Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Weekday Lunch: Bamiyan

Met up with J for lunch and he took me to an Afghan restaurant. I've never tried Afghan food before so I was not against it, actually I was a bit excited.

We got to the restaurant around 1:30 and there wasn't much people at all. We decided to sit on the cushioned sofa seats by the window to get the full experience. Note: you have to take off your shoes so if you don't feel comfortable with that then opt for the other tables.

We ended up getting the Special for 2 which consist of salad, bread, appetizer, and two entrees. Surely, we got that deal.

Afghan Salad
Very refreshing salad. It's a yogurt sauce with also a red sauce on top, taste delicious. The yogurt sauce is very much like ranch dressing.

Afghan Bread
I wish I had more! It's so soft and light. I used it to dip the salad dressing.

Sambusa Appetizer
It's very much like Indian samosa. We had the ground beef with chick peas. Very well flavored, the yogurt sauce was light and gave the Sambusa a moist surrounding.

Lowand Chalow

Chicken in a dill and tarragon sauce and a full plate of white basmati rice. I love the rice, so light and fluffy - pillow-y fluffy! I can eat this rice all day. The chicken in dill and tarragon is amazing also. It might look like curry but has absolutely no curry flavor at all. The chicken was moist on the outside but once you bite into it, it's pretty dry. I would've been happy with just the sauce.

Morgh Kabob
A really light dish. Cubes of chicken breast grilled with basmati rice. I seriously love this rice. Anyways, the chicken here is a bit bland but if you mix this chicken with the tarragon and dill sauce, it is truly perfect. By the way, I actually really like the onions with dishes like this... weird.

Overall, lovely restaurant that makes great food. Never thought Afghan food was this tasty and enjoyable. I'm definitely coming back!

358 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016
(212) 481-3232

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tianjin Xianbing

I found this little shop on Yelp and was surprised at how close it was to all the times I've been to Flushing. I probably walked passed it a dozen times and never realized. Tianjin Xianbing is part of the Golden Mall on Main Street in Flushing, Queens. I often go to Flushing for the quality of the food they offer there.

Beef Roll, is what they called it. I tried saying beef wrap, beef cake, yea I was a total fail. The menu here is all in Chinese, so it's either best to have a friend that can read or just look around until you find something that appeals to you. I saw this roll on yelp and thought instantly that I need to try it. Luckily, my Chinese reading skills kicked in in a pretty good time.

The Beef Roll consist of stew beef which is packed with flavor, using a scallion pancake to roll it up is pretty genius. One thing though, this snack is an overkill in oil. J and I got to the bottom of the roll and shook our head. Ended up throwing away about an inch of the roll, a waste but it's better than clogging up our arteries. It's a tasty treat, until you reached the bottom...

Tianjin Xianbing
41-28 Main St, D1
Queens, NY 11355
(212) 518-1952 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Robataya NY

When I stepped foot into this restaurant, I was amazed and also overwhelmed.

J wanted us to sit by the bar where the performance and cooking all comes together but all the seats were reserved. So, we ended up getting seated in the backroom where there are 20+ tables and waiters to serve us. Not a total bummer because the place is actually pretty nice. The decor was homey, in a Japanese sense.

The menu was pretty simple. A lot of their dishes were grilled with suzu salt, a salt that is imported all the way from Japan. They had a wide variety of sake and alcohol drinks. The restaurant really came off as a civilized place where you can drink and feast on some small dishes of snacks throughout the night. Be warned, this place is about quality and not quantity. So, if you want to spend less and be full, I suggest you walk right out the door and treat yourself to a ramen bowl instead.

Uni Kobu Yaki
I never had cooked sea urchin before but this didn't really please me. It had a fishy seafood taste when cooked and I didn't really enjoy this much. I'm glad J did, cause he was going to end up eating the entire thing anyways. Man, I'm evil.

Wagyu Fillet Mignon
It's a small dish, sliced into 4 pieces. But it taste so amazing. You're probably thinking, it's just beef. It is, but it's quality beef that just melts in your mouth. Hence it cost $15 for only 4 small slices.

Oyster Kamameshi
Kamameshi was just rice in a pot. It's very similar to the Chinese's rice in a clay pot. The rice for this dish was very soft and had a slight sticky chewy texture to it (I love that of Japanese rice!). Nothing so special, just rice and cooked oyster. It was really bland, so J and I had to end up pouring soy sauce into our rice...

Grilled Sweet Fish
That fish looks small and scary, just like piranhas. The meat has a slight sweetness to it but if you don't really savor the taste, then you won't be able to tell at all. Just to let you guys know, all the entrails of the fish has not been removed. Avoid the dark/black areas because it was so bitter. Yea, I tried it...

Grilled Skate Wing
My most favorite dish of the night. I love skate. Let it be dried, grilled, fried, however it's made - I'll eat it. It's actually fun to eat also. The meat comes off in strips because of the cartilage that separates it. YUM!

Green Tea with Rice Cakes
Extremely refreshing and also really simple to make. The rice cakes are just mochi balls in matcha green tea with a scoop of green tea ice cream. Not bad, but not that great also.

This experience was just mediocre - maybe it's because we didn't get to sit in the front by the bar. Also another reason for us to go back would be that. I like my food to be handed to me with a paddle.

Robataya NY
231 E 9th St 
New York, NY 10003
(212) 979-9674 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Recipe: Bacon & Eggs over Pasta

I like eggs. I like bacon. And I feeling for some pasta.

So, why not whip something that incorporates all of that? I sure ended up doing that.

- spaghetti (any pasta you prefer)
- eggs
- bacon
- fried dried onions
- salt
- pepper
- Italian seasoning
- garlic powder
- oil

I didn't notice how little the ingredients were until I took a photo of it and it looks so simple. I'm determine to add more ingredients next time.

I started with dicing up my bacon into small pieces. I cooked them on a pan over low heat until they're crispy brown. It feels a lot like mini frying them. The aroma of the bacon literally filled up the room instantly!

That's how crispy and brown it should look afterward. If you don't like it crispy, then feel free to cook it just enough that it's not raw.

In the meantime, I just threw some spaghetti in a pot to let it cook. I only cook for one person (myself) so you can adjust accordingly to how many people you're feeding.

While the spaghetti is cooking, in the same pan where you cooked the bacon add 2 eggs and just fry them. Don't scramble your eggs.

When your pasta is fulling cooked, add them to the eggs and start tossing to coat the pasta with the eggs. Add the Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste.

Place the spaghetti on a dish.

Remember the bowl with the bacon?
Add some fried dried onion to it. This can be fold in any Asian supermarket and comes in handy for great flavoring.

Finally, place the bacon and onion on top of the spaghetti and you're ready to eat.

I love a good pan fried egg, and bacon is always good. It's a quick pasta dish that you can make, gives a bit of a homey brunch feeling.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I came here with J on my birthday. I would never had guessed it.

We knew about this place thanks to Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations. He had an episode where he was eating bone marrow and it looked so drool worthy. I attempted to make reservations for Prune but failed because the times they offered didn't fit into my schedule. J was just so lucky this time.

The restaurant is small but it doesn't mean it's not friendly.

Rose Wine
Fried Chickpeas
I don't think I ever had chickpeas like this before, it's usually in a falafel when I eat it. This was certainly an eye opener since it's so light and crisped. The complimentary dish was delightful and the small dish of salt was perfect for J.

Serrano Ham
We didn't originally order this, but after seeing people order it and it being swayed around in front of our faces we had to get it. The rack of ham was on the counter of the kitchen which is always a good sight. The lime with the ham is the best part, trust me!

Roasted Bone Marrow

The reason why we came. The marrow was so fatty and gelatinous. It felt like a sin to be eating this but I rather go to hell being once satisfied than never. The tasted bread with marrow and a dash of sea salt was amazing, and if that was great enough, throw a piece of parsley in your mouth and you're in bliss heaven.

Grilled Quail
J's dish which was cooked perfectly. I mean I never had quail made so right. Juicy and tender, and the bed of greens went so well with it.

Suckling Pig
My dish wasn't bad at all, I really like the meat. So soft and filled with flavor. The crispy skin was the highlight, I gave it to J since he love fried skin.

Ended with a drinking dessert. I'm not sure what the name of this was but it was so foam-y good. The flavor was lemon with lemon vodka, the texture of the dessert was a cross between ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. So good!

Cherries to cleanse your palate.
It's a great homey restaurant that can satisfy your hungry. Majority of the dishes are types where you would make at home but they give a little twist and showcase it in a fancy way. Either way, the food here is quite spectacular. I wouldn't go anywhere else for my birthday.

54 E 1st St 
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-6221

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weekday Lunch: Potbelly

Flipping through my AM New York this morning, I found that Potbelly just opened not too long ago around the FiDi area. A win situation since I've been feeling for a good sandwich. I heard they always had long lines and the setup of the place is pretty much like Subway.

Surely when I got there, the line was out the door and it was only 12pm. Go figure, I had to get my lunch when it's lunchtime for literally all of FiDi. The line moves rather quickly which is always a good thing. A couple of steps through the door, there's a person ready to take your order. As you get closer to the counter, you can grab your cookie or chips. There's one guy behind the counter than directs the customer to a staff that ask you what kind of vegetables you like in your sandwich. I think it's very well organized.

Doesn't look too big/long but it's a satisfying sandwich.

I got the Wreck on wheat bread which consist of Salami, Roast Beef, Ham, and Turkey with Swiss Cheese. Amazing combo of meats, I added lettuce, tomato, pickles, and Italian seasoning. One of the best simple sandwiches I had in a long time. By far a lot better than Subway.

I don't know why but I got their cookie also. Bigger than my IPhone! Totally worth it, it's not chewy or hard. Perfect for the teeth. I smell success from Potbelly!

101 Maiden Ln
New York, NY 10038
(646) 289-4201 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Habana To-Go: Grilled Corn

I love a good snack in the summer since it's too hot to eat anything. J and I love getting Mexican Grilled Corn from Cafe Habana since they make it so right. The wait can be a little long but it's totally worth it.

We always get it to go since nothing beats walking in the streets and eating grilled corn. To me, it's more like a street food and it's great when people start staring at you and ask you where did you get that delicious corn.

A decent ear of corn, sweet all the time, gets grilled to perfection and covered in cheese, Mexican spices, and to top that off - a wedge of lime. The flavors are so intense and flavorful that you wish you had ordered a second one. Definitely one of the summer street snacks that never fails us.

Habana To-Go
229 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 625-2002  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recipe: Gỏi Cuốn (Summer Rolls)

I always like food that doesn't require much cooking because truthfully, I don't like cleaning pots and pans. I've been exposed to a lot of Vietnamese dishes since I was a little girl. One of the great light and fresh dish would be Gỏi Cuốn, a summer-y roll that can be eaten at any time. It can also be considered on the healthy side since there's a lot of veggies and nothing is fried or drenched in oil.

- a pack of Rice Paper
- shredded lettice
- boil or pan-fried shrimp (sliced in half)
- cooked vermicelli
- any mints or herbs you like

The mints and herbs are optional since a lot of people have different opinions on them but they do give the roll a nice touch to it. The rice papers need to be dunk into lukewarm water so it can be soften and easy to wrap. If you notice in the following step-by-step photos that there is an extra small triangle rice paper in the middle, don't fret. It actually helps give the roll a bit more support since sometimes one piece of rice paper might rip and 2 whole piece will make the roll too chewy.

Starting with the rice paper, after you dipped it in water, lay it flat down. Put lettuce just a tad bit under the center of the circle.

Next add some vermicelli. You want to be generous with the amounts of each item you put in because you also have to keep in mind, the more you put the bigger the possibility of it exploding.

Adding in my mints, Thai basil, and other Asian herbs.

Three shrimps right above that layer of greenness, you can do 4 if you like.

The wrapping action speaks for itself.
Fold the left and right side towards the center and then from the bottom up, start rolling and wrapping.

The finished product. It's not the best looking Gỏi Cuốn in the world but it taste no different than the ones you order in restaurants and it's so easy to make. Gỏi Cuốn tends to taste bland since there isn't much flavor in them, the main star would be the dipping sauce. You can either choose the peanut sauce or the traditional nước mắm aka fish sauce.

Would you give this a shot?