Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bassanova Ramen - you don't need much to be much

J and I first read about Bassanova and their ramen burger in the magazine and online, hoping they would have it when we got there but instead they said they'll have it by the end of the month. Still wanting to try Bassanova out since it opened in the midst of Chinatown, we were curious how this place would work in such an inexpensive area. Mind you, their ramen average about $14 a bowl, it's expensive considering you can get a bowl of noodles around the corner for about $5.

We chose to sit by the bar, facing the open kitchen where the chefs were putting together the bowls of ramen. There were mountains of different size bowls in front of us making the preparation hard to see.

Different sizes for different type of ramen. They only have 3 dishes on the menu when we went but I heard they increased it to 6 now, including the dipping style ramen.

The utensils given to us were huge. The chopsticks were twice the size of your average chopstick and the spoon was heavy, made with true porcelain . But it was fun using these to slurp up my ramen anyways.

J had the Green Curry Ramen. The bowl was big, not much was packed in it but everything was really good. Green curry was definitely something different in the ramen industry. When it comes to green curry, we think of Thai and southern Asian countries so the medley with ramen brings it to a new level. The wavy ramen was delicious and fun to eat. There isn't much broth so when you order kae-dama (more ramen) that might be a problem but by itself, finishing the ramen and broth is easy-peasy, if you can handle the heat.

I had the Tondaku Wadashi Jilu Ramen, simple yet flavorful. The broth was rich and the straight noodles were cooked al dente. Even though I was only served a slice of pork, it was nicely charred and had a really good smoke to it. Bamboo shoots were also really good, wished they gave more than just 3 strands. Yes, there's the problem of "not enough" broth again but realistically, how many people actually finishes the broth in a big bowl of ramen that has more than half a bowl of broth - not much.

I'm waiting for more items on their menu to return, especially the ramen burger.

Bassanova Ramen
76 Mott St
New York, NY 10013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BCD Tofu House - I like it when I get my own

BCD was re-opened after a long close and it's better than ever. They have long lines and also a long wait, anywhere from 20-60 minutes long. J and I had to wait a good 20 minutes for a table of two. We were seated in the back, they even had a second floor. The good thing about this BCD is that they give you a restaurant pager, when it buzzes, you know it's time for you to chow down.

When coming to BCD, you must get their soondubu. A pot full of tofu, spices, and your choice of meat. They have a big variety here, there's your regular pork or beef, kimchi, seafood and then there's curry and abalone for the more adventurous. Spice levels ranging from none to the extreme.

After ordering, the banchan or little side dishes were placed on our tables, they're unlimited so don't be afraid to flag down the waiters/waitresses to get more. We each had a fried fish, deliciously fried. Crunchy on the outside but the meat was moist and flaky on the inside. Usually you only get one grilled fish and it's usually the mackerel but here, you get your own and I can tell you, it's not mackerel here.

The fish is small but it's a good appetizer. Any bigger and you won't be able to eat your entree. Kimchi was good also, the other banchans were a bit underwhelming.

Ordered a small Goon Mandoo but come to think of it, they might've gave us the steamed ones. I couldn't tell since they seemed lightly fried but then placed into a bamboo steamer. Darnit! Apparently they be messing up our orders that night a lot. (We ordered a Chum Churum - soju, but they gave us ginger ale..., that we managed to fix.)

At last the soondubu. The Kimchi Soondubu was filled with tofu. The first spoonful I got was tofu, tofu, tofu...even when I mix I get more tofu. The broth was spicy and blended really well with the kimchi. Some kimchi and pork was squished in the middle of the tofu which I'm definitely not complaining.

With the order of soondubu, you get a raw egg which you then would just crack it into the stew. It's quite fun and it looks so much more appealing. I had the regular spice level which was just right, I can't imagine those that ordered the "danger" level. Although I did once at the location in Flushing which was hell!

J had the Curry Soondubu, something different but tasted a bit watered down. It just had that hint of curry flavor, he liked it. I liked mines a lot more. We had a bowl of rice each, I couldn't finish mine as I was too focused on the stew instead.

Towards the end, they gave us each the rice porridge. It's the type where they use tea to scrape off the rice from the clay pot, you just enjoy it like that to cleanse your palate. I'm not crazy about it because it had that smokey burnt taste.

I'm waiting to return. I can't stop thinking about the tofu ever since I had it but there's so many other places to try and eat also. I wish I was cloned so I can be at multiple restaurants at once...haha

BCD Tofu House
5 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001
(212) 967-1900

Monday, August 19, 2013

Philadelphia: Wedge&Fig + Monk's Cafe

On our second day at Philly, we chose Wedge&Fig to brunch at because of the cute name and they had the normal brunch menu along with BYOB. The cafe was small but they have seatings in the garden which we were instantly interested in.

The garden looked really realistic and made me feel like I was in the rain forest, the floor was made of pebbles too.

We ordered our food and had our waitress opened our bottle of wine. They also provided an ice jacket for our bottle which was pretty neat since a lot of places just give you an ice bucket - boring.

The Strawberry Stuffed French Toast came in quite a big portion, our friend SS wasn't able to finish it and had to wrap up the rest. It was good and not too sweet which I liked but I can't imagine having it again later when it's all soggy.

Knowing how J is, he ordered the Bacon-Lattice Mac + Cheese Pie. Looks insanely unhealthy. Bacon was really good though and surprisingly it wasn't really a big dish. The pie part didn't seem to really work so bacon mac + cheese would've been a lot better by itself.

I had the Eggs NOLA; I like eggs benedict but you have to make it right. What's special about this was the cornbread instead of your average English muffin. The cornbread was a thick cut which makes it a bit soggy to eat. Didn't exactly enjoy it too much because even the sauce was a bit lacking in flavor, I needed salt.

Most likely I wouldn't be coming back because everything felt average and even below that, but one thing, the waitress was really nice.


The next morning we went to Monk's Cafe. I initially wanted to come here for dinner but SS was like we haven't tried it out this visit to Philly yet so let's just go there before heading back to NYC.

The restaurant was completely empty when we went for lunch. It was quite dim inside with no lights, the only light that we saw was coming from the outside.

They have a huge variety of beer. So this would be a heavenly place for beer lovers.

Started off with some Frog Legs, they were lightly fried and then covered in a light buffalo sauce. Really good, very meaty. If you never had frog, they're very similar to chicken but a little chewier than usual. These would be great beer food.

SS got the Monk's Duck Salad, amazing. Duck was cooked extremely well, meat was tender and soft and the salad had a nice vinaigrette dressing that was really appetizing. Wish I had the whole plate to myself.

J was hungry so he ordered the Rib Cap Steak that came with grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes. This is a hungry man's food! Steak was good but could've been better, the cut was a bit tough but nonetheless enjoyable.

I ordered the Provence Mussels because I've been craving. This was a bit disappointing. I specifically wanted this pot because of the amount of vegetables that's in it, from mushrooms to peppers to celery to leeks and garlic, but it was the parsley and cream that made me ultimately want it. The broth was weak and light which I did not like. I wish it was thicker and heavier in taste because my mussels were lacking flavor. The mussels were also small.

The Pomme Frites came with the mussels and they were ok, the bourbon mayo dipping sauce was a bit bland. We all got full in the end regardless. I can definitely be satisfied with just the frogs and duck salad.

Wedge + Fig
160 N 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(267) 603-3090

Monk's Cafe
264 S 16th St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 545-7005

Friday, August 16, 2013

Philadelphia: Oyster House + Jamonera

I was on a month of hiatus because I went skydiving in the beginning of August, I needed time to recover -joking, it was fun and since then I gathered so many food pictures that I was thinking of how to blog them. Enough procrastination.

It was J's birthday and he wanted something mellow, nothing big, relaxing yet new. I saw Oyster House on Yelp as I was doing my usual browsing. The happy hour instantly caught my eyes and I knew that J would appreciate it.

We went early, since HH is 5-7pm on weekdays and 9-11pm on weekends. We dressed up for the occasion and let me tell you, walking in Philly with heels was a bit challenging. Our friend SS was having a hard time also, since she was also worrying about her dress...

HH only happens at the bar. We wasted no time and ordered 3 dozens once we sat down. The oysters comes out a dozen at a time regardless of the amount you order, but they come out quick. You can see the shuckers shuck away behind the bar and they do a quick and clean job, don't forget to show some love to them.

Oysters of the night were Watch House and they were delicious. With oysters you need to try one by itself and then the rest (if you like) with some vinegar and cocktail sauce and a bit of lemon juice, it'll help those that don't like the briney oceanic taste and brings the oysters to a more refreshing level.

Oyster crackers were sitting there in front of us, tempted, I tried one and it was the hardest and driest piece of cracker ever. You definitely need to place those in soup, eating by itself is just wrong.

I personally really like clams, that night they had these huge Cherrystone ones. J can see it in my eyes that I wanted. They looked beautiful. J and SS agreed they never had clams that were this good. No briney or harsh icky seafood taste, but instead was really fresh and easy to eat. As for myself, I enjoyed it either way.

We basically pre-gamed here and headed to Jamonera afterwards but literally came back the following night. It was that good! They had the same oysters and clams. But this time, the waiters/waitresses told us they over ordered a bunch of lobsters and determined to get rid of them (since they close on Sundays) are offering the lobster roll and grilled lobster for less.

The Split Grilled Whole Maine Lobster was excellent. Buttery and tender, it was like a lobster galore.

The best of the night was definitely the Lobster Roll - New England Style. I never actually like the New England style much just because of how much mayo is put on but this rendition was just perfect. Chunks of lobster and the mayo did not taste overpowering, plus the roll was buttered and toasted! I can't believe I would have to go back to Philly just to get this...

Oyster House is a must visit if you love seafood, and you bet I'll be returning if I'm in Philly.


Right after, we walked (big mistake) to Jamonera to have some tapas and drinks. The inside was dim and had that really nice wine bar vibe but since we didn't have a reservation, they asked if we want to sit outside. We didn't mind since it was really nice out, the only bad thing was that birthday boy keeps getting bug bites.

Started out with drinks. They were on the weaker side and nothing much to rave about, I did expected more from Jamonera. Should've really stuck with wine...

We ordered 3 small plates to share since we already had 3 dozen oysters in our stomach.

The Crispy Cana de Cabra was actually really good. I never thought I would like goat cheese. The fried goat cheese was creamy and crunchy which was really appetizing, for you non-cheese lovers, this can be a start. The Thai basil dressing was excellent, the only best dish we had here.

I should've known that the Charcuteria wasn't up to my expectations when I saw the photos on Yelp but I totally forgot and ordered it. The meats were really "meh" and have no salty kick or spice to it, kind of boring.

Finally, the Grilled Spanish Octopus looks and sounds amazing but they overcooked it! I was shaking my head as I took the first bite, I love octopus but this was a bit on the forceful side to eat. Plus, I'm not sure if this dish was suppose to be served cold...oiy.

I saw good things about Jamonera but I definitely didn't have that experience.

Oyster House
1516 Samson St
Philadelphia, PA 19102

105 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107