Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Orlando Trip - Cinderella's Royal Table

I've always wanted to see the Cinderella's Castle in real life, but never did I think I could eat inside of it. I heard that to eat inside you have to make a reservation three months prior to your visit.

Will had told me he made reservations for the third day (Sunday, April 2nd) at Cinderella's Royal Table where we could have lunch there. I was excited at the same time because I absolutely love Disney princesses (well most of them), please read on my blog for the complete review of my day.

There was a lot of people lining up for lunch at the castle. I read reviews on Yelp about the experience and how four princesses would come out to greet all the guests, take a picture, and sign an autograph. The restaurant/castle was humongous and big. Our waitress gave me a magic wand and referred the women as "princess" and gave a sword to Will and refer the men as "lord".

Chef's Tasting Table
We had a Prix-Fixe menu which included the Chef's Tasting Table (a platter of cured meats, cheese, and other special selections of the castle). I love the cured meats, but not a fan of the cheese and never have been especially if it has a pungent smell.

For entree, I had the Chef's Fish of the Day which was salmon, assorted vegetables, and fingerling potatoes. My entree was alright, nothing too extravagant. I didn't really like the artichokes and olives in my dish. I've never been a fan of olives.

Will had the Beef & Shrimp (grilled beef tenderloin with crushed fingerling potato confit, shrimp, and seasonal vegetables). His dish looked more filling and savory, but unfortunately the beef was a little too rare for him. He can't have overly pink/red meat.

The waitress didn't take our order for desserts which I was a bit concerned about, but later realized why as Will ended up getting down on one knee and proposing and dessert did come as well as two glasses of sparking cider.

The experience at Cinderella's Royal Table was extravagant! It was the most romantic, fun, and exciting experience I've had on the entire trip. The staff and everyone at the castle were very humble, lovely, friendly, and hospitable! This was truly a magical lunch!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Orlando Trip - Krusty Burger

During our first trip in Orlando and first visit to Universal Studios, we didn't have the opportunity to eat at Krusty Burger. Prior to the trip, I told Will we have to try Krusty Burger and so we did.

Krusty Burger, Moe's Tavern, Cletus' Chicken Shack, and a few other dining options were located under the same roof, but there's one line to line up for the dining options and once you've reached the front of that line, you can proceed to whichever place you want to and line up in their own separate line. The dining area is humongous and there are staff members that will ask how many people are in your party and will find the next available seat for you, how hospitable! I like that they play different clips from The Simpsons, it brings back childhood memories.

Krusty Burger
Will and I both got the Krusty Burger with Kurly fries ($10.99). The Krusty Burger is made up of 1/3 lb. burger with a secret sauce (tasted like a thousand island dressing), cheddar cheese sauce, tomato slice, iceberg lettuce and served on a specialty bun.

The burger was juicy, delicious and tasty. However, the burger didn't really "wow" me. I think it's the type of food I wanted to try it at least one time and that's it for now. I did think the fries were dynamite! It had a bit of a crunch to it which I enjoyed.

Overall, a must-visit if you're in Universal Studios and/or if you're a fan of The Simpsons. The price of the burger is reasonable, because that's how much a burger and fries can cost in NYC. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Orlando Trip - Les Chefs de Frances

I mentioned in my blog that Will and I went to Orlando from March 31st - April 3rd. We had visited Epcot on our first day and passed by a restaurant in the France area by the name of Les Chefs de Frances. They did not accept walk-ins so we made a reservation. We came back a little earlier after walking through the different countries, so the hostess was able to sit us down earlier.

The restaurant was classy and had nice relaxing vibe to it. It was an enormous restaurant with a lot of windows to allow natural lighting to lit up most of the dining area. The staff here was exceptional and respectful. Will and I went with the prix-fixe menu for $39.99 per person.

Iced Tea
We started off with glasses of iced tea to cool us down since it was hot. Iced tea was unsweetened, but they had sugar and sweetener on the side for us.

Our waitress also presented their butter and fresh baked bread to us which was placed in a white paper bag. The bread was delicious, warm, and had a nice crunch and fluffiness to it.

I ordered the French Onion soup which was absolutely delightful and can fill you up. It had the most wonderful layer of cheese encrusted over top of the crock that the soup was served in.

Lobster Bisque
Will ordered the Lobster Bisque. It was cooked to perfection, but a little bland in my opinion, a little salt could have helped. In addition, I wished there were bits of lobster chunks in the soup.

For entree, I noticed that their Gratin de Macaroni was a popular menu item, so I decided to try it out. Someone on Yelp also said it was one of the best macaroni and cheese in Disney. It was amazing, but missing a little salt again. The gruyere cheese was delightful! I was a little stuffed from finishing it so I brought it back to our suite and had it for a midnight snack, which was awesome!

Will had the Filet de saumon mariné auvin blanc et citron (white wine and lemon marinated salmon, broiled, served with steamed asparagus, and champagne sauce. The salmon was served with rice pilaf. The portion size I thought was a little small. The plate could have fitted more vegetables and rice pilaf. Fortunately, the salmon was delicious and had a bit of a citrus-like taste. It was cooked to perfection. 

For desserts, I had the Assiette de Sorbets du Jour (daily assortment of fresh sorbets du Jour) and Will had the Crème Brûlée (Vanilla crème brûlée). The assortment of fresh sorbets included passion fruit, raspberry, and coconut. The raspberry one was a little tart, but the other two sorbets was amazing. I enjoyed the colors, the vibrancy, and marriage of different flavors in this dessert. Will's crème brûlée was delicious too. The crème brûlée was light and creamy. The top was perfectly torched and caramelized.

Overall, I really enjoyed our experience at Les Chefs de Frances. The food was scrumptious and a delight. Service was phenomenal! I would most definitely want to come back here when I return to Disney or Orlando again. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

New World Mall Food Court

A friend recommend New World Mall Food Court for Will and I to try because it's inexpensive and food is on par. The food court is located at the lower level of New World Mall where you'll find over 15+ vendors, a lot of seating, and restrooms too.

There's a wide variety of Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines where food stalls offer Malaysian, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and Taiwanese specialties. From dumplings, soups, hot pots, bowls, prepared meals, desserts, literally a potpourri of Asian dishes. Walking through the food court I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the the choice, the aromas, and the crowds of people.

Will and I tried based on what we were recommended by our friend and Yelp. So this is what we ended up with:

Will ordered the fried giant squid combo ($8.50) from Cheers Cut which came with two different sauces, a side salad, rice, vegetables, and seaweed salad. The fried giant squid was absolutely delicious! It was fried and cooked just right, not tough to chew.

I ordered the pork pan-fried dumplings ($5.99) which came with ten pieces by the way. Holy cow, the wait took forever but I can understand why because the women behind the counter pan fry it upon ordering so it takes 10-15 minutes. There's at least 5-6 women working behind that counter making dumplings, frying and cooking dumplings and other dishes, and so much more. It also came with some vegetables and dumpling sauce too. The pan-fried dumplings were delicious, golden, and crispy.

Cheong Fun
I noticed that E Noodles was at New World Mall Food Court and I noticed that they had their delicious Cheong Fun, so without any hesitation I ordered it as well. It was $3.90, but I noticed this place charges tax. The women behind the counter aren't the nicest I may admit, but their cheong fun from here is bomb! It's steamed just perfectly and the peanut and hoisin sauce is just perfect too! I love that this is so inexpensive and so delicious!

Overall, it was a good and inexpensive dining experience here. I've been here twice so far and I love it, but of course more visits will be required in the near future so I can try the other foods here. I think next on my list is the hand pulled noodle (haven't had that in ages). You can definitely come here for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. Looking forward to my next visit!

Below are links to the places I visited in the Food Court:

Monday, May 1, 2017

Italian Eats at San Marzano

I've been craving for Italian food and pasta for some time now. Late March, I decided to check out San Marzano in the East Village with three friends. Will was out of town, so it gave me a chance to catch up with close and old friends.

The menu at San Marzano excited me because of the food and how you can pair any type/shape of pasta with any sauce you want and only for $9.00.  The pasta is also made fresh in-house, another bonus point. They only take reservations for six and up, so we couldn't make one and walked in instead. We came on a Friday night around 6:30-7PM and pretty soon the restaurant was filling up quick. 

The restaurant isn't as big as I thought it would be, but I did love the chic ambiance - think low lighting and sleek decor. 

We started off with the Cavicchioli Prosecco, 1928. My friend made a fantastic choice because the Prosecco had notes of flowers, apples and citrus. It paired well with our appetizers and the prosciutto in our appetizer.

The calamari looked amazing on Yelp, but our waiter told us the restaurant wasn't serving it anymore, total bummer. We proceeded and ordered the burrata and Brussels sprouts.

The burrata was creamy pulled cow's milk cheese, prosciutto di parma with balsamic reduction. I really enjoyed the texture of the creamy cheese and it went very well with the bread along with the prosciutto. The combination of the three was smooth and crunchy at the same time with some saltiness to balance it out from the prosciutto. The Brussels sprouts was accompanied with pancetta, fuji apples, and pecorino. I thought they were tasty, but a little too charred or roasted. I enjoyed the ones from Aunt Jake's more. 

Pear & Gorgonzola Ravioli
A friend ordered this since it looked so good on Yelp. The pear and Gorgonzola ravioli was also $9.00, not bad right?  The pear Gorgonzola was accompanied with toasted walnuts, thyme, and shallots in a cream sauce. I didn't get to try a piece of my friend's dish, but she liked it and thought it was just right with the creaminess. The sauce complemented the ravioli very well. If you're a cheese or truffle lover, the sauce in this dish is the one you want because it has that type of flavor in it.

Farfalle with Bolognese Sauce
I got the Farfalle with Bolognese sauce. I've had Bologonese sauce before and I love it (when it's done and seasoned right). The Farfalle wasn't al dente which wasn't a huge issue, but I just prefer my pasta to be al dente. The Bolognese sauce was a little bland, could have used a little more salt. It felt like something was missing from the dish.

My two other friends also had pasta dishes, but didn't have a chance to capture what they ate - maybe next time I'll be quicker before they devour their dishes.

Overall, San Marzano was a winner minus the fact that pasta was a little bland. I also forgot to mention that they are pretty high tech when it comes payment. The waitress or waiter will come to your table with a tablet and a swipes your card right then and there for what you ordered. It's convenient and easy!

I am interested in returning here for dinner maybe with Will or just a small gathering. I am interested in trying their sangria, other pasta combinations, and hopefully the fried calamari when it's back in the restaurant.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mango Mango - Brooklyn,NY

I've been falling in love with mango and mango desserts, so when I heard Mango Mango had opened up in Brooklyn, boy was I happy. I've already been to the Flushing and Chinatown location to order take-out, but never had the opportunity to sit and indulge.

Although I heard mixed reviews about the Brooklyn location, I still decided to try it out for myself with Will. We came on one of the windiest and frigid Saturdays last month and luckily Mango Mango wasn't crowded at all. The Brooklyn location is definitely a lot bigger and much more chic. There's a decent amount of seating and they're pretty comfortable too.

Before I move on to discuss about what we ordered and our thoughts, I just have to say the service here is preposterous! The waitresses took our orders quick, but the wait time for these two desserts was absolutely ridiculous. The desserts we ordered weren't very complicated to make nor would it take very long to make. I've been to many Asian dessert spots before and it doesn't take 30 minutes for two desserts to be made.

I noticed the waitresses were mostly just standing around, chit chatting, and playing with their smartphones. I know this isn't a corporate business, but it's still a business and I think it's unprofessional while customers are waiting for their food.

I wanted to order the Mango juice with watermelon and rice ball, but it is a seasonal item. I ordered the Snow white mango juice with sago and pomelo (A4) and Will had the Strawberry mango juice sago and lychee jelly with mango ice cream and grass jelly (A5).

My dessert was alright. It tastes just like similar mango desserts I've had before. The mango didn't taste like it was fresh, total bummer. Will's dessert actually looked really good, colorful, and tasty. The mangoes in his dessert also didn't look fresh cut either. Everything else was alright.

It felt like it took forever to get a check from the waitresses too.

Overall, I was not very pleased nor satisfied with the lack of customer service at Mango Mango. I don't know where they hire these waitresses. I was really excited to try this Mango Mango especially since it's in the borough of where I live, but the excitement got killed when I saw how there was little to no effort in customer service. Desserts were okay, but not great. I probably won't be back here unless the service improves.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Birthday Dinner at Aunt Jake's

Last month I celebrated my birthday dinner with Will and our friends at Aunt Jake's in Little Italy in Manhattan. Aunt Jake's is a relatively new Italian spot that's been on my list of restaurants to try and it was different compared to the older Italian spots in Little Italy.

Aunt Jake's event space was what caught my eye and attention because of their skylight and that the restaurant is lined with wooden panels. The selling point was also that you can customize your pasta with any type or shape and any sauce.

We had a party of 20-25 people, so naturally we decided on a prix-fixe menu to avoid confusion on our end and the restaurant's end. Our prix-fixe menu contained a choice between three appetizers and a choice between three entrees. The event manager was respectful and accommodating to Will's requests for my birthday dinner.

We shared a space with outside customers, so it didn't feel very private or cozy. Our tables were lined up as a communal style and I must admit it was a little squished, not a very pleasant experience. Their drink menu contains mostly wine and a few cocktails. A friend ordered a pitcher of white sangria to share between me and a few friends. I thought the white sangria was watered down especially since there was a lot of ice in the pitcher. My friend also ordered a bottle of Prosecco which I thought was delicate and light.

I tried one of their cocktail: Mulberry. I thought it was mediocre, definitely not the best tasting cocktail I've had. It tasted a little tart in my opinion.

The three appetizers that were listed on our prix-fixe menu were: calamari with sweet roasted red pepper sauce, kale Caesar salad, and Brussels and pancetta. I absolutely loved the calamari even though it was the appetizer I chose for myself, but Will did. The portion size for an appetizer was big which I thought was nice. The calamari was golden and delicious. 

The kale Caesar salad was fresh, crisp, and delicious! One of our friends ordered this for an appetizer and I actually loved it. I got the Brussels and pancetta since it's been a long time since I've had Brussels sprouts. It was buttery delicious and beautifully roasted. Many of my friends enjoyed the appetizers and thought the portion size was generous.

These were two of the three entrees from the Prix- Fixe menu. Will got the Lemon Chicken (thyme, rosemary, garlic, white wine, butter and chili) which was rested on top of a velvety and delicious polenta. Some friends thought the lemon chicken didn't really taste too lemon-like and was a little dry, but the cut of chicken that Will had was moist and delicious.

I ordered the Penne alla vodka sauce. Their version of Penne felt extra thick and dough-like, same texture as gnocchi almost. The pasta here is made fresh, so that's probably why. I felt the portion size of the pasta dishes were a little small and I would have appreciated more sauce to go with the bread. The final dish on the menu was rigatoni with Sunday sauce (house made tomato sauce with short rib, sausage, and veal).

Overall, it was a great birthday dinner mostly because I got to see most of my friends and it was a pleasure to catch up with everyone. The food was on point and delicious. I would come back again during the day time just to see how the space is lit up and etc and also try their other pasta and sauces.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What's Cooking in My Kitch

I been finding myself cooking a lot more since the year has begun. I been trying out different recipes, but also trying to master the dishes my mom makes. I would like to show you some of the dishes I've been whipping up. There's no recipe written down for these yet, but maybe some time I will write them down and turn it into a recipe post for you.

If you have any questions about the dishes that's been made, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. Enjoy!

Savory Oatmeal
I've seen recipes where you can make savory oatmeal, so I took a stab at it one weekend. The result? It needs work. I used chicken broth and Italian herbs and spices, along with a poached egg.

Chicken Rice Noodle Soup
This is a noodle soup I made earlier in the year where I was craving for noodle soup just about every week. I used chicken broth to make the soup and added in my own fried egg.

Valentine's Day meal
This year Will and I agreed not to get each other Valentine's Day gift to save a little money and also because I think we already give and get a lot for each other. However, he did come home and surprise me with a beautiful bouquet of roses. 

I decided to cook him a Valentine's Day dinner which was creamy tomato soup with homemade croutons (yep I made them for the very first time) and a lemon shrimp linguine with a rose (yep I made that too) for him.

Stuffed Fuzzy Melon and Stuffed Pepper with Fish Paste
Here's two Chinese dishes I learned how to cook for the very first time and courtesy of Pinterest. The stuffed fuzzy melon is a dish my mom made at home from time to time. The stuffed pepper with fish paste didn't exactly come out as I wanted it to be. The fish paste would fall out during the cooking process, so need to figure out a way to make that sucker stick and not fall out next time.

Meat Patty
This is another dish that I made for the very first time and can use work. I had leftover meat from the stuffed melon and I am not the type to waste food if it's still usable, I'll use it. 

Mom's Vermicelli
This is my version of my mom's vermicelli. She usually makes this dish for holidays or big family dinners. I added cabbage and dried scallops to mine. It is delicious. I can literally eat a whole plate of this and be happy doing it. 

I've been trying to cook breakfast a lot more and I am actually getting better at it with making French Toast, Hong Kong style French Toast, oatmeal, and making my own waffles at home too. It feels pretty good to learn and cook so much.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

FIKA: Cold Brew

Happy April everyone!

I apologize for not writing on the blog. March has been crazy and I just got back from my trip to Orlando, FL with Will on Monday. Yesterday was clean-up and laundry day, so I been tired and busy. I'm also not at my best since I've developed allergies coincidentally enough on the last day in Florida (blog post very soon). Total bummer!

Moving along -

I've been slowly trying to try cold brew and iced coffees outside of Starbucks. Last month, I finally gave FIKA a chance.

They have beautiful interior and decor! It's bright, uplifting, and mellow inside. There's a limited amount of seating. I wouldn't recommend coming here with a large group, maybe with 1-2 people at most. The service is decent. I've been here twice and it seems that it's mostly filled with people that are catching up on work on their laptops, writing, or just for a casual meeting. I was thinking of doing work from here, but I haven't noticed any power outlets.

I ordered a cold brew from FIKA and my thoughts are that it was smooth and delightful. I've had cold brew before where it tastes slightly sour, but it's quite possible that it tastes sour because of the beans or during the roasting process.

Overall, I liked the atmosphere here. It's not crazy or noisy like Starbucks or some of the coffee shops I've been to. Their prices are reasonable, I would definitely return here.

Monday, March 13, 2017

86 Fu Kee

Happy March everyone!

I can't believe I've never written a review about 86 Fu Kee since my family and I go here a lot to buy take-out. I live so close to 86 Fu Kee and it's super convenient, off the D train on Bay Parkway & 86th street.

The restaurant has been here for quite a few years. My parents know the partners and a few of the s employees quite well since they were from the same village back in China and mutual friends. The quality of the food here sometimes vary. I like their lobster and most of their stir-fried items. The restaurant is mid-sized and I think appropriate for a small group or family dinner.

We came on a Saturday evening when it spontaneously poured, so it ended up there weren't that many customers dining in that night,

Complimentary Chicken
This is a free dine-in complimentary chicken dish. The chicken was mediocre, nothing special and it was cold.

Sweet & Sour Pork Chop & Siu Chow
My Dad ordered all the dishes. He got us the Sweet & Sour Pork Chop with Pineapple which was delicious! I enjoyed the sweet and tangy taste to it. He also got the Siu Chow which had various vegetables, squid, and conch. It was quite tasty!

Lobster & Noodles and Snow Pea Leaves with Broth
Sometimes my parents go out on dates (yeah they still do that) and they told me about the lobster and noodles dish they usually order when they're out. I really enjoyed the lobster and noodles dish, but I wished there were more noodles. The lobster was juicy and delicious! We also had the Snow Pea Leaves with Broth. I love snow pea leaves and it's one of my favorite vegetables. We usually get it in a broth with dried scallops, dried shrimp, and scallops which is delectable!

Overall, dinner was great! I hardly go out and eat with just my parents so it was nice. I hated the rain that day, but we had a good time and good food.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why I Love Hometown Hot Pot

If you haven't noticed already there's been a huge boom of hot pot (shabu shabu) restaurants and more and more people are going out for hot pot instead because it's a fun bonding experience and some hot pot restaurants have offers that is too good to refuse.

Hometown Hot Pot opened in 2015, best known for their all-you-can-eat hot pot and Korean Barbecue. I've been here 3-4 times already in the last year and it's always been a delight to eat here.

Hometown Hot Pot is super spacious with 2.5 floors of seating and beautiful and interesting decor.
The staff here are friendly, just a little strict about reservations as you must have at least 6-8 people to minimum to make a reservation.

I've never tried their Korean Barbecue so I can't say anything about it. However, I can talk about their hot pot. So first off the prices are:
  • Hot Pot: $23.99 (per person)
  • BBQ: $27.99 (per person)
  • Hot Pot & BBQ: $31.99 (per person)
  • Children under 4 1/2 feet - half price

Their hot pot menu has eight soup bases you choose from, but they also have duo hot pot - choose any two flavors or trio hot pot - choose any three flavors. They have over 20+ items to choose from. They've also added some new menu items like: stuffed tofu, stuffed tofu skin, stuffed lotus, stuffed peppers, stuffed okra, and stuffed dough stick. It's really just seasoned,flavored fish paste. They also have beverage menu (soda, beer, wine, smoothies, teas, and etc).

The restaurant also has tong sui (sweet dessert soup) that you can have after dinner. In addition, if you check-in on Yelp you get a free scoop of ice cream. 

In addition, there's also a rule that if you're coming here to celebrate yours or someone's birthday, you MUST bring an 8 inch cake and you do have the option of eating it there or not in order for the person to eat for free. This rule applies 3 days before or 3 days after, as long as you or someone brings an ID to verify their birthday.

Tip: I highly recommend NOT wearing your best clothes here because of the ventilation and combination of all the smells will make you leave here smellier (herbal/food) than you can imagine, take my word for it.

I enjoy Hometown Hot Pot more than 99 Favors simply because their portions are a lot large and there's more variety to enjoy and savor. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lunar New Year 2017

This year's Lunar New Year celebration with my family was different. First off it was my niece's first Lunar New Year so that was exciting, but my sister and her husband didn't have an opportunity to celebrate with us as they had to fly off to California for a family emergency.

Any way, my parents, baby niece, and I still found a way to celebrate and enjoy our traditional Lunar New Year meal.

Flowers & Snacks
We always lay out a vase filled with flowers, a plate of oranges and citrus fruits, We also have a platter of dried, candied fruits and another one with lucky candies and pistachios. 

Lunar New Year Breakfast
This was our breakfast, but we usually start off with praying and a ritual for our ancestors prior to eating. We start the morning off with vegetarian dishes and shrimp chips. I always love the shrimp chips my mom makes. She fried them earlier on and sealed it in an air tight bag for freshness. 

This year we didn't have as much festivities nor did we make our sweet coconut dumplings, but I am grateful I got to spend it with my family and baby niece.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Coffee Review: AVA Brew

Last year, I've learned that a new coffeehouse was opened in Downtown Brooklyn. It's located near an old company I had worked for.

AVA Brew serves up Brooklyn-roasted Pushcart Coffee and their delicious pastries too. It's set in the base of the new AvaDoBro building. This coffee shop is perfect if you need to pop out and grab your coffee to go, but also great to sit and relax with a coffee, organic tea, or even craft beer or wine (most recent addition to this spot).

The manager wanted to create a community hub in Brooklyn's busiest neighborhood, giving locals an alternative to the big chain coffee dealers that currently line its street. Downtown Brooklyn already has several Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts outlets, but no local coffeehouses like along Cobble Hill and etc.

AVA Brew - Image Credit to Multi-Family Executive
The spacious espresso bar has a cozy, comfortable atmosphere. There's a decent amount of seating here and definitely a good place to come to get some work done or for a casual meeting.

I happened to be in the area a few weeks ago so I met up with a friend, but also grabbed a cold brew.

Cold Brew
The cold brew was delightful I definitely enjoyed it more than Starbucks. I went in mid-afternoon and it wasn't very crowded at all so it was nice to enjoy the cold brew at this comfortable coffee shop. They also have good, cafe-like music.

I would highly recommend AVA Brew for anyone that's interested in trying different local coffee shops, something outside of Starbucks & Dunkin' Donuts. This is definitely a good spot to come to do work, meet someone, or bring a book by to read while enjoying a beer, wine, or coffee.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Coffee Review: Nitro Cold Brew at Starbucks Reserve

I recently visited one of Starbucks newest stores in Brookfield Place and it offers the company's line of rare, small lot Reserve coffees -apparently only available in limited quantity in around 2,000 stroes around the world.

How is this Starbucks different from any other Starbucks store? They store incorporates elegant design elements from the company's Seattle Roastery, while incorporating premium brewing methods ( such as siphon, chemex, pour over). This Starbucks "Reserve" store is a more elevated experience with an elegant design. Visitors to this Starbucks will find cold brew on tap and special Reserve espresso drinks, liked Smoked Butterscotch Latte and etc.

I'm a fan of Starbucks, coffee, and cold brew as well. I met up with a friend not too long ago to check out this beautiful Starbucks and also to try their Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew.

Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew
The Nitro Cold Brew is Starbucks newest take on it's signature Cold Brew - it's infused with nitrogen for a smooth ,creamy texture. The baristas pulls the tap and allows the Cold Brew coffee to mix with nitrogen to deliver an entirely new cold coffee experience.

The Nitro Cold Brew is cold right out of the tap and served unsweetened without ice. You can see and taste the velvety texture in the nitro cold brew.  The first time I tried it, there was NO sugar or cream/milk added.

The Nitro Cold Brew definitely tastes a lot different compared to the original cold brew, but I like it.  I highly recommend it if you like/enjoy cold brew or if you like coffee. I also highly recommend checking out this Starbucks because the decor and atmosphere is absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Slurping Noodles at ICHIRAN

The day after Christmas, Will and I had lunch, caught up, and traded our Christmas gifts with Sam and Alex.  We opted for ICHIRAN - the famous Japanese ramen chain and known for their one-of-a-kind soup - the ivory pork broth.

I was so happy that when Will and I arrived that there was no line outside because I've seen pictures on Yelp that the line was horrendous. I guess the hype is somewhat over. If you've done your research or asked around, ICHIRAN is unlike any other ramen restaurant. On one side of the restaurant, you have a bright room with tables, red lanterns, and promotional posters while the other side was filled with long rows of booths to yourself and it's great if you're coming to eat by yourself and prefer less human interaction.

Outside of Restaurant & Their Menu

Their menu is super customized! I like this system because you can make it customized to your liking and it's personalized. I like this system because it makes it personal and convenient. A standard bowl costs: $18.90, however if you want to add even more items here you can, but it'll just cost more which can ultimately hike up your bill to about $19.00 - $25.00 a bowl ( just warning you right now).

All of our customized our bowls to our own liking so not everything tasted the same.

Classic Tonkotsu Ramen & Shikaibicha
For me, I got the medium rich for my broth and noodle texture was firm. My thoughts? It was possibly one of the BEST bowls of ramen that I've had next to Ippudo Westside - Akamaru Modren.
The broth was very rich, porky flavor, rich, and just ultimately satisfying. The noodles were cooked just right,, but next time I'd like to try extra firm. 

I also tried their Shikaibicha - Ichiran's Original Cold Blended Tea which was very cool and refreshing.

Kikurage Mushroom & Kamadare Yakibutazara - Simmered Pork Belly with Seaweed
I also got a side order Kikurage Mushroom and the Kamadare Yakibutazara (simmered pork belly with seaweed) to share with Will. The Kikurage Mushroom was delicious and the pork belly was full of delicious fatty goodness. Loved it!

Matcha Annin Tofu
We also tried the Matcha Annin Tofu. This dessert was absolutely delicious and not overly sweet and just melts in your mouth.

Overall, I enjoyed and like the concepts here. Service is welcoming, personalized is key here, and unique. Would I be back? Yes, but in all honestly I wouldn't come here all the time because it is one of the most expensive ramen I've had. However, this classic tonkotsu ramen does stand in my book as one of the best tasting one.

P.S. - This is a no tipping establishment. There's also no soy sauce egg with the ramen.

Service: 80%Food: 95%Taste: 100%Likelihood to return: 90%

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mid-Week lunch at E Noodles Cafe

I found E Noodles Cafe on Yelp and it looked very familiar to food that Will and I had recently with his family in Flushing (we had take-out). Will and I have never been to this restaurant or knew that existed and we came here for a late lunch last month.

It's very spacious with modern decor. Customer service is top notch! The staff is friendly and helpful. I think they knew that Will and I were new customers because the waitress kindly told us their best dishes, but lucky for us I already did my research on Yelp so I knew what we could try.

Steamed Rice Noodle Rolls
You've probably saw this picture in this post, but I wanted to share that I saw this on Yelp and knew it was a must-have. I love steamed rice noodles and love it even more so when it's bathed in peanut and hoisin sauce. It's absolutely wonderful and delicious! A truly satisfying dish!

Sampan (Tengzhai) Congee & Fried Cruller
You've also probably seen this in the same post as the Steamed Rice Noodle Rolls too. Will introduced the Tengzhai Congee to me.I absolutely love it! I never knew about this congee until recently. The congee includes pork, fresh sliced fish, peanuts, fried cruller, shrimp, squid, scallops,and etc. A great food to have especially on cold, wintry days!

Soy Sauce Stir-Fried Noodle
We also ordered the Soy Sauce Stir-Fried Noodle which wasn't what I thought it would be. It wasn't the best one I've had and didn't taste like the ones I've had before. It was extremely salty and I personally wouldn't recommend ordering this item.

Overall, I enjoyed our experience at E Noodles Cafe. I plan to make a trip in the near future because I'd like to try their other dishes. This is definitely a good and quiet spot to come for brunch or lunch with family or friends. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Birthday Dinner at Longevous Joy

Longevous Joy is one of the only restaurants in Bensonhurst that serves ramen, but that doesn't mean it's the best because it isn't. I feel that Longevous Joy is cramped with any hot and trendy Japanese food you can think of that's been wildly popular the last few years - takoyaki, sushi, yakiudon, yakisoba, uni, and etc.

On the potentially one of the coldest days of last year (December 15th to be exact), we came here to have birthday dinner for my girlfriend. This was mine and Will's second visit to Longevous Joy and we were trying to remember exactly why we never returned, but the quality of the food gave us a good memory.

The restaurant isn't very big so I wouldn't recommend coming here with a big group and I am sure their occupancy level is well suited for 20-30 people max. The restaurant is also a little dark in my opinion.

So this is what we had:

We ordered the Best Seller Roll Combo (eel roll, spicy scallop roll, spicy salmon roll, and California roll). The sushi was okay, but definitely not the best I've had. I feel they all tasted the same. We got the Takoyaki as well which I thought was on par. It was moist, delicious, and just melts in your mouth. The Stuffed Squid is one of their most popular menu items and it was one of the better tasting dishes that we had all night.

Tonkotsu Charshu Ramen 
It was freezing outside so well naturally got a bowl of ramen. I'm a huge fan of Tonkotsu so that's what I ordered and strangely it was the first ramen to arrive. The ramen had everything a typical ramen would have - half egg, fish cake, bamboo shoots, scallions, corn, chashu, but the problem here is that the noodles were well done and didn't taste or feel like ramen. The broth was extremely white. I felt like I was drinking a bowl of milk or cream. Another issue was the ramen was tasteless, couldn't enjoy that pork-like taste very much.

Satay Grilled Chicken Ramen & Curry Seafood Ramen
One friend got the Satay Grilled Chicken Ramen and Will and the birthday girl got the Curry Seafood Ramen. They said their ramen wasn't very savory either. There was minimal to no flavor in the ramen and there was very light curry flavor in the ramen. 
I remember very clearly why Will and I never think of going to Longevous Joy for food. The quality of the food can use improvement. I would rather travel to East Village for delicious Japanese soul food instead and ramen with flavorless broth is heart breaking. The broth and noodles are what it's all about.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Foodie Resolutions for 2017

So, I've never set food-related goals before except for maybe openly saying "This year, I am going to cook more.". Any way, outside of food I've found that setting yearly goals gives me a sense of direction and helps me to accomplish all the random "I want to's" floating around my head. I've written my non-foodie New Year's resolutions and goals for 2017, but now it's time to write about the food-related goals I'd like to achieve.

I would like to try these food places/restaurants along with items that fellow Yelpers and friends have mentioned to try:

1. Coffee Project New York - known for their unbelievably creative coffee and latte art as well as their house specials. The item I'd like to try is: Cold Brew House Special. Huge coffee fan over here if you haven't noticed, so definitely looking forward to visiting this place.

2. Momosan Ramen & Sake - I'm a huge ramen lover and for an Iron Chef to open a ramen restaurant in New York City is pretty awesome, definitely would love to try the ramen here and hope I get lucky and see Iron Chef Morimoto.

3. Mentoku Ramen - I was suppose to try this ramen spot out with food blogger Waz from Let's Nom Nom , but didn't get around to it. However, I am still deeply interested in trying it out because they have some interesting menu items like: Matcha Ramen and Spicy Whip Cream Ramen (not that I would try it).

4. 520 Desserts - I've seen and heard a lot about this dessert spot in Flushing and definitely very interested in trying it. All the desserts look amazing, but the one that I very much would like to try is: Honeydew Shaved Ice.

5. Juicy Spot Cafe - Another dessert spot I hope to try since I am a huge ice cream fan and love unique desserts. I spotted a location in Chinatown near Mott Street, so can easily try it out when it's much warmer. I definitely want to try their Unique Dragon , Creme De Papaya, and Good Crazy Matcha.

6. The Coop - I like Korean food despite the fact that I can't really eat spicy food. Any way, The Coop seems like a laid back spot I'd like to try out simply because it's not your typical Korean dishes here and you can enjoy delicious food with a drink as well.

7. Perpetuum Cafe - I came across this cafe on a friend's Yelp page and it was noted that the lavender latte here is amazing! I guess that's what I'll be going after when I decide to visit this cafe.

8. Thai Villa - I love Thai food, but recently it depends if the food at the restaurant is good or not. I saw Thai Villa on Yelp and the decor/atmosphere caught my eye. Looks stunning and rustic, I may just consider this restaurant for my birthday dinner this year.

9. Aunt Jake's  - I found this restaurant on Yelp and it looked pretty interesting to try. I also like the communal/long table they have in the restaurant. I would probably consider coming here for date night or birthday dinner.

10. Blue Bottle Coffee - They have been on my to-try list for the longest time. The item that I most want to try is their cold brew.

11. Totto Ramen Hell's Kitchen - I been to Totto's two locations (Midtown East & Midtown West), but not Hell's Kitchen - definitely need to try Hell's Kitchen to say that I tried all three in NYC and also I'd like to see how different the service and quality is.

12. Takahaci Bakery - This bakery has been on my list forever so hopefully I can try it out this year. I've heard that their matcha menu items are absolutely delicious, so definitely need to check it out.

13. Tabata Ramen - Another restaurant on my list since forever. This restaurant actually has 2-3 locations in Manhattan already, but I think this is the original one so definitely would love to try it first. They also have a decent selection of ramen to choose from.

So far these are the food places I'd like to try by the end of this year. I am looking forward to all of the exciting food adventures that will take place this year.

Aside from this, my other foodie resolutions are:

1.I am looking to finally create a domain name for Ambitious Eats and looking to give my food blog a makeover. I also would like to incorporate more recipes, since I am always asked how to make a certain dish or item.

2. I want to be able to cook more with Will being my ultimate test bunny. Here's a list of some items I want to learn how to make:

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup - we tried this at Olive Garden and it's actually quite delicious and I want to learn how to make it. I've already purchased and have a potato ricer at hand.

Jap Chae - one of my absolute favorite Korean dishes that I love to eat and maybe it's time I learn how to make it.

Chinese Stuffed Eggplant - this is one of my favorite menu items in Chinese restaurants/bakeries so I definitely want to learn how to make it.

These are just three items I want to learn how to make, but I am sure there will be a lot more I'll be making.

What are your resolutions for 2017?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Best Things We've Ate in 2016

Happy New Year everyone! Hope 2017 is off to a good start for you!

2016 has been an amazing year! I've had the opportunity to try different restaurants and foods. I would like to share with you our yearly roundup of the best things we've ate and tried this year and where you can find it.

Ajitama Ramen - ZUNDO-YA
16. ZUNDO-YA was probably one of my favorite restaurants that I tried in 2016. The first time I went I ordered the Ajitama Ramen which contained slices of roasted pork, medium-boiled egg, scallions, seaweed and of course thick, wavy noodles bathed in Zundo-Ya's classic Tonkotsu broth. The noodles were cooked al dente which I liked very much. The combination of all the ingredients was truly delicious and vibrant.

ZUNDO-YA lets you choose the noodle type and broth richness which ranges from light, regular, rich, and super rich. I think that's pretty awesome!

Matcha Ice Cream - 321 Ice Cream Shop
15. I came to 321 Ice Cream Shop with Will and our friends after dinner in Williamsburg. Their Matcha Ice Cream is their signature flavor, so that's what I ordered. OMG, one of the best matcha desserts I've had! This was one of the most unique desserts I've had. It was soft, moist, and the green tea Kit Kat bars really added a unique aspect to the ice cream and crunch!

Prosciutto & Melon - Jamie's Italian
14. During our cruise last year, Will and I visited Jamie's Italian for dinner one night. One of the appetizers we ordered was the Prosciutto & Melon which I absolutely enjoyed. I was on a Prosciutto binge last year. The prosciutto and melon was amazing and delicious. It complemented each other very well.

Bruschetta Di Parma - Piccoli Trattoria
13. Speaking of Prosciutto? This is another appetizer I tried with Will and our friends: Bruschetta Di Parma (fig jam, Prosciutto di Parma and gorgonzola cheese on toasted bread). I fell in love with this appetizer. There's something about prosciutto and fig jam that really goes together. I was literally in prosciutto heaven when I ate it. 

The Surprisingly Green Mocktail - Doka Square
12. The first time I went to Doka Square, I got The Surprisingly Green mocktail (kiwi puree,apple juice, chrysanthemum, honey tea, mint, and Calpico). It was absolutely refreshing and I really enjoyed this. It was simply kiwi heaven.

Fettuccine alla Bolognese - Basta Pasta
11. I tried the Fettuccine alla Bolognese (homemade Fettucine with Basta Pasta original meat sauce) and I really, really enjoyed this dish. The texture of the fettuccine felt thicker and different compared to other pastas I've had before. The homemade sauce is delicious and tasted amazing!

Lobster Bisque - Island Creek Oyster Bar
11. I visited Island Creek Oyster Bar/Boston in May 2016 with Will and two friends. One of the items we ordered was the Lobster Bisque. This was hands down, the BEST lobster bisque I've had so far. It was bright, warm, and inviting and rich with lobster goodness and juices.

Banana Split - Brasserie Seoul
10. Will and I went to Brasserie Seoul in Downtown Brooklyn for our first NYC restaurant week. The dessert that I had there was truly a delight! It was a banana split (devil's food cake, caramelized banana, vanilla ice cream). Everything and all of the flavors really came together and it just tasted amazing. I love how everything is broken down and you can just taste everything one step at a time.

Earl Grey Cream Puff - Bibble & Sip
9. Bibble & Sip was one of the hottest dessert spots everyone was visiting last year and I wanted to jump on that wagon too and I did. I tried their Earl Grey Cream Puff which was pure earl grey heaven! The cream puff was flaky, soft, and absolutely delightful. The earl grey cream filling was absolute bliss. I took my sweet time eating it so I can enjoy and savor each and every bite.

Lobster Salad - Jing Fong
8. My sister had her wedding banquet at Jing Fong last November and the appetizer dish was this beautiful lobster salad. I've had a lot of different lobster salads in the last few years, but this one really stuck out to me. The lobster was delicious and cooked just right. I've always enjoyed the Asian-style lobster salad, but the design of this dish is just breathtakingly beautiful. I like that it is served individually in this serving plate/spoon.

Steamed Rice Noodle Roll - E Noodle Cafe 
7. I absolutely steamed rice noodle roll especially when it's bathed in peanut and hoisin sauce. It's absolutely wonderful. When I saw this menu item on E Noodle Cafe's Yelp, I knew instantly that Will and I had to have it when we had lunch there once and we did. We both really enjoyed it, super satisfying Hong Kong style dish.

Sampan (Tengzhai) Congee - E Noodle Cafe
6. Will introduced me to this congee and I absolutely adore it and love it. I never knew about it until now. The Sampan Congee includes pork, fresh sliced fish, peanuts, fried cruller, shrimp, squid, scallops and etc. It's a popular dish apparently. I've never been a huge fan of congee until recently, it's quite soothing and fun to eat especially on cold wintry days.

Irish Five Onion Soup - Banter Irish Bar and Kitchen
5. I've never been a huge fan of French Onion soup until some point last year. Will and I were having dinner with my sister and brother in-law in Forest Hills (they live there) and I tried Banter's Irish Five Onion Soup - filled with Irish croutons, and Swiss and Irish porter cheese. I really enjoyed the soup, perfect comfort food for a cold day and the soup wasn't oversalted which I was very happy about.

Akamaru Modern - Ippudo Westside
4. I came to Ippudo Westside with a friend and I ordered the Akamaru Modren which I absolutely enjoyed. It was warm, rich, bright, and inviting. This was truly a vibrant bowl filled with a bolder version of the original pork broth, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikkurage mushrooms, scallions, and Ippudo's secret Umami Dama pasta, and fragrant garlic oil. The pork chashu was delicious and melts-in-your-mouth texture. I had the straight ramen and it really soaked the flavors and garlic oil from the broth. Noodles were cooked al dente and to my liking!

Matcha Ice Cream - Taiyaki NYC
3. This fish cake with matcha ice cream, strawberry drizzle, rainbow sprinkles, and strawberries on top was probably one of my most favorite dessert of the entire 2016. The desserts at Taiyaki NYC are made for Instagram. I've never had any dessert like this before. I highly recommend everyone give this place a shot. The cake is moist, soft, and the custard is heaven! I am hungry just thinking about it.

Mushroom Friti - Jamie's Italian
2. Another dish that I tried at Jamie's Italian that I simply cannot forget is: Mushroom Friti. The mushroom friti contained king oyster, paris brown mushrooms coated in herby breadcrumbs and served with garlic mayo. It was insanely delicious and crunchy, pure mushroom heaven!

Classic Tonkotsu Ramen - Ichiran
1. Finally, the one item I tried during the last week of December that I truly enjoyed was the Classic Tonkotsu Ramen from one of the now hottest ramen spots: Ichiran. The restaurant only has one type of ramen, but you can customize the ramen to your own liking. I don't want to say too much as I haven't wrote a blog post yet (it's coming soon). All I can say is that the broth here is superb, but it really depends on how you like the stock and the  richness of your broth. The options I chose for my broth were spot on. The broth was delicious and savory.

As always, hope you enjoyed the list that's been put together. Last year, I definitely had a true love for matcha, prosciutto, seafood, and as always ramen. This year I intend on visiting more ramen shops and eating more bowls of ramen.