Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dessert Works: Buttercup Bake Shop

It's dangerous how close Buttercup Bake Shop is to my office. Ever since my firm introduced me to the cupcakes they offer, I fell in love. I rarely like sweets, especially cupcakes because I think they're overly sweetened. But there is one from them that I absolutely love, probably mention it in another post. Besides cupcakes, they do sell cakes, cookies, bars and hot/cold drinks.

Brownie with Walnuts.
I was craving for a brownie one rainy day and I never usually do. I'm not a big fan of chocolate sweets but I have my moments, odd moments. My coworker and I walked over to Buttercup and load and behold the sweet scent. I ended up getting one with nuts because I always love a crunch to my food, wouldn't want a chocolate overkill.

It was satisfying, I only had half because consuming the whole would overwork my taste buds. The outside was crunchy and soft and moist on the inside, something I wouldn't expect judging by the looks of it. Not bad for a brownie, or not bad for a person that usually doesn't eat brownies.

Buttercup Bake Shop
973 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 350-4144

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mermaid Inn - 2nd Ave

Having ate at the Mermaid Inn on MacDougal Street, it was time J and I headed to the east side and pay a visit to the other Mermaid Inn. Hoping we would be able to get a seat outside, but was quickly disappointed when we saw all the seats are taken. We were lead into a backroom which is pretty large and carry on our dinner.

Dark and Stormier

Rose Wine
Mermaid Inn's menu isn't big but it pretty troubling when you have an array of seafood choices place in front of you and you have to choose. We ordered a ginormous appetizer and just shared an entree together, simple. I'm so glad we weren't in our greedy mode.

Butter and cracker to start. There's actually really little butter in that holder.

Grand Platter.
Variety of oysters, clams, shrimp cockatil, chilled lobster and tuna crudo (which should've just been named tuna ceviche). The clams were really plump and full of meat, must be the season. The tuna crudo was also nice, like I said, it should've been named ceviche because there was lime juice in the mix. Crudo usually consist of sea salt and olive oil when it comes to mind.

Lobster Knuckle "Escargot".
As ever, J and I got suckered into this dish because of the word escargot. Quite a disappointing dish.

Blackened Catfish.
Deliciously seared catfish with hush puppies, collard greens and crawfish butter sauce. Amazing dish done right.

Mac and Cheese.
Definitely feeling for some mac and cheese. Ever since I had my first, I can't stop eating them. Maybe it was the cafeteria/public school ones that was so off-putting.

Chocolate Mousse - on the house.
I remember the fortune teller fish. This time mine actually flew off my hand, so I have no idea what they means. They have an indicator on the back of the fortune teller slip.

Nothing better than free dessert. Not the best but beggars can't be choosers.

Mermaid Inn
96 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 674-5870

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spot Dessert Bar

Being the crazy couple that J and I are, we somehow landed upon Spot Dessert Bar and decided to do the omakase. Thinking and probably hoping that by doing the omakase, the dishes would be smaller but somehow I really doubted it.

I really didn't know what came over us, but we did it and it was overly painful towards the end because we had a sugar coma. We pretty much tried every dessert in one sitting, never again... never, never, never again.

In no particular order, we had the following --

Yuzu Eskimo

Green Tearamisu

Smoked Coconut Cheesecake

Thai Tea Creme Brulee

Kabocha Brulee Cake

Soft Cheesecake

White Miso Semifreddo

There was only one plate that stood out to me which I absolutely loved. It was the Kabocha Brulee Cake, reminds me of pumpkin/carrot cake. The others didn't work for me, the mixture of different flavors were just off-putting and didn't work together.

After supposedly 8 plates of murderous sweet, we had to order a drink and decided on something cold and light.

Calamansi Honey Thai Tea

Amazingly refreshing and knocked out all the sweetness in my mouth. I would come back, but not for the omakase. Although I don't know how soon I'll return since it was sort of traumatizing?

Spot Dessert Bar
13 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-5670

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ninja New York

The past weekend was a friend's birthday and she (well her husband) booked a whole section of the place for a party of 24 people. I loved how we dominated the entire area.

My other friend needed to use the restroom so she and I went down into the restaurant first, yes, it's underground. Once out of the elevators, we had to walk thru complete darkness. Well, maybe not completely but it was dark and there were small steps which you have to watch out for. Opening another set of doors will bring you to the restaurant where all the tables and seats are, and to hype it up, they yell "HAI-YA" out of nowhere at no particular time or place.

Before eating, since some people haven't arrived yet, my table started ordering drink... specifically cocktails. We literally tried all the cocktails that were on their menu, they probably loved us.






All of them looked so pretty but I did have two favorites, the Rin and the Zai. Rin was more on the girly side, citrus-y fruity while the Zai was more refreshing and masculine. 
Because we had such a large party, everyone had to order from their prix fixe menu. J and I shared the Hanzou which consist of the following --

Batto Jutsu
A plate of duck pate and rock shrimp in yuzu sauce with a light vinaigrette salad. I loved the shrimp, I wish I wasn't sharing this... The duck pate would've worked great with some toast.

Hot Artichoke Dip
Another favorite of mine. More on the cheesy side but it's so good. You get bits and chunks of artichoke. Here, I wish they gave more bread.

Kataplana Hot Pot
 A pot filled with clams, mussels, seasonal fish and some potato in a Portuguese style broth. Again, bread please!

Angus Ribeye Steak
Cooked medium rare, just the way J and I like it. There was also a compound of urchin butter slapped right on top along with some fried garlic. The garlic had the texture of potatoes with just a hint of garlic essence. The steak was alright, nothing too phenomenal though.

Chocolate Cake w/ Raspberry Sorbet
Finally, the dessert. Wasn't so thrilled about the sorbet but the chocolate cake, well the middle section was really good. Mousse texture which reminds me of Three Musketeer Chocolate Bar, so nommy.

Since J and I sat at the table with friends, we literally took a bite from others and it also gave me a chance to snap away. Some dishes were presented really nicely but taste otherwise.

Caesar Salad

Creamy Crab Cake

Miso Salmon

Stew in a Stone
Overall, the meal and company was excellent. Would I come back? I'll have to think about it. The food is a hit or miss, it's really all about the experience that you're going to get here. Random ninja's bouncing out of nowhere trying to scare you with retractable knives. It's even better when the waiter aka ninja lend you their knives to scare your friends. Pretty awesome.

Ninja Star Martini
Can't forget about this drink. One of my friends ordered it, pretty sure he was out of it after chugging the last half of the drink before we left. No idea what's in it and shame on us for not asking. The description says "Mysterious Black Potion," I caught me off guard that it actually was served... black. But, it tasted good. Do you dare to try it?

Ninja New York
25 Hudson St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 274-8500

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hakata Ton Ton - Revisit

A revisit worthwhile.

Hakata is a place that requires reservations, unless you're the uber lucky type. If you're interested in my first visit, take a look here.

So, jumping right into it. There were two items that I definitely wanted again and for the rest, it was fairly new.

Kitaya Ai No Hime

Kitaya Ai No Hime (Beni)
J was interested in trying the blue and pink sake. I was just amazed at how pretty it looks. I really wanted to like the pink one but the blue actually won me over because it was a lot smoother and sweeter with no weird after taste. The pink had a bit of a tart to it which I'm going to pass.

Hakata Mojito
One of my favorite drink from HTT was their mojito. Definitely different than the usual ones because this one tasted sweet, which I looove.

Atlantic Salmon Carpaccio
Another favorite of mine. Very refreshing but you can still taste the salmon, that under the water seafood scent and taste just lingers with each bite.

Japanese Veal Liver Sashimi
This was an interesting dish, similar to the seared one in my previous visit. This came with two sauce, a sesame oil based and a soy based. I prefer the soy based because I like salty sauces... the sesame one was way too oily for me. The liver sashimi is very close to cooked liver, but it has a much more bouncier texture, also a lot chewier. It still has that gamey and irony affect though.

Himi's Famous Homemade Gyoza
Moving on to something that's not raw. The gyoza was quite an eye-opener. The gyozas that I ever had had always been the wrap enclosing the filling. But for this, they left each end opened... pretty neat. The dish also came out piping hot and oil splattering everywhere, it hurts! But it was good. J was having trouble keeping the meat inside the dumpling wrap, it was too hilarious watching him eat.

Onto the main course.
We were too amazed by the massive pot placed in front of us that I totally forgot to take a photo of it before we ate it. The photo above (which was taken at my last visit) is very similar if not the same as what we had. We ordered the Hakata Ton Ton Hotpot for two, it consist of collagen broth, tofu, dumplings, vegetables, pork belly, and tonsoku (pig's feet). The broth is amazing, a lot better than last time. There was a lot more flavor and wasn't as salty. I can eat this all week long. One down side, we had to wait 20 minutes for the pot to boil so everything would be cooked, but it was so worth it!

We also ordered ramen to finish up the delicious broth, good thing this didn't take 20 minutes. It's just regular packaged ramen but it was the broth that made it oh-so-awesome.

I love the idea of hotpot and then putting in noodles afterwards to finish up the meal. I love noodles and this is like a happy ending gone totally right. Although, I do suggest going here in the winter since it does get a bit warm inside when you start boiling away.

Hakata Ton Ton
61 Grove St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 242-3699

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Underground Lounge

One of my coworkers was going to play live at The Underground Lounge, I definitely wasn't going to miss it so I joined my other coworkers and trekked to the upper west side.

The lounge/bar is literally underground, well half up and half down. The stairs are tricky, I was thinking how many people actually tripped going up the stairs when they leave. The live music starts at 7pm so we stay by the bar to order some drinks and food first.

X-Rated Kiss
One of the better cocktails that I've had. It taste extremely girly and quite strong also.

Hard Cider
My dear coworker ordered Hard Cider which was just apple cider with just a teensy bit of alcohol content in it.

BBQ Chicken Wings

The chicken wings were alright, nothing really special about it. Although I did wish there was more because it wasn't enough to hit the spot.

Fish Tacos

After having fish tacos at Blockheads for the first time, I fell in love with fish tacos in general. Wherever I see it, I would want to get it. Glad we got to try the Mahi Mahi here beacuse they steamed the fish and the flavor of the fish is still there. Love the mango and pineapple in the mini tacos.

After finishing those two dishes, the live room was open for us to take a seat and get comfortable. It's not a huge place but it's definitely cozy. We continued to order food because we're still hungry. The food took a while to come once we migrated into the bigger room. But the quality doesn't fail to deliver.

Margherita Rustic Pizzette
One of the best pizza I've had. It was fresh and the toppings were just right, the crust was crunchy like a flatbread. I would just go back for the pizza and a drink, it's so good.

Cheeseburger Sliders
The sliders were mediocre, nothing fantanstic about it. It was a bit on the dry side, maybe we needed ketchup...

Muchos Nachos
The nachos were massive but then it started to get soggy in the middle. No beuno. I rather have the toppings on the side so I can just dip into it.
As the night progresses I got another drink --

Cuban Mojito Highball
It wasn't so great. I prefer the X-Rated Kiss a lot more. The mojito lacked flavor, there was a lot of mint but I tasted no alcohol, like it was filled mostly of water. What a disappointment.

The highlight of the bar/lounge was definitely the X-Rated Kiss, pizzette, and the live entertainment my coworker provided us. It was a very mellow night which was great for some relaxing time.

The Underground Lounge
955 W End Ave
New York, NY 10025
(212) 531-4759