Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lokal Mediterranean Bistro - a beautiful day calls for eating outside literally

Another spontaneous decision on Memorial Day weekend. J and I were suppose to go to a diner but ended up on the other side of the park and was too lazy to turn around and walk back. We were also hungry, so when we saw this bright awning in front of us, we decided to just brunch there.

The weather was great, I was definitely overdressed. We sat outside and enjoyed the sun which thankfully wasn't hitting us dead on. I've been wanting to sit along the sidewalk and have a nice meal, it's usually either or - I have nice meal but no sun or I get sun and the meal sucks. I can actually say otherwise about Lokal.

My coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice came first. I had the brunch prixe fix ($14.50) which I thought was a pretty good deal. The coffee was perfect, at least for me, didn't need too much milk and the temperature was just right. Being it was quite hot that day, having coffee that was steaming wasn't the brightest idea but after adding the milk, it was just a bit more than lukewarm and stayed that way throughout my meal. Oh, and the orange juice is also perfect. Tis the season for oranges which makes the little cup extra sweet.

I usually don't order Eggs Benedict but for some reason I did this time around. I did want a burger but then I didn't exactly want to use my hands - girl problems. Alright, so I popped the first pouched egg and water squirted out (weird) then the yolk started oozing out. Love when that happens. Runny egg yolks are the best thing ever. Salad needed more dressing and the potatoes were ok, a bit oily tho...

I was surprised when J ordered the Bacon Bloody Mary ($8). First off, we don't usually get bloody marys and second, I didn't know they even had that on their menu. But the surprising factor was, it actually tasted good. I would totally order that for myself next time. I never really liked bloody marys but then again maybe I just haven't had one that was made to my liking.

Tuna Burger ($13) was just ok. We definitely had better before so it wasn't anything to really "talk about." One thing though, that's a shitload of fries.

I mean, I liked the meal. I liked that we were able to sit outdoors and soak up the good weather. I also liked how it was spontaneous.

Lokal Mediterranean Bistro
905 Lorimer St
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 384-6777

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day @ Red Hook Ball Fields

This past weekend J and I spent it together and just tried to take it easy. We went to Red Hook where the soccer games took place and had delicious authentic food. Trucks were set up to serve the Hispanic community and now it became something more than that. If you want some real tacos and ceviche, this is where you want to get it.

There wasn't much trucks and stalls this weekend probably because of the holiday. But that didn't stop us from getting great food and enjoying the weather.

I heard about pupusas and knew we had to try it. It's basically a patty cake with meat/vegetable/cheese fillings. I've never tried pupusas and was extremely excited about it.

J and I got the pupusas along with a meal that included chicharrons (fried pork bits) for $9. Not a bad price. Pupusa are made from corn flour and shaped into a round patty filled with your choice of anything on their menu. The longer they have it laying on the grill, the crunchier the texture will be, but if they're in a rush the pupusa would be cooked just right and still have that soft corn bread texture, I prefer the former. The cabbage was really good and the chicharrons were nice and crunchy meaty goodness. I liked how they threw in some onions and cilantro, can't forget the lime - all together, it was delicious and a true hearty meal.

For munchies, I got some Fried Plantains ($3). I thought they were flavorless until I got further down, it was salty but quite addicting.

J ordered the Horchata ($2). Definitely not my thing, I tried it twice and it was still not my thing. The initial sip was fine until the aftertaste hits you and you get that awkward feeling in the mouth. Like, a beautiful looking female suddenly opening her mouth and sounded like a guy kind of awkwardness.

One of our last dishes was the Ceviche de Camerones ($7). Extremely refreshing on a hot sunny day. We were sitting on the bench and just watching and enjoying the people playing soccer in the field. The next thing I know, I see a lady pushing a cart of...churros! I have to get it since it's been so long and we needed to be in the spirit! I mean, since we're there already, might as well right?

It was a wonderful day.
Might be a little breezy but the sun was always trying to peak out. This little date in the park was really relaxing. I rather have this with J anytime than a hectic barbeque (unless we don't have to hook and clean up).

Clinton St & Bay St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lunchin' Solo: Yogi Korean BBQ - Spicy Pork w/ White Rice

The Yogi cart is here occasionally and not all the time, it's a hit or miss when I see it. The first couple of times I saw it, I was either not in the mood for it or I had already brought in lunch from home.

But this time, was an excellent time to get it since my coworker was getting froyo from the truck right next to it.

Thankfully, there was no line because nothing can be worse than standing in line for food when its 85 degrees out and you're near a blistering hot little food cart.

They had an array of options, anything from tacos to burritos to rice. I settled for the rice since by that time, I was really hungry and you can't really screw this up. The Spicy Pork ($7) was my choice since I didn't want Teriyaki Chicken or Bulgogi. They were also out of fried rice, what I initially wanted, so they gave me white rice. Told them to add on the kimchi and also some salad, ended up choosing the ginger white sauce - the guy told me it was made of ginger and some vinegar, sure why not since my pork is spicy anyways.

Kimchi was pretty great, might be sliced up too small but overall not bad. Also, be great if it was colder but no complaints because it was pretty bomb.

The pork was amazing. Tender and flavorful, the sauce went so well - kind of addicting. I was so glad I got the white rice also, the juices from the pork literally just covered the rice making it extremely heavenly. I've had fried rice from a Korean cart before and it wasn't exactly great so I'll steer away from it for now when I still can.

Definitely return for their tacos and burritos, plus the 2 guys working in the cart are extremely nice.

Yogi Korean BBQ
47th St & 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10017

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bait & Hook - how about a quick stop for the first of the night

J and I were heading somewhere, but we just didn't know where. Bait & Hook's happy hour stopped us in our track because they had $1 oysters and they opened up the glass walls so the outside breeze would just blow in - oh and wine was cheap too.

It was a seafood spot, but all J and I were interested in was their happy hour. It's from 4-7pm and we were planning our next stop already.

I had the Sangria ($6) and J had a glass of Chardonnay. Mine was totally watered down and it tasted like the Starbucks Refresher. Not impressed.

On the other hand, the Mahi Mahi Tacos ($3/ea) was pretty good. I just can't believe it's  $3 each and not for like's good but not $3 good, plus they're small.

Been a long while since we had, but the Oysters ($1/ea) here were a bit bland. I feel like they shucked it and let it lay in water until there's an order to serve them. If you ran food under water before and then eat it, that's exactly how these oysters taste like.

So, I'm not crazy about B&H's happy hour but everything else on their regular menu seems quite intriguing. Maybe we'll come back for that...

Bait & Hook
231 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 260-8015 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Georgian Bread - it's nice to have the pizza without the sauce

For most of my life, I lived in the neighborhood but never went to Georgian Bread to get what they're most famous for, the bread. There is so much hype about this place and their cheese bread, was it that good? Finally, when I don't live around the area anymore, I made J drove us there, just to get some bread.

They open late, around 9pm and thankfully they still have some cheese bread handy.

I admit, I was a bit scared when I entered the shop because I knew the owner didn't speak English well, I was afraid of that barrier. But it turns out he was so friendly, smiling all the while we ordered. Me, not knowing how big the cheese bread are aka Khachapuri ($6), asked him and he just pointed to the spot where 4 sits. They were huge, more than 12 inches in diameter I assume. I made the decision of getting 3 since I've heard comments from people saying how they regret not getting more.

The khachapuri was warm and heavy. It's no joke, there's generous amount of cheese. So soft and pillow-y, I think J and I can eat this all night long with a good glass of wine. It seriously taste like pizza without the marina sauce. Had the right amount of salt and cheese.

It's a great snack, I'm think it'll go great with any spreads and dips. If you're ever in the area, definitely give this bread a shot. It's so delicious and different.

Georgian Bread
265 Neptune Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 332-8082

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lunchin' Solo: iKimchi - Spicy Fried Pork

I've heard about the Korean Food Cart on Lexington Avenue near Baruch College but never really found the time to get it. Finally, as I was running some errands in the neighborhood I decided to stand on the long line and wait for my food.

Good weather and street food don't go well together. I despise the long lines but for good food, it's worth it.

There's like 4 people running this little cart. The chef, the person assembling my tray, the person taking my order, and finally the guy that just replenishes the items in the cart. Their meals range from $5-7 and miso soup for $2 unless you get it with the lunchbox which is just $1 more.

Heard from J that the Spicy Fried Pork is good since he works in the area and got it multiple times, so that's what I got.

Not a bad deal, the Spicy Fried Pork w/ salad and rice was $6. They also prefer you telling them if you want kimchi or not along with the time when you place your order. Salad was on the weak side, can't you give me more? But, I did get hooked onto their salad dressing. So good! I'm guessing ranch and vinaigrette? I did see them squirting 2 different sauces on it!

Kimchi was ok, took me an hour to finally be able to eat my lunch which by that time, my kimchi was warm. I like my kimchi cold because it holds that crunch. Even though it was warm, the crunch was still there. A good little banchan to start with.

The combo came with fried rice, I wasn't too crazy about it because it was a bit on the hard side. But I do appreciate the meat. Very flavorful and they give a generous amount.

Not a bad choice for lunch since I can sort of justify the price. A lot of times Korean lunches can come out to being $7-10, especially around K-town but this is quite reasonable.

Lexington Ave (between 24th and 25th Street)
New York, NY 10010

Monday, May 13, 2013

Teariffic Cafe - a really quick afternoon tea to get my nerves going

It's been a while since J and I came here and it's probably because we haven't had any time lately, not to mention it always seems packed when we walked by.

But this past Saturday it was quite empty, even around 1pm. Got a table in the right corner, yay for the wall because I can lean back. We ordered ourselves a drink and a plate to munch on to kill some time (I had an errand to run around 2, hence the quick tea-ing).

Usually this place is ran by waiters but that day, there were only 2 waitresses. J joked that the girlfriends had to substitute in for the guys...haha

The regular size Blackjack ($3.05) was something that J and I ordered a lot of back then, but haven't been for the past 2-3 years because it was too sweet. It's still sweet now. Our palettes changed a lot but I did want to recall some memories while drinking this, brings me back to high school.

This "exotic drink" as Teariffic quote it as, is on the sweet and sour side. It has blue curacao, strawberry syrup, lemon juice and honey - definitely taste the curacao and lemon juice more than anything and the color gives it that mysterious look. Wished it was more on the black side than blue to justify its name.

J wanted something hot, don't know why since it was humid that day. He ordered the Dragon Pearl Jasmine Tea ($4.50), really wasn't worth the price since it was just tea. For some reason I was hoping it would have some pearls like tapioca but dragon type...yeaaaa. We admit it was good tea, very fragrant but I wouldn't come to Teariffic to get this type of tea.

Deep Fried Chicken Strips ($3.25) is usually what we get when it comes to tea-ing. It just works really well as just a dish to munch on and shoot the breeze with another person. Plus, it's enough to share and let the time pass. This time around, the chicken strips tasted more like pork, maybe it is pork but it's disguised as chicken. It isn't as great as it once was but it had that nice crunch factor to it, so it wasn't too bad.

I guess so matter how bad Teariffic changes or screws up, I think we'll still come back because there's so many more options on the menu. It's also one of the few tea cafes in Chinatown that has a lot of seatings and is also really casual.

Teariffic Cafe
51 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 393-9009

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sunny and Annie's - Pho #1 (aka Pho Real) Sandwich

So, I know you can basically turn anything into a sandwich but a Pho Sandwich? Pho real now? (hahahahaha)

Post workout with J, I told him we should stop by Sunny & Annie's for a sandwich. I read and saw about the pho sandwich a while back and knew we just had to try it. We've had pho many times, but in sandwich form...never.

S&A is a corner deli. Really tight and cramp inside but boy, they have a lot of stuff. Sandwiches being freshly made is one of them. They have a load of other different sandwiches which I'd love to come back and try, especially with funky names like Joe Bama and MonaRisa.

The Pho Sandwich ($6.99) tastes just like a bowl of pho in sandwich form. Yummy roast beef, onions, bean sprouts, thai basil, avocado, tomato, hoisin sauce, and sriricha was quite bomb. That's actually better than any Vietnamese sandwich I've had. This was different and quite clever. You can get this cold or hot, we tried the latter and will be back for the former.

Sunny and Annie's
94 Ave B
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-3131 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cha Chan Tang - late lunch that felt so right into the evening

Cha Chan Tang basically means cafe in Cantonese. Serving quick fix dishes for the busy person.

J and I came on a Saturday around 2pm, the time where Hong Kong people start their afternoon tea. The reason why CCT was on my to-visit list was because of this...

The interesting idea of an ice bucket around your milk tea. I've had this in Hong Kong but I didn't like it much because it was so strong. I was hoping CCT was different. Their Special Cold Hong Kong Style Tea was just right, for me. I wish I could take the whole entire thing to go, that would definitely be interesting. J had the Black and White Milk Tea, it was bland so he had to add some sugar. But both drinks were really well made.

Why choose when we can get the Mixed Balls in curry sauce. The balls were mediocre, there's your average fish balls, beef balls and (my favorite) cuttlefish balls. The curry sauce was pretty amazing, had just the right amount of spice. I need to know if they make their curry rice dish with this curry because I need to get it next time!

Chicken Wings w/ Coke was pretty delicious. Very tender and flavorful. Not too much on the heavy and sweet coke flavor but you do taste that coke flavor. Give me some bread to soak up the sauce and I'll be a happy camper.

I asked J what's a popular dish Hong Kong-ers order at a cafe along with their milk tea, he told me satay beef noodles. Exactly what I got. The Satay Beef w/ Ramen Noodles was a big portion. Hidden lettuce leaves in the soup and a lot of noodles! There was also a good amount of beef which I couldn't finish. If only I can make ramen like this at home...

J had the Singapore Fried Ramen Noodles. It looked really appetizing. I'm always skeptical about ramen noodles being pan-fried because I'm afraid it would be too soft or soggy, but not here. CCT made it really well. I love the curry flavor that was in the dish, they also put a lot of ingredients in the dish (as you can see up above). I would totally get this share of course.

CCT is a great spot to hang out and location-wise, it's at a good spot for teenagers stop by after their weekend Chinese classes. Food is good, service is quick. I really look forward to returning.

Cha Chan Tang
45 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 577-2888

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spina - a little spot that holds a lot of goodies

Spina was a spur of the moment dinner date with J. It was one of the place we saw when we were walking to Kasadela that had a good deal on happy hour. Sure enough, a couple of months later we remembered about it and went there spontaneously.

Spina was empty when we arrived about 7pm. Got seated pretty quickly and was given the wine list. I was a bit puzzled because I didn't see the menu until a god 5 minutes later...started to get a bit worried haha.

I really like how big the wine glasses are. Because it's so much bigger, it looks as if there is a lot less wine but that's not the case. It's just how you perceive it. I rather have a bigger glass because then I can take a good sniff at the wine every time I drink it.

Their in-house Focaccia and Ricotta was amazing. Different than your average bread and butter which can get quite boring. The focaccia was soft and fluffy and the ricotta was just so dam good. Creamy and light, I can use this spread every day if I can.

We ordered our appetizer which were both on their happy hour. Spina's HH starts at 5:30 and ends at 8pm, love the time! They also have $6 glasses of wine which is really affordable.

The Meatballs ($5) are only worth it when it's HH because they're so tiny. The flavor is great and I don't remember when was the last time I had meatballs. Let's just say it hit the spot and it would've been great with a plate of spaghetti.

Our favorite was the Mussels ($5) and during HH, these suckers were only $5 which is a total steal! Flavor was good, be great if we were given some bread to soak up the yummy broth. Mussels were tender and plump, really like the little cherry tomatoes in the dish also.

At this point, we were really satisfied already. As our entree, we ordered pasta. Spina has a pasta bar where fresh dough of pasta is made on the spot. It's pretty amazing knowing that your pasta isn't frozen.

The Asparagus Fettucine ($18) was really light. The asparagus were cut thinly but still held that crunch, the duck confit was a bit on the chewy side but still quite flavorful.

J's Squid Ink Fettucine ($22) was different than what I had imagined. The pasta was made of squid ink and it wasn't covered in squid ink sauce, nice! There's a slight tingy and spiced taste to this dish which makes it that more interesting and quite addictive. Certainly do recommend this one.

The portions might look small but when you're dealing with pasta for one, you don't want to serve too much. Plus, there's actually a lot under that bundle of pasta.

For dessert, we had the Chocolate Souffle ($8) which was not what I expected. I'm starting to think that souffle has a whole new different meaning to it. The chocolate souffle was good, chocolate-y and warm with a light thin crust on the outside. Pair it up with some cold vanilla ice cream and nothing can go wrong.

Spina has 1/2 off their wine bottles on Sundays and Mondays which is another reason to come. J and I adore this place and just couldn't wait to return for another round of date night.

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