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Ever since I was a young girl watching everyone propose/get proposed to at the Rainbow Room, I always wondered what magic powers the place has that causes so many people to announce that they want to spend the rest of their lives with someone there.  However, in the last couple of years, I really haven’t heard much about them.  The restaurant is part of the Cipriani group, who name exudes money and top notch American cuisine.

I finally got to experience the Rainbow Room for myself due to a corporate luncheon held there one day. 

rainbow room sign

view-from-rainbow-room.jpg
view from the bar area

bellini
bellini! my favorite peachy brunch drink

bar
isn’t it a bit too early to drink at 10-11am?

The h’orderves: zuchini chips, cheese pumped onto pieces of napa cabbage, and proscuitto on a stick

zuchini-chips.jpg cheesy cabbage
proscuitto

My favorite part was standing around eating all the h’orderves and drinking my bellinis.  The actual lunch was a bit disappointing.  I guess it also attributes to preparing, cooking, and serving 100 plus people 2-3 choices at one time.  The quality would suffer a bit.  None of the food stood out to us in particular and the portions were tiny. 

asparagus
sad asparagus appetizer

steak
the steak option

fishfish
grilled fish

dessert crepe
mediocre crepe, but the idea’s good

sweets
sweet treats

And.. we can’t forget the infamous chandelier!  I love the orange accents around it.

chandelier

chandelierchandelier

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!!!PER SE!!!

My friend and I went to Per Se in celebrating of her birthday for a veryyyy expensive lunch.  And our consensus?  It was AWESOME.  I’d have to say that it was probably the most amazing experience I’ve ever had at a 5 star restaurant.  Not only was the food gastronomically spell-binding, but the two guys who worked our table were so entertaining.  There are probably more pictures than words, but I’m sure that doesn’t bother anyone.  If you’ve got $250 burning a hole in your pocket, dial as fast as you can to make a reservation at Per Se.  They’re always changing their menus [everyday I believe, and I’m guessing they recycle their dishes?] so I’m already wanting to go back again.  =X  My birthday is next month… hmmm…  =X

So first, here are a bunch of pictures of the actual place.  All very chic and minimalist, save for the tons of green in thee faux garden area before you get inside.

per se, outside 2
cute fake garden, eh?  nice photo op 😉

entryway
main hallway 

entryway
entryway to the main dining room

The menu was so comprehensive.  They had something for everyone.  At the end of the meal, it was like a transition into a dessert tasting.  They also have this really delicious beer [I swear he said beer] bread.  It didn’t taste like beer, and I just can’t describe it.. it’s like your typical baguette type bread- crunchy on the outside and soft on this inside.. but better.. and more flavorful yet not overbearing. 

Also, note the vibrant colors of the food.  Don’t they all just scream “eat me!” ?

Note that half courses aren’t included in the menu and the negative courses are the amuse bouches [or so I take them to be].  

Course -1:  Pão de Queijo.  Brazilian Cheese balls.  They’re like warm cheese puffs with ooey gooey warm cheese centers that melts in your mouth.  I usually encounter these at the churrascarias, where I can’t allow myself to eat too many of them because I have to save my stomach for the unending skewers of meat. 

cheese balls

Course -2: Salmon cones.  It’s salmon tartare in a pylo cone with creme fraiche.  The creme fraiche is stuck in the bottom, so you kind of have to try to eat the whole thing together in order to get the full experience, or you’re just going to end up with a lot of creme fraiche an cone- no salmon.

salmon cones

Course 1:  Cauliflower “Panna Cotta” – w/ Island Greek Oyster Glaze and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar.  I like eating caviar only because of the mother of pearl spoons I get to use.  It’s so fancy and girly.  The cauliflower threw me off in name, but wasn’t too bad in practice.  It was just like lightly flavored pudding with yummy salty caviar on top.  Caviar has such a distinct salty and fishy taste, that I’m glad is only offered in small portions because I definitely cannot eat a whole can of it [much less afford to buy one].

caviar

Course 1 1/2:  From the best of my recollection, this was fluke or some type of fish with caviar and a piece of grapefruit.  The grapefuit was sweet and complimented the fish well.  

sashimisashimi
Their platings are all very elaborate.  This is just one example. 

Course 2: Salad of Marinated Abalone Mushroom – Slow baked heirloom beets, grilled young red onion and garden mache with pickled shallot gastrique. 

abalone

Course 2a: “Peach Melba” – terrine of Hudson Valley Moulard duck foie gras, marinated Frog Hollow Farm’s peaches, peach jelly, red onion, cilantro shoots, “melba toast” and puffed carolina rice.  It was $30 extra for this slab of foie gras that my friend ordered, and I’m not a fan of the terrine, so she gulped it down all by herself.  She says she likes the complement of the sweetness of the peaches with the foie gras. 

peach melba

Bread Break 1:  The kick ass bread mentioned earlier is in the hero form in the picture below.  We were also given two types of butter, regular butter and French butter in the little tin.  One of them was salted; whichever one that was was the good one.

breads 1

Course 3. Crispy Skin Fillet of Barramundi – Sauteed Italian Eggplant, candied marcona almonds, golden sultanas, spanish capers and petite mint w/ madres curry “aigre-doux”.  While I enjoyed the different flavored paired with the fish to offer a sweet and savory taste, the fish was seared in a bit more oil than I would have liked.  It was heavier than expected, but still made a good impression.  I’m not used to sweet; it’s usually either salty or picked. 

fish
It’s a fish eye!  Get it?  Har Har.  Yea, I know, I suck.  =P

Course 4. Scottish Langoustines “A La Plancha”- handmade farfalle, globe artichokes, nicoise olive “petals”, grilled red endive and EVOO emulsion.  I didn’t eat this b/c from the looks of it – I am sure to be allergic to langostine.  It’s suppose to be similar to lobster, and it looks like shrimp.  I’m allergic to both!  It would be terrible if I ended up having an allergic reaction at Per Se, like I did at Jean George’s Dune in the Bahamas when I accidentally ate crab.  =T

langostine

Course 4a. Pan Seared Cod with fresh string beans and potatoes on a bed of forgotten identity sauce.  As an alternative to the langostine [don’t you just love that word?  langostine!  It’s such a fun word], I was given more fish- cod, this time.  The vibrant colors of the sauce and veggies in contrast to the white of the fish was very aesthetically pleasing.  The flavor of the cod and its veggie accompaniments made this a very light summery dish. 

cod

Course 5. All day braised Berkshire pork belly– compressed watermelon, young fennel, roquette leaves and pork jus.  Tell me this doesn’t look like a prettified piece of roast pork from Chinatown!  If there was any moment in the whole 2-2.5 hours we were there that I ever felt gyped, it would be the moment I got served this.  I do have to admit that the pork belly was really soft from the long hours of braising and it came apart really easily, and almost melts in your mouth, but no so much that it’s gross b/c it’s meat kind of way.  However, mine came with the hughest piece of fat inbetween the meat and the skin that I was disgusted.  Usually, I can just rip that part out and it would be fine, but this layer was THICK.  On the other hand, the watermelon was awesome save for the sprig of mint on top.  Compressed watermelon = a TON of juice in one mouthful. 

roast pork belly 

And it was soo salty!  Look at her reaction! 

salty pork

Course 6.  Rib-eye of Marcho Farm’s nature fed veal– “fricassee de ris et cervelle de veau”- herb-scented spatzle, watercress leaves and Tokyo turnips w/ brown butter veal sauce.  At first, I thought that the bits of white spots on there were spots of fat and I was not happy about that.  MORE FAT?!  But no.  I was just overreacting.  It was sea salt.  *whew!  Of course, the two big pieces were kind of expected.  I didn’t think there was anything special about this course.  The butter veal sauce was unremarkable because it tasted similar to any red meat sauce I’ve ever had [it was good but just nothing noteworthy is all].  Are turnips from Tokyo suppose to taste different?  I’m guessing yes, but I didn’t get that.  I know the Japanese pears kick American pears’ ass.  Soo juicy… *drools…  And is this spatzel just a fried version of the German spaetzle?  This didn’t have much flavor and frying it made it a bit soggy.  BTW, spaetzle is the shit.  Especially if it were to be served in this type meat sauce.

veal

Tea Break:  We were freezinggg so we stopped to get some tea to warm ourselves up.  I’m always having trouble retaining body heat and you saw how skinny my friend by that last picture, so you know that she doesn’t have any place to store heat.  =X  Eva, I still love you!  I’ve got to say that Per Se has an awesome tea menu, not because they have an especially good tea selection [it’s just the regular white tea, oolong, green, etc].  But the actual MENU is awesome in that the names crack me up.  “Drum Mountain White Cloud” and “Golden Monkey” are two examples.  Haha I think I ordered the Golden Monkey for the hell of it.   

Course 7. Petite ardi-gasna- salad of summer squash. “pain de campagne”- cherry tomatos and opal basil with saporoso vinegar reduction.  What can I say about this?  Cherry tomatoes?  Yum.  Basil?  Flavorful.  Vinegar?  Tastes like balsamic.

squash

Bread Break 2: Cranberry walnut, if I’m not mistaken..

cranberry bread

Course 8. hibiscus sorbet– mango coulis, dragon fruit and shaved coconut

There were two variations to this dessert b/c they thought my friend and I would appreciate trying two different things instead of just one.  =D  Aren’t they sweet?  Unfortunately, while they paid careful attention to my allergies, they forgot about my friend’s.  She can’t have coconut!  Well, the servers and the kitchen couldn’t remember if those were real coconut shavings or if they replaced it with something else, so they decided not to take that chance.  So what did they do with the other dessert?  They gave it to the fatty; in other words, me!  Desserts are pretty self explanatory.  The dragon fruit was sour as I expected, but the mango really hit the spot. 

coconut dessert 1

alternate dessert

She ended up with this.  Dragon fruit sorbet with mint jellies.

dessert 2

Course 9. Tentation au chocolat noisette et lait – milk chocolate “cremeux” and hazelnut “streusel” w/ condensed milk sorbet, “pain au lait” sauce and sweetened salty hazelnuts.  I thought that there would be too much chocolate in this dish for me so I didn’t order it.  I now wish I would have tried the milk sorbet though.  How creative.

chocolate

Course 9a. “degustation de fruits d’ete”- tristar strawberry “consumme” and “frangipane croustillante” w/ lemon curd ice cream.  Although I really love sorbets, I felt like this dish didn’t need the sorbet on top.  The fruits with the biscuit shortcake was enough.  The strawberry consumme was light and not overly sweet.  I didn’t think the sour lemon really went with this dish. 

fruits

Course 9 1/2:  Individual creme brulee.  Whoops!  I nearly forgot about this one last dessert that was not on the menu.  Actually, a LOT of things weren’t on the menu [not that I’m complaining, who can say no to free food?].  My friend and I each got individual creme brulees.  It was the cutest thing ever.  The sugar shell was thicker than I expected, hence, providing more sugar than I would’ve like for the custard inside.  Yet, the custard itself wasn’t too sweet, so I was able to include some of the shell while eating.  Usually, I just crack the shell and scope out the inside because the custard’s already too sweet for me.  As you can tell, I’m not one to order creme brulees much, if at all.  

creme brulee

Lastly:  Mignardises– preciousness.

chocolates

chocolates

My selection: Vanilla & coffee.  The vanilla way wayyy too sweet.  The coffee was good, but I couldn’t finish it.

chocolate inside chocolates

Our parting gift.  Macaroons!  Almond base instead of coconut so my friend wasn’t allergic!

macaroons

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A friend and I had lunch on the East Mezzanine of Grand Central Terminal [not Station] at Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur.  With all the natural daylight shinning thruogh, the whole place lit up through the large windows.  This is the only restaurant of Charlie Palmer’s that I’ve ever eaten at even though he owns several throughout the US. 

I looovee this space!!  I love how it’s so open and if you get a table by the railing, you can look down at all the people [like me in the mornings] running for the escalators to the MET building, or for theMetroNorth trains!  And then there are all the tourists posing and taking pictures of the clock and the ceiling.  I know that an hour later, I will be the dumbass that’s running for those escalators trying to make it back to my cube. 

metrazur

The menu is small and offers basic American fare – everything seems pretty simple and straight forward.  I did notice that even thought their website had a prix-fixe lunch menu- the menu the hostess gave us didn’t have the option on there.  I had to ask her about it before she would bring the menu over.  Our entree would have cost $19 each if it weren’t for the prix-fixe.  With the prix-fixe, three courses cost $20.12.

metrazur 001

Aside from the 3 lunch courses, we ordered 8 littleneck clams which came with cocktail sauce, Tabasco and lemon.  These were some meaty clams- see how they’re almost spilling out of the shell?  It was great and went down smoothly without too much of a fishy taste/scent.  The shucker didn’t do the cleanest job though; I tasted/saw bits of shell in some of my clams. 

metrazur 009  

I got a salad of baby lettuce, tomato carpaccio, crisp fingerlings with sherry vinaigrette for my appetizer.  My companion got the soup of the day, which happened to be white bean.  The leaves to this salad were huge- it made the salad look all fluffy; I think it was one of the only times that a salad warranted a use for my knife!  I loved the potato chips [that is essentially what they are] on top! 

metrazur 008

There is only one entree option, so the menu isn’t very broad but it was okay with me since it was my first time there.  It’s a wood grilled salmon [you can pick between salmon, chicken, or beef] with tomato paste, olive oil and served with the day’s market selection [which were mashed potatoes and string beans and carrots the day I went].  My friend got the beef sirloin.  There was a bit too much olive oil for my liking, but the tomato paste went well with the salmon.  The salmon had perfect grill marks [as you can see] and was not too over or underdone.  The mashed potatoes were remarkably soft and smooth.

metrazur 012

I realllllllly wanted ice cream so I skipped the creme brulee and ordered vanilla ice cream.  The presentation was really nice and I loved the cookie curl on top!  I stole my friend’s since he ordered ice cream too after I got him craving it.  Cookies and ice cream- who can beat that?

metrazur 026

If it’s a nice day and you have time to spare, go have lunch at Metrazur.  Ask for the prix-fixe menu!  It’s offered all year around.  It’s definitely too pricey for me to order off of the regular menu for lunch.  *sigh.  Midtown and its expensive lunches.

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I’ve never had so much meat in one sitting in my entire life.  I don’t know what possessed me to go to Churrascaria Plataforma, an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse with Arthur, Rich, and Jen one night.  Arthur basically convinced me to give it a try and just experience the atmosphere of the restaurant so we all went one day after work.  He knew that there’s no way in hell I’d be able to eat my money’s worth of meat – ever.  Before I continue, I should mention that Churrascaria serves grilled meats in a rodizio style, which means food is brought to you.  Basically, what happens is that each person gets a card that looks like a coaster, it’s red on one side and green on the other.  When the green side faces up, carvers will come by your table and each one will offer you a different cut of meat.  When the red side is up, it indicates to the carvers that you want them to stop coming to you, which probably means you want to spend some time eating your meat and not just letting it pile on your plate. 

churrascaria

Before the meat carving commences, each table is supplied with these cream puff look-alike breads filled with cheese called pão de queijo.  They’re warm so the cheese inside is soft, it’s great!  They were so light and fluffy too!  I wanted to ask for more, but knew that I definitely shouldn’t be filling up on this stuff!

bread with cheese

In between the bread basket, ordering of drinks, and the meat comes the buffet.  They call it a salad bar, but there’s a minimal salad selection.  This is also where one would get fish if one wanted to eat that instead of the carved meats.  Some of the highlights are sushi, where the fish was good but the rice was not, and a really good sundried tomato risotto.

sushi buffet-plate 1stuffed meat

RODIZIO STYLE MEATS!!!

There were soooo many different types of meats that the few pictures below only cover about half !  There were sirloin, lamb, beef ribs, baby back ribs, chicken wrapped in bacon, and pork.  Also, with stuff like the sirloin, depending on how well you want your meat done, they will cut it in a certain area due to the way the cook the meat.  I’d go with the pork chops, and the beef items, the ribs, but not the chicken or the lamb, which were both incidentally overdone.

meat meats
ribs moree
more meat more ribs

We couldn’t get away at an all-you-can-eat place without dessert!  At Churrascaria, there are different all-you-can-eat packages you can choose from.  It starts from the simplest package with just meat for $51.95 to a package with unlimited drinks, food, and desserts for $81.95.  I thought we were getting the package with dessert, so my friends and I basically went crazy when the dessert cart came by.  This brings me to the next brilliance of this place- one can probably sit here for an entire dinner and never once have to get up, after the salad bar that is.  They bring everything to you!  They wheeled us over a dessert cart and we ordered several desserts that we knew were available and not on the cart.  We got a fruit tart, some chocolate truffles, a pineapple sorbet in a real pineapple shell, a chocolate moouse, and some other stuffs.  We were pleased with almost all their desserts- I especially liked the tiramisu and the sorbet.  Needless to say, we were quite pleased and verrrrrrry stuffed afterwards! 

FYI:  Our desserts totally up to $50 alone. =X  whoops?

desserts

I’m really glad I got to experience Churrascaria.  I loved the way they have everything set up, and all the wonderful foods they offer.  If I was a meat lover, I’d be head over heels!  My favorite would probably be the dessert cart and the wait person walking around with the assortment of after-dinner beverages.  Tonight, I found a dessert wine that wasn’t too sweet for me – the Italian Brachetto!  Although this restaurant is more on the pricey side, it’s worth the splurge just to experience it once. 

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burgers & cupcakes

 I stumbled upon this Burgers & Cupcakes offshoot on 37th & 9th walking down to Chelsea Market with Daniel one day.  Yes, we are true New Yorkers- we walk everywhere.  Their burgers looked really good, but I just had myself a slice of pizza just a few blocks ago.  We went in because they had a deal: 3 mini cupcakes for $5!  I didn’t even have to drag Daniel and we were already inside.

I was surprised that they had table service here.  I thought one would just order food and find a seat.  We went to look at the day’s selection of cupcakes to figure out what we wanted to order and took a seat by the window.  I decided that I should get some real food to eat along with the cupcakes.  I wasn’t hungry enough for a burger (though they looked smashingly delish), so I got a mesclun salad with cherry tomatoes and avocado.

burgers & cupcakes outside burgers & cupcakes inside

The salad was fresh, especially the avocado.  Look!  No brown spots!  =)  That always makes me happy.  I didn’t really like the dressing though- too much olive oil for my liking.  BTW, I did eat this salad all by myself because Daniel didn’t want to participate in my fattiness.  He says the cupcakes have enough calories alone- he doesn’t need to add to them.  Though, 15 minutes later, he wanted to go hunt down some White Castle, so….

salad

We decided on the vanilla with vanilla icing [with the Christmas sprinkles], the carrot with the cream cheese and coconut icing, and the vanilla with the chocolate icing for the cupcakes.  The mini cupcakes are actually the size of regular cupcakes.  The jumbo ones were humungous.  They were very exciting to look at.  It turns out that these cupcakes have been sitting around for a while [it was only a bit past lunch by the time we got there], so the cupcakes were not as soft and fluffly as they could have been.  Also, since it’s been sitting outside, the icing has started to get hard on the sides, which was fairly disappointing.  The degree of sweetness was not too bad though; it wasn’t over the top sweet.  We just weren’t wowed by their cupcakes.  Maybe we shall try the original one next time.

3 cupcakes 

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About a year and a half ago, a few of my friends and I lunched at Tribeca’s Nobu.  I fell head over heels in love with the place.  For my birthday this year, I thought I’d recreate the love by going to Nobu 57.  However, I’ve been putting off writing about my experience at Nobu 57 because I was sadly disappointed.  I couldn’t wait to have the black miso cod again after all this time, and after tasting others that don’t quite live up to its name’s connotations in my mind.  When my sister volunteered to take me, I was estastic because I’ve been waiting to check out the new space, and this way, I wouldn’t have to foot the bill. 

David Rockwell, the designer for 57 actually lives a floor above my old boss, but I never got the chance to meet him [damn my boss’ private entrance].  When you walk through the big half wooden, half thick glass door, you are greeted by the bar, and have to go upstairs for the dining area.  The dining area is very spacious and floor space was not cramped because the tables were well spread apart.  The only thing that I found weird about the set up is that they have these half booth type things; there’s a bench with the split into two, and two regular chairs on the opposite side.  We sat at one of these half booths and felt that we were way too close to our neighbors than we would have liked.  The two next to us was definitely trying to have an intimate meal of sorts, and I don’t think it helped to hear every part of our conversation.

nobu outside nobu inside
the space outside  //  the space inside (part chic, part avant garde)

The waitress introduced the cuisine as Japanese-Caribbean; this was the first I’ve heard Nobu described as such.  I thought it was just “New Japanese,” and was not previously nor am I now aware of any Caribbean traits in the food.  Hmm..  now I’m swearing I heard wrong because the website clearly states “new style Japanese food.”  Either way, the waitress told us that they like to serve everything family style so we should get a couple of dishes to share… which is how I usually eat anyway…  

Before I question my hearing some more, let me talk about the food.  Originally, I wanted to do their omakase because I read somewhere that certain aspects of their omakase menu is even better than Morimoto’s, but decided to do a la carte instead.  Overall, everything was too salty and overpowered by soy sauce.  My palate likes salty elements, but this was even too much for it.  The level of sodium in the dishes severely kicked my ass – and my sister’s.  The presentation was very appealing though- all the colors were quite eye catching.

 We started with the salmon skin salad as an appetizer.  The salmon skin was crispy with good portion of salt cured dried salmon on it.  The salmon was lightly grilled and wasn’t too hard as sometimes dried fish is.  The salmon came apart fairly easily with the use of my chopsticks.  There were a few good sized pieces around the bed of mesclun greens, which were topped with carrots and sesame seeds and some dried fish flakes.  I liked how the salmon was placed along the outside of the salad tower, so I could see the actual portion of salmon.  The salmon skin was not too salty in it’s own right, but since the salad came with a dressing made with a soy sauce base, it made the whole salad salty.  I’d even go for a typical Japanese teriakyi sauce than to have my salad drown in sodium.  Come to think of it, if there was just a light drizzle of low sodium soy sauce, [or one of the nice aged ones Nobu has lying around], it wouldn’t have been so bad.  The soy sauce just took over all my senses and I couldn’t concentrate on the actual salad. 

salmon skin salad 

There was no way I was going to leave Nobu without having the black miso cod, and that is just what I ordered.  I also wanted the chilean sea bass, but we really weren’t too keen on ordering all fish for dinner.  My cod looks different from one in my memory [where are the blacken sides?!  This looks like miso covered regular cod, but then again I’ve seen back cod look like this before too- I guess I was just expecting exactly what I had all those months ago].  Did you know that black cod has antifreeze proteins in its blood?  Maybe that’s why it tastes so good.  Anyways, the cod meat had a very soft, smooth, silky texture, and I literally slurped it down.  Unlike the salad however, the saikyo miso was not salty, but it was a touch too sweet.  Someone probably added too much sugar to this batch of miso.  I was saddened that I didn’t experience the same foodgasm I did the first time I had black miso cod.  The dish was still good, and I’d definitely order it again, but it just didn’t live up to my mind’s hype.

black miso cod
(from Nobu’s website)- how the fish was presented the first time I had it

 black miso cod black miso cod 2
black miso cod from nobu 57

I also decided to order something I normally wouldn’t; beef.  I blame the iron chef.  I forgot for a split second there that though I’m more open to meat now- it’s just the kobe beef I’m partial to.  It also slipped my mind that I was disappointed by the meat during my last Nobu visit.  By the time I remembered this, I already placed my order in for the beef toban yaki.  This is a dish of sliced beef, asparagus, and enoki and shiitake mushrooms in what I’m going to call a soy sauce based sauce because I’m quite sure there was something else in the sauce, I just couldn’t make it out by taste.  Everything came in a toban, which is the name of the platter used to cook the beef.  The concept is that the beef comes medium raw and would continue to cook to the customer’s desired state as long as it stayed in the toban.  My sister and I wanted a medium/medium well meat, but we couldn’t figure out a way to plop the meat face down without drowning in the sauce.  I thought of spooning the sauce out and use it as a dipping sauce, but we had no spoons, and even if we did, we had nothing to spoon the sauce into.  As a result, the sauce seeped into the beef and it was the saltiest thing I’ve ever tasted [saltier than the salmon skin salad even].  I realized not only didn’t I like the sauce, but I didn’t like the taste of the beef either.  I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about the beef.  I’m thinking it has a lot to do with the way the sauce interacted with the meat that I didn’t like.  I tried to eat as much of it as possible as not to waste it; the mushrooms and asparagus helped to cover the saltiness and the odd flavor of the beef.  Eventually, my sister and I gave up.

beef toban 

We decided not to order dessert because nothing really caught our eye.  She had the bento box before, but that comes with chocolate and I was not about to go to the other extreme and sugar myself up after my insides swam in salt for the last hour. 

In the end, I regret not ordering any sushi.  I remember a lot of people saying that you’re not suppose to come to places like this for the sushi, but for the food.  Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people actually giving praise to Nobu’s sushi.  Maybe I should’ve ordered a roll or two. Mm.. spicy tuna roll. 

Ultimately, this experience made me think about Anthony Bourdain’s book, A Cook’s Tour about his search for the perfect meal.  No matter how one tries to recreate and manipulate current circumstances to reflect a previous experience, it will never be the same.  Bourdain talks about how he’s trying to duplicate his first foodgasm in France and realizes that no matter how hard he tries to prepare himself for it, times have changed, and so has he, and he won’t be able to relive that experience again.  That’s how I feel about Nobu’s black miso cod this time.  I sayNobu’s because I’ve had the dish elsewhere before, but it was at Nobu’s that first gave me the euphoric experience.

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It seems that it wasn’t only me who didn’t have a good experience at Nobu 57, the chowmaster felt gypped too.

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This post is long overdue [well, the Menchanko part].  Over a month ago, I went to Menchanko http://www.menchankotei.com/ for lunch- it’s just down the block from me.  I sat upstairs in the balcony area of the restaurant.  You can see my views of down below in the pix below.  Menchanko is basically a ramen bar and I’m obsessed with ramen.  There’s this chicken and pork ramen my mom introduced to me years ago, and I can’t stop eating it.  When I was in college, I used to make ramen into a meal.  I put Chinese veggies, meats and some type of soup or broth and ate it as a meal.  When I moved back to Manhattan, I got to change up the ramen, but when my mom makes chicken and mushroom, I use that sauce with my ramen and it is slammin’.  So yea, there’s no doubt about my love for ramen.

inside menchanko   menchanko 2

I ordered the menchanko– it’s one of their more popular dishes- and not made with actual ramen.  The noodles were the same texture and I think they were egg noodles- they look like ramen, only fatter [not by much though].  I got the menchanko with kimchi .  Menchanko is the restaurant’s own “original noodle recipe individually cooked in a cast iron bowl. we start with traditional thick ramen noodles in a rich soy broth, then add chicken, shrimp, salmon ball, tofu, ricecake and vegetables.”  My order was shrimp-less, of course.  It was yummers but there was like one thing of each ingredient- it was so weird.  Since there are so many things that come with the noodles though, it seems enough.  There was one beancurd, like two pieces of rice cakes, one piece of chicken – and it was a tiny one at that.  I think they just give you whatever they have on hand.  There was enough to fill me up, and I was craving the kimchi so I was satisfied. 

kimchi menchanko
I want to own that soup ladle!

I came back like two weeks later for some ramen-ramen. 

I feel bad for all the men in my life who I am constantly dragging to have ramen with me.  Sorry, it’s clearly an obsession. 

Friday was the Mid-Autumn Festival!  中秋節!  Many people just refer to it as “ baat yuet sup mm” in cantonese because it occurs on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon.

 I’m sad that there are no actual festivities in New York.  People actually do stuff in China!  I want to do stuff!  I’ve heard it’s geared towards little kids, but who cares?  I want o make lanterns and stare at the moon and all that good stuff [my cousins have told me what goes on, and I’ve forgotten].  Friday was a cloudy day though. I remember during the moon festival last year, the moon was round and bright- it was really pretty.  My mom usually sets up food & mooncakes & incense for the moon diety; we offer our good wishes, and that’s about it.  Nothing much goes on outside of this. 

My mom brought home these fabulous green tea mooncakes, which is what prompted me to write this post on mooncakes.  They actually taste pretty good- nothing like green tea- well, maybe a little- but not much.  These mooncakes are from the Imperial Jade Mooncake company.  These people have some fancy smancy packaging too; I don’t know what to make of it.  Each one of these mooncakes comes individually boxed; which is nice because it’s harder to mess up when you give one or two away.  We’re suppose to give mooncakes to those we love- okay..  it’s time for research because here’s where I start my random reasoning creative rambling bit.  I need to find out more about this mooncake tradition.

So here goes.  The Mid-Autumn Festival is the festival of reunion.  Family and friends gather to gawk at the beautiful moon, and even if loved ones are far away, you will know when you’re looking up at the moon, your loved ones are looking at the exact same moon with you miles away.  Wiki says it’s common to “put pomelo rinds on one’s head.”  I have no idea where this came from or what this signifies, but I’ve never heard this- ever.  I know some people offer the pumelo to the moon- we have a huge one that costs $8 at home ourselves.  Historically, the fifteenth of the eighth moon represented the time for harvest.

mooncake box  mooncake  mooncake 2
a box and a box within the box and a wrapped up mooncake within that box

 mooncake 4
mooncake in its wholeness!

mooncake insides
insides! you see the green?

The insides of the mooncake is filled with lotus paste and green tea flavoring [and green coloring perhaps?].  There’s lotus seeds and a big egg yolk in the middle, which I usually avoid.  It’s suppose to represent the roundness of the moon and all the good stuff surounded by the circular shape.  In previous years, I’ve made my mother buy the yolk-less ones because I can’t stand to eat the perserved yolk, but now, I like what it symbolizes, so I just deal with it [though, I always scoop it out before I eat the rest of the mooncake].  Mooncakes tend to be really sweet and this is no different, but with the green tea flavor, the lotus taste is not as overwhelmingly sweet as it usually is, which is a good thing.  I don’t know what to make of the nut though- it’s like a cross between a pumpkin seed and a sunflower seed and I don’t really know what it’s doing in this mood cake.  I don’t think I like my mooncake with a crunch.

Here’s an article that talks more about mooncake history and how mooncakes have evolved over the years.  The article also talks about the famous Snowy or Ice Snow Mochi Mooncakes from Taipan bakery.  I’ve personally never had them, but they sound good.  I love the Japanese mochi ice cream!  My friend Jonathan says they’re not that good, and since he’s never really steered me wrong, I’ll have to trust him until I get my hands on one. 

Someone send me some if you’ve got any!

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