Monday, March 31, 2014

Birthday Dinner at BKNY Thai Restaurant

BKNY Thai Restaurant
47-11 Francis Lewis Boulevard Bayside, NY 11361

This was truly a hidden gem in Bayside Queens.

On my actual birthday March 16th, Will and I went to BKNY. It wasn't a restaurant that I had on my list of places to try, but I saw the photos on Yelp and I knew instantly that I wanted to try it out and so we did.

BKNY is different from the Thai restaurants I've been to so far. First, it's very spacious and big. Second , the decor is modern and just beautiful. It's very dim inside the restaurant and atmosphere is relaxing.

Classic Chicken Curry Puff
We started off with a classic chicken curry puff ($6.50). The classic chicken curry puff was accompanied with a cucumber vinegar.

The classic chicken curry puff was filled with chopped chicken with carrots, potatoes, onions, and Massaman curry. The appetizer was soft, moist, and filled with a rich curry flavor. It wasn't spicy which I liked since I can't handle spicy foods.

Thai Ice Tea
A meal at a Thai restaurant wouldn't be complete without a glass of lightly sweetened Thai iced tea ($2.50). Agreed? It's been a while since I've had Thai Ice Tea and it felt refreshing. There's a Thai restaurant I am interested in trying where you make the Thai Ice Tea yourself (will have to blog about this restaurant when I try it out).

Chicken Pad Thai
I ordered the Chicken Pad Thai ($10.00), a little expensive then your usual Pad Thai. I liked that when our waiter took my order, he kindly asked if I was allergic to peanuts because it shows that they are aware customers may have food allergies.

The Chicken Pad Thai was extremely huge and I definitely got what I paid for. In my opinion, the Pad Thai was a little sweet for me, but other than that I thought it was tasty.

Pad See Euw
Will ordered the Pad See Euw also known as Drunken Noodles ($10.00) with chicken. The Pad See Euw was composed of flat rice noodle, Chinese broccoli, egg, and sweet soy sauce.

I actually liked Will's dish a lot because not only was it perfectly seasoned, but it had Thai basil in it which adds a really great aroma and taste to the dish. It was heaven.

Coconut Sorbert
We ordered the coconut sorbert for dessert. I thought it was adorable how the coconut sorbert was served in an actual coconut. The coconut sorbert was refreshing and not too sweet which I liked.

I really liked our dining experience at BKNY Thai Restaurant. The food was cooked and presented extremely well. It was very relaxing and pleasant just to dine here and the staff were very friendly. 

I would love to return to BKNY Thai Restaurant to try other amazing dishes and their desserts. This is a great restaurant for a birthday dinner, relaxing dinner, or just a casual dinner.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Memorable Birthday Dinner at Grotta Azzurra

Grotta Azzurra
177 Mulberry Street New York, NY 100013

Guess who turned 26 last week? This girl did.

I celebrated my birthday quite a number of times this year but for the celebration with my friends, I decided to revisit a restaurant I had already been to for my birthday before because it was one of the only restaurants Will and I called that would take 15-17 guests and had no problem with us having our dinner at 8PM.

Grotta Azzurra is a family-style and spacious Italian restaurant in the heart of Little Italy in NYC. Our dinner took place in their wine cellar room and it was a nice, casual  atmosphere. We literally sat outside of the wine cellar room which felt nice.

This was my drink for the night. I don’t drink much alcohol, but I sure do love a refreshing cocktail once in a while. I’ve actually never had a mojito before, but anything with mint I love. 

I thought it was adorable that the mojito was served in a mason jar and I really liked the mojito. I found it to be very refreshing, light, and minty. 

Fried Calamari
We ordered four plates of fried calamari for each section of the group to share. I didn't really like the fried calamari at Grotta Azzura because clearly there was no seasoning in the batter they used to fry the calamari in. It tasted so bland and unseasoned and it’s only when you dip it into the marinara sauce was there a little taste to it.

Ravioli of the day - Duck Ravioli
Will ordered the ravioli of the day which happened to be duck ravioli. It seemed that he was a little nervous at first about it because wasn't sure if it would taste good. 

I was surprised at the amount of ravioli he got. I tried a piece of his duck ravioli and it was absolutely yum! The duck was really moist and the ravioli was cooked perfectly.

My friend Diane ordered the cannelloni which is a pre-rolled tubular shaped pasta, stuffed with ground meat, spinach and onions. She enjoyed it, but after having one cannelloni she became full.

Linguini with clams and white wine clam sauce
I ordered one of my favorite Italian dishes – linguine with clams in white wine clam sauce. There was a lot of linguine in my dish.The clams were tender and bathed with a flavorful white wine clam sauce. 

I really liked the clams. It was a simple dish with the right amount of seasoning and flavors. No complaints.

Fra Diavlo
A friend of mine ordered the Fra Diavlo which is a signature dish of Grotta Azzura since 1908. It's basically seafood heaven scattered with linguine and a spicy red sauce. It's seafood heaven because you've got whole lobster, clams, and mussels.

It looks amazing, but too bad I don't think I would be able to try it because my friend said it's spicy and I am somewhat allergic to spicy foods and a tad bit of lobster.

complimentary cheesecake
I guess our waiter forgot there was a birthday cake for me because he brought out a piece of New York Cheesecake and all of my friends and Will sang "Happy Birthday" to me. Will had to tell our waiter that we brought our own cake to cut. 

Strawberry Cheesecake from Junior's 
So guess what? He brought the cake out and well I had two “Happy Birthday” songs. I felt lucky. After the singing and clapping, our waiter took my strawberry cheesecake away and I didn't even get to do the first cut. How rude!

My lovely friends, myself, and Will
All in all, I had a great birthday dinner at Grotta Azzurra and a great time with my friends. I got to see old friends, new friends, and my besties. It was a memorable and fun night and the food was good.

Thank you for making it fun, awesome, and memorable everyone!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Our Dinner at Sunway Cafe

Sunway Cafe
3907 Prince Street Flushing, NY 1354

Will and I have been venturing out to Queens more than usual mostly because we have found a quiet place to work - Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows, Queens.

During one of our visits in Queens, Will and I had a late dinner at Sunway Cafe. I really, really like that the restaurant is spacious  and the high ceilings. It's a very laid back and cozy restaurant to dine in. I also like that their menu is mostly Hong Kong Style dishes and beverages.

Sunway Appetizer Sampler for Two
So Will and I ordered the Sunway appetizer sampler for two ($8.95) which we later regretted. Everything was deep-fried. The spring rolls had vermicelli, mushroom, celery, and carrot. The chicken wings were very small. The fried wontons were actually tasty, filled with crabmeat and cheese. Yum!

 Lastly, there was a shrimp roll with mango filling. It had a bit of sweetness to it from the mango filling, but wasn't too anything special. I don't think we'll be ordering this appetizer again.

Assorted Mushroom Fried Rice
Honestly, I didn't know what to order for dinner so I stuck with the assorted mushroom fried rice ($8.95). It wasn't anything too special but I did like the assortment of mushrooms. It lacked seasoning. A little salt and black pepper would have helped.

Deluxe Shrimp & Chicken Fried Rice
Will ordered the deluxe shrimp & chicken fried rice ($10.95). I like that the side with the chicken was a little tangy and sweet while the side with the shrimp was light and savory. The shrimps were plump and delicious. This fried rice dish was seasoned just right and I love that the rice was drenched with sauce.

Papaya Tapioca
For dessert we had the papaya tapioca ($3.95). In my opinion, it was a little expensive and there wasn't enough papaya inside the dessert. It tasted mediocre, not as good as the tapioca you would have at home.

For the most part I like Sunway Cafe and enjoyed a relaxing dinner here. Next time, I will order an entree with a little more substance and not so original. Next time, I hope Will and I will be a little more adventurous in trying different dishes.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Importance of An Open Stomach and An Open Mind

So I wasn't really planning to do another blog post on my experience in my dining room class until my next shift as captain, but I decided to write a post about the food I tried on Tuesday.

One of the things I like about my dining room class that I've been taking is that I'm exposed to different foods that I may like or may not like, may have tried or may not have tried. It's a pleasant experience and for the foods I've never liked, there's an opportunity in class for me to try it out see if I would like certain foods if it were prepared differently.

So on Tuesday I tried -

Curried Mussels in Cream Sauce
So I've actually never been a fan of mussels or oysters because they make me feel a little squeamish. Since I heard the mussels were cooked with a creamy curry sauce, I decided to give it a shot.

 I tried it and fell head over heels with the curried mussels. I liked that the sauce wasn't too spicy and the taste of this particular curry sauce is slightly different from the way it taste in Asian cuisine.

The mussels were amazing, moist, and perfection! I wished there were more, but we were only limited to one mussel per person. Lucky for me I actually had two pieces of mussel.

Chicken Consomme Brunoise
Next was the Chicken Consomme Brunoise which is a clear soup made out of chicken stock and garnished small dice cut of vegetables. The soup was okay. I didn't like the spicyness in the soup.

Pork Chops Charcutiere with Pommes Frites and Braised Cabbage
I thought the presentation of this dish was beautiful. The pork chop was a little tough and dry. I've never had braised red cabbage before, but it had a little tartness to it, but I liked it. The Pommes Frites were fried to perfection.

The entree alternative was: arugula salad with dried cranberries, pine nuts, roasted butternut squash with a Balsamic fig dressing. I actually love arugula even though it has a slight bitter taste to it, but you hardly notice it. I got a portion of the salad on my pork chop plate. 

I really liked the salad because it was rustic, fresh, and just really delicious. The pine nuts added a nice nuttyness to the salad. The dried cranberries and butternut squash added a bit of sweetness to the salad.

Charlotte Royal Aux Framboises
For dessert we had the Charlotte Royal Aux Framboises. It's a raspberry sponge cake dessert with Bavarian cream. The dessert was light and creamy. I've eaten a lot of desserts so far in this semester, with lots of cream. I've kind of gotten to the point where I'm exhausted from eating cream. 

Overall, I really liked the food we had in my class on Tuesday especially after the mussel I had. I've never really liked mussels or arugula, but now I do. I'm really glad this class is opening me up to try new food, dishes, and a different cuisine. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ramen Quest: Dassara Brooklyn Ramen

Dassara Brooklyn Ramen
271 Smith Street Brooklyn, NY 11231

Will and I had a double date at Dassara Brooklyn Ramen with our two friends Alex & Samantha earlier this week on Tuesday to be specific.

This mid-sized ramen restaurant is located in Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. It's actually very spacious compared to other ramen shops I've been to. I liked the ambiance because it's relaxing, cozy,
and the music was perfect.

Our waiter was extremely friendly and took the time to explain the specials which did intrigue us. We ordered three appetizers to share, warm sake, and four bowls of ramen.

Tebasaki Chicken Wings
Our first appetizer was the Tebasaki chicken wings which was marinated with garlic and twice-fried with a black pepper seasoning.

There were two dipping sauces that accompanied the chicken wings which were honey mustard and the second one I am unclear of.

The chicken wings were fried to perfection! It was hot and the skin was really crispy and a tad spicy. The meat was really moist and tender. This appetizer was okay, but nothing too special.

Steamed Pork Buns
I've heard good reviews about the steamed pork buns, so without any hesitation we ordered the steamed pork buns which was UN-BUN-LIEVABLY delicious! I mean it.

The piece of pork was huge, packed with the right amount of seasoning and juicy! I tasted a little cumin in the pork. The bun was soft, sweet,  and savory and just really tasty. I would recommend this menu item if you try out Dassara Brooklyn Ramen.

Ramen burger 
The wait was over because we finally tried the ramen burger. That delicious piece of heaven (pork) returned and it was still as tasty and packed with flavor like in our buns.

I wasn't disappointed with the ramen burger, but I felt it could have been better. The beef patty lacked seasoning and the ramen (bun) was sponge-like and could have used a little salt and pepper too. There was a small potato salad that was accompanied with the ramen burger and it was tasty.

Lamb Ramen
Prior to coming to Dassara Brooklyn Ramen, I initially wanted the mushroom ramen, but instead decided to order the lamb ramen. I figured since it was a cold day, why not warm up with a bowl of lamb broth and all that good stuff?

I really liked the broth because it was rich with lamb flavor and not to mention, it was thick. The braised lamb belly was tender, but I didn't really like the taste of it. It had a funky taste to it.

The lamb ramen was accompanied with scallion, deep-fried seaweed, bamboo shoots,  and bean sprouts. The poached egg was cooked just right and the noodles were wavy and light.

Xi'an Ramen
Our friend Samantha has a love for spicy foods and it's been cold earlier this week so better reason to eat spicy foods.

In my opinion, our ramen are similiar because the Xi'an ramen contains lamb broth, tingly cumin lamb, sausage, cilantro, and a soft-poached egg like mine. The only exceptions are that the Xi'an ramen contains chili oil and the lamb broth is spicy.

Roasted duck ramen
Will and Alex ordered the roasted duck ramen which was a special menu item. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try the broth.

Will gave me a piece of his roasted duck to try and it was amazing! It had that nice char taste to it and it was really moist and delectable! The roasted duck reminded me of the cherrywood-smoked duck we had at Basta Pasta. If and when we return back to Dassara, I am going to get the roasted duck ramen for sure.

Dassara Brooklyn Ramen isn't the typical ramen shop that we're used to and it's good because it's different. The tastes, the presentation, and the style of cooking is different. I actually enjoyed the ramen and the food because of it's difference from the ramen that I am used to.

Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 4.5/5
Likelihood to Return: 80%

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hungry for Banh Mi's at Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches
311 Atlantic Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11201

Will and I have a tendency to be extra hungry after an intensive workout at our gym. One warm and sunny Sunday afternoon (last month), after we finished our workout we decided to grab lunch at Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches since we were already in the neighborhood.

It's a very small shop with only 7-9 tables and lack of decor. It was super warm inside, so Will and I ended up ordering two drinks so we can cool down and go with our sandwiches that we had.

Vietnamese Iced Coffees
If you don't know already, I am a big coffee drinker, mostly iced. I don't drink Vietnamese iced coffee very much, but when I do I absolutely love the taste of it.

Vietnamese iced coffee has a bit of bitterness to it and I swear I taste a bit of alcohol in it too sometimes. The Vietnamese iced coffees were very much needed and was refreshing.

Whole wheat Classic Banh Mi
Will always orders the classic Banh Mi because it's just what he likes. This wasn't just any classic Banh Mi. Will ordered a classic whole wheat Banh Mi and it's served with pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro, mayo pate, Vietnamese ham,  and roasted ground pork. The sandwich cost $6.00.

In my opinion, the sandwich was rather small in size. I've seen Banh Mi's that were slightly larger than the ones we had at Nicky's. I was hesitant to try the whole wheat classic Banh Mi at first because it's whole wheat and we've never had whole wheat Banh Mi. I enjoyed the sandwich. The baguette was toasted and had a nice crunchiness to it. There was lots and lots of meat. Crunchy and meaty goodness!

Grilled Chicken Banh Mi
I decided to go original with just plain toasted Banh Mi and grilled chicken. My sandwich was served with the same ingredients as Will's sandwiches, without the meatiness.

There were a few bits and pieces of the chicken that were charred and black that made part of the grilled chicken inedible. I thought my sandwich was tasty and definitely had a crunchiness to it too. My sandwich also cost $6.00.

So will Will and I be returning to Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches? I think if we're in the area and if we want something inexpensive to eat for lunch... then yes. In addition, I tend to have a craving for Banh Mi's every once in a while and that's a craving I simply cannot ignore.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Late Dinner at Coach House Restaurant

Coach House Restaurant
921 Kennedy Boulevard North Bergen, NJ 07047

After spending half of the day on stocking up on groceries and shopping at the mall in New Jersey, Will and I were starving and decided to revisit a restaurant/diner that we've been to a few times before.

Coach House is a restaurant and a diner, but the ambiance doesn't make it feel or seem like a diner and it doesn't have the typical diner decor There's plenty of parking available. The vibe at Coach House felt a little off this time. After one of the managers brought us to our table, it took a 5-8 minutes before our water hit the table and our waiter came by to take our order.

So after our orders were taken we went to the salad bar. One of the reasons why I like this restaurant/diner is because they have their own salad bar and it's unlimited too! You can mix and match with any of the items in the bar.

My Salad
There's an array of foods, salads, and dressings at the salad bar.

Our bread basket
Lemon Chicken
Will ordered the Lemon Chicken with brown rice. Lemon chicken is similar to the Chicken Francese with one exception. Lemon chicken has a white wine in it and Chicken Francese doesn't. We have a theory that the chefs may have change because the sauce doesn't taste as good as it used to and the rice felt hard.

Chicken Francese
I ordered the Chicken Francese over rice. The sauce was very creamy, but had a somewhat strong flavor to it. A small section of my rice was hard and cold too.

Our waiter didn't seem happy nor attentive throughout our experience here. When he brought our dinner out I heard one of our plates was slightly banged against the table and based on the many dining experiences I've had, a plate should never make that sound when it hits the table.

Will and I really like Coach House and even though we've had a not-so-great experience here we will still continue to come to Coach House once in a while. Hopefully the service will improve soon because we weren't too happy with the service our waiter provided.