Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grom Gelato (West Village) - Review

Intro
Grom - Highly Not Recommended
233 Bleecker St, New York 10014
at Carmine St
Phone: 212-206-1738

After the great meal at Casa, we were walking around the West Village and found out they opened up a Grom Gelato. So, shocked that this was much much worse than the one in the Upper West Side. Definitely not recommended.

My Menu
1) Hazelnut Gelato
2) Bacio Gelato

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way
* Good

** Great

*** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
Both gelati had great, intense flavors. Unfortunately, the texture was terrible. The gelati were very gritty, since there were ground up nuts that were not strained out. Kinda like eating sandy vegetables - bleh! Plus, the gelato was hard and not very smooth. Texture is half the battle in gelato and I expect a smooth texture that is very rich, light, and soft. Not here...

Overall Restaurant Experience

  • Food 6.0/10 - Great flavor, terrible texture.
  • Service N/A - NYU kids running the counter that seemed confused and not wanting be there.
  • Atmosphere N/A - Long confusing line that made no sense.
  • Price 5/10 - Very expensive gelato (small is $4.75) and not worth the price.
Closing Comments
If you're in the West Village, I would 100% check out Bruno Bakery for gelati since the texture there is great. Surprising how great Grom Gelato was in the Upper West Side versus the one in the West Village. I guess it's kinda like how Popeye's at one location could be 100% better than a Popeye's at another location...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Casa - Review

Intro
Casa - Highly Recommended

72 Bedford St, NY 10014
at Commerce St
Phone: 212-366-9410

After a long ass morning of training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I felt like I wanted some Brazilian cuisine for dinner. My first time having Brazilian food and man I was totally missing out. Nothing fancy, but just phenomenal comfort food. Overall, I give the restaurant an 86/100.

My Menu

1) Caldo Verde Com Linguiça **
2) Feijoada ***
3)
File de Peixe Com Banana Frita E Abobrinha Refogada *
4) Passion Fruit Caipirinha **
5) Passion Fruit

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way
* Good

** Great

*** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) A soup that was very surprising to me. Nice subtle potato flavor and an incredibly smooth texture. The linguiça was spectacular - juicy, smoky, flavorful. The collards greens added a nice texture and flavor. This seems similar to the Portugese Kale soup - hearty greens and sausage - I guess makes sense since Brazil was a colony of Portugal way back when.
2) The national dish of Brazil. Basically a stew of beans, pork belly, short ribs, linguiça, and some other cuts of meat. A complete what the f moment. Such a feel good dish with phenomenal flavor and incredibly tender meats. I almost cried after the first bite of pork belly. Comes with sides of rice, pickled onions, farofa, oranges, and collard greens (crunchy and great) - all completely complemented the rich stew. Usually this dish is made with cheaper cuts of meats (e.g. pig ears, tails, snouts) like many of the best Italian and Chinese dishes. This dish was still great, but I need to find one with the cheaper cuts of meats.
3) A nice light dish. Pan seared fish that was juicy with great flavor. Simple and delicious with a squeeze of lemon. Comes with a side of slightly sauteed zucchini and a ridiculously good roasted banana - kinda like the cuban style plantains except it's served whole and more subtly sweet with no crispy caramelization.

4) The best caipirinha I've ever had. Slightly sweet, sour, and great with the feijoada.
5) Fresh passion fruit juice, but it was very sour with absolutely no sugar.

Overall Restaurant Experience (86/100)

  • Food 8.7/10 – First time for Brazilian food and I definitely want some more. Amazing comfort food.
  • Service 7.9/10 – Food took a while to come out, but the waitress was generally nice. The waitresses sounded like they were Brazilian.
  • Atmosphere 8.3/10 – Like all the restaurants on Bedford (which most kick ars), a super tiny quaint place. White walls and mirrors with large windows facing the street. Seats around 20 people, which means that you're almost sharing another table with other people. Crowd consisted of groups of 6 and some couples - the noise level is very loud. Got there at 8pm on a Saturday with no reservations and got in right away - we were lucky though since there was a line and the place was packed.
  • Price 8.8/10 – About $30 a head which I thought was a great price point for such good food. Majority of the entrees are under $20 - feijoada was $22. Portions are pretty big, as I was still stuffed the next morning.
Closing Comments
Can't wait to go back and order a lot more food, but I definitely want the feijoada again. No pictures again, since it was really dark and didn't want to blind the people sitting next to us...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shake Shack : Dogs

Shake Shack... located in Madison Square Park (Flat Iron District) is pretty much known for their burgers.
But did you know they serve killer hot dogs as well?
To my surprise, the Cheese Dogs I ordered the other day were quite the buy.
Yah... $10 for 2 dogs and a Coke may be a little steep... but then again, how can you put a price on sitting in a park during your lunch break in Manhattan, with 65 degree blue skies.


previous posts :

Shake Shack - Review

Shake Shack - Review (Aramis)

Shake Shack - Revisited

What's behind the HYPE ?!

The All-Natural Taste That Wasn’t

Published: April 23, 2008

FOR a seller of “chilly bliss” and “swirly goodness,” Pinkberry has taken a lot of heat.

Pinkberry uses three different sugars.

Pinkberry, a frozen yogurt chain, inspired a passionate following when its first store opened, in West Hollywood in 2005. Its “original” flavor is smooth and tangy, and tastes like nothing so much as plain yogurt with a small amount of sugar.

The company initially touted its product as healthy, nonfat and all-natural, but did not say exactly what was in it.

“It always seemed too good to be true,” said Christina Yeo, a graduate student, at a Manhattan Pinkberry on Monday. “That’s why people were so curious about it.”

After a class-action lawsuit was filed last year accusing the company of deceptive marketing, Pinkberry posted ingredients on its Web site. But that got little notice until the case was settled two weeks ago. (The company said the lawsuit had nothing to do with the posting.)

There is, it turns out, a great deal more than yogurt in those costly white cups.

The ingredients list for Original Pinkberry has 23 items. Skim milk and nonfat yogurt are listed first, then three kinds of sugar: sucrose, fructose and dextrose. Fructose and maltodextrin, another ingredient, are both laboratory-produced ingredients extracted from corn syrup.

The list includes at least five additives defined by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as emulsifiers (propylene glycol esters, lactoglycerides, sodium acid pyrophosphate, mono- and diglycerides); four acidifiers (magnesium oxide, calcium fumarate, citric acid, sodium citrate); tocopherol, a natural preservative; and two ingredients — starch and maltodextrin — that were characterized as fillers by Dr. Gary A. Reineccius, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota and an expert in food additives.

Some of them can be characterized as natural, while others are clearly not, he said.

“Isn’t it amazing how many additives it takes to make something taste natural?” Dr. Reineccius said.

Many of the ingredients give Pinkberry qualities that nonfat frozen yogurt would not have naturally, Dr. Reineccius said.

“They are there to make something smooth, sweet and tangy that would otherwise be gritty and flavorless in a frozen state,” he said.

Pinkberry acknowledged that some of the claims it made when its stores first opened could not be backed up.

In an e-mail message, Pinkberry’s chief executive, Ron Graves, said: “In the company’s early days some of its point-of-sale material contained the words ‘all natural’ — which was an honest mistake by the founders. The yogurt used was ‘all natural,’ which was the source of confusion.”

Pinkberry’s fiercest competitor, Red Mango, uses 14 ingredients in its frozen yogurt, the first of which is water. It also lists four types of active cultures. (Red Mango’s Web site has always listed the product’s ingredients.)

Both companies use nonfat dairy products, sweeteners, emulsifiers and acidifiers, but only Pinkberry’s frozen yogurt includes artificial colors and flavors. Guar gum, another ingredient, is commonly used in frozen desserts to slow the melting process. (Pinkberry’s Web site touts the product’s “pouty peaks,” which guar gum helps to achieve.)

Pinkberry and Red Mango now enjoy the Live and Active Cultures seal of the National Yogurt Association, certifying that their frozen yogurt contains at least 10 million live cultures per gram at the time of manufacture.

But the specific health effects of live cultures — now called probiotics — and how many of them are needed to provide a beneficial effect have not been determined.

In January another yogurt-related class action lawsuit was filed, against Dannon, challenging the company’s claims that the benefits of its trademarked probiotics were “clinically” and “scientifically” proven.

Pinkberry announced its certification two weeks ago, just as a preliminary settlement was reached in the class action suit. While saying it had done nothing wrong, Pinkberry agreed to donate $750,000 to hunger and children’s charities, and to pay the plaintiff’s legal costs.

“Personally, I would have preferred that the money go toward consumer advocacy against misleading food marketers,” said Ray Gallo, a lawyer for the plaintiff.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

I've always grouped "chicken pot pie" with something nasty my high school commissary whipped up in order to feed the masses... that is until yesterday.
Out of nostalgia, I ordered a chicken pot pie and boy was I happy I did.
Homemade puff pastry with rich and flavorful fillings.
A good treat down memory lane.

Italian in NJ

I've been frequenting this little restaurant recently. The recommendation of a few co-workers of mine.
It's good Italian American food that packs a punch in the flavor department.

Trattoria la Sorrentina

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Beef Bowl

Can anyone name this dish?


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Food prices a serious issue...

We've documented the issue of rising food costs before, and here's another article describing the global crisis we're facing now with the affects of food prices on developing countries. According to this article, this is the first global food crisis that the world has seen since World War II. It's kinda sad that the rich countries need for fuels (oil and ethanol) are causing mass hunger in the poorer nations. Quite scary and quite sad...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Japanese Pastries: Mochi

After the great meal at Petite Soo Chow, we went to Mitsuwa supermarket in Edgewater, NJ for a little Asian grocery shopping. Porthos bought some spectacular Japanese pastries, which are listed below.

Sakura Mochi (Cherry Blossom Glutinous Rice)
Porthos mentioned this was one of his favorite pastries in Japan. This brand I guess is flown in every night from Japan and thawed out at the Mitsuwa. Upon opening the box, the mochi smelled incredibly floral, since these are wrapped in Cherry Blossom leaves. Such an amazing soft texture that has the perfect amount of sweetness and the whole floral thing going on. Killer. The leaf and the cherry blossom flower on top are preserved, so it's hella salty. Great Stuff...

Gyuuhi
Funny enough, this was also Porthos' other favorite dessert. A texture that is similar to the Japanese Dorayaki which is a very soft texture - kinda like angel food cake. There were 2 fillings here - red bean and citrus/mochi stick in one; and red bean and mochi stick in the other. Both were tasty, but the citrus version was great.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Petite Soo Chow - Review

Intro
Petite Soo Chow - Highly Recommended

607 Gorge Road, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010
Phone: 201-
313-1666

The fiancee and I have been craving Taiwanese food for a long time, so we were planning on visiting Flushing. Unfortunately, Porthos reminded us that the Pope was in town, so that would be a pain to drive out to. Instead I turned to the Chowhounders and as usual they never fail. Someone recommended Petite Soo Chow and it was very surprising. Overall, I give the restaurant an 86/100.

My Menu

1) Pickled Cucumbers *
2) Tripe
3) Shen Jian Bow ***
4) Do Jiang ---
5) Oyster Pancake *
6) Lao Bao Si Bing *
7) Scallion Pancake
8) Garlic Chive Dumpling **
9) Xiao Long Bow **

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way
* Good

** Great

*** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) Refreshing and good to cut the ridiculous amount of dishes we were about to order. Crunchy, sweet, sour, and very refreshing. This wasn't on the menu, but on the table out front which you can get yourself...very similar to joints in Taipei.
2) Usually, I love tripe - Chinese, Italian, French...whatever. This was decent, but nothing to write home (aka blog) about. Tender, but a little too oily for me.
3) If you've read this blog before, you know I loooove Shen Jian Bow. Basically, a pork dumpling that is pan seared with a very deceptively light and airy skin. These were shockingly good...like 85-90% of the quality of the ones we got in Taiwan. Great juicy meat texture and perfect skins. Missing the sweet soy that we get on the streets of Taipei, but this still brought me back.
4) Fresh soy milk that unfortunately does not have any flavor. Plus, it's completely unsweetened. Sad...but the you tiao (fried dough) is hella good.
5) Creamy scrambled eggs, cooked juicy oysters, and spinach with a sweet sauce. A surprisingly good dish and close enough to the ones I've tried in Taiwan.
6) A good dumpling with turnip, mushrooms (?), and tofu skin stuffing. Flavorful and a
nice bread like shell.
7) Decent scallion pancake, but not worth mentioning. Still better than the majority of the Chinese restaurants scallions pancakes in the tri-state area which suck.
8) Amazing garlic chive filling that had such a good earthy flavor
. The shell was almost like an empanada, but crispier. I wish I had one right now as I write.
9) I'm a big fan of soup dumplings and these were super flavorful, nice filling, great broth, and very tender skins. The ones at Grand Shanghai are better due to the better skins, but these are still great.

Overall Restaurant Experience (86/100)

  • Food 8.5/10 – Really good to great Chinese / Taiwanese style dishes.
  • Service 8.4/10 – Food came out super quick, but the waitress had a bit of an attitude. However, the hostess and the lady making the dumplings up front were extremely nice and we chatted them up after our meal.
  • Atmosphere 8.4/10 – Chinese restaurant that was reminiscent of the ones in Cupertino, California. Tinier place, that maybe seated 30 or less. A good amount of room in between tables, so not cramped at all. Crowd was 75% Chinese, and 25% white. Got there at 2pm on a Sunday and were seated with 5 minutes.
  • Price 9.3/10 – $18 a head for 3 people which is a phenomenal deal for the unscripted banquet that we had. 8 gargantuan shen jian bow, 8 xiao long bow, and a plethora of others. We had so much extra food to take home - it was glorious. Go now!
Closing Comments
The other dishes that people ordered looked out of control good - like the dungeneous crab and the pork belly buns. Food is great here and very reminiscent of the street food we had in Taiwan. Definitely must come back with reinforcements to try all the other dishes...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bad McCain

Family Recipes, Passed Down From One Site to Another

New York Times : By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: April 16, 2008

WASHINGTON — It was a recipe for scandal.

Until early Tuesday morning, visitors to John McCain’s campaign Web site could find seven of “Cindy’s Recipes,” among them three elegant and healthful offerings: passion fruit mousse, ahi tuna with Napa cabbage slaw and farfalle pasta with turkey sausage, peas and mushrooms.

Only problem was, all three, listed as favorite family recipes of Cindy McCain, Mr. McCain’s wife, were taken verbatim from the Food Network.

A fourth, rosemary chicken breasts and warm spinach salad with bacon, bore a striking resemblance to a similar recipe by Rachael Ray.

By midmorning, the McCain campaign had taken all seven recipes off the Web site and was pointing a finger at an intern who, tasked several months ago with contacting Mrs. McCain’s staff for favorite McCain recipes, had prowled the Internet instead.

“The intern has been dealt with,” said Tucker Bounds, a campaign spokesman, who declined to provide details. Nonetheless, Mr. Bounds said, “we took away his zero pay.”

“Farfallegate” was first reported Monday night by David Weiner on The Huffington Post Web site after he was alerted by Lauren E. Handel, a New York environmental defense lawyer. Ms. Handel, an avid cook, had plugged ingredients into an Internet search engine, looking for a recipe for dinner on Sunday night, and found that the Food Network and McCain sites popped up at the same time.

“I thought, This is weird, John McCain has a recipe for pasta with sausage and peas,” Ms. Handel said in a telephone interview. Curious, she began investigating and discovered the lifted recipes. She mentioned the episode on Monday morning to one of her law partners, who happened to be Mr. Weiner’s father. The mousse soon exploded.

A spokeswoman for the Food Network, Carrie Welch, said late Tuesday that the network had no comment, but Ms. Ray was more talkative. “My recipes are supposed to be accessible to everyone — interns, students, senators and families alike,” Ms. Ray said through a spokesman, Charlie Dougiello. “I personally find it flattering when anyone cooks my food.” Ms. Ray, a Democrat, then invited both McCains to share recipes on her show.

Also on Tuesday, the Wonkette site posted a recipe, “Cindy McCain’s 3-Minute No-Bake Cookies,” which appeared in the December 2007 issue of Yankee Magazine and was identical to a recipe from Quaker Oats. Mr. Bounds said he would look into it.

In the meantime, The Huffington Post reported that the passion fruit recipe had appeared under Mrs. McCain’s name in the Jan. 16 issue of The New York Sun, in an article that also included a recipe from Michelle Obama (apple cobbler) but not one from the spouse of the other Democratic presidential candidate. The article did include Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

By the end of the day, Mr. Bounds said that the McCain campaign was busy revising the recipe section of the Web site, and that Mrs. McCain liked to cook lemon chicken and beef stew.

Friday, April 18, 2008

AIWF Gala Dinner 2008

Held last Monday at the Pierre Hotel

Every year, the AIWF (American Institute of Wine & Food) of New York City holds a Gala event and invites guest chefs to lend their talents for the night.
This year's menu was probably the best I've experienced in the 3 years I've attended.

The Hor d'Oeuvres by Josh Grinker of Stone Park Cafe
Crabcakes **
Foie Gras Terrine on Toast Points **
Mini Shortrib Burgers *
Almond Soup *

First Course by Bill Telapan of Telapan
Egg in a hole with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms,
Toasted Garlic and Baby Spinach ***





Second Course by David Waltuck of Chanterelle
Sauteed Dayboat Scallops with Duckfat, Angel Hair pasta and Snowpeas **






Third Course by Stephen Lewandowski of Tribeca Grill
Big Red Braised Shortrib with Foiegras and Black Truffle Chartreuse **







Cheese Course by Pampered Cow









Dessert by Elizabeth Katz of BR Guest
Lemon Pistachio : Toasted Meringue Bavarian, Pistachio Crema *

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Snakes on a Plate!

A medical emergency brought me back to China. Thank God that things are much better, and when things stabilized, I went out and explored some food. This time I went to a Hunan restaurant in Tianjin called Guang Tou Nong Jia Cai (Translation = Bald Head Farmer's Cuisine). The outside, as much of China, is getting a makeover. The sidewalk is half paved with bricks and half dirt. Because Tianjin is an Olympic city, there’s a massive movement to beautify the city. As I thumbed through the menu, I was thinking how a lot of people would be surprised. I am to the point where seeing a page of turtles is quite ho-hum to me now. But wait… what is this? Snake? I think I tried it once when I was a wee lad when I was in Mexico, but I really can’t remember. That saying, it’s like a new experience for me. One order, please!

I was with the locals. They all told me they would not eat it.

As you can imagine, eating in China, for the most part, is a lot cheaper than it is in the US. The bill for four of us was $100, and $50 of that went to the snake dish. How was it? Delicious, actually. No really, I actually liked it a lot. Now then, my lunch experience.

Now that the staff knew what I wanted, they brought out my lunch. At this point, it was alive. The cook (I think) was careful to have a tight grip on the snake’s head, so it doesn’t go lunging at us. I’d say it was about 4 feet long, probably even longer. After I felt the skin, kind of pet it, and said good-bye, I looked around the restaurant and observed the style.

As I said it’s Hunan style. Old Communist Chairman Mao Tse-Dong was from Hunan province, so the staff wore the old Mao-era clothes. The interior was designed to look like a wooden home. There were decorations that are typical to that region including an opium pipe. I think. Nobody could confirm it. As far as food goes, Hunan food is spicy. There are different types of spiciness. For example, the spiciness that Xi’an is known for is one that numbs your lips and tongue. I really enjoy the food there, but after 20 minutes of happily eating a lamb’s leg, you can’t taste it anymore. Washing your tongue with water will not do it. You just need to wait. Well, this is spicy like we are more familiar with. Think Mexican food. In fact, there was a dish that was very similar to what you find in genuine Mexican restaurants. Instead of salsa with the chips, you may find spicy pickled vegetables including carrots, onions, and of course, peppers. Almost the same vegetables in China. And yes, very spicy.

No chips.

Okay, so the first part of the snake experience is dished up. I receive two shot glasses of bai ju. Bai ju is very popular in China. It’s is transparent like water, but the smell and taste let you know something is there. Hard. It comes from rice. The way someone described it to me was that those who made it were poor Chinese, so they created something strong to make them forget about life at that moment. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but drinking this stuff will definitely mess with your mind. Strong stuff! I will admit that the most intoxicated experience I’ve had in my life was a result from a lot of this. Don’t let the beautifully decorated and ornate bottle fool you. It looks very elegant. But when you drink it, you feel is going all the way down. Think gasoline. So here I am with two shot glasses of this. One is red, and the other is transparent. Wait a tick… is there something in there? Ah yes, it’s the snake’s gall bladder. They “pop” it, leave the “meat,” and let the bile pour into the glass. Now I have a green shot. I am told this is to make one horny. Whatever - this is the first time I was frightened to throw something back into the gullet. But I did. Only half of it, because others on the table were scared, too. The bile didn’t change the taste of the bai ju; onto the red shot. Why red? You guessed it: snake blood. For some reason, this was easier for me to take down. Bottom’s up! Yeah, I had a slight buzz.

Okay, what’s next?

Several dishes as that’s what you do in China. Spicy? Yes. When your dishes are covered in peppers, and you need to poke around to find your food, you know it’s spicy. Others have it mixed in delicately. But make no mistake, it’s spicy. About the only thing that wasn’t was the bread/bun, but dipping it into the sauce will cure that. What was eaten:

- Rice (surprised?)
- Tofu gar (celery and dried tofu). Not bad.
- Pao cai (pickled vegetables). Similar to what you see in a Mexican restaurant
- Hua cai chao rou (cauliflower stir fry pork meat). Had a great grilled flavor. Reminded me of roasted peppers, including the spice.
- Hua juan (flower swirl bread). Chinese bread/buns really don't have much flavor. These were better than normal, though.
- Shuang se yu tou (double color fish head). I love fish, especially when cooked whole. The only problem is all the tiny bones. One lodged itself in my throat what felt like sideways - all the way down. Ouch!
- You jian la jiao (Oil fried spicy green pepper). And this was definitely "la." (spicy)
- Suang cai fen si bao (Saurkraut rice noodle clay dish). Not a fan, but not a fan of sauerkraut.
- And finally, the featured dish: xiang la she (fragrant spicy snake)! You can see the meat in the shape of the snake's body and the colorful snake skin, which was actually my favorite part.

Everyone watched me and did not dare try it - until the end. They saw how much I liked it and finally tried a few nibbles. The skin had rubbery texture that was perfect. Like the yu (fish) the se (snake) is very bony. But it's easy to eat around the bones. This is the dish that was full of peppers, and towards the end, I was fishing for my meat. Again, I thought it was hao chi (delicious). Yes, I would eat it again. Done. Wo chi bao le. (I am full.) Lips and tongue fully burning from spicy food.


Bronte - Review

Intro
Bronte - Highly Recommended

1800 Sherbrooke Ouest
Montreal, PQ H3H 1E5

The final restaurant of the weekend extravaganza. Located in our hotel (Le Meridian), someone mentioned that this restaurant won best new restaurant in Montreal in 2004. Well deserved as I was completely shocked how good this place is. Very comparable to Aureole, one of my favorite restaurants in NY, in terms of quality of cooking. Overall, I give the restaurant a 87/100.

My Menu

1) Braised Rabbit Papperdelle **
2) Sea Bass with roasted tomatoes and potatoes **
3) Semi Freddo *

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way
* Good

** Great
*** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) Pasta is a little passion of mine and I could tell by picking the first noodle up with a fork that it was perfectly cooked. Nice texture on the pasta too - very silky with a slight al-denteness to it. Combine that with the intense sauce of porcini mushrooms and a nicely braised rabbit and you got a real winner. Wished the rabbit were slightly more tender and juicier though.
2) Although I've been to many an upscale seafood restaurant, I've never really had sea bass at an upscale restaurant (Chilean sea bass is different) so usually when I think of this dish I think of the steamed whole version you get at Chinese restaurants. This was perfectly cooked - nice and moist fish, crisp skin, meyer lemon vinaigrette that provided a nice tartness to the sweet fish. Roasted tomatoes were spectacular for this time of year and totally inspiring me to make roasted tomatoes myself. Potatoes were nicely flavored but a little too cold.
3) A nice hazlenut semi-fredo (think melted ice cream) with good texture and great hazlenut flavor. There was way too much of the berry sauce for me though which made the dish overly tart.

Overall Restaurant Experience (87/100)

  • Food 8.8/10 – Great app and entree, but the dessert was a letdown after the previous two great savory dishes. All food was beautifully plated served on gargantuan plates - nary a sauce on the rims of these monster plates. Scores would have been much higher, but the dessert brought it down. Also, no real what the f moments, but that'll be difficult with this style of food since I've had many like this...
  • Service 8.6/10 – Attentive waiters and waitresses. The waiter warned us that the food will come out slow, but we didn't notice that much although the meal was 2 1/2 hours. No crumb cleanup duty in between plates though. I think if we weren't so tired from the food and after hours party from the night before, we may have been irritated by the length of time it took.
  • Atmosphere 8.8/10 – Trendy looking restaurant that had a feel similar to A Voce - some white wall with dark wood and lots of bright colors on the opposite walls. Crowds were mainly in groups of 2-4 and quite restrained. We were very loud I would assume :) Called up at 6pm that night and got in...probably due to the fact that we stayed at the hotel attached to the restaurant.
  • Price 7.5/10 – $100 a head including tip and 1 bottle of wine. Reflecting back, I believe this was a tad bit too expensive for 3 courses. Although the food was great, Aureole's food is much better and for a better deal - $115 for 7 courses. With that said, I was extremely happy with the meal and didn't care about the price.
Closing Comments
Great, great meal and totally unexpected. I tasted two of my friend's dishes and they were much better than mine. Scallops were so sweet and such an amazing flavor. The salmon may have been even better - so soft and no caramelization, but the proteins still firmed up. If I'm back in Montreal, I may have to say this is a must visit. We were so exhausted from the night before - otherwise I definitely would have had pictures of the beautifully presented food. Montreal - you guys got it good in terms of eats...can't wait to check out what other restaurants have to offer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Au Pied de Cochon - Review

Intro
Au Pied de Cochon - Highly Recommended

536 East Duluth, Montreal, Quebec, H2L 1A9

Phone: 514-281-1114

D'Artagnan and some fellas took me for a food tour/bachelor party in Montreal. There's only one place that I knew I had to go to - Au Pied de Cochon translated as At the foot of the pig. And that foot was oh so tasty. I've been dying to check this place out after Bourdain traveled there for his No Reservations show. It definitely lived up to the hype. Overall, I give the restaurant a 89/100.

My Menu

1) Foie Gras Cromesquis *
2) Venison Tartare **
3) Foie Gras Poutine **
4) Foie Gras Terrine ***
5) Country style pate *
6) PDC's melting pot **
7) Stuffed Pied de Cochon with Foie Gras ***
8) Duck Magret in a Mushroom Sauce *
9) La Coupe de Pied de Cochon (5kg) *
10) Confit Lamb Shank

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way
* Good

** Great
*** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) Deep fried Foie Gras croquettes. Crisp on the outisde and liquid foie gras on the inside. Wished the liquid was warmer, but it was still tasty.
2) Venison tartare was amazing. Perfect texture with the egg yolk, great fattiness in the meat, and amazing flavor of vension and the cornichons.
3) Poutine is the national after bar/club dish of Montreal. The dish is basically fries, gravy, cheese curds (think mozzarella), and foie gras. Not refined at all, but just super fun to eat. I want one now...
4) Definitely a what the f moment with the terrine. Such a soft and sweet terrine. It melted in your mouth with little resistance and the flavor was heavenly. Definitely a must have dish.
5) A nice flavorful pate with a blood gelatin type thing. Usually not a big fan of pig blood, but this had a nice sweet, wine drenched flavor. Good stuff.
6) I believe this was PDC's melting pot at least. Basically, mashed taters, blood sausage, pork belly, and regular pig sausage. This thing was off the hook. Such an orgy of meats, flavors, and textures - it was spectacular. Oh, and like the previous dish I was shocked at how good the blood sausage was. Usually not a big fan of blood sausage, but I loved it here - definitely th
e best I've ever had.
7) A ridiculous what the f moment and my favorite dish of the entire trip. K, this dish is basically stewed pig feet that is stuffed with foie gras and fried. This thing is scary to look at as it's basically a whole pigs foot - look closely at the picture above and you'll see the wee little piggy is missing something. Any who, texturely this is such a glorious dish...crispy on the outside, gelatiny on the inside with little treasures of pork meat hidden inside. Such a great pork flavor and add the foie gras and you have tasty cholesterol goodness...Btw - this thing tastes great at 4am.
8) Soft duck texture that had good flavor. Topped with mushrooms cooked in what appeared to be the Asian Maggi sauce. Good stuff.
9) A huge 1 pound pork chop roasted. Since it is so gi-normous, the outer shell of the chop is overcooked and actually pretty dry. But, once you get to the inside, it's perfectly juicy and a great pork flavor.
10) The only miss for me. Usually, lamb shank should have a very tender and soft texture that falls off the bone. This didn't. It wasn't necessarily dry and it had good flavor, but it was texturely disappointing to me.

Overall Restaurant Experience (89/100)

  • Food 8.9/10 – Very homey, stick to your ribs type food. Nothing fancy about it, just amazing eats.
  • Service 8.0/10 – Waiter was extremely nice and helpful, but I assume that maybe because D'Artagnan was speaking French to him. The first wave of food came out very quickly. Unfortunately, the second wave of food took 30+ minutes to arrive. Probably due to the fact that we crushed the first wave in 10 minutes. Btw - they vacuum seal the left overs for you. So awesome...
  • Atmosphere 8.8/10 – My type of place. Bistro type atmosphere, so very casual. Some guys were in t-shirts so completely unpretentious. Decor was like an almost nicer diner...there was a bar that people sat at where the chefs cooked in front of you. Standard mirrors on the wall. Crowd consisted of large groups, families and couples. Relatively large place maybe seating 70 people. D'Artagnan made the reservation 4 days in advance and we got the 6-8pm time slot and were seated properly. When we left the line was basically out the door...a packed place.
  • Price 9.0/10 – For the amount and quality of food, it was a phenomenal price point. $100 a head including tip. Some of the entrees were for 2-3 people, so we probably ordered enough food for 7 people, though we only had 5. This also included 2 bottles of wine and armagnac from 1979.
Closing Comments
Spectacular stuff, though in retrospect we should have ordered some vegetables...still worth it though. Great times with some great friends.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Shumi - Review

Intro
Shumi - Not Recommended (for price and location)

30 South Doughty Ave, Somerville, NJ 08876

Phone: 908-526-8596

Porthos and I found Shumi two years ago and have returned multiple times for the value and quality of the sushi. Shumi walks a fine line between high end sushi and fun combinations, but not the avocado/mayo based rolls you find in every sushi restaurant across America. However, something wasn't quite right during this trip. The "bang for the buck" was way down and it's tough to justify the price and the travel time for the quality that we got. Overall, I give the restaurant a 74/100.

My Menu

1) Tuna Appetizer *
2) Toro ---
3) Akami *
4) Aji *
5) Fluke *
6) Red Snapper
7) Ankimo Toro
8) Ankimo Salmon Roe
9) Tai Skin Handroll **
10) Unagi ***
11) Tamago **
12) Squid **
13)
Salmon Roe and Quail Egg *
14) Ankimo and Ume *

--- What the F - in a bad way
* Good

** Great
*** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
In the past, the sushi at Shumi were good to mostly great. The combos were stuff that you don't normally get - ankimo and toro used to be a favorite. But again for some reason the quality was way down during this trip. The toro served was not very good - flavorless and sub par texture. The ankimo which was a strong point was not as flavorful. Not sure if this drop in quality was due to the rise in food costs everywhere. It wasn't just me, but my 3 other companions said the same thing - that it used to be much much better and it wasn't very good this Sunday. Not sure what happened, but we've visited on a Sunday before. C'est la vie.

Overall Restaurant Experience (74/100)

  • Food 7.6/10 – Mostly good sushi, but lots of big disappointments compared to our previous visits.
  • Service 9.0/10 – The main sushi chef Ike is extremely nice and very accommodating. He goes out of his way to see what you like and always pinpoints exactly what you want.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Tiny place that shares the entrance with a photo studio. Sushi counter seats about 10 and there are tables maybe for another 30. Sunday night at 8pm and there was 1 other young couple at the counter and 1 large table of Japanese businessmen. We called 1 hour in advance and got reservations right away.
  • Price 6.0/10 – $70 a head including tip, which I believe is too expensive for the quality of sushi that we had. If we pay $70, I expect almost every single piece to be at least good with the majority being very good. Not tonight and especially disappointed with the toro which is usually one of the pieces I look forward to the most. For the same price, Lan would be a better experience and the toro is always spectacular there.
Closing Comments
In the past, the reason why we traveled 50 minutes to Shumi was the great combos (ankimo and lobster tamale), quality, and reasonable price. I do have to say that I've been to Shumi 4 times before and every single time previously I would have said highly recommended. But, something happened and although the sushi is still good, it's not worth the price and the 50 minute travel time (outside of the NYC area) to get to. If we lived 15-20 minutes from Somerville, then we would 100% go back. But, we don't live that close so Porthos suggested Sushi Seki for much better quality, similar styles, and similar price range. That may have to be a visit soon...


Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Have it your way" ???

Serious play on words at Burger King.
Gotta love corporate America.
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Philly Cheesesteaks

I had an event in Philly earlier this week and like any out-of-towner, I had to get a Philly Cheesesteak in the city of brotherly love.
I'm not really sure why it's given that nickname... since many people strolling the streets at night in Center City did not look very "approachable" to me.
And that's Center City... where I was told is completely safe and well patrolled.
(I saw a total of 1 police officer while in Philly that whole day)
With a nickname like that... I just expected more... or at least a better city appearance in terms of roads, buildings and street congestion.

Anywho, I digress... back to the Cheesesteak.
So our resident graphic designer (a Phillygirl) who tagged along for the ride and helped out at the event, took us around and brought us to Jim's Steak for her favorite Cheesesteak in Philly.
I gotta say, it was juicy, flavorful, and completely satisfying. Like what a cheesesteak should be. I've been served Pat's and Geno's as well... and they are all good. If I remember correctly, in my preliminary tastings of one or the other... I preferred Pat's over Geno's.

The Cheesesteak really isn't a refined dish by any means, so therefore one needs to look elsewhere when assessing quality. I tend to appreciate places where they chop up the meat and make it as easy as possible to bite through the beast without it getting too messy at the end.
Pat's does it and so does Jim's.

I'll be back for sure.
Interesting sign on the wall at Jim's that read...paraphrased "Join the club by eating 13 cheesesteaks in a hour and it's free".
I ate 2 and it was enough for me.

Sang Kee

Located on the edge of Pine St in Chinatown (Philly), this little restaurant does some serious numbers for lunch and dinner.
Priced very cheap, people come in for a hearty meal and walk away satisfied without a doubt.

We had -
Wonton Noodle Soup with Braised Beef *
Stir fried String Beans with garlic
Roasted Duck (Hong Kong Style) *
House Pan Fried Noodles *
for lunch...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bacon, bacon, bacon

Bigus Edicus sent the dudes a good article concerning artisanal bacon. Porthos, Athos, and I love our pork products dearly. However, I'm ashamed that I really don't know much about artisanal bacon. Guanciale and pancetta I've played with many a time, but after reading this article I definitely need to give bacon a thorough analysis. The article is a good place to start, naming some of the quality producers out there. Don't worry my friends...we dudes will have a side by side test soon :)

False, false, false

click here Pork Article by Nick Passmore for the article...

Who is Nick Passmore and what is he talking about?! Seriously.
For anyone in the food industry to claim pork belly in the US hasn't risen in price is completely absurd.

I guess one can stretch the truth for commodity bacon, like the ones packed in vacuum packs by Hormel or Kraft's because they are using stocked rations from years past with fixed pricing... but that's just poor accounting in my opinion.

The truth is, pork prices have increased. And especially pork belly.
Take for instance Niman Ranch Pork Bellies... an undisputed Premium Pork vendor (wouldn't you agree?).
Percentage wise, it's increased 40% in the past 3 years. (from $3.75 to $5.25 per pound)
The once considered "very cheap" cut has chefs scratching their heads when they calculate plate-cost for their menus, and more importantly their monthly food-cost reports.
It's no longer that no brainer one item that you could throw on a menu and generated a good GP%.

Don't believe me... ? Call Bill Niman or ask the guys at Niman Ranch if it's true... raising pigs outside in the open air has proven difficult the past few years due to rising feed costs and overall logistics in running a pig farm.
They'll tell you exactly what I've just said.
Without raising prices, they would not survive in today's market place and that's a lose lose situation for everyone.

We should all have a piece of Niman Ranch pork belly in our refrigerator.
You really don't know when you need to braise a good pork belly for an impromptu dinner party.

May showers bring restaurant paychecks?

Interesting article from Money Magazine about how the month of May is the biggest of the year for the restaurant biz. Surprisingly, Mother's day is the biggest dining out day of the year. Add tax rebates, graduation, and prom and you have a plethora of food being served. So, save up your tax rebates and get ready to take your mom out to your favorite restaurant...btw - Mother's Day is May 11th.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Watermellon Nightmares...

Cutting up watermelon the other day and my fiancee freaked out when she saw it. I guess to her it looks like a brain, but to me it's juicy goodness...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

After Hours with Daniel: Season 3









Daniel's phenomenal TV show After Hours with Daniel is back on and this time he's in Miami. As usual, a great show as you get to watch some very good chefs cook and comment on the food world. One of the topics that came up from the Restaurant Michy episode is food blogging. Daniel seemed evasive when he was asked if blogging was good or bad, but the impression I got was that he and other chefs on the episode were quite resentful of the food blogging community out there. Daniel mentioned it's interesting to see which blogs are protecting or trying to tear up a place. Another interesting statement is that everyone all of a sudden is an expert, when their opinion previously was limited. Makes sense that some of the chefs seem irritated since it means there are more critics out there - and some being unqualified...unlike us of course ;) Great stuff and an interesting peek in the mind of the chefs.

Side note - Lee Schrager (Director of the Wine and Food Festival in Miami) reads food blogs every day. Hopefully, ours is one of them :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

More Food Xenophobia

If food is made by a foreigner, is it still food? Absurdity in the New York Times.

I went to one of my favorite restaurants in New York City last night, Do Hwa, an amazing Korean place co-owned by Quentin Tarantino. I guess it is a good thing that Tarantino wasn't cooking because according to some of the people interviewed in this ridiculous New York Times article "Is the food still Italian if the chef is a foreigner?," it wouldn't be authentic. My god, more food xenophobia. Here are a couple of gems from the article:

Pierluigi Roscioli, a member of the family that runs the restaurant that won the best carbonara award, said there was a risk that tradition would slowly erode if Italian chefs did note oversee those foreign ones who had less training.

"Without supervision, they tend to drift toward what is in their DNA," he said. "When it's by choice, it's great, but not when it happens because someone isn't paying attention."
Wow, our DNA tells us how to cook? The people in this article claim they aren't racist, but what else would you call it? Here is another:

He did well, in part because he made the pizzas bigger but kept the prices low. Now Markhyyeh, 41, presides over an untraditional pizza empire. He has 11 restaurants in Milan, 4 in Jordan, 2 in Cyprus and franchises in Dubai, Beirut, Sharm el Sheik in Egypt and now in Shanghai.

Despite this success — and thousands of loyal Italian customers — he said he has never felt fully accepted. "Italians say they aren't racist, but then they say to me that in Milan, I have found America," he said, referring to a slightly insulting expression for finding success without really working for it. "It makes me feel lousy."

Qunfeng Zhu, 30, a Chinese immigrant who opened a coffee bar in Rome's center, has had a similar experience even though he makes an authentic espresso in a classic Italian atmosphere (overlooking a few bottles of Chinese liquor).

"Some people come in, see we are Chinese and go away," he said.

Of course, we can all see the irony in shunning a person from the country credited with inventing pasta. And carbonara? It was popularized in the United States by American troops returning from Italy, according to Wikipedia. Of course, like most foods its origins are unclear and obscure.

Oriental Garden - Review

Intro
Oriental Garden - Recommended

14 Elizabeth St, New York 10013

Btwn Canal St and Bayard St
Phone: 212-619-0085

Haven't had Dim Sum in a while, so we stopped by Oriental Garden in Chinatown. Still the best in the city in my opinion. Overall, I give the restaurant a 78/100.

My Menu

1) Shrimp and Pork Dumpling (Siu Mai) **
2) Seared Garlic Chive Round Dumpling ***
3)
Sticky Rice (Law Mai Fan)
4) Seared Round Doughy Pork Dumpling (Sen Jian Bow)
5) Long Rice Noodle Dumpling and Shrimp (Cheong Fun) *
6) Garlic Chive Dumpling **
7)
Chicken Feet (Fung Jiao) *

* Good
** Great
*** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) My favorite dim sum item since I was a wee lad has always been siu mai. These are great here. Juicy, a nice porky flavor, and a nice thin delicate skin. Just writing about it makes me want to eat some right now.
2) A big what the f moment as this brought me back to my childhood as well as back to my trips to Taiwan. Impossibly thin tender skin, super crisp exterior, and an explosion garlic chive and shrimp.
3) Ok dish, but nothing to write home about. My keys to law mai fan are rich mushroom/pork flavor that should be warm, chewy and slightly juicy. Didn't get any of that here...
4) As soon as I saw these dumplings, I needed to order them since they were one of my favorite things in Taiwan. Unfortunately, the skin was way to thick and doughy and the filling was barely there. If I never visited Taiwan, these would be OK...
5) Tasty, but not great. The long rice noodles don't have the best texture - noodles all clung to each other, but overall the flavors are still good. My perfect cheong fun would have soft, delicate skin that fall apart easily in the mouth. Not here.
6) Another great garlic chive dumpling, but with a slightly thicker skin then the other garlic chive dumplings. Still very delicate and I'm pretty sure the same filling...great stuff.
7) This dish usually scares most people, but it's actually quite delicious. You only eat the skin and gelatin and discard the bones of the chicken feet. The skin here is tender and has good flavor.

Overall Restaurant Experience (78/100)

  • Food 8.0/10 – In my opine, the best dim sum in NYC. Still not quite as good as the dim sum from Flushing and NJ (e.g. 1 9 Seafood Restaurant)
  • Service 6.5/10 – Like most Chinese restaurants, the service was pretty bad. All of the waiters have attitude. Also, the dim sum does not come out that much - you basically need to ask the waiter to order it.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Small place (like 20 tables), so unless you go with 8 people you're definitely sitting with others. I don't mind so much as it's funny looking at people watch in disgust as you eat chicken feet. Place looks like the standard Chinese joint, white circular tables and the standard dragon on the wall. Bathroom is surprisingly neat as most Chinatown bathrooms looks like a port-a-potty at lollapalooza. We got there at 11:45am on Saturday and were seated immediately - it was packed by 12pm. Crowd was mainly non-Chinese and consisted of large groups.
  • Price 8.0/10 – Great price. $28 for the total meal and we were stuffed. Still a little costly for Chinatown dim sum, but totally worth it.

Closing Comments
I so wanted to rock out pictures, but this was a random meal so didn't get to bring the camera. My next investment for the blog will be a phone with a very good flash camera. Definitely the best place I've found in Chinatown for dim sum. Oh ya, afterwards we went to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for a scoop of Green Tea and Taro Ice Cream...spectacular stuff.

AIWF Champagne Gala 2008


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Smith

I met up my friend A at Smith on 10th and 3rd the other day.
Smith is simply classified as your neighborhood eatery.
We got grilled chicken sandwiches with avocados, tomatoes, chipotle mayo on a Balthazar's sourdough bread and thin fries.
Not bad.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Family Restaurants

Is the convenience worth the price?
After taking some time to really think about it, these corporate eateries may not be any better than the big tobacco companies we've all been taught to hate.

As I was driving back from New England thursday night, I counted 10 different corporate restaurant chains strategically planted at rest stops and highway exit ramps. They all had colorful signs luring commuters to their lares.
Now perhaps I've become a little more skeptical in my old age, but for every publicly announced action, there seems to be an insincere anticipated opposite reaction.
Many of these chains paint a homey, comfortable and healthy alternative to dining. When in fact, the chairs and booths are designed to be uncomfortable after 30 minutes, the thermostat is set 5 degrees colder than your living room, and the food in the kitchen most likely wouldn't pass 50% of the health inspector's regulations.
Not to mention, the meats and produce contracts go to the lowest bidder (farmers), which mean they rely on science to grow the tomatoes for the garden salad in december and the bigger and whiter chicken breasts for your chicken sandwich.

One can easily make the argument, it's amazingly convenient, and after meetings through out the day, and hundreds of miles in the car, you get to sit down and are served a drink, an app, a warm entree and dessert, all for under 25 bucks. There are probably hundreds of thousands of people living this scenario everyday.
Corporate America is manipulating us, guys!

Your average Joe...
"Well, big companies wouldn't dare serve us unhealthy food right?" "Its dangerous and more importantly, unethical".

Which brings me to my final point, can we afford to just take their word for it, or do we do something about it and demand better.

We all need to spend a little more time in the kitchen and learn the basics to cooking.
If we all have the basics hunkered down, chain restaurants have no choice but to up their game and serve us better food than the junk they are currently right now.

Together, we can harness change.


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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Kitchen Basics - Chicken Stock

One of my quests for the longest time was to find a good chicken stock that comes in a tiny container. Most of the chicken stocks that I've purchased in the past are bland (e.g. Pacific Natural Foods) or come in large 14-32 oz containers. I've finally found the answer at my local A&P - Kitchen Basics - 8 Fl Oz Chicken Stock. This broth is insanely flavorful - nice deep rich chicken flavor. Obviously this probably has to do with the sodium content, but after salting other store brought brands you still don't get this type of flavor. Also, the 8 fl oz package is perfect since the majority of the time I end up throwing away half of the chicken stock that come in the 14 fl oz package. Making chicken stock is very satisfying, but if you don't have time, the Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock is a perfect fit. A tad more expensive at $1.50 per box, but 100% worth it...

ad-ons

I totally agree with Aramis on this product endorsement.
For the price and quality, you really can't beat it.

One thing I wanted to highlight was the packaging of this product.
You've probably seen this many many times through various other products as well.
(Tofu, Tomato Sauce, Soy Milk, and even Milk...)
I'm talking about the "Tetra-Pak" container
This is a proprietary technology owned and managed by a Swedish firm specializing in sanitary packaging for foods.
Where most vacuum packs can only claim "pasteurization", that only eliminates up to 80% of the germs.
Tetra-Pak technology is "aseptic", which means it's sterile, 99.99% germ free.
This means it's shelf stable indefinitely.

And that is pretty awesome.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kunjip Restaurant - Review









Intro

Kunjip Restaurant - Recommended
9W 32nd St, New York 10001
Btwn 5th Ave and Broadway
Phone: 212-216-9487

Randomly checked out Kunjip since me and the fiancee had to rock out our registry at Macy's. Ended up with Kunjip since we wanted to try a new restaurant and Kunjip was brimming with people - all others were completely empty. Verdict - a complete what the f moment with the phenomenal kimchee chigae...definitely the best I've ever had. I've always felt that restaurants in the Korean district were always pretty average and overpriced. This place definitely breaks the mold. Overall, I give the restaurant an 83/100.

My Menu

1) Vegetable Bimbimbop :(
2) Kimchee Chigae ***

:( What the F - in a bad way
* Good

** Great
*** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) A pretty subpar bimbimbop. Not very flavorful even after adding lots of spicy sauce. The fiancee assumed this s because the lack of egg, meat, and toasted rice since this wasn't cooked in the stone pot.
2) Kimchee chigae is basically a spicy stew consisting of kimchee and pork. Usually, the pork is lacking in quantity or super dry - the cut served is generally the tenderloin. Not so here my friends.
First, the broth is soooo flavorful - deep, rich, spicy. Kimchee is perfectly tender and then the ridiculously awesome pork. Basically they use pork belly, which makes the pork so f'n tender and flavorful.

Overall Restaurant Experience (83/100)

  • Food 8.3/10 – Phenomenal Kimchee Chigae dish. Can't wait to try other dishes there.
  • Service 7.3/10 – Service is OK. Food comes out in a decent amount of time, but servers aren't necessarily nice unless you speak Korean - we do not.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Looks like most other Korean restaurants on 32nd street. Wood tables and walls. Crowd consisted of only Koreans (families and groups). Got there at 12pm on a Sunday for 2 people with no reservations and was seated promptly. 15 minutes later the place was packed and probably was at least a 20 minute wait.
  • Price 8.0/10 – Price was so worth the Kimchee Chigae dish - $10. However, the other dishes seem pricier - $15-20.
Closing Comments
Definitely recommended for the Kimchee Chigae dish and I am 100% going back. Other dishes maybe suspect though based on the subpar bimbimbop.

S'Mac That

Took a wild stab at the east village eatery "s'mac" last night.
A friend from out of town was visiting and requested so mac and cheese.
At s'mac, you have around 10 different mac and cheese choices to pick from. Then there is the size of the skillet.
Reasonably priced and fair quality food.
It's the perfect college kid's "escape from dorm food" place.

The pic is of the "Cuban". Generous chunks of chorizo and some roasted cuban peppers mixed into the cheesy mess.
The macaroni elbows were perfectly al dente for your information.

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