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.