Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hong Kong: - Tai Hing "Fast Food"

What Hong Kong-ers call fast food is totally different than the states. We usually consider burgers and fries fast food because they're quick, easy, and can be consume on the go. HK's fast food is quick also, the process of ordering and arrival can take less than 5 minutes, pretty close to the wait at McDonald's for a Big Mac. But instead of a messy burger, I can pretty much get a gourmet meal and be seated (and no top required).

These fast food like cafes are really popular in HK, so don't be surprise to see it packed with people. You have to look through the menu quick, they usually have specials that are pretty cheap and includes a drink (score!).

At Tai Hing (太興) J and I ordered the hot and iced Milk Tea (奶茶) because we were curious. And plus, because his uncle said they had the best milk tea...

The Hot Milk Tea was nothing special, though it desperately needed sugar.

Ah...their well-known Iced Milk Tea that is kept in a bowl with ice around it. Clever way to keep the milk tea cold but doesn't dilute the flavor. Because of that, it tasted really strong which I don't like. J on the other hand prefers this much more.

I had this delicious thin rice noodles sauteed with beef, bean sprouts and green onions. Classic dish in HK, aka 干炒牛河. I never usually order it here in NYC just because it looks like the noodles are swimming in oil and there isn't much flavor. But having it in HK is totally different, everything just taste better there. I kid you not.

J's had the 8 Precious Rice (八寶飯), this was a first. I only see 3 in the states, but 8 different kinds of ingredients totally caught our eyes, especially J's. The meal was extremely satisfying and everything was excellent. This is some good fast food, I'd eat this every time someone ask me to go out for fast food.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dassara Brooklyn Ramen - Disappointment comes with a well worth price

Dassara was on Serious Eats and totally got J and my attention when they featured their infamous Deli Ramen. But I was pretty disappointed...

We got greeted right when we got through the door and got seated right away, no need to wait here. Our waiter was extremely friendly and ended up making one of our dish complimentary because it came late. Excellent service!

I knew J wanted to try the Tendon Tots ($8) because it was something out of the ordinary and the name was quite appealing. The dish contained only 6 pieces of tots, tendon that was deep-fried and paired with a "coke" sauce. It wasn't anything special, crunchy on the outside and gelatinous ont he inside.

This was my favorite dish and also the one that became complimentary, which made it taste even better! This Winter Chicory Salad ($10) had a lot going on in the dish but everything worked so well with each other. I thought the tofu croutons was a genius idea and a pouched egg in a salad, now that's a first.

My Deli Ramen ($15) which wasn't worth the price at all. I would save that $15 and spend it on another Winter Chicory Salad. The ramen was very plain with only 2 thin pieces of pastrami from Mile End, 3 mini matzo balls, a pouched egg, a few bamboo shoots and a ton of scallions. Even though everything was a thumbs down for me, the noodles was very good. Cooked perfectly al-dente, the wavy noodles were the best part.

J's Curried Goat & Bone Marrow Mazeman ($14) was the bomb! So aromatic and delicious. This bowl didn't have much broth which is perfectly fine because it tasted even better like that. This is a must order for Dassara.

So, screw the Deli Ramen and get everything else on the menu. Trust me, you won't regret it. Getting the Deli Ramen will be regretful.

Dassara Brooklyn Ramen
271 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 643-0781

Monday, January 21, 2013

Restaurant Week: Brasserie Ruhlmann

J's friend decided to make reservation for Brasserie Ruhlmann, I didn't know about it until after the reservations were made. To say the least, I wasn't that thrilled about this meal. But nonetheless, I tried to enjoy it since it's right in the center of Rockefeller Center.

We came a bit earlier than our reservation but got seated anyways. The service here was pretty dam great.

Complimentary Bacon Poppers, not bad but not so great either.

Bread came also, which wasn't that bad. The butter was a bit bland but very creamy, wish I had some salt on the table for the butter.

Since the menu had 3 appetizers, 3 entrees and 3 desserts to chose from. We thought of getting all of them and just share it among each other but our waiter said one of the entree wasn't worth getting and somehow persuaded J's friend to order the same thing as J...

Starting with appetizers, there was the Mushroom Veloute, Winter Squash Risotto and the Asparagus & Bucheron Salad. The salad was the lightest whereas the soup and the risotto was very heavy in taste and felt overly seasoned.

Entree came right after our plates of appetizer were taken away. I had the Free Range Chicken Fricassee (left) while the others had the Braised Short Rib (right). The short rib was too sweet for my liking but I did enjoy my chicken. Still a bit salty but not too bad.

The moment we were waiting for, the menu on the website stated they would have the Passion Fruit Crepe Souffle but instead it was replaced by something else! Extremely disappointed. From the left going clockwise, Banana Tart & Maple Sauce, Bittersweet Chocolat Pudding and Winter Fruit Panacota. None of the dessert stood out which made it just a mediocre meal.

We did get some fresh macarons on the house. They were actually a lot better than the desserts we had, odd.

Two main reasons why this meal wasn't up to par --
1) It's a tourist trap, literally right across from the skating rink of Rockefeller Center.
2) Restaurant week menus are usually quite dull and never presented the best (but there are exceptions!)

Being it was $38 per head, the price went up from $35 from last Restaurant Week. Another reason not to participate in RW because of the price increase and quality of food. If I'm going to a restaurant, I want to be able to enjoy the food regardless of the price. I'm willing to pay for good quality. If I didn't care, then I would be going to McDonalds...

Brasserie Ruhlmann
45 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10111
(212) 974-2020

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tom's - The decorations are still hanging and shining

J took me to Tom's one of the weekday mornings, I was taken by surprise because he didn't tell me where beforehand. I liked that. We nearly couldn't find the place until we saw this restaurant (well, we didn't even know it was a restaurant until we took a step closer) that was covered with Christmas decorations. J thought it was a shop that sold trees and holiday ornaments but it was actually Tom's.

They open bright and early, we were the first patrons of the day. Sat anywhere we wanted and were handed the menu immediately.

Very laid back and casual diner.

The menu was full of various different dishes (front and back) to order for breakfast. It was a lot to comprehend and then decide...way too early for this.

It looked really festive inside, or maybe they were either too busy or lazy to take down the decorations. Either way, it was really attractive inside.

My coffee ($?) came first alongside a tin can of milk. I like my coffee with a lot of milk, actually I'm glad they serve the coffee with milk and not just cream.

A plate of condiments started rolling in. Pancake syrup, regular butter and flavored butter.

The different flavored butter were so unique and delicious. Makes me want to make my own butter now, yum!

J had the Special 2 by 2 by 2 Combo ($9) which consist of two large pancakes, 2 eggs (any style) and your choice of ham, bacon or sausage. Definitely a good deal for breakfast and it's a big portion also.

I had the Eggs Florentine ($11) with home fries on the side. It was really good and filling. They gave a lot of spinach which I love and everything came together nicely.

The orders were done pretty quick. The entire meal was very satisfying and left us very happy that morning. Would love to come back to try their lunch and also the famous Cherry Lime Ricky.

782 Washington Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 636-9738

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Daheen Wang Mandoo - Long live the strands of flavor

On a day after J and I were shopped out, we decided to get Korean food in KTown. We were just gonna go to Food Gallery which consist of endless stalls of Korean food, literally a Korean food court until Daheen Wang Mandoo caught our eyes. It was grand-opening for them and we must try it. Not to mention they were right next to Mandoo Bar which we greatly dislike since our last visit.

The layout was very similar to Mandoo Bar but a lot brighter. Since it was pretty new, a lot of things were still in the making and it wasn't perfect yet. Our menus and water were brought to us right away though. The waitress came to us 3 times to ask if we were ready and each time we weren't (even though they don't have a big menu, it was a lot to digest since everything on the menu look so good!), finally we were ready but she was busy and pretty much ignored J...haha

They actually have another shop that exist in Flushing, the other real KoreanTown.

As always, starting off with some banchan. I find that mandoo restaurants don't give much banchan...
Here we just have pickled radish and carrots along with some kimchi.

Of course we had to order a mandoo. We got the Kalbi Jumbo Mandoo ($2), definitely something different than your average mandoo. Whenever we eat in the states and are exposed to mandoo, we think dumplings (the small ones) but in actuality, it's the bun like mandoo we're dealing with here. I really like how they served it inside a little bag and on a plate. It was nice and steamy hot, the bun was soft and pillow-y. I really enjoyed the mandoo, wish I didn't have to share it with J though...

Tofu GangJung ($7.50) was J's call. It wasn't too bad but it wasn't that great. When it first came out, I thought it was fish. The battered fried tofu was covered in a sweet honey sesame sauce, not bad but it was a bit too much on the sweet side for me.

Looking at this bowl gets me excited. The Daheen Ramen ($12.50), was the best ramen I've ever had. Quite pricey for a bowl but so worth it when you dig in.

It contains the wavy noodles that I love. The noodles was cooked al-dente and the best part is the egg-y-ness of it. Reminds me of the Hong Kong egg noodles but bouncier and better. The broth was also really good, not too spicy and felt like egg yolks were the base of the soup. Delicious!

My dish took the longest. I thought it being the Spicy Cold Noodles ($11.75) it would be quick but I was wrong. I was a bit disappointed when it came out because it looked like a salad plate and I didn't want that since I was starving. I was hoping something on the lines of naengmyeon, noodles in a cold broth...but once I bit into this, I was glad I ordered it. The noodles were seasoned so well, it gets spicy as you continue to eat but the balance of the greens and apples complimented it. Each ball of noodles were packed, so you would have to loosen them up, I was already full when I got to my second so J had to help me out on this one.

I would solely come back for their noodles. Mandoo, not too much.

Daheen Wang Mandoo
2 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001
(212) 510-7332

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hong Kong: Street Bowl

The idea of getting a bowl of food in the streets might be a turn off but it's nothing odd in HK since a lot of food can be eating on the go. Everywhere J and I walked, there were stalls of food being sold. There are always a lot of people around these places since they usually just buy it and stand there to eat, also a great way to digest food and not get fat!

There were so many people that making it through the crowd to get in front of the stall was pretty difficult. I just had J go since he knew what to order anyways. Finding a place to stand was hard too!

Our bowl of pork innards, organs, whatever nasty thing that people don't usually eat. It was braised so a lot of it were very tender and flavorful. This bowl was around 1-2USD which is crazy cheap. I liked the sweet sauce on top but the mustard is just too weird for me. HK-er loves their mustard don't they?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Biang! - The pleasure of burning

I don't remember how J and I came to agree at dining at Biang!, might've been the delicious description of the skewers on their website.

Biang! is like a chic-er version of Xi'An Famous Food, given a place to sit down and being waiter-ed. The waitress was really nice and didn't mind that we wanted to change tables.

They actually checked IDs for this, I'll just take it as they think I'm young looking.
One of the reason why I was interested in Biang! was because of the YangJing Beer ($5) that they carried. I had this when I was in Hong Kong and I really enjoyed it. Never would've thought I would have the chance to see it in NY. J had the KingFisher Beer ($5) from India, pretty good, it had that light  fruity-ness in the beginning.

Our noodles came out first, I ordered the Mt. Qi Pork Biang-Biang Noodles ($6.50) in medium spice and it still kicked my ass. I mean, it was definitely really good. I love the spicy and sour combo and it was really appetizing, but I'll just go with no spice next time...

J's Spicy Cumin Lamb Biang-Biang Noodles ($7.50) doesn't look spicy but it was, it got quite difficult to eat but it was too good to stop.

Starting off our skewer binge. Yes, we went crazy and ordered quite a lot, especially when one order consist of 3 skewers. The Spicy & Tingly Squid Skewers ($4.50) was the best. Cooked absolutely perfect and seasoned so well. Definitely wasn't spicy at all, kind of had a nice sweet glazed to it.

This was J's favorite. Spicy Cumin Pork Intestine Skewers ($3.75) was grilled to a crisp which is why he loved it. I was on the so-so side with this. But I do find it cute that they go from the big pieces to the smaller pieces in the front.

Why did we order this? Big disappointment for me, better off not ordering this because the Spicy & Tingly Boiled Beef Stomach Skewers ($3.75) wasn't anything special. Maybe if they didn't boil it, then it would be a bit more exciting.

Another one of our favorites, Spicy Cumin Chicken Heart Skewers ($3.75) was nicely cooked. Sad they only gave so little on a stick, I wanted more since these can get addicting.

Saving the best for last, Spicy Cumin Chicken Gizzard Skewers ($3.75) was great. Crunchy and gamey. I told J that if I have a whole bowl of this instead of popcorn when we watch a movie, I would totally be a happy camper.

Biang! has surpassed my expectation and I would love to return. They cook their skewers very well and none of them were under or overcooked. I really enjoyed the noodles, but next time I'm sure I'll be able to enjoy it even more without the crazy spiciness in the way. If you like Xi'An Famous Food then this is a must visit.

41-10 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hong Kong: Hui Lau Shan

Hui Lau Shan 許留山 is quite well known for their healthy drinks and desserts in HK. They're almost like Starbucks here in the states. Everywhere you go, there's a Hui Lau Shan.

Plus, it was a place that Anthony Bourdain had visited, must be good right?

After walking around in the streets in the sun, J and I needed something to drink. Not to mention we just ate some stinky tofu...haha

And oh...hello there handsome guy staring at my camera ;]

So majority of the items on their menu were mango mango mango. I'm not crazy about mango because I feel like places always overdo them, like they're way too sweet or they're not naturally sweet. J and I settled on this mango coconut drink with mango meat. was good! Chunks of mango in there with the right amount of mango and coconut together. Best served cold so drink up once it's handed to you. Good thing we visited this place.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Enid's - You took me back even though I said no

I can't remember the last time I had brunch with J. Actually I can't remember the last time J took me somewhere for brunch and not let me know where it is. I really love the feeling of surprises, wished he did this more often.

I really had no idea where we were going until I saw the name of the restaurant on its front door. It sounded familiar because J wanted to take me here before. I said no to the idea because it was so far and a little out of the way to commute to. No more excuses now since J drove. =]

The place was quite large once we were able to get in. The door knob was a lot lower than expected. Especially when you have a tall guy like my boyfriend trying to open the door.
Starting off with some drinks, I had the Grimosa ($7) and he had the Hot Ginger Whiskey ($7). Extremely well done drinks, especially the whiskey. You can't taste much of the whiskey at all but the aroma of it can definitely get me high. I would love to have this every time I'm sick.

J ordered the Fried Jalapeno Cheese Grits ($10) which was pretty good and also healthy. He actually got some greens with his dish. The biscuit were probably the best part because it was crunchy and flaky at the same time. Add some butter on and dam...I can eat a whole basket of this!

I decided on the Garlic Shrimp and Grits ($12), not too sure why I ordered it because I'm not that crazy about shrimps. But let me tell you this, I'm so glad I ordered it. The garlic sauce was amazing and flavored the grits oh so well. The shrimps were cooked to perfection. We both had eggs sunny-side up because we love the runny yolk. If I don't have toast or bread on hand, I usually just pop the entire yolk in my mouth...mmm runny goodness.

I wouldn't mind coming back because the waitresses were friendly and the atmosphere is very welcoming. The feeling was very laid back and relaxing. Plus, they got a full bar.

560 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 349-3859

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hong Kong: Stinky Tofu

Even though Stinky Tofu 臭豆腐 didn't originate in HK, they do sell them in the streets. I'm glad that I don't actually think they're stinky, they're just aromatic to me. As J and I were walking in the streets, we smelled it from blocks away. But as we got closer, the scent dissipated.

This little spot has other yummy bits also but we just wanted the fried stinky tofu.

They have condiments for you to dress your tofu. You can come back for endless sauces.

Verdict? It was good, could've been great if it was fresher when we got to it. But the sauce was like "girlll oh ma gawdddd" good. Love the spicy kick to it and the fermented aroma. I can totally just inhale this stuff. Stinky tofu is one of those special delicacy that you just have to try at least one, liking it or not can be a totally different story.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Whitman's - A suprise that will leave me speechless

I know J has been wanting a Juicy Lucy for the longest time. The idea of having melted cheese in a burger is just something we can't pass up on. Plus, I was totally in the mood for a burger and something fried...

J ordered a Negra Modelo ($7) beer. I'm not a big fan of beer so I just stuck with my water.

The Fried Pickles ($4) were alright. I didn't like them as much just because I thought they were too thin and weren't crunchy enough. The dipping sauce was delicious though, I'm sure it's not cheese but J keeps telling me otherwise. I prefer a thick and crunchier crust, but I still can down endless bowls of this.

I was the normal one that ordered the regular Juicy Lucy ($10). The patty might look small but it was a delicious ball of goodness. I was trying to flatten the burger but forgot about the cheese in the middle until J was like "omg it's squirting from the other side."

The cheese were actually all situated in the center, I wished it was more all over the patty. You can actually have your choice of cheese but I just went with the pimento cheese since that was the regular one on the menu. The pickle was ginormous though and spicy. So good and fulfilling.

J's crazy Juicy Lucy ($10) with bacon ($1) and fried egg ($2). I know he just had to do it. I have to say that it looks absolutely beautiful when it came out. The egg was so perfect and I wanted his greens! Anywho, his was less messy than mine. Odd, cause my plate was filled with meat juices...hahaha

406 E 9th St
New York, NY 10009
(212) 228-8011