Friday, September 30, 2011

Lucky's Famous Burgers

If you don't know me, then you don't know that I really like burgers. Cheeseburgers to be more precise. I think it's the perfect meal or snack. It covers most of the major food groups and will always leave you satisfied. When I'm presented with a really fine burger, I'm as happy as can be. It's all the other ones that leave me less than content. But there's no way for me to tell what's good or not without actually trying them out, right? So my burger adventure rides again. This time to Lucky's Famous Burgers with TC in tow.

Their storefront in Hell's Kitchen is medium sized. There's a small counter to order and pick up your food while a few sparse tables are available for those who want to eat in. When I went for lunch, most people ordered take out. I had the luxury of sitting and staying so that I could enjoy the company of my friend. I ordered the Lucky Meal ($10) with the Lucky Cheddar Burger, fries, and a soda. Their soda machine was broken so I was able to get a bottled one instead.

Their burgers are made from Angus beef and served on a choice of potato or whole wheat bun. Naturally, I picked the former. So how did the burger taste? Just okay. It wasn't really juicy nor was it dry. It was somewhere in between. The flavor was lacking. I suppose it could use more seasoning. The cheddar cheese was nice because it was completely melted onto the burger encasing it. The lettuce, tomato, and onion was just forgettable. The bread was nice and soft though and held together through the very last bite.

While I sipped on my soda, TC had the chocolate milk shake ($4) which he said was just okay. Hmm, I sense a trend.
The accompanying fries were crispy indeed but nothing to really rave about. They were mediocre just like the rest of the meal.
Lucky's tries to change things up by offering their own special sauce. However, it tasted off like a mixture of ranch plus smokiness. Maybe bacon ranch sauce. That normally would be awesome but this version was not. I stuck to ketchup and mustard.
Lucky's Famous Burgers was just meh for me. I could ignore everything else if they had a solid burger. But they didn't. It was just okay. If someone want to go there, I wouldn't say no but there are better places not too far from there.

Lucky's Famous Burgers
370 W 52nd St # 1
New York, NY 10019-6274
(212) 247-6717
luckysfamousburgers.com‎
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sullivan Street Bakery

It was another day that I found myself without a bagged lunch. It was a nice day out and I didn't want to go to the usual places. Well, I did want to go to my usual delicious places but I need to try new things. So I went to Sullivan Street Bakery to claim my online coupon with some delicious food.

Sullivan offers some delicious savory options for lunch. I started with their mortadella sandwich ($6) which was kind of small. However, the flavors were pronounced and very well balanced.

The mortadella which is the Italian version of bologna was creamy, soft, sweet, and just very good. The fontal cheese was very buttery yet didn't add much flavor. It added a creamy texture to the filling. The olive salad was very nice. The briny, saltiness really went well with both the meat and cheese. Lastly, the bread. Sullivan is known for their bread and supplies many of the larger restaurants around the city. The crust crackled under each bite while the inside was soft and held the filling in nicely.

Along with the sandwich, I also got a slice of pizza ($3.50). The toppings on this particular one was cauliflower, pecorino cheese, bread crumbs, and parsley. I really like it. The saltiness from the cheese was the main taste but the cauliflower was a nice background flavor which mellowed it out. The bread crumbs added more crunch which it didn't need. The crust itself was very thin and crunchy. I really enjoyed this slice but my favorite is still the potato.
To finish off the meal, I got something sweet. I picked the seasonal bomboloni ($3) which was white peach at the time. The doughnut was really soft and slightly sweet. The white peach jam flavor was light and very fragrant. This fried dough was really nice and ended my meal perfectly.
The retail storefront of Sullivan Street Bakery is small but the options are really nice. They're out of the way but worth trekking to. Luckily, I live and work in the area.

Sullivan Street Bakery
533 West 47th St # 1
New York, NY 10036-7903
(212) 265-5580
sullivanstreetbakery.com
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lunch Week 30: Dijon Chicken, Sour Cherry Couscous, and Goat Cheese with Beets 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: Dijon Chicken, Sour Cherry Couscous, and Goat Cheese with Beets Salad
After last week's poor performance of a bagged lunch, I wanted to step it up this week. I had plenty of time to work with this past weekend so I looked through some recipes. I decided to make something new and dijon chicken came to mind. I had printed out a copy of the recipe from Serious Eats awhile ago but had never attempted the dish. What better time than now?

First the chicken. I made a visit to my favorite butcher in the city, Esposito's, and got 10 chicken thighs. I had them cut it at the joint for me. I left the skin and bones on for flavor. Once home, I dried each piece with a paper towel then tossed them generously with salt and black pepper.

I put the chicken aside and prepped the other ingredients. Going clockwise from the top left, I had some homemade chicken stock, white wine, dijon mustard mixed with heavy cream, thyme, and chopped shallots and garlic.
I took a heavy bottom pan (my cast iron skillet) and added a bit of oil to the bottom. I placed the chicken in the pan when it was super hot. I seared both sides until golden brown. Since I had so much chicken, I seared all the pieces in 2 batches.
I removed the chicken to a plate, then add the chopped garlic and shallots to the pan. I cooked them lightly on low heat until translucent.
Then I poured the wine in the pan, raised the heat, and allowed it to boil for bit. In the meantime, I scrapped up the browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Once the alcohol burned off, I added chicken stock and the thyme to the pan. I brought that up to a boil as well.
Now I added the chicken back into the pan making sure every single piece was somehow nuzzled into the sauce. I covered the pot and let it simmer for about a 1/2 hour.
The chicken should be fully cooked through at this point.
Remove the chicken again, remove the thyme stems, take the pan off the heat, then add the mustard cream sauce. Stir until well mixed. Afterward, I put the chicken back in the sauce to evenly coat every piece.
As I let the chicken marinate in the sauce, I worked on the other components of this week's lunch. In this bowl, I chopped up half a red onion and 1 small bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley.
I boiled some chicken stock, water, and oil in a separate pot. Then I added some Israeli couscous. I let it simmer while covered for a few minutes until it's soft yet still retains a nice bounce.
I immediately tossed the couscous into the bowl of veggies and added some more oil to prevent it from sticking. To that, I added some roughly chopped reconstituted dry sour cherries. Mix well again. Season to taste.
For my salad, I used some red beets which I roasted in the oven at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. They became really soft and delicious. To peel the skins off, I took a spoon and scraped the soft skins. It should come off very easily. Be wary of the staining that may occur on your cutting board and your hands.
And so my lunch is the dijon chicken with a side of the sour cherry couscous, and beet and goat cheese salad.
I really liked the variety of flavors and texture of this lunch. The chicken was very juicy and had a lot of flavor. The mustard was slightly muted from the cream but delicious any way. I would add more mustard next time. The couscous is pleasantly chewy with a note of tartness from the cherries and some freshness from the onion and parsley. Lastly, the salad was both sweet from the beets and creamy from the goat cheese while remaining fresh with the red leaf lettuce. I really liked the contrasting yet complementing flavors. I certainly won't be bored of this by the end of the week.

Recipe Courtesy of Serious Eats Recipes and Kerry Saretsky

Dijon Chicken
Ingredients
* 3 tablespoons light olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
* 10 chicken legs
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 4 shallots, diced
* 3/4 cup white wine
* 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
* 6 stems thyme, plus extra for garnish
* 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
* 1/2 cup cream

Procedures

1. In a wide, heavy-bottomed pan, heat 3 tablespoons light olive oil on medium-high heat.
2. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper, and pat dry with paper towel. Sear in the hot oil until golden-brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
3. Pour out the hot chicken oil, and lower the heat to low. Add 1 tablespoon fresh light olive oil to the pan. Add in the shallot, and then the garlic 1 minute later, and sauté just until translucent and fragrant—two minutes total from the time the shallots went into the pan.
4. Pour in the white wine, and raise the heat to medium-high. Reduce the wine—it will bubble the chicken bits up from the bottom of the pan, and reduce by about half. Then add the chicken stock and 6 stems of thyme. Then, nestle the chicken back into the pan in a single layer. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot, simmering for 30 minutes.
5. After 30 minutes, remove the cover from the pot, and allow the chicken to simmer a further 5 to 10 minutes uncovered.
6. Take the pan off the heat. Again, remove the chicken from the pan. Whisk in the cream and the mustard until the sauce is homogeneous. Then strain. Toss the chicken with the Dijon sauce, top with fresh thyme, and serve right away with crusty bread and a salad.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Night: BonChon Chicken

Towards the end of the last year, my friends thought that we weren't hanging out enough. It's true, we weren't. So they started Tuesday night get-togethers. Every Tuesday, we'll pick a bar to drink, eat, and hang out for a couple of hours. Whoever can make it will attend. If you're busy, it's okay. There's always next week. So this is Tuesday Nights on Tasty Eating where you will find bars that serve food and how we like them.

On this recent Tuesday Night, we headed out to: Bon Chon
It was a small group this night. The rain was coming done hard but we still wanted to get together and eat some Korean fried chicken. Drenched from the weather, we quickly sat down and first ordered a pitcher of beer ($19). After we calmed down, food was in order. We were all kind of hungry and pretty much over ordered.

We started with the Ttekbokki ($12) which had stir fried rice cakes some meat, noodles, spicy tomato based sauce...and strangely, cheese. The serving size was huge and took up the entire two-top table. Overall, we thought it was just okay. The cheese seemed out of place and really overpowered the rest of the flavors in the dish. At parts, I couldn't tell what was a rice cake or cheese.

We also had the potstickers ($8) which were ordered spontaneously. I saw the waiter bring out an order for another table and I really wanted it. So these fried dumplings in soy garlic sauce came 8 to a plate.
At $1 per dumpling, this better be good right? You know, it wasn't bad at all. I liked it. The skin remained crispy and the filling was tasty. The soy garlic sauce outside was pretty good as well. I would get this again. I liked how it played on the sweet salty flavors.
For the main course, we got the combo chicken drumsticks and wings both spicy and soy garlic flavored. We thought to get the medium (10 wings, 6 drums - $21) but our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We ordered the large instead (16 wings, 8 drums - $30). As usual, the chicken was really delicious. Super crispy skin while also sticky from the sauce gave way to juicy, tender chicken meat. The spicy is not smack in your offensive but slowly builds up to a heat on your lips and in your throat. The accompanying radish cools off the heat quite nicely. I also like to eat the soy garlic in between the spicy chicken to keep the heat at a nice level. The soy garlic is very robust in flavor and has a nice sweet savory taste. It's really good.
Bon Chon was really good once again. The beers poured easily and the food made my stomach and taste buds very happy. I'll happily go back.

BonChon Chicken
207 W38th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 221-3339
bonchon.com
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Monday, September 26, 2011

AJ Maxwells

I recently bought an online coupon for lunch at AJ Maxwell's. I read on Midtown Lunch that the steak sandwich was not a bad option. In fact, it was a good option for lunch. Their pictures and write up certainly intrigued me. I mean a steak sandwich is pretty awesome for lunch.

So I went and picked up my order. When I got back to my cubicle, I was presented with this when I opened up the container. Yeah, it was a pretty sad looking sandwich. It seemed hastily prepared with overly charred bread, 4 small slices of lackluster steak, and mediocre shredded lettuce. Even the accompanying fries were blah as well. I thought maybe looks were deceiving. Well, that wasn't the case here. The steak sandwich tasted as it looked: sad. After finishing it, I felt unsatisfied and went out to look for something sweet to leave me happy.

I hope that their dinner isn't as bad as their lunch options. I would hate to pay top dollar for a meal like that. I won't be back for lunch.

AJ Maxwell's
57 West 48th Street
New York, NY 10020-1509
(212) 262-6200
ajmaxwells.com
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Salume [CLOSED]

After reading about Salume on Feisty Foodie's website, I really wanted to try it. I have a weakness for good Italian cured meats. So one day, I went for lunch with a friend to check out the sandwiches. We arrived to a nearly empty place and sat at one of tables inside. There isn't much seating at all but it didn't seem like a place where people would eat and linger. As we sat and looked over the menu, many people started coming in. However, most orders were for take out. I guess the Soho area workers came in looking for lunch.

The waiter came and took our order and the food came out quickly. First, the Langhirano ($12) which had parma prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and extra virgin olive oil. This sandwich was really good. The soft Italian roll had such a nice crust on it that it crackled as we bit into it. The salty prosciutto stood out the most while the creamy cheese mellowed it down a bit. The tomato add a slight natural sweetness while the oil made it so much more decadent. This was really good. I especially enjoyed the quality of the prosciutto which had a nice buttery quality to it. It's probably from the fat to meat ratio and the thinness of the slice.

We also picked the bologna ($11) which mortadella, emmenthal cheese, arugula, and mustard. Another solid sandwich. The meat was very thinly sliced and piled on nicely. Mortadella is the Italian bologna. It's meaty but without too much of that processed taste. It has a nice smooth texture but the taste is all pork. The emmenthal cheese is very similar to Swiss cheese which is creamy and can carry a sharp taste at times. The arugula added a very nice fresh pepperyness to the sandwich. It definitely helped balance out the sandwich. The bread was super crusty and good as well.

The sandwiches are really good and though they are on the smaller side, I can tell that the quality was top. They're expensive but worth the splurge once in awhile.

Salume
330 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-8111
salumenewyork.com‎
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

I just can't get enough Parsi food!!

My in laws are really good to me. Whenever I'm over, they like to feed me crazy good homemade food and they also push alcohol on me. Hahahaha! The Parsi food is ridiculously good and I always welcome it. Below, a plate of delicious bounty.

First up, biryani with eggs on top. This mixed rice boasts a lot of flavor but isn't spicy. It's very mild in heat but the flavor is not. I'm not sure which Indian spices are in it but it's just good. And eggs, I love eggs!

Here's a lentil based "curry" called dhansak. You'll see many different versions ranging in color and thickness. I like my dhansak to be on the thicker side. I think it coats the rice better than way. Again, the rich color certainly shows what kind of flavors to expect. Smooth yet deep in flavor. It's like a kicked up version of creamed lentil soup.
Salad to keep everyone's system happy.
A side of yogurt raita. I'm not usually a fan of yogurt things. And again, I was right. I wasn't into this. But the rest of the family was.
We finished off the meal with some leftover tiramisu. I'm not sure who made it though. Oh well!
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Parsi Food for Lunch (or at any time) is AWESOME

Some more Parsi Indian food for your pleasure. A plateful of goodness. A little of each is all I need to make me happy.

Here are some homemade sweet rotli with a side of green chutney. Flat crispy bread with layer of butter and sugar.

Beef cutlis and vegetable samosas. The cutlis are made from season ground beef, formed into patties, then fried. The samosas were made by a family friend. They're my absolute favorite. The dough is thin and crunchy and it's stuffed with lots of filling. So good!
And here's some taraporipatio which is dried fish reconstituted with spices. It's spicy indeed but very good. Great with plain white bread.
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Wolfgang's Steakhouse

Whenever we have friends from out of town come into the city, we like to take them out to a nice place to eat. They requested steak and lucky for them that NYC is known for their dry aged steaks. We juggled a couple of options around and finally decided on Wolfgang's Steakhouse. It would be the best option for people who do not eat a lot. The porterhouses are shared and a steak for 2 could easily feed 3 or 4 smaller eaters.

I really like the look for Wolfgang's especially their ceilings. They're low and arched and very unique. They also have a pretty good bar up front where lots of people would choose to dine. But we were taking guests out so a table was necessary.

As we looked over the menu, we took advantage of the soft bread. A nice variety ranging from onion to poppy seed to plain.
Similar to Peter Luger, Wolfgang's offers their own special sauce as well. It tastes mainly of cocktail sauce.
We didn't want to start too heavy so we had a couple of salads. This is the Wolfgang salad ($14) which was very fresh and nice. The lettuce cup was stuffed with cucumbers, tomatoes, shrimp, and bacon. Everything was well cooked, the shrimp wasn't rubbery, and the bacon was crisp. And it was lightly dressed which is always good in my book.
We also ordered a plate of tomatoes and mozzarella ($14). The tomatoes were very sweet while the cheese was creamy and soft. They complemented each other very well. The basil sauce on top added a nice herbaceous tone to the dish.
And how could we not order some sizzling bacon ($4/slice). Thick cut, charred, and salty. This is delicious. It's almost ham-like in quality but still had that great cured bacon flavor. And the fat, the deliciously charred fat.
For steaks, we ordered 2 porterhouses, each was a steak for 2 people. One was cooked medium and the other medium-rare. The steak, unfortunately, was overcooked. Too much brown. I think the residual heat really over did it. I had to pick the middle pieces for more bloody goodness.
Here's a piece of the medium-rare. I consider that medium. A little more red in the middle and more pink along the edge would have been perfect for me. However, flavor-wise, it was very good. You can taste the intensified beef only to be brought our even more with a good hand of salt and pepper. The char on the outside created a nice crust.
I can't have steak without some potatoes. We picked the German potatoes to share ($12) which were okay. There was a mix of crust and soft potato but some pieces were overly burned. I picked those out and ate the rest.
The creamed spinach ($10) was very nice. It tasted very much like the leafy vegetable without having the cream take away from it. Though smooth, it still had a mouthfeel to keep it from resembling pudding.
The sauteed mushrooms ($12) were mediocre but seemed severely overpriced.
And here's my plate of food. I like to get a little of each and try everything. My second and third plates usually have more of what I liked that night which was mainly the steak and the creamed spinach.
Our guests really enjoyed their meal and experience. Although the steak was overcooked this time, the overall experience was nice. I've been to Wolfgang's before when all of the food was spot on. I guess it could have been an off night. Nonetheless, I would go back without a hesitation.

Wolfgang's Steakhouse
4 Park Ave
New York, NY 10016
(212) 889-3369
wolfgangssteakhouse.net‎
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