Monday, November 21, 2016

Family Dinner at Joy Luck Palace

My family and I had dinner in early October for my mom's birthday celebration. We wanted to go to Royal Seafood on Mott street because we like it there, but they were completely booked out for a wedding. We decided to eat at Joy Luck Palace instead. It was surprising that the restaurant wasn't filled up when it was a Saturday evening.

The restaurant that used to occupy this space was Grand Harmony, but because it's a new restaurant and under new management there were new renovations. Unfortunately, the renovations weren't very intriguing. I feel that the decor was downgraded. I thought with new renovations, the stinky and old restrooms would get an upgrade too, but nope. Service improved from the last time I was here with my family.

These were the dishes we had:

Fish Maw Soup
As always we ordered the Fish Maw Soup which was quite scrumptious.

Lobster, Crispy Chicken, and Oysters
We ordered the lobster which I thought was decent, but I feel it was a little small. The crispy chicken was delicious and tasty. I'm not a fan of oysters so I can't comment on how fresh or did it taste.

More food
The broccoli and shrimp was tasty and delicious! We also had blanched snow pea leaves which was very simple and light. We also got one of my family's favorite dishes: steamed pork with salted fish. I thought it was pretty tasty, but the homemade version taste a lot better. We also ordered a steamed fish dish.

Overall, the food was alright, but nothing that really wow'ed us. I think it's pretty bad that more than half of the restaurant was empty on a Saturday night. I wasn't too happy with the quality of the dim sum and food the first time I visited Joy Luck with my family. Hopefully the quality will improve soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

BCD Tofu House - Bayside, Queens

The weather last month was a little crazy. It was a lot windier and colder compared to the weather today. It's been windy at times, breezy, but mostly warm. Last month, Will and I visited BCD Tofu House in Bayside, Queens for dinner since I was craving for soondubu (tofu soup) and it was the perfect weather for it.

I've been to BCD Tofu House in Manhattan and it's definitely a lot smaller compared to the one in Bayside. The Bayside location has a parking lot and it's super spacious! 

After we ordered our entrees, we were given complimentary dishes to try. I love the fried fish that they always give here despite the little bones in the fish.

Hot-Stone Bibimbap
This was part of a set that Will ordered with his soondubu. We shared the hot-stone bibimbap. I always love this at any Korean restaurant we go to. I especially love the crunchy rice along the side of the pot. It's truly yummy!

Mushroom Soondubu & Seafood Soondubu
I got the mushroom soondubu since I am huge mushroom fan! This was definitely mushroom and tofu heaven. Our waitress gave us two bowls of rice to eat with our soups. I literally got full mostly from my soup as it was truly scrumptious! Will got the seafood soondubu from his set and there was an assortment of seafood (shrimp, clam, mussels, and scallop?).He wasn't a huge fan of his soup not sure if it's the taste or because he doesn't like tofu too much.

We also ordered the Japchae which I absolutely love eating in Korean restaurants too! I like that BCD Tofu House adds in their fried tofu into the Japchae - different texture to the dish. Unfortunately, I thought their Japchae has a little too much oil and greasy compared to the other ones I have had.

The food at BCD Tofu House was scrumptious! However, the service was mediocre. I feel our waitress was no where to be found a lot of times. I've been here twice so far and I really liked the food. I think I like this location better than the one in Manhattan.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Banter - Irish Bar & Kitchen

Will and I visited my sister and the future brother-in law's new nest in Forest Hills, Queens after the NYC Dumpling Festival. I like the quiet and relaxing vibe of the neighborhood and not too far is where all the buzz, shopping, restaurants, and bars are along Queens Boulevard.

My sister and future brother in-law took us around the neighborhood before and after our dinner. For dinner, we went to Banter - Irish Bar & Kitchen. I found this place on Yelp and it turned out to be a pleasant experience for us. It's located conveniently close to a theater, so great place to check out after the movies. The restaurant was smaller than I imagined, but I was surprise a lot of families ate here because it felt more like a pub than a place for family dinner.

The service was on par and food is heavy, but delicious! Their menu is full of delicious Irish and comfort food. This is what we ordered:

Irish Five Onion Soup
Will and I have been ordering French Onion Soup quite often so when I saw that Banter had it on their menu - we had to have it. The Irish Five Onion Soup was filled with Irish croutons and Swiss and Irish porter cheese. The soup was extremely delicious and not oversalted which I was very happy about.

Mozzarella Pinwheel Salad
My sister said we didn't have enough greens for dinner so she ordered the Mozzarella Pinwheel Salad to share. The salad was full of deliciousness and filled with homemade mozzarella cheese rolled with basil pesto and prosciutto with garlic toast tossed over mixed greens, green olives, pine nuts, and roasted red peppers in white balsamic vinaigrette. I really enjoyed this salad because it's a plate of different textures and flavors that just really come together and it's rustic and just delightful!

Signature Banter Burger
Both the brother in-law and Will ordered the Signature Banter Burger which contained pepper jack cheese and creamy Chipotle mayo. The burgers looked delicious and perfect if you're looking for a simple dinner. 

Beef & Guinness Pie and Chicken Pot Pie
My sister and I decided on a very different dinner. I got the Beef Guinness Pie and my sister got the Chicken Pot Pie. The Beef and Guinness pie consisted of prime beef cuts with carrots, potatoes and peas in a Guinness infused gravy with a fresh pastry top. This was a heavy and quick-filling pie. Honestly I would recommend sharing it between another person because I only finished a quarter of it. The pie was full of delicious comfort ingredients and definitely perfect for a chilly day. 

The chicken pot pie which consisted of chicken, corn, pearl onions, baby potatoes, carrots and celery with a pastry top. The chicken pot pie is somewhat similar to my beef Guinness pie, but minus the infusion of alcohol and some ingredients. My sister enjoyed it very much, but also had an issue with finishing the pie as it was too filling.

Besides the food, we also had a little booze. Two Blue Moons, Magners, and Strongbow. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the food and selection of drinks at Banter - Irish Bar & Kitchen. I definitely would like to come back here as I've noticed there are certain menu items that pique my interest. Looking forward to my next visit here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NYC Dumpling Festival - September 2016

It's been very busy after Will's birthday with family and friends. Although, I'm a month and a half late with writing about the NYC Dumpling Festival, I still want our thoughts with you and show you what was featured this year.

This year Will and I were a little proactive when it came to purchasing tickets because instead of getting online on the day of the festival. We bought the tickets online since they guaranteed a free bag if you purchase online. The event took place on September 24th, 2016 at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park from 12PM - 5PM, but Will and I didn't stay too long at the duration of the event.

Last year I didn't blog about the NYC Dumpling Festival, but I liked the selection, vendors, and etc. a lot better. This year was below par in every aspect except for the customer service. Last year there were 8-10 vendors to choose from, but this year it was only 5 which were split by boroughs (Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island) which I didn't quite understand what the logic behind it was.

Queens was serving chicken soup dumplings, pork and shrimp shumai, and chicken wonton with a side of kimchi. The pork and shrimp shumai was delicious and so was the chicken wonton - nice and crunchy, but the chicken soup dumplings had very little soup. I think it's perhaps the filling soaked up all the soup. I didn't bother trying the kimchi since I can't have spicy foods too much.

The Bronx
Will went to The Bronx and they were serving vegetable curry samosa, buffalo chicken dumpling, and Thai chicken dumpling. The vegetable curry samosa was crispy, crunchy, and delicious! The buffalo chicken dumpling wasn't very tasty and neither was the Thai chicken dumpling.

I went to Brooklyn and that they were serving kale and vegetable dumpling, edamame dumpling, and spinach dumpling. The dumplings here were mediocre and completely vegetarian. The only dumpling that tasted fairly decent was the edamame dumpling, Although the dumplings appeared to have a charredness on it - it wasn't actually crispy or crunchy. 

Manhattan seemed to have a lot more variety. They were serving BBQ Pork bao, Kung Pao chicken dumpling, pork and kimchi dumpling, chicken and cilantro, and a mini dumpling,  I think out of all the dumplings that were served, I liked the chicken and cilantro the best. I wasn't a fan of the BBQ Pork bao at all and everything else had spiciness in it.

Staten Island 
Staten Island was serving drinks and dessert dumplings. They were serving a custard bun, red bean bun, and pumpkin pie dumpling. The pumpkin pie dumpling was quite delicious, I liked it. I wasn't a fan of the red bean bun and the custard bun was crisp, crunchy, and delicious.

Overall, Will and I didn't really enjoy this year's festival at all. Most of the dumplings were all cold. stale, not crispy or crunchy, and a waste of money. All of the dumplings were pre-made. Each ticket allows you for four tastings, so Will used two stamps and I used three. We had four stamps left so we decided to use our remaining stamps on Chef One's frozen dumplings to bring home and we also got an insulated bag. We tried the frozen dumplings at home and they were a serious downgrade compared to the brand we usually buy from.

It was a total disappointment this year that we're not sure if we'll even come back next year.