Friday, June 26, 2015

East Village - Spina

I love Spina's tasting menu and they usually have different ones during the year. So when they had a special tasting menu for Valentine's Day, my boyfriend made sure to secure a reservation spot.

We've dined here before so there wasn't anything new except for the menu itself.

We got seated and as always, was given fresh focaccia bread and house-made ricotta cheese.

Started off with the Amuse Bouche, it was interesting and delightful. What we did not enjoy were the oysters. They were frozen, still covered in ice when served. Extremely poor dish. I'm surprised it was even served.

The appetizers were alright. The Winter Salad tasted light a ball of shredded lettuce, not much flavor or texture going around, very bland. The Lobster Risotto was a bit better, had chunks of lobster and the risotto was creamy.

I thought the American Red Snapper was done pretty well. The entire entree as a whole was executed nicely. On the other hand, the Spice Rubbed Filet Mignon was kind of a mess. Too much going on in that dish, spinach, mashed potato, crispy onion and sauce - it was too overwhelming and the taste was kind of confusing.

Dessert was subpar. I honestly expected more but both dishes were simple and tasted no different if I were to make it at home. Feels like they stopped trying.

Overall, I always loved Spina but this meal was one of the worse I've had. And sadly to say, Spina had closed down as of May 2015. Don't think I'll ever get the chance of eating there again.

Spina Restaurant - CLOSED
175 Ave B
New York, NY 10009
(212) 253-2250

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Midtown East - Totto Ramen

Totto Ramen opened another location not too long ago. My coworkers and I decided to check it out since it was dead of winter when we went (I know, this post is long overdue). During lunch hours in the winter, the wait can be anywhere from 15 to 45 minute wait but if you're by yourself, it might just be quicker.

There is a lot more seatings at this location compared to the west side. Service was quick and the staffs were crazy busy.

The Spicy Ramen was good, nice and hearty for the winter. Noodles were cooked nicely which is always a deal breaker when it comes to good/bad ramen joints. You get a choice between pork or chicken, I do recommend the pork since the chicken is quite dry. One thing I wished they did more for the pork was seared it to give it that crisp texture.

Besides being very well known for their Spicy Ramen, their Paitan Ramen is pretty good also. For those non-spicy lovers, this bowl is for you. Broth was creamy and filled with onions, tasted extremely home-y.

They have an array of topping options, all with additional price of course. I usually get their boiled egg which is boiled to perfection, the yolk is still runny when it's being served to you.

I find myself coming here a lot since it's a nice quick fix, can be a bit pricey at times. A bowl can run me anywhere between $12-15, but I love to indulge once in a while.

Totto Ramen
248 E 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 421-0052

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dominique Ansel - The Cronut

First off, I'm finally writing again after what seems like 1000000000+ years.

Another exciting news (well, for me), I finally tried that darn cronut people have been raving and crazin' about since 2013. The effect?

I have to say, DA knows how to package. But honestly, such a big box for a cronut, was it really necessary? The cronut keeps sliding all over the place even when you pick up the box.

The month's special was Matcha Golden Pineapple. The look of the cronut was very tantalizing which is probably why everyone is willing to stand on line to get or order it in advance. The idea of a cronut and how it visually looks is enough advertisement in itself.

Don't shoot me...
But, I wasn't amazed by this. Period. You can indeed see the layers of pastry inside the cronut but it wasn't exactly flaky, it was more dough-y. I'm guessing it's because of the filling that might have soften the inside. Yes, I like the idea and the flavors worked really nicely but it's honestly no different than a croissant and just slabbing on some jam. I've had other cronuts before and really wanted to try DA's before comparing and now I can!

Well, DA's cronut isn't the best. The only thing that makes it special is the different flavor and taste combinations they come up with each month. But if you're fine with just vanilla or chocolate, get it elsewhere, it's not worth the wait or the headache of online ordering.

Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-2773

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