Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ramen Quest: Ramen-Ya

Ramen-Ya
181 West 4th Street New York, NY 10014
212.989.5444

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
212.966.3988

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
212.359.6387

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

Hearth
403 East 12th Street New York, NY 10009
646.602.1300

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 like...us. 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.

Turkey
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!

Food
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.
Flan
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
Food
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?