Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sunday Lunch at Pho Hoai - Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Pho Hoai is the ONLY Vietnamese restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. It's super convenient for locals in the neighborhood that itch for Vietnamese cuisine and convenient for those that are boarding/coming off the Staten Island buses.

Will and I were in the neighborhood recently to return an item to Century 21. We didn't exactly know what or where to eat, but we have been to Pho Hoai before so we visited it again. The restaurant isn't very big and the decor/atmosphere is very much similar to most Vietnamese restaurants in Chinatown. It was crazy packed when we came so we had no choice, but to share a table with other customers.

We ordered the typical dishes we would order at most Vietnamese restaurants:

Vietnamese Spring Rolls
We almost always order the Vietnamese spring rolls. The rolls were crunchy, hot, and savory!

Pho Xe Lua
Will always orders Pho Xe Lua. I can't recall a time where he's ordered a different entree at any Vietnamese restaurant. He orders this when we do take-out or stay-in the restaurant. He sure loves it.

Beef Cubes with White Rice, Tomatoes and Lettuce

This is by far one of my favorite dishes in a Vietnamese restaurant. However, my biggest complaint is when there's not enough sauce or when it's too salty. For this particular restaurant and dish, there just wasn't enough sauce. I like digging under to mix the sauce with my rice to make it not so bland. I was quite disappointed.

Overall, I felt the service could be improved a little bit. I typically don't come to Bay Ridge, so I think Pho Hoai would only be a restaurant that I would visit if I was hungry and in the area. i wouldn't really go out of my way to this restaurant since I do live half a block from a Vietnamese restaurant that's been around for 10+ years and their food is decent and delicious. I would much prefer Thai Son in Chinatown any day.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Birthday Dinner at Shanghai You Garden

Last month, we came to Shanghai You Garden in Flushing for birthday dinner for our friend Mandy. Shanghai You Garden is a  relatively new restaurant with beautiful, Asian artsy decor. The restaurant is fairly clean and the ceiling is hung with Chinese calligraphy and the walls have a Chinese floral design with Chinese paintings hung on the wall as well.

I made reservations for 8PM, but the restaurant would not sit us down until everyone arrived. While we were waiting for the arrival of our friends, the tallest waiter in the restaurant was willing to take down our orders so at least the food will be ready when we sat down.  It can get crowded here easily, so best to come early. Just an FYI: Most of the staff don't speak English except one or two staff members. This is also a CASH only restaurant.

Appetizers
These are three appetizers that my friends ordered: chicken in wine sauce, cold beef tendon, and spicy beef tripe. I've never been a fan of chicken bathed in wine sauce. The cold beef tendon was delicious and had a bit of a sesame taste to it. The spicy beef tripe was okay, but not something I would normally eat.

Crispy Noodle with Beef
We ordered a dish of crispy noodle with beef. It was absolutely delicious! My only complaint is that the noodles weren't crunchy enough. I was looking for that golden brown and crunchy bite, but it wasn't there.

Rice cake with Shredded Pork & Preserved Mustard
I must have this whenever I go to Shanghainese restaurants.This was amazing, but the only complaint here was the portion size was a little small. We finished this dish in minutes.

Giant Soup Dumpling
The birthday girl ordered the Giant Soup Dumpling that they had in the restaurant. They gave her a straw as well so she can drink the soup from the bun. I've never seen a soup dumpling of that size, it was quite interesting.

We weren't full from the dishes we ordered so we actually ordered additional items, but I didn't have a chance to take pictures.

  • Steamed Pork Buns & Steamed Pork and Crab Buns - these were amazing! I was never a fan of the steamed pork and crab buns at another restaurant I've been to with Will, but amazingly these were delicious.
  • Steamed Soy Milk - I haven't had steamed soy milk since I was a child. It brought back a lot of memories. I was super happy and excited about having this. I thought it was interesting that it was served in a plate.
  • Rice Cake with Beef - we ordered an additional entree as we weren't full from the dishes we had earlier. The beef version was okay, but I prefer my shredded pork and preserved mustard rice cake.
Overall, we had a great experience. Food was definitely a lot better than some of the Shanghainese restaurants I've been to. Service was good, but the only issue is that most of the staff speaks Mandarin and Will and I are illiterate when it comes to Mandarin. I would definitely return to this restaurant again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Brunch at Beehive Oven Biscuit Cafe

I absolutely love eating in Williamsburg. It always feels cozy, comfortable, and refreshing to escape from South Brooklyn.

Will and I came to Beehive Oven Biscuit Cafe with our friends: Sam and Alex in late October for Alex's birthday brunch. I knew about this restaurant because over the summer I took a restaurant management class and my teammates and I created a project/fake restaurant based on Beehive's menu. I adored Beehive Oven Biscuit Cafe and not because I love brunch, but because the Texas inspired restaurant is a delightful gem. It's a cozy, comfortable, and casual spot with an upbeat staff! The restaurant is a little small and limited seating, so not ideal for a huge group.

The main draw at Beehive Oven are their biscuits, which come served up in a variety of different ways. I'm not a huge fan of biscuits, but I was open to trying it.

Homemade Vegetables with Buttermilk Ranch
As an added bonus, every meal at Beehive Oven Biscuit Cafe comes with a complimentary appetizer of homemade vegetables and buttermilk ranch dressing. Who doesn't like something that is 
complimentary?

Appetizers
We also ordered two appetizers and a side dish. The Fried Green Tomatoes with Spicy Remoulade was a menu item I wanted to try out. The fried green tomatoes were fried to perfection, golden and delicious. I was expecting to taste or feel the juices of the tomatoes, but didn't quite. 

Sam and Alex ordered the Jezebel Wings with buttermilk dressing. You can get these three for $8.00 or 6 for $15.00. I'm not a huge fan of wings, but these wings were extremely delicious and tasty. The wings had a slight sweet and tangy taste to it which I liked. 

The side order we had was the Fried Okra. The fried okra was fried to a golden perfection like the fried green tomatoes. It was mediocre. It wasn't anything too special in my opinion.

Coffee

Since it was chilly day when we went, I decided to grab a cup of coffee instead of starting the day off with a cocktail or anything cold.

Shrimp and Grits
Sam had the Shrimp and Grits. The shrimp was bathed in a creamy Cajun sauce with bacon on a bed of grits. I was going to order the shrimp and grits until I saw the word "Cajun". This dish screams dangerously hot to me, but Sam enjoyed it. It also looked very filling.

Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs & Texas Hot Brown
Alex and I had the same dish which was the Chicken-Fried Steak and Eggs- tenderized beef steak breaded and fried topped with mushroom gravy, two eggs, and a biscuit with jam. Beehive Oven was serving pumpkin biscuit the day we visited the restaurant so we swapped out the original biscuit with the biscuit of the day and also choose whichever jam is available. choose the vanilla pear jam.

The chicken fried steak and eggs is a very heavy entree and well worth the $17. The grits were cooked perfectly and had a delightful buttery taste to it. I've never had a chicken fried steak before so this was my first time. It was extremely delicious, cooked to nothing but perfection! It was golden, crispy, and tasty. The mushroom gravy was BOMB! I love anything with mushrooms. I got my eggs over-easy and over-easy they were! I've never been a fan of biscuits, but I am a fan of pumpkin so I gave it a shot. I thought the biscuit was a little dry, definitely not the best I've had.

Will had the Texas Hot Brown - open-faced biscuit sandwich with turkey, bacon, and sliced tomato topped with sausage gravy. He couldn't swap his biscuit with a pumpkin biscuit since it's part of the sandwich already. His dish also looked quite heavy, but it looked amazing! The sausage gravy looked and tasted amazing. 


Dessert
I can't believe we had room for dessert too. We ordered the Cinnabiscuit - a warm biscuit cinnamon bun topped with a choice of vanilla, chocolate, or caramel glaze. We chose the caramel glaze. We also ordered the Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream. The cinnabiscuit was yumazing! It was warm, sweet, moist, and delicious. You can taste cinnamon and caramel deliciousness all over. We actually scooped a chunk of the biscuit with a bit of ice cream which created a great combination!

Overall, I liked Beehive Oven Biscuit Cafe a lot. It felt very cozy, homey, and like a nice place you can come to enjoy and relax on the weekend. I love the delicious Southern comfort food that they have to offer. I definitely want to come back again to try more of their savory and sweet foods.

Hooray to another spot that satisfies my taste buds in Williamsburg!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Birthday Dinner at Tang - Bayside, Queens

I've been to Tang in Bayside, Queens last year, but didn't have the time to take pictures. Last month, I was fortunate and happy that Will, my friends, and I had the chance to return to Tang because I heard a lot of good comments regarding the restaurant.

Tang has valet parking. The restaurant is different compared to other Korean restaurants in Queens because first of all, it is super spacious inside. The decor is very chic, dark, and stylish. The restaurant serves Korean food and Japanese food (mostly sushi) and the staff are very friendly and nice.

We did family style, so we all ordered appetizers and dishes to share. I didn't get to capture everything we ate, but here's what I was able to capture:

Green Salad
I think in most traditional Korean restaurants, as a customer you are given banchan, but at Tang you are given green salad (similar to what you find in Japanese restaurants). I like the idea of having a salad because it's a fresh start to the meal.

Seafood & Green Onion Pancake
For one of our appetizers, we had the seafood and green onion pancake. It was nicely made and tasted great, but I think next time I know not to order this because this appetizer will fill you up quick since it's very starchy. 

Gool Gook Bop
Will was in a mood for soup so he ordered the seaweed soup simmered in an oyster broth. Sounds very ocean and sea-like. I actually didn't try this since I am not a fan of oyster-like or oyster-flavor food.

Hawaiian Roll
Another appetizer we ordered was the Hawaiian Roll (shrimp tempura topped with spicy tuna, shaved mango, spicy mayo and macadamia nuts). I never seen or heard of a sushi roll with such ingredients. It was actually a very interesting and delicious combination. I liked it very much!

Jap Chae
We also ordered the Jap Chae which is like a must-have for any and every Korean restaurant. The Jap Chae was extremely delicious and delight. Love it!

Tang Plus Set
Tang has these sets where you can order an entree/meat dish and a soup or rice dish. Will and I got the Bibimbap with Bulgogi and only for $20! The Bibimbap was delicious and I especially enjoyed the crispy rice on the side of the bowl. The bulgogi had a good flavor and very tender.

Overall, I am glad I got another chance to try Tang. I really enjoy the food, ambiance, and service here. The food is very hearty and delicious. I highly recommend coming here if you have a birthday celebration or any type or celebration because it will feel extra special at Tang. It's a little pricey here, but well worth it especially for a special occasion.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Hope you've all had a great weekend! I am a little late, but I'd like to share with you how and what we ate for Thanksgiving.

Baked Sweet Potato with Marshmallows
So for Thanksgiving lunch with my family and Thanksgiving dinner with Will's family, I actually made the same dish, but looked different. I made Baked sweet potato with marshmallows using this recipe, but I tweaked it a bit. This was my first time making this recipe and baking in a long time, so it was comforting and fun. I was very surprised at how successful it came out. Everyone loved it!

Dengsgiving
This was my Thanksgiving lunch with my family. My sisters and I made a few items, but most dishes were made by my mom and we also ordered ribs, lobster, and chicken. We also had dessert - strudel and pie! Yum! Overall, a super filling lunch.

Baked Sweet Potato with Marshamallows
This was the second one I made for Will's Thanksgiving. It came out very good, puffy, and delicious! I was super impressed. I may even consider making this next year as everyone loves it especially since it's not too sweet.

Chengsgiving
This was Will's family Thanksgiving. We did a catering order like last year from Boston Market where everything is pretty much cooked, just needs to be reheated. The food was top notch and we all added our own dishes and creative twist too. We also had dessert too which we had little room for, but still took a bite of it.

Side dishes
For the Friendsgiving that we went to I made prosciutto wrapped asparagus and I got the recipe from here. Another recipe I found on Pinterest. It looked and smelled amazing. The best part is that it only required three ingredients well in the recipe that I tweaked - oil, asparagus, and prosciutto. It came out pretty well, but I think next time I try it with bacon. I also made my sauteed corn with Italian seasoning which everyone ate and finished.

Friendsgiving
This is our Friendsgiving meal. Everyone pretty much just brought what they wanted. My friend did a fabulous job on the turkey. It was moist and delicious. Everything else was tasty too! 

So yes, this is what we've had for three days in a row over the course of Thanksgiving. Not bad right? Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and delicious food!



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Taiyaki NYC - Ice Cream stuffed inside a Fish Cake

Ice cream stuffed inside a fish cake? Yes it does exist, but it's not what you think. It's the most Instagrammable dessert you can find.

At Taiyaki NYC, they have a fish-shaped cake into a makeshift waffle cone and lines it with custard (my favorite) or red bean paste before filling it with a swirl of soft-serve ice cream - you can pick from the following: vanilla, chocolate, black sesame, and the on-trend matcha) and drizzle (chocolate, caramel, condensed milk, or strawberry) and adorning it with an array of toppings such as: mini M&M's, mocha, Pocky sticks, and etc.


I shared a fish cake with Will and we got the custard filled fish cake with matcha ice cream, strawberry drizzle, rainbow sprinkles and strawberries on top. I'm serious these fish cakes were made for Instagram! Any way, the cake is super delicate and better to eat with caution because the cake is soft and so is everything else which means without serious caution, it can have an accident.

It was definitely one of the best desserts I've had so far. It was moist, soft, and not overly sweet. You get a combination of cold and warm, velvety and melt-in-your-mouth custard beneath. The cake was inexpensive - only $7-$8. 

Taiyaki NYC is definitely a great addition to Chinatown because although there's a few dessert spots in Chinatown, there are none like Taiyaki NYC. It's different, genuine, and delicious. If you haven't came here yet, I highly recommend you check it out.