Sunday, July 31, 2011

Taco Night

Grilled skirt steaks, avocados, cheese, red onions, cherry tomatoes,
jalepenos, and scallions.

I could eat this everyday.

Chicken (Tsukune) and Egg (Raw Quail Egg Dipping Sauce)

After work, some chicken skewers and beers are always a good thing.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Kook Soon Dang Draft Makkori.
This tastes actually pretty darn good.
Perfect with spicy kimchi dishes.
So Samgyup Sal with Kimchi is a perfect pairing.
I would not mind having this again in the near future.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Street Meat and Crack Sauce

Gotta love NYC!!!
$5 of heaven on earth.

Donut Planet

I have some great co-workers!
My buddy knew I had never had a donut planet donut so on his way back
from a meeting, he swung by and grabbed a box for the crew in the
What a swell guy.

This is the Creme Brûlée Donut.
It's a yeast dough donut with a little more chew than other donut
shops in the US.
I think these were great but Mr. Donuts in Japan is still #1 in my book.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hiram's Roadstand - Review

Hiram's Roadstand - Dude Grade: B
1345 Palisade Avenue
Fort Lee, NJ
Phone: (201) 592-9602

Summertime has got me craving some hot dogs and after some minor surgery, the first thing I wanted was some hot dogs. I've heard about Hiram's Roadstand for a while, but never had an opportunity to go so figured now would be a perfect time. Great find and they definitely do a tasty dog.

Our Menu
Hot Dog **
Hot Dog with Chili and Cheese *
Similar to Rutt's Hut where it's not an uber flavorful dog, but very crispy and juicy. I believe they use a Thuman's dog where it kinda has this bologna thing going on. I actually dig the dog here more than Rutt's Hut. It's less greasy and not burnt to a crisp which brings out the flavor of the dog more. Chili was pretty solid with some great spice, but it took away from the flavor of the dog.

Onion Rings **
Chili Cheese Burger

Onion rings were kind of a shock since I wasn't expecting much. It was so great - very crispy and good sweet onion flavor with great texture to the onion as well. Cheese burger is a pass (go to White Mana instead) - dry and no beef flavor.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (B) – Great summertime eats. Nothing like a hot dog and onion rings to satisfy.
  • Service (C) – You order at the counter and pick it up when it's ready. Food comes out relatively quick, but not at the lightning speed of Rutt's Hut.
  • Atmosphere (B) – They got a biker feel going on there and reading some other reviews it's got a biker crowd at night. We were there at 3pm on a weekday and there were three groups there - families, not bikers. Place was dark with wood paneled walls and neon beer signs. Reminded me of a dive bar which I do appreciate.
  • Price (N/A) - Don't remember the price of the dog, but I believe everything was around $15 - including a birch beer.
Closing Comments
Definitely a go to when I'm craving a quick hot dog and onion rings. I still think Libby's Lunch is tops for me for a Jersey dog though. And, if I had more time, I'd rock the Kocher's dog and cook them up myself.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dinner : Cold Somen with Grilled Zucchini, Scallions and Cubed Cucumbers

A cold refreshing dish for dinner tonight.
Veggies and Somen with Dashi Tsuyu Broth.

Coca-Cola Chicken

Made with Soy Sauce, Chinese Cooking Wine, Ginger, Shiitake Mushrooms,
and Scallions.

So simple even a caveman can do it.

Lamb Burgers

Made these batboys again for a little soirée over at the apartment.

A little bit gamy. But good texture and flavor couples with Brunoise
of Jalepenos, Cucumber, Shaved Red Onions and Boursin Cheese.

Worst Sake in the Market

Quite possibly the worst "Sake" in the market.
A good sign you know something really sucks is to realize the bottle
costs more than the product.

One exception, Louis XIII. But that's comparing apples to oranges.

Anywho, I just wanted to express my utter disgust with this product.
Not even college kids would drink this.

Now that's LOWWWWW.

Xi'an Famous Foods

Xi'an Famous Foods - Dude Grade B
67 Bayard St, New York 10013
(At Mott St)

After a great day hanging with friends, we decided to hit up chinatown for some asian comfort food. The dudes actually hit up the original xi'an noodles in flushing way back when and it was spectacular. Although this is Chinese food, most people won't recognize it since it uses a ton of cumin, chiles, and lamb. Xi'an has a ton of muslims which is why you see these seasonings - no sweet and sour pork here. Any who, solid food although I believe the original joint was more memorable.

Our Menu

Oxtail Hand Pulled Noodles *
Short fat noodles (think cut up papperdelle) with a great vinegary/spicy thing going on and a nice chewy al denteness. The garlic chives added a nice cruncy and almost sweet flavor. Complaints were you get two incredibly mini oxtails...great flavors, but wish it was more tender.

Savory Cumin Lamb Hand Pulled Noodles **

Same fantastic noodles but less vinegary and more savory with the cumin. the lamb had huge flavor and was extremely flavorful and tender. Great stuff.

Spicy & Tingly Lamb Face Salad**
Similar flavorings to the oxtail noodles - this had a whole spicy, vinegary thing going on. Very bright flavors. It also had tons of crunch and the uber soft, gelatiny face was friggin killer.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (B) – Spicy and savory with big flavors and great textures. Unlike anything you'll get at any other Chinese restaurant.
  • Service (C-) – You order up front from picture menus on the wall. Cashiers are not very friendly, but that's par for the course in Chinatown. After ordering you seat yourself and they drop off your food at a table in the front...pretty damn confusing as multiple groups will go up and check the same order.
  • Atmosphere (C) – Typical chinatown hole in the wall with sterile white tile walls. Tiny joint with 5-6 rickety tables seating probably under 30 people. We got there at 7pm on a Sunday and sat right away. The place was completely full by 7:30 and the good sign was it was all Chinese there.
  • Price (B) - Around 7-8 per plate. A tad pricey for chinatown but totally worth it.
Closing Comments
Definitely highly recommeded and it's our go to place for takeout.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Worst Dumplings in the market

I've had my fare share of dumplings in my life. And I know when
something is special.
Unfortunately this time, these were especially bad.

These dumplings by Rickshaw suck ass!
Worst Chinese dumplings I've ever had in the city, if not EVER!!!

Nothing pisses me off more than restaurants trying to pawn off poorly made food.


Went to one of my favorite restaurant in the Jersey Shore, Rooney's.
My father was visiting and really dug in and chowed.
Good stuff.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fruit Basket

I could really use a nice basket of fruit right now.
Chilled and ready to go down my throat into my belly.
To be honest, I could do without the avocado here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vivi Bubble Tea - Review

Vivi Bubble Tea - Dude Grade B+
49 Bayard Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 566-6833

After the great meal at Xian Noodles, we were craving some bubble tea to quench our thirsts. You'd figure you should be able to get decent bubble tea in Chinatown, but you'd be wrong. Common problems are the mixture is too sweet or bland, the bubbles are too hard/mushy/flavorless, the problems can go on and on. Any who, solid stuff here and this may be our go to bubble tea joint in Chinatown going forward.

Our Menu
Taro Bubble Tea **
Good taro flavor without being disgustingly sweet. Bubbles were nicely cooked where it was chewy without being hard or mushy. A nicely balanced bubble tea. Only complaints were I like the bubbles to be slightly larger and a smidgen softer.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicken Fried Chicken Sandwich

That's just Puuuuuurtty

The Mark Restaurant - Review

The Mark Restaurant - Dude Grade: B- (for brunch)
25 E 77th St, New York 10075
(At Madison Ave)
Phone: 212-606-3030

The wife and I met up some friends at The Mark Restaurant (a Jean-Georges joint) and what a great decision. We were originally scheduled to go to Cafe Boulud, but our friends went the day before and they were pretty disappointed. Bummer - since I love Restaurant Daniel, but it seems like his other restaurants (DBGB being the other) are not on point. Any who great times and killer brunch.

Our Menu

Bloody Mary **
I absolutely love bloody marys for brunch and this was perfect. Something about the tangyness, spiciness, and the faux healthiness (tomato is good right?) that helps start the day off right.

Omelette Gruyere Cheese ***
spinach, roasted potatoes, tomato

I used to think I knew what an omelette should look and taste like. I've watched Jacques Pepin make plenty of omelettes and I've been to France, but I've never seen or had an omelette like this. It actually looked fake since this color was so yellow (almost like a crayon) and everything was so homogenous. The actual texture was out of control as it was custardy yet solid and not mushy. A complete wtf omelette and all omelettes will be judged against this going forward.

Smoked Salmon Pizza **
"Everything Crust"

A fun play on a bagel with smoked salmon. Uber satisfying - great crust that definitely had the thin, crispy, and chewy pizza crust tasting like a bagel. I think it had some type of green puree (maybe pesto or something like that) that added a nice light flavor as well. Great stuff.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (A-) – Kick ars brunch.
  • Service (A) – Waiter was attentive, very friendly, and offered some good suggestions. Food came out pretty quickly.
  • Atmosphere (B) – A weird mix of almost a lounge like feel in the back (dark with these ambient lights) and a townhouse feel in the center (tall ceilings, bright sunlight). We got there at 12:15 on a Sunday and it was 1/4 full. By the time we left, it was about 80-90% full. The crowd consisted of groups of ladies and families - all seemed in the upper tax bracket.
  • Price (C) - Hella expensive, but the food was so good and we had such a good time, it was worth it. Omelettes were $18-20 (very pricey), but the kicker was the $16 they were charging for a bagel with smoked salmon...seriously?
Closing Comments
Although the food was excellent, I'd probably check out other places before I come back since it's hella expensive for what you get. However, I definitely want to come back to check out the other menu items.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Subbing Fries for Apple Wedges

Spaghetti with Collard Greens and Sausage

I wanted a slightly healthier pasta so I figured collards and whole wheat pasta would make a delicious combo. Most people don't like collard greens since they're generally cooked down until the texture is like baby food, but what I realized from the Brazilians is the collards texture should be like a properly cooked green bean - not mushy and not crunchy either. This provides a nice mouth feel with the sweetness and almost nuttiness the collards have which goes well with the spicy sausages - the sausage replaces the traditional ham hock in southern greens. It's such an addicting pasta that is relatively healthy for you - I guarantee you'll eat a couple bowls worth of this bad boy in one sitting.

1/2 box whole wheat spaghetti
1 bunch collard greens cut into bite sized pieces
2 carrots diced
4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
2 links hot sausage
1/2 cup water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1) Start a pot of water to boil - heavily season with sea salt.

2) Sear sausage over medium heat in a second heavy bottom pot until nicely browned on both sides. Add olive oil to the pan. Remove sausage from the bowl and set aside.

3) Add carrots to the pot with the sausage fat and cook until soft - about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4) Drop garlic in for 15 seconds and then the collard greens. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes until slightly wilted. Add the sausage back in, add the water and cover for 15 minutes so the sausage steams. You want the sausage cooked 3/4 of the way since you're going to finish them in the broiler. As usual taste the collards to make sure the texture is to your liking.

5) Put the sausages under the broiler for 5 minutes until it gets crisped up. Let rest for 5 minutes and slice up. This three step sausage cooking technique may seem a bit much, but it leads to a phenomenal sausage. The first sear lets out some sausage fat which flavors the collards. The second steaming ensures the sausage is moist. The final broiling ensures you get a crispy surface without drying the sausage out. Add the sausage back in the pot with the collards.

5) Drop pasta in to the boiling water when you place the sausage underneath the broiler. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the recommended time on the box. Add the pasta to the collards and sausage mixture and finish with parmiggiano and the olive oil. Buono appetito!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Becco - Review

Becco - Dude Grade: C
355 W 46th St, New York 10036
Btwn 8th & 9th Ave
Phone: (212) 397-7597

The wife and I were in midtown for a show (That M*Fer with the Hat rawks!) and since we were in a rush, we decided to hit up Becco - Lidia Bastianch's place. We never eat around this area since it's packed with tourists, but if you're seeing a show this will work.

Our Menu
Antipasti *
Marinated Mushrooms, Boccocini, Roasted Peppers, Pickled Cauliflower, Olives, Chickpea Puree, Eggplant, Green Beans, Octopus Salad
A pretty fun combo of dishes that reminded me of a local Italian American deli, but done slightly better.

Spinach Gnocchi, Rigattoni with Tomato Sauce, Papperdelle with Lamb Ragu
All you can eat pasta that actually has decent texture, but average flavors. I was satisified since it had a good chewy texture and it was all you can eat, but I wouldn't necessarily say it was good. I asked for a bottle of olive oil and they brought back a beauty (Frantoi Cutrera). Adding a good amount to the pasta and tossing it together made the dish jump - however, I should never have to adjust a dish.
Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (C-) – The food wasn't bad, but nothing to run over to the chaos that is the theater district.
  • Service (A) – Sat at the bar and the bartender was extremely attentive and friendly. He even provided a phenomenal bottle of olive oil for us to top off our pastas with.
  • Atmosphere (C-) - Typical theater district place - dark wood, low ceilings, noisy as hell. It was packed with out of town tourists/theater goers. People will try to chat you up if you sit at the bar, which we didn't mind so so much. It was completely packed at 5:45pm on a Wednesday.
  • Price (C+) - Phenomenal price - $22 for all you can eat pasta and antipasti.
Closing Comments
Phenomenal price for ok food. I would only go back if I were in the area needing quick eats (we were in and out within 30 minutes) before a show. Otherwise, there are way too many excellent pasta places around town.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ai Fiori - Review

Ai Fiori - Dude Grade: B (for lunch)
400 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 613-8660

Michael White is the pasta king in NYC hands down. This is his third restaurant I've been to and as usual the pasta is spectacular. Although this was the weakest compared to Marea and Convivio, it was still pretty damn fun.

Our Menu

Torchon *
foie gras au naturel, spiced fig, ormeasco mostarda, pistachio, brioche toasté

The foie was lacking in a bit of texture and flavor, but it was still a pretty fun dish especially with the mostarda - a surprisingly brilliant combo.

Minestrone **
vegetable soup, ricotta tortellini, basil pesto, ligurian olive oil

Big vegetable flavors in the soup and a nice touch with the pesto.
Spaghetti **
Lump crab, bottarga, chiles, and lemon

As usual, a Michael White pasta dish has perfect texture - a nice al dente chew even though this is hand rolled pasta. The combo of the salty/meaty bottarga, sweet crab, and the brightness of the chiles and lemon knocks it out of the park.

Gelato *
Hazelnut, stracciatella, ginger
Oddly enough the gelato here is good, but not great. Texture was either way too melted or even a bit icy. Flavor is pretty awesome though.
Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (B) – Pasta was phenomenal. Dessert and Foie were good, but not great.
  • Service (A) – Service was outstanding with multiple people checking on us. Also, we found 3 very small pieces of shell in the pasta dish. It was so delicious I didn't care, but the manager came over and apologized immediately and offered free desserts and coffee for us. They were definitely on top of their game.
  • Atmosphere (B) – A definitely serene environment with lots of good lighting - kinda reminded me of a cross between the French Laundy and a nice steakhouse. This is located in the Setai Hotel and you get a different feel entering a nice hotel - people opening doors and welcoming you...pretty nice. We got there at 12 on a Wednesday and it was completely empty, but around 12:30 it was maybe 3/4 full of suits.
  • Price (N/A) - We had some free dishes due to the crab shell mishap, so it was totally worth it. Normally, the lunch prix fixe was two courses for $38.
Closing Comments
If I wanted some pasta and didn't want to spend the beaucoup bux at Marea, I would think about going to Ai Fiori. However, it seems to be pretty damn pricey at Ai Fiori, so I think I gotta check his new joint Osteria Morini to fulfill my Michael White pasta fix.

Friday, July 8, 2011

When in Rome

Thanks to our buddy, we have a nice Friday Funny for you all today.

According to G. Clooney, "No Nuts, No Party".

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Airport Ritual

Auntie Anne's Pretzel Hotdogs are my fav. But I thought I would mix it
up the other day.
Although yummy, not as awesome as the original choice.
Live and learn.
Auntie Anne's... I Love You!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Veggie Platter

I thought I'd go veggie this 4th of July.
So a simple veggie platter of sautéed zucchini, Japanese eggplant in
dashi, roasted Cuban peppers with balsamic and olive oil marinade, and
cherry tomatoes.

Hot Dog Eating Controversy

Joey Chestnut won the official Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest for a fifth straight time with 62 hot dogs. But, nearby in the douchey Manhattan rooftop bar, 230 fifth, Kobayashi polished off 69 hot dogs which is an unofficial world record. Organizer's will not recognize the record since it was not during an officially sanctioned competition.

Seems like Kobayashi's Nathan's non-attendance is due to the fact that Kobayashi does not want to sign with Major League Eating (MLE) which forbids him to eat in any non MLE league - Nathan's is an MLE event. Kinda like fighters that don't want to sign their life away to the UFC. Any who, here's an article about the recluse that is Kobayashi.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 4th BBQ

The fellas came over for a BBQ potluck to celebrate meat (and our independence day) and we had some delicious eatings. Enjoy the food porn for the 4th!

Our Menu
Bison and Lamb Burger
Porthos and D'Artagnan came up with a combo to die for. Such an intense beefy/lamb flavor going on, but not overpoweringly so. The ciabatta bread, the toppings of the cucumbers, feta, parsley, and jalapeno added that perfect textural and flavor contrast that just blew my mind. If this was served at a NYC restaurant, I would say this would be strongly considered as one of the top burgers in the city. Just look how perfect that sucker is cooked!

Beer Can Chicken
I've been wanting to do this for a while and it was a decent first attempt. Beer can chicken is exactly how it sounds - a beer can shoved up the chicken's butt which allows the chicken to steam from the inside. And don't worry, the chicken likes it :) The breast meat was so juicy, tender, and perfectly cooked. Good chicken flavor as well, but next time I need to add the wet rub underneath the skin and work on my smoke pouch to allow the smoke to penetrate the meat more.

Patatas Bravas
Oven roasted potatoes finished off on the grill for that smoky flavor. Add that sweet, smokey, spicy bravas sauce topped with the garlicky alioli and you get a pretty damn fun combo.

Homemade Ice Cream with Grilled Peaches
Grilled peaches are such an awesome summertime dessert and add the fun homemade ice cream and you get a real good time.

Delicious Orchard's Key Lime Pie and Apple Pie
Our buddy brought some pies from our favorite hometown food market, Delicious Orchards, and they completely rawked. I'm generally not a huge fan of key lime pie, but this was pretty damn good.