Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ramen Quest - Ise Menkui-tei in Midtown, Manhattan

Ise Menkui-tei
58 West 56th Street New York, NY 10019
212.707.8702

Will and I are normally don't find ourselves in Midtown, but not too long ago a dear friend of mine that works in Midtown, had invited me out to have dinner with him and to bring Will along too.

The three of us had dinner at Ise Menkui-tei. It's quite spacious inside especially for a ramen spot. I like that it's warm and bright inside, felt so cozy inside. The wait staff were very friendly and attentive.

So we started off with two appetizers -

Pork Gyoza
We started off with the Pork Gyozas which seemed quite small compared to it's average size that I have had at other ramen/Japanese restaurants. It was moist and cooked just right. I kind of wished there was a slight crunch to the bottom part of the gyozas.

Grilled Squid
I was craving for a Grilled Squid for a long time and coincidentally this was on the menu so I ordered it. First of all, love the presentation because it's so simple yet pleasantly appealing. The grilled squid was cooked just right and had a slight crunch and sweetness to it.

Curry Rice
Draven ordered the Curry Rice which had pork cutlets, carrots, onions and rice. That's a heck of a lot of curry sauce just smothered everywhere, but it's great! This was like totally curry heaven and man it smelled so hearty and delicious.There was absolutely no skimping on this dish. 

Will actually ordered a side order of the curry rice too and I tried a bit of it. The curry sauce had a slight kick to it, but it was bearable. I liked it very much. I mean the sauce had the right consistency and it was warm, thick, and just yumazing! 

Canton Ramen
Will ordered the Canton Ramen which is very different compared to the ramen we're used to having. His ramen had an assortment of vegetables and fish cake, as well as pork.

It was a very generous bowl. The broth  was rich and thicker than we expected, not that it's a negative thing, but it's just something new and different. Will enjoyed his ramen, but he enjoyed mine a lot more.

Hakata Ramen
I ordered the Hakata Ramen which is a rich pork bone broth with two piece of pork, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, scallions, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds. This was definitely one of the best, most savory, and delicious ramen. I've had so far. I'm serious. 

The broth was fantastic and rich with flavors of pork bone. It had a slight garlic-like aroma and taste to it, but I liked it! The noodles were slightly al dente which I also liked and they were thin too. I like that the pork wasn't fatty. I really and truly enjoyed the Hakata ramen because the flavors and the texture were above and beyond what I had imagined and it really hit the spot. 

I'm so happy that our friend Draven introduced us to Ise Menkui-tei because everything from the food and service was beyond what we had anticipated. I was even surprised at how inexpensive and reasonable the pricing was especially for a restaurant in Midtown. I am definitely considering to return to Ise Menkui-tei in the near future to try their other ramen and foods as well. 

Ise Menkui-tei really wow'ed us, especially me. Everything was just delightful!

Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: 5/5
Taste: 5/5
Likelihood to return: 100%

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pho Vietnam 87 - Inspired to eat here

Pho Vietnam 87
87 Chrystie Street New York, NY 10002
212.775.0999

So, I am pretty sure by now that you all know Will and I love Vietnamese food. We've recently tried a new Vietnamese restaurant actually in Chinatown. The reason that we tried it is not only because we were hungry or that we wanted Vietnamese food,  but mostly because I read an in-depth and great review of Pho Vietnam 87 on Eater NY. The beautiful photos and descriptions were convincing enough to try.

Banh Xeo
So I have this food bucket list and one of the items I've been wanting to try is Banh Xeo. It is a savory, Vietnamese pancake. When it arrived, it literally looked like a giant omelet. Inside was a combination of ground pork and shrimp and also beansprouts. It was pan-fried to sizzling crispness.

Will and I weren't quite sure how to begin eating the Banh Xeo, but somehow we figured our own way. We wrapped a small piece of the Banh Xeo in the lettuce that was provided and dipped it in the sweet fish sauce and just bit into it and man, oh man it was YUM! The first bite had a nice crisp crunch. The Banh Xeo was made perfectly and was delicious. There was a slight coconuty-ness to the Banh Xeo which made it taste even more interesting.

Pho Xe Lua
Will as always ordered his Pho Xe Lua. I must admit of all the times I've had Vietnamese food for him, I've never actually had Pho Xe Lua, not sure why. I guess I've never tried it before because I usually don't go for noodle soups at Vietnamese restaurants. Someday I will try it and see what it tastes like.

Bun Bo Lui
I ordered a bun dish - Bun Bo Lui which is a grilled beef with sesame dressing rice noodles and served with chopped lettuce, cucumber, mint leaves on the bottom, and crushed with peanuts on top. I liked my entree very much. It was really filling and filled with a combination of deliciousness and lots of greens.

So I must say we did enjoy our dinner and experience at Pho Vietnam 87. The servers were friendly and nice. The food was top notch and the Banh Xeo was excellent! I would definitely come back here and recommend that you do too. Yes, there are many Vietnamese restaurants in Chinatown, but this is one that's definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Amazing Gem in East Village - Maharlika

Maharlika
111 1st Avenue New York, NY 10003
646.392.7880

A month ago, Will and I went out with our friends to celebrate our friend Victor's birthday. We made reservation at Maharlika and man I was pumped up and so excited to try Maharlika because it's one of the well-known Filipino restaurants in NYC and I've heard their spam fries are to die for. Yes, I said spam fries.

The decor is chic. I really liked the ambiance here. It's dim lit, trendy, laid back, and relaxing. Service is quick and on point, and the food... well it was the best part.

Chiccaron
Our dinner began with a free small plate of Chiccaron (chicken rinds) with a vinegar sauce accompanied by very hot chili's. It was crispy and delicious and everything you would imagine if the Phillipines made an amuse bouche.

Spam Fries
I was told by my colleague that the spam fries at Maharlika were bomb, so I couldn't pass up this opportunity. My friends and I ordered it and loved it! It had a nice crispness and the juices and fat from the spam really enhanced the taste of the fries.

Lumpiang Barquillos
I've had Lumpiang before but wanted to try it again especially at Maharlika. Man, those babies were long! The Lumpiang Barquillos were crispy, crunchy, and yum! It was wrapped with beef, pork, and aromatic vegetables.

Filipino Pride Chicken and Ube Waffle
Will ordered one of Maharlika's famous dishes - Filipino Pride Chicken and Ube Waffle. We've never really had Ube before, but it's basically a purple yam. The waffles were crispy, but soft in the middle. It was delectable with the chive butter. The semi-sweet taste went well with the fried chicken. The chicken skin was crispy and the meat was juicy! This meal also included a sweet syrup which was a good complement. The portion size was huge!

Beef Short Rib Kaldereta
I ordered the Beef Short Rib kaldereta and it was accompanied with fried chorizo, oven roasted baby potatoes, grilled pineapple bathe in the most delicious and hearty tomato and olive puree. The beef short rib was a bit tough and chewy, but the combination of everything made the beef short rib twice as good! I really liked the sauce and it complemented well with the potatoes and beef short rib. 

This dish kind of reminds me of a hearty beef stew, perfect for a chilly Autumn or Winter day. I was quite content with my entree. I thought everything was up to par and rice/noodles was not needed.

Coconut Ice Dessert
Unfortuantely, I forgot the actual name of this dessert, but it is a coconut based dessert. There was no halo halo at Maharlika, but my friend said this is similar to it and we decided to give it a shot. It was light, refreshing, and semi-sweet, but I wasn't too thrilled with it.

So I really liked Maharlika and am glad I finally got around to trying it out. The food was delicious comfort food and I would definitely come back again to try other menu items. Next up, I hope to try Maharlika's sister restaurant - Jeepney and hopefully compare to see which one is better in my book.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Nothing like Bowls of Noodle Soup at Grand Bo Ky

Grand Bo Ky
216 Grand Street New York, NY 10013
212.219.9228

After trying out Bo Ky on Bayard Street, my boyfriend decided to take me to the one on Grand street. This location is a lot cleaner and brighter than the other location. The service is even a lot better.

Country Duck with Flat Noodles and Mushrooms
Will ordered the country duck with flat noodles and mushrooms.

The broth was really tasty, but definitely looked really oily compared to the noodle soups we had the other location.

Wonton Noodle Soup
I ordered the Wonton Noodle Soup which looked very oily, but the broth was really savory and delicious. The wontons were meaty and delicious. The noodles were cooked to al dente. 

The service is a lot better at Grand Bo Ky than the one on Bayard Street. The staff was a lot friendlier here too. The noodles were delicious, but the oily broth was a little eh... I would like to give this restaurant another chance and maybe try one of their rice dishes instead.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Filling Up Our Bellies at Belly Busters

Belly Busters
4408 Coastal Highway Ocean City, MD 21842
410.524.7116

On our last day of our Labor Day Weekend trip in Ocean City we made one final food stop at Belly Busters.

It's a one of a kind and interesting seafood establishment nearby the beach. There is indoor and outdoor dining. It was crowded, humid, and hot inside the restaurant so we ate outdoors, but even outdoors was hot.

Most of us ordered the seafood platter but with different sides.

Conch Fritters
The conch fritters were fried and crispy on the outside, but I didn't quite enjoy it because it didn't have much of a taste or flavor in it.

Seafood Platter
So as I said most of us ordered the seafood platter which consisted of fried fish, clamp strips,crab cake, and fried shrimp. Will and I ordered two sides - fries and cole slaw. The seafood platter also came with two dipping sauces - cocktail sauce for the shrimp and tartar sauce.

I wasn't a fan of the clam strips. The crab cake was moist, delicious, and up to par. The fried shrimp and fish was alright, nothing too special.

Crabs
My friends also ordered a large order of crabs. It looked really good. I didn't take part in it because I shouldn't have too much crabs cause I have a slight allergy with crabs.

The experience at Belly Busters was definitely a lot different from the other places we've been to in Maryland. The experience at Belly Busters was a lot more laid back. Would I return to Belly Busters? Maybe. It was nice to try, but next time we visit Ocean City, I give other restaurant a shot.