Tuesday, May 10, 2016

86 Hot Pot BBQ - Brooklyn, NY

It was a night to catch up with my girlfriends and what's better than to hotpot that night away. It was a chilly day in New York, so hotpot was definitely the better option. 86 Hotpot opened not to long ago and is still fairly new to the neighborhood of Bensonhurst.

It was quite empty on a Thursday night, but nonetheless, the service was pretty great. 86 Hotpot BBQ has both your regular hotpot and bbq, we only did hotpot which was $21.99 a person - not bad since it includes seafood (like mussels, clams and crab) which a lot of places don't. The interior was very modern and clean, sauce station was a bit small. The placement of the raw food that came out was on point, they didn't mix the more bloody items with the rest of the food (always a pet-peeve of mine).

At 86 Hotpot, you're given a menu with a list of food and you just mark off what you want. Very efficient and the food came out at a timely manner, which is always a good thing. One thing that might be interesting to know, if you're a party of 4 or less, you'll most likely get a big pot of broth to share whereas if you have a larger party, each person will get their individual pot.

I'd definitely recommend 86 Hotpot, it's very similar to 99 Favors. I need to come back to try the BBQ.

The spread...

Food ~ 4 out of 5
Price ~ 4 out of 5
Service ~ 5 out of 5

86 Hot Pot BBQ
2239 86th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11214

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

MarkJoseph Steakhouse - Financial District, NY

Restaurant week creeps upon us twice a year, in the blistering cold and in the scorching sun. It's always that time when J and I have a hard time deciding if we want to go to any participating restaurants and which ones.

This year, we decided to drag along 2 friends with us to a steakhouse. I mean, how can you say no to steak? I've done a good share of researching. I'm the type of person that wants to know what I'm exactly getting at a restaurant for a deal that they usually don't offer. What I mean is a lot of places would either lessen the plate of the food or just serve you something that's what you expect. I don't like surprises...in that way.

MarkJoseph was the winner for us and I gladly made the reservations.
The date we chose to eat as MarkJoseph will forever be memorable, just because the next day, NYC had the biggest snow storm in a long time. It was already snowing pretty hard when we left the restaurant. But, now back to the food.

The service was quite superb. Even dining during restaurant week, I felt like an appreciated patron. The food was amazing. Definitely the best deal we got. We started off with the thick cut Canadian Bacon and Baked Clams, both were very good. Of course, portion size was cut in half since it was restaurant week, but that's ok. Then onto the main course, we all ordered the Sirloin Steak which was 20oz each. Cooked perfectly to medium rare and served on a sizzling hot plate. The steak was so tender, add some salt or use their in-house steak sauce or nothing at all. Each steak came with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. For once, the mashed potatoes actually tasted like potatoes and wasn't covered and mixed with butter and cream, the spinach tasted like spinach and not fancied up cream that had a gloppy consistently.

Lastly, the dessert was simple yet delicious. The Mini Brownie Sundae definitely was a nice ending touch to a wonderfully satisfying meal. Oh, forgot to mention, the wine was amazing also. If you're curious, we ordered the 2011 Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserve from Tuscany, really good bang for you buck wine.

I'd go back to MarkJoseph in a heartbeat. It's hard to find a good steakhouse in NYC because there are just too many, but once you find one that you like, don't let it go, keep it in your radar.

Food ~ 4.5 out of 5
Price ~ 4 out of 5
Service ~ 4 out of 5

2011 Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserve
Thick Cut Canadian Bacon
Baked Clams
Sirloin Galore
Brownie Sundae

MarkJoseph Steakhouse
261 Water Street
New York, NY 10038

Friday, February 19, 2016

Salvation Burger - Midtown East, NY

Salvation Burger just opened recently, February 10th. Luckily, a good coworker of mine somehow stumble upon it and basically persuaded me to go. Good bye to my smoothie and salad for lunch.

Opened by the same chef as Spotted Pig, it was just a place to check out and say - "hey I've had that burger before!" Also, my coworker really really wanted to go.

They opened at 12pm for lunch, we made sure to go early. Even then we were beaten by a good 5 parties...and did I mention this place just opened like 9 days ago?!

Salvation Burger has a good amount of space, with walls lined with wine bottles, pretty neat decor. They also have a full size cocktail bar, along with communal tables, just because. My coworker and I were seated by the window, being distracted by construction workers blinging up the restaurant's exterior.

Menu was pretty basic. You got your snacks like fries or jalapeno fritters, then there's burgers and hotdogs, and last but not least, the milkshakes.

Service was a bit slow. Waited a bit over 10 minutes for the burgers, which felt like forever. When the burgers came, my eyes couldn't stop staring and literally how beautiful and simple the burger looks. It was served on a plate, nothing else around it, just the burger in its entirety. It was time.

The Salvation Burger was pretty good, patty was huge, thick I mean (that's what she said), nicely cooked to a medium rare and extremely juicy. It was simple but yet complex in its own way. I just couldn't figure out where the salt came from because they definitely didn't season the burger, maybe it was hidden in the crispy onions or maybe it was the buns or was it the taleggio cheese? Anyways, it was good and honestly worth the $25. On the other hand, the Classic Burger was your average any day burger. But, this one had two patties, house special sauce, cheese, and pickles. It was good if they were easy on the seasoning for this. I only had half the burger and even then the saltiness gradually picked up. For $17, I'd rather get the Salvation Burger. The fries started out great, but same thing with the burger, it got salty as we worked our way through it.

Nonetheless, it was a decent experience. I'd come back for the Salvation Burger, which I can count on to give me food coma.

Food ~ 3.5 out of 5
Price ~ 3 out of 5
Service ~ 3 out of 5 

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake
Salvation Burger
Classic Burger

Salvation Burger
230 E 51st Street
New York, NY 10022

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Zundo-Ya, Ramen - East Village, NY

January can be blistering cold, and ramen always seems to be the answer on those cold nights.

Tucked away on the side streets of where the infamous Ippudo is, lay a very hipster ramen joint. Zundo-Ya is the first international ramen joint opened by Tatsuya Hashimoto, he already has 19 shops in Japan.

When you walk through the door, it felt like a cafeteria. Open space and large communal tables, and to mention, it gets quite loud here. The staffs look like they came out of a Grease musical, so cheery and chipper to serve. Service can be a bit slow but nonetheless the entire experience was pleasant.

The menu was very straight forward. J and I were greedy so we decided on the Zenbunose Ramen which has all the toppings they offer, it can be hefty at $18 a bowl but I'm not eating this all the time, so I can definitely justify it. Besides the ramen bowl/flavor that you choose, there's also noodle type and broth richness you can choose. Talk about life decisions here. I had the straight noodles and J has the wavy, we both agreed on the regular richness for the broth. I'm sure we had that moment and realized that we don't want to mask the beautiful taste of the entire ramen by clogging our arteries, plus I don't think we can totally appreciate the super rich super fatty broth yet.

Alongside the ramen, we also ordered the Kaarage. I have this weird fascination with Japanese fried chicken, they're just so delicious, if made correctly. This here came with Japanese mayo and salt and pepper dip, so good. The chunks of chicken were big and juicy - that's what she said.

Onto the Zenbunose Ramen. Honestly, can words even describe it? It was absolutely worth that $18. The bowl looked very vibrant with all the different toppings, soft-boiled eggs, roast pork, garlic chips, dried seaweed, scallions, spicy oil, and bean sprouts. Plus, they give you sesame seeds, pickled ginger, and pickled cabbage on the side. Of course, we threw all those in the ramen also. The medley of all the ingredients made the broth super delicious, it had that umami flavor - indescribable but just insanely good.

I'd come back, I also don't want to recommend this place because I'm greedy. I want this all to myself and let no other know. But with all my raving, that's not going to happen.

Food ~ 5 out of 5
Price ~ 4 out of 5
Service ~ 3.5 out of 5

Additional Toppings
Japanese Beer
Zenbunose Ramen

84 East 10th St
New York, NY 10003

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Maison Premiere, Cocktail Bar - Brooklyn, NY

Oysters, cocktails, and absinthe. How can one say no?

J and I thought we were being smart by heading over to Maison at 4:15pm, happy hour time is from 4-7pm. But when we arrived, the place was already packed. The maitre d put our names down for a 5pm seating so we had to kill about an hour around the neighborhood.

We weren't able to get seats at the bar or a table. Instead, we sat at the corner, with the ledge as our table and stools as our seats. J made sure we can order oysters and be served it when sitting there since the counter space looked very limited.

The wait staff were very professional, and the cocktail connoisseurs were helpful in helping us choose the right absinthe to start the night with. Maison is one of the hot spots in Brooklyn that serves absinthe that is dripped with sugar and chilled water. Quite amazing, really.

Since it was happy hour, we ordered pretty much every oyster on the menu. They have a variety of oysters from Connecticut, Massachusetts and British Columbia Canada. Other than the oysters, they have an a la carte menu that specializes in seafood. But honestly, once you're on the oyster wagon you wouldn't want anything else.

The cocktails here are amazing, the atmosphere was so fitting. I can stay here for hours just drinking absinthe and slurping on oysters but that would probably end terribly. One thing that stood out from this amazing experience (yea, there's even better), was when J ordered the Old King Cole Martini which was stirred table-side. The set up for this cocktail was placed on this copper tray, although it might not be copper since the lighting was so dim, the waiter was literally the table that held up the tray and the connoisseur started his performance. He explained the liquor that was being placed into the mixer and how many parts of each. It was nice. What's even nicer? The olives was served separately and when you're ready you can place it on the martini or you can just munch on it without having it soak up the cocktail. I have to say, the olives were good and I hate olives. This definitely might be a turning point for me.

Food ~ 5 out of 5
Price ~ 4 out of 5
Service ~ 5 out of 5

Happy Hour Menu
Absinthe Selections
Vilya Absinthe Verte
The Great Bambino
Endless Oysters - so delicious
American Pharoah
Old King Cole Martini
The making of Old King Cole Martini

Maison Premiere
298 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ganso, Ramen Bar - Brooklyn, NY

A good ramen shop is hard to find, let alone trying to find one in Brooklyn.

It was one of those nights where J was craving for ramen and I refuse to head out into the city, so we were left with limited options in Brooklyn. After minutes of deliberation, we chose Ganso. It was on my radar, but back like 2-3 years ago, and to be honest, I don't even remember why I wanted to go there.

The ramen shop was quite large, more spacious than your average traditional ramen joints. The place was very modern and chic, with random Japanese posters all over the walls. I chose to sit at the booth, nice secluded seats to be away from people and you don't have to worry about speaking over or under people's voices.

We ordered two appetizers and then our own bowl of noodles.
The Braised Short Rib Buns were served first. It felt very underwhelming when I bit into it, the bun was filled with shredded scallions to a point of which it should be just known as the scallion bun, the miso-mustard glaze was barely there, the taste of the beef short rib was bland, I couldn't find a thing about the bun that was good...maybe the bun itself?
The Japanese Fried Chicken on the other hand was a different story. When it was placed on our table, I literally just stared because it was the least eye-appealing fried chicken I've seen. The pieces were small and oddly shape. At first taste, the chicken were extremely over-seasoned and salty. But, dip it in the yuzu-mayo sauce and it turned into a perfect little morsel of goodness. That literally made me do a 360.

After finishing the appetizers, which I rather go on and on because I was enjoying the Japanese crafted beers with it. This is one of the few ramen shops that carry a variety of Japanese crafted beers. Their menu on it is quite descriptive, so you'll definitely be able to pick on to your liking; bottled or draft.

The ramen was bomb. I honestly wasn't expecting much but I was glad I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought. The Spicy Soboro Miso ramen had a kick-ass spicy miso broth which was addicting. The chili was ground and mixed in with the miso paste which gave the broth a really different and special taste. Noodles were bouncy, al dente and also a lot. J's Tori Shio ramen was good also, opposite spectrum from mine. His had a more clearer broth, very flavorful and oil-less; it's like a Japanese version of mom's chicken soup.

Food ~ 4 out of 5
Price ~ 3.5 out of 5
Service ~ 3.5 out of 5

Japanese Crafted Beers

Japanese Fried Chicken

Beef Short Ribs Bun

Spicy Saboro Miso Ramen

Tori Shio Ramen

Ganso Ramen
25 Bond St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Being Back

I admit I had been on a long hiatus and I didn't have the motivation to blog about anything. It was a time where I was conflicted, lazy and lost interest.

But after thinking about it weeks and weeks, I did realize that I did want to do this. It's a passion, and I believe I do still feel it. Being able to eat and experience new cuisine and share it is quite a blessing, either for my own reference or for those that are curious and willing to learn.

Catching up is going to be a bit difficult, I've been to a lot of places since October of last year and all worthy of sharing; whether it be something out of this world, average, or merely sub-par.

Let 2016 be something different. And hopefully, something more.