginger, crushed sesame, nori, and scallions. I must admit that when the Tonkadu ramen arrived to our table, I thought it was one of the most beautiful bowl of ramen I've seen. Everything looked well balance and so inviting!

I really liked the broth. I felt the broth was flavored just right and thick which I really liked. The ramen itself, the noodles were thin like angel hair pasta. As for the pork loin, it was slightly grilled and there's a slight char-ness to it. It was very moist and tender.

I enjoyed the Tonkadu ramen so much that I finished every bite and left nothing, but a small portion of broth. This was no joke.

Will and I inquired about the ramen burger since we didn't try it, but the waitress said she doesn't know if it will ever be on their menu. Boo...

I really enjoyed the ramen here, well at least I enjoyed mine and I like the simplicity here. Would I return? Possibly, but not any time soon as per the pricing is just a little steeper than some of the ramen shops I have been to. I'll definitely be back if they expand their menu. If you haven't tried Bassanova yet, give it a shot at least once and see if you like it.

Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: 5/5
Taste: 4/5
Likelihood to return: 75%

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Korean BBQ at Kum Gang San

Kum Gang San
138-28 Northern Boulevard Flushing, NY 11354

Will and I went to Kum Gang San with his family to celebrate his sister's and brother in-law's birthday in Mid-October. Will and I have been to the Manhattan location before, but not the Flushing location.

We arrived on a Saturday night and it was quite packed, but we managed to be able to get a table within minutes.

We decided to do one of their Korean BBQ specials which included assorted meats. We started off with lots of banchan. I love me some free foods.

I didn't try all of the banchans since a couple of the food and dishes were spicy. I thought it was interesting that there was a plate with chunks of apples smothered with mayonnaise. It added a nice creaminess to the apples.

Oh yes, we also ordered two appetizers: Japchae (one of my absolute Korean dishes) and Seafood Pajeon. I absolutely love the Japchae. It was very tasty and delicious! The seafood pajeon was crispy, crunchy, and delicious as well!

We had a small set of assorted meats to barbecue. It didn't take too long to for the food to cook. The service here was really up to par because the waitresses would frequently come to our table and assist us in cooking the meat for us and cutting it into a bite-size for us. There were some meats that were spicy and some that was absolutely tasty because of the marinade.

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
After our meal, we were given complimentary dessert - vanilla frozen yogurt. The taste was different. A little tart, but that's how frozen yogurt is or yogurt in general. I wasn't a huge fan of this.

All in all, it was a fun experience at Kum Gang San. Would I come back? Maybe. I much prefer the one in Manhattan more since it's more convenient and the ambiance is better.