Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fine Dining High In The Sky

80 Columbus Circle, #35 New York, NY 10023

Asiate is one of New York City's most finest and beautiful restaurant. It's located in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the heart of Columbus Circle. It's been voted as New York City's #1 for decor and one of the restaurants rated as world's best view.

It's not every day that Will and I go fine dining. We frequently eat at mom and pop restaurants or hole in the wall restaurants. However, earlier this month Will and I had a great opportunity to dine at Asiate.

I chose Asiate for a project I am working on for my Dining room class because of the great reviews I've read from Zagat, New York Times, and because of the beautiful views I heard this restaurant offers.

Will and I actually did get lost trying to find the Mandarin Oriental hotel even with our smart phones, so we had to ask a stranger where it was and he pointed us into the right direction. Our reservation was for 12PM, but brunch began at 11:45AM. I really wanted a window seat, but didn't request for one. The hostess actually sat us by a window seat where we enjoyed a spectacular view of Central Park and Columbus Circle. It felt like we were on top of the world.

Our server was really friendly and kindly explained the brunch menu. I liked that she and the restaurant takes food allergies really seriously because Will has an allergy towards avocado and the restaurant did provide Will with an alternative to his food which I really appreciated.

Mountain Berry Iced Tea
After our orders were taken, our server brought our Mountain Berry Iced Tea which is a mountain berry tea, fresh blueberries, and garnished with a small sprig of mint leaves. The tea was unsweetened, but our server brought a cup of assorted sugar straws in case we wanted to sweeten our teas.  

Multi-Grain Bread & Rosemary Olive Bread
A few minutes later the back server brought a tray of assorted breads and a plate of butter. Will chose the multi-grain bread as well as the rosemary olive bread and I got the rosemary olive bread too. The rosemary olive bread was shaped like a rain drop which I thought it was adorable. The bread tasted more olive-like than rosemary.
Gourmandise Tasting
The Gourmandise tasting arrived to our table and it looked absolutely beautiful! Gourmandise means appreciation of good food and drink. The host explained what each menu item was in front of us and I felt my heart race. The food was beautifully plated and it was just really vibrant flow of colors.

The Gourmandise tasting consisted of a sweet corn cappucino which looked like a real cappucino with a nice foam on top. It wasn't too sweet and had a rich and buttery taste to it! The Ahi tuna poke was served with an avocado mousse, chive oil, and rice crackers. I thought I wouldn't like the Ahi tuna poke because it was raw, but I really enjoyed it. It was seasoned perfectly.

The beef Carpaccio was delicious, soft, moist and was served with egg relish, shaved Parmesan, and truffle. Finally, the Peking duck wonton was amazing! The first bite was absolute bliss, slightly crunchy and a little sweet from the Hoisin sauce. This was possibly the best wonton I've ever had!

Will is highly allergic to avocado so he couldn't have the Ahi tuna poke and it was replaced with a fruit salad. 
Entrees: Grilled New York Steak & English Pea Ravioli
These were Will's entree. The Grilled New York Steak was served with a truffle potato gratin, zucchini, and thyme demi. The English Pea Ravioli was served with grilled asparagus, artichoke chips, garden herbs, and melted ricotta cheese.

Will asked for the steak to be cooked medium and it sure was cooked to medium. The steak was moist, a little chewy but not too chewy, and seasoned just right. The grilled asparagus and artichoke chips were quite tasty too.

I've never had English Pea Ravioli so this was definitely exciting to try. It's not your usual ravioli. There's a little sweetness to it and it's moist and just melts in your mouth. It was cooked to al dente.

Entrees: Pan Seared Halibut &  Sunny Side-Up Egg
For my entrees, I ordered the Sunny Side-Up Egg served with a smoked bacon grits, shitake mushrooms, and roasted tomatoes. I also tried the Pan Seared Halibut served with roasted fingerling potatoes, Tuscan kale, and olives.

The Sunny Side-Up Egg entree was a smaller take on a typical brunch platter, but with a sunny side-up egg sitting on top of the smoked, crunchy bacon with grits. The sunny side-up egg was slightly runny which I enjoyed. The smoked bacon added a nice crunchiness and flavor to the grits.There wasn't a lot of grits in my bowl, but it was just enough and the fat and juices from the bacon added a smokey taste with the grits which made it extremely yummy!

The Pan Seared Halibut was absolute bliss! It was light, moist, delicate, velvety, and extremely pleasant to eat. I really enjoyed it. It was sitting on top of a bed of Tuscan kale. The Tuscan kale was way too salty towards the bottom of the entree, wasn't too impressed with it. The roasted fingerling potatoes were cooked just right, had a slight buttery taste to it.

After we finished our entrees. Dessert and coffee was next.

Dessert: Cherry Crumb Cake,Cherry  Mascarpone Cream
Flourless Chocolate Cake
These were Will's dessert. The original dessert that was to be served was a Chocolate 'Avocado' Pudding, Cashew and Coconut. The host brought both desserts out, but I noticed they didn't substitute the chocolate avocado pudding and I flagged down our waiter immediately because Will cannot have any food with avocado in it. She quickly apologized and offered a substitute, either a sorbet, a fruit salad, or a flourless chocolate cake.Will chose the flourless chocolate cake and absolutely loved it. It was very moist and just chocolate deliciousness!

Dessert: Cherry Crumb Cake, Cherry Mascarpone Cream
Chocolate 'Avocado' Pudding, Cashew & Coconuts
So this is what both desserts look like together. Both desserts were beautifully placed and there's a balance between light and dark. I really enjoyed the Cherry Crumb Bake, Cherry Mascarpone Cream because it wasn't too sweet which I liked. The cherry crumb cake was soft, sponge-like, and tasted amazing.

Honestly, I wasn't a fan of the Chocolate 'Avocado' Pudding, Cashew & Nuts because I've never been a huge fan of pudding and didn't really enjoy the taste of it.

Iced Coffee and Hot Coffee

Free Candy
During our departure from the restaurant, there was a cart of jars and bins of assorted candy. The host and hostess told us to take some on our way out and thanked us for dining at Asiate. This was definitely a nice, sweet little treat at the end. Will and I later found out that the restaurant and hotel is actually connected to the Time Warner Center.

All in all, everything came together at this brunch and it was really an unforgettable experience. The food and the view from our seat just blew my mind! I really enjoyed the food, the service, and the opportunity to have dined here and looking forward to another opportunity to return and dine at Asiate again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dinner at Lantern Thai Kitchen

Lantern Thai Kitchen
311 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10003

One of my dear friends is departing from New York soon because she has been accepted with another company and will be spending two months training in Georgia.

Will and I weren't sure when we would see her so we went out for dinner and I personally invite a few friends as a surprise to her. She wanted Thai food, so I decided on Lantern Thai Kitchen. Will and I have been to Lantern before for his birthday and liked it very much.

I like the ambiance at Lantern during the evening because it's dim, it's dark, and it's intimate. The restaurant isn't that spacious and only ideal for a date and a small group dinner.

For appetizer we decided on a tasting menu so we can try different appetizers. For the tasting menu we were only limited to a choice of three appetizers so we chose were the summer rolls, curry puff, and crispy calamari.

The summer rolls were more for Will since he's been sick and technically can't eat fried food. The summer rolls was accompanied with peanut-plum sauce.We also ordered the crispy calamari which was complemented with mild spicy, honey mint sauce. I wasn't a particular fan of this because there was mostly tentacles in the fried calamari. Finally, we ordered the curry puff too.

Rum Mojito
I needed a drink because it's been tough these past few weeks and needed a little drink just to relax. I ordered the Rum Mojito which was very refreshing and loved the minty-ness in it too.

Drunken Noodles with Beef
My friend Faye ordered the Drunken Noodles with Beef with Chinese broccoli and fresh Thai basil. I tried a small portion of the drunken noodles with beef and it was delicious! The Thai basil really enhanced the dish and the noodles.

Pad See  Ew
Another friend of mine ordered the Pad See Ew which is similar to drunken noodles. My friend got the Pad See Ew with shrimp and spicy.

Green Tea Noodles with Chicken

Will ordered the same entree as me, but with one difference. Will ordered the Green Tea Noodles with Chicken. It didn't seem too appealing with the chicken. I tried his dish and it tasted similarly to mine except the chicken felt a little tough.

Green Tea Noodles with Beef
For my entree, I ordered the Green Tea Noodles with Beef. It smelled a lot better and appealing with the beef. The green tea noodles with beef was extremely tasty, but I felt there was a little too much vegetables. The green tea noodles weren't actually green tea noodles. They were actually spinach noodles, but still it was pretty tasty!

The food was delectable! However, it felt like we were rushed because they were very persistent in trying to take our orders. I didn't really appreciate that too much since there wasn't a line out the door nor were there a lot of people waiting.

My dear friend was very happy to see us all and enjoyed the food too. She is on her way to Georgia or probably in Georgia already. I'll surely miss her. When she is back, we'll definitely have to eat good food again.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekday Lunch: Roast Beef Sandwich from Brooklyn Fare

Happy Easter everyone! Will and I have just returned from our three day weekend trip in Atlantic City & Philadelphia and yes we tried a lot of food. Some were good and some were not so good, but I will be blogging about these experiences in days and weeks to come. Now that we're back from our weekend trip and my Spring break will end after Wednesday, it's time to spring forward and get fit and catch up on work.

I would like to share with you a delicious lunch I had at work about two weeks ago that I picked up from Brooklyn Fare located in Downtown, Brooklyn.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
One of the hardest decisions to make during a work day is what to eat for lunch/ It's been a long time since I've been to Brooklyn Fare, so I decided to take a walk there from my office and see what was new. The roast beef sandwich caught my eye so that's what I picked, but without the bacon.

Roast Beef Sandwich & Root Beer
This is half of my Roast Beef Sandwich and it was NOM-TASTIC! The sandwich was excellent! Everything really came together. I've never had a sandwich with Luger sauce. The Luger sauce added a nice, sweet, and slightly tangy touch to the sandwich. It was a terrific addition.

The roast beef was moist and tender. This was probably one of the best sandwich I've have had so far! The Roast Beef sandwich on a roll cost only $7.99.

If you're ever in Downtown Brooklyn, you should definitely give this sandwich a shot at Brooklyn Fare and it doesn't just have delicious food but a selection of great products, food, and beverages to choose from. It will blow you away!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saturday Afternoon Brunch with Teresa's Restaurant

Teresa's Restaurant
80 Montague Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

Last year, Will and I tried out Teresa's Restaurant and we weren't sure if we would return because the food was mediocre. However, since Will works a few blocks from Teresa's and gave it another shot; he was positive that the food quality has improved so I took his word for it and we revisited it.

We went on a Saturday afternoon and it was packed! Luckily the wait wasn't long at all. We got seated within 5-10 minutes. We ended up ordering from their Saturday - Breakfast Special Menu and it includes: an entree, a soup or a salad, and a cocktail for a set price. 

We went mid-March and it was still very chilly outside so we decided to order soups. I ordered the Chicken Noodle Soup and Will ordered the Mushroom Barley Soup

The chicken noodle soup tasted like real, authentic chicken noodle soup. There were actually noodles in there not like the ones you see from the cans that look like a piece of dough. The mushroom barley soup was amazing and seasoned just right. Both soups were really tasty and well made.

Fried Pierogies
We ordered Fried Pierogies as our appetizer. There was a cheese, potato, meat, and sauerkraut with mushroom pierogies. I really enjoyed the sauerkraut mushroom pierogie because I've never had sauerkraut before and for some reason I thought I would hate it, but this was the best pierogie out of the bunch and it was the tastiest. 
Garden Omelette with Sliced Tomatoes & Bread
For my entree, I had the Garden Omelette with Sliced Tomatoes & Bread. I ordered the sliced tomatoes instead of home fries which wasn't a great choice because the tomatoes were soft and I usually like home fries with my brunch. The garden omelette was just vegetables and cheddar cheese blended. I wasn't a fan of this omelette because to me it felt very bland and plain. 

Poached Chicken Sandwich with Fries
Will said Teresa's Restaurant has really great chicken sandwiches. He usually orders a grilled chicken sandwich, but this time he ordered the Poached Chicken Sandwich with Fries. Will gave me half of his sandwich and I honestly didn't know where to begin since it was massive.

I really liked the sandwich. The bread was toasted perfectly and has a nice crunch and taste to it. I've never had poached chicken in a sandwich before, so this was definitely different, but a good different and is healthier. I absolutely love that there was pesto used as a spread for the sandwich. It added some nice flavors and herb-like taste to the sandwich.

So I really liked the food this time at Teresa's despite the bland omelette I had. Everything else was splendid and our waitress was really friendly and gave us recommendations. I can definitely see us returning here in the near future. The quality of the food has really stepped up this time.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Where Tradition Matters The Most at A-Wah II

A-Wah Restuarant II
48B Bowery Street New York, NY 10013

The restaurant that was formerly here was Yummy Noodles which was best known for their clay pot rices and comfort Chinese and Hong Kong dishes. I'm very glad to see that A-Wah II has carried on the tradition of serving clay pot rices.

The layout of the restaurant is still the same as Yummy Noodles except with new touches  and has a modernized, updated look to it. The servers are quick, friendly, and considerate as they will tell you that your clay pot is very hot and to be careful.

House Special Clay Pot Rice
We ordered the House Special Clay Pot Rice and it's filled with preserved duck, sausage, ground pork patty, and half-boiled egg. It was like a clay pot of meat and rice brought down from heaven.

The House Special Clay Pot Rice was seasoned and flavored just perfectly especially with all the fat juices from the preserved duck and the sausage. I didn't really like that there was a half-boiled egg because usually it's served with a fried egg with a slightly runny yolk.

So want to know what the second best part was? THIS is it. The treasure on the bottom - the crusty part, that's the best. A little sprinkle of salt on the crust and you've got yourself something crunchy and tasty.

Crispy Noodles with Three Kinds of Meat
We also ordered this dish. I saw a reviewer posted a picture of this dish on A-Wah II's Yelp and it intrigued me. It looked exquisite with vibrant colors popping out. The dish was okay, it was seasoned perfectly, but just really filling especially with the noodles and meats. The meats were ham, chicken, and Chinese sausage.

My boyfriend and I were really happy with the new look and the food. We will definitely be back since we sure do love a good pot of clay pot rice once in a while.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ramen Quest: Kambi Ramen House

Kambi Ramen House
351 East 14th Street New York, NY 10003

So Will and I have tried almost every ramen restaurant along the East Village except for a few. I've been contemplating whether to try Kambi Ramen for a while and we finally tried it out.

We arrived around 8:30-9PM on a Friday night and it was packed. It took about 8-10 minutes before we were seated.

Two seats opened up by the bar so we were sat there. I wanted to sit at a regular table with regular chairs, but this was fine because we actually got to see all the action that took place and the production. It was quite exciting actually.

Homemade Pork Gyoza
We ordered and tried the Homemade Pork Gyoza ($5.25) first. It was actually pork and vegetable gyoza. The gyoza was pan-fried to perfection.  It was juicy and seasoned just right.

Pork Broth - Shoyu Ramen
I ordered the Pork Broth - Shoyu Ramen ($10.50). The noodles that were recommended for this was the thick noodles so that's exactly what I got. The pork broth was hearty and thick. The pork was excellent and wasn't too dry. The noodles were thick and the texture felt a little like pasta, slightly al dente.

Wahoo - Chicken Broth Ramen
Will had the Wahoo Chicken Broth Ramen ($10.50) and wavy noodles were recommended for his bowl and that's what he got.

Wavy noodles
I liked the texture of the wavy noodles because it's light and wavy of course. The chicken broth was lighter in terms of consistency than the pork broth.

I liked both broths. They were both hearty, rich, and packed with flavor. Everything else came together too.

This wasn't the best ramen I've had or one of the best, but I think Will and I return here if we're ever in the area to try. There's nothing to special to try, but I'm glad we at least it one shot.

Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: 3.5/5
Food: 3.5/5
Likelihood to Return: 70%

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sweet Treat: Peanut Mochi

I normally don't review products I have bought or tried, but after trying this particular snack I just have to share it with you.

A few weeks ago Will and I were shopping at a Chinese Supermarket when I stumbled upon this:

Peanut Mochi
Now I am not a particular fan of mochi and I think it may be because I haven't found one that I actually love until recently.

When I saw this I knew I had to buy it because I love just about any treat that's peanut flavored.
Peanut Mochi
It sure looks like a chicken nugget, doesn't it? The peanut mochi was moist and sponge-like as mochi should be. It was a little too sweet. The peanut mochi was just okay. It wasn't excellent, but it didn't taste horrible at all. There wasn't enough peanut butter in my opinion.

Would I buy this mochi again? Probably not because I haven't found a mochi that I am deeply in love with nor am I a super fan of mochi. It's just not really my cup of tea.