Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Weekend Lunch with a Bestie

106 Bayard Street New York, NY 10013

Two weeks ago, Will and I met up with my former colleague Diane for lunch. We had full intentions on trying out Maharlika because I really wanted to try Filipino food, but when I arrived they said the wait would be around 40-60 minutes and we knew we wouldn't be able to wait that long and we were already starving.

Diane wanted Thai food, so we took her to a Thai restaurant that Will and I like - Pongsri which is quite hidden in Chinatown. Very roomy restaurant and good customer service. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon around 1-1:30PM and amazingly, it wasn't that crowded. We knew what we wanted and placed our orders. We started off with our drinks.

Thai IceTea
Thai Ice Tea is a must-have whenever I go to a Thai restaurant. The Thai Ice Tea tasted great, but maybe a little too sweet.
Thai Ice Coffee
Will had the Thai Ice Coffee. It was quite strong and tasty. I loved it. Next time I go to a Thai restaurant, I will make sure to order Thai Ice Coffee because I would like to try it on my own.

Chicken Pad Thai
Will had the Chicken Pad Thai. He didn't look like he enjoyed it much. He gave a spoonful of the Chicken Pad Thai for me to try and it tasted extremely fishy. I know Pad Thai has fish oil in it and it's normal for me to taste a little fishy, but this time it was extremely fishy.

Beef & Meatball Noodle Soup
Diane had the Beef & Meatball Noodle Soup. I would have never thought of ordering a noodle soup from a Thai restaurant, but she did. The Beef & Meatball Noodle Soup was basically broad rice noodle with beef, beef meatballs, bean sprouts bathed in a savory and aromatic broth topped off with scallion and parsley. I didn't try it, but I wish I did. It smelled insanely good and made me salivate.

Pad See Euw with Calamari
Every time I'm at a Thai restaurant I usually order Pad Thai because it's my favorite and one of the famous Thai dishes. This time I ordered something different: Pad See Euw with calamari. The calamari was cooked just right and loved the spiral-like look it had. It was really greasy to the point that it looked and felt unappealing. It just didn't feel authentic or appealing to me. I've definitely had better Pad See Euw.

Pongsri is one of the only Thai restaurants I know in Chinatown. I decided to bring Diane here because I remember the food was good here, but in my opinion the food quality has fell. It certainly didn't wow me.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Southern Comfort Food at Dinosaur BBQ

Dinosaur BBQ
604 Union St Brooklyn, NY 11215
(347) 429-7030

Dinosaur BBQ has been the "talk" the past two months at work and from Will. Will and I have been to Dinosaur BBQ twice this month, once was just ourselves and second was with Will's friend, Jack.

There's indoor and outdoor seating and a large bar area. It's very cozy and great for family dinner or just dinner with friends. Staff is very friendly. It's crazy here and on the weekends and Friday nights, but you can leave your name and number with the host/hostess and they will call you when your table is ready.

During our first experience, we started off with their House Made Sweet Tea ($2.50). I think it's truly adorable that their sweet tea is served in mason jars and there's also free refills.

I like that they give each table their own waste bucket where you can throw out any garbage. bones, and etc in to this bucket and all their barbecue sauces, ketchup, salt, and pepper are ready too.

Dinosaur BBQ Sauces

During our first experience at Dinosaur BBQ, Will and I did the 'Pick Your Own Combo' with any 2 sides. I had the BBQ Brisket and Pulled Pork with French Fries & Turkey Neck Greens (Collard Greens) and Honey Hush Cornbread.The BBQ brisket comes with a few slices of Jalapenos and a nice portion of Dinosaur BBQ's sauce sitting on top. The brisket was perfection. It was perfectly sliced, moist, and just fantastic! The pulled pork was moist and tender. Fries were excellent and as for the Turkey Neck Greens - I wasn't a fan of it

My boyfriend had the St. Louis Ribs and 1/4 Chicken with Mac & Cheese and BBQ Fried Rice on teh side and also a Honey Hush Cornbread. I really liked the ribs because the meat just comes right off the bone and it's so moist. I am a big fan of their ribs. The chicken was alright. Mac & Cheese was a little spicy, but it's just the right amount of cheese. BBQ Fried Rice -didn't try it. Both of our meals cost $16.95.

Our second experience was with our friend Jack. There was suppose to be more friends joining us, but they weren't available. We went a little crazy and did the Family Style BBQ which contained (1 whole chicken *6 pieces*, 1 whole rack of ribs, 1/2 pound of pulled pork and 1/2 pound of BBQ brisket, 3 side dishes, and Honey Hush Cornbread). Yeah, it was a lot of food and all for $69.95.

The chicken was roasted just right, moist, tender. The ribs were definitely the best out of all the meats we had, like I have said it just comes right off the bone and is packed with deliciousness. Brisket and pulled pork was good too. For our sides, we had chili, french fries, and mac & cheese. Our friend wanted chili and it was scrumptious.

Both experiences at Dinosaur BBQ have been great and I felt very welcomed and enjoyed the food. Will already told me ahead of time that for his birthday this year, he wants a BBQ restaurant so I think Dinosaur BBQ may be on the list. Overall, this was a great experience and restaurant to check out if you're craving for Southern and Delicious BBQ food!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Hearty and Cuban Comfort Meal

Sophie's Cuban Cuisine
27 Smith Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

I find that one of the hardest decisions during a work day is what to eat for lunch. I am usually one of the last people in my team to pick up lunch only because I may have a hard time deciding because of bit of indecisiveness. In Downtown Brooklyn, we have a lot of sandwiches and soup shops, fast food restaurants, take-out restaurants, and etc. I don't really like to spend too much money on food especially for lunch.

Two weeks ago at work, I had a hard time deciding on what to eat for lunch. I knew there was a Cuban restaurant near my office so I found it and decided to try it out for lunch.

It's called Sophie's Cuban Cuisine. It's actually quite spacious and has a decent amount of seating if you want to dine in.They have an array of menu items and specials of the day. For their specials of the day, they have 3 special items for you to choose from. I went on Tuesday and one of their specials was Beef Stew and that sure sounded mighty good to me.

Beef Stew over Yellow Rice & Plantains
The total for my lunch was $9.99. Expensive for a lunch? Yes, but they gave me a heck a lot of food.

The beef stew was a little dry, but meaty. I should have asked for more sauce to make it more moist. There was a tremendous amount of yellow rice and it was tasty!

I loved the fried sweet plantains. They weren't too sweet and was moist. This was truly a lot of food. I was unable to finish the meal so I had leftovers for dinner.

It's good to know that there's an authentic Cuban restaurant just steps away from my office. I've tried one of their sandwiches recently (a blog post to be published at some point). The Spanish coffee on their menu sounds tempting. I will definitely back for the amazing and hearty Cuban food!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Little Bit of Sweetness at Just Dessert, Corps

Just Dessert, Corps
7211 18th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11204

I found out about Just Desserts, Corp on Yelp and was interested in trying it. It's a new addition to Will's neighborhood. The cafe is filled with bright colors and has a lot of seating. The decor is simple and cute.

The first time I went they didn't have actual menus, but the second and third time they did. There's also menus on the monitors. The menu isn't that big. It ranges from drinks to desserts. It's also pricey here. I don't know why it's so expensive here because there isn't any other competition in the area.

I've had the Toddy Palm with Grass Jelly ($?.??) in a snow white broth. I really enjoyed this dessert. The grass jelly was cut into little cubes and the Toddy Palm has a gelatin-like texture and a little sweet. The snow white broth tastes a lot like coconut milk.

I also tried the Red Bean & Coconut Pudding ($3.00). It was more like a gelatin dessert than a pudding. It was served in a small cup - definitely not worth $3.00. The dessert was coconut flavored, but only had little bits of red bean. I wasn't too impressed with this dessert.

Will tried the Mango Pomelo with Grass Jelly ($5.95) during our last visit to Just Desserts, Corp.A little expensive for such a simple dessert.There's also sago in the dessert too.I didn't try it since I am allergic to Mango.

I have also tried their Hong Kong Style Tea and Black Milk Tea with Grass Jelly.

This dessert shop is rather expensive compared to the ones I've tried around my neighborhood. Just Desserts, Corp doesn't seem to be attracting too many customers - so I don't know how long they will be around. Will I be back? Maybe once in a blue moon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Recipe: Chicken Francese

Chicken Francese
Fact: Will and I love Chicken Francese! Where do we usually get it from? Diners. That’s right, diners.

After falling in love with this lemony and buttery dish, we devoted ourselves into learning how to make this delightful dish. So here it goes – our first recipe on Ambitious Eats.

  • Grapeseed oil, 2 ounces
  • Four 6-ounce chicken breast
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon of minced fresh parsley

1.  Run the chicken breast under cold running water and wipe them slightly dry with a paper towel. Beat the eggs and add a dash of salt and ground black pepper in the flour then dust each breast with the seasoned flour on both sides.

2.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until warmed. Add the oil. Once the chicken breast is floured, add to the oiled pan and reduce the heat to medium and cook until light brown in color, 3-4 minutes. Flip and repeat cooking for a final 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, remove the breasts from pan.

Golden Deliciousness

3. Now it’s time to make the sauce.  Return the same pan to the heat and add the stock. Allow to simmer and reduce by three –quarters of volume. After reducing, whisk in the butter to create a sauce, removing from the heat during the process. Add the lemon juice and corn starch. I like to add a tiny bit of corn starch to thicken up the sauce a bit.

4.You can serve the sauce over the chicken breasts, but we like to mix the chicken in with the sauce so that every piece of chicken breast is smothered with the sauce.

5. Once the chicken breast is bathed with the sauce completely, remove from the stove. You can serve it over rice or pasta, but we like to serve it over rice and you can also add some vegetables on the side for extra color, texture, and for a side.

So that’s our recipe for our Chicken Francese. It’s not hard to make and it’s truly tasty and delicious. Try our recipe and let us know what you think of it.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ramen Quest: Zen 6

Zen 6
328 East 6th Street New York, NY 10003

We will be starting a series of posts about our quest. However, it will not be consecutively.It will be revolving around one of our favorite foods: ramen. There's many restaurants and places popping up in NYC that is serving up ramen and we are interested in trying all there is.

We don't have a specific focus since each restaurant has their own style and type of ramen. We will be rating each ramen restaurant on a scale of 1-5 with one being the poorest and 5 being the highest/best. We will be rating each ramen restaurant based on service, atmosphere, taste/quality of the ramen, and whether we would be likely to return or not.

I have been excited to come to Zen 6 for the longest time. Will and I arrived on a Friday night just minutes before it hit 9PM. There was hardly any air conditioning in the restaurant. The restaurant was a little small, but not crowded when we arrived. We tried to flag down a waitress for 5-10 minutes and finally brought two ice waters and two menus for us. As soon as we knew what we wanted, we ordered right away.

After waiting for 40-50 minutes, our appetizer finally came.

The gyozas were tiny and cost $5.25. They were also slightly burnt.It was moist and tasty, but it could have used more filling. This was definitely not worth the price.

Tan Tan 6 (Zen 6 Signature Ramen)
Will ordered the Tan Tan 6 Ramen ($10.75), but not spicy. This is apparently Zen 6's Original Ramen with ground meat, bean sprouts, fried garlic, and a boiled egg. I must admit Will's ramen was scrumptious and the broth was amazing.

Akadama Champon
I ordered the Akadama Champon Ramen ($11.50) which is just a seafood ramen with vegetables, Zen 6's select "umami dama". It was recommended that wavy thick noodles would go best with this bowl so that's what I ordered. I liked that my bowl of ramen had a lot of shrimp, calamari, and scallops in it. I loved the texture of the ramen - very springy and wavy, but I wasn't a fan of the broth. It tasted like it was burnt. I'm not sure if that's how it's meant to be, but I sure didn't enjoy the taste.

Note: When you check in on Yelp, you get a free bowl of Kaedama (extra noodles).

I wasn't too impressed with the service at Zen 6 nor the food.

Service: 2/5
Atmosphere: 3/5
Taste: 3/5
Likelihood to return: 50%

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Endless Search for The Kung Fu Matcha

Kung Fu Tea
2174 86th Street Brooklyn, NY 11214

Happy Friday all!

So there's this particular bubble tea/flavor that I have been craving for the longest time! It all started after I had the Matcha ice cream at Mitsuwa at the Japanese Gourmet Fair back in June. I knew that Kung Fu Tea had this drink on their menu and every opportunity that I was at Kung Fu Tea, I would ask for that drink, but they would always run out. Total bummer!

Matcha Powder
In case you don't know what Matcha is, it refers to finely milled of fine powder green tea. Matcha is a fine ground, powdered high quality green tea and not the same as tea powder or green tea powder.

Any way, I must have gone to the Kung Fu Tea in my neighborhood at least 3-5 times asking for the Kung Fu Matcha and each and every time I've asked for it, they always ran out of stock. I've also been to the Kung Fu Matcha in Sunset Park and no luck there either.

Finally, I got lucky on probably not the greatest day ever because on July 19, 2013 (Friday), my family and I laid my aunt to rest and it was an emotional day not to mention one of the DANGEROUSLY HOT days of the summer. I don't know how we all made it through that day with the intensely hot weather, but we did. After we got home and cleaned ourselves up, my sister and I decided to take a walk to the Kung Fu Tea in our neighborhood.

Of course I wanted to try the Kung Fu Matcha, but I had a feeling there wouldn't be any in stock, but my sister saw this sign and she told me to look and I said "WHAT!?!? I am so getting that!" and sure enough I did! It seemed like I got lucky with my sister instead.

Kung Fu Matcha
Viola! This is the Kung Fu Matcha I have been waiting for. It wasn't what I expected it to be. I was hoping for it to be more concentrated and a stronger flavor, but to me it tasted more creamy and milk flavor than Matcha. After I tried it for the first time, I don't think I would try it again because it just didn't cut it for me. It didn't have that "wow" factor.

Image Credit

Thursday, August 15, 2013

We Were Truly Lucky at Lucky's Cafe

Lucky's Cafe
593 First Avenue New York, NY 10016

About a month ago, my boyfriend and I were in Midtown and had to find food to fill our tummies up before I made a visit to my aunt (who, passed away a month ago) at NYU. We didn't want hospital food and didn't have a lot of options close by, but we passed by Lucky's Cafe and decided to come here.

Cute and small diner with chic decor. Will and I looked at the menu back and forth and didn't know what to order. We only had an hour to eat, so we just decided on having burgers as our lunch. Our food came quick.

Pizza Burger
Will got the Pizza Burger ($7.95). The pricing of the burger wasn't bad and it's really filling.

34th Street Burger
I had the 34th Street Burger ($8.50) which had melted mozzarella, caramelized onions and mushrooms.tHE BURGER WAS JUICY AND SCRUMPTIOUs. A little more expensive than Will's burger.

Sweet Potato Fries
For our side, we had the sweet potato fries! I love, love, love sweet potato fries! A little sprinkle of cinnamon would have made it perfect.

I really enjoyed our quick lunch at Lucky's Cafe. I only had an hour to eat and I was glad they were able to serve our lunches in minutes. The wait for the food wasn't long at all and the food was on point. It's good to see that even a small spot like Lucky's Cafe, the food and service was actually good. I highly recommend this small diner if you're in the NYU Hospital area and need some good food!

 I guess Will and I were truly lucky, but not my aunt. She passed away just a few hours later after I visited her, but she's no longer suffering now.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Birthday Celebration at Nori Nori

Nori Nori
136-20 38th Avenue 2nd Floor
Flushing, NY 11354

My sister told me great things about Nori Nori and was so excited to try it out for our friend's birthday last month. It's interesting that it is hidden in Queens Crossing, because I have been to Queens Crossing a few times and never noticed there was a Japanese Buffet hidden.

We came on a Friday night around 7:30-8PM and it was quite busy. I liked how when we arrived there were a few women greeting us at the door and welcoming us in. There's a lot of seating area and private rooms. Servers were very friendly and nice.

There's a great variety of food. They have several stations with food from sushi to dessert to sashimi to hot food to ramen and soba to salads and appetizers. Like I said there's a lot of food here.

My First Dish
This was my first dish. I like to start small and light. Everything on this dish are cold items. Everything is chill and tasted fresh!

Sashimi &Sushi Station

My second dish was filled with sushi, kani salad, sashimi, and the shrimp cocktail. Everything was truly scrumptious.

There was a small station that made noodles for you fresh. They had soba, udon noodle, and ramen. Will and I got the ramen one to share. I really liked the broth because it was divine and hearty. Noodles were cooked perfectly and everything was just well balanced.

This is my third plate. I decided to try out the stir-fried. There was some type of Chilean Sea Bass dish that I really, really liked. So soft and light.

This was the first time I saw that there was takoyaki at a buffet! I knew instantly I had to try it. I'm glad I was able to snap a picture of it before the people behind me started digging in.

This is my fourth dish with the takoyaki. The takoyaki wasn't as great as I hoped it would be. It's definitely worth it to just get it in the village instead. It didn't taste as authentic.

Green Tea Ice Cream
Finally, dessert time! I had the green tea ice cream. It was medicore. I was hoping it would taste a little like matcha, but nope. It tasted a lot like vanilla ice cream.

Birthday Cakes
So for our special friend Suzanne, we put the cakes together and brought it to her and sung "Happy Birthday". We didn't buy a cake for her since there was a tremendous amount of desserts at the buffet. Glad she enjoyed the dinner and the night.

I think I would definitely come back to Nori Nori especially because the food was great and the service was on point. Although, it's quite pricey here. We went on a Friday night and it was $31.95 and plus tax is around $33-$35. I guess it will be a while before we actually go back to Nori Nori even though the food is oh so good.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Perfect Pick During The Heatwave

Redang Island
5112 8th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11220

After a long ride back from Philadelphia, visiting the newest addition  (Baby nephew: Jacques Li) to Will's family, and suffering from the insanely hot weather -- we decided to try out Redang Island and it was a great pick! I've been to Redang a few years back, but do not remember what I had.

Very cozy atmosphere with light Chinese music in the background. Full blast air conditioning. Staff was friendly and food was just fantastic!

Soy Milk with Grass Jelly
I got a soy bean with grass jelly ($2.95).  This is one of all time favorite drinks! The grass jelly was in tiny pieces. I prefer mine in bigger chunks. It was just the right amount of sweetness, nice and cool.

Roti Canai
Roti Canai ($2.95) is always a must have whenever Will and I eat Malaysian food and plus it's a Malaysian all-time favorite. The crispy style pancake tasted differently compared to the ones I've had at Nyonya. It's fluffy and airy. The curry chicken & potato dipping sauce had a nice kick to it.

Haianese Chicken
Will always orders this dish at any and every Malaysian restaurant. We got a half chicken ($8.75) with extra soy sauce. The Haianese Chicken was scrumptious! The meat was moist and tender. We couldn't finish the half chicken, so we brought some home.

Sarang Burong
My favorite dish to order is Sarang Burong ($11.95). It's a deep fried taro bowl filled with baby corn, mushroom, shrimp, snow peas, peanuts, button mushrooms, pepper, onions, and of course chicken. I really love the different textures and taste of the food combined together. A little expensive, but very tasty!

Chicken Broth Rice
Since we had two entrees, we also got two bowls of chicken broth rice ($1.95) for large size. The rice was cooked just right and tasted a lot like chicken broth. I am always curious as to how do they make chicken broth rice.

We had a great experience at Redang Island and so glad everything tipped in our favors since it was blazing hot outside and we were hungry. I am definitely going to come back here because I really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and the food. Redang Island was the right pick!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Food Event: Kyushu & Okinawa Fair

Mitsuwa Marketplace
595 River Road, Edgewater, NJ 07020

Last weekend - Will, our friends, and I went to the Kyushu & Okinawa Fair that took place in Mitsuwa. The fair took place last Thursday, July 25th-Sunday, July 28th. We went on Saturday, July 27th and got to Mitsuwa just minutes before it hit 11AM. 

Since we arrived early I didn't have to wait too long for the special ramen and Will managed to find enough seats for 6-8 people. 
Hakata Nagahama Ramen
My friends and I really enjoyed the Hakata Nagahama Ramen better than the last special ramen we had at the Japanese Gourmet Fair. The broth was a lot thicker and richer with pork bone flavor. The broth that was used is similar to the Tonkotsu broth because it's a thick broth and has a creamy consistency. 

The Hakata Nagahama Ramen had a garlicky aroma to it which I loved. The ingredients were typical ingredients you would find in almost every bowl of ramen - tree mushroom, cha-siu, scallions, bamboo shoots, and half-boiled egg.

Oh, I can't forget this. I thought this was the most adorable addition to a bowl of ramen ever. "Thank You" in different language on a piece of seaweed. It's a great tool and neat way of showing someone your appreciation to them. I didn't eat the seaweed because I thought it was just too cute!

Fish balls
Last time we were at Mitsuwa for the food event, they ran out of the fish balls. I was determined to try the fish balls this time. They had the seaweed ones which weren't spicy and ones that were spicy (notice the red/orange like flakes). I got a combination of both. I tried the seaweed one and I really liked it. It had a bit of sweetness in it which I liked and  the seaweed really brings out a different flavor.

Mackerel Sushi
Our friends bought these. Last time we came to Mitsuwa they ran out of the Mackerel Sushi quick. Good thing we came before the food fair event ended. I didn't try these since I don't really eat raw sushi.

Mango Ice Cream
I am allergic to mango so I didn't try this either. Will tried it though and he loved it. He also loves just about anything with mango. Lucky.

Purple Yam Ice Cream
I'm glad the vendor that sold the ice cream had another flavor since I can't have the mango ice cream. I had the Purple Yam Ice Cream

At first, I wasn't sure if it would even tasted good, but after seeing my friends nodding their heads while eating the Purple Yam Ice Cream, then it must be good and it was damn good! I really liked it. It's interesting and tasted like real yam. I liked that it wasn't overly sweet.

The quality and variety of the food at the Kyushu & Okinawa Fair was definitely better than the Japanese Gourmet Fair we went to in June. I felt that this time around there were a lot more sweets than savory foods, but that's okay. We all enjoyed the food.