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.