Thursday, April 30, 2009

Childhood Memories...(part 2)

Dai Wah Yummy City provided another staple in my childhood diet. Barbecued meats over white rice. This time I chose soy sauce chicken thigh and suckling pig. It's a lot of food as well. But since I haven't had it in quite some time, I finished it all. I was full and happily satisfied for the rest of the day. And I had only spent $5 on the food. When you order the barbecued meats, it's important to let the people know which part of the animal you want. If you don't, they'll give you the most unpopular pieces. For the soy chicken, the best part are the thighs. They are juicy and meaty. And there's a lot of flavor there. The worst, the breast. It tends to be dry and overcooked. Usually, you might get some ginger and scallion dip/sauce. This stuff is good. It definitely kicks things up. Also, sometimes you might want to ask for a ladle of their special soy sauce on top. It's special because it's the soy sauce that is used to make the chickens, ducks, and other things. It's absorbed a lot of flavor. And no bottle can replicate that taste. Have it mixed into your white rice and you're good to go. For the suckling pig, you want pieces with the crackling skin attached. And you want to let the people know about 50/50 fat-leanness. Otherwise, you might get pieces that are entirely fat or pieces that are too lean which makes them very chewy. Somewhere in between is the ideal suckling pig. Everything is attached to the bone. So expect to be eat around that. I don't mind because things tends to taste better when cooked on the bone. And after so many years, I've become an expert in eating around the bone. No bother here. This place is not the best I've had. It's not even close. But it's decent. And I'll definitely continue ordering from here. As long as my cravings for childhood food memories continue, they'll reap the benefits. Dai Wah Yummy City 7218 18th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11204 (718) 837-8818 Read more...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Childhood Memories...(part 1)

I remember growing up that there were some staples in my diet. Rice, noodles, or rice noodles. And Chinese barbecued meat. These are commonly found in noodle houses and Chinese fast food joints. Recently, I've been craving these dishes. They're filling and cheap ($4). And most of all, they're delicious. I'm lucky enough to live in an area that still offers these foods and they deliver. Dai Wah Yummy City reminded me of my childhood. I had a large serving of barbecue roast pork over flat rice noodles. If the place does it right for delivery, they'll put the pork on the bottom, then random vegetables, then the noodles, and lastly the stock/soup. The soup and noodles will absorb all the great sweet and savory flavors from the pork. I have a method of eating this when it arrives. First, I grab the biggest bowl in the house. There's a lot more food than you think. You see, rice noodles expand when immersed in liquid. So while traveling to my house from the restaurant, the noodles are getting bigger and bigger. Anyhow, I empty the noodles in to the bowl first, then the pork and vegetables on top. Lastly, I slowly pour the soup into the bowl. It can have a tendency to overflow at this point. When it's all done, I eat this with a pair of chopsticks and a large soup spoon. You grab a couple of the noodles and neatly place it into the spoon. Add some pork or vegetable to your taste. Then dip the spoon into the soup. Basically, you have a miniature version of the dish in your spoon. Each spoonful is a one bite delight! Soup noodles are best eaten when it's cold out. It definitely warms the body. And keeps you warm. Also, it's very filling. And it's not the type of food that makes you crash and burn. Nope, you'll stay full for awhile. Dai Wah Yummy City 7218 18th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11204 (718) 837-8818 Read more...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Secret Lunch with Momofuku Crew

I was one of the lucky 180 people who won a pass to a secret lunch prepared by Chef David Chang and crew of Momofuku Noodle Bar. Followed by dessert from Pastry Chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. All this was provided by NBC-New York. To win, one would have to answer an online quiz about local NYC things. The questions varied by day. My questions consisted of local chefs. They showed you pictures of 4 local chefs. You have to match them to the correct NYC restaurant. Another quiz involved pictures of local bridges that you had to name. And another with museums. Not only do you have to answer the questions correctly, you also have to be the first 5 to answer them each day. It was a test of smarts and quick typing. Like I said, I was one of the lucky ones. And Doc Nut was my lucky plus one. When we arrive to Soho at around 12:15p, we can see the setup. It was a fenced off empty lot with a food cart on one end. It was simple but it worked. When we got to the gate, I have my name and my secret code word. Then access granted. We got a menu with choices of vegetarian, pork, chicken, or dealer's choice. I couldn't resist dealer's choice. It's up to the chef's discretion. David Chang is known to whip up some amazing things. So I opt for that. Doc nut opts for the pork menu. We always go halves with our food. First of all, the food smells amazing. Everything is organized and clean. Most of all, people are definitely enjoying themselves: food lovers, chefs, and all. Chef David was having such a grand time that he accepts my invitation for a picture. He's really nice and easy going. And always smiling. He thanked me for coming and told me to enjoy his food. I told him that I most definitely will. While waiting for my food, I could tell from the selection what was the Dealer's Choice rotation. It consisted of lobster, lamb, or duck rillete. When I get my food, it turns out to be the lamb with pickled beets. Sides are rice and collared greens. Doc Nut's pork looked amazing with the sweet/spicy rice cakes, rice fries, and a famous Noodle Bar pork bun. The lamb was juicy and fatty. The beets were perfectly pickled. Still slightly sweet but also sour. The collared greens were good. And the rice was actually sticky rice. It was a great complement to the fattiness of the lamb. A great complete meal. And portions are good. I'm full but there's enough room for dessert. And thank god. That dessert. But more about it later. The rice cakes are so good. It's sweet from the mirin and spicy from the siracha sauce. The outside is slightly crispy. But the inside is chewy and soft. Delicious. You can eat a whole plate of this all by itself. The pork bun was great as well. The pork was savory and juicy. It was placed inside a soft bun. At the dessert station, I recognized the pastry chef, Christina Tosi. I asked for a picture as well. She seemed a little shocked and embarrassed. I guess most people recognize David Chang but forget about how important the Pastry Chef is as well. She was very nice and gracious as well. But her food is to die for. Her donut flavored soft serve ice cream was drool worthy. And I wish the serving was bigger. It was creamy and soft with cinnamon sugar on top. It really did taste like a donut. Oh man, I can have some right now. Best. Lunch. Ever. Beautiful Day. Good company. Good food. Momofuku Noodle Bar 171 1st Avenue New York, NY 10003 Momofuku Milk Bar 207 2nd Avenue New York, NY 1003 Read more...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lunch Week 7: Shrimp Pasta Salad

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Shrimp Pasta Salad The weather is warming up and I wanted something more summery. Seafood comes to mind. Shrimp specifically. I wanted to eat something cold but I didn't want to just have shrimp cocktail all week. Then it dawned on my to make a simple pasta salad. I'll be able to add some needed vegetables.
The ingredients (from left to right): shrimp, whole wheat pasta, pine nuts, arugula, onion, garlic, lemon, and roasted red peppers.
This dish starts with a pot of boiling water. Add salt and oil. Then add pasta. I like to use whole wheat pasta. Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes or so. Easy enough. While the pasta cooks, marinate the shrimp. I had bought frozen deveined shrimp with the tail on. They are fairly large. You can get about 30 in one pound. I marinate them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oil, anchovy paste, tomato paste, paprika, and chili flakes. You want to heavily season the shrimp because it need to stand out in this dish. I saute the shrimp in a skillet over high heat and olive oil. They cook very quickly so keep stirring them around so they cook evenly. Once they turn pink and curl up, they're done. Remember, they keep on cooking even after you turn the stove off. I drain the pasta and add it to a large bowl. Then I add the shrimp. I mix well until everything is incorporated. If the pasta is very starchy and starts to stick, you can add some olive oil. While that is cooling, I cut up some roasted red peppers into strips and minced some onion. I add the peppers and arugula to the pasta mixture. The heat from the pasta will wilt the leafy greens which is what I wanted. It's easier to manage in this recipe. I wanted a pasta salad and not a salad with pasta. I also add a handful of pine nuts for flavor and texture. Lastly, add the vinaigrette. You use a bottled kind but I wanted some freshness so I made my own. A vinaigrette is very easy to make. The two most important components are vinegar and oil. This week, I use lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. As convenient it is to use a bottled lemon juice, it just doesn't taste the same to me. I am a stickler for fresh juice. To this, I also add minced garlic, salt, pepper, and a small amount of honey to cut the sourness. Always taste your vinaigrette before you add it to your dish. You never know if it needs to be tweaked. I add the vinaigrette to the pasta salad and mix thoroughly. I take a taste and it's good. The shrimp is still very prominent. The pasta still has a bite to it. The roasted reds are tangy. The arugula is peppery and slightly bitter. And the onions add a small kick. And everything is wrapped up in a lemony sauce. Just the lunch I needed this week. Light yet filling. Read more...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Apple Cider Donuts

I like donuts. I really like donuts. I don't discriminate. I'll eat them from chains (Dunkin Donuts; Krispy Kreme), supermarkets (Entenmann's), bakeries (Donut Plant), etc. Recently, I went in search of an apple cider donut as mentioned in this Serious Eats post. That article had me dreaming of donuts all day. And it brought me to the crowded Union Square Greenmarket. Specifically, I was looking for Migliorelli Farms. I didn't mind looking at the other fresh produce and goods there. It's great. There's a lot to find there. But my mind was set on one thing: donut. I finally spot the awning. And yes, they still have donuts! They're $0.75 each or 3 for $2. I just opted for one. And it's delicious! Covered in sugar and cinnamon. It's soft and still warm. Very light. And you can really taste the apple. I devoured it and wished I had bought 3. Ah, maybe next time. Union Square Greenmarket Migliorelli Farm Read more...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Heart Mr. Softee

There's something pretty amazing about Mr. Softee soft serve ice cream. I grew up in NYC so this is a staple in my warm weather diet. Or non-diet, whatever. But it's amazing for several reasons. One: Mr. Softee is the official Spring weather determinator here. Screw that groundhog! He's always sleepy and cranky. Mr. Softee is always happy and brings yummy ice cream. Two: Mr. Softee has a recognizable tune so when you're in your house, you can hear him from down the block. Grab your money and run out! The driver will happily pull over and serve you. Three: You can scout around for the best deals. Every truck serves its cones with its own prices. Outer boroughs almost guarantees you a better deal. Four: They have amazingly creamy soft serve ice cream. I don't do frozen yogurt.
My staple: Vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles!
Don't ever be fooled by impostors. It's not the same. It doesn't taste the same. Only the authentic. Read more...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lunch at The City Bakery

On a warm Saturday afternoon in the city, I went in search of a good lunch. Alas, Shake Shack was predictably crowded. And I didnt' want to spend more than $10 on a simple yet satisfying lunch to tie me over. I headed over to The City Bakery in search of something good.
I browsed around the place and eventually settled on a ham and gruyere half-sandwich.
And a spinach pesto pasta salad.
The ham and guyere was good. It had some dijon mustard to bring all the flavors together. And pasta salad was good too. The pesto was made from spinach instead of basil. Everything was just satisfying enough. The sandwich and pasta came out to $6.30, no drink. Best of all, the place wasn't too crowded. I guess everyone was looking for an outdoor cafe today. I would have gotten one of their popular desserts as well. There was an apple-lemon tartine looking at me. But I had my heart set on a Mr. Softee truck around the corner.

The City Bakery 3 W 18th St New York, NY 10011 (212) 366-1414

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day!

In Midtown, my closest Ben & Jerry's is in Rockefeller Center. At about 1:30pm, I heard the line was only 10 minutes long. Thinking that lunch would be a busy time, I decided to hear over later in the day. At 3:35pm, I stood at the end of the line. When I got to the counter, there were only a few selections left. For instance, vanilla, chocolate, chocolate chip cookie dough, cherry garcia, oatmeal cookie chunk, sweet cream and cookies. At 4:10pm, I had my ice cream in hand. Although I did stand in line for about 35 minutes, it moved pretty well. The line looked much longer than that. Free anything will have people stand in line for a long time.
My Cherry Garcia
One gripe though. My scooper put the ice cream on lopsided so I had to eat it strangely in order to prevent it from just toppling over. I experienced this as a Haagen Dazs as a kid. And let me tell you that it can be the saddest thing in the world. Read more...

Ba Xuyen: The Banh Mi Fever is Still Burning

I haven't tired of banh mi yet. So I bring myself to Sunset Park, Brooklyn to get a much talked about sandwich at Ba Xuyen. It's just what I needed on a rainy day.
Decent sized sandwich.

Lots of fillings. Decent amount of meat.
The banh mi is good. The bread is toasted on the outside and soft inside. They stuff the thing with pate and meats. Pickled vegetables to balance everything out. Cilantro for some bold flavor. And this time I was smart enough to order it spicy. It's not spicy at all but there's extra flavor. It fulfills that missing something that I encountered in my previous adventures. Darn, I wish this place was closer. For $3.75, it's a filling lunch. Ba Xuyen 4222 8 Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11232 (718)633-6601 Read more...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lunch Week 6: Roast Pork Tenderloin

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Roast Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Potatoes Pork tenderloin can be one of the leanest meats you can find in the supermarket. But it's very flavorful and very versatile. And personally, I think it's better than chicken breast. This week, I decided to roast a couple of tenderloins in the oven with a mustard and balsamic marinade. When you buy any kind of meat, it's always a good idea to inspect it. This is a good check for freshness and for trimmings. You want to remove anything that is fat or membranes. My pieces of meat actually needed quite some trimming. I removed some hard to eat membranes and some fat. To prepare the meat, I rubbed in some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Next, I covered the pork with a mixture of dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. Lastly, I finished it off with some olive oil. As that marinated, I washed and cut up some red skinned gold potatoes. I find these types of potatoes have more potato flavor than russets. These get the simple rub down of salt, pepper, paprika, and oil. Both the pork and potatoes went into a 375 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes. The time depends on the size of your pork loins and the size of the cut potato pieces. The spuds need a flip halfway through their roasting time to insure than all sides becomes crispy. You can tell they are cooked when they turn a golden brown. As for the pork, I always like to use an instant read thermometer. When it hits 170 degrees internally, it's ready. While these are roasting, I sauteed some garlic in oil. Then I added the frozen spinach. Normally, I would use fresh spinach. But for the amount I need for 5 meals, it would take a whole lot of fresh spinach to get what I need from 3 packs of frozen spinach. There's so much water in this leafy vegetable that it shrivels up a lot when cooked. So how did everything turn out? The pork is still juicy and very flavorful. It's better to have more marinade than less. The potatoes are golden and crispy but soft and tender on the inside. The spinach is garlicky and add the needed greens to my meal. This is one of my easier recipes since most of the cooking is done in the oven and doesn't need much tending. Read more...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Peter Lugers Steakhouse

Peter Luger's Steakhouse is an institution. It's what classic NYC is all about. Big steaks. Big flavor. If you don't like it, well then stay away. We don't want you. I was lucky enough to have dinner here the other night. A great friend (Dr. Gourmet Mandu) had come back to visit. She wanted a classic NYC steak dinner. What better place than Peter Luger? No fuss service and perfect steaks every time. So off we went. There's no need to tell you how it went. Just scroll through the drool worthy pictures.
Peter Luger Sauce. You can put it on everything but the steak!
Thick cut bacon. It's sizzling when it arrives. A must every time.
Dry aged porterhouse for 2. Medium-rare.
Heaven on a plate. Steak. German Fried Potatoes. Creamed Spinach.
I love this place. It's solid. I continuously come here over and over again. Thank you Peter Luger. Peter Luger's Steakhouse 178 Broadway Brooklyn, NY 11211 (718) 387-7400 Read more...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Treats Truck

Oh Treats Truck, why have I avoided you for so long?! Oh I know, my waistline! It's very easy to fall victim to the old school morsels sold at the truck. But it was my day off (from healthy eating). I worked hard all week (at the gym). I already had a worse than normal healthy lunch. Why not top it off with a delicious treat? Or two? I was craving something chocolate. Once I got to the truck, I couldn't decide. There were brownies, cakes, cookies, rice crispies, etc. And the specials...oh the specials! I finally ended up on the chocolate sandwich cookie. But next to it, what flavor is that beige cookie sandwich. They proceeded to describe the cookie with brown sugar and caramel...what?! Yes, I'll have one of those too please. Two cookies=$3.25. Happy me, happy wallet. The chocolate sandwich cookie is good. The cookie itself is soft yet chewy. I always hate sandwich cookies with hard cookies! Don't even get me started on ice cream sandwiches. Anyhow, the cream is good. It doesn't taste fake like in Oreos. It's just good and creamy. It feels homemade. And it's not too sweet. I'm very un-American when it comes to that. I don't like desserts that are overly sweet. And I prefer real sugar over high fructose corn syrup. And fake sugar anything is gross. I digress. But the cookie sandwich makes me feel like I'm having some vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup or fudge on top. But in a sandwich form. The brown sugar caramel cookie is really good. The cookies are nice and buttery. The caramel cream is sweet. These two complement each other very well. In fact, I think I like this cookie better than the chocolate cookie. Now, don't get me wrong. I really like chocolate. But when it comes to desserts, I don't always choose it because there always other things to explore. And some might be good and some might be bad. In this case, good. Very good. Treats Truck, we will meet again! Until then, back on the program. Treats Truck (212) 691-5226 Read more...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Poseidon Bakery

Being in Midtown makes a lot of delicious food but lacks in authenticity. This is not the case for Poseidon Bakery and its Greek delights. I searched out for this place after reading an article in Time Out NY. The owner, Paul Fable, proudly shows off his food but also notes that the NYC commercial seen is hell. He states that they're lucky to own the buidling where the shop sits. Otherwise, they wouldn't be there. But I'm happy that they are here. And here for 85 years. The people who work there (the owners I think) are really friendly. They're honest and chatty. It almost feels like a neighborhood bakery that I've been to my whole life. They certainly treat me that way. That kind of service is certainly missed in Midtown. And it's another reason why I keep going back. The reason is the food. So this bakery offers both savory and sweet delights. I like to go there for the savory pies. I like the kreatopita (meat pie-$4.50) and spanakopita (spinach pie-$4). They also offer tiropitas (cheese pies), and vegetable pies. You can get them warm if you like. It's better than taking them back to nuke. Each pie is wrapped in flaky thin filo dough. It's all buttery and delicious. They may look small but they're filling. Two and I'm very full. I can eat one and have a salad on the side and be satiated.
Golden flaky crusts! Meat on the left. Spinach on the right.
I've also had their desserts on another occasion. I tried the baklava and something else similar to it but had rose water. I found that I'm not a fan of rose water. It makes me think that I'm eating soap. Yeah, not fun. But the baklava was sweet with honey and flaky with filo and butter. There are ground nuts inside. This is a heavy dessert. I made the mistake of eating these after a meal once. I should have waited until I was hungry again. None the less, it was good. Good food, good people, good prices, and authenticity. What's not to like here?

Poseidon Bakery 629 9th Avenue New York, NY 10036 (212) 757-6173

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cafe Zaiya

I heard of this place from Zach of Midtown Lunch. It's a Japanese place that serves lots of different things. You can get sandwiches, or rice bowls (donburi), stuffed rice balls (onigiri), cream puffs (bread papa), pastries (savory or sweet), noodles bowls (udon), bento boxes, snacks, sushi, and etc. However, the great selection leads to ridiculous crowds. Every time I have gone, it has been packed with people coming in and out. And there are several lines that you need to navigate. Each section has it's own line. So be prepared to stand if you like different things. It might be worth it to bring a friend to stand on different lines with you. But alas, I go alone. It doesn't matter to me because I'm very fond of the middle section of prepared hot lunches. Today, I got the broiled eel over rice bowl ($6.95) and the spicy tuna rice ball ($1.75). The eel is tender with a slight sweetness to the sauce. It's delicious and they give you plenty. The sauce runs into the white rice and it's great. They add a little pickled vegetable to the bowl which I don't really care for. Sometimes you may find small bones in the eel. It's okay. You can eat it. This is the second time I've gotten this dish and I'll get it over and over again. The spicy tuna onigiri is more of a snack. I really could have gone without this but I really wanted it. First, the salmon is cooked. I've never encountered a raw onigiri. In fact, I don't know if it's supposed to be raw at all considering you travel with this in your pack as a snack. I think originally it was stuffed with pickled vegetables. It's the whole preserving thing. Anyhow, the spicy tuna wasn't very spicy at all. It was very tame. But it tasted good none the less. It had a good tuna stuffing to rice ratio. I'm a rice lover so I don't mind if there's rice. Though, I can see how some people might complain. Oh, and they separately wrapped the seaweed (nori) so that it wouldn't get soggy. Ingenious! When nori gets soggy, it gets chewy. Not fun. Oh and the first time I made the mistake of refrigerating this for later. Yeah, the rice got hard and the tuna was dry. Bad. They have several locations: 2 in Midtown, and 1 in the East Village. The one on E41 Street is constantly packed with Japanese people, both working there and buying food. It's a great place to find Asian fast food. I wish they had hot noodle bowls to order. But I think that would make the place run slower. And who needs an even more packed crowd? But I'll definitely continue going there for their food. Another great pick, Zach. Cafe Zaiya 18 E41 Street New York, NY 10017 (212) 779-0600 Read more...