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Archive for the ‘tribeca’ Category

A little while ago [meaning … March], I was obsessed with drinking Thai iced teas– don’t ask why.  I think it’s because the weather started warming up a bit, and I kept going to Thai restaurants with my friend JJ so I couldn’t stop drinking them!  It came to the point where I would just walk into a Thai restaurant and just order a Thai iced tea to go.  These are just some of the Thai restaurants I went to during the month of March.  My obsession got so bad that McTwinkle had to put his foot down and forbid me to have any more.  But where did I take him for his birthday ?  To a Thai restaurant ;p.

I went to Seain Williamsburg twice… in one week.  The second time, I had my Thai friend go schmooze with the hostess so we got a table with a quickness.  =X  The first night I ordered the massaman curry with chicken, the second night I ordered curry noodle soup with chicken.  I enjoyed the massaman curry as it was mild but flavorful.  The curry soup was a bit disappointing as the flavor was just in the soup, everything inside including the noodles were bland and overcooked and the chicken was overdone.  Their thai iced tea was made overly sweet the second time around so I had to send it back to get them to lessen the sweet factor.  I also got to try a few of their appetizers- I tried both of the spring rolls [crispy basil spring rolls &po-pia sod], which were okay and ordinary.  I enjoyed the crispy ones more b/c it didn’t have mint in it but I did like the summer roll type skin on the po-pia sod.  The Sea chicken wingswere actually really good- I’m not sure what the sauce is – it looks like jerk chicken, but definitely tastes a lot better.  I also had the fried ice cream for dessert.  They pour a whole buttload of rum on the plate and lit it up so you get the cool blue flame effect below.  The rum seriously overpowered the whole dessert, which was a bit disappointing, but the actual fried ice cream was really good.

What I hate about going to Sea is that their service sucks.  I mean the workers there are nice enough- it’s not like I got into a spat with any of them directly.  However, they are always trying to accommodate more people than is politically correct so they are always rushing customers to finsih their meals.  I had a server/bus boy pull my plate from under me just as I was picking up my last spring roll.  Now, that is just plain rude!

thai iced tae

chicken wings

curry noods 

flaming ball of ice cream

McTwinkle, Arthur and I went to Kittichai for lunch one day and got seated in their lounge area b/c their space downstairs wasn’t opened- there was no explanation why.  We sat on plush seats surrounding a black bar in the middle.  The tables were very small, as they normally only hold drinks, so it was a bit difficult trying to balance three people’s lunches on two of those small round tables in the picture underneath. 

kittichai- space

We ordered both thai iced teas and thai iced coffees, which we got to sweeten and milk to our own tastes.  I got the thai salad to start, but I had meant to order the duck salad, but my mind was somewhere else and I ended up ordering the wrong one.  The salad was just a simple medley of lettuce, cucumbers, salmon, and peanuts with a crunchy rice paper look-a-like chip.  There’s nothing in regards to the salad to write home about.  McTwinkle and Arthur shared an order of their beef skewers, which were amazingly juicy and not-beefy tasting.  I don’t know what it was basted with, but I’d definitely eat it again.  I’ve been trying to open up more to meats lately.  The skewers came with a mango salsa, which resulted in the three of us wrestling for the mangoes.  We definitely should’ve ordered more of the skewers. 

thai iced tea

salad

beef satay

I thought their entrees were small but made very well.  I had the massaman chicken curry, which came with mashed potatoes and a side of rice.  It was very innovative that they decided to swap regular o’ potatoes for mash b/c I loveeee mash!  I think massaman may be one of my favorite curries because it’s mild in spice and on the sweeter side.  Sometimes I crave a spicier dish, like a vindaloo, but when I’m craving curry, I’m usually craving it for its sweetness- like the Japanese curry.  Mmm.  McTwinkle ordered a much spicier curry- a red curry with pork and capers that set my mouth on fire, which is exactly how he likes his food.  He drenched his rice with the sauce so all you can taste is the curry.  We have no idea what the pork really tastes like, this dish was definitely concentrated on the curry.  Arthur wasn’t really hungry so he ordered the tuna tartare.  They came looking like mini sandwiches, with the tuna acting as the bread with a slice of tomato and arugala in between and a beet on top.  The tuna had a nice red color in the middle and the pesto sauce complemented the tuna well. 

massaman curry 

spicy pork

tuna

While I enjoyed Kittichai, especially the mellow atmosphere and their presentation of both food and drink, I have to say that dishes here are just too expensive and small for the amount we paid for it.  If you’re in the mood for a nice lunch and want to just sit back and chill, this would be the place to go.  No one will bother you and the food is good.  The boys also give a thumbs up to the restaurant’s cute hostess.

I also revisited what is quite possibly my favorite Thai restaurant in NYC, Kai Kai Thai.  There’s something about the close-knit family vibe and the small kitschy dining room combined with a mason jar of thai iced tea and some home-cooked noodles to hit the spot.  We sat in the back of the small dining room, which was made to look like a front porch of a house, looking out onto  Thai movie posters and trinkets of model houses along the walls. 

I had ordered the pad siew again and it was just as good as I remembered it.  Soft broad noodles pan fried with chinese broccoli with chicken, carrots, and egg.  The chicken was a bit on the dry side since it wasn’t marinated- it’s good in small pieces mixed with the sweet [oyster sauce based?] sauce used to fry up the dish.  JJ ordered a heavily chilied dish that had similar ingredient as mine, only spicier.  She ordered in Thai so I have no clue what she asked for. 

 kaikai inside

thai iced tea
mason jar style ;P

pad siew
pad siew

spicy noods
ultra spicy version of my noods

I walked about two weeks ago and realized that the dining area to Kai Kai Thai is now gone!!  They still have their little take out area with a lone two seater table, but now they’re basically a solely take-out business!  The space is now used for doggie treats!  It’s like a 50s style ice cream parlor, but for doggie treats.  *sigh.  There are no words left…

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There are certain restaurants I would never go during Restaurant Week for many reasons.  I don’t like to fight with the twenty bajillion more people who are trying to get a cheaper meal, and certain big restaurants are always skimping out with the RW menu.  I already planned on going to Megu to try one of their tasting menus, but Jess convinced me to come for dinner with her for RW here.  We went to the Downtown/Tribeca location.  The upstairs is a bar and the dining room is downstairs with an iced buddha sculpture situated in the middle.  The atmosphere is low key and very chic with high back leather chairs and spacious booths.

megu - japanese flagmegu diningmegu bar
the japanese flag/ inside the downstairs dining room/ the bar

I got the appetizer with… guess what?  FOIE GRAS!  Not only did it have foie gras, it had KOBE!!  haha  How can a combo of the two possibly taste bad??  I got a crispy green asparagus with “okaki batter fry” and a crispy croquette of foie gras and kobe beef.  I found the asparagus batter to be too oily and the actual aparagus was dry and lacked flavor.  I didn’t taste any foie gras in the croquette and the tast of the beef is just too overwhelming.  It didn’t even taste like kobe, I was quite disappointed.  I did like the presentation and concept of the croquette though.  I love when there are foods inside stuff, it’s like finding a food treasure.

asparagus and foie gras inside foie gras

 For my entree, I ate my possibly favorite Japanese entree, the silver cod grilled with yuan” miso.  The accompanying palate cleanser in the teac up is a mint soaked cherry.  This was the tiniest piece of fish an the texture of the silver code is definitely not as silky smooth as the black cod [duh].  I’m always trying the miso cod at various Japanese restaurants and to my tastes, many has come up short.  This is one of them.  I would’ve liked for there to be more of a miso glaze; this one was more basted in miso then grilled which made it a bit drier.  Also, this was the tiniest portion- probably 5 small bites at most. 

miso cod

I wanted to try some of their sushi so Jess and I split their signature spicy tuna roll.  It came in a marble slab and each portion is much heartier in proportion to anything on the RW menu.  The tuna was fresh and abundant an mixed with their own medley of spices and scallions and such.  It costs $15, which is the most I have ever paid for a spicy tuna roll anywhere, but it was good- I don’t know about $15 good, but it was good.  I’d order it again if I was here. 

megu- spicy tuna

The dessert was the highlight of the RW menu, it was a green tea crepe in cake form.  There were about 20 layers an each layer is filled with creamy green tea paste.  I personally had fun eating this layer by layer, savoring each bite as I went.  Thus, I’ve come to the conclusion that Megu is possibly worth it a la carte.  I would give them one more try before writing them off my book.  I want to believe that the Restaurant Week menu does not reflect they serve on a daily basis.

megu green tea crepe

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Arthur called me to tell me that he was taking me out to one of the BR Guest Restaurants for dinner and I could choose anyone I wanted.  I chose Fiamma Osteria  located on the cusp of TriBeCa and Soho based on its recent one Michelin star rating.  Sadly, I visited Fiamma Osteria only weeks after the head chef [and Michelin star getting] quit.  Of course, it’s not just the chef that gets a restaurant into the Michelin guide, the restaurant as a whole, including its service is taken into account.  I didn’t let the absent head chef get me too down though because I’ve heard fabulous things about his chef de cuisine who’d be taking over though. 

[since I’m behind on my blogging, I’ve decided to try to shorten my entries and curb my tendency to overwrite by making this as systematic as possible]

 fiamma
i like how “Fiamma” looks like its in flames

SPACE:  It’s definitely bigger than I imagined from looking from outside.  There is a wine cellar downstairs and I think there are private rooms there too [not sure as the doors were closed].  The pictured portion is the main dining area where Arthur and I sat.  In addition, there’s a third level upstairs.  All tables are adorned with leather seats with one arm rest [my conclusion is that it makes it easier to get out of your seat- you can slide from the side instead of having to pull your chair all the way back]. 

 fiamma inside fiamma inside
hmm.. which one do you prefer?

SERVICE:  I was pleased with the service; our waiter was pretty attentive.  I would be really mad if the service was bad because it was a Wednesday night and the restaurant wasn’t packed.  Our waiter kept coming up to check up on us and our water-level-in-cup was watched fairly close even though we ordered Pellegrino.  I would’ve been happy pouring my own water, since I didn’t have to wait for the but our guy would have none of that. 

FOOD: 

The bread basket was simple as you can see, but what surprised me was the spread they provided.  Ground up garlic with olive oil and ground pepper.  I’ve never actually had this before in a restaurant [not that I’ve never put garlic on my bread] and it was a pleasant surprise.  I know my garlic fiend of a sister would’ve definitely enjoyed it.   To me, this is a good alternative to butter and plain olive oil.

bread platter

 Out of all the dishes, I was most awed by the appetizer.  I chose the foie gras because Arthur has never tried it before.  I’ve only had the pate version myself so I knew from reading Anthony Bourdain that this should be good.  The dish is called fegato and it is a pan seared duck foie gras with baby spinach and persimmon on the side, caramelized onion sauce, marsala glaze, and pistacchio and onion rings to top things off.  When I was eating the persimmon, we couldn’t for the life of us remember the name.  We were describing the fruit to each other but we just couldn’t figure its name !  I asked the waiter and he told me it was an Italian quince and that’s a lie.  I google imaged Italian quince and it is not a persimmon.

foie gras

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that it’s truffle season and I’m absolutely obsessed.  Fiamma offers a 10 gram portion of truffle over selected dishes for $75.  Arthur tried to convince me to get it because I couldn’t stop drooling over the option but I had to decline.  It’s an awfully nice gesture, but I feel bad eating away $75 like that.   I decided instead to order the garganelli- imolese quill pasta, San Danielle prosciutto, Treviso truffle butter, and parmigiano.  I figured I could get my truffle fix this way.  When this dish came out, it reminded me of the catavelli I had at Park Avenue Cafe.  I thought the pasta was a bit thick which made it tougher than normal pasta.  The pasta had a really heavy truffle aroma and I couldn’t stop stuffing my face in the pasta.  Thevdish had a good amount of prosciutto and provided the pasta with some saltiness.  The cream sauce was light, but the highlight was definitely the truffle butter- without it, the pasta would be boring.

truffle butter pasta

 Arthur ordered the monkfish special; it was monkfish wrapped in porsciutto, a grilled shallot, and some greens and mushrooms.  I always thought the whole meat product wrapped in bacon thing was so clever.  I forget what type of sauce it came with [this always happens when I have to listen to someone recite the dishes instead of going on the website and look it up].  Everyone always says that monkfish is the “poor man’s lobster” because of it’s taste and consistency.  I have no idea what lobster tastes like but I never imagined it to taste like monkfish.  From looks alone, monkfish seems to have a tougher texture, which to me is more along the lines of mahi mahi.  The prosciutto-ed monk fish was good with the sweetness of the shallot. 

monkfish

After all this, I still wanted dessert.  Arthur sat this one out, but I eyed a trio of sorbetti.  There was concord grape, comapri-grapefruit, and apple cider.  Each sorbet came with a slice of dried fruit, ex. apple for apple cider.  They all tasted true to their real respective fruits, in fact, the apple cider tastes like it had mashed up apple in ir.  The concord grape was veryyy good; I was very pleased with its not too tarty grape flavor.  The grapefruit however, was wayy too bitter.  I can usually eat grapefruit without sugar, but the sorbet tastes kind of bitter and tasted like the rind of the grapefruit made it into the flavor of the sorbet.

sorbet dessert

The restaurant also gave us two tiny brownies- they were about the size of my thumb.  They were topped with whipped cream, raspberry and blueberry.  It was a nice gesture and it was pretty tasty.  They also gave us each two cubes of chocolate truffles to go!

brownie brownie
to give you an idea of portions

To Go or Not To Go: I wouldn’t say that this place is worth the money.  The dishes didn’t wow me off my seat but they were good all around.  They do offer items that are definitely a chance from the typical alfredo.  Eating here did made me realize that I like my foie gras seared.  The quality of the ingredients were fresh and top notch.  I would certainly come back if I wanted a break from regular Italian.  I say that if you want Italian that is definitely going to not disappoint you, then why not try this place out?  

—–

I will leave you with a little poem from Li Young Lee entitled “Persimmon”

In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down the newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew on the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down,
I teach her Chinese. Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.
Naked: I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo: you me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.

Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,
fright was what I felt when I was fighting.
Wrens are small, plain birds,
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.

Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat
but watched the other faces.

My mother said every persimmon has a sun
inside, something golden, glowing,
warm as my face.

Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper
forgotten and not yet ripe.
I took them and set them both on my bedroom windowsill,
where each morning a cardinal
sang. The sun, the sun.

Finally understanding
he was going blind,
my father would stay up all one night
waiting for a song, a ghost.
I gave him the persimmons, swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love.

This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.

He’s so happy that I’ve come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.
All gone, he answers.

Under some blankets, I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.

He raises both hands to touch the cloth,
asks, Which is this?

This is persimmons, Father.

Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times
eyes closed. These I painted blind.
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.

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