Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Brunch at Momofoku Ma Peche in NYC

Dan and I finally made it to one of the Momofuku restaurants for a regular (i.e. not prix-fixed) meal.  Ma Peche actually lets you make reservations for more than 4 people, which is great.  The location is kind of weird - in a hotel, and the decor also was kind of sterile in my opinion w/a hint of peach color ha.  But the food was pretty amazing, though I was full after the ramen, which was problematic given that the was the second of four dishes we ordered lol.  The rice cakes were ridiculously hot, especially re-heated the next day.  Like I could barely eat any of it hot.  Oh well.  Dan enjoyed it at least.

Pork buns!  with hoisin, cucumber and scallions.  Amazing as always.  Melt-in-your-mouth meat.  Dan said he thought it was better than Momofuku noodle bar.  To me it was the same.

(Left) calamansi soda, and (right) Arnold Palmer.  Both amazing.   Props to Ma Peche for having calamansi, which is usually only found at Filipino restaurants.  It's a lemon-lime hybrid. My arnold palmer had jasmine iced tea, which added a nice floral note.

Duck Ramen w/duck confit and bean sprouts.  Very tasty and nice flavor of broth, but also very rich and mildly thick.

Spicy roasted rice cakes w/pork ragu, water spinach and tofu.  Topped w/some fried onions. So tasty but really hot.  The rice cakes were very filling as well, kind of gnocchi-like but rice instead of potato.

Jerk chicken wings w/brown sugar, all spice, and smoked olive oil.  My fav new thing I tried but unfortunately the last dish served so I was already full and it was also temperature-wise very hot so hard to eat given my food-coma condition. 

Home-made gluten-free spaghetti w/shrimp, asparagus and mushrooms

Made some gluten-free pasta w/shrimp, asparagus, and mushrooms in tomato basil sauce.  I think I overcrowded the pasta because the noodles were kind of gummy, but the rest of the ingredients tasted great haha.  I used the TJ's African Smoke seasoning on the shrimp, which added a nice pop of flavor

Lunch at Crazy Fire Mongolian Grill in Fayetteville, NC + semi-home-made churros

For Thanksgiving weekend went down to NC to visit the bro and fam.  We went to this Mongolian restaurant where you pick all your proteins, veggies and sauces and the cooks cook the food at some communal giant round grill.  The first time I severely undersauced, so made up for it w/my second plate.  I like the idea of being able to pick everything but they should advise re: the saucing so that there's adequate flavor.  My fav proteins were the dark chicken, pork, and lamb.  They had basically everything you could want protein-wise minus fresh fish.  They did have shrimp, scallops, and calamari though, which was a nice surprise.

Also, we found frozen Goya churros in the supermarket, so of course I made us get them.  Awesome alternative to the fresh kind that we didn't get at the circus a few weeks ago.

First plate had beef, shrimp, chicken, pork, scallops, calamari and veggies w/white rice

Second plate had lamb, pork, and chicken w/fried rice

Churros with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on them yummy

Lunch at Panera in West Orange, NJ

Post-Hunger Games we were really hungry (sorry for being so punny) and Panera was the closest place to us, so we decided to go there.  A good choice also for a cold cold day b/c their soup is great.  Dan got his usual Thai shrimp salad and I got tomato soup and fancy grilled cheese w/fontina cheese.  Yes, I am a classy child.

Chilled shrimp soba salad

1/2 soup 1/2 sandwich combo - tomato soup w/fontina grilled cheese

Brunch at Thirty Acres in Jersey City, NJ

My first trip to Thirty Acres in a long time, and brought a JC friend who had never been.  JC is really quickly becoming a foodie town. A quick google search and you can see that Thirty Acres is the leader in the foodie revolution.  The restaurant opens at noon on the weekends and I thought getting there around 12:40ish we'd have to wait, but fortunately no wait at all.  It was a difficult decision trying to figure out what to get, though in the end I was pretty pleased and only slightly regretful that I didn't order something meatier haha.  Still, a great meal and not so expensive compared to the dinner pricing.

French Toast - Nate Dogg's bread, whipped mascarpone, apples - my friend really enjoyed this.  Looked awesome

Side of bacon.  Certainly not skimpy

Smoked Artic Char Club - my choice.  Bacon, lettuce, fried lemons and spicy mayo w/side of Nate Dogg's potato salad.  I wish the bread hadn't been so crusty because it was a little hard to bite into it since it was so tall (club, duh) but it was very tasty.  With the mayo in the sandwich and mayo in that potato salad, a little too much mayo for me.  But still I could appreciate the good flavor

Semi-home-made shrimp pesto bow-ties

Dan and I tried some really great pesto at the supermarket a few weeks ago and ended up buying a container of Ranna pesto.  Dan sauteed shrimp, spinach, and frozen peas to add some color and much needed veggies and protein to the pasta, and we had one quick, delicious meal.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brunch at Kittichai in NYC

Julie was in town so went to Kittichai in the Village for a nice brunch.  They have a deal where you can order one entree and unlimited blood orange mimosas, lychee bellinis or bloody marys for $25 for up to an hour and a half.  Although I had ordered bellinis somehow I ended up with blood orange mimosas.  Still, very tasty and not too juice-y.  We shared both dishes, which were both very good and somewhat light.  I was satisfied but didn't feel disgusting like you often do at brunch, probably because Asian food doesn't hurt my stomach and I can eat more of it.  I would definitely come back for one of the prix-fixe dinners or just a regular meal.  Nice decor inside and seemed very relaxing and romantic.

Kittichai omelette with Thai sour sauge and jumbo lump crab plus potatoes

Chang Mai Chicken Curry Noodles with garlic bits and bean sprouts.  Never had curry noodles before but it was very home-y and warming

Inside of the omelette - you can see the chunks of crap and sausage.  At first "sour" sausage sounded kind of gross but it was tasty and more sweet than sour

Dinner at Dopo Teatro in NYC

Karem and I went to Dopo Teatro in Times Square for dinner.  The location was not the best in retrospect, and unfortunately the food didn't change my mind.  While the food wasn't bad, the service was lackluster, as the waiter gave me the wrong beverage and when we tried to order, were told that they can't make pizza for dinner. WTF kind of Italian place that serves pizza can't do so at night?  So the pasta dishes we ordered were okay.  Needed a lot more seasoning.  Overall, a decent meal in the Times Square area but a bit of a let down since I had craved some serious melted pizza cheese.

Black ink squid gnocchi with prawns - looked really good and had nice texture, but couldn't really taste anything from the squid ink

Pappardelle with barolo braised short ribs and mushrooms.  The meat was well cooked, but the whole dish just needed some salt

Profiteroles with vanilla gelato and chocolate sauce.  Tasty but the gelato tasted not as creamy or sweet as I would've liked

Home-made African smoke tilapia, green beans, and potatoes

Bought some awesome African smoke seasoning from Trader Joe's after my co-worker ate some fish at work and I thought, "Are you eating bacon?"  Although the contents of the seasoning are pretty basic - paprika, salt, garlic, and pepper - somehow it evokes a bacon-y taste.  Everything tasted awesome with it - both the tilapia and potatoes.  Dan cut the potatoes in thin slices, almost scalloped, and just sauteed in olive oil after putting the seasoning on it.  The green beans were cooked in olive oil and garlic.  All in all a very tasty and filling meal that was pretty healthy.

Home-made Five-Spice Pork Belly, Mac-n-"cheese" and baby kale persimmon salad

I had some pork belly that I've been doing to cook and I finally found Chinese five space, so found some great recipes online that I combined to season the pork belly.  Unfortunately I think the pork belly in the recipes were big chunks/sections vs. thin slices, which is what I had.  So the meat was pretty well cooked, verging on burned at parts :(  Still super tasty, but next time if I cook such thin pieces I'll definitely know to cook at lower temperature and much less time.  The salad was inspired from Minetta Tavern - mostly baby kale and persimmon plus almonds and croutons with sun dried tomato vinaigrette.  The mac and cheese were leftovers.  The vegan kind.  Overall a good combo and the pork belly, even though burned, was delicious.  Can't wait to try again.
Baby kale persimmon salad, five spice pork belly, mac and cheese

Dinner from Pie Face in NYC

After going to the circus I knew that I wanted a light-er dinner and we were in the city, so wanted to pick up something quick.  I've been wanting to try Pie Face for sometime because face it, who doesn't love meaty pies haha.  All the dishes we tried were pretty great, but very heavy and would benefit from having some kind of gravy/sauce on top.  I wanted get a pie with the Stack (mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy) but we were eating it right away so would have just gotten soggy.  All dishes were awesome but a little pricy for what they are.

Mini coconut custard pie - tasty but not as buttery/rich as it should've been.  Also a tiny two biter for over $3!  Could almost get a whole Entemanns pie for that!

(From back right clockwise) Chunky Steak pie, sausage roll, BBQ pulled pork, and chicken mushroom pie

Inside of the Chunky Steak - beef braised in onions, garlic, and thick red wine gravy sauce.  Super tasty and hearty but heavy

Chicken and mushroom and the BBQ pulled pork.  The pork was a little sweet but Dan loved the chicken and 'shroom

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lunch at Seabra's Marisqueria in Newark, NJ

Took the 'rents to Seabras for some seafood and I think they were finally impressed with a Newark-area restaurant haha.  The reviews of this place are obvi great and I have been before, but I'm glad they enjoyed the seafood.  As usual, the portions were GIGANTIC and we only got three entrees and an appetizer.  Could've done with two entrees but lots of leftovers.  Nice to not be eating meat meat but still have our protein.  Everything was well prepared and clearly fresh.  My fav was definitely the octopus appetizer.  The only negative is they definitely raised their prices as the octopus was $12 and on the website says $8.50.  But as I said, the portions were huge so I guess it evens out.  Even the appetizer was too much for four people! 

Octopus in a vinaigrette sauce - huge meaty pieces of octopus that were so tender.  Steamed and covered in parsley, onions, and vinaigrette.  While I didn't eat the onions, they added a nice taste and the octopus iteself was perfect.  It was very filling though and that place doesn't do justice to how big it was.

Paella Valenciana with lobster, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, chicken, pork, and susage.  Crazy large

Bacalao! Portuguese codfish grilled with olive oil, garlic,
eggs, and onions.  Great flavors and nice crispy texture to the fish

My dad's order of grilled tuna - four huge pieces for $18

Tartufo - my mom and I mistakenly each ordered a dessert.  Bad move consdiering how giant they were

My vanilla nut log.  YUP.

Dinner at Minetta Tavern in NYC

After various cancellations (probably 3 or 4), Dan and I finally made it to Minetta Tavern.  I think this is the 4th or possibly 5th Michelin-star rated place I've been to, and I can definitely see why it was rated so well.  The inside decor was very old school NYC-steakhouse ish.  Lots of old photos and caricature photos.  Super crowded when we arrived for an early 5:30pm reservation haha but it filled up so quickly.  It was a nice leisurely dinner though and never felt rushed.  Plus Dan got a pleasant surprise - souffle for two!  Also of note, the black label burger is why we came.  And it was AMAZING.  Not so large but the meat was like butter.  Perfect.  Worth the $26 price tag.
Complimentary bread - hollow inside and deep fried with cheesy taste.  Sort of like a lighter, classier version of the cheddar bay biscuit at Red Lobster hahaha.  I don't know if that's offensive to Minetta Tavern but in my opinion it's a compliment

Roasted Bone Marrow with baguette soliders and shallot confit - I have never had bad bone marrow.  This was great plus the shallot confit was a nice sweet contrast.  Wish we had had more baguette soldiers but put excess bone marrow on the complimentary bread baguette

special salad of the night - Baby kale with persimmons, pine nuts, farro, and matsutake.  Great flavors and very refreshing.  Also got to try some new things - farro and matsutake mushrooms.  A little pricy but a nice light contrast when eaten along side the bone marrow

Pasta Za Za - fresh fettucine with pancetta, sage, pamesan and a fried egg.  I don't care what the foodies say - a fried egg on anything is great and will never be a "fad" to me.  This was very heavy though.  There wasn't really sauce, more like pasta drenched in cheese ha.  I liked it but couldn't eat too much.  The pancetta was great but only a few pieces :(

The Black Label Burger - why we came!  prime dry-aged beef with caramelized onions and pommes frites.  I ordered it Medium and the chef obviously Bourdain-ed me and cooked it medium rare.  Everyone who ordered it apparently got it medium rare.  Still, as I said, it melted in my mouth. And it was just the burger and brioche.  No ketchup or anything on it.  That's the sign of a truly awesome burger.

Grand Marnier souffle!  I realize I've probably only had souffle once or twice in my life.  Obvi not that great before b/c I can't really remember, but this was excellent.  So light and just the right amount of sweetness.

after we broke into it

Dinner at Park & Sixth Gastropub in Jersey City, NJ, part 2

Second trip to P&SG with Tracy and Kavita to belatedly celebrate Tracy's birthday.  While the service was just as good, the food overall was slightly less awesome.  Don't get me wrong; it was still generally good, but some of our choices didn't amaze me as much as earlier. I know they are still fine-tuning all their dishes though.  Pretty sure the Head Chef came to our table to talk to us.  The wings were amazing and mac-and-cheese was great.  The cauliflower was also pretty tasty but a little too cumin-y for me.  The ceviche was ehhh; the citrus flavors overwhelmed the fish and I didn't like how it was sliced.  The risotto was not good, not bad.  Def needed some more seasoning.  I still think though overall it's a great menu and there are still even more dishes I'm wanting to try.

Gooey Brie Mac-n-Cheese - Pecorino Romano, Truffled Panko

Ceviche - Scottish Salmon, Pico de Gallo, Tomatillo - look at the inordinate amount of liquid.  Drowned the salmon

Roasted Curry Cauliflower - cherry tomatoes, garlic, corn, hot cherry peppers, toasted pepitas

Park & Sixth Wings - Thai Curry Honey and crushed pistachio.  AWESOME.  I realize I didn't even try the dip because it was so deliciously sweet and savory on its own

Risotto - shitake and leek confit, charred portabello, thyme, pecorino romano, mushroom stock.  Not so memorable.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dinner at Park & Sixth Gastropub in Jersey City, NJ

Park & Sixth opened up a new location - a gastropub where York Street Tavern used to be.  Wowww what a great place!  It had only been open for two days when Dan and I went there but I cannot say anything bad about the experience.  It's much more high-end food-wise than original P&S. I  mean I love original P&S but that place was totally comfort food and only recently was it trying to be more fancy with some of the small plates, but you don't go there wanting to spend a lot of money.  This place is more expensive but still reasonable and def better priced than NYC.  But all the food is still comforting but more creative than just sandwiches.  Service was great and the beverage selection was vast.  The decor was fun too; kind of quirky but very warm.  Only negative?  A little dark inside but that's barely a consideration when you think of all the great things.  So many things on the menu I want to try too.  Exciting to come back to the old 'hood.

Dry Aged Wagyu Beef Burger with caramelized onions and American cheese, plus fries.  Amazing meat!

Tuna Tartare with cucumber, tomato, fried basil, garlic chips, srirachi yogurrt, avocado wasabi mousse.  Everything about this was awesome.  I realized after that 3/4 dishes had fried components but the tartare seemed to lighten up the whole meal so I didn't feel gross

Tater Torts - cheddar, garlic, and some spicy (sriracha?) ketchup.  Tater tots was a misnomer.  This was basically a round croquette and the inside was totally mushy and croquette-like.  Tasty but I missed the crunchy friedness of traditional tots.  That dip was amazing with the french fries though!

Spring rolls with rock shrimp, andouille sausage and a roasted red pepper sauce.  Pretty tasty too but I think i prefer their Philly Cheesesteak spring rolls from original P&S

View of half my  burger.  Such quality meat!