Saturday, September 27, 2014

Obao - you're better off not staying

Obao is a hotspot in Midtown East for some southern Asian cuisine. Mainly run by Thai people, but make quite spot on dishes. I usually order takeout from them because it's faster and slightly cheaper (because I don't have to pay tip).

One odd summer day, my coworker and I stopped by for lunch. We were seated all the way in the back, in their garden, no worries because they have a roof for some shade. Service was extremely slow. I understand that it's the busy lunch hour but having just 3-4 staff waiting the entire restaurant is quite unacceptable.

We got our glass of water after the table next to us got their's and they came in after us. I asked for the beverage menu and a few minutes later they didn't come by again to ask me if I wanted anything. Is it me or am I expecting too much from a restaurant in midtown? Maybe I'm just too spoiled...

Obao has these lunch specials that are pretty good, they range anywhere from $8-15 and if you want an appetizer, just tag on another $3-5. If you ask me, that's one pricey lunch.

The salad was pretty standard. Nothing special or worth mentioning here.

For appetizer, I ordered the Spring Rolls. It was quite good and was already drizzled with some fish sauce over it, which I wished came separately. Nonetheless, it was crunchy and filled with a nice amount of meat and vegetables.

The Pork Belly with Chinese Broccoli is what the rave is about here. I had it once for takeout and it was amazingly good, so it just had to be better fresh out from the kitchen right? Well, to be honest it wasn't any better, it tasted just like the time I had it as takeout. Don't get me wrong, it was good but I guess I expected more. Very powerful and flavorful dish, you can really taste southern Asia in this dish, no lie.

My coworker ordered the Thin Cut Vietnamese Pork Chop and it tasted just like the ones you would get at the Vietnamese restaurants. Marinated and packed with flavor, the lime gave it a nice kick which I like.

Overall, I wouldn't dine here again. Even though the food was pretty darn good, the service was really poor. I would rather order takeout and not deal with the service and still get some kickass food.

222 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 308-5588


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cha Chan Tang - breakfast before you leave

There's not enough Chinese restaurants in Chinatown that does traditional Hong Kong breakfast. Cha Chan Tang is one to consider since it's the most spacious and eye-appealing.

J and I came in for breakfast before I had work, service wasn't the fastest but it was quite average. Just like any Americanized Chinese restaurant, they have your letterized meals and each comes with coffee or milk tea of your choice; ie. A=macaroni in soup with ham.

Something really simple like Satay Beef Instant Noodle Soup is done really well. I can always make instant noodle but satay beef is definitely something I wouldn't be willing or wanting to whip up at home out of the blue. The meal is $4, well $3 to be more accurate since a drink is usually around $1.

J got Preserved Egg w/ Pork Congee along with Soy Sauce Fried Noodles. Both of these for just $3.75 which is a really good deal.

Portion size is generous, especially when you're only one person. I'm not crazy about congee but I do really enjoy the soy sauce noodles. Combine the congee and noodles in one bite and it's quite heavenly. I always think that the congee is bland and the noodles are more on the oily and dry side, therefore they're a perfect match when ordering and eating them together.

The atmosphere of Cha Chan Tang does give you that hint of Hong Kong cafes because of the stand off-ish feel. I mean, you sit, you order, you're served, you eat, you pay, you leave. There's hardly ever any smiling or nodding or goodbyes. It's just how it works. If you ever went to Hong Kong, you'd know what I mean.

Cha Chan Tang
 45 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 577-2888

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kulu Desserts - a treat that was long awaited

A big gap formed from late December until now, no explanations really, unless you want a reason...and the reason will be I was extremely busy, with work.

I finally was able to relax after April and even then it I still have loads of work to do. The life of an accountant. J and I along with another two friends decided to invest in a day of relaxation, it was pretty much a spontaneous day. After a late lunch, we visited Kulu Desserts which has basically your average Asian desserts. Anything from bubble tea to crepes and cold/hot dessert soups.

I personally love watermelon, then again, who doesn't? The Grass Jelly and Watermelon in Coconut Juice really hit the spot. Had a nice coconut milk flavor that wasn't too overpowering, the watermelon gave a nice crunch while the grass jelly gave a nice jello-bite to the whole ensemble. It's a good choice for a hot day, especially since it's already July.

To wash everything down, J ordered our usual, Green Tea w/ Honey. It's extremely light and refreshing, has just enough sweetness from the honey but something tells me that they added a bit of simple syrup in there also.

Nonetheless, Kulu is pretty neat for a hangout spot but it gets quite cold in there with the a/c blasting. And also, there are a lot of young Asian kids hanging around. After a good 30 minutes, we felt out of place, our friend was like maybe we should've went to a bar...

Kulu Desserts
806 62nd St
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 680-2818

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cutting Board - it happened again, but for his sake

I finally took J to Cutting Board after months and month of talking about it. It just never seem to fit into our schedule and whenever we're in the neighborhood we rather eat something else. But this time, we promised each other we would go to Cutting Board after our salon appointment.

There were new things on the menu that I was told that were a must order, not to mention there were also a dish I have been wanting to try. We ended up getting 2 appetizers and 2 entrees to ourselves, leaving no room for dessert which I was totally bummed about.

I remembered the CB Mussels being really good so I had to order it for J. They sort of messed up our order of Grilled Calamari Salad and gave us Fried Calamari but they were nice enough to go back into the kitchen and gave us the right order.

The dish might look simple and plain but the calamari was delicious and the dressing worked well with the calamari and arugula. I wish they had a full entree portion of this.

J had the Ox Tongue w/ Spaghetti, huge portion with a lot of ox tongue.

The dish I have been longing to order and taste was the Uni Pasta. Why did I want to try this so badly? Because uni is uber delicious and they only charge $9 for this amazing dish. It truly was good, you can even find chunks of uni in there, portion size can actually feed two people and the pasta was cooked al-dente.

I can't get over how great Cutting Board is along with their never-ending dessert menu (which I have yet to try) that people are raving about. It's a great fusion restaurant for quality dishes that doesn't hurt your wallet.

Cutting Board
53 Bayard St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 528-0188

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Shinjuku - we are not how we once were

After being terribly disappointed with a restaurant closing down (if you must know, Bab Al Yemen is officially closed as of August 2013), J and I had to decide quickly on a place to eat. We walked past Shinjuku before and saw the all-you-can-eat sign for $19.95 and thought we'll try it out one day - that day was here.

The restaurant was quite empty and quiet when we got there, it was around 9pm already. We were asked if we wanted to do the AYCE or the regular menu. The AYCE consist of a lot of varieties, sushi, cooked dishes, skewers, soup/salads and special rolls. The waitresses give you 2 small pieces of paper to mark off what you want. The wait didn't take too long for the food to arrive at our table.

Soups were ok, a bit on the MSG side but overall it's not bad. The vegetables in mine were definitely not cooked, it was just thrown into the hot soup which I'm not a crazy fan of.

J went a little crazy and got the Tuna and Salmon Salad which were practically the same thing but with different fishes. The dressing tasted like thousand island and they added a lot of panko which then got really soggy.

Probably my favorite out of everything because it was quite crunchy, meaty and not that oily. This was worth a re-order.

J wanted sashimi and ordered one, told me some of the pieces taste like it was frozen and was thoroughly defrosted. Hahaha...can't expect much from a place in Brooklyn. The sushi was just meh, uni wasn't fresh but the sweet shrimp was alright. The handroll was massive, it's like they cut 1/3 of the avocado and just stuffed it in there.

All of the special rolls weren't special at all. Each one was filled with avocado (must be really cheap). A lot of it tasted really mushy and you can't really distinguish the fish from the avocado from the rice from the seaweed. Yes, it was that bad.

Don't think I will be returning. The quality was really poor and I really just can't see myself eating more avocados. But, if you love them, please come.

1664 Sheepshead Bay Rd
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 934-8886

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Yakiniku West - great late night bbq

So it was around 9pm, J and I were getting hungry after a few glasses of wine. We were hungry but didn't exactly want anything heavy so small plates would be perfect for us.

Yakiniku West popped into our heads because of the interesting take-off-your-shoes concept before entering into the dining rooms with the tables. Good thing I brought my flats along for easy slip-ons and offs. The tables are a lot lower than your average dining tables and you sit on the floor, but no worries, they have holes right underneath the table for leg room. Oh, and cushioned seats for your buttocks, so comfortable haha

We ordered an array of dishes (about 6 dishes plus a drink) to grill and the total of everything was less than $50, mind blown!

J was curious about this OneCup sake and when it came out I started laughing. It looked like those cup they give you at the doctors to do a #1 for a body check up. The taste on the other hand was like unfiltered house sake, I wasn't a fan.

Love me some Agedashi Tofu when I can get my hands on it. I love how light the tofu is and the dashi soy broth is just so refreshing. Pieces of tofu here are pretty big, one piece can be split into quarters while other places I can just split them in half and fit it in my mouth (that's what she said!).

The first time we had Yooke was at Takashi and it blew my mind. Ever since, J and I were on the search for the best Yooke and up until this day, Takashi is still in the #1 spot. YW's Yooke isn't bad, beef was tender and we liked that touch of cucumbers in it, but also agreed that something was missing. A flavor was lacking but we just couldn't put our hands on it.

Grilling at a Japanese restaurant is totally different than a Korean restaurant because you're not rushed. Every time I'm at a Korean restaurant, the waitress/waiter always come by and cooks the food and quickly places it on our plates. At a Japanese restaurant, you cook it yourself and get to experience it. Which is what I like about it, I can control how much I want on the grill because I like eating it piping hot and fresh off the grill.

Everything was delicious. We were given dipping sauce but some weren't really needed. Tongue was the best and next came the pork cheek but everything was excellent.

Really dig this spot because of the atmosphere, concept and decor. Great place for group get-togethers.

Yakiniku West
218 E 9th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 979-9238

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mini Express - well worthy breakfast

I find myself struggling to think of what to eat on a Sunday mornings. I usually pick up my breakfast on my way to work and sometimes it's just the regular Chinese pastry with a small coffee, cost me $1.70 total, can't beat that price.

But there are times where I want something different and maybe a bit more extravagant.

And this was definitely something I was looking for in a gourmet breakfast (as least to me). I like the whole Cantonese-style breakfast thing, where I can just choose a letter on the menu and the staffs would know exactly what I want. There are a lot of options but I went for the Sauteed Ramen Noodles in Soy Sauce, all came with toast and coffee. The best part is the price, total was just $3.25. Yes a little more than what I usually spend but I get noodles with meat and vegetables, have to treat myself sometimes.

You might think it's a heavy and oily breakfast but after nights of drinking, this is probably the best Asian hangover breakfast. I also like how their "buttered" toast are made, with sweetened condense milk, score! The place is small so if you can help it, order it to go as service is quite fast. They also have some really great items for lunch and dinner.

Mini Express
14-18 Elizabeth St, Ste 32-33
New York, NY 10013
(212) 267-0888